Turkey is locked into a single issue and it is not the new wave of Turkey bound refugees from Idlib. It is the mega Canal İstanbul project. However, public does not have adequate knowledge of the project according to a recent poll.
December 27 2019
Turkey is locked into a single issue and it is not the new wave of Turkey bound refugees from Idlib. It is the mega Canal İstanbul project. It appears, from night shows on TV and the ferocious statements by politicians, that there is a debate in the country. In fact, there is a debate but one over political divisions and identities and not one over facts. This is a project that will have consequences from a military, environment and economic perspective that are long lasting and irreversible. A technical and convincing debate must take place.
Prior to 1994 municipal elections, a similar project was advocated by the late Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit. Now, main opposition CHP ,the ideological sister of Bülent Ecevit’s DSP, opposes the project at all costs. In 1994, then the mayoral candidate Erdoğan opposed the idea strongly. Since 2011, he is the champion of the project. In 2011, then in opposition MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli trashed the project and now, as part of the ruling alliance, he trashes the ones who are opposing it. The supporters of each political party follow suit. Once again, the issue is highly polarized on political divides.
The fact of the matter is public does not have adequate knowledge of the project. Indeed, it is not just digging a canal that connects the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea a second time. Among other things a “smart city” of 500K inhabitant is planned to be built along the Canal. In a nation wide survey we conducted at TurkiyeRaporu.com during the first week of December, it turned out that the knowledge on project is staggeringly low. About 49% of the participants indicated that they have no information on the project whereas 40% said they were “somewhat informed” about the project. Only 11,3% claimed that they were “well informed”.
There is a draw when it comes to support for the project. 42% of the population oppose and the same share support the project, whereas 14% remains undecided. 49% of the population does not agree with the statement that the project will bring new sources of revenue whereas 35% agree. This is worth noting, as the economic argument is one of the pillars of Government’s case for the project.
In addition to civil society, this week Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu put forward 15 technical reasons why the project should not be implemented. He will need to back these with more data, but the ball is in Government’s court to convince the public why, if in fact, he is wrong.
This debate has to rid itself of politics immediately. A plebiscite of citizens living Istanbul is not the solution. The preference of Istanbul folk will not change the technical realities of the project. The Government seems resolute on undertaking the project at all cost. However, the way this debate is going, it could turn out to be an existential one. A debate, indeed, to end all debates.
Who is Can Selçuki?
Can Selçuki holds a MSc degree in Economics from University Bocconi. Before co-founding Istanbul Economy, a public opinion and big data firm, Can worked as an economist at the World Bank Ankara Office working both with the public and private partners in private sector development. His work at the World Bank focused on regional development, competition and innovation policies. Prior to working at the World Bank, Can worked as an economics researcher at the Brussels based think tank the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) for three years. He is the author of several papers and reports on trade competitiveness, regional development and innovation policy in Turkey. He is frequent commentator on Turkey and the region in print and visual media such as BBC World and FT and regularly writes on Turkish economy and politics in Turkish and international print such as Foreign Policy.
In a country that has more than 50 million registered voters, a single vote does not carry much influence. Yet voter turnout in Turkish elections remains over 80%. So why do Turkish people vote? In fact, fulfilling one's duties as a citizen matters more than having an impact on the election results.
Even though the majority of the society did not conduct an earthquake test, 66.4% of society believes that their home is earthquake resistant. In fact, 43.7% of attendants stated that they believe their homes are earthquake resistant even though they never conducted an earthquake test. Statistics demonstrate that Turkey is not prepared for earthquakes at both an infrastructure and individual level.
Following a significant earthquake and amid a turbulent political conjuncture, Turkey's citizens are worried. Yet rather than politics or economics, people are mostly concerned about their individual security and that of their families.
Speculation regarding the potential of new parties are abound. According to our September 2019 polling across Turkey, the potential for the new parties that would be established by former prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu and former economy chief Ali Babacan stood a little over 17% combined. This number in line with the 15-20% of the electorate who are looking for something new. We will have to wait and see whether the new parties will be able to realize this potential.
A nation-wide poll, conducted during the first week of January, showed that 58% of the population is against sending troops to Libya. A breakdown of the result according to party supporters is telling. The AKP base itself is opposed to it and a divergence prevails between the AKP and the MHP bases.
Turkey is now sending military support for the Government of National Accord (GNA) to aid in its fight against General Hafter. The potential benefit of this decision is too distanced from the public life. Particularly, if the mission turns into an operational one, it will be very difficult to explain to the public why we are indeed in Libya.
Finally, last week, former Prime Minister and chief of foreign policy, Ahmet Davutoğlu’s much anticipated Future Party was inaugurated. Analysts are rushing to deem his party’s chances slim. I see that there is a fundamental flaw in that analysis.
