DEVA
Turkish opposition parties have been working on a wide ranging alliance program that will include promises on various issues, including a return to the parliamentary system. The promises will also include enhancing the justice system and freedoms. Nearly all of the opposition parties have been working on constitutional changes in line with the return to the parliamentary system, sources said.
Main opposition CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on Oct. 8 paid a visit to DEVA chair Ali Babacan to congratulate him for his new party. The two opposition leaders later held a press meeting, during which they criticized President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for his comments urging the believers of Islam to have "patience" in the face of financial problems.
A Kurdish man who had been in intensive care for 20 days due to being thrown from a military helicopter died on Sept. 30. The Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) released a statement on the death of Servet Turgut, saying that they are "very sad and angry." "The killers of Turgut are those who detained him. A government understanding that tortures and kills its citizens has no democratic legitimacy," the party said.
DEVA chair Ali Babacan has criticized the government's new three-year economic program, saying he did not see it including any “concrete steps” which will economically provide a relief to the people. Babacan also said that with this new program, the government has admitted to Turkey being impoverished since he left the position of deputy prime minister in 2015.
Ali Babacan, Turkey's former deputy prime minister and founder of the Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA), announced on Sept. 1 he will continue his COVID-19 treatment at the hospital. The DEVA chairman had announced on Aug. 25 that he was infected with the virus and would stay in quarantine with his family.
Turkey’s opposition parties are currently trying to decide between fielding their own separate presidential candidates or coalescing behind a joint candidate to run against Erdoğan in the upcoming elections, sources told Gazete Duvar. As for the parliamentary elections, there are also different scenarios on the table for the opposition. The Nation Alliance might expand to include the newly founded Future Party and DEVA, or a third alliance under the leadership of İYİ Party might arise.
DEVA leader Ali Babacan, 53, has announced that he contracted the novel coronavirus. "Fortunately, I am currently in good health. My doctors have said that I need to stay under quarantine with my family for a while. Hopefully I will continue my works from home," Babacan wrote on Twitter.
The 27-year-old Baha Tuna has become the first openly autistic person to be admitted to a political party's executive board. Tuna will be on the executive board of the newly launched DEVA's Yalova provincial office.
İYİ Party leader Akşener on Aug. 12 paid a visit to DEVA chair Babacan to congratulate him for his new party. The two opposition leaders later held a press meeting, during which Babacan was asked if he would consider joining the People's Alliance of the AKP and MHP should such an offer come. "What we need to focus on is to complete the process of producing and [party] organization," Babacan said in response to the question.
President Erdoğan has once again given sales of white goods as an example to the economy’s current “climb," saying that it was thanks to the AKP that people now enjoy an "increased level of welfare." Erdoğan's comments came after Turkish Lira hit all-time lows against the euro and dollar as the coronavirus pandemic triggered massive capital outflows from the country.
Former deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan said that he never used religious terminology in his political career, majority of which he spent with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Babacan also said that his recently-formed Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) didn't identify with labels like "left, right, liberal, conservative."
Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) leader Ali Babacan has criticized heavy taxes on alcoholic beverages, saying that it leads to smuggling. They are being sold to one third of the prices here in our neighboring countries. The fact that the taxes are high leads to smuggling," Babacan said when asked about increases in private consumption tax (ÖTV).
MHP Vice Chairman Semih Yalçın has called on newly established Future and DEVA parties to join the People's Alliance. Claiming that these two AKP breakaway parties do not have a future in Turkish politics, Yalçın said: “The People's Alliance will grow in time and will dominate all harbors of politics, staying permanent."
While they are no new demographic, the restless conservatives are getting stronger amongst the ruling People's Alliance electorate and the AKP base in particular. The Erdoğan and AKP that they had supported so buoyantly for the past decade are no longer the same.
The ruling AKP's nationalist ally MHP has said that a change in laws pertaining to elections and political parties is "must" and the legal work regarding this amendment has been already launched. The AKP-MHP plan is expected to make it more difficult for members of parliament to join newly formed opposition parties, mainly DEVA and Future Party.
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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
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.
