Deputies from the ruling AKP and its ally MHP have voted against a motion submitted by the HDP asking the government to account for the funds collected under the name of “earthquake tax.” The HDP motion called for transparency over the collection and allocation of these funds, saying the public is “awaiting” to know how much the government has so far raised in these revenues and where they were channeled to.
Murat Yetkin writes: In the current economic, political and societal climate, we have to consider the possibility that Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) might enter a period of implosion, without being able to carry its own weight any longer.
The timeline for the establishment former Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan's new political party remains uncertain, though one source pointed to the end of February. Repeated delays in the party's establishment that was scheduled for end of 2019 has left political circles questioning the formation and claims of an ideological rift among the founding members.
Lawmakers from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and Justice and Development Party (AKP) recently debated on social media whether the 1999 earthquake was handled correctly. Former AKP deputy Şamil Tayyar tweeted Jan. 25, the day after the devastating 6.8-magnitude quake of Elazığ, that "The government collapsed during the earthquake of 1999 but it's standing now. Except a few provocateurs, the opposition and ruling side are united." However, MHP deputies took offense to this statement since the nationalist party was part of the 1999 government’s ruling coalition.
Murat Yetkin writes: The real picture in the current state of Turkish-German relations is more complicated than what were told in the press conference. Merkel, who already declared that she would not be a candidate after 2021, is trying to leave a good legacy to continue the historic ties between the two countries and Erdoğan, who wants to attract European investments and markets again, is trying to use German leverage, which is not an easy task for Merkel.
A message of peace and unity was the main idea in a letter to the third Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) conference from Selahattin Demirtaş and Abdullah Zeydan, former co-chair and former deputy of the pro-Kurdish HDP. "We must demonstrate with small and meaningful gestures the respect we have for Turkish values and our sincerity about living together," said the letter from Edirne Prison.
Selahattin Demirtaş has said that a left 'democracy block' can only be achieved if smaller fractions refrain from prioritizing their agenda, adding that the issue distracts politicians from addressing the real needs of the people. It might be possible for an alliance to form between the HDP and the new parties founded by Davutoğlu and Babacan if they participate in the democratization process, he said.
Lawyers of PKK leader Öcalan and three other inmates on İmralı Island have applied to Turkey's Constitutional Court following the authorities' move to extend a three-month visitation ban for family members for the fifth time in the last 15 months.
Turkey's Court of Cassation has approved a 12-year jail term for Feti Ün, the lawyer of Fethullah Gülen, the U.S.-based Islamic preacher believed to have masterminded the 2016 botched coup attempt. Ün was charged with being a member of "FETÖ", the term Ankara uses to refer to the Gülen organization.
Turkey's center-right parties are reportedly preparing to form an alliance to challenge the People's Alliance consisting of the ruling AKP and its nationalist ally MHP in the next elections. Contrary to the Nation Alliance of the last elections, the main opposition CHP won't be included in the alliance formed by these nationalist-conservative parties, Birgün reported on Jan. 23.
Turkey remains 110th in the Economist's latest global democracy index. The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) categorized Turkey as the only “hybrid regime” in western Europe -- the second lowest after “authoritarian regime.”
A total of 131 suspects were handed prison terms on Jan. 22 in the case into the illegal wiretapping by Gülenists. Those sentenced include police chiefs that carried out Dec. 17-25, 2013 graft probes, which targeted former ministers and are deemed as attempts to overthrow the government by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Bilal Erdoğan, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's son, has criticized Turkey's intellectuals for being "outdated." “Unfortunately our 20th century intellectuals weren't able to follow the world and they missed out. How did they miss out? When the Young Turks went to Europe for education, to France in particular, they were influenced by the positivist trends," Bilal Erdoğan said.
Turkey's Supreme Election Board (YSK) Sadi Güven has said that the practice of using envelopes when casting votes should be removed. "The practice of using envelopes was removed in many countries. The envelopes need to be removed after making ballot boxes opaque instead of transparent with a change in legal regulations," he said.