For a long time now, all our polling points to two main sources of dissatisfaction among the public. First is the economy. Second is the Syrian refugees and the Syria policy. Both are policy areas where Mr. Babacan and Mr. Davutoğlu were responsible for at the highest level of public office. It would have been much easier and strategically correct for President Erdoğan to link today’s woes to the wrong doings of the two during when they were in office.
Most recently, an event transpired likely to be seen in scenarios of an absurd comedy piece. With the “pro” votes of MHP and AK Party MPs, the bill postponing the requirement for filtration in thermal power plants, was approved in the parliament. The decision caused an uproar in the opposition ranks but also in a large section of society. Then, something quite unexpected happened; President Erdoğan vetoed the bill. The irony is of course, that the very same law that was tabled by Mr. Erdoğan’s AK Party was vetoed by President Mr. Erdoğan himself.
Last Tuesday, former Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Ali Babacan for the first time appeared on national television as an opposition politician. Mr. Babacan did not object when the host of the talk show host suggested he appears as more of a “political organizer” than a “political leader”. It shows that his movement is not organized in the typical political hierarchy that voters are used to see.
A couple of months ago, when three HDP mayors were removed from office, I had predicted that this increased the chances of early elections in the fall of 2020. Looking at the economic sentiment of the house hold, it is safe to say chances for an early elections has slimmed since. Because, right now economy is the number one priority of the Turkish electorate and they are not happy.
According to a latest poll, President Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AK Party) appears to have lost 1.2 points of support whereas Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) increased its support by 3.1 points after Turkey's "Operation Peace Spring" in northern Syria.
In Turkey and across the world, the voting behavior of the young is changing. Turkey hosts close to 5 million citizens comprised between the ages of 14 and 17. By 2023, this entire group will vote, constituting close to 10% of the entire electorate.
Day-to-day events and inconsistent messages that have been coming from Turkey's traditional Western partners over the past decade have fostered negative sentiments. Yet the majority of the Turkish public values a long-term partnership with the West.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has praised the good ties between Moscow and Ankara, adding that the countries will sometimes disagree. "We have a very good relationship with Turkey. It does not mean that we must agree on all the issues," he said. "I strongly believe that in the relations between any two countries there cannot be a complete consensus on any problem," Lavrov added.
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.”
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.
An Istanbul prosecutor has presented his final sentencing opinion regarding the Gezi Park case. He demanded aggravated life imprisonment for three defendants in the case: renowned philanthropist Osman Kavala, the only jailed defendant in the case, civil society activist Yiğit Aksakoğlu and architect Mücella Yapıcı.
Main opposition CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu has accused President Erdoğan of paving the way for the Gülen network to infiltrate into the judiciary, military, police forces and interior ministry. "The name of the person who handed over the state to the FETÖ is Recep Tayyip Erdoğan,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
Journalist Murat Yetkin, in his last piece, analyzed the state of Turkish economy and its effects over domestic political calculations of President Tayyip Erdoğan. Yetkin argued that under the ongoing economic circumstances, an early election for Erdoğan will be too risky and unnecessary.
A former deputy of the pro-Kurdish People's Labour Party (HEP), Mahmut Alınak was arrested on Feb. 13 following a search of his home in the eastern province of Kars. "We found 21 books," said one of the police officers while signing the official report about the search warrant at his home.
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.
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.
Seventy intellectuals have signed a petition calling for the release of former Diyarbakır co-mayor Dr. Selçuk Mızraklı of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Peoples' Party (HDP) ahead of his trial Feb. 10. As one of the dozens of HDP officials who were sacked by the Interior Ministry and replaced by trustees following the March 31, 2019 local elections, Mızraklı is facing 15 years for "being a member of a terrorist organization."
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.
A person who objected to go through body search was beaten by watchmen in Istanbul's Fatih district. A footage shared by a Twitter account late on Feb. 1 showed a man getting handcuffed to fences in a park by a group of watchmen, as he shouted "You broke my ankle." The incident adds to the mounting concerns on human rights abuses at the hands of the watchmen.
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.
Former ministers involved in a corruption scandal should be tried, former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said. "If there are certain allegations, public conscience would be relieved when they are acquitted," Davutoğlu said on Feb. 4. "I thought that the most appropriate way would be to be acquitted in the Grand Chamber. I still think that way. We had a difference in opinion [with Erdoğan] here," he also said.
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.
The Consitutional Court said that a lower court's refusal to implement its decision on the release of Mehmet Altan has violated the journalist's “right to personal liberty and security.” Accordingly, it ordered that Altan should be paid 30,000 Turkish Liras ($5,025) in compensation. The top court also warned lower courts to abide by its rulings.
