Politics
Presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın has slammed former President Abdullah Gül over his remarks on a controversial meeting held before the June 24, 2018 presidential elections. "The things that were written are not true. To adapt that meeting to the political process and conjuncture that they are newly embarking on is not in line with reality," Kalın said.
AKP members have told President Erdoğan that they are struggling to respond to criticisms directed towards the party, as they commented on the parties of Babacan and Davutoğlu. "We are still at the point that we were at when we founded our party. Those who left are gone. Everyone chose their own destiny," Erdoğan told lawmakers, while criticizing the deputies for acting passive.
Tensions ran high in Turkish parliament on Feb. 18 after a deputy of the ruling AKP referred to the 2013 Gezi Park protests as "vandalism" and "thuggery." The CHP and HDP reacted against these remarks, saying that the government's harsh response against Gezi Park occupiers was in fact what constituted as "vandalism."
Turkey's former President Abdullah Gül has suggested returning to a parliamentary system. "I would prefer a fully democratic parliamentary system," Gül said, while voicing support for Ali Babacan. "I, of course, support him and his party. I trust and think highly of Babacan's character, education, knowledge and wording in politics," Gül said.
Ahmet Davutoğlu, the former prime minister who quit the ruling AKP to form the rival Future Party last year, has announced that he has withdrawn as a plaintiff from all criminal cases involving offenses against him, including the 2013 Gezi Park case. "The purpose of our chairman's decision is that everyone in society lets go of the past and faces the future," said a statement released by the Future Party on Feb. 17.
A Turkish court has banned access to the online version of a cartoon by Leman which makes a reference to Finance Minister Berat Albayrak's land purchase on the route of the controversial Kanal Istanbul project. Leman's Jan. 22-dated cover depicts Bayrak as he stands along the route of the Kanal project and utters his famous phrase of “Here is very important.”
The number of seats of the right-wing opposition İYİ (Good) Party have decreased to 37 from 43 following successive resignations from the party, with the most recent one being the party's Balıkesir lawmaker İsmail Ok. The AKP currently has 290 seats, the CHP has 142, the HDP has 65, the MHP has 49 and the İYİ Party has 37 seats in parliament.
The newly-formed Future Party (FP), established by former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, is currently polling at 3.9 percent, according to surveys conducted by the party. Only 15 percent of people polled said that they had heard of the party. According to party sources, the low figures are likely due to the fact that the party has received practically no coverage from mainstream newspapers and television channels.
Former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş has said that the HDP should aim for coming to power in the next elections, as he suggested forming a democracy alliance. "A democracy alliance can be formed with all the political structures that can unite around a program that foresees all freedoms and a democratic society-state structuring within the framework of a new constitution," he said.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been testing Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, who is also President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's son-in-law, for leadership. Albayrak has been carrying out visits across Turkey as part of the test, a source following the AKP closely told Duvar, while an analyst said that Erdoğan may hand AKP leadership over to his son-in-law since he trusts the minister.
In response to the criticism of the army's “failure” to expel the Gülen movement's members, former army chief Hilmi Özkök said being a Gülenist did not “constitute as a crime” during his time. “Can you give a heavy penalty to someone such as 'expelling from the army' if the law considers them not to have committed a crime?” Özkök said during an interview.
A Mardin court has acquitted veteran Kurdish politician Ahmet Türk and Necla Yıldırım of charges that had previously led to their dismissal respectively as Mardin mayor and Mazıdağı district mayor. The investigations against Türk and Yıldırım were launched after they attended a funeral ceremony of a YPG member in 2015.
The HDP decided during a Central Executive Board (MYK) meeting on Feb. 13 not to amend an internal regulation that limits the party executives to two consecutive terms in their positions. Accordingly, 20 current MYK members will not be able to run for a seat in the upcoming party congress set to take place on Feb. 23.
Former AKP deputy Burhan Kuzu will be investigated over the release of Iranian drug lord Naji Sharifi Zindashti from prison. Recent reports showed that Kuzu called prosecutors and judges and told them that Zindashti’s release would be “more beneficial” for Turkish-Iranian relations. Kuzu denied the allegations against him in tweets earlier this week.
