NATO
The eastern Mediterranean region where a Turkish ship will carry out a seismic survey is part of Turkey's continental shelf, Ankara said on July 22, rejecting Greece's accusation that the ship is encroaching on its own shelf. Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said the ship Oruç Reis will operate in an area where Ankara awarded licences to Turkish energy company TPAO in 2012, within continental shelf boundaries of which the United Nations has been notified.
NATO has put a defense plan for Poland and Baltic states into action after Turkey dropped its objections, officials from Lithuania, Poland and France have said. NATO declined to comment directly, saying that it "has plans in place to protect all allies. Those plans are regularly revised and updated."
Turkey's ambassador to France İsmail Hakkı Musa said on July 1 that Paris had informed NATO it was suspending its involvement in a naval operation in the Mediterranean after a probe into an incident between French and Turkish warships did not back Paris' claims. "I had the information yesterday, it seems that the Courbet is withdrawing from this NATO exercise," he said.
The United States will continue working with Turkish companies producing some parts of F-35 fighter jets until 2022, Turkey's state-owned Anadolu agency quoted a Pentagon spokeswoman as saying on July 1. "Our industry partners will carry out the continuing contracts," she said, adding the Pentagon was still looking for alternatives to Turkey.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov has said that Turkey has the right to vie for a new agreement on an additional supply of S-400 missile defense systems and Russia will subsequently be ready to deliver. "They [Turkey] have the right to do so, if they express a desire, we will seal [the deal]," Borisov said.
NATO will investigate French accusations that Turkey's navy failed to respond to an allied call to inspect a vessel this month in the Mediterranean, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on June 18, an incident Paris suspects involved Turkish arms smuggling to Libya. "My message is that we have made sure that NATO military authorities are investigating the incident to bring full clarity into what happened," Stoltenberg said.
Turkey is blocking the implementation of new defense plans for eastern Europe in NATO over the status of the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), German Press Agency reported on June 15. Turkey wants the YPG and the PYD to be designated as terrorist organizations in exchange for its support.
The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee on June 11 authorized the U.S. Air Force to modify six F-35s fighter jets that were sold to Turkey but will be used for the U.S. military. The jets were never delivered to Turkish soil because of a disagreement over Ankara’s purchase of the Russian-made S-400 missile defense system, which the Pentagon said was “incompatible” with the stealthy F-35 jets.
Relations between Turkey and the European Union may indeed be back on track, but which track is that exactly? Just when I had given credit to EU-Turkey rapprochement, despite my usually pessimistic self, the usual flare-ups with Greece started up again.
Six members of Congress, including Ilhan Omar, penned a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, urging the government to engage with Ankara to secure the release of political prisoners in Turkey, requesting that the U.S. government discuss the equitable application of release policies, particularly in the context of U.S. financial or other material assistance to Turkey.
While the ENKS and the PYD agree on certain topics, a deep gap remains between the two groups. And the American and French pressure will do little to close that gap. Moreover, Barzani’s ties with Turkey limit his capabilities. Given the KDP and the PKK were fighting each other in the Qandil mountains, how could the two movements unite on the Syrian front?
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said that the alliance is ready to support Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) led by Fayez al-Sarraj against the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Khalifa Haftar. He also said that NATO is supporting the UN’s efforts for a peaceful solution to the conflicts both in Libya and Syria.
The capacity and the capability of the Turkish Armed Forces is overwhelming compared to its regional peers. The resolve of the leader and the public support are formidable. The pandemic keeps the global powers at bay. The worm in the apple is the economic engine.
Turkey’s plans to switch on its new Russian S-400 air defense systems have been delayed by the coronavirus outbreak but it does not intend to reverse the decision, a senior Turkish official told Reuters. “There is no going back on the decision to activate the S-400s (but) due to COVID-19 … the plan for them to be ready in April will be delayed,” the official reportedly said.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has praised Turkey for sending medical aid to Spain and Italy, the countries worst hit by the novel coronavirus in Europe, saying that he is proud to see NATO allies supporting each other through the alliance's disaster relief center. "#NATO solidarity in action: Turkey sending a cargo plane with medical supplies to Italy & Spain today to support our joint fight against #COVID19," said Stoltenberg on Twitter on April 1.
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duvar englis podcasts
Duvar English’s editor-in-chief Cansu Çamlıbel and pollster Can Selçuki are joined by Robert Bosch Academy's Galip Dalay to discuss the impact of Turkish government's recent domestic policy moves on Ankara's international relations. They look for answers to whether there is any possibility that Turkey's relations with the West might change for the better any time soon.
Taner Akçam writes: The regime’s bold stroke vis-a-vis Hagia Sophia should not be seen as stemming from desperation. Rather, it is simply meant to relay the not-so-subtle message of the path to be followed by the "New Republic", and that message is that the “annihilationist tradition” of the old regime, inherited by the Republic’s founders, will be retained in the era to come.
