Idlib
European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Ankara on March 4. Following the meeting, Borrell said he told Erdoğan that the situation at the border with Greece was "unacceptable."
One Turkish soldier was killed and another was wounded in shelling by Syrian government forces in Idlib, Turkish Defense Ministry said late on March 2.
German Chancellor Merkel has criticized Turkey's move to ease border restrictions and accused Turkish President Erdoğan of pressuring the EU “on the back of the refugees." Meanwhile, EU interior ministers will hold an extraordinary meeting on March 4 to discuss the situation at the EU's border.
Houses and business places of Syrian refugees in Turkey's Kahramanmaraş province have been attacked by a group of locals. The racially motivated attack came following the death of at least 34 soldiers in Syria's Idlib last week.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on March 2 said that the losses of the Syrian army "are just beginning," adding "If they do not withdraw to the lines Turkey has determined as soon as possible, they will not have a head left on their shoulders." He also said that the "the regime suffered one of its biggest losses" after last week's attack that killed 34 Turkish soldiers in Idlib.
The UN has said that actions of Turkey and Russia in Syria may amount to war crimes in a report covering the period from July 2019 to February 2020. The report called on Turkey to investigate whether it carried out an air strike on a civilian convoy near Ras al Ain that killed 11 people last October. Turkey has denied a role in the strike, which the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said was conducted by Turkish aircraft.
Russian President Vladimir Putin told Tass that Russia does not plan to go to war with anyone, but wants to dissuade other countries from engaging in conflict with Moscow. The publication of the remarks came amid rising tensions in Syria's Idlib region where Russia is backing Syrian government forces against Turkey.
A U.S. delegation arrived in Turkey on March 2 to hold talks on the situation in the embattled province of Idlib, Syria. During their visit, the U.S. delegation is expected to meet representatives of the UN and NGOs to discuss the humanitarian crisis of some one million refugees fleeing the clashes in Idlib.
Turkish security sources told Reuters that a Syrian refugee was shot dead by Greek border police on March 2, as he was trying to cross Turkey's western border -- a claim denied by Athens. Separately, the Greek coast guard said that one child died after being pulled from the seat when a boat capsized off the Greek island of Lesbos.
Over 60 intellectuals from Turkey have signed a petition calling for military retreat in Northern Syria and for troops to return home after 36 soldiers were killed in Idlib Feb. 27. Among the intellectuals are academics, authors, journalists and artists.
Iran's Foreign Ministry accused the United States of compromising the Astana peace process between Iran, Turkey and Russia in an official statement on Feb. 28. The statement also claimed that the U.S. "has always sought to create tensions in the region in an irresponsible manner" and that it justifies its presence in Syria with its interest in their oil resources.
Radar tracks showed that Syrian and Russian forces were flying in formation during the attack that killed at least 36 Turkish soldiers in Syria's Idlib province on Feb. 27, Permanent Representative of Turkey Ambassador Feridun Sinirlioğlu said on Friday. "Turkish forces were alone in that area. The logical conclusion of that is that they were deliberately targeted," he said, disputing the Russian narrative.
The AKP, CHP, MHP and İYİ Party have issued a joint declaration condemning the attack that killed 33 Turkish soldiers on Feb. 27 in Syria's Idlib. The HDP was the only party in the Parliament that did not sign the declaration, saying that it does not find it right to sign it together with the ruling alliance of AKP and MHP, which it said has "the full political responsibility."
One Turkish soldier was killed and two were wounded in shelling by Syrian gov't forces in Idlib, Turkish Defense Ministry said on Feb. 28, a day after 33 Turkish soldiers were killed in the region.
Analyst Metin Gürcan has said that the attack which killed 33 Turkish soldiers in Idlib on Feb. 27 was carried out by Russian and Syrian jets "in coordinated action." Basing his report on local sources, Gürcan also wrote that the death toll is higher than what was announced by Ankara. “According to unconfirmed information obtained by Al-Monitor, the actual death toll is somewhere between 50 and 55,” he wrote.
Editor's Pick
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.