Unemployment
Finance Minister Berat Albayrak said that Turkey was an exception to the global financial crisis emerging in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. The minister said that Turkey has been outperforming other countries in "all measures of economic success."
Until a couple of years ago, the Turkish government was proud to be a safe haven for refugees; however, shifting public opinion caused the AKP to lose votes. Iranian freedom fighters are among the ones suffering the consequences.
Opposition İYİ Party leader Meral Akşener has slammed President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's financial policies, accusing him of personally being responsible for the worst decade of Turkish unemployment in the country's history. The opposition leader also criticized the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) for narrowly defining unemployment, only to count individuals who made job applications in the last four weeks.
A recent report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) revealed Turkey as the leading member country for the portion of youth who are both unemployed and out of school. This number was revealed to be 26.7 percent in February in data from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK).
Former deputy Finance Minister Ali Babacan's Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) said that the Turkish Statistical Institute's (TÜİK) March unemployment data didn't reflect the reality of mass layoffs during the COVID-19 pandemic and was inconsistent. The TÜİK data showed a dip in unemployment from 2019, as well as a decrease in employment and workforce participation rates.
No matter how long or short the COVID-19 crisis lasts, a broad range of working masses, but especially the unskilled labor force will be the ones exceedingly affected. They will lose income and their jobs. As a result, inequality will spread on a mass scale and poverty will soar.
A nationwide ban on layoffs will be extended for another three months after mid-July, news broadcaster NTV reported. A new "employment shield" financial aid package is predicted to include continued cash aid to workers on unpaid leave as well as incentives for employers to hire new employees.
The initiative of an industrialists' union in Turkey to hang electronic tracking devices from the necks of workers received harsh criticism from labor unions. The Platform of Istanbul Labor Union called the measure “downright slavery”.
It appears that Turkey’s capital-owning class largely agrees that the pandemic has brought two opportunities. The first has to do with broadening their vast exploitation of labor. The second has to do with obtaining a strategic place in the global supply chain, which is expected to break off from China.
Workloads have increased and working conditions have gotten worse for women in Turkey amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a recent report by an independent NGO. The problems that working women face include being fired, being put on unpaid leave, not receiving their wages, and having unbearable work loads between their jobs being coupled together with their household tasks.
Turkey has announced additional import tariffs of 30 percent imposed on dozens of goods including household appliances, jewelry, musical instruments and sanitary products.
One out of every four workers in Istanbul has become unemployed due to the coronavirus, according to a report of the main opposition CHP. Some 66.2 percent of the workers in the megacity have also experienced a decline in their wages, the CHP said, basing its report on surveys and field works.
As conditions worsen for the households, prospects get darker. It appears that the first wave of the health crisis will be over soon. Brace yourself for the economic downturn that it will leave its wake. That is of course until the pandemic’s second wave.
A public accountants' union warned that the COVID-19 outbreak could lead to the unemployment of some 10,000,000 persons. The union's report also noted that the service industry has essentially stopped entirely and that more than half of the workers could have become unemployed.
Former deputy prime minister and leader of the Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) Ali Babacan said that Ankara should swiftly compensate the 55 million people who do not receive money from the government. Some 27 million receive either public salaries or retirement pension, Babacan said.
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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
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.
Turkish Industry and Technology Minister Mustafa Varank has used the deadly explosion in Beirut to advocate the construction of the controversial Kanal Istanbul project, which seeks to carve out an artificial shipping canal on the outskirts of the European side of Istanbul in order to alleviate traffic from the Bosphorus Strait.
Turkey's Humanitarian Relief Foundation (İHH) is among those searching for survivors in Beirut after a massive blast in the city killed over 100 people and injured nearly 4,000, and Ankara has offered to build a field hospital and help as needed. "We are providing assistance with one ambulance to transfer patients. We may provide help according to the needs of the hospital," an İHH official said.
The Turkish Medical Association (TTB) has said that number of daily coronavirus infections in Ankara alone amount to approximately 1,000, thereby disputing the official figures which put the daily nationwide tally at around this level. The TTB's statement came as Ankara provincial directorate of health on Aug. 4 ordered all hospitals in the city to allocate at least half of their beds for the use of COVID-19 patients.
Villagers in the Mehmetdede Tekke village in the central Anatolian province of Çorum have protested the mine drilling project on the grounds that it will hurt local agricultural production and reduce the amount of land used for agricultural purposes.
Thirty two women were killed by men during the month of July in Turkey. Fifty nine percent of the women killed by men in July were murdered by their current or ex-husbands. Femicides in Turkey have more than doubled within the past decade during the tenure of the ruling AKP.
Turkey Thinking Platform has announced that it will no longer submit any advisory report to the government on Istanbul Convention. The platform said that they entered a “mine field” with their May-dated report which urged President Erdoğan to withdraw from the landmark convention.
Germany on Aug. 4 partially lifted its coronavirus travel warning for Turkey, greenlighting summer holidays in the destinations of Antalya, İzmir, Aydın and Muğla. Turkey will require all travelers leaving for Germany to show a negative coronavirus test result obtained within the previous 48 hours, German Foreign Ministry said.
Death fasting lawyer Aytaç Ünsal called on the people to not let the doctors force feed him and another death fasting lawyer, Ebru Timtik. In a message he sent via his wife, Ünsal said that the doctors will "circle around them like vultures" and intervene medically without their consent if they lose their consciousness.
Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy Gamze Akkuş İlgezdi has slammed Turkey's Justice Ministry for not revealing the number of coronavirus cases in prisons for nearly 50 days. "A heightening risk is in question at prisons, but the ministry is more concerned about hiding the number of cases than struggling against the virus," she said.
A pro-Taliban group has recorded a video at Istanbul's Hagia Sophia, days after the site was converted into a mosque by the Turkish government. The footage showed the group chanting Islamic slogans while holding the flag used by the Taliban.
CHP member and former presidential candidate Muharrem İnce is reportedly planning to found a new political party. "Our party will have individuals who are experts in their fields and their presence will excite everyone," İnce reportedly said.
The Turkish Language Association (TDK) has been seeking to cut the use of English in company names, as it said that a bill that would protect the Turkish language should be proposed. Saying that English words are currently perceived as if they're a part of Turkish, the association noted that presenters and guests on TV shows speak English "to be more impressive."
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.