Who is Mehveş Evin?
An Istanbul-based journalist, Mehves Evin is a writer, freelancer, TV and radio host. She began her career in 1993 and has worked as a reporter, editor, managing editor, digital news editor and column writer in Turkish mainstream media until 2015. Evin covers press freedom, politics, human rights, environmental and women’s issues. Her first book “From A to Z: How did we get here?” (Kara Karga Publications) which focuses on social and political challenges between 2002-2018 was published in August 2018. Mehves Evin has recently started contributing for artigercek.com and hosts a weekly political debate show on artitv.tv. She has a bachelor’s degree in Psychological Counseling from Bogazici University (1993) and an e-MBA degree from Bilgi University (2006).
Just as Kavala was preparing for his release after 840 days spent in the Silivri Prison, the prosecutor’s office announced the philanthropist would be questioned on “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order." This proves how partial, arbitrary and politically involved the Turkish judiciary is. Yet the dynamics of this process remain unclear.
It’s hard to voice opposition to war when the coffins of slain soldiers are being sent back from Syria and when the nationalist mood is in full swing. However HDP deputy and former journalist Ahmet Şık, who has been jailed twice and is still tried on the Cumhuriyet case, says that they have the responsibility to question why so many young people are dying for.
The watchmen will not operate under a specific law or the constitution but under the government’s direct orders. Opposition parties thus warn of a “parallel police force” that enjoys unprecedented powers. At night, the watchmen could well turn into the state’s moral police.
Although the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled for his immediate release on Dec. 10, 2019, Osman Kavala remains as the only defendant under detention at the Gezi trial. So the question is whether the Council of Europe (CoE) and member states will stand up. If they will not do that, what is the function of the ECHR and why should other states bother to follow its rules?
Well-known economists have questioned how Kanal Istanbul will be financed, but they haven’t yet received any answers. Prof. Dr. Haluk Levent from Bilgi University believes that Kanal Istanbul is a Ponzi scheme, but with a difference: in a Ponzi Scheme, everything must be on the record, but this is not the case for Kanal Istanbul. The scheme is changing the town planning and zoning.
The media almost totally neglects or misinterprets cases related to July 15 in fear of being targeted themselves. On the other hand, high-ranking Gülenists, who have long fled the country, are in fact using the cases and prison sentences for their own PR.
Despite the government's pledge to combat femicide and domestic abuse, 474 women were murdered by men in 2019 in Turkey. Women’s rights advocates have repeatedly said the system is too weak to protect women.
Data from the last two years in Turkey points to a steady decrease in almost every aspect of a functioning, healthy democracy, such as freedom of speech, quality of education, gender and income equality, and the rule of law. It’s no surprise that society has become unhappier compared to 2017. Surely the AKP-MHP alliance is responsible for this great social, economic and political collapse.
Two days ago I went to the forth hearing of the Gezi trial in Silivri, where Kavala is the only imprisoned suspect among 16 civil society activists accused with ‘organizing and financing Gezi protests to overthrow the AKP government’ back in 2013. These trials are top examples of how rule of law is undermined and how human rights abuses are executed.
Kanal Istanbul is not only critical for Erdoğan financially. It also represents a political battlefield in which he wishes to beat his opponents, in this case the new opposition Istanbul Metropolitan Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu.
General elections appear to be on the agenda in 2023. That is what statements from President Erdoğan and his alliance partner, the MHP leader Bahçeli, suggest. Yet, the prospect of snap elections also looms. Many politicians, economists and journalists claim snap elections will be held in 2020. While snap elections may not seem logical, logics don’t apply to Turkish politics.
The severe violations of sick prisoners rights are against the law and contradict with international agreements Turkey partakes in. Human right advocates accuse the government of being unwilling to address these problems and point to the The European Council, which remains silent.
Just a few hours before police teargassed women in the streets of Istanbul, Emine Erdoğan, wife of President Tayyip Erdoğan, was giving a speech that denounced violence against women on the occasion of the International Day for Eliminating Violence against Women. However, Mrs. Erdoğan has also stated that the rise in violence against women is just a perception and that today, thanks to the AKP, women can ask for their rights.
