coronavirus infections
The air pollution in Istanbul fell around 30 percent following stay-at-home calls to curb the spread of the the novel coronavirus pandemic, according to the city’s municipality. The municipality said the number of vehicles on the traffic dropped as a result of the measures against the spread of coronavirus in the city, including a four-day curfew last week.
Turkish Education Minister Ziya Selçuk said late on April 29 that schools might reopen on June 1 if normalization from the coronavirus pandemic goes as planned. Earlier in the day, he had announced that that the country extended remote education until May 31.
A member of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) warned that misinformation about the use of surgical masks could create increased risk of spreading COVID-19. Prof. Dr. Özlem Kurt Azap noted that surgical masks should not be used more than once, can not be disinfected and should be disposed of properly.
Prof. Ateş Kara from the Health Ministry's Science Commission has warned against the re-acceleration of the coronavirus spread if it's not fully brought under control. Commenting on whether a normalization process is near, Kara said, "Think about this outbreak as a major fire. If you don't take the fire completely under control and extinguish it, it can grow even larger with the slightest wind. That's why we shouldn't relax."
Turkey’s Interior Ministry fined more than 35,000 persons for the four-day curfew that aimed to slow the spread of coronavirus. The ministry however said that over 63 million people had adhered to the rules, although they didn’t specify how this number was obtained.
Mayor Fatma Şahin has criticized likening CHP municipalities to "terrorist organizations," but backpedaled after learning that it was President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who did the comparison. "They are mayors elected with the votes of the people. Even if their methods are different, we can sit and talk, but I don't find such a comparison appropriate," Şahin said. Şahin then released a statement, saying that it's out of question for her to make statements that contradict the policies determined by Erdoğan.
Turkey has ranked 64th out of 77 countries in access to a computer for schoolwork in a report released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Turkey came in 70th in terms of internet access for students, falling closer to the end of the report's list with countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines and the Dominican Republic, whereas Denmark, Finland and Estonia ranked among the top.
Istanbul's Princes' Islands will be closed off to entrances and exits as of April 26, until the end of May. Residents of the islands, public servants and essential workers will be exempt from the ban if they provide proof of their residence or duties.
Turkish engineers' union representatives have warned against a potential food crisis triggered by the halt in imports caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. While Turkey produces most of its rice, corn and cotton, about one third is imported, a representative said, adding that a pause in imports could cause short supplies in the near future.
President Erdoğan's spokesperson İbrahim Kalın has said that it's not possible to state when the measures imposed against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will be lifted. Kalın's statements are in contrast with the remarks of Health Minister Fahrettin Koca and ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesperson Ömer Çelik, who said that gradual normalization may begin after Eid al-Fitr, which ends on May 26.
A World Health Organization (WHO) representative said that they were "cautiously optimistic" about the COVID-19 outbreak in Turkey as the number of new daily cases stabilize. Although the country still observes an increase in the number of patients daily, early precautions have allowed numbers to stabilize.
A group of Turkish health workers joined in on the "corona foot-shake challenge," created by an American doctor and a favorite among health workers worldwide. Accompanied by a song named "Oh Na Na Na," the dance routine involves an intricate series of foot steps that mimic handshakes.
The shop owners of the historical Alipaşa Bazaar in the western province of Edirne held a vote on chatting application WhatsApp, and ruled in favor of re-opening their stores ahead of Ramadan. As the bazaar had been closed late March to slow the spread of COVID-19, the Edirne Governor's Office shut down the shops within one day.
Traffic police officers fined some 90 passengers in the eastern province of Erzurum for trying to forge travel permits. Erzurum is among the 31 cities in Turkey where passengers need travel permits to leave or enter. The 90 fines totaled some 283,500 liras (about $50,000).
Müzeyyen Yüce reports: A member of Turkey's Coronavirus Science Committee warned that the COVID-19 outbreak could affect as much as 60 percent of the population. While the current preventative measures slow the spread, these may need to stay in place until a vaccine is found, Prof. Serap Şimşek Yavuz said.
Editor's Pick
Soner Çağaptay and Raffaella A. Del Sarto write: The EU often praises itself as a promoter of democracy and regional stability by highlighting the power of its enlargement process to include new members in the “neighbourhood.” Yet in the case of Turkey, its ill-conceived policies may well have contributed to the opposite. A clumsy EU has repeatedly gotten its policy toward Turkey wrong, often inadvertently helping Erdoğan at key points during his rise while creating preventable tensions with Ankara.
Politics
President Erdoğan has filed a criminal complaint with Turkish authorities against prominent Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders saying that he had insulted him on social media. "Even though the crime was committed directly against the person in the presidential seat, the value that is being violated is the state's political government structure," Erdoğan's lawyers said.
Turkish police have apprehended seven ISIS militants who were preparing for attacks in the capital Ankara in the latest round of operations against the jihadist group. According to authorities, the militants were seeking to attack Oct. 29 Republic Day celebrations and Nov. 10 ceremonies that are held each year to commemorate Turkey's founding father Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has found main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu right in his case against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. While Turkish courts ruled that Kılıçdaroğlu "attacked Erdoğan's personal rights" in two separate speeches in 2012, the ECHR ruled that the country violated the main opposition leader's freedom of expression.
