Politics
A column alleging that a meeting between Erdoğan and an "important" politician from the CHP took place in the presidential palace continues to top Turkish politicans' agendas, with a row erupting between the main opposition and the government. "Erdoğan, in his 43 years in politics, has never intervened in the internal affairs of another party," said Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun, while CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu accused Erdoğan of trying to disband the CHP.
Turkish Interior Ministry's budget talks for 2020 became the scene of a brawl between deputies of the ruling AKP and the opposition, with Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu calling Felicity Party lawmaker Cihangir İslam a "traitor" and a "provocateur," following the MP's criticisms aimed at the government about human rights and "jailing of opponents on terror charges."
Turkey’s pro-Kurdish HDP has called for an early election to be held in the country. The call comes after the authorities have removed 24 mayors of the party since August. "We say 'early election' for the peoples of Turkey to be rid of the AKP-MHP authority. This is a call for confrontation," the party said in a 12-point declaration on Nov. 20.
Allegations of an opposition newspaper columnist that a prominent CHP figure recently met with President Erdoğan, who offered help to install the figure as the new head of the CHP, sparked debate inside the main opposition party.
The European Union has decided to cut €85 million in the pre-accession funds for Turkey, compared to the draft budget proposed by the European Commission. The Council of the European Union said that the reason of this cut was “the distancing of Turkey from EU values.”
Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has said that Turkey will have repatriated most of its ISIS detainees to their home countries by the end of the year. He also said that countries that revoked the citizenships of their nationals were violating international law.
Former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş has received the "2019 Award for Special Political Courage," with his wife attending the ceremony to get the award due to the former party co-leader being in jail. "I accept this award on behalf of all political prisoners in Turkey, female political prisoners in particular," Demirtaş said in the letter sent to the ceremony.
MHP deputy Tamer Osmanoğlu has submitted a law proposal to the parliament, demanding that the government open "integration courses" for foreigners who want to become Turkish citizens. Only those who successfully complete these courses should be eligible for citizenship, according to the law proposal.
Main opposition CHP vice chair Ünal Çeviköz has said that public diplomacy is no longer run by the Foreign Ministry, but instead by the Presidency's Directorate of Communications. "
Public support for Turkey's military offensive in northern Syria is nearly 80 percent, with striking changes taking place in the people's perceptions after the beginning of the incursion. The offensive, called "Operation Peace Spring," wins the “complete” support of 53.3 percent of the population, while another 25.7 percent give it their “partial” backing, according to a recent research by Metropoll.
Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Istanbul Deputy Ahmet Hamdi Çamlı claimed that the recent local elections were influenced by CIA and Mossad. Referring to reforms carried out by Atatürk that switched the Arabic script-based Ottoman Turkish for the Latin alphabet, Çamlı said "It was a disastrous mistake".
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said that Turkey is unlikely to repatriate three million Syrian refugees to the northeast of the country and this is a "deceptive humanitarian slogan" raised by Ankara. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan suggested in September that three million refugees could return to a "safe zone" in northern Syria.
HDP mayors from Savur, Derik and Mazıdağı districts of Mardin and Suruç district of Şanlıurfa have been detained as part of ongoing terrorism investigations, provincial prosecutors said. In addition to detentions and arrests, Turkey’s Interior Ministry often appoints trustees to replace elected mayors from the HDP in the country’s southeast.
A MHP deputy has likened the lawyers of HDP Youth Assembly members to a "pack of dogs," while also calling them "terrorists" during a meeting of the Parliamentary Human Rights Inquiry Commission. The deputy's remarks were slammed by the HDP, with its lawmakers leaving the meeting and urging MHP deputy Metin Sazak to resign.
PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan's lawyers have requested to meet their client on İmralı Island, where he has been serving a life sentence for over 20 years. The lawyers have been filing numerous applications to visit Öcalan, but no response have been given to them.
Editor's Pick
Soner Çağaptay and Raffaella A. Del Sarto write: The EU often praises itself as a promoter of democracy and regional stability by highlighting the power of its enlargement process to include new members in the “neighbourhood.” Yet in the case of Turkey, its ill-conceived policies may well have contributed to the opposite. A clumsy EU has repeatedly gotten its policy toward Turkey wrong, often inadvertently helping Erdoğan at key points during his rise while creating preventable tensions with Ankara.
Politics
Russia's President Vladimir Putin called on Oct. 29 for an immediate ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh and peace talks that would review proposals from many countries including Turkey.
Turkey's testing of Russian S-400 missile defense systems continues to draw rebuke from the United States. "That risk is very real because they… continue to pursue the S-400. And, of course, with the testing of it, sanctions is very much something that is on the table," R. Clarke Cooper, the top State Department official in charge of arms sales, said on Oct. 28.
A 120-year-old woman living in Turkey's southeastern province of Şırnak has beaten the novel coronavirus. Following a 15-day-long treatment, Menica Encü was discharged from hospital accompanied by applauds on Oct. 28.