As the row over Gülenists' political leg continues between the government and the main opposition, President Erdoğan and CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu sued each other. Kılıçdaroğlu on Feb. 11 said that Erdoğan handed the state to Gülenists, prompting the president to file a lawsuit, demanding 500,000 Turkish Liras as compensation. The move was shortly followed by Kılıçdaroğlu also filing a lawsuit against the president.
Editor's Picks
Dinçer Demirkent writes: Interior Minister Soylu said that the head of the Constitutional Court would be unable to commute to work without his protection team. What he meant was that he was the Minister who assigned the security team to the judge, implying he might just remove them. By doing so, Süleyman Soylu openly violates the article 138 of the Turkish Constitution; basic principle for the independence of the judiciary.
Ahmet Murat Aytaç writes: The recent inhumane attack against migrant workers that took place in the Mazıdağı district of Sakarya should be analyzed within the framework of economic oppression. No matter what triggered the assaults, the general tendency in Turkey right now is to deny the ethnic dimension of the conflict.
Politics
A Turkish court has sentenced Halis Bayancuk, who is described as the leader of ISIS in Turkey, to 12 years and six months in jail. Bayancuk, who goes by the name Abu Hanzala, has been detained several times before in Turkey, but only to be freed later because of a lack of evidence or problems involving the charges against him.
Gli the Hagia Sophia cat has fallen ill two months after the site was converted into a mosque and will live away from people in a private room. Caretakers of the 16-year-old cat, who was born at Hagia Sophia, previously warned worshippers to not overwhelm Gli after footage of them taking pictures of Gli with flashes and feeding him unhealthy food emerged on social media.
Islamist cult leader Ahmet Mahmut Ünlü has said that he is ready to name a total of 150 Salafi associations taking up arms as part of their preparations to fight in Turkey. "I've made a list of these associations and in which provinces they are located. If the prosecutors summon me and ask me what I know, I'm ready to name at least 150 of them," a journalist cited Ünlü as saying.
İYİ Party leader Meral Akşener has slammed President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for "giving the youth a massive prison," as she commented on the unemployment figures and the economy. "You gave them unemployment, hopelessness and depression," Akşener said. Your gift to the youth is a country that they don't feel belonging to and that they can't breathe in," she added.
AKP Group Deputy Chair Bülent Turan has praised President Erdoğan for "making" French President Macron tweet in Turkish. "Macron tweeted in Turkish and said that he is ready for dialogue. The name of the man who made a French President tweet in Turkish is Recep Tayyip Erdoğan," Turan said. Erdoğan also responded to Macron's gesture, saying that Turkey intends to listen to all sincere calls and make room for diplomacy.
Turkey has strongly condemned a Greek daily for insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, with presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın deeming the move "a provocation." Another government official to condemn the headline was Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, who said that the headline "will remain as a document of shame" in the history of the Greek press.
The HDP has said that its MYK member Serhat Aktemur was abducted in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır by individuals claiming to be National Intelligence Organization (MİT) members. Aktemur said that the three individuals in question threatened to kill him by saying, "If we see you around, we'll shoot you."
Turkish paraglider Hasan Kaya took to the skies in southern Turkey with a bed pretending to sleep. Kaval has previously attached a metal-framed red leather sofa with wheels and a television to a parachute and took to the skies in Turkey’s southwestern Ölüdeniz neighborhood.
Some 40 medical chambers affiliated with the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) have released a joint statement reiterating their support for the organization. “We are fortunate to have our professional organization that prioritizes and defends the right of public health, and does not compromise when it comes to scientific and free thinking," the chambers said, following MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli's call for the TTB's closure.
Since early summer, forest fires have been raging in the Cudi Mountains in Turkey's southeastern province of Şırnak amid claims that the blazes erupted due to deliberate military operations in the area. Ecologist Asrın Keleş from the People's Democratic Congress (HDK) said that it was abundantly clear that the fires did not erupt due to natural causes. "We received information that the forests were being shot with gunfire at night,” Keleş said.
A Turkish court sentenced former co-chair of Democratic Regions Party (DBP) Sebahat Tuncel to 11 months in prison on charges of "insulting" the president, because she said Erdoğan was "an enemy of women and Kurds."
