China
Turkey's Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has said that the country will soon start mass production of favipiravir, a drug used in COVID-19 treatment, as the licensing process is expected to be completed in a couple of days. Koca said that the country will sell it on the international market and also use it to treat its own coronaviurus patients.
Sanctions imposed against China by the U.S. over Beijing's suppression of its Uyghur minority in the autonomous Xinjiang region should have come from Turkey, said World Uyghur Congress inspector general Abdülhakim İdris. “There are those who have been sent to the interment camps in Xinjiang just because they studied in Turkey," he claimed.
Turkey's Personal Data Protection Authority (KVKK) launched an investigation into the popular social media app TikTok. The Chinese app is investigated about a security breach in the protection of personal data.
Turkey's central bank said on June 19 it had used a funding facility for Chinese yuan for the first time under a prior swap agreement with the People's Bank of China. It added that the move would strengthen cooperation between Turkey and China, and that commercial banks would be able to add products related to trade and financial activities with a strategy based on the swap agreement.
It appears that Turkey’s capital-owning class largely agrees that the pandemic has brought two opportunities. The first has to do with broadening their vast exploitation of labor. The second has to do with obtaining a strategic place in the global supply chain, which is expected to break off from China.
Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan has announced that Turkey's exports of milk and other dairy products to China will resume, adding that 54 Turkish companies will be able to export to China.
The US Senate passed a bill on May 14 to direct President Donald Trump to sanction China over its treatment of Uighur Turks in its northwestern region of Xinjiang. The bill is on its way to the House of Representatives, which Republican Senator Marco Rubio said could pass it "as soon as tomorrow."
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has appealed to foreign allies in an urgent search for funding, three senior Turkish officials told Reuters. Treasury and Central Bank officials have held bilateral talks in recent days with counterparts from Japan and the United Kingdom on setting up currency swap lines, and with Qatar and China on expanding existing facilities
Vecdi Erbay writes: Fatih Yokuş is one of the Turkish pilgrims who traveled to Mecca to perform the Umrah, a group of people who have been the subject of controversy as the coronavirus pandemic reached Turkey. Yokuş was indeed among the people who caught the novel virus in Mecca. Now that he fully recovered reflects on his journey.
The capacity and the capability of the Turkish Armed Forces is overwhelming compared to its regional peers. The resolve of the leader and the public support are formidable. The pandemic keeps the global powers at bay. The worm in the apple is the economic engine.
The first coronavirus month in Turkey will be recorded in history as the month of opportunism, the month of abusing a pandemic. It kept some of its people at home and others at mines and factories, turning the country into a labor camp. Only the local administrations were left, but there were policies to curb their powers as well.
As a host to 85 percent of all international travels, Istanbul has become an attraction center for coronavirus. And as a host to 38 percent of Turkey’s domestic travels, Istanbul spread the virus to the rest of the country.
Faruk Loğoğlu writes: Let us remember the diplomatic breakthroughs triggered by disparate unrelated events in the world. The Ping-Pong diplomacy started with an invitation by China of an American ping-pong team in 1971. Turkish-Greek relations took a turn for the better after the two successive earthquakes in 1999. Today, Syria needs help to fight COVID-19. Turkey should be a leading partner in this humanitarian endeavor.
Turkey did not use the rapid coronavirus kits procured from China after tests suggested they had a low accuracy level, Prof. Dr. Ateş Kara, a member of the Health Ministry's Coronavirus Science Committee, said on March 26. A day later, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca confirmed that a batch of kits shipped from China was not used, but said that these unreliable kits were different than the recently purchased 350,000 kits.
A 30-year-old Chinese tourist who got lost on a hike in the southern province of Antalya was rescued by the local gendarmerie and the National Medical Rescue Team (UMKE). The officers wore masks and gloves while rescuing Jingyun Lan due to the coronavirus pandemic that's killed 59 people in Turkey as of March 25.
Coronavirus Updates
Only four percent of Turkey's health workers are immune to COVID-19, a recent series of tests conducted by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) revealed. Meanwhile, immunity among Istanbulites measured around three percent.
Turkey will be resuming flights to and from Russia as of July 15. The country is the latest addition to a list of 31 others that Ankara allows travels to.
Turkey's daily new COVID-19 cases dropped below 1,000 for the first time in 33 days, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on July 14. Koca made the remarks as Turkey registered 992 new cases and 20 new fatalities from the virus.
Politics
Turkey has further backslided from democracy and the rule of law during the COVID-19 period, with the government increasing its levels of repression against the pro-Kurdish HDP and Kurdish people, according to a new report released by the party. The HDP said that the coronavirus has given the AKP government a cover to expand its authority, likening the current implementations to those of 1990s, during which the state staged a heavily discriminatory policy towards the Kurds as a whole.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on July 15 that companies involved in construction of the TurkStream pipeline will be subject to the U.S. penalties unless they stop their works. “It’s a clear warning to companies. Aiding and abetting Russia’s malign influence projects will not be tolerated. Get out now or risk the consequences,” he said.
A specialized sergeant has been arrested in the southeastern province of Şırnak for attempting to sexually abuse a 13-year-old girl. Eyewitnesses told the police that the specialized sergeant had pulled a gun after they wanted to question him regarding the sexual abuse incident.
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said that Athens urged European Union (EU) states to have "crippling sanctions" against Ankara ready in case the latter continues drilling in waters claimed by Greece.
A Turkish court has upheld a nine-year prison sentence given to jailed former Diyarbakır mayor Selçuk Mızraklı. Lawyers will now appeal to the Court of Cassation, which is the last instance for reviewing verdicts given by courts of criminal justice.