A Turkish court has sentenced a high school teacher to 52 years and five months in jail for sexually abusing five of his students. Child advocates have been calling for better sex abuse prevention for years. The Turkish government says it will work on prevention but has not specified how.
Twelve women who were violently detained by police during a femicide protest are now facing charges of battery from police officers, the indictment against them revealed. The women are primarily accused of holding an illegal assembly in protest of the brutal murder of 27-year-old Pınar Gültekin.
Some 210 migrants were discovered inside the trailer of a freight lorry in the eastern province of Van on Oct. 29. Migration officials reportedly searched the lorry during routine road controls and detained the lorry driver. Some 18 of the migrants were children.
Unmonitored and extensive mining in eastern Turkey threatens to destroy all life in the area, an environmental activist said. Divriği Life and Nature Platform has launched a social media campaign to organize locals against mining.
Turkey's parliament, hampered by the increased authority granted to the presidency after the country transitioned to a presidential system two year ago, has received a budget hike of 8.4 percent for the upcoming year. Parliament Speaker Şentop said that parliament had been working at full speed in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some 20 non-governmental organizations slammed Istanbul Municipality's search for a landscape design for the city's iconic Taksim Square on the grounds that the process didn't allow for "democratic input" from all stakeholders. Istanbul Municipality held a design contest for potential landscapes for Taksim Square that yielded three final projects on Sept. 20, which were offered up to the public for voting.
Turkey's largest mining union Maden-İş blasted miners who are members of the organization and who are striking for severance pay as "provocateurs." Laborers from two mines in Turkey have roused up attention recently by marching to the capital of Ankara in protest of being denied their rights.
An ancient church in the southeastern province of Mardin once belonging to Turkey's dwindling Assyrian community is being sold by its owner. The owners of the property gave up on selling the ancient church in 2015 after fierce reaction mounted against the sale, though realtor Mahsum Altay said there were no legal obstacles to selling the church.
President Erdoğan has said that Armenia employed PKK and YPG militants to fight against Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh. "They say, 'You're sending foreign militants to Azerbaijan from Syria.' I told Mr. President [Putin] that around 2,000 PKK and YPG militants are fighting for Armenia with 600$ salary," Erdoğan said, to which Putin reportedly responded by saying, "I don't know about that."
AKP spokesperson Ömer Çelik deemed CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu's call on First Lady Emine Erdoğan to burn her Hermes handbag following calls to boycott French goods "violence against women." President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had a harsher tone, saying, "If you have the guts, talk about me."
Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca on Oct. 28 raised the alarm about a 62 percent weekly surge in number of COVID-19 cases in the country's most populated city Istanbul, describing the infection rate as "frightening." "If we don’t get the situation in Istanbul under control, the outbreak will spiral out of control,” Koca said in a press conference, following a meeting of the government's science board.
Turkey's opposition Good (İYİ) Party leader Meral Akşener urged the president to respond to "adolescent-like European leaders with statesmanship" instead of the "same adolescent attitude." The chairwoman's comments are in reference to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's brawl with French President Emmanuel Macron over the latter's strong stance against "Islamist separatism."
A new metro line running between Istanbul's neighborhoods of Mecidiyeköy and Mahmutbey on the European side opened on Oct. 28. Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu announced that the new line will be at the service of Istanbulites for free for the first 10 days.
Ali Babacan, the former deputy prime minister from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) who founded the opposition DEVA in March, has said that critics of the government are being arrested or left unemployed for just expressing their opinions. “People are being detained just for speaking, for writing. You cannot consider a thought a crime. If you want just one opinion to persist in this country, this cannot happen. It is impossible,” Babacan said.
Turkish police on Oct. 28 detained five people over their alleged involvement in the suicide bombing that shook Hatay's İskenderun district earlier this week. İskenderun was rocked by an explosion on Oct. 26 which the authorities blamed on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
President Erdoğan has asked whether people believe that "anyone can't bring home the bread." "Do you believe that anyone can't bring home the bread? Do you think such thing exists in Turkey? Turkey is ahead of many countries in terms of its minimum wage and salaries," Erdoğan told reporters, adding that Turkey is "at a great spot" when one looks at data from the IMF and OECD.
Economy
Turkey's Central Bank Governor Murat Uysal said that it has no target on exchange rates as the lira touched a new low for a third day on Oct. 28. Uysal said higher import costs, with the lira tumbling to record lows beyond 8.3 to the dollar, rising food prices and strong credit growth were the main causes of the upward revision.
Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak has said that the economy is growing despite the tumbling Turkish Lira. The lira weakened to a record low on Oct. 26, hit by investor unease over the central bank's decision last week to keep its policy rate on hold and various sources of geopolitical concern. Strains in ties with the United States, a row with France, a dispute between Turkey and Greece over maritime rights and the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh have all unsettled investors.
Turkish monthly inflation was almost four times greater than the official rate in September, according to a new model developed by a group of academics and researchers. According to the independent Inflation Research Group (ENAG)'s first published finding, consumer prices in September rose 3.61 percent from the previous month, compared to the official Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK)'s calculation of 0.97 percent increase.
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.
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.
Urban Beat
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.
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.