A video showing President Erdoğan saying prior to 2019 local elections that he had not “lost his direction as to get played into” opening Istanbul's iconic Hagia Sophia for worship was widely circulated on social media on July 11 -- a day after the president handed over the iconic structure’s control to the country’s Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet).
The World Health Organization and Turkey on July 9 signed an agreement to open a WHO office in Istanbul. The WHO already has a country office in the capital Ankara. Speaking in the capital Ankara, Turkey’s Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said that the WHO's new office will guide efforts to meet current needs in the novel coronavirus outbreak.
The Turkish central bank’s gross foreign currency reserves decreased by $73 million over the period of June 26-July 3. State banks buying liras and selling dollars in an apparent attempt to prop up Turkey’s currency is seen by many investors as a reason for a gradual drain on the central bank’s foreign currency reserves in recent months.
A boat that sank on Van Lake in eastern Turkey is believed to have had 55 to 60 migrants onboard, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said on July 8, adding that six bodies had been recovered so far. The lake is located on the path of migrants attempting to reach western Turkey from Iran, Afghanistan and other countries.
Iraqi President Barham Salih said on July 8 that neighboring Turkey must suspend its recent offensive against alleged Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) positions in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region and disputed territories of Iraq. Salih “reiterated that Turkey has to suspend its military violations on the Iraqi soil."
Turkish Education Minister Ziya Selçuk said that they would decide whether classes would be carried out remotely "at the end of August, beginning of September." The academic year is scheduled to start on August 31 so far.
The British government on July 3 unveiled a list of safe destinations from where travelers will not be required to self-isolate for 14 days when they enter England. The list covers 59 countries, including Turkey and the measure will take effect from July 10.
Joe Biden, the former U.S. vice president who is now the Democratic presidential nominee, has called on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to reverse the decision on Hagia Sophia, urging him to “instead keep this treasured place in its current status as a museum, ensuring equal access for all.”
Palestinian Islamist group Hamas has expressed its support for the Turkish government's decision to convert Istanbul's iconic Hagia Sophia into a mosque. "Opening of Hagia Sophia to prayer is a proud moment for all Muslims," said Hamas in a written statement.
Turkey's Nobel prize-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk has criticized the Turkish government's decision to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque, saying: "To convert it back to a mosque is to say to the rest of the world unfortunately we are not secular anymore."
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.
Jailed OdaTV journalist Barış Pehlivan has penned a letter thanking his friends after they marked his 37th birthday at Istanbul's “Özgürlük Parkı” (Freedom Park). “My friends, you gave me the most precious gift ever,” Pehlivan wrote in his letter.
President Erdoğan has said that it is a "great concern" for words that fuel animosity towards Islam "to be used freely." Erdoğan made the comments on July 11 while marking the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide.
Lawyers have fled a complaint with Turkey's judicial board HSK against a prosecutor for deeming sending regards to former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş as a proof of “terrorist organization membership.” In a phone call with his lawyers, jailed former DBP chair Mehmet Arslan asked them to send many greetings to Demiraş as well as two other jaled former HDP MPs, Abdullah Zeydan and Sebahat Tuncel.
Initial results of a fresh study showed that Konya's sewage has the highest COVID-19 concentration among all Turkish provinces, followed by Istanbul. A researcher has said that after Konya and Istanbul came Bursa, İzmit, İzmir and Antalya's certain regions.
A Kurdish poet and musician who was killed in the 1993 Sivas Massacre, Hasret Gültekin's statue was erected in the yard of a cemevi in the eastern province of Dersim, along with a monument commemorating the 33 other intellectuals who died in the attack. The cemevi president said that the '93 massacre was a milestone in Alevi history.
The recent introduction of the Turkish Lira in towns of northern Syrian constitutes the final step in an assimilation policy enforced by Ankara in the region, journalist and Middle East expert Bereket Kar said. Reports have shown that cash and coins were brought in through the Turkish postal service (PTT).
A building with a murky past in downtown Ankara is now displaying the Presidency's Communications Directorate's name and seal, daily Cumhuriyet reported. The building used to be owned by businessman Akın İpek who is now a fugitive defendant in the case against U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen.
Lawyers who were waiting outside Ankara's Kuğulu Park to support bar association heads protesting in a sit-in got blocked by police as they marched to parliament. The legal professionals are all in the capital to protest a draft bill on the parliament floor that would dilute bar associations' authorities.
Turkey's Human Rights Association (İHD) has called for the release of Eylem Oyunlu, who is currently behind bars in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır on charges of 'assisting a terror organization' with her two young children. Oyunlu's 3-week-old baby is suffering from a blocked tear duct and the two-year-old has chronic bronchitis.
Fossils discovered by a nature enthusiast in mountainous eastern province of Iğdır revealed that the area, now completely landlocked, used to be a shore and underwater. The fossils contained palm leaves, which grow in hot areas by the water.