As a journalist, I find it to be embarrassing and paradoxical that President Trump, not known to be a supporter of the free press, mocked the Turkish press. Yet his words, “You sure you’re a reporter? You don’t work for Turkey with that question?” reflect the truth regarding the group of people Erdoğan took along with him to Washington. These words sum up the status of the Turkish mainstream media.
Turkey generally does not rank high in suicide rates. One reason is religion; in Islam suicide is a sin. Culture and family ties also are among strong reasons why people refrain from taking their lives according to experts. However figures show that there is a rise in suicide rates in Turkey. The society does not only suffer from economical crisis and neo-liberalism, but also a harsh transformation from a hybrid democracy to a more authoritarian state.
Last week, another bunch of journalists were sacked from daily Hürriyet newspaper, which is still considered as the “flagship” of the mainstream media. In fact, Hürriyet lost its prestige long while ago. It doesn’t really matter who the editor in chief is now. Or why and how journalists were sacked. It is the final nail in the coffin. The mainstream media resembles the living death.
By looking at mainstream media, military salutes of popular figures or twitter trending topics, one might assume that Turkish people were heavily supporting the military operation in Northern Syria -officially called “Operation Peace Spring” ending in 8 days- no matter what the rest of the world says. When there is any military action in Turkey or outside its borders, it becomes even harder for critical voices to be heard.
Associate Professor Şık was the deputy director of the Food Safety and Agricultural Research Center at Akdeniz University. Then, due to his scientific research, he became an enemy of the state.
Latest
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a news conference at the State Department on Feb. 25 that the Syrian government's offensive in Idlib “only heightens the risk of conflict with our NATO ally, Turkey," adding that the U.S. was working together with Turkey “on seeing what we can do together.”
Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has died at the age of 91 after undergoing treatment in an intensive care unit following surgery, state television said on Feb. 25. Many Egyptians who lived through Mubarak’s time in power view it as a period of autocracy and crony capitalism. His overthrow led to Egypt’s first free election, which brought in Islamist President Mohamed Mursi.
An Istanbul court has ordered the arrest of the captain pilot of a plane that skidded off the runway earlier this month at an Istanbul airport and killed three passengers. The pilot faces charges of “involuntary manslaughter and causing injury."
Politics
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.”
Osman Kavala had to abandon the snails he was looking after in Silivri Prison after a court ordered his rearrest hours after another court ruled to acquit him. Following his acquittal, Kavala wanted to take the snails he looked after in Silivri Prison home, but had to give them to his lawyer when a detention warrant was issued.
"Several" Turkish soldiers were killed in Libya, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, as he confirmed that Ankara sent Syrian National Army militants to the war-ravaged country. "We have several martyrs, but in return we neutralized nearly 100 legionaries," Erdoğan said in a speech in the western province of İzmir on Feb. 22.
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.
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.
Turkish Defense Minister Akar said the U.S. could send Patriot missile systems to Turkey to be stationed on the southern border in the face of ballistic missile threats from Syria, while at the same time Ankara plans to activate the Russian S-400 missile defense systems by spring.
Jailed mafia leader Kürşat Yılmaz said that he was shown a picture of Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink in the past in order for him to murder Dink. "İsmail Issız, Ömer Küçükyurt and Hüseyin Albay came to me for the murder. I don't remember who but one of them showed me a picture of Dink and said, 'Murder him too. We will protect you,'" he said.
Turkey's parliament spent some 31,086,000 Turkish liras on car rentals in 2019, Deputy Chairman Süreyya Sadi Bilgiç said. While vehicles cost as much as 18,000 TL monthly, it was noted that car rentals in the past cost less than 7,272 TL.
Cryptographer Cees Jensen, who worked for Philips in the past, told Dutch outlet Vpro that Philips, at the request of the CIA, enabled the U.S. to spy on Turkey during the 1970's and 80's by weakening encryption devices that the country used for secure communication. In a statement, Philips said that the company has not been able to find any information regarding this issue in their archives.
The head of Libya's U.N.-recognized government has confirmed previous reports that Turkey sent allied Syrian fighters to the warn-struck country as part of its military support for the embattled government in Tripoli. “Yes, there are now Syrians here,” Fayez al-Sarraj said.
Turkish police have detained an ISIS executioner working for a natural gas company in the İnegöl district of the northwestern province of Bursa. İnegöl police received a tip on Y.A.A., who was among the leaders of ISIS in al Mayadin and al Bukamal regions of Syria's Deir ez-Zor, being in the district and carried out a raid, detaining him at a construction site.
