Turkey's current account balance posted a deficit of $2.8 billion in December 2019, the Turkish Central Bank said on Feb. 14. Official data showed that the figure widened by $1.7 billion from same month the previous year.
A 14-day quarantine was lifted for Turkish citizens that were brought from Wuhan to Ankara with a cargo plane, Turkey's Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Feb. 14. He added that no trace of the virus was detected in any of the patients that were placed under quarantine. Koca also said that Turkey is manufacturing coronavirus detection kits in accordance with World Health Organization standards and that some countries have already stated a demand for the kit.
Turkey has started to scan all passengers coming from international flights with thermal cameras amid coronavirus outbreak. Istanbul Airport Chief Doctor Aykut Yener Kavak told reporters on Feb. 7 that the number of thermal cameras at the airport was increased from two to six.
A total of 13 migrants, of whom 10 were Afghans and three from the Syrian border town of Kobani, were found frozen to death in the Çaldıran district of the eastern province of Van on Feb. 8 after crossing the Iran-Turkey border. People's Democratic Party (HDP) Migrant and Refugee Commission spokesperson Gülsüm Ağaoğlu branded the incident as "a shame for humanity."
A total of 41 people have been killed and 75 others injured in two avalanches in the Bahçesaray district of the eastern province of Van. The first avalanche occurred due to bad weather conditions and struck a minibus late on Feb. 4. Rescue workers had been searching for survivors when the second avalanche took place early on Feb. 5, trapping them under snow.
Over 30 dailies from the years 1928 to 1948 were digitized by Istanbul University, Dean and Prof. Mahmut Ak said. The technique of Optical Character Recognition was used for the scanning of the newspapers, allowing the digital copies to be "searchable."
Former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş has said that the HDP should aim for coming to power in the next elections, as he suggested forming a democracy alliance. "A democracy alliance can be formed with all the political structures that can unite around a program that foresees all freedoms and a democratic society-state structuring within the framework of a new constitution," he said.
Günal Kurşun, a human rights defender being tried in the Büyükada Case, has said that the fact that he wrote for Today's Zaman is counted as criminal evidence. "Presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın was also writing for the daily around the same time. A lawsuit should be filed for Kalın as well if that's the case," Kurşun told Duvar ahead of the hearing on Feb. 19.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan met for a public discussion at the Munich Security Conference on Feb. 15 and discussed the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The debate saw little visible progress toward resolving the more-than-30-year-old dispute.
In response to the criticism of the army's “failure” to expel the Gülen movement's members, former army chief Hilmi Özkök said being a Gülenist did not “constitute as a crime” during his time. “Can you give a heavy penalty to someone such as 'expelling from the army' if the law considers them not to have committed a crime?” Özkök said during an interview.
Police early on Feb. 15 raided the house of Nurettin Şen, a nephew of Murat Şen, the dismissed former mayor of Şırnak's İdil district. During the raid, Murat Şen's 90-year-old mother Fatma Şen was battered by the police. "They [police] have come to my room and asked me to open the chest. After seeing nothing in the chest, they pounded the chest's cover on my hands,” Şen said.
Former AKP deputy Burhan Kuzu will be investigated over the release of Iranian drug lord Naji Sharifi Zindashti from prison. Recent reports showed that Kuzu called prosecutors and judges and told them that Zindashti’s release would be “more beneficial” for Turkish-Iranian relations. Kuzu denied the allegations against him in tweets earlier this week.
Cizrespor, a football team representing the southeastern province of Şırnak’s Cizre district, has reversed its decision to quit the Turkish league. The club announced its original decision last week in protest of ongoing discrimination against the club. After Şırnak Gov. Pehlivan held talks with the club's executives and promised to support them, Cizrespor footballers hit the field again on Feb. 15.
As the row over Gülenists' political leg continues between the government and the main opposition, President Erdoğan and CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu sued each other. Kılıçdaroğlu on Feb. 11 said that Erdoğan handed the state to Gülenists, prompting the president to file a lawsuit, demanding 500,000 Turkish Liras as compensation. The move was shortly followed by Kılıçdaroğlu also filing a lawsuit against the president.
Activists have called on Davutoğlu and Babacan, who set up their own political movements after resigning from the ruling AKP, to withdraw as plaintiffs in the Gezi Park case. Davutoğlu was the foreign minister at the time of the 2013 Gezi Park protests, whereas Babacan was the deputy minister in charge of economy.
The HDP decided during a Central Executive Board (MYK) meeting on Feb. 13 not to amend an internal regulation that limits the party executives to two consecutive terms in their positions. Accordingly, 20 current MYK members will not be able to run for a seat in the upcoming party congress set to take place on Feb. 23.
A Mardin court has acquitted veteran Kurdish politician Ahmet Türk and Necla Yıldırım of charges that had previously led to their dismissal respectively as Mardin mayor and Mazıdağı district mayor. The investigations against Türk and Yıldırım were launched after they attended a funeral ceremony of a YPG member in 2015.
An Istanbul court has blocked access to news reports on Finance Minister Berat Albayrak's land purchase on the route of the controversial Kanal Istanbul project, including that of Gazete Duvar.
An Istanbul court has acquitted renowned novelist Aslı Erdoğan of the charge of membership of an armed "terror organization" for writing for pro-Kurdish daily Özgür Gündem that has since been shut-down. The court also acquitted Erdoğan’s colleagues Bilge Aykut and Necmiye Alpay. The trial against other co-defendants, including human rights lawyer Eren Keskin, is to continue.
In 2009, 15-year-old Sezgi Kırıt left home and said she was going to the market. A man she met on Facebook and two of his friends took Sezgi to one of their homes, where she was given drugs and alcohol and was raped by the three men. They found her dead the next morning. More than a decade later, her rapists and murderers have still not been properly punished for their crimes.
Prosecutors have dropped all charges against a lawyer probed for referring to Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu as "bald-headed" in a social media post. “Taking into account the decisions handed down by the Court of Cassation and the Constitutional Court regarding the politicians, the uttered statement is evaluated to be a vulgar remark [instead of insult]," the Adana Chief Public Prosecutor's Office said.