Turkey's Court of Cassation, the top appeals court, has found a male employee at fault for using the women's toilet at the store where he was working at. The court rejected the employee's demand for a compensation after he was fired from his job.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has determined that dozens of firms and restaurants in Turkey use fake ingredients in their products to cut down on costs. With the Turkish lira continuing to decline in value as the country experiences a serious economic downturn, some food producers and restaurants are cutting on costs and cutting corners, and deceiving their customers in the process.
Several Turkish citizens have sent petitions to the parliament, raising their concerns about the safety of 5G technology. The parliament's committee on petition has asked the issue to the Information Technologies and Communication Authority (BTK) and was told that Turkey was “working to produce the 5G infrastructure locally.”
Bursts of steam rising from Mount Nemrut have raised concern among locals, amid speculations that the dormant volcano can become active again if triggered by earthquakes. “There are many fault lines arund Mount Nemrut. If these fault lines are ruptured, theoretically a [volcanic] movement can occur in Mount Nemrut. This is always a possibility,” Prof. Dr. Aydın Büyük Saraç said.
Enis Berberoğlu's lawyer has called for the reinstatement of his client's deputy status after the Constitutional Court ruled that the former CHP lawmaker's rights were violated when he was dismissed from parliament earlier this year.
President Erdoğan has said that the government is preparing to introduce new measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus, since "people have not complied with the rules." The virus infections began increasing after Ankara loosened restrictions on public activity, starting in June. Critics have also accused the government of hypocrisy with regards to the measures, pointing out that social distancing measures were being overlooked in several occasions, such as the rallies of the AKP.
Islamic communities that are known to have close ties to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have recently speeded up efforts to establish their own foundations. On Sept. 17, two more such foundations have been established, one of which has close ties to the İsmailağa community, while the other has close ties to pro-government KİHMED.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Sept. 18 Turkey was saddened by news that Libya's internationally recognized Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj wants to quit next month. "A development like this, hearing such news, has been upsetting for us," Erdoğan told reporters in Istanbul, adding that Turkish delegations may hold talks with Sarraj's government in the coming week.
Various rights groups have said that human rights violations recorded in prisons have spiked during the COVID-19 outbreak. As a recent example of the rights violation, the groups said that authorities had confiscated several personal belongings of a group of inmates during their transfer to two newly opened Diyarbakır prisons.
The mother of a murder suspect was found dead with a single bullet to the back of her head on Sept. 17. Her son, a suspect in his girlfriend's death, her husband and the family's attorney blamed her death on TV host Müge Anlı because she had said the mother had "failed to raise a son."
Economy
Turkey's state-owned Halkbank has urged a judge to dismiss a U.S. indictment accusing the bank of helping Iran evade American sanctions. At a hearing in Manhattan federal court on Sept. 18, a lawyer for Halkbank said its status as a Turkish “instrumentality” shielded it from prosecution because of sovereign immunity.
Turkey's unemployment rate rose to 13.4 percent. and participation edged up in the May-July period in which a coronavirus lockdown was lifted and a ban on layoffs remained in place, data showed on Sept. 10, painting a clearer picture of the pandemic's fallout.
Turkish Airlines (THY) observed a drop of almost 65 percent in the number of August travelers compared to the year before. Domestic flights saw a smaller drop of 47.1 percent, while international flights shrank by 75.4 percent, THY said.
Urban Beat
The 48th Istanbul Music Festival will be held online, streaming pre-recorded performances in historical venues. Starting on Sept. 18, the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) will make available the performances that honor composer Ludwig van Beethoven.
Ali Demir writes: So the property of the local non-Muslims collapsed, and what happened? Nothing! The whole country is now composed of non-local foreigners. The greedy tailor apprentice that murdered his master could not sew a jacket, and will never be able to.
The tomb and gold jewels of a woman dubbed the "Carian Princess" can now be seen in the Aegean province of Muğla's Bodrum Castle. Recovered in 1989, the body is thought to belong to a woman in her 40s.
Turkey's news agenda has focused on "renovations" that resulted in dramatic results, often adding incoherent elements. Most recently, footage of "renovation" in Istanbul's Galata Tower had shown workers drilling into original walls.