German automaker Volkswagen has once again delayed plans to establish a factor producing its vehicles in Turkey.The factory was previously delayed last October amid Turkey's Operation Peace Spring into northeastern Syria, where Turkish armed forces alongside Ankara-backed Syrian rebel squads drove out the Kurdish People's Protection Forces (YPG) from territory it controlled in the region.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has urged deputies of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to have at least three children. "You stick with having one child. I'm saying at least three. I don't want one child for the vitality of our country," he said, before turning to the deputies with a single child to ask, "Am I right?"
The Istanbul 35th Heavy Penal Court on Feb. 19 postponed the trial into 11 human rights defenders, including Amnesty International Turkey’s Honorary Chair Taner Kılıç and its former executive director İdil Eser, to April 3. "Both us and our organizations are being tried to be criminalize in this trial," Kılıç told the court.
The Greek delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly walked out of the session in Brussels on Feb. 19 after its criticism of Turkey was repeatedly interrupted by the body’s acting president. "The acting president systemically interrupted our speeches and questions and stopped us from presenting our views… We concluded the presentation and the delegation left in protest against the president's stance", they said.
Detention warrants were issued for more than 750 people over their suspected links to the movement of the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen. Gülen movement, an ally-turned-foe of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), is widely believed to have been behind the July 15, 2016 failed coup attempt.
Turkey's population has increased by about 1.5 million and reached 83,154,997 citizens in 2019, the Turkish Statistical Institute said. While Istanbul remains the most populated city with over 15 million residents, the metropolis also has a population density of about 27 times the national average. The number of people per square kilometer is 108 nationally, whereas the same figure for Istanbul is 2,987.
Turkey's Competition Board has ultimately fined tech giant Google 98.3 million Turkish liras for violating the terms of fair competition due to unfair access to advertisement space. Last March, the board opened an investigation into claims that Google uses abusive tactics to quash its rivals.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is seeking to ensure a humanitarian catastrophe does not befall northwest Syria's Idlib province, U.S. President Donald Trump said on Feb. 18, adding that Washington and Ankara are "working together" to determine what can be done amid a Syrian army offensive. A day later, Erdoğan said that a military operation in Idlib was a "matter of time."
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.
An Istanbul court has acquitted renowned novelist Aslı Erdoğan of the charge of membership of an armed "terror organization" for writing for pro-Kurdish daily Özgür Gündem that has since been shut-down. The court also acquitted Erdoğan’s colleagues Bilge Aykut and Necmiye Alpay. The trial against other co-defendants, including human rights lawyer Eren Keskin, is to continue.
The German economy ministry said in its answer to a recent parliamentary question that the government has authorized arms exports to Turkey, Qatar, the UAE and Egypt worth 4.3 million euros during the period of Jan. 1 – Feb. 4. The Left Party’s ("Die Linke") MP Sevim Dağdelen has criticized Germany's move, saying: “Arms exports to countries involved in the Libya war should completely end.”
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.
Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy leader Aykut Erdoğdu said that 8.6 people commit suicide on average everyday in Turkey mostly due to financial reasons. "The government is responsible if people commit suicide because their children are hungry or because they are unemployed," Erdoğdu said, as he accused the government of blessing death.
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.
An Urla art house hosting photo exhibitions will be closed down as of the end of February, in line with a decision taken by the government-appointed trustee. The elected mayor of the district was removed from duty on Dec 18, 2019 over alleged links to the Gülen network.
A man who interrupted President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's address to members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in parliament on Feb. 12 was detained the next day. "Dear Mr. President, I got laid off from my job for participating in July 15 [2016's coup attempt]. My kids are hungry. Help me!" he shouted, as Erdoğan continued his speech.
Several European politicians have welcomed an Istanbul court's ruling to acquit nine defendants in the 2013 Gezi Park case, with many of them taking the issue to Twitter. One said the court's ruling was "long overdue," while another referred to the decision as "the best news in a long time in Turkey." The verdict was also welcomed by the U.S. embassy in Ankara.
