Migrants
Turkish and Greek academics both agree that Turkey, Greece and the European Union as a whole failed to fully abide by the 2016 migrant deal. While Greek academic Konstantinos Tsitselikes said the number of people who crossed into Europe was is closer to 1,000 rather than the 140,000 claimed by Ankara, Turkish academic Murat Erdoğan says the EU's refusal to accept the migrants is justified.
Around 300 migrants at Ankara's Akyurt Repatriation Center were transported to the border against their will on the night of Feb. 29, Ankara Bar Association's Migrant Rights Center Chair Sadık Onur Gelbal said on March 4. According to a migrant still in the center, only 7 migrants stayed in the center after resisting deportation. Attorneys have not been allowed to visit it.
HDP lawmaker Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu said the chair of the parliament's Immigration and Integration Sub-Committee, Hakan Çavuşoğlu, prevented its members from interacting with the migrants whilst visiting the Pazarkule Border Gate on the Greek border. "He acted as if we were there on an excursion. We went to talk to people but were pressured to rush and make a statement to the press," he said.
One person was killed and five others were wounded when Greek police opened fire on migrants on the Turkish border. Speaking about the incident, Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu said that the scene is a disgrace. "We asked the [Edirne] Governor's Office whether they distributed tents to people sleeping in the cold. They said, 'No.' People are in miserable conditions," he said.
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.
The European Parliament's former Turkey rapporteur, Kati Piri, has said in a statement on Twitter that the European Union failed to uphold its end of the 2016 migrant deal with Turkey after several EU countries have criticized Ankara's recent move to ease border restrictions.
Police are the first to give migrants bad news in Edirne where they've arrived in hopes of crossing over to Greece. "You can't cross," police say before advising migrants to go to Doyran Village where they can cross the river easily, adding that this is a better way to enter Europe. Meanwhile, a human trafficker sits down to negotiate and bargain with migrants in the encampment next to the police. He boasts that he transports migrants to the Greek side safely, accompanied by soldiers.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has refused to attend a trilateral summit with Greece and Bulgaria to discuss the recent migrant crisis after reports of migrants having been killed on the Greek border surfaced.
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.
The European Union's chief executive, Ursula von der Leyen, expressed sympathy with Turkey over the conflict in Syria on March 2 but said Ankara deciding to let refugees and migrants through to Europe "cannot be" the answer. "I acknowledge that Turkey is in a difficult situation with regards to the refugees and the migrants. But what we see now cannot be an answer or solution," she told a news conference.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that the number of migrants heading towards Europe will soon reach millions, as he commented on Ankara's decision last week to let migrants cross its borders into Europe. "The number of migrants who headed to Europe surpassed 100,000 since we opened our borders. The number will be in millions soon," Erdoğan said.
Turkey's Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu urged Greece to provide asylum to the migrants waiting at the border between the two countries, particularly the Pazarkule Border Gate where crowds have been piled at for five days. Meanwhile, Soylu said over 100,000 migrants have crossed over to Europe in Edirne as clashes continue between the crowds and Greek border patrol that's getting increasingly stricter.
While many migrants have left Istanbul for the Greek border near Edirne, rampage erupted among dozens who attempted to get on a bus in the transportation hub of Kazlıçeşme. Migrants waiting at an Edirne border gate were the target of a gas canister. Other migrants made it to the Greek island of Lesbos by sea.
Greece and Bulgaria have signaled heightened border control as Ankara declared it would no longer prevent migrants from passing over to Europe. While police troops have already been deployed to the Kastanies border in northeastern Greece, Bulgaria said it was poised to deploy 1,000 troops to its Turkish border.
Turkey's border security officials have closed off the Pazarkule Border Gate to Greece on the grounds that some 100 migrants had crossed into the buffer zone illegally, even though Ankara declared on Feb. 27 that it would no longer prevent migrants to cross over to Europe.
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Duvar English’s editor-in-chief Cansu Çamlıbel and pollster Can Selçuki discuss the underlying factors behind the recent moves of Turkey's ruling alliance which paves the way for further polarization in politics as the country enters the final months of 2020. They also analyze the effects of the sharp decline of the Turkish Lira against foreign currencies over public's perception.
Dinçer Demirkent writes: Interior Minister Soylu said that the head of the Constitutional Court would be unable to commute to work without his protection team. What he meant was that he was the Minister who assigned the security team to the judge, implying he might just remove them. By doing so, Süleyman Soylu openly violates the article 138 of the Turkish Constitution; basic principle for the independence of the judiciary.
Politics
The Turkish government's restrictions on card and board games are hurting business for old-fashioned coffee houses. Old-fashioned coffeehouses are an important part of social life, especially for retired and unemployed men in Turkey, and board and card games are among the primary activities.
Amnesty International has called on Turkey to investigate the throwing of two men from a military helicopter in the eastern province of Van. It also said that it's very concerned on the "allegations of torture and mistreatment," adding that international human rights law and standards must ensure that Turkey prevents torture under all circumstances.
Greece on Sept. 27 called on Turkey to condemn and investigate what it said was an "insult" to its national flag on the Greek island of Kastellorizo. "We expect Turkish authorities to immediately condemn and investigate the incident, so that the culprits are brought before justice," it said. "Such unacceptable actions only seek to torpedo prospects for easing tensions between the two countries."
HDP co-chair Pervin Buldan has called on Future Party leader and former prime minister Ahmet Davutoğlu to "speak the truth" about October 2014 Kobane protests a day after 20 HDP members were detained. "Now is the time to speak the truth. I think it's important for people who were in the government at the time and who know what unfolded to speak," Buldan said.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has said that coronavirus (COVID-19) positive individuals will wear electronic bracelets while under quarantine as a measure against violating quarantine rules. The ministry is evaluating two options regarding the bracelet and both options include alarming authorities if breaches take place.
