Politics
Veysel İpekçi, who was the deputy mayor of Istanbul's Güngören and has come under fire for forcing a driver working in the municipality to sit in front of a bathroom as a punishment for not standing up when he saw İpekçi, defended himself in a bizarre way, saying that he became the target of foreign powers due to developing an economic system as an alternative to communism and capitalism.
CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said that his party supports a call by former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on establishing a parliamentary commission to investigate the assets of presidents and prime ministers. "This is necessary in order for clean politics and clearing politics of dirt. The people also expect this," Kılıçdaroğlu said, adding that the move would mean taking a stand against the U.S. House of Representatives.
In a poll conducted by the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) surveying its own supporters, results indicate that 70 percent of respondents said that they wanted the party to stay in parliament, amid debates about abandoning it in protest of the government's removal of numerous recently-elected HDP mayors from their posts. Meanwhile, jailed former HDP co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş said that he supported the HDP's call for early elections as a first step.
Abdurrahman Kurt, a former lawmaker from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), has said that public personnel are being hired in exchange for money in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır. "The selling of cadres in Diyarbakır has become so internalized that it's impossible to believe. Won't anyone say 'enough' to this?" Kurt said in a tweet on Dec. 8.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is planning to stop dissolution in AKP base via targeting former high-level AKP officials Ahmet Davutoğlu and Ali Babacan, Davutoğlu's team said, as the foundation of two new parties nears. "The aim here is to raise question marks in people's heads regarding the new parties to prevent their interest, to stop the dissolution in his base and to remain in power via trying all methods," former prime minister's team has said.
A dispute broke out in parliament on Dec. 5 between deputies of rival political parties amid the rejection of a motion submitted by the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) to establish a commission to research the recent targeting of Alevi homes in the province of Izmir. The HDP's motion to establish a commission to investigate the issue was rejected by a majority of parliamentary votes.
AKP deputy Alpay Özalan was attending the opening of a mosque in Cambridge with a delegation from Turkey, led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, when his name was found among the votes cast in parliament. When Özalan's name was read out loud in parliament, several lawmakers said that he was outside, before parliamentary deputy speaker noticed that he was not present during voting. Following criticism, Özalan said that he didn't know about the incident.
A fresh row has erupted between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu over the status of a land belonging to a private university, as the foundation of a new party by Davutoğlu nears. Upon Erdoğan's remarks that accused Davutoğlu of attempting to defraud Turkey's state-owned Halkbank, the former PM urged the establishment of parliamentary commissions for the investigation of the assets of presidents and prime ministers.
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.
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Ankara's conflict-oriented foreign policy has received the public's support for military operations, but public opinion often fails to translate into votes. While Ankara's "enemy" in military conflict is ever-changing, the northern Syria conflict was revealed to be the only intervention that expanded the government's voter base.
Selahattin Demirtaş writes: You have re-arrested us after six years. You say we are the instigators of the Kobane massacres when we were actually the victims. Do you think you will be able to make us responsible for this through conspiracies based on secret witnesses and be saved from responsibility? You must genuinely believe that the fascism you rely on today will always exist.
Politics
Hate speech and threats against Armenians in Turkey have accelerated following the outbreak of clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan. HDP MP Garo Paylan, himself a Turkish-Armenian, has been targeted for his insistence on a ceasefire. "We can conclude that there will be no favorable results from this war--which has caused loss and destruction on both sides—and that the solution is on the peace table," Paylan said.
Turkey's top medical association has said that 143,000 coronavirus patients are currently treated at their homes, whereas 460,000 others have been placed under mandatory home quarantine. The Turkish Medical Association made the remarks based on the results of a survey conducted with family physicians across the country.
A report penned by CHP lawmaker Sezgin Tanrıkulu has said that 29 journalists, writers and publishers have received jail terms during January-September period of this year, 20 of whom have been arrested. "The animosity against journalists that is on the rise during the AKP rule is due to the government's stance against freedom of press,” Tanrıkulu said.
A group of university students and alumni are requesting that the Credit and Dormitories Agency (KYK) annul all loans. Currently, some five million Turkish university students are in debt to the state-run KYK, and 300,000 face prosecution for not being able to pay back the debt.
The lira sank to a record low to near 8 versus the dollar after Turkey’s central bank ignored investors' calls to raise its main interest rate. The decision to leave the rate unchanged prompted economists to question the central bank’s commitment to lowering inflation and its independence from the government.
Putin said on Oct. 22 Russia and Turkey disagree about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, but emphasized strong ties between Moscow and Ankara. Erdoğan "might seem tough, but is a flexible politician and reliable partner for Russia," Putin said.
A 24-year-old woman was shot dead by her brother in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, news portal Jinnews reported on Oct. 21. Meanwhile, a local court discounted a femicide assailant's sentence on "good behavior," adding to the list of killers that Turkish courts are lenient toward.
Protesting miners from around Turkey were promised a solution within 10 days during an Oct. 21 meeting with Justice and Development Party (AKP) Group Deputy Chairwoman Özlem Zengin. Hundreds of miners started marching to the capital earlier this month, as survivors of the Soma Mining Disaster are yet to receive damages, and workers in Ermenek have 13 months of unpaid wages.
