European Union
The Istanbul Convention may become the new rupture point between the European Union and Turkey. Gender rights are just starting to be a battleground in Turkey, Poland and beyond.
The seismic research vessel Oruç Reis is now parked inside the port of Antalya. The magic behind the rapprochement is named “Merkel” — but the recent spike of the Euro (and the U.S. dollar) vis-à-vis the Turkish lira may have to do with the sudden change of hearts in Ankara.
The European Union has updated its list of "safe countries" from which non-essential travel is allowed. The bloc has again excluded Turkey from the list. This also means that EU citizens who travel to Turkey will be placed under quarantine for 14 days when they go back to their country.
Turkey on July 14 rejected EU condemnations of its decision to convert Istanbul's Hagia Sophia into a mosque. “Turkey rejects the words of condemnation used by the EU for turning Hagia Sophia back into a mosque,” Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said. Greece, meanwhile, described Turkey's Hagia Sophia decision as "unnecessary and petty."
Ankara wants to play the “Leader of the Muslim world card” — but there is more to Hagia Sophia’s conversion than just that. Just like the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “West Bank annexation” policy, Ankara banks on the strategy of “creating an international problem to overshadow debating domestic grievances and making national politics dependent on the existing government through isolation” strategy.
EU foreign ministers condemned the Turkish government's decision to turn Hagia Sophia into a mosque and called on Ankara "to urgently reconsider and reverse this decision." “This decision will inevitably fuel the mistrust, promote renewed division between religious communities and undermine our efforts at dialog and cooperation,” EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said on July 13.
A German politician has called for ending the accession talks between the European Union and Turkey following Ankara's decision to convert Istanbul's Hagia Sophia into a mosque. "We should have the courage to end the EU accession negotiations with Turkey," Florian Hahn said.
The European Union has approved sending Turkey €485 million for ensuring urgent humanitarian aid to refugees. “The EU will support refugees in Turkey as long as the humanitarian needs persist. This new funding shows our deep concern for the most vulnerable, especially now that the coronavirus has further exacerbated their already dire situation," Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic said.
The European Parliament held a debate entitled “Stability and Security in the Mediterranean and the negative role of Turkey” on July 9. Several MEPs called for a complete end to accessions talks with Turkey, saying the country should no longer receive payments from the EU budget as part of pre-accession support.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said that Ankara would be forced to respond to the European Union if the bloc adopts additional measures against Turkey. "We see that Turkey will be on the agenda of the Commission meeting and summit because of a number of countries, including France. Adopting decisions against Turkey won't solve problems, but deepen them," he said.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said that Turkey was treated unfairly with the decision to exclude it from the European Union's safe travel list. "We see that Turkey is being treated unfairly and that some countries were included in the list as a political gesture," he said, adding that the decision to exclude Turkey is political.
Germany will keep reviewing travel advice for Turkey, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on July 2, saying any decisions were coordinated with the EU and based on reliable data on infections and the health situation. Earlier, Turkey said that it is disappointed by the European Union's decision to exclude it from the list of countries recommended for non-essential travel.
The European Union has named 14 countries whose citizens are deemed "safe" to be let in starting on July 1, and the list excludes Turkey due to soaring coronavirus infections.
Turkey will be lifting a 20-percent customs tax on melt blown fabrics used for mask production. An executive order also removed customs taxes on 125 other intermediate products that aren't produced domestically.
In the coming years, “Green Deal” policies for tackling the climate crisis will be the new contentious area between the EU and Turkey, replacing the traditional rupture point of human rights. It is not that Turkey will turn into a human rights bastion, but in its international relations, the EU has already backpedaled on prioritizing human rights.
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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
Germany has approved 25.9 million euros worth of arms deliveries to Turkey since Ankara's military operation into northeastern Syria on Oct. 9, 2019, according to the response to a parliamentary question filed by Die Linke MP Sevim Dağdelen. According to the German Economics Ministry, there was no weapons of war among these exports, whereas Dağdelen said these arms could also be made operational for use in Syria.
The pilot of an Ankara-Munich Turkish Airlines flight was forced to abort landing after two passengers attacked a woman with disabilities. No one was wounded in the incident and German police detained the assailants, who also reportedly attacked security forces, upon landing.
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.
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.