Politics
A group of Kurdish political representatives have come together in Diyarbakır and announced the formation of a new united front named "Kurdistani Alliance." “The right to legally engage in politics has been taken away from both our people and our elected officials. This has made it inevitable to create a new medium in our quest to legally engage in political activity and resistance," read a declaration released by the united front on Dec. 6.
Former AKP officials Ahmet Davutoğlu and Ali Babacan will be completing formal procedures to establish their respective political parties before the end of the year. Davutoğlu is expected to release the name and logo of his party soon.
Former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş has said that the HDP should aim for the government, adding that the party needs to be ready to cooperate and form alliances with all parts of the society within the scope of democratic principles. Criticizing the opposition parties for their "cowardice and inability" in the face of fascism, Demirtaş noted that the antidote to fear is courage put into practice.
Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli on Dec. 4 announced that the party placed its amnesty proposal on hold. “I would like to state that as of today, we placed our Sept. 24, 2018-dated proposal on hold for opposition and disagreeableness not to take place under the roof of the People's Alliance and for the issue not to be exploited,” Bahçeli said in a written statement.
A delegation from the main opposition CHP on Dec. 3 visited former HDP co-chair Demirtaş in jail, a day after he was sent to hospital for medical examinations. CHP deputy Ağbaba said Demirtaş had told the delegation that the Justice Ministry's negligence had caused the delay in transfer to the hospital and that if he were to die, the "ones who put him in jail were to blame."
Daily Sözcü journalist Saygı Özyürk has said that a so-called representative of the Menzil group is employed by Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet), adding that the cult is a significant power within the state. One of the leaders of the group claimed to have close relations with state officials and ministers, the journalist also said.
Deputies from the ruling AKP and its ally MHP have thanked Erdoğan for vetoing a bill which they themselves approved in parliament in November. The bill had sought to postpone the installation of filters to thermal power plants for another two-and-a-half years.
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu was favored more than President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a recent poll about a potential presidential election. "If a general election was held today," 31.9 percent said they would vote for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) while 24.7 percent would vote for the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP).
Former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş was taken to hospital on Dec. 2, nearly a week after losing consciousness due to chest tightness and inability to breathe. Demirtaş was taken for a check-up just hours after Aygül Demirtaş, his sister and one of his lawyers, complained on social media about the delay. Aygül Demirtaş later announced on Twitter that Demirtaş' test results did not show any "life-threatening conditions."
As the foundation of two new parties led by former AKP figures Ali Babacan and Ahmet Davutoğlu nears, the AKP has been working on determining whether the party will lose its votes to the new ones. While the effect of the new parties are evaluated to be limited, it was observed that the AKP has been losing votes to the MHP, which was also the case in the previous elections.
Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has said that Turkish authorities know the whereabouts of Adil Öksüz, a key suspect of the July 15, 2016 failed coup attempt who has been on the run since the attempted takeover, while refraining from naming the precise location. Soylu also criticized the U.S., Germany and European countries for not extraditing suspects sought by Turkey over their involvement in the botched coup.
Turkish presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın has said that the 24 mayors of the HDP who were previously suspended from their posts on alleged links to terrorism will be found guilty in court at the end of their judicial processes. Asked by the British journalist Tim Sebastian why the mayors were removed from their posts although court trials are still underway, Kalın said: “They will be charged of course.”
All political parties in parliament have each submitted a motion seeking to remove a clause in a government bill that would have granted the Interior Minister authority to strip the seniority of civilian administrative authorities (such as governors and local district governors). The four motions were voted for simultaneously and accepted in the parliament, reported the daily Sözcü on Nov. 28.
Support for Turkey's former Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan is higher than former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, according to a survey carried out in October with a total of 1,700 participants in 26 provinces. The poll also said that Babacan would receive the majority of the votes from the supporters of İYİ (Good) Party, the CHP and the Felicity (Saadet) Party.
Turkey's former Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan has said that their political party will be a mainstream one that won't appeal to a narrow audience. "Our party aims to create a stance that various parts of the society agree on. It's the design of a new Turkey that can be put in practice and that's realistic," Babacan said, as he criticized the current administration over plenty of issues, including the violation of human rights.
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Duvar English’s editor-in-chief Cansu Çamlıbel and pollster Can Selçuki discuss the underlying factors behind the recent moves of Turkey's ruling alliance which paves the way for further polarization in politics as the country enters the final months of 2020. They also analyze the effects of the sharp decline of the Turkish Lira against foreign currencies over public's perception.
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.
Politics
Turkey's opposition parties have criticized the detention of HDP members CHP Group Deputy Chair Özgür Özel deemed the detentions "an intimidation operation" and asked the government whether new evidence was reached regarding the Kobane protests that happened six years ago. According to Özel, the recent detentions are attempts of the government to shift people's focus from the crumbling economy.
Turkish police on Sept. 25 detained some 20 HDP members, including Kars Co-Mayor Ayhan Bilgen, over 2014 violent protests against the siege by ISIS of the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane. Detention warrants were issued for a total of 82 people in seven provinces. Those sought were in the MYK of the party at the time of the protests.
A group of opposition politicians slammed the construction of a 90-million-lira prison with a lake view in the eastern province of Van which government officials deemed "an investment." The opposition noted that the region has far more pressing needs than prisons and that hundreds of jails have been already built in recent years in Turkey.