Turkey was ranked second, following South Korea, in the use of antibiotics among OECD countries. According to data from Turkey's Health Ministry, the number of daily antibiotics used per thousand people is 31 in Turkey, while the OECD average is 18.9.
The United Kingdom will prioritize signing a free trade agreement with Turkey by the end of 2020, Ambassador to Turkey Dominick Chilcott said at the fourth UK Technology Conference held in Istanbul on Feb. 17. London will use its newfound "freedom to maneuver" in trade to create free trade policies and free ports around the country, and will impose new tariffs to promote free trade.
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.
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.
An Istanbul prosecutor has presented his final sentencing opinion regarding the case of Deniz Yücel, demanding a prison sentence of up to 15 years and three months in jail for the journalist. Yücel was jailed in Turkey from February 2017 to February 2018. After his release, he returned back to Germany.
Russian oligarch Vladimir Potanin who grew up in Ankara was named the richest person in Russia by Forbes Magazine. Often dubbed "the Oligarch from Ankara" for the time he spent there while his father served as USSR Embassy's trade attaché, Potanin has an estimated worth of $25 billion.
Syria's parliament has backed a resolution condemning the mass killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks in 1915 as genocide, in a move that came amid increased tensions between Ankara and Damascus in Idlib. In the past, Syria allowed the recognition of the genocide inside the country, but the government did not officially recognize it due to ties with Ankara.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has described social media as a "garbage dump," saying that it became a rampant environment in terms of increasing and varying cyber-bullying. "We will never surrender to this virtual world that people's rights are violated and that they are harassed, deceived, lynched, insulted," Erdoğan said, as he urged ministries to conclude their efforts on the issue rapidly.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has sentenced two people to death over the killing of Turkish diplomat Osman Köse. "The court handed sentences to six people. Two were sentenced to death, one was sentenced to a year behind bars and the remaining three were given two years in prison each," lawyer Birzo Said told Rudaw.
Seven educators who were detained for teaching Kurdish to preschoolers were acquitted of the charges of educating students on behalf of an organization, presumably the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), deemed a terrorist organization by Ankara, the United States and the European Union.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's ruling AKP has lost over 15,000 members within 50 days, compounding its difficulties after two founding members broke ranks to set up rival parties. As of Feb. 4, the membership of the party stands at 10.19 million members.
Turkish Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın and U.S. Special Envoy for Syria James Jeffrey highlighted during their meeting on Feb. 12 that Idlib deal must be upheld and the Syrian regime attacks need to stop as soon possible for a political solution process to be initiated in the war-torn country, according to a statement released by the Turkish presidency.
The Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA), in conjunction with the Social Information and Communication Association (TBİD) and the Alternative Information Association (Altbilişim) and other organizations have established the Free Web Turkey platform in an effort to combat and create awareness regarding online censorship in the country.
Greek far-right MEP Lagos has been suspended from joining the European Parliament's activities for four days and deprived of seven days of daily allowance after tearing up a paper copy of the Turkish flag during a session in January.
Ankara has condemned the European Parliament for hosting an event attended by Kurds sought by Turkey with a red warrant over PKK membership, saying that it "ignores the principle of fighting terrorist organizations without discrimination." "We invite EU institutions and EU member states to stand firm against terrorist organizations and no longer take terrorists under its wing," the Foreign Ministry said.
Canan Kaftancıoğlu has been re-elected as the Istanbul provincial chair of the main opposition CHP. Kaftancıoğlu was the only person who put forward her candidacy for the position, which was criticized by some party delegates, who found the process as “undemocratic.”
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu from main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) was revealed to be the only potential candidate who could win against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a potential presidential election, a survey by Bahçeşehir University's Social Research Center revealed.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accused the United States of threatening him and National Intelligence Agency (MİT) chief Hakan Fidan. "Unfortunately, the U.S. threatens me and my intelligence chief, as well as some financial institutions in Turkey," Erdoğan told members of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Feb. 5.
The party membership of former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş was dropped over his ongoing ban from politics, daily Birgün reported. Demirtaş, who has been in jail for over three years, is no longer a member of the HDP due to a case that he was charged with "making propaganda of a terrorist organization." The judgement was later reversed, but his party membership had already been dropped by then, the daily said.
