Border Gate
Turkey's Trade Ministry will be allowing freight drivers to work again, except to travel to Iran and Iraq. More than 1,000 truckers are stranded at Turkey's Iranian border since the country closed the gates in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Nuray Pehlivan reports: Thousands of migrants who remain at Turkey’s borders in hopes of crossing over to Europe are now being told to leave the area due to the coronavirus pandemic. Ankara’s recent instructions about the coronavirus directly contradict their Feb. 28 decision that allowed migrants crossings, leaving them once again in limbo.
Turkish and Greek academics both agree that Turkey, Greece and the European Union as a whole failed to fully abide by the 2016 migrant deal. While Greek academic Konstantinos Tsitselikes said the number of people who crossed into Europe was is closer to 1,000 rather than the 140,000 claimed by Ankara, Turkish academic Murat Erdoğan says the EU's refusal to accept the migrants is justified.
HDP lawmaker Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu said the chair of the parliament's Immigration and Integration Sub-Committee, Hakan Çavuşoğlu, prevented its members from interacting with the migrants whilst visiting the Pazarkule Border Gate on the Greek border. "He acted as if we were there on an excursion. We went to talk to people but were pressured to rush and make a statement to the press," he said.
Police are the first to give migrants bad news in Edirne where they've arrived in hopes of crossing over to Greece. "You can't cross," police say before advising migrants to go to Doyran Village where they can cross the river easily, adding that this is a better way to enter Europe. Meanwhile, a human trafficker sits down to negotiate and bargain with migrants in the encampment next to the police. He boasts that he transports migrants to the Greek side safely, accompanied by soldiers.
Greek police batter refugees who manage to cross the border at the Pazarkule Border Gate in the Thracian province of Edirne, Istanbul Bar Association's Human Rights Center said March 1 in a report about the camp area at the border. Some 200 to 300 migrants "were beaten up with thick sticks, and that their money and mobile phones were seized by Greek police," the report said.
Turkey's Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu urged Greece to provide asylum to the migrants waiting at the border between the two countries, particularly the Pazarkule Border Gate where crowds have been piled at for five days. Meanwhile, Soylu said over 100,000 migrants have crossed over to Europe in Edirne as clashes continue between the crowds and Greek border patrol that's getting increasingly stricter.
Greece and Bulgaria have signaled heightened border control as Ankara declared it would no longer prevent migrants from passing over to Europe. While police troops have already been deployed to the Kastanies border in northeastern Greece, Bulgaria said it was poised to deploy 1,000 troops to its Turkish border.
Turkey's border security officials have closed off the Pazarkule Border Gate to Greece on the grounds that some 100 migrants had crossed into the buffer zone illegally, even though Ankara declared on Feb. 27 that it would no longer prevent migrants to cross over to Europe.
Flocks of migrants have begun to move towards the Turkey-Greece border after Ankara decided to lift border crossings in anticipation of a new migration wave from Syria. This follows the killing of 33 Turkish soldiers by the Syrian regime in Idlib on Feb. 27.
Local administrators in the southeastern province of Van have decided to install thermal scanning systems at the nearby Kapıköy Border Gate to Iran, following two coronavirus-related deaths in the neighboring country. A health room will also be set up at the border gate, personnel will receive special training and pamphlets will be available in Turkish, English and Persian.
Editor's Pick
Selahattin Demirtaş writes: You have re-arrested us after six years. You say we are the instigators of the Kobane massacres when we were actually the victims. Do you think you will be able to make us responsible for this through conspiracies based on secret witnesses and be saved from responsibility? You must genuinely believe that the fascism you rely on today will always exist.
Politics
A local court in southern Turkey acquitted Birol K. of charges related to his sexual abuse of an underage relative, as well as holding her against her will. The court's ruling came despite eyewitnesses, forensic proof of the abuse and the man's death threats against the survivor.
Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca slammed Istanbulites' Sunday outing on İstiklal Avenue on Oct. 18, saying that anyone who entered the crowd healthy would come out ill. Meanwhile, some 1,815 COVID-19 diagnoses were made on Oct. 18, while some 72 patients died.
Turkey's Presidential Symphony Orchestra will thrive thanks to the completion of its long-awaited music hall, Conductor Cemi'i Can Deliorman said. Having been in the works for 25 years, the music hall's large auditorium can seat more than two thousand viewers.
A committee of main opposition CHP politicians said that the construction of a visitors' center on southeast Turkey's iconic Mount Nemrut was a betrayal to nature. The CHP committee noted that the site was pending assignment as a UNESCO geopark and that the construction was putting it in jeopardy.
The NATO has criticized a possible test by Turkey of its Russian-made S-400 missile launcher and stepped up calls on Ankara to opt for a different defense system. “Any test of the S-400 air defense system by Turkey, if confirmed, would be regrettable. It is important Turkey continues to work with other allies to find alternative solutions," it said in a statement.
CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu sent congratulatory messages to HDP co-chairs Mithat Sancar and Pervin Buldan on the party's eighth foundation anniversary. "I underline once again that we will never give up on building peace and fraternity," İmamoğlu said.
Five health workers have died of COVID-19 in just one day, the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) said on Oct. 18, as it criticized the government for not being able to manage the pandemic properly. The names of the health workers were revealed as Dr. Salih Kanlı, Dr. Turan Yıldırım, Ferhat Gencer, Harun Dönmez and Yasemin Çolak. The number of health workers who died of COVID-19 in the past eight days rose to 13.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has cancelled his planned visit to Turkey after Ankara said it was restarting operations of a survey ship that it withdrew last month. Maas said that Ankara's renewed push "severely damaged" the atmosphere of trust and said that Turkey can't have any interest in the long-term continuation of the conflicts that it's involved in.
Denizli Governor Ali Fuat Atik has prompted fury for ordering a restaurant to be closed because a waiter working there didn't recognize him. Following criticism on social media, Atik apologized, saying that he was saddened by his approach to the man. Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu also commented on the incident, saying that he found it appropriate for the governor to apologize.
Some 2,500 academics worldwide, including famed international scholars Judith Butler, Noam Chomsky, Silvia Federici, Etienne Balibar and Enzo Traverso, have signed a petition for Turkey to release Cihan Erdal, a PhD candidate and researcher at Carleton University in Canada and an LGBT activist, who was detained in Istanbul on Sept. 25.
A show owner in Denizli has told the governor of the province that he wants to die because of the worsening economy when asked why he was not wearing a mask. "I've had enough. I want to die. Look at the economy. I gained 15 liras on Tuesday and 100 liras on Wednesday. What use does it have even if that 100 liras is all profit?" the shop owner said.
In the government's latest attempt to criminalize the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), summary of proceedings have been prepared against 18 of its deputies, bringing charges against them for attending demonstrations and for making statements including the word "Kurdistan."
Osman Kavala remains behind bars as one of Turkey's most high-profile political prisoners, while President Erdoğan appointed the prosecutor who prepared Kavala's indictment to the post of Deputy Justice Minister. The appointment came within seven days of the indictment's preparation, and removed the prior appointee by presidential decree.
Hale Gönültaş reports: Turkey's financial crimes unit has determined that Afghan criminals engaged in drug smuggling and in the funding of terror operations are exploiting Afghan refugees in Turkey via bank transfers. As migrants are unable to transport large sums of money and often cannot open bank accounts in Turkey, they rely on moneychangers who transfer cash for a fee, and this is usually the only option.
Health Ministry failed to deliver an Oct. 15 data release that was designed to offset the repercussions of the revelation that Ankara's official COVID-19 numbers had been excluding asymptomatic patients. The ministry said that Fahrettin Koca's promise to release all data starting on Oct. 15 had been "misunderstood," and that they would only share certain numbers with the WHO.
Former President Abdullah Gül said that he was "appalled" by the attacks on Turkey's Constitutional Court, the most recent of which accused a member of threatening a military coup. The coup debate closely followed discussions on overhauling the Constitutional Court, which many members of the governing bloc in Ankara voiced support for.
Economy
President Erdoğan on Oct. 17 announced the discovery of an additional 85 billion cubic meters of natural gas in the Black Sea, following a similar find in August. As a result of testing, analysis and detailed engineering work, another 85 billion cubic meters were added to the reserves we had discovered. The total amount of natural gas reserves in the TUNA-1 well of the Sakarya Gas Field reached 405 billion cubic meters," Erdoğan said.
Turkish exporters are struggling with shrinking markets as Morocco appears to have joined the countries that are effectively boycotting all products made in Turkey. Sources from the Moroccan Ministry of Trade indicate that measures have been put in place to prevent unfair competition from Turkish textile producers who are dominating the local market.
Data from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) revealed a dip in real estate sales vis-a-vis last year in September, dropping by 6.9 percent for some 136,744 residences sold. Meanwhile, the total volume of sales between January and September was larger than the number in 2019.
Urban Beat
Kurdish artist Zehra Doğan's work that she created during her two prison sentences between 2016 and 2019 are on display in Turkey for the first time. The artist was jailed on terrorism charges and gained international fame after finishing her second sentence and holding a show at London's Tate Modern.
Alterations on Istanbul's iconic Hagia Sophia reportedly violated guidelines mandated under the site's "UNESCO World Heritage" status. Converted within two weeks of the legal ruling that allowed Muslim worship, the ancient structure's mosaics were unlawfully covered up, and any work on it was deemed practically impossible, architectural publication Mimarlık Magazine reported.
The 39th Istanbul Film Festival will offer viewings both online and in-person, the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV) noted. While tickets will become available on Oct. 2, showings will start a week later and last for 10 days.