A man attempted self-immolation shouting "I'm hungry! My kids are hungry!" in front of the Parliament gates in Ankara on Feb. 13. Nearby security guards intervened, preventing the man from setting himself ablaze. The man was taken into custody by the Ankara Police on the charges of "conducting an illegal protest."
The ruling AKP has reportedly resumed an effort to transfer the main opposition CHP's 28.1 percent stake in İşbank to the Treasury. AKP deputy chair Canikli presented a draft proposal regarding the issue to Erdoğan, who called for it to be revised and presented to him again "as soon as possible," daily Hürriyet reported on Feb. 13.
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) executive board has referred three of its members to the disciplinary committee with an expulsion demand after they appeared on CNN Türk and A Haber despite a boycott decision.
A survey conducted in sixteen cities by the Sociopolitical Field Research Center revealed that while education and income levels rise among Kurdish speakers, their usage of Kurdish declines. Among those who said that they were unable to read or write, 76.2 pct said they spoke Kurdish at home while 19.8 pct spoke Turkish.
A subcompay of the Istanbul Municipality, the Istanbul Electricity, Tramway and Tunnel General Management (İETT) will oversee the Princes' Islands' transition from horse-drawn carriages to electric vehicles. Founded in 1871, IETT currently runs the iconic red tramway in Istanbul's central district of Beyoğlu.
Turkey was ranked second, following South Korea, in the use of antibiotics among OECD countries. According to data from Turkey's Health Ministry, the number of daily antibiotics used per thousand people is 31 in Turkey, while the OECD average is 18.9.
An Istanbul prosecutor has presented his final sentencing opinion regarding the case of Deniz Yücel, demanding a prison sentence of up to 15 years and three months in jail for the journalist. Yücel was jailed in Turkey from February 2017 to February 2018. After his release, he returned back to Germany.
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu has claimed that a minister currently in the cabinet suggested accusing him of having links to Gülenists. "Did this minister say, 'Accuse İmamoğlu of having ties to FETÖ or corruption. Our aim is to end them'? Does Erdoğan know about this plot? Was it done with his approval or does he not know about it?" İmamoğlu said, as the debate over Gülenists' political leg continues to top Turkey's agenda.
A report based on United Nations data from Turkey's 2020 Universal Periodic Review revealed that some 147 bans on demonstrations and protests have been implemented in 22 different locations across Turkey between Jan. 1, 2019 and Jan. 31, 2020. "In Turkey, the constitutional right to 'peaceful assembly and demonstration with no prior notice' has become a meaningless expression," said the report by the Turkey Human Rights Foundation (TIHV).
The fourth hearing in the second 2015 Ankara bombing case -- which was split to allow for the prosecution of fugitive suspects -- took place on Feb. 13. Özlem Alev Demirel, a Turkey-born German MEP, was barred from observing the hearing in the Ankara courthouse.
A man who interrupted President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's address to members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in parliament on Feb. 12 was detained the next day. "Dear Mr. President, I got laid off from my job for participating in July 15 [2016's coup attempt]. My kids are hungry. Help me!" he shouted, as Erdoğan continued his speech.
Tensions in Idlib were carried to social media, as the embassies of the United States and Russia shared tweets that featured accusations towards one another. "The judgement is up to," the tweet sent from the Russian side read on Feb. 12, as it featured a screen grab from a video prepared by the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, in addition to an infographic prepared by Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency regarding the Pentagon's support for the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and its Syrian affiliate, the YPG.
The historic Prinkipo Greek Orthodox Orphanage - located on Istanbul's Büyükada island and considered to be Europe's largest wooden structure and the world's second largest - is rotting and at risk of collapse. The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate announced that it could not come up with enough funds to protect the building. People's Democracy Party (HDP) deputy Tuma Çelik called upon the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism to take immediate action.
Russian oligarch Vladimir Potanin who grew up in Ankara was named the richest person in Russia by Forbes Magazine. Often dubbed "the Oligarch from Ankara" for the time he spent there while his father served as USSR Embassy's trade attaché, Potanin has an estimated worth of $25 billion.
Faruk Güllü, the owner of a chain of restaurants specializing in the popular regional desert baklava, has been sentenced to eight years and nine months in prison on charges of being a member in an armed terror organization by an Istanbul court. Güllü was convicted on the basis of alleged connections with Fethullah Gülen, the exiled, US-based Islamic preacher that the Turkish government accuses of being behind the July 2016 failed coup attempt.
Turkish Artist Serkan Bayer had his invitation to a Modern Turkish Art Exhibition revoked at the last minute because the Independent Art Foundation found his works that they had approved to be "obscene." "Where we see the purest state of existence, the administrators of Independent Art Foundation saw vaginas," Bayer said, adding that he had never been censored this way in his 20 years as an artist.
Turkey's former prime minister and founder of the Future Party Ahmet Davutoğlu said that he wouldn't negotiate with the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) even though he accepts the existence of a "Kurdish issue" as an academic. "If HDP distances itself from terrorism, they'll receive the treatment any other party would from us," Davutoğlu said during a broadcast on the independent news site Medyascope.
Turkish Cypriot President Akıncı's spokesman Burcu said that after Turkish Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu went as far as branding Akıncı a “supporter of terrorism” over his remarks on the prospect of annexation by Turkey, there have been death threats against the Turkish Cypriot leader even on television programs in Turkey. “What happened recently has once again show how right our President is,” said Burcu in a written statement on Feb. 11.
Turkey's Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK) ruled that Turkish banks are allowed to swap only 10 percent of their legal capital. In August 2018, The BDDK had already lowered the limit of swaps, futures, forwards and options with a foreign currency and a Turkish Lira leg to 25 percent of the banks’ legal capital.
Nine students who were arrested for performing the Chilean feminist dance Las Tesis are suffering from financial consequences. Aylin Şahin's student loan payments were discontinued because of the investigation against her, and Leyla Mavili was kicked out of her dormitory after police notified the administration of her arrest.