The U.S. has halted a secretive military intelligence cooperation program with Turkey that for years helped Ankara target the PKK, four U.S. officials told Reuters, adding that the U.S. late last year stopped flying the intelligence collection missions that targeted the PKK, which both the U.S. and Turkey classify as terrorists. "This makes the anti-PKK campaign more difficult and more costly for Turkey," an official said.
A U.S. federal court has denied a request made by Turkey to dismiss a civil suit by protesters who were violently beaten while staging a demonstration against Turkish President Erdoğan in Washington D.C. in 2017, The Hills has reported. “Defendant Turkey points to no indication that an attack by the protesters was imminent,” US District Judge Kollar-Kotelly wrote in her judgement.
European Union diplomats reportedly agreed to impose travel bans on two Turkish nationals and freeze their assets. The decision to target the two individuals was reached at a meeting of EU diplomats in Brussels on Feb. 4, Bloomberg cited unnamed sources as saying. The move is in retaliation for Ankara’s gas prospecting in disputed waters near Cyprus.
Main opposition CHP has officially announced its decision to boycott CNN Türk due to its biased coverage against the party. CHP deputy chair Özkan said CNN Türk has been "functioning as if it is the advertising agency" of the ruling AKP, calling on the TV channel to adopt "independent and objective" principles of journalism.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's approval rate has dropped to the lowest it's been since October 2018, revealed "Turkey's Pulse 2020" survey by Metropoll research company. His approval rate rose as high as 48 percent during Ankara's Operation Peace Spring into Northern Syria in October 2019.
Iranian rapper Amir Tataloo, who was detained on Jan. 28 in Istanbul, has been released from police custody, Radio Free Europe reported. Turkish police told the BBC that Tataloo was detained for “visa violations,” while also confirming that a red alert had been issued for the rapper on drug-related issues.
Renowned Turkish novelist Elif Şafak's book "The Gaze" has been withheld from inmates at the women's prison in Diyarbakır. The prison management gave the copies of the book to the inmates who wished to read it, but then only a week later, they collected them back citing no reason, said HDP deputy Ebru Günay during a meeting of the Parliamentary Human Rights Commission.
İbrahim "Mike" Baycora has become the first Turkish-American police chief in the history of the United States. He was sworn in with his left hand on a copy of the Quran as the police chief of the city of Paterson in New Jersey.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has pardoned Ahmet Turan Kılıç, who was sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment over the Sivas Massacre, which took place when a mob set the Madımak Hotel in the Central Anatolian province of Sivas on fire on July 2, 1993, killing 33 intellectuals and two hotel personnel. Erdoğan lifted the 86-year-old man's sentence due to the health problems that he has been suffering from.
Turkey will provide financial aid to the Ukrainian army, Ukraine’s ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Sibiga, has said, adding that a deal is set to be signed between President Erdoğan and Ukrainian President Zelensky during the former's visit to Kiev. "According to the deal that will be signed during this trip, the Turkish side will provide financial aid worth 200 million liras for the needs of the Ukranian army," Sibiga said.
Murat Büyük, who has been living in France for the past 43 years, was denied citizenship last month after French authorities said that his loyalty to France can't be guaranteed. Shortly after, Büyük's wife Şerife Büyük's application was also denied. "Since you are his wife, you have a common living space, you can't deny his political commitment that you support indirectly," the letter sent to Şerife Büyük read.
Supporters of Moqtada al-Sadr took control of the Turkish Restaurant building, as the political leader urged his supporters known as "blue hats" on Feb. 2 to work with authorities to ensure schools and businesses can operate normally again. The Turkish Restaurant, a tall building occupied by demonstrators since October, was mostly empty after Sadrists drew out demonstrators and the blue hats stood guard outside it.
The Governor's Office in the Marmara town of Bursa will demolish 24 school buildings after inspectors determined that they would be risky in the event of an earthquake. Students from 15 of the schools will be transferred to the closest school in their district.
Four bus drivers in Vienna were laid off after getting caught signing the nationalist gesture "Grey Wolf" on surveillance footage. The sign, often associated with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), was banned by Austrian legislature in 2018 as part of an effort to "combat extremism."
Istanbul police have detained 16 people in an operation carried out against members of a Russian criminal organization after determining that they arrived in the city to murder another gang leader. During the raids, the leader of the Russian group, Andri Malyi, two Ukrainians, one Russian, four Georgians and eight Azerbaijanis were detained. Police seized one Kalashnikov rifle, 11 pistols and plenty of bullets in the operation.