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.
The football team of the Kurdish-majority district of Cizre has withdrawn from the Turkish league, saying it can no longer withstand the "injustices" of the Turkish Football Federation (TTF) and the Central Referee Committee (MHK). “Due to the injustices that we have faced at both home and rival games, in the face of the referees' racist and nationalist stance, we are withdrawing our team Cizrespor from the league," said the club in a statement.
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.
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.
The Turkish parliament on Jan. 29 issued a joint declaration condemning the Middle East plan presented by U.S. President Trump a day earlier. The plan "is against U.N. decisions and the perspective of the two-state solution," the declaration read.
President Erdoğan also lambasted the plan as “absolutely unacceptable,” saying it is "legitimizing Israel’s occupation."
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.
Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) leader Masoud Barzani has told Mikhail Bogdanov, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister and President Vladimir Putin's Special Representative for the Middle East and Africa, that he is concerned about the future of Syrian Kurds. "President Barzani presented his opinion and suggestions for resolving the question of the Kurdish people in Syria," a statement released from Barzani's office read.
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.
Police detained 14 ISIS suspects in anti-terror operations conducted in the capital Ankara and the southern province of Adana on Jan. 29. Those detained in Ankara are suspected of ISIS membership and communicating with the conflict zones abroad, while those in Adana are of Syrian origin.
The Istanbul 30th Heavy Penal Court has ruled for the continuation of arrest of prominent businessman, philanthropist and human rights activist Osman Kavala, who has been in jail for over 800 days. The hearing became the scene of protests when the court rejected Kavala's lawyers' recusal demand. The lawyers left the courtroom in protest, which was followed by the audience applauding in support of the lawyers.
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 Egyptian actor who works as a stunt double in Turkish shows was violently beaten in Istanbul when a man mistook him for a Syrian refugee. The man was yelling profanities about Syrians even after the attack was over, which is how Mancy realized what had happened. The actor was on a bus with his sister, sister-in-law and niece who also got hit by the attacker and the actor was treated for a broken nose and a broken arm.
Syrian Kurdish politician Ilham Ahmed said that Russia mediated political negotiations between the Kurds and the Syrian government. She said that a Russian envoy had met with Kurdish, Arab and Christian officials from northeastern Syria at the Hmeimim air base at the end of 2019. Discussions focused on how to "develop" the dialogue, Ahmed added.
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.
Some 7,953,651 people have consulted with psychiatry clinics in the last three years, 69 percent female and 31 percent male, said Turkey's Health Minister Fahrettin Koca in his response to a parliamentary question.
Police have seized some 7,000 bottles of bootleg alcohol from a hotel in Bodrum, the popular Aegean tourist destination. Two suspects were detained in the operation on Jan. 30. Also on the same day, gendarmerie units raided a house in the Mediterranean resort city of Antalya, where they also detained two people. Hikes on alcohol taxes have caused surges in bootleg alcohol production in Turkey.
Turkey's first professional boxer Garbis Zakaryan, of Armenian descent, was laid to rest in Istanbul's Şişli Armenian Cemetery on Jan. 29. Main opposition CHP MP Tanrıkulu and HDP MP Paylan have criticized the authorities for not having yet named a public sports center after Zakaryan.
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.
President Erdoğan has said that the Astana process -- which was launched Turkey, Russia, Iran in January 2017 to ensure a peaceful settlement in Syria -- has collapsed. "There is no such thing as the Astana process anymore. The Astana process has fallen into silence now. We need to look at what Turkey, Russia and Iran can do to revive the Astana process," Erdoğan told reporters on his flight back from Senegal.
Ilham Ahmed, the head of the executive committee of the Syria Democratic Council, has praised an initiative by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) leader Mazloum Kobani to unite Kurds in northern Syria. "In the light of this chaos and conflicts in the region, this initiative came at the right time," she said, as she deemed the move "historical."
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.
Selahattin Demirtaş has said that a left 'democracy block' can only be achieved if smaller fractions refrain from prioritizing their agenda, adding that the issue distracts politicians from addressing the real needs of the people. It might be possible for an alliance to form between the HDP and the new parties founded by Davutoğlu and Babacan if they participate in the democratization process, he said.
A person with the initials İÖ initially became known among the public for filing criminal complaints against people appearing on television debate programs. Those initials kept appearing on complaint petitions. İÖ has been an informant since he was a child, and he has even filed complaints against his own father and uncle, among others. He claims to have provided testimony in the trials of 150 DHKP-C suspects.
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.
"We're expecting a 7.5-magnitude earthquake in Istanbul," Turkey's Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on a live broadcast. Soylu told there were 28 work groups to plan for the potential quake, and an application to ensure communication after an earthquake is being developed by Turkey's four largest phone operators.
