Future Party leader Ahmet Davutoğlu
The government has officially halted the activities of Istanbul's Şehir University, founded by former PM Ahmet Davutoğlu, in a decision that was published in the Official Gazette on June 30. Turkey’s Higher Education Board (YÖK) announced on the same day that the university's students will be transferred to another Istanbul university, Marmara.
Future Party leader Ahmet Davutoğlu has said that during his term as prime minister, he attempted to have the Public Procurement Law changed to promote transparency and to halt cronyism and favoritism, but his efforts turned futile. "In the absence of democracy, oligarchies form. In Turkey, public resources are channeled to only certain fractions of society,” Davutoğlu said.
A court has detained a man for sexually harassing former Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş's wife Başak Demirtaş on social media. Thousands of Twitter users sent messages of support to Demirtaş with the hashtag, "We stand with Başak Demirtaş." Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül also condemned the incident.
Future Party leader and former prime minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has criticized the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) over "using" Hagia Sophia as "political leverage." He also commented on the imprisonment of three opposition deputies, saying, "They weren't arrested over a search for justice. They were arrested because the government, which fails to generate politics, is in a deadlock."
Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu's guard chief Koray Aslan was forced to retire over "a lack of cadres." Aslan is known with his efforts to save Kılıçdaroğlu from a lynching attempt in the Çubuk district of the capital Ankara in April 2019.
Ten new political parties were founded in Turkey in the past five months, increasing the total number to 91. Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA), which was founded by former deputy prime minister Ali Babacan, is among the said parties. Former prime minister Ahmet Davutoğlu founded his Future Party earlier than the said time period, in late 2019.
AKP officials believe that DEVA leader Ali Babacan aims to make former president Abdullah Gül a presidential candidate. An AKP official also claimed that the new parties will form a right-wing alliance with İYİ (Good) Party and the Felicity Party to ensure that there's a second round, which would be the third alliance in the Turkish political scene.
Future Party leader Ahmet Davutoğlu has claimed that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited the Pelican group, which is said to be consisting of staunch supporters of Erdoğan who are influential in the pro-government media, in their residence. "The coup that was done against me in the party was carried out by Pelican. I saw that there were acts that were carried out upon orders behind it. Mr. President visited them in their residence," Davutoğlu said.
Turkey's pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) held an online meeting with main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), recently-founded offshoots of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Islamist Felicity Party (Saadet). Meeting in the context of Eid al-Fitr greetings, the deputies noted that the Turkish opposition must unite to establish a political environment with less polarization and more freedoms.
Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli has called for "urgent" reforms in the law on political parties for the continuation of the presidential system. "When the recent developments are taken into account, it's understood that these reforms need to be issued urgently. It can be brought to parliament's agenda when it opens following the coronavirus pandemic," Bahçeli said.
Politicians have exchanged Eid al-Fitr celebrations through video conferences amid a tense political environment in Turkey. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) said it won't exchange greetings with the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), Future Party and the Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA). A similar stance was adopted by its ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which won't talk to İYİ (Good) Party in addition to the aforementioned three.
Future Party leader and former prime minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said that the government tried to make a puppet out him upon President Erdoğan's orders. "The event that initiated by resignation process was that MKYK meeting. They wanted to give me the message of, 'You'll be a puppet prime minister and we'll rule everything.' I called Erdoğan afterwards and tried to prevent a state crisis," Davutoğlu said.
Amid rumors of an early election fueled by MHP leader Bahçeli's proposal to change electoral law, Future Party leader Davutoğlu has challenged the gov't to call snap election. “If your purpose is really to declare an early election, bring it on! Let's go to early election. But if you are after petty concerns such as changing the nation's real agenda with early election [rumors], then stop wasting our nation's energy with such cheap manipulations,” Davutoğlu said.
The MHP has stepped in to complicate the efforts of the Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) and Future Party, both founded by former high-level AKP officials, to form parliamentary groups necessary for them to run in elections, in a bid to cover AKP's concerns on losing deputies. MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli called for making changes in the election law and parliamentary bylaws even though the two new parties would barely get deputies from the MHP.
CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said that a number of CHP lawmakers can quit and join the DEVA and the Future parties to secure their run in elections. "We can definitely provide support to DEVA and the Future Party for democracy. That's why we want the election threshold removed. All parties must be represented in parliament," Kılıçdaroğlu said.
Editor's Picks
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?
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.
Murat Yetkin writes: What Abdul Hamid II established, the Yıldız Intelligence Organization, was not a national institution but a personal intelligence organization. The leader who established the first national intelligence organization in Turkey was Atatürk, whom Erdoğan did not feel the need to mention.
Politics
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.
No Turkish teams will be relegated from the Süper Lig after a season impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, Turkish Football Federation chairman Nihat Özdemir said on July 29. He added that the Süper Lig's new foreign player restrictions would also not apply for the 2020-21 season.
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.
A district governor's office in Ankara ordered the municipality to transfer any donations they collected for COVID-19 relief to the central government for public use. The donation campaign by the main opposition municipality had been suspended on March 31 on the grounds that any aid would be carried out by the central government.
The bar head of the border province of Hatay, Ekrem Dönmez, has said that he filed a complaint against police officers who detained him by force in the province's İskenderun district. "We have to decide whether we are a police state or a state of law. We're going through a process that all the critical voices are suppressed. Yesterday's incident is linked to that," Dönmez told reporters on July 30.
Some 20,000 books went missing from the National Library of Turkey in 2019, a main opposition deputy claimed in a parliamentary question. CHP deputy Gamze Akkuş İlgezdi also said that materials at the National Library that weren't books had decreased in number.
Google is preparing to remove shopping ads from search results in Turkey, which come up at the very top of the page almost anytime that a “shopping-related” search is done. The move comes following the Turkish Competition Authority's ruling earlier this year that the company is obstructing competitors’ activities in the online shopping services market.
The Syrian government will build a replica of the Hagia Sophia that will operate as an Orthodox cathedral, in protest of the Turkish government's move to convert the iconic structure into a mosque, according to various media reports. A Russian lawmaker said that Moscow will provide funding for the project to show the importance of “peaceful dialogue” between faiths.
Turkey's Presidential Digital Transformation Office has banned public officials from using foreign messaging apps, such as WhatsApp and Telegram, for work purpose, citing security issues. "If a certain institution doesn't have its own communication application, the local and national applications of which the providers are in Turkey must be preferred," a guide prepared by the office said.
Istanbul's Beşiktaş district is displaying billboards that urge viewers to read the Istanbul Convention, an international document that provides women with legal protection against domestic violence and discrimination. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) recently suggested Turkey might recuse from the document, causing public outcry.
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoğlu was ranked the most successful mayor in handling the COVID-19 pandemic in a recent survey by private poller SONAR Research. Imamoğlu was followed by Izmir Mayor Tunç Soyer, also from main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP).
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
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.
Turkey's Culture and Tourism Ministry will be turning the iconic Galata Tower into a museum. The ministry will also launch a "culture route" that spans from the tower, along Istiklal Avenue and to Taksim Square. Minister Ersoy also said that the construction of the AKM would be completed within a month, ongoing since February 2019.