Turkey's Constitutional Court has ruled that sentencing two people for demanding the release of jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan and initiating a campaign for this was a violation of their right to freedom of expression. A Diyarbakır court in 2015 sentenced two people each to 10 months in jail on terrorism charges for distributing campaign forms with Öcalan's picture on them.
A foundation led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's daughter Esra Albayrak has bought the estate of iconic boxer Muhammad Ali in Chicago, Illinois.
Turkey was the subject of the highest number of judgments regarding violations of freedom of expression in 2019, the European Court of Human Rights’ annual activity report revealed on Jan. 29. Among the total 68 judgements in which the court has found a violation of freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, 35 were filed by citizens of Turkey.
Following the deadly earthquake in the province of Elazığ that killed 41 people last month, geologist and earthquake expert Dr. Naci Görür wrote in a series of tweets that the expected major Istanbul earthquake will be at least a 7.2 on the Richter scale, with an epicenter in the Kumburgaz area of the western suburb of Büyükçekmece.
Belgium's Court of Cassation, the highest appeal level in the country, on Jan. 28 ratified a ruling of a lower court that acquitted 36 individuals and two companies accused of activities involving the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The case concerns a landmark decision of the Court of Appeals in March 2019 which said that the PKK's armed struggle is “Turkey's domestic dispute” and Belgian anti-terror laws cannot be imposed on the suspects.
An Istanbul court has sentenced 27 Boğaziçi students each to 10 months in jail on charges of "spreading terror propaganda" for staging a protest on the campus opposing Turkey's Afrin operation. The court postponed the execution of the sentence for 20 students.
Following the disastrous 6.8 Earthquake that struck the southeastern city of Elazığ last week and claimed the lives of 41 people while injuring 1600, thousands of residents are living in tents while at least hundreds are without heating, enduring freezing conditions amid a cold winter. While some tents have heating stoves, others lack them, causing families to endure freezing conditions in a park where the pond has frozen over.
Germany's Left Party was refused a response to a parliamentary question about government ties to the Gülen organization, Ankara's primary suspect for the botched 2016 coup, causing alarm among the party's ranks. The German government refused to respond on the grounds that it would affect the operation of intelligence agencies.
General Frank McKenzie, commander of United States Central Command (CENTCOM), met with General Mazloum Kobani, commander of the Kurdish-led SDF, at a military base in eastern Syria on Jan. 25. Kobani reportedly asked McKenzie for reassurance that the U.S. would continue their support of SDF militants, which McKenzie returned with the promise of continued anti-ISIS efforts and collaboration in protecting oil wells.
Turkey's center-right parties are reportedly preparing to form an alliance to challenge the People's Alliance consisting of the ruling AKP and its nationalist ally MHP in the next elections. Contrary to the Nation Alliance of the last elections, the main opposition CHP won't be included in the alliance formed by these nationalist-conservative parties, Birgün reported on Jan. 23.
Turkey's former Prime Minister Davutoğlu has accused economy administration of manipulating inflation figures. "Competent people need to be in charge of this administration. Think about a doctor who tells his patient that he is fine by changing his test results. The patient says 'I'm dying,' but the doctor says, 'Look at the figures, your test results are fine.' The economy administration in Turkey is doing exactly this," he said.
The staff of İncirlik military air base in Turkey’s southern Adana province is being reduced by 424 employees. The U.S. company handling maintenance services on the air base cited “the U.S.' reducing its presence in Syria” as the reason of the staff reduction, according to an official of the Turkish Defense Workers' Trade Union.
The manufacturer Boeing had fault in the crash of a Boeing 737-NG from the Turkish Airlines fleet in 2009, The New York Times reported. The aircraft was an earlier version of the Boeing 737-Max, the grounded plane that killed 346 people in crashes in Indonesia and Malaysia. Expert reports that are unavailable to the public revealed "risky design choices and faulty safety assessments" on the part of Boeing.
Currently, 59 German citizens are in Turkish prisons, and another 74 German citizens are barred from leaving Turkey pending investigation, German Foreign Ministry has announced. German Chancellor Merkel is expected to discuss this issue during her meeting with Turkish President Erdoğan in Istanbul on Jan. 24.