Politics
Congolese opposition politician Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko has disappeared in Ankara after flying to the Turkish capital for health treatment in late July. He boarded a plane belonging to Qatar and landed at Ankara's Esenboğa airport on July 30, and has not been heard from since.
Employees of Turkish Airlines (THY) have been facing an uncertain future due to the salary crisis that has been ongoing for five months in the company. According to Sözcü, talks between the THY and Hava-İş, the Turkish union representing a large number of workers in the civil aviation sector, have failed to reach a conclusion.
Approximately 250,000 people in Turkey are believed to be carrying the COVID-19 virus, said a member of Turkish Health Ministry's Coronavirus Science Committee. Prof. Dr. Tevfik Özlü said that of this figure, some 215,000 show no symptoms of the disease.
German Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Aug. 6 that return of Germans from holiday destinations such as Western Balkan countries and Turkey is increasingly contributing to the rise in new coronavirus cases. Spahn also said that everyone arriving from high-risk areas will be tested for the disease unless they can produce a negative test certificate no more than two days old.
Former MHP deputy Cemal Enginyurt has said it was him who started the legal process that led to the cancellation of a dissident-led congress back in 2016 aiming to challenge the leadership of Devlet Bahçeli. “When Meral Akşener won the congress with 715 votes on June 19, it was me who took the case to the court. It was me that led to the cancellation of the congress, which they had won," Enginyurt said on Aug. 5.
Good (İYİ) Party leader Meral Akşener has said that the majority of the Turkish people want to return to a parliamentary system, adding that the current "freakish" system can't govern the country. "Turkey's economy has worsened, the youth doesn't have hope to find jobs, agriculture and industry have collapsed. The people are suffering from not being able to find food and fear being unemployed," she said.
Twitter has announced that it is introducing a new label for government officials and state-backed media organisations to help users make informed decisions. The labels will initially be added to officials representing the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – Russia, China, France, the UK, and the US, the company said.
Turkish women did four times as much household and care work as men during lockdowns aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), research supported by the United Nations Development Programme showed on Aug. 6. The gender gap in paid work narrowed under lockdown as a result of changes in work patterns and a fall in men's paid work hours, the research found.
Former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş has said that "a secret organization within the state brings its agenda into action step by step via planned operations." "We need to state what has been going on in the country properly. The constitutional order is being changed and an authoritarian regime is being constructed. This is not carried out through open political methods only," Demirtaş said.
Turkey’s Interior Ministry has declared a document circulating on social media claiming that a curfew would be imposed this weekend as fake news. Deputy Interior Minister İsmail Çataklı on Aug. 6 urged the people not to be misled by such “fake documents whose origins are unknown.”
The governor's office in the eastern province of Van has said that a video that purported to show final moments of migrants doesn't belong to the Lake Van tragedy. It also said that they contacted an Afghan national believed to be the person who owned the video, who reportedly told the office that he received the video from someone else.
Only 25 percent of the Turkish public has trust in the presidency, according to a recent poll from the ArtıBir research company. Some 17.3 percent of those polled said that they did not have trust in any of the country's institutions, while the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) was the most trusted institution with the confidence of 38.2 percent of those responding to the poll.
Individuals close to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) were appointed to vacated posts in the Turkish Aeronautical Association (THK). According to Mustafa Mutlu Pekergin, a member of the supervisory board of the THK Köyceğiz branch, the appointments are unlawful.
Thousands of Turkish women on Aug. 5 held protests across the country to demand that the ruling AKP does not withdraw from the Istanbul Convention. During the protest in İzmir, police battered and detained several of the women. As some of the protesters resisted being detained, one of the police commanders was heard instructing his colleagues to “break their arms” should they defy the police.
Osman Özçalımlı, a Turkish soldier of Kurdish origin, was found dead while doing his compulsory military service in Turkey’s Aegean province of İzmir last week. In the face of authorities' contradictory statements, coupled with their son’s statement of having been threatened the day before, the family are now demanding to know what really happened.
Turkey's daily COVID-19 cases have shown a sharp rebounding trend, with more than 1,000 daily jump in successive days. “We need to prevent the risk in the Eid al-Adha and holiday from causing new consequences. We need unity in precautions," Health Minister Fahrettin Koca wrote on Twitter.
Turkish President Erdoğan has ordered the country’s education watchdog YÖK to shut down the universities' distance education programs for psychology studies. The move came after Istanbul University’s plan to launch such a program received widespread criticism among psychologists.
Six members of the left-wing Turkish popular folk band Grup Yorum were detained on Aug. 5 while performing at a concert rehearsal in Istanbul's Beykoz. The İdil Culture Center, which is run by the group, was also raided by the police.
The Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) has slammed prison conditions in Turkey, urging authorities to take "decisive action" against ill-treatment of police. The problem of prison overcrowding remained acute, the CPT said, and the steady increase in the size of the prison population already observed in the mid-2000s continued.
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
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?
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.