A non-governmental women's platform urged the government to stop proceedings on a legal amendment that would grant amnesty to sexual predators. The platform also urged the government to not consider recusing from the Istanbul Convention, an international treaty against domestic violence and violence against children.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has said that the number of new COVID-19 cases reported in Turkey has been declining steadily since June 25, but cautioned the public not to flout measures in place to stem the spread of the virus. "Let's not forget that these decreases [in case numbers] are happening slowly, whereas increases are happening suddenly," he said.
Turkey's media watchdog issued 73 percent of broadcast interruption fines to the same four news broadcasters that are critical of the government, a report by non-governmental organization Transparency International revealed.
The European Parliament held a debate entitled “Stability and Security in the Mediterranean and the negative role of Turkey” on July 9. Several MEPs called for a complete end to accessions talks with Turkey, saying the country should no longer receive payments from the EU budget as part of pre-accession support.
84 percent of Turkish citizens expect a second wave of the novel coronavirus epidemic, based on the results of a survey conducted from June 29-July 2 among more than 2,000 people in all of the country’s 81 provinces. 90 percent of people surveyed indicated that the virus had negatively impacted Turkey's economy.
A recent simulation by Istanbul Municipality revealed the southern suburbs of the city to be the highest-risk areas in a potential earthquake. While the suburbs are located on both sides of the city, they're all placed alongside the southern Marmara Sea shoreline.
Turkey has voiced discontent with the United States' decision to provide International Military Education and Training (IMET) to Greek Cypriot soldiers in accordance with the 2020 fiscal year appropriations act. "This and similar steps do not contribute to the efforts towards the settlement of the Cyprus issue, but on the contrary, lead to strengthening the intransigent attitude of the Greek Cypriot side," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.
Editor's Pick
İslam Özkan writes: Rather than dividing it, it appears that Turkey’s strategy and polarizing policies in Libya have contributed to unifying the enemy camp. Though the attack against the al-Wattiyah airbase did not inflict huge damage on Turkey’s air defense system, Turkey’s efforts in Libya will likely get harder in the future.
Ülkü Doğanay writes: Maybe in January 2016, if the former prime minister, who now resents his colleagues and who kept quiet before the events regarding Şehir University, had remembered that he was also an academic benefiting from free expression, then universities may not have been in the dark position they are in today.
Politics
The Istanbul Convention, an international initiative that aims to combat domestic violence against women, has led to fractures within the ruling AKP as one of the party's lawmakers has said that she is puzzled why the convention has come under attack after so many years. AKP MP Canan Kalsın asked why the convention turned into a “scapegoat” nine years after it was signed in Istanbul.
Attending a demonstration can't be a proof of terrorist organization membership, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled in the case of four applicants from Turkey. The applicants faced the said accusation for attending a demonstration in 2008, with the ECHR saying that their rights to freedom of assembly were violated.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is expected to carry out a cabinet reshuffle and rearrange ministries. Erdoğan might part ways with three to four ministers, sources told Duvar, adding that two ministries, including the Family and Social Services Ministry, might be divided into two.
The police force of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) early on July 9 shot two Syrian refugees for attempting to run away after arriving at a beach on a boat. The TRNC police said that refugees continued to run away despite warning shots, and eventually they opened fire on them, injuring two.
A tender for hunting mountain goats in eastern Dersim was scheduled despite public outcry against it. Endemic to the Munzur Valley National Park, mountain goats are considered sacred among locals.
A parliamentary commission revealed that some 462 children in Turkey died under suspicious conditions in 2019. Police data showed that 21 children's deaths were suicides and 29 were the result of poisoning.
Four U.S. senators have penned a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper saying that Turkey's expulsion from the F-35 supply chain needs to be expedited, regardless of what the cost is. They said that the Defense Department's delay regarding the matter “has undermined the effectiveness of our clear message to the Turks.”
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that he seeks to shut social media platforms in Turkey, a day after his daughter Esra Albayrak was insulted on Twitter. "Such platforms don't suit this country and our people. That's why we want these social media platforms completely shut or controlled after bringing the issue to our parliament," he told members of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Turkey tested Russian-made S-400 air defense systems on U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets in November 2019, a source close to the Turkish defense industry told TASS on July 7. "Yes, such trials have indeed taken place last November," the source told TASS when asked to comment on several media reports.
The main opposition CHP’s proposal calling for an investigation into last week's deadly explosion at a Sakarya fireworks factory has been rejected by the votes of the AKP and MHP lawmakers.
Turkey's Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has said that the country will soon start mass production of favipiravir, a drug used in COVID-19 treatment, as the licensing process is expected to be completed in a couple of days. Koca said that the country will sell it on the international market and also use it to treat its own coronaviurus patients.