Greek women from the Women's Initiative for Peace (WINPEACE) have slammed two Greek tabloids for their reports on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan allegedly having had an extramarital relationship with an actress. "We believe the fact that two newspapers in Greece, however marginal, have in the last week decided on publishing insulting, misogynist, shameful headlines, denigrating all human values is a despicable attempt to sabotage any positive developments," they said in a statement.
Turkey's Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects Chambers (TMMOB) has said that some 14 parcels on the Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) land near the university masjid (prayer room for Muslims) have been zoned for construction. The architects urged the university administration to clarify the parcels' allocation and asked whether the land in question will be used for a mosque construction.
Turkey's depletion of foreign exchange reserves and the fact that a majority of its forex reserves are swap lines has created mass distrust in the economy, Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD) Chairman Simone Kaslowski said. Turkey needs to “ensure full market confidence” to attract long-term financing flows, Kaslowski said during a videoconference on Sept. 24.
Works to excavate an ancient Roman bath in Turkey's Central Anatolian province of Yozgat have been stopped due to lack of financial funding. The area is now fenced off, and visitors are barred from entry.
İsmail Tarman Middle School in İstanbul's Beşiktaş district still remains closed despite four court rulings to reverse the school's status as religious İmam Hatip school. The rulings should have enabled for the school's reopening as a standard middle school, but the courts' decisions have not been enforced and the school's doors remain closed.
U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tore into President Donald Trump on Sept. 24 after he declined to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the presidential election in November. “You are not in North Korea, you are not in Turkey, you are not in Russia, Mr. President. You are in the United States of America, it is a democracy, so why don’t you just try for a moment to honor your oath of office, to the Constitution of the United States?” she said.
The governor's office in the Black Sea province of Giresun banned smoking cigarettes in public spaces on the grounds that it required removing face masks, hence risking the spread of COVID-19. The province will fine those smoking in the streets, parks or any other public spaces.
Turkey's largest seller of fish, Dardanel reportedly discriminated against Roma women who applied for positions at a factory. While the women weren't even called in for an interview, the company blamed the incident on the contracting hiring firm.
One of the Turkish Aegean Riviera's most pristine areas, Gökova Bay was rezoned to allow construction along with nearby Marmaris and Milas. Muğla Mayor Osman Gürün said that the rezoning threatens construction of 25,000 hectares of land, and that the are would effectively "cease to exist."
The Turkish parliament has failed to debate in its general session any draft bills prepared by any party other than the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the past two legislative sessions, daily Cumhuriyet reported. The AKP presented some 249 draft bills, 100 of which were reported on by the relevant commissions, while one of the CHP's 2,148 draft bills were investigated by commissions.
The Kızılırmak Delta Wetland and Bird Sanctuary in the Black Sea province of Samsun has observed raging fires since the reversal of its "protected area" status. While a part of the delta was transferred to the property of the government, environmentalists suspect the fires were started intentionally.
Local medical device companies have warned the Turkish Health Ministry that if debts owed by the government hospitals remain unpaid, there could be a “disruption in the health services” starting as early as in October. The Turkish Medical Equipment and Devices Manufacturers Association (TÜDER) has said that local medical firms have been waiting for the last 16 months to get their payment which has reached to around $26 billion Turkish Liras ($3.4 billion) in total.
Turkish Justice Ministry has dismissed a parliamentary question on the release of a rapist soldier for being "offensive." Uca in her question asked Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül to reveal the reason for why former specialized sergeant Musa Orhan was released despite raping İpek Er. The ministry said that the question can be accepted if the terms found "crude and offensive" are removed.
Turkey reportedly didn't apprehend ISIS militant Yunus Durmaz responsible for deadly attacks in Turkey despite determining his location 19 times between April 29 and May 19, 2016. Durmaz, who was sought over the attacks in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, the Suruç district of the southeastern province of Urfa, the capital Ankara and Istanbul's Taksim, blew himself up during a police raid on an ISIS cell in 2016.
Economy
Turkey's Central Bank unexpectedly hiked interest rates on Sept. 24, triggering an improvement in the lira's value against the dollar. The Turkish Lira has sunk to record lows over the past month as Ankara's currency interventions proved futile.
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.
U.S. tech giant Amazon offered up its speed-delivery subscription to Turkish consumers on Sept. 15. The monthly subscription fee was set for 7.99 Turkish Liras, about one dollar with the current exchange rates.
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.
Urban Beat
Istanbulites will select the new face of Taksim Square from among three projects as part of the Istanbul Municipality's plans to renovate the area. Şerif Süveydan, Bünyamin Derman and Kutlu İnanç Bal were the winners in the contest that was held by Istanbul Planning Agency and Istanbul Municipality's Department of Cultural Assets.
The Odunpazarı Modern Museum in western Eskişehir won the award for "international project of the year over £1m" at the London Museums+Heritage Awards. The museum opened its doors just over a year ago in the city's ancient Odunpazarı neighborhood.
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.
Heavy presence of the Asian tiger mosquito was detected in four Istanbul districts, concerning locals as the bug can carry malaria, the Zika virus and encephalitis. The invasive species have been increasing in population around Istanbul in the past decade, an Istanbul University veterinarian said.
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.