The Ankara Municipality is working on securing loans in order to fund the construction of a new metro line in the capital, said Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavaş on Feb. 11. The line is planned to run six stops from the central Dikimevi station to the east, ending at the Nata Vega shopping mall in the district of Mamak.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has sentenced two people to death over the killing of Turkish diplomat Osman Köse. "The court handed sentences to six people. Two were sentenced to death, one was sentenced to a year behind bars and the remaining three were given two years in prison each," lawyer Birzo Said told Rudaw.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has described social media as a "garbage dump," saying that it became a rampant environment in terms of increasing and varying cyber-bullying. "We will never surrender to this virtual world that people's rights are violated and that they are harassed, deceived, lynched, insulted," Erdoğan said, as he urged ministries to conclude their efforts on the issue rapidly.
An Urla art house hosting photo exhibitions will be closed down as of the end of February, in line with a decision taken by the government-appointed trustee. The elected mayor of the district was removed from duty on Dec 18, 2019 over alleged links to the Gülen network.
Turkish police on Feb. 11 detained a cancer patient woman upon her arrival in Istanbul due to an arrest warrant. She was later dispatched to the Bakırköy Courthouse, where the court on duty gave an order for her arrest. Kesler (53) faces charges of "making terror propaganda" and "insulting" President Erdoğan in a Facebook post. She was dispatched to a hospital after fainting in the courthouse.
Egypt's Islamic authority Dar Al Ifta has said TV shows “Resurrection: Ertuğrul” and “Valley of the Wolves” are “wretched,” and that the Turkish productions aim to further President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's dream of reviving the Ottoman Empire. “Erdoğan will not fail to actualize his dream ... through soft power, through cultural and artistic works. The best evidence of this is the series ‘Valley of the Wolves’ and the series ‘Resurrection: Ertuğrul,’” said the fatwa.
A total of 12 flamingos were found frozen to death in Ivriz Reservoir in the Halkapınar district of the central Anatolian town of Konya. Mayor Mehmet Bakkal said that around 300 flamingos take refuge in the reservoir due to the cold weather, and that the Agriculture and Forestry Ministry will determine an official cause of death for the 12 that seem to have succumbed to the cold.
The head of Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate, Ali Erbaş envies the Middle Ages papacy, said main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Deputy Faik Öztrak. Erbaş had said during a Quran course opening Feb. 8 that anyone who supported the courses would be rewarded in heaven.
A professor from Yıldız Technical University was protested by students for his comments that implied the Jan. 24 Elazığ quake that killed 33 people was caused by the government's attempts at banning underage marriages. "By saying that marriages at the age that Allah deems helal are rape, let us not offend Allah," Gencer said. The university administration opened an investigation into his posts, and students walked out from his class on Feb. 10.
The opposition daily Evrensel newspaper has been handed a ten-day advertisement ban by the Press Advertisement Agency (BİK) after it published a story last year criticizing the agency for making it impossible for Kurdish-language newspapers to thrive in the country.
The number of child sexual abuse cases filed in Istanbul has increased in the last two years, according to a report prepared by the Istanbul Bar Association. A total of 5,254 abuse cases were launched in 2018 and 2019 in the province, said the report.
The victims of the Oct. 10, 2015 ISIS double suicide bombing on a peace rally are being commemorated by a group of activists with "tree blankets" in Ankara's Kuğulu Park. The knitting group started off making blankets for those who were wounded in the attack and as gifts to babies born afterwards.
Azeri-Turkish billionaire Mübariz Mansimov Gurbanoğlu is under investigation over suspected links to the Gülen network. Gurbanoğlu is known to have struck various deals with companies owned by the family of President Erdoğan.
Greek weekly Proto Thema distributed a booklet to its readers about the life of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of the Turkish Republic. "If Atatürk didn't have the courage to actualize his vision in his country, modern Turkey wouldn't exist, at least not in the way it does today," read part of the booklet. "Atatürk was a personality that had great power and widespread influence in Turkey," it added.
Turkey's opposition parties have criticized a proposed bill that seeks alternative funding for the country's megaprojects, asserting that the legislation is an attempt by a cash-strapped government to get the public to pay for its ambitious projects. The bill would enable citizens and companies to purchase securities in order to finance long-term infrastructure projects such as the controversial Kanal Istanbul megaproject.
Fenerbahçe fans have protested Minister Berat Albayrak following controversial referee decisions in a Feb. 8 game. Thousands of Fenerbahçe fans shouted slogans after the game, calling on Albayrak to quit his post, while also demanding the removal of politics from sports. Albayrak is known for his public support for Trabzonspor. "Everyone knows how we're trying hard for Trabzonspor behind the scenes," he previously said.
The thesis that cigarettes are haram (sinful) in Islam is based on the Maide and Araf sections of the Quran, said Ali Erbaş, the head of the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet). President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is also a strong advocate of smoking cessation, calling the substance “haram” and explicitly urging his supporters to quit.
Turkey's population has increased by about 1.5 million and reached 83,154,997 citizens in 2019, the Turkish Statistical Institute said. While Istanbul remains the most populated city with over 15 million residents, the metropolis also has a population density of about 27 times the national average. The number of people per square kilometer is 108 nationally, whereas the same figure for Istanbul is 2,987.
Focus group studies regarding recent legislation regarding cigarette packaging has shown that the majority of people surveyed responded positively in the direction of quitting, said Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Bakir Pakdemirli. The legislation, however, has resulted in confusion for those running convenience stores, who now face an entire wall of products that look more or less the same and have more difficulty finding a customer's brand.
Hagia Sophia was the most popular touristic site of 2019 with a total of 3,727,361 visitors, Turkey's Culture and Tourism Ministry said. Remodeled as a mosque under the Ottoman Empire, Hagia Sophia was converted into a museum in 1935. The second most visited touristic destination in 2019 was the Mevlana Museum in Rumi's birthplace, the central Anatolian province of Konya.
