Idlib
Josep Borrell, the EU's foreign policy chief, has pleaded for migrants in Turkey not to go to the Greek border or try to breach it, saying the frontier was closed and that any encouragement to do by Turkish authorities was a "game" that had to stop. “If we want to avoid critical situations, we have to know the truth. Let’s stop this game,” he said.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that Turkey has the full right to defend itself in Syria. "We believe firmly that our NATO partner Turkey has the full right to defend itself against the risk that’s being created by what [Syrian President Bashar al-] Assad, the Russians and the Iranians are doing inside of Syria," Pompeo said on March 5.
Murat Yetkin writes: It is a cliché to say “a photo tells a thousand words” but it is true most of the time. Does this photo taken when the doors opened after talks between Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian host Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin tell anything positive and promising to you? Erdoğan will have to find a way to normalize relations with his European and American allies, considering that it can no longer rely on a permanent relationship with Russia.
Only 30.7 percent of Turks see the Turkish military presence in Syria's Idlib as a "necessity," according to recent survey. Asked if the presence of Turkish military in Idlib is a “necessity,” 30.7 percent of the survey participants said “Yes,” while 48.8 percent said “No” and 20.5 percent chose the option of “I do not have an opinion/No answer.”
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin later today in Moscow. Erdoğan hopes his visit to Moscow will yield an immediate ceasefire in Syria's Idlib, said Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın. "We have broad relations and we're hopeful as we go to (Russia)," Kalın said.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said that he considers Turkish people to be a brotherly nation for the Syrians. The Syrian leader also said that the feud between Syria and Turkey is "illogical," stressing that Damascus had not attacked Turkey and that both states have common interests.
President Erdoğan has responded to criticism on laughing during a speech he made on the deaths of over 30 Turkish soldiers, saying that it constitutes "a diabolic campaign." During his meeting with a group of Istanbul lawmakers of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the footage of his speech was screened. "The whole conversation was ironic," Erdoğan said.
Two more Turkish soldiers were killed by government forces in northwest Syria, the defense ministry said on March 4. NATO member Turkey has seen 59 troops killed in Idlib since the beginning of February. The latest casualties included six wounded, the defense ministry said, adding it retaliated and struck Syrian targets.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has told fellow conservative lawmakers that she is in favour of setting up safety zones in northern Syria, two participants at the meeting told Reuters on March 3. Similarly, German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told German news agency DPA that the European states should take stronger responsibility to de-escalate tensions and pave the way for a political solution to the conflict in Syria.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov has accused Turkey of violating international law in Syria's Idlib, as tensions in the province continue to rise. "No one in the West notices the actions of the Turkish side which has already transferred to Syria's Idlib forces as large as a mechanized division in order to 'implement the Sochi agreements at any cost,'" TASS cited Konashenkov as saying.
Russian Defense Ministry has accused Turkey of trying to push 130,000 refugees from Syria into Greece. The two thirds of these refugees - that Turkey is pushing from temporary camps in Syria - are Afghans, Iraqis and Africans, not Syrians, it said.
Turkey’s Defense Ministry said late on March 3 that one Turkish soldier was killed and nine others wounded in Syria's Idlib region. With the latest death, 57 Turkish soldiers have been killed in the conflict in the region.
The United States is willing to provide ammunition to Turkey for Syria's Idlib, James Jeffrey, U.S. Special Envoy for Syria said on March 3. "We will make sure that equipment is ready and usable," Jeffrey told reporters. U.S. Ambassador to Turkey David Satterfield said on the same day that the U.S. is examining Turkey's request for air defenses.
Turkish Defense Industries President İsmail Demir has said that HİSAR air defense systems will be operational in a week. "HİSAR-A and HİSAR-O systems will be operational within a week during our [Idlib] operation. It will add another dimension to our air defense," Demir said. While, HİSAR-A is a low altitude air defense system, HİSAR-O is a medium range air defense system.
Turkish Defense Ministry has said that Turkey downed a Syrian L-39 type warplane in Idlib. On March 1, Turkey downed two Syrian jets in Idlib. The Syrian military closed the airspace over the province, warning that it would treat any violators as hostile targets and shoot them down.
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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
A local court in southern Turkey acquitted Birol K. of charges related to his sexual abuse of an underage relative, as well as holding her against her will. The court's ruling came despite eyewitnesses, forensic proof of the abuse and the man's death threats against the survivor.
Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca slammed Istanbulites' Sunday outing on İstiklal Avenue on Oct. 18, saying that anyone who entered the crowd healthy would come out ill. Meanwhile, some 1,815 COVID-19 diagnoses were made on Oct. 18, while some 72 patients died.
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.
A committee of main opposition CHP politicians said that the construction of a visitors' center on southeast Turkey's iconic Mount Nemrut was a betrayal to nature. The CHP committee noted that the site was pending assignment as a UNESCO geopark and that the construction was putting it in jeopardy.
The NATO has criticized a possible test by Turkey of its Russian-made S-400 missile launcher and stepped up calls on Ankara to opt for a different defense system. “Any test of the S-400 air defense system by Turkey, if confirmed, would be regrettable. It is important Turkey continues to work with other allies to find alternative solutions," it said in a statement.
CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu sent congratulatory messages to HDP co-chairs Mithat Sancar and Pervin Buldan on the party's eighth foundation anniversary. "I underline once again that we will never give up on building peace and fraternity," İmamoğlu said.
Five health workers have died of COVID-19 in just one day, the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) said on Oct. 18, as it criticized the government for not being able to manage the pandemic properly. The names of the health workers were revealed as Dr. Salih Kanlı, Dr. Turan Yıldırım, Ferhat Gencer, Harun Dönmez and Yasemin Çolak. The number of health workers who died of COVID-19 in the past eight days rose to 13.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has cancelled his planned visit to Turkey after Ankara said it was restarting operations of a survey ship that it withdrew last month. Maas said that Ankara's renewed push "severely damaged" the atmosphere of trust and said that Turkey can't have any interest in the long-term continuation of the conflicts that it's involved in.
Denizli Governor Ali Fuat Atik has prompted fury for ordering a restaurant to be closed because a waiter working there didn't recognize him. Following criticism on social media, Atik apologized, saying that he was saddened by his approach to the man. Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu also commented on the incident, saying that he found it appropriate for the governor to apologize.
Some 2,500 academics worldwide, including famed international scholars Judith Butler, Noam Chomsky, Silvia Federici, Etienne Balibar and Enzo Traverso, have signed a petition for Turkey to release Cihan Erdal, a PhD candidate and researcher at Carleton University in Canada and an LGBT activist, who was detained in Istanbul on Sept. 25.
A show owner in Denizli has told the governor of the province that he wants to die because of the worsening economy when asked why he was not wearing a mask. "I've had enough. I want to die. Look at the economy. I gained 15 liras on Tuesday and 100 liras on Wednesday. What use does it have even if that 100 liras is all profit?" the shop owner said.
In the government's latest attempt to criminalize the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), summary of proceedings have been prepared against 18 of its deputies, bringing charges against them for attending demonstrations and for making statements including the word "Kurdistan."
Osman Kavala remains behind bars as one of Turkey's most high-profile political prisoners, while President Erdoğan appointed the prosecutor who prepared Kavala's indictment to the post of Deputy Justice Minister. The appointment came within seven days of the indictment's preparation, and removed the prior appointee by presidential decree.
Hale Gönültaş reports: Turkey's financial crimes unit has determined that Afghan criminals engaged in drug smuggling and in the funding of terror operations are exploiting Afghan refugees in Turkey via bank transfers. As migrants are unable to transport large sums of money and often cannot open bank accounts in Turkey, they rely on moneychangers who transfer cash for a fee, and this is usually the only option.
Health Ministry failed to deliver an Oct. 15 data release that was designed to offset the repercussions of the revelation that Ankara's official COVID-19 numbers had been excluding asymptomatic patients. The ministry said that Fahrettin Koca's promise to release all data starting on Oct. 15 had been "misunderstood," and that they would only share certain numbers with the WHO.
Former President Abdullah Gül said that he was "appalled" by the attacks on Turkey's Constitutional Court, the most recent of which accused a member of threatening a military coup. The coup debate closely followed discussions on overhauling the Constitutional Court, which many members of the governing bloc in Ankara voiced support for.
Economy
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.
Turkish exporters are struggling with shrinking markets as Morocco appears to have joined the countries that are effectively boycotting all products made in Turkey. Sources from the Moroccan Ministry of Trade indicate that measures have been put in place to prevent unfair competition from Turkish textile producers who are dominating the local market.
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.
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.
The 39th Istanbul Film Festival will offer viewings both online and in-person, the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV) noted. While tickets will become available on Oct. 2, showings will start a week later and last for 10 days.