Since the failed July 2016 coup attempt, around 150,000 people in Turkey have been suspended or booted from their positions in the state apparatus. A recent report based on several thousand people, who have been dismissed from their jobs via government degree, highlights the mass economic misery and social isolation they have experienced.
Turkish Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın has said that the United States' decision to not extradite Fethullah Gülen undermines the spirit of alliance between the two countries. "Allowing FETÖ members to live without serving sentences following the July 15 coup attempt, mainly in the U.S. and Europe, harms our bilateral relations," he also said.
Part of Istanbul's ancient city walls collapsed in the historic Sulukule neighborhood. The collapse is the second in the past two months, with another part crumbling on May 3.
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu submitted an official complaint against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's Kanal Istanbul project. The artificial canal project would split Turkey's European land in half, and has been criticized for severe environmental risks.
A regional Greek governor has said that Greece cannot stay indifferent to Turkey's Hagia Sophia move and demanded that ongoing restoration works at the historical Valide Mosque on Lesbos island be stopped. The 17th-century Valide Mosque is being restored under a 1.2 million euro grant from the EU regional development fund for the Aegean islands.
The western province of Düzce is experiencing water outages even though it's home to 80 percent of Melen Stream that provides water to Istanbul.
A former district governor who got removed from his post for insulting a local was promoted to deputy governor of Bilecik. The local that the former district governor insulted was protesting the expropriation of their land.
The head of the Security and Defense Committee in Iraq’s parliament, Muhammad Reza Al-Haider, has accused Turkey of breaching a 2007 security accord by deploying troops 15 kilometers inside the Iraqi territory. “Iraq refuses to have an armed faction within its territories attacking a neighboring country, as it refuses attacks on its sovereignty from any other country," he said.
Main opposition CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu has claimed that President Erdoğan has been accumulating significant financial assets in the United States since he and his family are thinking about moving there should Turkey enter a new era. Kılıçdaroğlu said that Erdoğan could not stand up against the U.S. as otherwise his financial assets in the country could be exposed.
An Ankara court on July 14 ruled that former Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Figen Yüksekdağ will remain in prison pending trial. However, one of the judges in the court board expressed a dissenting opinion saying that as there is no “flight risk” or a risk of “tampering with evidence,” the continued imprisonment of Yüksekdağ has no legal benefit.
Turkey's state-run TRT2 has censored the word 'sex' in a dialogue of an episode of the Swedish/Danish TV show Bron/Broen. “It is a mystery why they would buy and bring to the screen a show where they have chopped up all of the 'explicit scenes' with a butcher's knife,” film critic Tunca Arslan said.
Finance Minister Berat Albayrak's lot on the route of Kanal Istanbul, the president's artificial canal project, was opened up to commerce. Albayrak will be allowed to build commercial structures on up to 40 percent of his land.
A roadside bomb planted by Syrian militants detonated near a joint Russian-Turkish patrol in northern Syria early on July 14, injuring three Russian soldiers, the Russian Defense Ministry said. The Russian statement said an unspecified number of Turkish troops were also hurt. Two sources said there were no Turkish casualties in the attack.
Police have detained over 20 women, including a journalist, politicians and activists, in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır. A statement was released from the TJA on the issue, saying that the "attacks on women increased five fold under the current government."
A 190-year-old Armenian church in the northern province of Çorum is being used as a storage space as owner cannot obtain permission to make alterations. The church is believed to be constructed by a large Armenian family who lived in the area until the early 20th century.
A main opposition deputy recently slammed the finance minister's comments on Turkey's fiscal success, noting that public debt has nearly tripled in Minister Berat Albayrak's two-year assignment. The deputy added that the Treasury's public debt turnover rate is nearly 200 percent.
Economy
The Turkish Petroleum Refineries Corporation (TÜPRAŞ) ranked as Turkey's largest industrial business with 87.9 billion liras in annual production revenue. The oil company was followed mostly by automotive producers.
On the second anniversary of Turkey's transformation into a presidential system, the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) has prepared a report detailing how the country stands in the ensuing years, finding that the Turkish lira has lost four times its value since 2007.
Finance Minister Berat Albayrak said that Turkey was an exception to the global financial crisis emerging in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. The minister said that Turkey has been outperforming other countries in "all measures of economic success."
Foreign investment in Istanbul's stock exchange fell below 50 percent for the first time since 2004, daily Sözcü reported. Almost four billion dollars have reportedly been sold out of the exchange in the first six months of 2020.
Turkey's foreign trade deficit doubled between January and May as exports fell by 20 percent. The monthly trade deficit also doubled in May, surpassing $3 billion.
Urban Beat
A jeweler in the southeastern province of Kahramanmaraş embroidered masks with gold. A local professional chamber chair said that they thought a regular mask created a visual disaccord in a wedding.
Fossils discovered by a nature enthusiast in mountainous eastern province of Iğdır revealed that the area, now completely landlocked, used to be a shore and underwater. The fossils contained palm leaves, which grow in hot areas by the water.
Turkey's Culture and Tourism Ministry will be turning the iconic Galata Tower into a museum. The ministry will also launch a "culture route" that spans from the tower, along Istiklal Avenue and to Taksim Square. Minister Ersoy also said that the construction of the AKM would be completed within a month, ongoing since February 2019.
The United States' National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) likened railroads and highways in Turkey's capital Ankara to arteries in an eagle-eye shot of the city at night, dubbed "photo of the day" on June 28.
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu on June 25 announced that the municipality purchased a portrait of Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II at a London auction. According to the London-based world-famous Christie's auction house, the municipality's winning bid amounted to £770,000 ($955,000) for the oil painting, which is believed to be the work of Italian painter Gentile Bellini in 1480.