An area in the southeastern town of Van that features around 17,000 chimney rocks was declared a protected area on Feb. 12, the Governor of Van Mehmet Emin Bilmez said. The area is often dubbed "Vanadocia" as a play on the name Cappadocia, the picturesque region around Nevşehir known for its unique landscapes.
Mahmut Sür has been making glass evil eyes for 44 years. Registered as a 'living human treasure' by the Culture and Tourism Ministry, Sür wants to train others to carry out his craft.
Turkish mezzo-soprano Lori Şen has been cast as Princess Diana at an American musical which tells the story of the beloved Princess of Wales. To prepare for her role, Şen is mastering Princess Diana's gestures, facial expressions and her style of talking.
The Diyarbakır Chamber of Architects has released a report identifying serious issues with the redevelopment of Diyarbakir's historic Sur district, which involves missing or severely damaged registered historical relics and structures and new construction that is not befitting of the historic area.
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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has praised the good ties between Moscow and Ankara, adding that the countries will sometimes disagree. "We have a very good relationship with Turkey. It does not mean that we must agree on all the issues," he said. "I strongly believe that in the relations between any two countries there cannot be a complete consensus on any problem," Lavrov added.
The German economy ministry said in its answer to a recent parliamentary question that the government has authorized arms exports to Turkey, Qatar, the UAE and Egypt worth 4.3 million euros during the period of Jan. 1 – Feb. 4. The Left Party’s ("Die Linke") MP Sevim Dağdelen has criticized Germany's move, saying: “Arms exports to countries involved in the Libya war should completely end.”
Syria's parliament has backed a resolution condemning the mass killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks in 1915 as genocide, in a move that came amid increased tensions between Ankara and Damascus in Idlib. In the past, Syria allowed the recognition of the genocide inside the country, but the government did not officially recognize it due to ties with Ankara.
Politics
An Istanbul prosecutor has presented his final sentencing opinion regarding the Gezi Park case. He demanded aggravated life imprisonment for three defendants in the case: renowned philanthropist Osman Kavala, the only jailed defendant in the case, civil society activist Yiğit Aksakoğlu and architect Mücella Yapıcı.
Main opposition CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu has accused President Erdoğan of paving the way for the Gülen network to infiltrate into the judiciary, military, police forces and interior ministry. "The name of the person who handed over the state to the FETÖ is Recep Tayyip Erdoğan,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
Journalist Murat Yetkin, in his last piece, analyzed the state of Turkish economy and its effects over domestic political calculations of President Tayyip Erdoğan. Yetkin argued that under the ongoing economic circumstances, an early election for Erdoğan will be too risky and unnecessary.
A former deputy of the pro-Kurdish People's Labour Party (HEP), Mahmut Alınak was arrested on Feb. 13 following a search of his home in the eastern province of Kars. "We found 21 books," said one of the police officers while signing the official report about the search warrant at his home.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's ruling AKP has lost over 15,000 members within 50 days, compounding its difficulties after two founding members broke ranks to set up rival parties. As of Feb. 4, the membership of the party stands at 10.19 million members.
The Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA), in conjunction with the Social Information and Communication Association (TBİD) and the Alternative Information Association (Altbilişim) and other organizations have established the Free Web Turkey platform in an effort to combat and create awareness regarding online censorship in the country.
Greek far-right MEP Lagos has been suspended from joining the European Parliament's activities for four days and deprived of seven days of daily allowance after tearing up a paper copy of the Turkish flag during a session in January.
Seventy intellectuals have signed a petition calling for the release of former Diyarbakır co-mayor Dr. Selçuk Mızraklı of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Peoples' Party (HDP) ahead of his trial Feb. 10. As one of the dozens of HDP officials who were sacked by the Interior Ministry and replaced by trustees following the March 31, 2019 local elections, Mızraklı is facing 15 years for "being a member of a terrorist organization."
Ankara has condemned the European Parliament for hosting an event attended by Kurds sought by Turkey with a red warrant over PKK membership, saying that it "ignores the principle of fighting terrorist organizations without discrimination." "We invite EU institutions and EU member states to stand firm against terrorist organizations and no longer take terrorists under its wing," the Foreign Ministry said.
Canan Kaftancıoğlu has been re-elected as the Istanbul provincial chair of the main opposition CHP. Kaftancıoğlu was the only person who put forward her candidacy for the position, which was criticized by some party delegates, who found the process as “undemocratic.”
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu from main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) was revealed to be the only potential candidate who could win against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a potential presidential election, a survey by Bahçeşehir University's Social Research Center revealed.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accused the United States of threatening him and National Intelligence Agency (MİT) chief Hakan Fidan. "Unfortunately, the U.S. threatens me and my intelligence chief, as well as some financial institutions in Turkey," Erdoğan told members of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Feb. 5.
The party membership of former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş was dropped over his ongoing ban from politics, daily Birgün reported. Demirtaş, who has been in jail for over three years, is no longer a member of the HDP due to a case that he was charged with "making propaganda of a terrorist organization." The judgement was later reversed, but his party membership had already been dropped by then, the daily said.
The U.S. has halted a secretive military intelligence cooperation program with Turkey that for years helped Ankara target the PKK, four U.S. officials told Reuters, adding that the U.S. late last year stopped flying the intelligence collection missions that targeted the PKK, which both the U.S. and Turkey classify as terrorists. "This makes the anti-PKK campaign more difficult and more costly for Turkey," an official said.
A U.S. federal court has denied a request made by Turkey to dismiss a civil suit by protesters who were violently beaten while staging a demonstration against Turkish President Erdoğan in Washington D.C. in 2017, The Hills has reported. “Defendant Turkey points to no indication that an attack by the protesters was imminent,” US District Judge Kollar-Kotelly wrote in her judgement.
A person who objected to go through body search was beaten by watchmen in Istanbul's Fatih district. A footage shared by a Twitter account late on Feb. 1 showed a man getting handcuffed to fences in a park by a group of watchmen, as he shouted "You broke my ankle." The incident adds to the mounting concerns on human rights abuses at the hands of the watchmen.