Good Party leader Meral Akşener said that she can't predict whether the country will have early elections because the decision is up to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. "We could be casting ballots with one executive order," Akşener said, adding that she wasn't aware of Good Party member Lütfü Türkkan's tweet from Jan. 19 asking "How's Sunday June 28 for elections?"
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Duvar English’s editor-in-chief Cansu Çamlıbel and pollster Can Selçuki are joined by Robert Bosch Academy's Galip Dalay to discuss the impact of Turkish government's recent domestic policy moves on Ankara's international relations. They look for answers to whether there is any possibility that Turkey's relations with the West might change for the better any time soon.
Taner Akçam writes: The regime’s bold stroke vis-a-vis Hagia Sophia should not be seen as stemming from desperation. Rather, it is simply meant to relay the not-so-subtle message of the path to be followed by the "New Republic", and that message is that the “annihilationist tradition” of the old regime, inherited by the Republic’s founders, will be retained in the era to come.
Economist and former Treasury advisor Mahfi Eğilmez has said that the Turkish economy is no longer predictable. "In an unpredictable economy, due to the fact the risks increase, this means that expenses will also increase,” Eğilmez wrote in a column on Aug. 5.
Şaban Vatan, the father of Rabia Naz who was found dead in a suspicious way two years ago, has been stopped by the police for wearing a t-shirt that read “Where are you justice?” and “What happened to Rabia Naz?” “So it turns out, a person's being in Taksim with a t-shirt that has Rabia Naz's picture on, is a crime," Vatan wrote on Twitter.
A prominent health expert has said that about 3,000 people are believed to have been infected with the COVID-19 virus during the prayers held at Istanbul's Hagia Sophia on July 24. "There were about 1,000 asymptotic patients there, based on forecasts. If we think of the transmission rate, those patients have infected 2,000-3,000 others. I believe that gathering will increase the cases in Istanbul,” Assoc. Pro. Dr. Üner said on Aug. 8.
Turkey's parliament speaker Mustafa Şentop, from the ruling AKP, has said that there is no need for Turkey to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, an international accord designed to protect women. Şentop's comments came as the AKP is considering whether to pull Turkey out of the convention, alarming campaigners who see the pact as key to combating rising domestic violence.
Turkey's Arab Alawite community has celebrated the Gadir Hum holiday amid concerns of rising cases of coronavirus in Turkey. Mehmet Ali Dönmez, who organized Gadir Hum festivities in the Samandağ district of Hatay, which is prominently Arab Alawite, said that the celebration of the festival is in defiance of cultural assimilation.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has voiced support to Finance Minister Berat Albayrak amid the country's worsening economy. Several AKP officials, including Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu and Health Minister Fahrettin Koca, defended Albayrak on Twitter via using the hashtag "We stand with Berat Albayrak."
Amnesty International has called on the Turkish government to "fully implement" the Istanbul Convention rather withdraw from it. The prominent organization said that Turkey's withdrawal from the convention would have "disastrous consequences" for millions of women and girls in the country.
Rights organizations will take the case of Ebru Timtik and Aytaç Ünsal -- who have been on a hunger strike since April 5 to support their demand for a fair trial -- to the Constitutional Court. The move comes after an Istanbul court in July denied the release of Timtik and Ünsal, despite a medical report that says it is not “suitable” for the two lawyers to remain in jail.
Some 64 percent of Turkish people are of the belief that it is not safe to allow schools to reopen on Aug. 31 amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, according to a recent survey conducted by Metropoll. The survey also looked at how supporters of different political parties view this issue, finding that 53 percent of AKP voters do not support the government's planned move.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that the country's economy is on the fast lane, downplaying Turkish Lira's sharp fall against dollar and euro. "No one should try to deceive the public. We're stronger than yesterday," he said. While experts voice concern on the situation, Erdoğan claimed that the "zigzags" in the economy can be seen around the world following the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Two people were detained for shooting the car of a restaurant owner over late takeaway delivery in the southern province of Adana on Aug. 6. E.K. and his friend Ö.T. opened fire on the restaurant owner with a pump rifle and blank cartridge following an argument.
