Moscow-Ankara
Russia and Turkey are in an advanced stage of discussion on the delivery of the second S-400 batch, but the agreement has not yet been signed, Dmitry Shugaev, head of Federal Service of Military-Technical Cooperation, said on Aug. 23. Earlier, the general director of Rosoboronexport, the Russian agency dealing with the import and export of defense-related products and services, stated that Moscow and Ankara had signed a contract.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin have discussed cooperation on Moscow's recently registered coronavirus vaccine in a phone call. Besides, the presidents focused on certain issues on the bilateral agenda, including the expansion of trade and economic partnership. They agreed to continue contacts at different levels.
Turkish authorities have assured UNESCO leadership of their intention to work closely with the organization in carrying out the planned restoration works in Hagia Sophia after its transformation into a mosque, a Russian official said. "Now they have assured us that they will not do anything without consulting UNESCO specialists and promise to invite the organization's experts to Istanbul in the near future," he said.
Russia and Turkey are working on an immediate ceasefire agreement for the conflict in Libya, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on July 8. Lavrov said LNA is ready to sign a ceasefire document and hopes that Turkey will manage to convince the country's internationally recognised GNA to do the same.
The Russian Defense Ministry has sent military cargo to Syria through the Bosphorus, maritime and aviation expert and Duvar English contributor Yörük Işık said on Twitter. Russian forces in Syria have relying on the Bosphorus as a major supply route between their home ports in the Black Sea and their base in Tartus.
The head of the Russian Federal Service of Military-Technical Cooperation, Dmitry Shugayev, said that Moscow is awaiting Ankara's final decision on the delivery of the second batch of Russia's S-400 missile defense systems. "Dialogue on the deliveries of the second regimental batch of the S-400 are on quite an advanced stage, and we await the final decision of the Turkish side," he said.
Turkey's state-run Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) has started broadcasting news on its new Russian language platform that will play "an active role in fighting disinformation and manipulation as a reliable source of news in the Russophone world with its quality journalism." It will monitor "the pulse of the region through local correspondents in many localities over a wide geography and especially in Moscow."
Gennady Peregudov, a senior officer of the Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Protection Troops of the Russian Armed Forces' unit in Syria, said that the Russian military disinfected a convoy of Turkish military equipment that entered the territory controlled by the Syrian Armed Forces. According to Peregudov, the Russian military sanitized several Turkish armored vehicles, a tanker and a road train with a bulldozer loaded on it.
Turkey has vowed to neutralize radical elements that impede the Russian-Turkish joint patrols in Syria's Idlib, the Russian Defense Ministry said on March 23. The ministry added that the latest joint patrol took place earlier in the day on a shortened route due to safety concerns. Their first joint patrol was also cut short earlier this month due to what Moscow called rebel provocations.
The United States has asked Ankara to guarantee that it will not activate S-400 missile defense systems that it purchased from Russia to supply Patriot batteries, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on March 10. "They [the U.S.] softened significantly on this S-400 issue. They are now at the point of 'promise us you won't make the S-400s operational,'" he added.
The United States has voiced support for a ceasefire agreed by Moscow and Ankara for northwest Syria's Idlib region, saying that it expects to talk to NATO ally Turkey about the details of the ceasefire, adding that the most important point is whether Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and its backers will abide by the deal.
Syria's war-battered Idlib region was quiet but tense on March 6 as a ceasefire deal between Moscow and Ankara took effect, with residents and opposition forces describing a lull in air raids that have pounded the last rebel-held enclave in Syria. Russia and Turkey made the agreement late on March 5, after six hours of talks in Moscow, to contain a conflict that has displaced nearly a million people in three months in northwest Syria.
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.
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duvar englis podcasts
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
A group of lawyers close to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have submitted their application to the Turkish Bar Associations (TBB) to form a second bar association in Istanbul. The group has collected just over 2,000 signatures required to establish their own association as per a new legislation which was passed by Turkish parliament in July of this year.
The trial into the murder of a 12-year-old girl shot dead on Oct. 12, 2015 in Diyarbakır during a curfew, has been put on hold following the Interior Ministry's refusal to grant permission for the prosecution of the police officer in question.
The Ankara Medical Chamber has said that the number of healthcare staff who have contracted the COVID-19 in the city has increased by 61 in the last eight days, reaching to a total of 943.
The Turkish government is reportedly planning to hand prison sentences between two months and a year to those violating quarantine rules based on an article of the Turkish Penal Code, which regulates behavior in violation of the measures against contagious diseases. The country on Sept. 23 announced the death toll as 72 - its highest since the beginning of May.
Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (İBB) police teams on Sept. 24 demolished some restaurants and cafes on Heybeliada on the grounds that they were unlicensed. Café owners slammed the İBB's move saying that they had already paid an "occupancy fee" to the local management to use the lands in question.
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.
CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said that former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş will carry the indictments into him as medals, as he commented on a recent visit by a chief public prosecutor to the presidential palace. "We know that there are prosecutors lined up in front of Erdoğan," the CHP leader said.
Construction on Turkey's first nuclear power plant is ongoing amid reports of unpaid wages, the general manager said on Sept. 23. While management said it was contract companies that were lagging behind on payments, they launched an investigation into the wages nonetheless.
U.S. Ambassador to Turkey David Satterfield has said debts owed by Turkish government hospitals to American pharmaceutical companies had risen to around $2.3 billion, warning that there will be consequences for non-payment of debt or reductions in payment. "Companies will consider departing the Turkish market or will reduce exposure to Turkish market. This is not a direction which serves the interests of Turkey," he said on Sept. 23.
The Turkish Health Ministry is under scrutiny over the number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases it announces daily. "This is not the exact number of positive cases. However, this is not the number of patients receiving treatment at hospitals only," the ministry reportedly told Prof. Mehmet Ceyhan, prompting confusion on what the numbers on the daily coronavirus chart mean.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has cautioned Turkey against further deployment of equipment from Chinese telecoms giant Huawei on its soil, saying it would complicate the military cooperation between the two NATO allies. The U.S. believes Huawei Technologies’ apparatus could be used for espionage.
CHP Group Deputy Chair Özgür Özel has asked the government to reveal who received millions of dollars of bribe from shady Iranian-Turkish businessman Reza Zarrab. "It's said that $80 million of this money was given to a single politician. Will the Financial Crime Investigation Board, Turkish Treasury, Court of Accounts and other auditors be mobilized?" Özel asked.
Turkey on Sept. 23 recorded more than 70 daily coronavirus deaths for the first time since May. Seventy two people died over the past 24 hours due to the COVID-19 in Turkey, while 1,767 new cases were diagnosed, according to the daily figures the Health Ministry announced on a COVID-19 dedicated website on Sept. 23.
A women's company in the western province of Uşak work to protect an art they inherited from their mothers, the endangered technique of weaving that produces "Turkish rugs," as they are known globally. Represented in Renaissance paintings, the Uşak rugs were once a symbol of wealth and prestige.
Turkish prosecutors have demanded up to 10 years in jail for Müyesser Yıldız, the Ankara news editor for the OdaTV online news portal, and İsmail Dükel, Ankara representative of broadcaster TELE1, on charges of revealing state secrets. Yıldız is facing charges with regards to her two articles about Ankara's military involvement in Libya, whereas it remains yet unclear for which broadcast(s) Dükel is accused of defying the National Intelligence Law.
Two men who were detained in Van's Çatak and who were taken to a hospital by soldiers were thrown from a military helicopter, hospital records have confirmed. According to the records, Osman Şiban and Servet Turgut were brought to the hospital for "getting injured after falling from a helicopter." Van Governor's Office, meanwhile, denied the incident, saying that Turgut "fell in a rocky area when trying to escape from soldiers."
Merkez İlaç CEO Mehmet Şapçı has told Health Minister Fahrettin Koca that most of the sanitizers used in hospitals are fake. According to Şapçı, these fake products have around 3.3 percent povidone-iodine, whereas the standard is at 10 percent. He also named the fake products in the letter he sent to the minister.
In a not-so-veiled message to Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, Constitutional Court President Zühtü Arslan has said that although the top court is open to criticism of its decisions, remarks which focus on judges and "go beyond criticism will not bring any benefit.” Arslan's comments came after he was targeted by Soylu over the top court's decision to permit inter-city demonstrations and marches.
A report prepared annually by the Hrant Dink Foundation showed that Armenians were the most targeted group in hate speech in Turkish media in 2019. According to the report, there were 5,515 instances of hate speech in local and national media and 803 of them targeted Armenians. Syrian refugees followed Armenians with 760 instances, Greeks ranked third with 754 and Jews were targeted 676 times.
Turkey's premier petrochemical company Petkim has been involved in illegal oil business with Syria, according to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) Files, which said that Petkim and its associate Petrokim completed over $90 million in "suspicious transactions" between March 2010 and January 2016.
Economy
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.
Turkish Airlines (THY) observed a drop of almost 65 percent in the number of August travelers compared to the year before. Domestic flights saw a smaller drop of 47.1 percent, while international flights shrank by 75.4 percent, THY said.
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.