European Union diplomats reportedly agreed to impose travel bans on two Turkish nationals and freeze their assets. The decision to target the two individuals was reached at a meeting of EU diplomats in Brussels on Feb. 4, Bloomberg cited unnamed sources as saying. The move is in retaliation for Ankara’s gas prospecting in disputed waters near Cyprus.
Main opposition CHP has officially announced its decision to boycott CNN Türk due to its biased coverage against the party. CHP deputy chair Özkan said CNN Türk has been "functioning as if it is the advertising agency" of the ruling AKP, calling on the TV channel to adopt "independent and objective" principles of journalism.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's approval rate has dropped to the lowest it's been since October 2018, revealed "Turkey's Pulse 2020" survey by Metropoll research company. His approval rate rose as high as 48 percent during Ankara's Operation Peace Spring into Northern Syria in October 2019.
Former ministers involved in a corruption scandal should be tried, former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said. "If there are certain allegations, public conscience would be relieved when they are acquitted," Davutoğlu said on Feb. 4. "I thought that the most appropriate way would be to be acquitted in the Grand Chamber. I still think that way. We had a difference in opinion [with Erdoğan] here," he also said.
Iranian rapper Amir Tataloo, who was detained on Jan. 28 in Istanbul, has been released from police custody, Radio Free Europe reported. Turkish police told the BBC that Tataloo was detained for “visa violations,” while also confirming that a red alert had been issued for the rapper on drug-related issues.
Renowned Turkish novelist Elif Şafak's book "The Gaze" has been withheld from inmates at the women's prison in Diyarbakır. The prison management gave the copies of the book to the inmates who wished to read it, but then only a week later, they collected them back citing no reason, said HDP deputy Ebru Günay during a meeting of the Parliamentary Human Rights Commission.
The Consitutional Court said that a lower court's refusal to implement its decision on the release of Mehmet Altan has violated the journalist's “right to personal liberty and security.” Accordingly, it ordered that Altan should be paid 30,000 Turkish Liras ($5,025) in compensation. The top court also warned lower courts to abide by its rulings.
İbrahim "Mike" Baycora has become the first Turkish-American police chief in the history of the United States. He was sworn in with his left hand on a copy of the Quran as the police chief of the city of Paterson in New Jersey.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has pardoned Ahmet Turan Kılıç, who was sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment over the Sivas Massacre, which took place when a mob set the Madımak Hotel in the Central Anatolian province of Sivas on fire on July 2, 1993, killing 33 intellectuals and two hotel personnel. Erdoğan lifted the 86-year-old man's sentence due to the health problems that he has been suffering from.
The football team of the Kurdish-majority district of Cizre has withdrawn from the Turkish league, saying it can no longer withstand the "injustices" of the Turkish Football Federation (TTF) and the Central Referee Committee (MHK). “Due to the injustices that we have faced at both home and rival games, in the face of the referees' racist and nationalist stance, we are withdrawing our team Cizrespor from the league," said the club in a statement.
A federal appeals court granted a temporary halt in the U.S. prosecution of Turkish lender Halkbank over sanctions violation charges while it weighs other requests by the bank. Prosecutors have deemed the bank a fugitive from justice, asking a judge to hold it in contempt and impose fines until it begins answering the charges. Shares of Halkbank surged 7.27 percent when markets opened on Feb. 4 following the decision.
Turkey will provide financial aid to the Ukrainian army, Ukraine’s ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Sibiga, has said, adding that a deal is set to be signed between President Erdoğan and Ukrainian President Zelensky during the former's visit to Kiev. "According to the deal that will be signed during this trip, the Turkish side will provide financial aid worth 200 million liras for the needs of the Ukranian army," Sibiga said.
Murat Büyük, who has been living in France for the past 43 years, was denied citizenship last month after French authorities said that his loyalty to France can't be guaranteed. Shortly after, Büyük's wife Şerife Büyük's application was also denied. "Since you are his wife, you have a common living space, you can't deny his political commitment that you support indirectly," the letter sent to Şerife Büyük read.
Supporters of Moqtada al-Sadr took control of the Turkish Restaurant building, as the political leader urged his supporters known as "blue hats" on Feb. 2 to work with authorities to ensure schools and businesses can operate normally again. The Turkish Restaurant, a tall building occupied by demonstrators since October, was mostly empty after Sadrists drew out demonstrators and the blue hats stood guard outside it.
The Governor's Office in the Marmara town of Bursa will demolish 24 school buildings after inspectors determined that they would be risky in the event of an earthquake. Students from 15 of the schools will be transferred to the closest school in their district.
Four bus drivers in Vienna were laid off after getting caught signing the nationalist gesture "Grey Wolf" on surveillance footage. The sign, often associated with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), was banned by Austrian legislature in 2018 as part of an effort to "combat extremism."
Istanbul police have detained 16 people in an operation carried out against members of a Russian criminal organization after determining that they arrived in the city to murder another gang leader. During the raids, the leader of the Russian group, Andri Malyi, two Ukrainians, one Russian, four Georgians and eight Azerbaijanis were detained. Police seized one Kalashnikov rifle, 11 pistols and plenty of bullets in the operation.
Turkey's Constitutional Court has ruled that sentencing two people for demanding the release of jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan and initiating a campaign for this was a violation of their right to freedom of expression. A Diyarbakır court in 2015 sentenced two people each to 10 months in jail on terrorism charges for distributing campaign forms with Öcalan's picture on them.
A foundation led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's daughter Esra Albayrak has bought the estate of iconic boxer Muhammad Ali in Chicago, Illinois.
The Turkish parliament on Jan. 29 issued a joint declaration condemning the Middle East plan presented by U.S. President Trump a day earlier. The plan "is against U.N. decisions and the perspective of the two-state solution," the declaration read. President Erdoğan also lambasted the plan as “absolutely unacceptable,” saying it is "legitimizing Israel’s occupation."
Turkey was the subject of the highest number of judgments regarding violations of freedom of expression in 2019, the European Court of Human Rights’ annual activity report revealed on Jan. 29. Among the total 68 judgements in which the court has found a violation of freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, 35 were filed by citizens of Turkey.
Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) leader Masoud Barzani has told Mikhail Bogdanov, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister and President Vladimir Putin's Special Representative for the Middle East and Africa, that he is concerned about the future of Syrian Kurds. "President Barzani presented his opinion and suggestions for resolving the question of the Kurdish people in Syria," a statement released from Barzani's office read.
Following the deadly earthquake in the province of Elazığ that killed 41 people last month, geologist and earthquake expert Dr. Naci Görür wrote in a series of tweets that the expected major Istanbul earthquake will be at least a 7.2 on the Richter scale, with an epicenter in the Kumburgaz area of the western suburb of Büyükçekmece.
Police detained 14 ISIS suspects in anti-terror operations conducted in the capital Ankara and the southern province of Adana on Jan. 29. Those detained in Ankara are suspected of ISIS membership and communicating with the conflict zones abroad, while those in Adana are of Syrian origin.
The Istanbul 30th Heavy Penal Court has ruled for the continuation of arrest of prominent businessman, philanthropist and human rights activist Osman Kavala, who has been in jail for over 800 days. The hearing became the scene of protests when the court rejected Kavala's lawyers' recusal demand. The lawyers left the courtroom in protest, which was followed by the audience applauding in support of the lawyers.
Belgium's Court of Cassation, the highest appeal level in the country, on Jan. 28 ratified a ruling of a lower court that acquitted 36 individuals and two companies accused of activities involving the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The case concerns a landmark decision of the Court of Appeals in March 2019 which said that the PKK's armed struggle is “Turkey's domestic dispute” and Belgian anti-terror laws cannot be imposed on the suspects.
An Egyptian actor who works as a stunt double in Turkish shows was violently beaten in Istanbul when a man mistook him for a Syrian refugee. The man was yelling profanities about Syrians even after the attack was over, which is how Mancy realized what had happened. The actor was on a bus with his sister, sister-in-law and niece who also got hit by the attacker and the actor was treated for a broken nose and a broken arm.
Syrian Kurdish politician Ilham Ahmed said that Russia mediated political negotiations between the Kurds and the Syrian government. She said that a Russian envoy had met with Kurdish, Arab and Christian officials from northeastern Syria at the Hmeimim air base at the end of 2019. Discussions focused on how to "develop" the dialogue, Ahmed added.
An Istanbul court has sentenced 27 Boğaziçi students each to 10 months in jail on charges of "spreading terror propaganda" for staging a protest on the campus opposing Turkey's Afrin operation. The court postponed the execution of the sentence for 20 students.
Some 7,953,651 people have consulted with psychiatry clinics in the last three years, 69 percent female and 31 percent male, said Turkey's Health Minister Fahrettin Koca in his response to a parliamentary question.
Police have seized some 7,000 bottles of bootleg alcohol from a hotel in Bodrum, the popular Aegean tourist destination. Two suspects were detained in the operation on Jan. 30. Also on the same day, gendarmerie units raided a house in the Mediterranean resort city of Antalya, where they also detained two people. Hikes on alcohol taxes have caused surges in bootleg alcohol production in Turkey.
Turkey's first professional boxer Garbis Zakaryan, of Armenian descent, was laid to rest in Istanbul's Şişli Armenian Cemetery on Jan. 29. Main opposition CHP MP Tanrıkulu and HDP MP Paylan have criticized the authorities for not having yet named a public sports center after Zakaryan.
Following the disastrous 6.8 Earthquake that struck the southeastern city of Elazığ last week and claimed the lives of 41 people while injuring 1600, thousands of residents are living in tents while at least hundreds are without heating, enduring freezing conditions amid a cold winter. While some tents have heating stoves, others lack them, causing families to endure freezing conditions in a park where the pond has frozen over.
President Erdoğan has said that the Astana process -- which was launched Turkey, Russia, Iran in January 2017 to ensure a peaceful settlement in Syria -- has collapsed. "There is no such thing as the Astana process anymore. The Astana process has fallen into silence now. We need to look at what Turkey, Russia and Iran can do to revive the Astana process," Erdoğan told reporters on his flight back from Senegal.
Ilham Ahmed, the head of the executive committee of the Syria Democratic Council, has praised an initiative by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) leader Mazloum Kobani to unite Kurds in northern Syria. "In the light of this chaos and conflicts in the region, this initiative came at the right time," she said, as she deemed the move "historical."
Germany's Left Party was refused a response to a parliamentary question about government ties to the Gülen organization, Ankara's primary suspect for the botched 2016 coup, causing alarm among the party's ranks. The German government refused to respond on the grounds that it would affect the operation of intelligence agencies.
Selahattin Demirtaş has said that a left 'democracy block' can only be achieved if smaller fractions refrain from prioritizing their agenda, adding that the issue distracts politicians from addressing the real needs of the people. It might be possible for an alliance to form between the HDP and the new parties founded by Davutoğlu and Babacan if they participate in the democratization process, he said.
A person with the initials İÖ initially became known among the public for filing criminal complaints against people appearing on television debate programs. Those initials kept appearing on complaint petitions. İÖ has been an informant since he was a child, and he has even filed complaints against his own father and uncle, among others. He claims to have provided testimony in the trials of 150 DHKP-C suspects.
General Frank McKenzie, commander of United States Central Command (CENTCOM), met with General Mazloum Kobani, commander of the Kurdish-led SDF, at a military base in eastern Syria on Jan. 25. Kobani reportedly asked McKenzie for reassurance that the U.S. would continue their support of SDF militants, which McKenzie returned with the promise of continued anti-ISIS efforts and collaboration in protecting oil wells.
Turkey's center-right parties are reportedly preparing to form an alliance to challenge the People's Alliance consisting of the ruling AKP and its nationalist ally MHP in the next elections. Contrary to the Nation Alliance of the last elections, the main opposition CHP won't be included in the alliance formed by these nationalist-conservative parties, Birgün reported on Jan. 23.
