Urban Beat
Istanbul Municipality recently tore down fences around a renovated historic block that was gated-in to give the appearance of a housing complex to a city block. With a history of booming nightlife, Istanbul's Sulukule neighborhood became the site of a state urban transformation project in 2005.
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu has said that he will submit his plan to introduce 5,000 new taxis in the megacity to the municipality's transportation center on June 25. "We are taking the first step to attain the standards that befit Istanbul and are bringing our new taxi proposal to UKOME tomorrow," İmamoğlu said on June 24.
Business owners in Istanbul's historic Sultanahmet district have been suffering from dramatically decreased business since re-opening on June 1 after months of COVID-19 closures. Meanwhile, a seaside neighborhood on the Anatolian side of Istanbul has returned to pre-isolation crowds.
The district governorate of Istanbul's Princes' Islands have not allowed the use of sixty electric-powered minibuses that the city planned to replace the recently-banned horse-drawn carriages. The governorate said that the colorfully-painted minibuses lacked the proper certification.
Taxi drivers have lashed out at Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu's plan to add 5,000 more taxi licenses to the market. "Driving taxis is not the municipality’s job,” said the head of the Istanbul Airport Taxi Drivers Cooperative.
Yiğit O. Özdemir writes: Today, what we know of as Istanbul's Istiklal Avenue was originally called Grande Rue de Pera. It is where decisions are made, especially when it comes to how and with which tools will “urban plunder” be managed. Mechanisms of consent and resistance are formed here. The victories and defeats of campaigns about urban space happen here.
Aynur Tekin reports: A platform established by the residents of Istanbul's Princes' Islands, urged the municipality of Istanbul to ensure healthy conditions as well as routine inspections for the horses of the island. More than 1,000 horses living in stables on Istanbul's Princes' Islands are at risk of death due to lack of activity, they said.
Journalist, translator and author Liz Behmoaras' novel “Lale Pudding Shop” introduces readers to the dreams, states of mind and love stories of the 1968 generation.
Serbian actor Darko Peric, the star of Netflix's hit series La Casa de Papel (Money Heist), said that if he hadn't chosen the code name of "Helsinki" in the show, he would choose Istanbul. Ekrem İmamoğlu, the city's mayor said, "Helsinki is right."
The Municipality of Istanbul (IBB) has purchased 60 vehicles of two different models to replace the horse-drawn carriages of the city's Princes Islands following a decision made in December 2019 to transition to wheeled electric vehicles. While 40 of the vehicles seat 13 people, the rest are four-seaters that will be used on-demand by residents who have a hard time navigating the sloping landscape.
Istanbul Municipality will operate ferries 24 hours on Fridays and Saturdays after the practice was implemented for buses, subways and the special vehicles metrobus, it said Feb. 27.
The Istanbul municipality is holding a design competition to reshape the city's iconic Taksim Square. The square at central Istanbul has lost its historic fabric after being turned into a concrete-covered place in recent years.
A 17-year-old male died in a traffic accident where the electric scooter he was riding got hit by a car. The passenger was thrown off the electric scooter and died on the scene.
The increasing prices of meals at public universities in Istanbul became a major item in the city following the suicide of a student who had posted on Twitter about not having enough money on her cafeteria card to eat. Istanbul's Kadıköy Volunteers Cafe was founded by a group of volunteers who reached an agreement with neighboring restaurants where students could purchase containers of food at reasonable prices.
Tourism associations in Turkey oppose a plan to establish a 'Meeting Lounge' outside Istanbul's new main airport where people will be charged 4 euros to wait for an arriving passenger. “If they take this practice one step further, it will become possible even to take money from you when you go to pick up your grandmother,” said Berrin Özgen of the Common Mind Tourism Platform.
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Mois Gabay writes: In my childhood years, I remember wandering in the streets of Beyoğlu alongside my father. Pera was living its last days. At the end of the street near the French Consulate, lay “Tailor Ragıp.” Mr. Ragıp was famous for making trousers that would fit you perfectly. Tailor Blum had trained him.
İslam Özkan writes: Rather than dividing it, it appears that Turkey’s strategy and polarizing policies in Libya have contributed to unifying the enemy camp. Though the attack against the al-Wattiyah airbase did not inflict huge damage on Turkey’s air defense system, Turkey’s efforts in Libya will likely get harder in the future.
Ülkü Doğanay writes: Maybe in January 2016, if the former prime minister, who now resents his colleagues and who kept quiet before the events regarding Şehir University, had remembered that he was also an academic benefiting from free expression, then universities may not have been in the dark position they are in today.
Politics
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has said that the number of new COVID-19 cases reported in Turkey has been declining steadily since June 25, but cautioned the public not to flout measures in place to stem the spread of the virus. "Let's not forget that these decreases [in case numbers] are happening slowly, whereas increases are happening suddenly," he said.
Turkey's Human Rights Association (İHD) has called for the release of Eylem Oyunlu, who is currently behind bars in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır on charges of 'assisting a terror organization' with her two young children. Oyunlu's 3-week-old baby is suffering from a blocked tear duct and the two-year-old has chronic bronchitis.
A non-governmental women's platform urged the government to stop proceedings on a legal amendment that would grant amnesty to sexual predators. The platform also urged the government to not consider recusing from the Istanbul Convention, an international treaty against domestic violence and violence against children.