A newly passed legislation will allow ministries to veil their budget items as they submit their budget proposals to parliament. This means that they are no longer obliged to make it public how much is paid to private contractors for projects.
Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Dönmez said on Oct. 22 Turkey will operate the gas field which it recently discovered in the Black Sea on its own, but it may cooperate with foreign firms in terms of detailed work and equipment. The minister's comments came after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Oct. 17 Turkey had raised the estimated reserves of the field to 405 billion cubic meters after finding an additional 85 bcm.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has confirmed that Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems were tested last week, as he also dismissed NATO allies' concerns on the issue. Akar also said that the S-400 won’t be integrated into NATO’s command-and-control infrastructure, but rather "used as a standalone system similar to the use of Russian-made S-300 weapons that exist within NATO."
Turkey's Health Ministry will regulate the administration of flu shots through the online government portal as supplies will fall short of soaring demand. Patients will need to obtain prescriptions from their family practitioner, report to a pharmacy with their prescription. Pharmacies will be supplied shots only after receipt of a prescription.
The AKP and its ally MHP on Oct. 21 rejected the HDP's demand to investigate what really unfolded during the 2014 Kobane protests for the 10th time. The HDP's demand came after dozens of its members, including co-mayors of the eastern province of Kars, were arrested over the protests six years later earlier this month.
A bus assistant in Turkey sexually harassed a 17-year-old passenger on a trip with Metro Turizm vehicle, notorious for sexual assault incidents. The company told an Instagram user who shared footage of the assault that the worker was uninsured, and asked them to remove the video.
Ankara said on Oct. 21 it extended the stay of its Oruç Reis survey vessel and two other ships in a disputed area of the eastern Mediterranean until Oct. 27. Ankara had withdrawn Oruç Reis from last month to "allow for diplomacy" before a European Union summit at which Cyprus sought sanctions against Turkey, but sent it back this month, prompting an angry rebuke from Greece, France and Germany.
Turkey's Constitutional Court has determined that teacher and author Tahir Baykuşak's rights were violated by police who assaulted him during an ID check in Istanbul in 2016. The court said that a proper investigation was not carried out and that the mistreatment of police violated the 17th Article of the constitution.
Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Oct. 21 condemned Turkey for "violating international law" during one-day regional summit. Turkish Foreign Ministry rejected the "baseless" allegations a day later, saying that Ankara will continue to protect "our rights and the Turkish Cypriots' rights with determination."
Turkey's southeastern city of Diyarbakır is nestled in Mesopotamia and has a deep legacy spanning millenniums and civilizations. A recent discovery on the 8000-year-old Amida Höyük archaeological site has unearthed an 1800-year-old heating system that was quite sophisticated for the time.
Turkish police on Oct. 22 detained 14 people in anti-ISIS operations in Istanbul. Police said that 13 of those apprehended are foreigners and their extradition processes began. Sources told state-run Anadolu Agency that some of the suspects were active in Syria.
Economy
The Turkish government has said that it "laughs off" boycotts imposed on Turkish products in Saudi Arabia, Morocco and United Arab Emirates. "We laugh off some countries' boycotts against Turkey. They should first learn to stand as independent countries," AKP deputy leader Numan Kurtulmuş said on Oct. 18.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projected that income per capita in Turkey would drop to 2005 levels, an annual average of $7,720. The IMF also predicted a five percent contraction in the Turkish economy until the end of 2020, despite Ankara's 0.3 percent growth projection.
Turkey's net international investment deficit grew by $20 billion from the end of 2019 to reach a total $365.8 billion at the end of August. Turkey's international assets shrunk by 10.2 percent to reach $227.4 billion in the same period.
President Erdoğan on Oct. 17 announced the discovery of an additional 85 billion cubic meters of natural gas in the Black Sea, following a similar find in August. As a result of testing, analysis and detailed engineering work, another 85 billion cubic meters were added to the reserves we had discovered. The total amount of natural gas reserves in the TUNA-1 well of the Sakarya Gas Field reached 405 billion cubic meters," Erdoğan said.
Data from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) revealed a dip in real estate sales vis-a-vis last year in September, dropping by 6.9 percent for some 136,744 residences sold. Meanwhile, the total volume of sales between January and September was larger than the number in 2019.
Urban Beat
Kurdish artist Zehra Doğan's work that she created during her two prison sentences between 2016 and 2019 are on display in Turkey for the first time. The artist was jailed on terrorism charges and gained international fame after finishing her second sentence and holding a show at London's Tate Modern.
Turkey's Presidential Symphony Orchestra will thrive thanks to the completion of its long-awaited music hall, Conductor Cemi'i Can Deliorman said. Having been in the works for 25 years, the music hall's large auditorium can seat more than two thousand viewers.
Alterations on Istanbul's iconic Hagia Sophia reportedly violated guidelines mandated under the site's "UNESCO World Heritage" status. Converted within two weeks of the legal ruling that allowed Muslim worship, the ancient structure's mosaics were unlawfully covered up, and any work on it was deemed practically impossible, architectural publication Mimarlık Magazine reported.