coronavirus panic
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has reportedly ordered officials of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to go out on the streets to listen to people's complaints. "You have to be the most careful ones on wearing masks and abiding by social distancing. You'll describe the normalization process to them and listen to their demands," Erdoğan reportedly told the party members.
Turkish Spider-Man Burak Soylu has distributed candy to entertain children at home amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. "I threw candy to children in their balconies. They experienced Eid to some extent. I'm happy to see children smile," he said.
Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has said that there are 156 soldiers who tested positive for the coronavirus, adding that the Turkish Armed Forces is among the most successful armies in the world in terms of the number of cases. Akar noted that there are no coronavirus cases in the operation areas as a result of the adopted measures.
A nurse has claimed that he looked after children with cancer when he was COVID-19 positive at the Çapa Faculty of Medicine in Istanbul, saying that he went to the emergency room of the hospital two weeks ago for showing coronavirus symptoms, but was told that he didn't have high fever and was not diagnosed with the virus. "They didn't even make a test. I served child chemotherapy patients for two weeks," he told Duvar.
Prof. Ahmet Demircan from the Health Ministry's Science Commission has criticized people for flocking to shopping malls amid the coronavirus pandemic, while urging those who absolutely need to go shopping to be as quick as possible in leaving the malls. "The queues in front of shopping malls are beyond comprehension," he said.
Some 2.3 million people visited shopping malls in two days after Turkish authorities eased restrictions imposed over the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Shopping Centers and Investors Association head Hüseyin Altaş said that the numbers are on expected levels.
The administration of Istanbul's Silivri Prison has claimed that letters sent to inmates led to coronavirus (COVID-19) infections in the prison in a bid to defend itself in the face of criticisms. "It's as if they're mocking us. The only contact these people have with the outside world is the guards. They want to blame prisoners' families by linking the cause of the virus to letters," a lawyer told Duvar, adding that 20 inmates infected with coronavirus are being kept in the same cell.
A total of 44 convicts and arrestees were infected with coronavirus (COVID-19) in Silivri Prison, Istanbul's Bakırköy Chief Public Prosecutor's Office said on May 8, adding that two of them are receiving treatment at a hospital. "The treatment of 40 arrestees/convicts, who don't show any symptoms, were decided to be carried out at an isolation location established in the prison," it said.
Three opposition parties, the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) and the right-wing Good (İYİ) Party, have called on the government to revise the 2020 central budget following the shortcomings that occurred during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The deputies from the opposition parties said that the basic needs of the people were not met during the pandemic.
Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has criticized citizens for flocking to Istanbul's İstiklal Avenue with complete disregard to social distancing amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. "All pictures from daily life need to support the daily coronavirus chart," he said, referring to the ministry's daily chart that includes the number of new coronavirus cases and the death toll.
Prof. Tevfik Özlü from the Health Ministry's Science Committee has said that Turkey can return to normal in three months if measures implemented against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continue to be abided by. "We can see that the outbreak is waning in not only Turkey, but in the world. We are heading towards a period that's appropriate for discussing normalization. Life needs to return to normal and we can't normalize by sitting at home," Özlü said.
Istanbul Medical Chamber has warned against easing the measures imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus prematurely, saying that the cost of a wrong decision would be heavy. "Even though there's a decrease in the number of coronavirus patients in the eighth week of the pandemic, the severity of the threat in Istanbul is ongoing. We remind the authorities to evaluate the decision to ease the precautions within this scope and that a wrong decision adopted prematurely would have heavy costs," it said.
The decision to send children to schools after the measures imposed against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic are lifted will reportedly be up to parents. According to a pro-government daily, schools will remain shut for kindergarten and elementary school students.
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.
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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
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.
Refugee children are isolated to a single school in the central Turkish province of Kırşehir, daily Evrensel reported. The school has reached enrollment figures of more than 1,000 elementary and middle school students, all of whom are refugees. Smaller numbers of refugee children coming from relatively well-to-do families were reportedly able to enroll in regular schools alongside Turkish students.
Turkey's three opposition parties have denounced a recent proposal by the AKP for the establishment of the Turkey Environmental Agency, which they claim will pave the way for corruption and nepotism. "It runs parallel or even rival to the Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning in terms of its inspection authority but it itself is exempt from both internal and external inspection,” the CHP said.
Turkey's Deputy Interior Minister İsmail Çataklı has said that reports of Ankara mulling re-imposing curfews are "completely baseless." Çataklı's comments came after Reuters, citing a senior official, said that the government is weighing the re-implementation of lockdowns to stem rising coronavirus cases in the country.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's salary has been raised by 8.3 percent to a total of 88,000 Turkish Liras, as part of a budget proposal submitted by the ruling AKP government to parliament. Erdoğan's new salary will be effective as of January 2021. Earlier in October, Erdoğan had urged the believers of Islam to have “patience” in the face of financial problems.
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.