Turkey's media watchdog issued 73 percent of broadcast interruption fines to the same four news broadcasters that are critical of the government, a report by non-governmental organization Transparency International revealed.
84 percent of Turkish citizens expect a second wave of the novel coronavirus epidemic, based on the results of a survey conducted from June 29-July 2 among more than 2,000 people in all of the country’s 81 provinces. 90 percent of people surveyed indicated that the virus had negatively impacted Turkey's economy.
The European Parliament held a debate entitled “Stability and Security in the Mediterranean and the negative role of Turkey” on July 9. Several MEPs called for a complete end to accessions talks with Turkey, saying the country should no longer receive payments from the EU budget as part of pre-accession support.
Turkey has voiced discontent with the United States' decision to provide International Military Education and Training (IMET) to Greek Cypriot soldiers in accordance with the 2020 fiscal year appropriations act. "This and similar steps do not contribute to the efforts towards the settlement of the Cyprus issue, but on the contrary, lead to strengthening the intransigent attitude of the Greek Cypriot side," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.
A recent simulation by Istanbul Municipality revealed the southern suburbs of the city to be the highest-risk areas in a potential earthquake. While the suburbs are located on both sides of the city, they're all placed alongside the southern Marmara Sea shoreline.
The Istanbul Convention, an international initiative that aims to combat domestic violence against women, has led to fractures within the ruling AKP as one of the party's lawmakers has said that she is puzzled why the convention has come under attack after so many years. AKP MP Canan Kalsın asked why the convention turned into a “scapegoat” nine years after it was signed in Istanbul.
Attending a demonstration can't be a proof of terrorist organization membership, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled in the case of four applicants from Turkey. The applicants faced the said accusation for attending a demonstration in 2008, with the ECHR saying that their rights to freedom of assembly were violated.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is expected to carry out a cabinet reshuffle and rearrange ministries. Erdoğan might part ways with three to four ministers, sources told Duvar, adding that two ministries, including the Family and Social Services Ministry, might be divided into two.
The police force of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) early on July 9 shot two Syrian refugees for attempting to run away after arriving at a beach on a boat. The TRNC police said that refugees continued to run away despite warning shots, and eventually they opened fire on them, injuring two.
A tender for hunting mountain goats in eastern Dersim was scheduled despite public outcry against it. Endemic to the Munzur Valley National Park, mountain goats are considered sacred among locals.
A parliamentary commission revealed that some 462 children in Turkey died under suspicious conditions in 2019. Police data showed that 21 children's deaths were suicides and 29 were the result of poisoning.
Four U.S. senators have penned a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper saying that Turkey's expulsion from the F-35 supply chain needs to be expedited, regardless of what the cost is. They said that the Defense Department's delay regarding the matter “has undermined the effectiveness of our clear message to the Turks.”
Turkey tested Russian-made S-400 air defense systems on U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets in November 2019, a source close to the Turkish defense industry told TASS on July 7. "Yes, such trials have indeed taken place last November," the source told TASS when asked to comment on several media reports.
The main opposition CHP’s proposal calling for an investigation into last week's deadly explosion at a Sakarya fireworks factory has been rejected by the votes of the AKP and MHP lawmakers.
Turkey's Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has said that the country will soon start mass production of favipiravir, a drug used in COVID-19 treatment, as the licensing process is expected to be completed in a couple of days. Koca said that the country will sell it on the international market and also use it to treat its own coronaviurus patients.
Economy
Finance Minister Berat Albayrak said that Turkey was an exception to the global financial crisis emerging in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. The minister said that Turkey has been outperforming other countries in "all measures of economic success."
Foreign investment in Istanbul's stock exchange fell below 50 percent for the first time since 2004, daily Sözcü reported. Almost four billion dollars have reportedly been sold out of the exchange in the first six months of 2020.
Turkey's foreign trade deficit doubled between January and May as exports fell by 20 percent. The monthly trade deficit also doubled in May, surpassing $3 billion.
The Turkish Competition Authority has launched a probe into German automotive giants Audi, Porsche, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and BMW. The authority's announcement on July 1 came as Volkswagen AG canceled plans to build a car factory in Turkey after the coronavirus pandemic jolted auto markets.
Urban Beat
Fossils discovered by a nature enthusiast in mountainous eastern province of Iğdır revealed that the area, now completely landlocked, used to be a shore and underwater. The fossils contained palm leaves, which grow in hot areas by the water.
Turkey's Culture and Tourism Ministry will be turning the iconic Galata Tower into a museum. The ministry will also launch a "culture route" that spans from the tower, along Istiklal Avenue and to Taksim Square. Minister Ersoy also said that the construction of the AKM would be completed within a month, ongoing since February 2019.
The United States' National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) likened railroads and highways in Turkey's capital Ankara to arteries in an eagle-eye shot of the city at night, dubbed "photo of the day" on June 28.
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu on June 25 announced that the municipality purchased a portrait of Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II at a London auction. According to the London-based world-famous Christie's auction house, the municipality's winning bid amounted to £770,000 ($955,000) for the oil painting, which is believed to be the work of Italian painter Gentile Bellini in 1480.