A coal thermal power plant in the Central Anatolian province of Eskişehir is predicted to make more than 11 million people ill over the course of 35 years, a health impact report for the project revealed. The Right to Clean Air Plaform reported that the pollutants from the Alpu Coal Thermal Power Plant will spread to 24 provinces and destroy local farming land.
A group of miners from the Central Anatolian district of Ermenek set off once again on their march to demand unpaid wages, only to be met with a gendarmerie blockade on Oct. 26. In a video showing the miners' exchange with officers, one of them is heard saying "We are angry. We are hungry, that's why we're yelling. You can't yell!"
One of downtown Istanbul's last remaining green spaces was rezoned to allow construction despite the protest of locals. Also designated as an emergency meeting point, the green space was permitted for the construction of a 10-story building.
Turkey's southernmost province of Hatay was rocked by an explosion on Oct. 26 and authorities said that two militants of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) were nabbed following the blast. Hatay Governor Rahmi Doğan said that the two militants were a part of a group of four who had flown from the Syrian town of Manbij to the Amanos Mountains in Hatay using paramotors.
A report prepared by a number of civil society organizations regarding trials in Turkey prosecuting conscientious objectors to mandatory military service in the country has influenced the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers to pressure Turkey on recognizing the right to conscientious objection.
President Erdoğan and the newly-elected Turkish Cypriot President Ersin Tatar on Oct. 26 voiced their support for a two-state solution on the divided island of Cyprus. "We believe a two-state solution must now be brought to the table with a realistic proposal," Erdoğan said. Erdoğan also said that he would visit Turkish Cyprus on Nov. 15 and expressed his desire to have a picnic at Varosha.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has said that at least 78 Turkey-backed Syrian rebels were killed and dozens more were injured in Russian airstrikes on a military training camp in Idlib. Those targeted were in a camp belonging to Faylaq al-Sham, the monitor said, adding that it was the deadliest attack since the ceasefire came into force in March.
The second indictment against human rights defender and businessman Osman Kavala presents no new grounds to justify his detention and is politically motivated, said Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) in a statement.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has urged the UNESCO to release its report on the restoration works in the iconic Hagia Sophia as soon as possible. Lavrov said that for Russia Hagia Sophia is particularly valuable from the spiritual point of view.
Twenty-eight of Istanbul's 39 districts have registered more than 50 percent increase in COVID-19 infections in the past week compared to the average of this month, said Health Minister Fahrettin Koca. “The increase rate is 50-60 percent in 11 districts, 60-70 percent in 10 districts, and 70-80 percent in seven districts,” he told reporters on Oct. 26.
A Canadian vehicle manufacturer has suspended the delivery of aircraft engines to Turkey in the wake of reports that some of those engines are being used on Turkish combat drones deployed by Azerbaijan in its conflict against Armenian forces over Nagorno-Karabakh.
Former main opposition CHP deputy Enis Berberoğlu's lawyer has appealed to the Constitutional Court following two lower courts' refusal to retry him over violations of his rights to participate in politics and personal freedom.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told a worker to enjoy a nice cup of tea as the latter complained of not being able to bring home bread. Erdoğan said that the worker's plea sounded like a huge exaggeration, evoking infamous French ruler Marie-Antoinette who told the people to eat cake if they can't find bread.
A dynamite blast in the construction of Turkey's first nuclear power plant damaged cars that were parked in the nearby lot, ANKA News Agency reported on Oct. 25. Locals have complained from the use of dynamite in the construction before, saying that the dust harms their crops, and the blasts have even cracked the walls of their homes.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said that Baku would use Turkish F-16 jets in case of an external attack on the country. "They've been asking me about why Turkish F-16s are here. I'm tired of answering. Everyone knows that the F-16s are waiting. They came here for a drill and our Turkish brothers kept them here for moral support. They'll see those F-16s if there is an external attack on us," Aliyev said.
Economy
Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak has said that the economy is growing despite the tumbling Turkish Lira. The lira weakened to a record low on Oct. 26, hit by investor unease over the central bank's decision last week to keep its policy rate on hold and various sources of geopolitical concern. Strains in ties with the United States, a row with France, a dispute between Turkey and Greece over maritime rights and the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh have all unsettled investors.
Turkish monthly inflation was almost four times greater than the official rate in September, according to a new model developed by a group of academics and researchers. According to the independent Inflation Research Group (ENAG)'s first published finding, consumer prices in September rose 3.61 percent from the previous month, compared to the official Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK)'s calculation of 0.97 percent increase.
Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Dönmez said on Oct. 22 Turkey will operate the gas field which it recently discovered in the Black Sea on its own, but it may cooperate with foreign firms in terms of detailed work and equipment. The minister's comments came after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Oct. 17 Turkey had raised the estimated reserves of the field to 405 billion cubic meters after finding an additional 85 bcm.
The Turkish government has said that it "laughs off" boycotts imposed on Turkish products in Saudi Arabia, Morocco and United Arab Emirates. "We laugh off some countries' boycotts against Turkey. They should first learn to stand as independent countries," AKP deputy leader Numan Kurtulmuş said on Oct. 18.
Urban Beat
Turkey's southeastern city of Diyarbakır is nestled in Mesopotamia and has a deep legacy spanning millenniums and civilizations. A recent discovery on the 8000-year-old Amida Höyük archaeological site has unearthed an 1800-year-old heating system that was quite sophisticated for the time.
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.
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.
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.