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.
A total of 131 suspects were handed prison terms on Jan. 22 in the case into the illegal wiretapping by Gülenists. Those sentenced include police chiefs that carried out Dec. 17-25, 2013 graft probes, which targeted former ministers and are deemed as attempts to overthrow the government by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
The Ankara First Heavy Penal Court has released its justified decision on ruling for the acquittal of 19 suspects, including former Interior Minister Mehmet Ağar, in the case into 18 unsolved murders that were committed in 1990s, deeming all reports by Turkish Intelligence Agency (MİT), parliament, ministries and commissions "insufficient" to convict the suspects.
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.”
Researcher Elif Sandal Önal was one of the many "Academics for Peace" - a group of more than 2,000 people who signed a controversial petition that was released in January 2016 and that condemned the Turkish military's heavy use of violence in certain southeastern, predominantly Kurdish districts of Turkey. Like many of the signatories, Önal was fired from her job and sought exile abroad. Now settled in Germany, the academic says he "has no intention of returning to Turkey."
A military diplomatic source told TASS that the deal signed between Ankara and Moscow regarding the S-400 missile defense systems doesn't include technology transfers, even if it's partial. The source also said that more than 120 surface-to-air guided missile have been supplied by Russia to Turkey along with a regiment set of S-400 systems.
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.
Turkish and Syrian heads of intelligence met in Moscow on Jan. 13, in the first official contact in years, a senior Turkish official and Syrian news agency SANA said. Turkey's intelligence chief, Hakan Fidan, and his Syrian counterpart discussed the ceasefire in Syria's Idlib, and possible coordination against the Kurdish presence in northern Syria.
As thousands of passengers suffered from delays and cancellations in flights during last week's storms at Istanbul's new airport, Atatürk Airport continued to function properly, with Russian President Vladimir Putin using it. Atatürk Airport started to be used for cargo planes following the transfer of flights to the new airport - a move the opposition continues to criticize due to continuing disrupts in flights at the new one.
A more than two-year block on online encyclopedia Wikipedia was lifted on Jan. 15 at around 10.30 p.m. local time, putting an end to the ban put in place in April 2017 due to entries that accused Turkey of having links to terrorist organizations. Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül said last week that the website would be reopened once the Constitutional Court reveals its justified decision on the ruling.
The new headquarters of the National Intelligence Agency (MİT) was opened on Jan. 6 in a ceremony attended by President Erdoğan, MİT chief Hakan Fidan and government officials. Erdoğan praised MİT in his speech repeatedly, saying that the agency assumed a leading role in combat zones via preparing the ground for security forces. "Likewise, they are fulfilling their duties thoroughly in Libya," he said.
A majority of the Turkish population thinks that Turkey should remain a NATO, a survey by private polling company Metropoll revealed. The poll also asked participants how they think Turkey should position itself between the US and Russia, and half of the participants said Ankara should remain neutral.
Some 94 women have been killed while under state protection between 2015 and 2019, the Turkish Interior Ministry said. The ministry also said that over 1 million incidents of violence against women occurred between 2014 and 2019, leading to the death of 1,890 women.
A mega yacht once belonging to the inventory of the Turkish navy has been restored and added to the inventory of the Presidency. Vice President Fuat Oktay told the yacht was transferred to the Presidency on March 16. It was previously used by the navy to transport personnel.
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.
Turkey's Central Bank Governor Murat Uysal announced the inflation rates for this year and 2021 as 8.2 percent and 5.4 respectively. Amid an embattled lira that sunk in value throughout the course of much of 2018, inflation hit 20.3 percent December of that year, while in 2019, inflation remained in the double digits, and was 11.8 percent by the end of the year.
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.
Taking the Eurasia Tunnel will now take a bigger bite out of drivers' wallet as the tolls have increased by 56 percent as of Feb. 1 for both passenger cars and minibuses. There has been a 119 percent hike in the tolls for the tunnel since it was opened to traffic on Dec. 22, 2016.
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 Treasury and Finance Ministry has fined two top banks Yapı Kredi and Akbank 281.8 million Turkish Liras ($47 million) in total for violating an insurance law. Shares of the banks slipped in response.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Istanbul’s last remaining three fish sandwich boats are soon to be shut down by authorities as the legal saga over the issue has come to an end. An Istanbul court has rejected appeals made by the owners of the three boats to continue their operations in the historic neighborhood of Eminönü.
The Istanbul Municipality has announced that within 20 years there will be no space left in the city to bury the dead. “A solution needs to be found, and the best solution is to ensure that they are transported to Anatolia,” the municipality's cemeteries bureau head Dr. Ayhan Koç said.
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.”