"We're expecting a 7.5-magnitude earthquake in Istanbul," Turkey's Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on a live broadcast. Soylu told there were 28 work groups to plan for the potential quake, and an application to ensure communication after an earthquake is being developed by Turkey's four largest phone operators.
Turkey's former Prime Minister Davutoğlu has accused economy administration of manipulating inflation figures. "Competent people need to be in charge of this administration. Think about a doctor who tells his patient that he is fine by changing his test results. The patient says 'I'm dying,' but the doctor says, 'Look at the figures, your test results are fine.' The economy administration in Turkey is doing exactly this," he said.
The staff of İncirlik military air base in Turkey’s southern Adana province is being reduced by 424 employees. The U.S. company handling maintenance services on the air base cited “the U.S.' reducing its presence in Syria” as the reason of the staff reduction, according to an official of the Turkish Defense Workers' Trade Union.
A total of 131 suspects were handed prison terms on Jan. 22 in the case into the illegal wiretapping by Gülenists. Those sentenced include police chiefs that carried out Dec. 17-25, 2013 graft probes, which targeted former ministers and are deemed as attempts to overthrow the government by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
The Ankara First Heavy Penal Court has released its justified decision on ruling for the acquittal of 19 suspects, including former Interior Minister Mehmet Ağar, in the case into 18 unsolved murders that were committed in 1990s, deeming all reports by Turkish Intelligence Agency (MİT), parliament, ministries and commissions "insufficient" to convict the suspects.
The manufacturer Boeing had fault in the crash of a Boeing 737-NG from the Turkish Airlines fleet in 2009, The New York Times reported. The aircraft was an earlier version of the Boeing 737-Max, the grounded plane that killed 346 people in crashes in Indonesia and Malaysia. Expert reports that are unavailable to the public revealed "risky design choices and faulty safety assessments" on the part of Boeing.
Currently, 59 German citizens are in Turkish prisons, and another 74 German citizens are barred from leaving Turkey pending investigation, German Foreign Ministry has announced. German Chancellor Merkel is expected to discuss this issue during her meeting with Turkish President Erdoğan in Istanbul on Jan. 24.
Wikiferheng is an online Kurdish dictionary that currently consists of 800,000 words, idioms, aphorisms, and other entries. The editors say they aim to reach 1 million words and establish a dictionary that reflects the prominent position of Kurdish among the languages of the world.
As the row over the AKP and the main opposition CHP over Kanal Istanbul continues, a report by daily Cumhuriyet said that Finance Minister Berat Albayrak purchased land on the route of the controversial canal a year after President Erdoğan announced the plans to build it. Albayrak's lawyer Ahmet Özel released a statement shortly after Cumhuriyet's report, saying that "it was an ordinary purchase."
Turkey remains 110th in the Economist's latest global democracy index. The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) categorized Turkey as the only “hybrid regime” in western Europe -- the second lowest after “authoritarian regime.”
Researcher Elif Sandal Önal was one of the many "Academics for Peace" - a group of more than 2,000 people who signed a controversial petition that was released in January 2016 and that condemned the Turkish military's heavy use of violence in certain southeastern, predominantly Kurdish districts of Turkey. Like many of the signatories, Önal was fired from her job and sought exile abroad. Now settled in Germany, the academic says he "has no intention of returning to Turkey."
A military diplomatic source told TASS that the deal signed between Ankara and Moscow regarding the S-400 missile defense systems doesn't include technology transfers, even if it's partial. The source also said that more than 120 surface-to-air guided missile have been supplied by Russia to Turkey along with a regiment set of S-400 systems.
Due to anti-vaccination sentiment that has increased in Turkey in recent years, the number of those refusing to vaccinate their children has skyrocketed from 183 to 23,000 in only 7 years. The consequences for public health have also quickly revealed themselves, as the number of those catching measles during the first 9 months of last year increased fivefold compared to the same period in 2018, reaching 2666.
Turkish and Syrian heads of intelligence met in Moscow on Jan. 13, in the first official contact in years, a senior Turkish official and Syrian news agency SANA said. Turkey's intelligence chief, Hakan Fidan, and his Syrian counterpart discussed the ceasefire in Syria's Idlib, and possible coordination against the Kurdish presence in northern Syria.
As thousands of passengers suffered from delays and cancellations in flights during last week's storms at Istanbul's new airport, Atatürk Airport continued to function properly, with Russian President Vladimir Putin using it. Atatürk Airport started to be used for cargo planes following the transfer of flights to the new airport - a move the opposition continues to criticize due to continuing disrupts in flights at the new one.
A more than two-year block on online encyclopedia Wikipedia was lifted on Jan. 15 at around 10.30 p.m. local time, putting an end to the ban put in place in April 2017 due to entries that accused Turkey of having links to terrorist organizations. Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül said last week that the website would be reopened once the Constitutional Court reveals its justified decision on the ruling.
The new headquarters of the National Intelligence Agency (MİT) was opened on Jan. 6 in a ceremony attended by President Erdoğan, MİT chief Hakan Fidan and government officials. Erdoğan praised MİT in his speech repeatedly, saying that the agency assumed a leading role in combat zones via preparing the ground for security forces. "Likewise, they are fulfilling their duties thoroughly in Libya," he said.
A majority of the Turkish population thinks that Turkey should remain a NATO, a survey by private polling company Metropoll revealed. The poll also asked participants how they think Turkey should position itself between the US and Russia, and half of the participants said Ankara should remain neutral.
Some 94 women have been killed while under state protection between 2015 and 2019, the Turkish Interior Ministry said. The ministry also said that over 1 million incidents of violence against women occurred between 2014 and 2019, leading to the death of 1,890 women.
A mega yacht once belonging to the inventory of the Turkish navy has been restored and added to the inventory of the Presidency. Vice President Fuat Oktay told the yacht was transferred to the Presidency on March 16. It was previously used by the navy to transport personnel.
