coronavirus outbreak
Turkey's Interior Ministry detained 402 social media users in the past 42 days, on the grounds that they made "provocative comments about COVID-19." The ministry inspected some 6,362 social media accounts, and deemed 855 users "suspicious."
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.
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.
Nergis Demirkaya reports: According to Tevfiz Özlü from the Health Ministry's Science Committee, there is reason to be optimistic in Turkey for soon reaching a threshold when we could see a decline in number of the coronavirus cases. A scientific committee from the main opposition CHP came up with similar evaluations noting that the plateau of cases and deaths could start on April 27.
Turkey's Health Minister Fahrettin Koca denied that the rampage that preceded the 48-hour curfew on April 10 caused an increase in the spread rate of COVID-19. On the other hand, experts have pointed at the spike in the spread rate that measures more than half a percentage point and follows the crowded chaos of April 10 by exactly 10 days, as experts had predicted.
A recent poll revealed that Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) are no longer able to rally up enough votes to form a government. While the AKP received 35.8 percent of votes, the MHP was revealed to have 12.2 percent backing. Individually, the AKP has lost 7 percent of its votes since June 2019.
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.
Turkey has room for further fiscal stimulus to combat the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak as its response so far has been “pretty moderate” compared with other countries in similar positions, a Fitch Ratings executive said on April 23. The steps announced by the Turkish government so far are equivalent to around 2% of GDP, he added.
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.
Turkey’s death toll from the coronavirus rose by 115 to total 2,491 and new confirmed cases rose by 3,116 to bring the country’s total to 101,790, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on April 23.
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.
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Ankara's conflict-oriented foreign policy has received the public's support for military operations, but public opinion often fails to translate into votes. While Ankara's "enemy" in military conflict is ever-changing, the northern Syria conflict was revealed to be the only intervention that expanded the government's voter base.
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
Hate speech and threats against Armenians in Turkey have accelerated following the outbreak of clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan. HDP MP Garo Paylan, himself a Turkish-Armenian, has been targeted for his insistence on a ceasefire. "We can conclude that there will be no favorable results from this war--which has caused loss and destruction on both sides—and that the solution is on the peace table," Paylan said.
Turkey's top medical association has said that 143,000 coronavirus patients are currently treated at their homes, whereas 460,000 others have been placed under mandatory home quarantine. The Turkish Medical Association made the remarks based on the results of a survey conducted with family physicians across the country.
A report penned by CHP lawmaker Sezgin Tanrıkulu has said that 29 journalists, writers and publishers have received jail terms during January-September period of this year, 20 of whom have been arrested. "The animosity against journalists that is on the rise during the AKP rule is due to the government's stance against freedom of press,” Tanrıkulu said.
A group of university students and alumni are requesting that the Credit and Dormitories Agency (KYK) annul all loans. Currently, some five million Turkish university students are in debt to the state-run KYK, and 300,000 face prosecution for not being able to pay back the debt.
The lira sank to a record low to near 8 versus the dollar after Turkey’s central bank ignored investors' calls to raise its main interest rate. The decision to leave the rate unchanged prompted economists to question the central bank’s commitment to lowering inflation and its independence from the government.
Putin said on Oct. 22 Russia and Turkey disagree about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, but emphasized strong ties between Moscow and Ankara. Erdoğan "might seem tough, but is a flexible politician and reliable partner for Russia," Putin said.
A 24-year-old woman was shot dead by her brother in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, news portal Jinnews reported on Oct. 21. Meanwhile, a local court discounted a femicide assailant's sentence on "good behavior," adding to the list of killers that Turkish courts are lenient toward.
Protesting miners from around Turkey were promised a solution within 10 days during an Oct. 21 meeting with Justice and Development Party (AKP) Group Deputy Chairwoman Özlem Zengin. Hundreds of miners started marching to the capital earlier this month, as survivors of the Soma Mining Disaster are yet to receive damages, and workers in Ermenek have 13 months of unpaid wages.
A newly passed legislation will allow ministries to veil their budget items as they submit their budget proposals to parliament. This means that they are no longer obliged to make it public how much is paid to private contractors for projects.
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.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has confirmed that Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems were tested last week, as he also dismissed NATO allies' concerns on the issue. Akar also said that the S-400 won’t be integrated into NATO’s command-and-control infrastructure, but rather "used as a standalone system similar to the use of Russian-made S-300 weapons that exist within NATO."
Turkey's Health Ministry will regulate the administration of flu shots through the online government portal as supplies will fall short of soaring demand. Patients will need to obtain prescriptions from their family practitioner, report to a pharmacy with their prescription. Pharmacies will be supplied shots only after receipt of a prescription.
The AKP and its ally MHP on Oct. 21 rejected the HDP's demand to investigate what really unfolded during the 2014 Kobane protests for the 10th time. The HDP's demand came after dozens of its members, including co-mayors of the eastern province of Kars, were arrested over the protests six years later earlier this month.
A bus assistant in Turkey sexually harassed a 17-year-old passenger on a trip with Metro Turizm vehicle, notorious for sexual assault incidents. The company told an Instagram user who shared footage of the assault that the worker was uninsured, and asked them to remove the video.
Ankara said on Oct. 21 it extended the stay of its Oruç Reis survey vessel and two other ships in a disputed area of the eastern Mediterranean until Oct. 27. Ankara had withdrawn Oruç Reis from last month to "allow for diplomacy" before a European Union summit at which Cyprus sought sanctions against Turkey, but sent it back this month, prompting an angry rebuke from Greece, France and Germany.
Turkey's Constitutional Court has determined that teacher and author Tahir Baykuşak's rights were violated by police who assaulted him during an ID check in Istanbul in 2016. The court said that a proper investigation was not carried out and that the mistreatment of police violated the 17th Article of the constitution.
Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Oct. 21 condemned Turkey for "violating international law" during one-day regional summit. Turkish Foreign Ministry rejected the "baseless" allegations a day later, saying that Ankara will continue to protect "our rights and the Turkish Cypriots' rights with determination."
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.
Turkish police on Oct. 22 detained 14 people in anti-ISIS operations in Istanbul. Police said that 13 of those apprehended are foreigners and their extradition processes began. Sources told state-run Anadolu Agency that some of the suspects were active in Syria.
Economy
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.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projected that income per capita in Turkey would drop to 2005 levels, an annual average of $7,720. The IMF also predicted a five percent contraction in the Turkish economy until the end of 2020, despite Ankara's 0.3 percent growth projection.
Turkey's net international investment deficit grew by $20 billion from the end of 2019 to reach a total $365.8 billion at the end of August. Turkey's international assets shrunk by 10.2 percent to reach $227.4 billion in the same period.
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.
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.
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.