coronavirus in Turkey
The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that it sent millions of masks, gloves, goggles and other items worth $1.7 million to protect healthcare professionals and other frontline workers in Turkey from COVID-19. "WHO has also assisted the Ministry of Health to track the spread of COVID-19 in Istanbul, one of the cities hit hardest by the pandemic," it said.
Turkey's Central Bank has said that the removal of certain preventive measures imposed to combat the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the ensuing demand were the primary factors influencing inflation in June. According to the Central Bank's report, consumer prices went up 1.13 percent in June, rising 1.23 points and increasing 12.62 percent annually.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said that Turkey was treated unfairly with the decision to exclude it from the European Union's safe travel list. "We see that Turkey is being treated unfairly and that some countries were included in the list as a political gesture," he said, adding that the decision to exclude Turkey is political.
The wife of an inmate diagnosed with cancer and coronavirus has urged the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to release her husband. "This means he has been abandoned to die. I am calling upon the public, the Presidency, and the Ministry of Health: Release my husband right away. There are thousands of [coronavirus] patients in jail, their voices must be heard. People are coming face to face with death at the moment,” she said.
A new testing center in Istanbul Airport will offer all passengers COVID-19 tests for 110 Turkish Liras each (about $16). The center's capacity is an hourly 2,000.
CHP Group Deputy Chair Özgür Özel submitted two written parliamentary questions to Vice President Fuat Oktay on the donations collected as part of a coronavirus campaign, asking the total amount and where they were spent. Surprisingly, Oktay referred the question to the Family and Social Policies Ministry, even though the whole campaign was carried out by Erdoğan himself.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on June 20 Turkey had lost some ground in its battle with the coronavirus but a focus on hygiene, masks and social distancing will protect people and help the economy rebound in the second half of the year. "The numbers in recent days show that we have lost our position in the fight against the epidemic," Erdoğan said in a televised address. "
Two human rights groups have said that the Turkish government is using the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to restrict freedoms. "No unusual circumstances, whether it be a state or threat of war, political instability or any other extraordinary events, can be given as a reason to apply torture," they said.
There is an important rise in the number of those catching coronavirus in the Diyarbakır area. Villages and apartments are under quarantine. Of course there is also the warning from doctors of a second wave. This warning indicates that the government is adopting the approach of passing responsibility onto society.
İzmir's Efes Selçuk district, most well-known for the ancient Greek city of Ephesus, one of Turkey's most iconic tourist destinations, has launched a sweeping project focusing on local, sustainable agricultural production. “The coronavirus became a very clear indicator for why we started this. We need to incentivize production, and get people involved in agriculture, because there is already enough of an unemployment problem in this country,” Efes Selçuk Mayor Filiz Çeritoğlu Şengel told Duvar.
Syrian refugee children in Turkey have been facing difficulties in accessing distance education during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Since many lack the necessary technological equipment to continue their education and live in crowded households, Syrian refugee children are among those who have limited access.
Researchers at Istanbul's Sabancı University traced the first case of COVID-19 in Turkey to the United States, which also pointed to having arrived earlier than the official announcement of March 11. Meanwhile, the second and third cases were revealed to have arrived from Europe and Australia.
Four Turkish provinces reported new COVID-19 diagnoses after up to more than a month of not observing new cases. The mediterranean province of Antalya and the eastern towns of Artvin, Elazığ and Bingöl reported diagnosing new patients a little over two weeks after Turkey started its "normalization" process.
Turkish Health Ministry will reportedly use loans from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to construct a pandemic hospital in Istanbul. The ministry borrowed 200 million euros for the hospital, which is being constructed on the now-defunct Atatürk Airport by Rönesans Holding, daily Sözcü columnist Çiğdem Toker reported on May 27.
Prominent novelist Ahmet Altan has penned a letter from Silivri Prison, saying that he awaits coronavirus (COVID-19) in his prison cell, as Turkish authorities continue to keep political prisoners behind bars. "I’m writing this as I await in a prison cell the fierce attack of a virus that kills people my age. I am not optimistic for myself, but for the humanity of which I am a part," the 70-year-old novelist said in his letter.
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's main opposition CHP has called on Iranian authorities to stop execution of three protesters, two of whom were last year extradited by the Turkish government. "Turkey handed these young people over to the Iranian security forces, in contravention of its international obligation of non-refoulment to a country where one faces death penalty and/or torture,” Kaboğlu said on July 15.
Turkey’s Chamber of Architects has said that the Council of State's last week ruling on Hagia Sophia should set a precedent for their argument that the constructions on Atatürk Forest Farm are in violation of the conditional donation of the estate by Atatürk. The Council of State last week said that Ottoman Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror registered iconic Hagia Sophia as an endowment which could be used only a mosque and for no other purposes.
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."
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.