Some 32 deputies in parliament failed to take the stand except to take an oath, daily BirGün reported on Oct. 21. A total of 27 of said deputies were members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), receiving more than 500,000 liras in annual salaries when combined.
The trial into the murder of prominent Kurdish human rights lawyer Tahir Elçi started on Oct. 21, amid further obstacles to securing an effective investigation into the killing. None of the three defendant police officers attended the hearing in person in the courtroom, but instead appeared via the video system. Elçi family's lawyers said that this is against the normal procedure and the case was being handled in a “negligent” and “impartial” way.
Turkish police have seized 879 animal and plant fossils worth $10 million from two houses owned by Islamic televangelist cult leader Adnan Oktar. Officials said the fossils would be delivered to a museum in Ankara.
The Istanbul 15th High Criminal Court has rejected exiled journalist Can Dündar's appeal against the seizure of his assets. The court has said that it has found the 14th High Criminal Court's Oct. 7-dated decision “in accordance with procedure and law.”
In a parliamentary question addressing Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, HDP lawmaker Ali Kenanoğlu has asked what kind of legal proceedings the ministry has run against the assailants of 36 publicly known hate crime incidents that were committed against Alevis in the last eight years. Kenanoğlu's inquiry came after unidentified assailants on Oct. 20 painted threatening messages on an Istanbul apartment building housing Alevis.
Turkey said it would not hesitate to send soldiers and provide military support for Azerbaijan if such a request were made by Baku. "There is already a military cooperation agreement between Turkey and Azerbaijan. If there is a need and Azerbaijan makes such a request, then Turkey would do it openly [provide military support]," Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Oct. 21.
Unidentified assailants have stabbed a 14-year-old Syrian child to death in Turkey's Central Anatolian province of Konya. Vail El-Mansur was on his way to the tailor shop he was working at when he was murdered brutally.
Turkish authorities seized 220 kilograms of cocaine on a ship that arrived at a port in the country's southern coast from Brazil. Police in the coastal province of Mersin found the cocaine hidden in a container carrying packages of paper.
Istanbul University's Cerrahpaşa Medical School has been observing twice as many patients, the dean said on Oct. 20. Turkey's official numbers receded to early May levels on the same day, observing some 2,026 diagnoses. "There's almost a doubling of the number of cases and patients seeking help in Cerrahpaşa. The winter might be rough for all of us," the dean said.
Turkey will send some 110,000 tons of grains and flour to countries in need, primarily Syria, a presidential decree in the Official Gazette said on Oct. 21. While the grains will be handed out by Ankara's Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) and the Turkish Red Crescent, any wages related to the operation will be taken out of the Treasury's budget as well.
During a recession that has dealt a deep blow to agricultural producers across Turkey, potato farmers are struggling to get by while retailers purchase produce cheap and sell at high prices to consumers. "I don't like the AKP anymore,” said one 70-year-old farmer, who has grown potatoes in Niğde for 45 years.
A controversial social media legislation has enabled the Turkish government to swiftly block access to scores of news reports from critical newspapers and websites within the past month. "What we are facing is a heavy censorship mechanism,” cyber-rights expert Yaman Akdeniz told the daily Cumhuriyet.
The death of Serkan Tumay in a prison raised concerns on the prison conditions in Turkey once again. While Tumay's family says that he was tortured by prison guards repeatedly and died as a result in Kırıkkale F-Type Prison, opposition deputies Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu and Gülizar Biçer Karaca asked Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül to explain how he died.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has found Turkey guilty of violating the right to free speech of Prof. Baskın Oran and Prof. İbrahim Kaboğlu, who faced prosecution in 2005 for publishing a report on the country's minorities. The ECHR said that the legal proceedings against the two academics had “inevitably created pressure" on them leading to “self-censorship.”
The Coalition for Women in Journalism has launched a petition demanding that Turkey immediately drop charges against journalist Ayşegül Doğan, who prosecutors accuse of "being a member of an armed organization." "Today, Ayşegül Doğan has become the target of the government due to her journalism, which touches on social issues such as the struggle for peace, women's struggle and labor," read the petition.
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.