Coronavirus
Germany on Aug. 4 partially lifted its coronavirus travel warning for Turkey, greenlighting summer holidays in the destinations of Antalya, İzmir, Aydın and Muğla. Turkey will require all travelers leaving for Germany to show a negative coronavirus test result obtained within the previous 48 hours, German Foreign Ministry said.
The Turkish Medical Association (TTB) has said that number of daily coronavirus infections in Ankara alone amount to approximately 1,000, thereby disputing the official figures which put the daily nationwide tally at around this level. The TTB's statement came as Ankara provincial directorate of health on Aug. 4 ordered all hospitals in the city to allocate at least half of their beds for the use of COVID-19 patients.
A ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy has tested positive positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) days after attending Friday prayers at Istanbul's Hagia Sophia. Akay is the third AKP deputy to announce that he was diagnosed with coronavirus after attending the prayers.
Turkish Health Ministry's Coronavirus Science Committee members have expressed their concerns over violations of coronavirus preventive measures during the Eid al-Adha holiday. They said Turkey might face a growing number of clusters of COVID-19 cases in two weeks time, given an incubation period of up to 14 days for the disease after exposure.
Experts have claimed that the Health Ministry has been hiding the actual number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the country amid the worsening situation, as they pointed to the removal of two significant parameters from a chart shared daily by Health Minister Fahrettin Koca. They also voiced concerns on a second wave that would put the health system in a difficult situation.
The Turkish Medical Association (TTB) Chairman Sinan Adıyaman has criticized the Health Ministry for removing the number of intensive care unit and intubated patients from the daily COVID-19 data it shares every night. Adıyaman said that the ministry's move leads to suspicions that the coronavirus epidemic is getting worse in the country.
Turkey's Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on July 29 that the partial curfew imposed on senior citizens might be lifted following the Eid al-Adha holiday, in line with the Coronavirus Science Committee's suggestion in this regard. Turkey's elderly aged 65 and above are currently allowed to go out between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. as part of coronavirus measures.
The number of Turkish deputies who have so far tested positive for COVID-19 has increased to 11, as six more MPs have been infected with the virus, Turkish media outlets said on July 28. Of the 11 lawmakers, four have already completed their treatment, whereas seven are currently under surveillance.
Two senior Turkish officials have told Reuters that the daily COVID-19 infection rate may need to dip below the more than 900 seen recently for the government to reopen all schools across the country. One of the officials said classes might have to remain online for some southeastern provinces. "The normalization is under way ... but the numbers should have fallen faster."
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has urged the public to strictly follow the social distancing rules, wear a mask and obey hygiene measures during the upcoming Eid al-Adha holiday, amid concerns that social interactions during the four-day-long holiday can cause a dramatic rise in the number of COVID-19 cases.
A Turkish Coronavirus Science Committee member said that the muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha would determine whether schools could reopen at the end of August. The professor noted that social traffic during celebrations could make infections spike.
A second wave of COVID-19 is likely to occur in September or October, according to a member of Turkey's Health Ministry Coronavirus Science Committee. “Let us not be deceived by the [recent] decrease in case numbers. We are expecting the second wave to occur in September-October due to the changes in the body immunity, the increase in the crowds and more time spent indoors," Assoc. Prof. Dr. Sema Turan said.
President Erdoğan has dismissed plans to reintroduce a nationwide curfew during the Eid al-Adha holiday. "Of course, the issue's evaluation will be done by the [Health Ministry's Coronavirus] Science Committee, but we can also share our view with the Science Committee," Erdoğan said on July 17.
Turkey on July 15 reported a second straight day of fewer than 1,000 new coronavirus cases, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on July 15, with 947 cases identified. Koca also said that six provinces have not reported any cases of pneumonia, which is a serious complication of the COVID-19, over the last three days.
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.
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Duvar English’s editor-in-chief Cansu Çamlıbel and pollster Can Selçuki are joined by Robert Bosch Academy's Galip Dalay to discuss the impact of Turkish government's recent domestic policy moves on Ankara's international relations. They look for answers to whether there is any possibility that Turkey's relations with the West might change for the better any time soon.
Taner Akçam writes: The regime’s bold stroke vis-a-vis Hagia Sophia should not be seen as stemming from desperation. Rather, it is simply meant to relay the not-so-subtle message of the path to be followed by the "New Republic", and that message is that the “annihilationist tradition” of the old regime, inherited by the Republic’s founders, will be retained in the era to come.
Politics
A pro-government women's rights organization has voiced support to the Istanbul Convention, which aims to combat violence against women and from which the Turkish government seeks to withdraw. In its statement, KADEM responded to widely-known false facts about the convention, especially on it including "LGBT propaganda," saying that it doesn't promote homosexuality.
As a result of global market dynamics gold prices in Turkey have also reached record highs, as a gram of gold currently costs 437 TL. Due to escalating prices, the sale of imitation gold known as 'Syrian gold', has become popular in the jewelry markets of Hatay.
Lake Salda, dubbed Turkey's Maldives, will help NASA scientists guide the search for ancient life on Mars, as it shares many similarities with a dried-up lake bed on the red planet. Lake Salda is the only known lake on Earth that contains the carbonates and depositional features (deltas) similar to those found at Jezero Crater on Mars.
Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune phoned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in July to secure the return of a fugitive military official, Reuters reported on Aug. 2, citing an unnamed top Algerian security source. Guermit Bounouira, a top aide to the late army chief Ahmed Gaed Salah, is accused of leaking a chart showing movements of army officers including their names and codes, the source said.