Jailed former HDP co-chair Demirtaş has advised opposition parties to expand their discourse beyond anti-AKP rhetoric, saying: "The time is no longer speaking about the AKP, but the future." Demirtaş has also advised all opposition parties to partake in the same events such as forums, panel discussions and conferences and address Turkey's problems there.
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.
HDP deputies have protested a bill on decentralizing bar associations via reading Molierac's words in parliament. "While performing our duties, we adhere to nobody; not to the client, not to the judge and nor to the government. We do not claim that there are people below our level," they said.
As of March this year, EU countries overall have admitted 26,835 migrants under the 2016 Turkey-EU deal, German daily Die Welt reported on July 8. Germany has taken in the greatest number of migrants among the EU countries, with almost 10,000 people, the report said.
The Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) has said that the multiple bar system will yield similar damages as the presidential system. "Previously, a presidential system was integrated to the country and the harms of a one-man regime is seen. The Turkish-type multiple bar model was brought to the country's agenda. It's utterly dangerous to impose a system that will lead to problems," the party said.
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."
Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) leader Ali Babacan has criticized heavy taxes on alcoholic beverages, saying that it leads to smuggling. They are being sold to one third of the prices here in our neighboring countries. The fact that the taxes are high leads to smuggling," Babacan said when asked about increases in private consumption tax (ÖTV).
Istanbul's Üsküdar Municipality banned roasted sunflower seeds, along with other shelled seeds, to prevent pollution of environment. A cheap alternative, roasted sunflower seeds are a favorite snack for Turkey's population.
Enrollment in religious-training Imam Hatip schools has been more than the enrollment in the high school Imam Hatip schools. Enrollment in the imam-training high schools fell in the academic year 2018-2019.
Ruling AKP deputy chair Mahir Ünal has said that the Turkish Netflix series 'Love 101' had initially planned to feature a gay character called “Osman.” Although the AKP deputy chair did not explicitly say why the scenario was changed at the last minute, his remarks were interpreted as the government having imposed a censorship on the show.
Turkey's Agriculture and Forestry Ministry said that nobody suffered from damages in the ancient city of Hasankeyf whose residents were forced to evacuate. The settlement was submerged by the water of Ilısu Dam and ancient remains were transported to a nearby plane for display.
Turkey's Central Bank has said that the removal of certain preventive measures imposed to combat the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the ensuing demand were the primary factors influencing inflation in June. According to the Central Bank's report, consumer prices went up 1.13 percent in June, rising 1.23 points and increasing 12.62 percent annually.
Turkey's Constitutional Court has ruled that the audio or video recording of non-contact prison visits is a violation of rights. The decision was handed down after an application was filed by a prisoner behind bars on charges of being a member of a terrorist organization.
Some 276 migrants were recovered on a boat in the western province of Izmir, where eight alleged smugglers were also detained. The migrants were reportedly kept in effectively dark compartments with little to no clean air.
The governor's offices of Istanbul and Ankara have banned send-off celebrations for conscripts on the grounds that they pose a risk in the fight against the novel coronavirus. Media outlets have been recently showing people in these informal ceremonies flouting the social distancing rules.
Economy
Foreign investment in Istanbul's stock exchange fell below 50 percent for the first time since 2004, daily Sözcü reported. Almost four billion dollars have reportedly been sold out of the exchange in the first six months of 2020.
Turkey's foreign trade deficit doubled between January and May as exports fell by 20 percent. The monthly trade deficit also doubled in May, surpassing $3 billion.
The Turkish Competition Authority has launched a probe into German automotive giants Audi, Porsche, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and BMW. The authority's announcement on July 1 came as Volkswagen AG canceled plans to build a car factory in Turkey after the coronavirus pandemic jolted auto markets.
Turkey's June inflation rates exceeded experts' expectations at 1.13 percent, almost double the estimates. Meanwhile, annual inflation reached 12.62 percent.
Positive developments in COVID-19 vaccine studies have stopped the steady increase in gold prices. Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer said on July 1 that their vaccines were effective in increasing recipients' antibodies.
Urban Beat
Turkey's Culture and Tourism Ministry will be turning the iconic Galata Tower into a museum. The ministry will also launch a "culture route" that spans from the tower, along Istiklal Avenue and to Taksim Square. Minister Ersoy also said that the construction of the AKM would be completed within a month, ongoing since February 2019.
The United States' National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) likened railroads and highways in Turkey's capital Ankara to arteries in an eagle-eye shot of the city at night, dubbed "photo of the day" on June 28.
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu on June 25 announced that the municipality purchased a portrait of Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II at a London auction. According to the London-based world-famous Christie's auction house, the municipality's winning bid amounted to £770,000 ($955,000) for the oil painting, which is believed to be the work of Italian painter Gentile Bellini in 1480.