Members of the European Parliament have condemned the latest crackdown on pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP). Kati Piri said that the Turkish government's move is “another step backwards pushing Turkey even further away from the EU,” while Nacho Sánchez Amor said that Turkish authorities seem “determined to establish some kind of overall retroactive state of emergency in order to further suppress opposition and any critical voices.”
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that he is very proud of his son who is doing his military service on the Greek-Turkish border. “Very proud father! I’m sorry that, due to Covid, I could not come to Alexandroupolis to brag about you!” said Mitsotakis Instagram on Sept. 25.
Istanbul Medical Chamber said on Sept. 25 that a healthcare worker who warned a patient's relative to put his mask on was beaten. Prof. Dr. Tufan Tükek, dean of Istanbul University’s Çapa Medical Faculty, said that the health worker named Rıfat Babayiğit might suffer a permanent vision loss due to the attack.
A deputy of the main opposition CHP has criticized the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) after a video footage showing a child being battered at a Quran course has surfaced. CHP MP Ali Öztunç called on Diyanet head to enlighten the incident, while also indicating that he does not believe the explanation of the district governor's office that the 10-year-old child was beaten by a 15-year-old child attending the same course.
The Surp Sarkis Armenian Church in Diyarbakır's Sur district, which is on the verge of destruction, is being targeted in recent years by treasure hunters. HDP deputy Garo Paylan said that the government's policy toward the church is a “purposeful neglect” for the memory of the Armenians in the city to be wiped away and called on the authorities to take the necessary measures for the protection of the church.
The Health Ministry has issued a new circular concerning the temporary supplementary payments given during the coronavirus epidemic. As per the new circular, doctors will get up to 50 percent increase in their coronavirus bonuses, whereas Diyanet personnel responsible for handling the deceased' bodies will get a 100 percent increase in their additional payments.
Turkey is trying to procure European-made air defense systems and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan asked his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron to drop his opposition to co-production of Eurosam SAMP/T air missile systems, Elysee sources told Bloomberg. Macron reportedly told Erdoğan that Turkey must clarify its objectives in northern Syria before the request could be considered.
The spokesperson of Turkey's Justice Ministry has said that Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office has launched an investigation into Salafi associations which are alleged to be taking up arms as part of their preparations to fight in the country. The investigation comes after Ahmet Mahmut Ünlü, a popular preacher from the İsmailağa order of Naqshbandi Sufis, warned the government that there are 2,000 Salafi associations in Turkey which are preparing for a civil war.
A Turkish court on Sept. 25 banned access to the website of daily Yeni Yaşam newspaper. The reason of the access ban is not yet known.
The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office said on Sept. 25 that summary of proceedings will be prepared against seven HDP deputies in order for their immunities to be lifted over 2014 Kobane protests. The deputies in question were the HDP's Central Executive Board (MYK) members during Kobane protests, the prosecutor's office said.
Turkey's opposition parties have criticized the detention of HDP members CHP Group Deputy Chair Özgür Özel deemed the detentions "an intimidation operation" and asked the government whether new evidence was reached regarding the Kobane protests that happened six years ago. According to Özel, the recent detentions are attempts of the government to shift people's focus from the crumbling economy.
A group of opposition politicians slammed the construction of a 90-million-lira prison with a lake view in the eastern province of Van which government officials deemed "an investment." The opposition noted that the region has far more pressing needs than prisons and that hundreds of jails have been already built in recent years in Turkey.
Economy
Turkey's Central Bank unexpectedly hiked interest rates on Sept. 24, triggering an improvement in the lira's value against the dollar. The Turkish Lira has sunk to record lows over the past month as Ankara's currency interventions proved futile.
Turkey's state-owned Halkbank has urged a judge to dismiss a U.S. indictment accusing the bank of helping Iran evade American sanctions. At a hearing in Manhattan federal court on Sept. 18, a lawyer for Halkbank said its status as a Turkish “instrumentality” shielded it from prosecution because of sovereign immunity.
U.S. tech giant Amazon offered up its speed-delivery subscription to Turkish consumers on Sept. 15. The monthly subscription fee was set for 7.99 Turkish Liras, about one dollar with the current exchange rates.
Turkey's unemployment rate rose to 13.4 percent. and participation edged up in the May-July period in which a coronavirus lockdown was lifted and a ban on layoffs remained in place, data showed on Sept. 10, painting a clearer picture of the pandemic's fallout.
Urban Beat
Istanbulites will select the new face of Taksim Square from among three projects as part of the Istanbul Municipality's plans to renovate the area. Şerif Süveydan, Bünyamin Derman and Kutlu İnanç Bal were the winners in the contest that was held by Istanbul Planning Agency and Istanbul Municipality's Department of Cultural Assets.
The Odunpazarı Modern Museum in western Eskişehir won the award for "international project of the year over £1m" at the London Museums+Heritage Awards. The museum opened its doors just over a year ago in the city's ancient Odunpazarı neighborhood.
The 48th Istanbul Music Festival will be held online, streaming pre-recorded performances in historical venues. Starting on Sept. 18, the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) will make available the performances that honor composer Ludwig van Beethoven.
Heavy presence of the Asian tiger mosquito was detected in four Istanbul districts, concerning locals as the bug can carry malaria, the Zika virus and encephalitis. The invasive species have been increasing in population around Istanbul in the past decade, an Istanbul University veterinarian said.
Ali Demir writes: So the property of the local non-Muslims collapsed, and what happened? Nothing! The whole country is now composed of non-local foreigners. The greedy tailor apprentice that murdered his master could not sew a jacket, and will never be able to.