Wikiferheng is an online Kurdish dictionary that currently consists of 800,000 words, idioms, aphorisms, and other entries. The editors say they aim to reach 1 million words and establish a dictionary that reflects the prominent position of Kurdish among the languages of the world.
As the row over the AKP and the main opposition CHP over Kanal Istanbul continues, a report by daily Cumhuriyet said that Finance Minister Berat Albayrak purchased land on the route of the controversial canal a year after President Erdoğan announced the plans to build it. Albayrak's lawyer Ahmet Özel released a statement shortly after Cumhuriyet's report, saying that "it was an ordinary purchase."
Turkey remains 110th in the Economist's latest global democracy index. The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) categorized Turkey as the only “hybrid regime” in western Europe -- the second lowest after “authoritarian regime.”
A total of 12 flamingos were found frozen to death in Ivriz Reservoir in the Halkapınar district of the central Anatolian town of Konya. Mayor Mehmet Bakkal said that around 300 flamingos take refuge in the reservoir due to the cold weather, and that the Agriculture and Forestry Ministry will determine an official cause of death for the 12 that seem to have succumbed to the cold.
Due to anti-vaccination sentiment that has increased in Turkey in recent years, the number of those refusing to vaccinate their children has skyrocketed from 183 to 23,000 in only 7 years. The consequences for public health have also quickly revealed themselves, as the number of those catching measles during the first 9 months of last year increased fivefold compared to the same period in 2018, reaching 2666.
Economics
Borsa Istanbul will remove two zeros from its indices on April 27, it said on Feb. 19. The stock exchange will test this move in several phases. "Planned go live date is April 27, 2020 and the index values will continue to be shown in two decimal places. Contract sizes will be decreased to 10 from 100. Price ticks for futures will be increased to 0.25 from 0.025," it noted.
A federal appeals court granted a temporary halt in the U.S. prosecution of Turkish lender Halkbank over sanctions violation charges while it weighs other requests by the bank. Prosecutors have deemed the bank a fugitive from justice, asking a judge to hold it in contempt and impose fines until it begins answering the charges. Shares of Halkbank surged 7.27 percent when markets opened on Feb. 4 following the decision.
The Ankara Municipality is working on securing loans in order to fund the construction of a new metro line in the capital, said Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavaş on Feb. 11. The line is planned to run six stops from the central Dikimevi station to the east, ending at the Nata Vega shopping mall in the district of Mamak.
Turkey's opposition parties CHP and HDP have castigated a banking bill the government has sought to push through. Both parties claimed the law will serve to fund the president's "Kanal Istanbul" project.
Turkey's Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK) ruled that Turkish banks are allowed to swap only 10 percent of their legal capital. In August 2018, The BDDK had already lowered the limit of swaps, futures, forwards and options with a foreign currency and a Turkish Lira leg to 25 percent of the banks’ legal capital.
The total amount of Turkish lira held in bank accounts in Turkey reached the 1.2 trillion TL mark, while accounts denominated for foreign currency held $224.7 billion, according to recent Central Bank figures pertaining to the week ending on January 31. The amount of consumer credit stood at 460.5 billion TL, while the amount of installment commercial loans totaled 379.5 billion TL. More than a third of the consumer credit, 188.8 billion TL, pertained to mortgage and housing loans.
A parliamentary question presented to the Agriculture Ministry about olive and olive oil imports from Syria was denied a response on the grounds that the information was based on "trade secrets." Olive imports from the northwestern Syrian town of Afrin have been a topic of debate during the 2020 budget meetings due to concerns about the impact the imports would have on domestic markets.
Turkish Lira deposits in banks have increased by 0.08 percent in the last week of January, reaching 1,259,898,662,000 liras, Turkey's Central Bank (TCMB) Weekly Money and Banking Statistics revealed. Meanwhile, foreign currency deposits have seen a increase of 0.18 percent, reaching $224,700,000,000.
HSBC is considering selling its Turkey business amid concerns about the country’s volatile currency and economic outlook, sources familiar with the matter said, according to a news report released by Reuters on Jan. 29. The bank’s retreat from Turkey, where it has operated since 1990, would be one of the biggest exits from a country it has made in recent years as it shrinks its once globe-spanning empire.