Economics
The total amount of Turkish lira held in bank accounts in Turkey reached the 1.2 trillion TL mark, while accounts denominated for foreign currency held $224.7 billion, according to recent Central Bank figures pertaining to the week ending on January 31. The amount of consumer credit stood at 460.5 billion TL, while the amount of installment commercial loans totaled 379.5 billion TL. More than a third of the consumer credit, 188.8 billion TL, pertained to mortgage and housing loans.
A parliamentary question presented to the Agriculture Ministry about olive and olive oil imports from Syria was denied a response on the grounds that the information was based on "trade secrets." Olive imports from the northwestern Syrian town of Afrin have been a topic of debate during the 2020 budget meetings due to concerns about the impact the imports would have on domestic markets.
Turkish Lira deposits in banks have increased by 0.08 percent in the last week of January, reaching 1,259,898,662,000 liras, Turkey's Central Bank (TCMB) Weekly Money and Banking Statistics revealed. Meanwhile, foreign currency deposits have seen a increase of 0.18 percent, reaching $224,700,000,000.
Turkey's Central Bank Governor Murat Uysal announced the inflation rates for this year and 2021 as 8.2 percent and 5.4 respectively. Amid an embattled lira that sunk in value throughout the course of much of 2018, inflation hit 20.3 percent December of that year, while in 2019, inflation remained in the double digits, and was 11.8 percent by the end of the year.
HSBC is considering selling its Turkey business amid concerns about the country’s volatile currency and economic outlook, sources familiar with the matter said, according to a news report released by Reuters on Jan. 29. The bank’s retreat from Turkey, where it has operated since 1990, would be one of the biggest exits from a country it has made in recent years as it shrinks its once globe-spanning empire.
Taking the Eurasia Tunnel will now take a bigger bite out of drivers' wallet as the tolls have increased by 56 percent as of Feb. 1 for both passenger cars and minibuses. There has been a 119 percent hike in the tolls for the tunnel since it was opened to traffic on Dec. 22, 2016.
McDonald's Turkey's managing company Anatolian Restaurants Management was sold to Birleşik Holding ("United Holding") for a little over 280 million Turkish Liras, approximately $46 million. Previously the property of one of Turkey's largest conglomerates Anadolu Group, the company stocks will change hand after the approval of the Turkish Competition Board.
Turkey is set to receive information on its citizens' assets in foreign countries as part of the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement (MCAA) that aims to prevent tax evasion in accordance with the Standard for Automatic Exchange of Financial Information in Tax Matters. The system came into force in Turkey on Jan. 1 after it was published in the Official Gazette.
The current hunger threshold for a family of four is 2219 TL, according to recent statistics compiled in a report by the Turk-İş labor union, nearly reaching the current net minimum wage, which was determined to be 2324 TL as of January 2020.
Turkey's Treasury and Finance Ministry has fined two top banks Yapı Kredi and Akbank 281.8 million Turkish Liras ($47 million) in total for violating an insurance law. Shares of the banks slipped in response.
Turkey's private sector was in more than 210 billion dollars of foreign debt at the end of November 2019, revealed the Central Bank. While $10.2 billion of the total is floating debt, almost $200 billion of the total debt is in long-term loans. While 60.9 percent of the foreign loans were in dollars, the second largest slice was euro, making up 33.7 percent.
Total assets of the Turkish banking industry have decreased by over 21 billion liras in the beginning of the year, revealed weekly money and banking statistics by the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey (TCMB). The dip represents a decrease of about 0,8 percent of assets. Turkish Lira assets took majority of the hit with a 0,71 percent decline while foreign currencies dropped by a mere 0,32 percent.
Housing sales have decreased by 1.9 percent in 2019, the Turkish Statistical Institute revealed. While 1,348,729 residences were sold in 2019, one third of these sales were mortgages. Istanbul was the city with the highest number of residences sold with 237,675 sales, followed by Ankara and İzmir. Residential sales to foreigners went up by 14.7 percent, reaching 45,483.
Turkey’s central bank cut its benchmark rate for the fifth time in six months, as its new governor continued to ease policy. The bank cut its key rate to 11.25 percent from 12 percent.
According to data obtained from General Directorate of Land Registry and Cadastre, a total of 6,694 foreigners obtained certificates of conformity in order to become Turkish citizens via purchasing real estate. The lower limit for granting citizenship via real estate purchases was decreased to $250,000 in September 2018 from one million dollars in 2017, prompting an increase in foreign investments.
Urban Beat
Turkey was revealed to be Europe's second most affordable country to live in by CEOWORLD Magazine. According to a ranking that measures the cost of living, rent, groceries, eating out and purchasing power, Turkey is the 102nd cheapest of 132 countries worldwide.
Istanbul residents will soon start using a mobile application at public transportation turnstiles, the municipality said. While a pilot program will be available March, the application eventually aims to make the Istanbulkart subscription, Istanbul's transportation card, into a tool that can be used for multiple purposes.
The increasing prices of meals at public universities in Istanbul became a major item in the city following the suicide of a student who had posted on Twitter about not having enough money on her cafeteria card to eat. Istanbul's Kadıköy Volunteers Cafe was founded by a group of volunteers who reached an agreement with neighboring restaurants where students could purchase containers of food at reasonable prices.
Turkey has six cities in user-generated database Numbeo's safety index rankings for 2020. Student-populated Eskişehir ranked number eight on the list with a safety rating of "high." Bursa, Ankara, Izmir, Antalya and Istanbul were also on the list with safety rankings of "moderate" and higher.
Istanbul’s last remaining three fish sandwich boats are soon to be shut down by authorities as the legal saga over the issue has come to an end. An Istanbul court has rejected appeals made by the owners of the three boats to continue their operations in the historic neighborhood of Eminönü.
The Istanbul Municipality has announced that within 20 years there will be no space left in the city to bury the dead. “A solution needs to be found, and the best solution is to ensure that they are transported to Anatolia,” the municipality's cemeteries bureau head Dr. Ayhan Koç said.
The Istanbul Airport's security commission has banned people from welcoming arrival passengers with pickup signs. Those who do not know the person they are waiting for are required to pay a certain fee and wait for their guests at the “meeting lounge.”