The Turkish Interior Ministry on Aug. 7 announced that coronavirus quarantines are currently underway in 83 residential areas in 32 provinces. The areas are home to some 54,053 people. The ministry's comments came as the country's daily COVID-19 cases have recently shown a sharp rebounding trend, with more than 1,000 daily jump in successive days.
The Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK) has protested a factory run by the tuna fish company Dardanel in the province of Çanakkale after it imposed a closed-circuit working system on some of its employees after they contracted coronavirus. The workers have been forced to stay in quarantine dormitories since July 26.
Congolese opposition politician Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko has disappeared in Ankara after flying to the Turkish capital for health treatment in late July. He boarded a plane belonging to Qatar and landed at Ankara's Esenboğa airport on July 30, and has not been heard from since.
Employees of Turkish Airlines (THY) have been facing an uncertain future due to the salary crisis that has been ongoing for five months in the company. According to Sözcü, talks between the THY and Hava-İş, the Turkish union representing a large number of workers in the civil aviation sector, have failed to reach a conclusion.
Turkish steeplechaser Gülcan Mıngır has been banned for two years after a re-test of her samples from the London Olympics in 2012 revealed the presence of a prohibited substance, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) said on Aug. 6. The 31-year-old's ban has been backdated to Feb 3, 2020.
German Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Aug. 6 that return of Germans from holiday destinations such as Western Balkan countries and Turkey is increasingly contributing to the rise in new coronavirus cases. Spahn also said that everyone arriving from high-risk areas will be tested for the disease unless they can produce a negative test certificate no more than two days old.
Former MHP deputy Cemal Enginyurt has said it was him who started the legal process that led to the cancellation of a dissident-led congress back in 2016 aiming to challenge the leadership of Devlet Bahçeli. “When Meral Akşener won the congress with 715 votes on June 19, it was me who took the case to the court. It was me that led to the cancellation of the congress, which they had won," Enginyurt said on Aug. 5.
Good (İYİ) Party leader Meral Akşener has said that the majority of the Turkish people want to return to a parliamentary system, adding that the current "freakish" system can't govern the country. "Turkey's economy has worsened, the youth doesn't have hope to find jobs, agriculture and industry have collapsed. The people are suffering from not being able to find food and fear being unemployed," she said.
The Turkish Lira has devalued drastically against the dollar, reaching almost seven liras on the dollar. Ankara has invested almost $60 billion in currency interventions in 2020 to no avail, Financial Times reported on July 28.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on July 15 that companies involved in construction of the TurkStream pipeline will be subject to the U.S. penalties unless they stop their works. “It’s a clear warning to companies. Aiding and abetting Russia’s malign influence projects will not be tolerated. Get out now or risk the consequences,” he said.
The Turkish Petroleum Refineries Corporation (TÜPRAŞ) ranked as Turkey's largest industrial business with 87.9 billion liras in annual production revenue. The oil company was followed mostly by automotive producers.
On the second anniversary of Turkey's transformation into a presidential system, the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) has prepared a report detailing how the country stands in the ensuing years, finding that the Turkish lira has lost four times its value since 2007.
Urban Beat
Mois Gabay writes: Do you think the Camondo family will be included in the Beyoğlu Culture Road project conducted by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism? What about Arif Ergin’s “Tekvin” novel, in which he imagined that there would be a “Camondo Museum” one day?
Artifacts from Istanbul's ancient Hagia Sophia will be displayed in a nearby public building that will be transformed into a museum. Formerly used as a land office, the late-19th-century building in historical Sultanahmet will be converted on the president's orders.
Luke Frostick writes: Edanur Kuntman’s Tales from Behind the Window has been nominated for an Eisner Award. If she wins, she will be the first Turk to win an Eisner. The story is a piece of creative-nonfiction and its main narrative is drawn from the memories of Kuntman’s grandmother growing up in the Çarşamba district of Samsun.