McDonald's Turkey's managing company Anatolian Restaurants Management was sold to Birleşik Holding ("United Holding") for a little over 280 million Turkish Liras, approximately $46 million. Previously the property of one of Turkey's largest conglomerates Anadolu Group, the company stocks will change hand after the approval of the Turkish Competition Board.
Turkey is set to receive information on its citizens' assets in foreign countries as part of the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement (MCAA) that aims to prevent tax evasion in accordance with the Standard for Automatic Exchange of Financial Information in Tax Matters. The system came into force in Turkey on Jan. 1 after it was published in the Official Gazette.
The current hunger threshold for a family of four is 2219 TL, according to recent statistics compiled in a report by the Turk-İş labor union, nearly reaching the current net minimum wage, which was determined to be 2324 TL as of January 2020.
Turkey's private sector was in more than 210 billion dollars of foreign debt at the end of November 2019, revealed the Central Bank. While $10.2 billion of the total is floating debt, almost $200 billion of the total debt is in long-term loans. While 60.9 percent of the foreign loans were in dollars, the second largest slice was euro, making up 33.7 percent.
Total assets of the Turkish banking industry have decreased by over 21 billion liras in the beginning of the year, revealed weekly money and banking statistics by the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey (TCMB). The dip represents a decrease of about 0,8 percent of assets. Turkish Lira assets took majority of the hit with a 0,71 percent decline while foreign currencies dropped by a mere 0,32 percent.
Housing sales have decreased by 1.9 percent in 2019, the Turkish Statistical Institute revealed. While 1,348,729 residences were sold in 2019, one third of these sales were mortgages. Istanbul was the city with the highest number of residences sold with 237,675 sales, followed by Ankara and İzmir. Residential sales to foreigners went up by 14.7 percent, reaching 45,483.
Turkey’s central bank cut its benchmark rate for the fifth time in six months, as its new governor continued to ease policy. The bank cut its key rate to 11.25 percent from 12 percent.
According to data obtained from General Directorate of Land Registry and Cadastre, a total of 6,694 foreigners obtained certificates of conformity in order to become Turkish citizens via purchasing real estate. The lower limit for granting citizenship via real estate purchases was decreased to $250,000 in September 2018 from one million dollars in 2017, prompting an increase in foreign investments.
Urban Beat
A contemporary amphitheater installed by Istanbul Municipality on the city's central Taksim Square is being taken down following a swift ruling by the regional conservation board. The Istanbul Second District Cultural Heritage Conservation Board ruled within two days of the installation of the structure that it be taken down, while it had allowed the Presidency's Communications Directorate to leave a tent up on the square for months.
Hagia Sophia was the most popular touristic site of 2019 with a total of 3,727,361 visitors, Turkey's Culture and Tourism Ministry said. Remodeled as a mosque under the Ottoman Empire, Hagia Sophia was converted into a museum in 1935. The second most visited touristic destination in 2019 was the Mevlana Museum in Rumi's birthplace, the central Anatolian province of Konya.
Turkey was revealed to be Europe's second most affordable country to live in by CEOWORLD Magazine. According to a ranking that measures the cost of living, rent, groceries, eating out and purchasing power, Turkey is the 102nd cheapest of 132 countries worldwide.
A subcompay of the Istanbul Municipality, the Istanbul Electricity, Tramway and Tunnel General Management (İETT) will oversee the Princes' Islands' transition from horse-drawn carriages to electric vehicles. Founded in 1871, IETT currently runs the iconic red tramway in Istanbul's central district of Beyoğlu.
Istanbul residents will soon start using a mobile application at public transportation turnstiles, the municipality said. While a pilot program will be available March, the application eventually aims to make the Istanbulkart subscription, Istanbul's transportation card, into a tool that can be used for multiple purposes.
Turkey has six cities in user-generated database Numbeo's safety index rankings for 2020. Student-populated Eskişehir ranked number eight on the list with a safety rating of "high." Bursa, Ankara, Izmir, Antalya and Istanbul were also on the list with safety rankings of "moderate" and higher.
The Istanbul Airport's security commission has banned people from welcoming arrival passengers with pickup signs. Those who do not know the person they are waiting for are required to pay a certain fee and wait for their guests at the “meeting lounge.”