Nilüfer Bulut writes: Forced Islamization was one of the methods of survival during what Armenians call “Medz Yeghern,” the great catastrophe. Professor Zerrin Kurtoğlu Şahin says that by complying with the imposition of Islamization, these Armenians (mostly women and children) were assured their biological existence, but their cultural and social connections were ripped away.
Six Syrian students living in the southern province of Hatay were the victims of a racist attack, leaving two in critical condition. “I lost nearly all of the male children in my family in the Syrian civil war. We didn't come to Turkey for my brother to be the victim of a racist attack,” said Dua Muhammet, the older sister of one of the boys.
Thousands of Muslim worshipers gathered at Hagia Sophia on July 31 morning to attend Eid al-Adha prayers for the first time since the iconic building's conversion into a mosque. Blue Mosque, which sits just across the Hagia Sophia, however got no attention at all, despite being packed during the Eid al-Adha prayers in previous years.
Hale Gönültaş reports: A Yazidi woman who has been in captivity since 2014 was rescued from a home in Ankara. Abducted by an ISIS member in Iraq, the young woman was trafficked, eventually being tracked down by a family member.
Turkey's ruling AKP is preparing to file a lawsuit against Islamist columnist Abdurrahman Dilipak who called supporters of the Istanbul Convention as "prostitutes" in his column named "AKP's daisies."
Some 1,153 people spent the first day of Eid al-Adha at the emergency wards of Istanbul hospitals after cutting themselves or suffering other injuries while sacrificing agitated sheep and other animals. Seven of these “amateur butchers" were heavily injured and were operated on, Anadolu Agency said.
A group of Greek Orthodox Istanbulites who live abroad slammed a video by the Presidential Communications Directorate that depicted minorities in Turkey living in comfort. The minority noted that the government hadn't taken any steps to permit their return to their ancestral hometown of Istanbul, where they were forced to leave because of political turmoil.
A women's organization rooting for the Istanbul Convention will be holding a rally August 5 to protest consideration by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to recuse from the international treaty against domestic violence and discrimination.
Irish energy giant Eaton Corporation said that they ended their working relationship with Turkish distributor Berg Elektrik upon news that the latter's general manager Alp Erkin had shot and killed their neighbor's dog. While Erkin claimed he killed Nero because the dog bit his wife, Nero's owner noted that the animal was trying to protect its keeper.
Transport and Infrastructure Minister Adil Karaismailoğlu said that more than 200,000 passengers arrived in Turkey during the month of June, when Turkish Airlines recommenced international flights. The minister failed to answer a question about layoffs within the country's flagship carrier.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on July 30 the United States was continuing to evaluate how it would respond to Turkey's purchase of Russian S-400 missile defense systems. "We continue to evaluate how to apply sanctions in order to achieve our end objective," Pompeo said.
A group of seven-eight unidentified Turkish citizens on July 26 battered six Syrian children under the age of 18 in Hatay's Kırıkhan district. The local governor's office on July 30 announced that an investigation was launched into the incident and two of the children are receiving treatment at hospital.
An Ankara court has reversed a ban on a gay pride march that was imposed by ODTÜ rectorate in May 2019. The court said that the rectorate's decision had no legal basis as the all-embracing ban enacted by the Ankara Governor's Office in 2017 had been already lifted.
Students enrolled in the Kurdish language departments of universities in Turkey will no longer be allowed to submit their dissertations in Kurdish. Former academic Selim Temo has also announced that from now on, all lectures at these departments will be conducted only in Turkish.
The area in the Hagia Sophia where emperors used to be coronated was left exposed when carpeting was installed in the structure to prepare it for Muslim prayer, Istanbul Culture and Tourism Director Coşkun Yılmaz said. The former museum was opened to Muslim worship on July 24, holding the first mass prayer in decades.
Dozens of celebrities all over the world, including Ellie Goulding, Christina Aguilera, Milla Jovovich and many more, have posted black and white pictures of themselves to voice solidarity with victims of femicides in Turkey. The trend began after women in Turkey said that they don't want to see their pictures in black and white in newspapers after they are killed.
U.S. Ambassador to Turkey David Satterfield and his family visited Hagia Sophia to see the restoration works carried out at the site after its conversion into a mosque. "Ambassador Satterfield toured Hagia Sophia to admire its grandeur and technical genius, and better understand the renovation and restoration work to be completed to preserve the universal value of and continued access to this monumental building," the embassy said on July 30.
Economy
The Turkish Lira has devalued drastically against the dollar, reaching almost seven liras on the dollar. Ankara has invested almost $60 billion in currency interventions in 2020 to no avail, Financial Times reported on July 28.
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.
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.
Urban Beat
Mois Gabay writes: Do you think the Camondo family will be included in the Beyoğlu Culture Road project conducted by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism? What about Arif Ergin’s “Tekvin” novel, in which he imagined that there would be a “Camondo Museum” one day?
Artifacts from Istanbul's ancient Hagia Sophia will be displayed in a nearby public building that will be transformed into a museum. Formerly used as a land office, the late-19th-century building in historical Sultanahmet will be converted on the president's orders.
Luke Frostick writes: Edanur Kuntman’s Tales from Behind the Window has been nominated for an Eisner Award. If she wins, she will be the first Turk to win an Eisner. The story is a piece of creative-nonfiction and its main narrative is drawn from the memories of Kuntman’s grandmother growing up in the Çarşamba district of Samsun.