Former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has unveiled the 143-page program for his newly-launched Future Party. The program vowed to recognize the legal status of cemevis, the worship house of the Alevis, a heterodox non-Sunni faith that accoutns for as much as a quarter of the country's population. Regarding the Kurds, the program vowed to fight against identity-based discrimination
Sadiye Demirtaş, the mother of imprisoned former co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş of the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP), was recently injured in a car accident along with her husband, daughter, daughter-in-law and son-in-law on the way to Edirne to the prison. “Why is Selahattin in Edirne?” Sadiye asks, before answering her own question: “Because the only one that stood up to them was Selahattin. Due to the fact that they were scared of Selahattin they threw him in jail.”
Patriarch Sahak Maşalyan, the new leader of the Armenian Orthodox Christians in Turkey, has said that the population of Armenian community in the country is gradually decreasing. "As the loyal citizens of this country, we'll continue to contribute to Turkey. But, when we have problems, we cannot say that we don't have [them],” Maşalyan said during an interview to newspaper Milliyet published on Dec. 14.
A group of HDP deputies have filed a motion in parliament urging the establishment of an investigation commission to investigate human rights violations and the killing of civilians during curfews imposed in Şırnak between 2015-2016. The deputies said that 64,000 people had been “forcibly” displaced from their homes during these curfew periods.
Turkey's foreign ministry has summoned the U.S. ambassador in Ankara over a resolution passed by U.S. lawmakers recognizing the mass killings of Armenians a century ago as a genocide. The ministry has voiced Turkey's strong criticism of the resolution to David Satterfield.
The Turkish parliament on Dec. 13 condemned the U.S. Senate’s passing a resolution recognizing early 20th century killings of Armenians as “genocide.” People’s Democratic Party (HDP) did not join the condemnation.
Jailed painter Aynur Epli has been sending letters to her cousin incarcerated in an Erzurum prison. The Erzurum jail management has cut out Epli's drawings from the letters on the grounds of their being “obscene.”
The Istanbul police department has displayed 256 tons of counterfeit alcoholic beverages in the garden of the police headquarters located on Vatan Avenue. A total of 80 people have been so far detained, who had allegedly established the largest fake drink production network in the country.
Opposition right-wing Good Party (İP) leader Meral Akşener said that she would transfer 20 members of parliament from her party to the newly founded AKP breakaway parties if needed.
The European Union should spend more than the 6 billion euros already allotted to fund Syrian refugees in Turkey, and speed up the flow of that money, said Faruk Kaymakcı, the Turkish deputy minister for foreign affairs. “As long as the crisis is there we have to work together. The 6 billion euros will not solve the problem when it is finally all spent,” Kaymakcı told reporters in Istanbul on Dec. 14.
The German magazine Der Spiegel has published images that depict the Greek authorities illegally deporting migrants.The report indicated that this style of deportation is in both violation of EU human rights and the Geneva Convention. The Greek government has repeatedly denied the illegal deportation of migrants from its border back into Turkey.
The governor's office in the southern province of Adana has cited “terror threat” as the reason for cancelling an annual festival. The festival's name was previously changed from “World Rakı Festival” to “Adana Kebap and Şalgam Festival” due to complaints from Islamic groups, but the event continues to be known popularly by its original name.
A councillor for the main opposition CHP has likened the debt of the Istanbul municipality to that of the Ottoman Empire. “Young Turkish Republic had paid the Ottoman's debt. And we will be the ones who will pay the AKP's debts,” Tarık Balyalı said during city council budget discussions on Dec. 13. Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu had said in November that the city had a debt of 28 billion Turkish Liras ($4.81 billion).
Police shut down a dance protest by a feminist group in Ankara Thursday. The women wanted to perform the protest dance created by Chilean collective Las Tesis, but were moved away from the square. Some women were battered and dragged on the ground by police officers.
Istanbul's Şehir University, known for its close affiliation with former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu from the start, has recently became the subject of controversy. President Erdoğan accused Davutoğlu of illegally acquiring state-owned land for the university. Prior to Erdoğan's allegations, seizure procedures had began against the university based on the grounds that the school had not paid its loans to state-owned Halkbank.
The main cause of the world's greatest evils are people that do not believe in the afterlife, Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) President Ali Erbaş said while speaking at a conference at a Turkish mosque in the German capital of Berlin this week. "Someone who does not believe in the afterlife cannot be a Muslim," he claimed.
KONDA Research Company General Manager Bekir Ağırdır said that the efforts of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in raising a "pious generation" has failed to go beyond "political engineering," adding that the ratio of youth performing prayers and fasting during Ramadan decreased in years. Those who said that they're "modern" increased to 42 percent from 29 between 2008 and 2018.
A sexual assault victim in Ankara said that when she went to the police they defended the assailant. Upon meeting with a female prosecutor, Ç.B. said the prosecutor told her “I'm sitting here, I'm a woman and you're a woman. Why I am I not being raped yet you are?”
Former Turkish deputy prime minister Ali Babacan and his team have recently organized a workshop in the capital Ankara to determine how the new party will address Turkey's Kurdish issue. Babacan said the two-day workshop, which brought together 15 experts, discussed the current problems and solution proposals.
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.
The installation process of the Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems is expected be completed by the spring of 2020, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has said. Akar also said Turkey is in dialogue with its NATO allies, particularly the U.S., to work a solution to the matter.
A report published by the KAOS Gay and Lesbian Cultural Research and Solidarity Association details the experiences of 320 people that have been exposed to discrimination in Turkey. The problems LGBTIQ+ migrants face are not limited to their landlords and neighbors.
Some artifacts that belong to the Archeology Museum will be moved out of the Topkapı Palace mine building due to renovations, Vice President Fuat Oktay said. Oktay added that the destination for the ancient artifacts is not yet determined, but it will be a "suitable location." Topkapı Palace was under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, but was transferred to the presidency in September.
Editor's Picks
The electoral dominance of populist parties is not irreversible. The AKP’s defeat in the 2019 local elections in Turkey is a testament to the ability of opposition parties to defeat populists through the ballot box. Despite the uneven playing field that worsened over the last few years, the opposition candidates won the mayoral race in five out of the six most populous provinces and expanded their vote share across the country. Indeed, the opposition’s campaign reveals a recipe for electoral success that can be emulated by opposition parties in other populist regimes.
In April 1957 US Ambassador Fletcher Warren burst into Prime minister Menderes’s cabinet meeting to try and prevent him from taking military action in Syria. Menderes had to make a hard choice. This is one of the more dramatic moments in Egemen Bezci’s new book Turkish Intelligence and the Cold War: The Turkish Secret Service, the US and the UK.
Politics
Turkey has repatriated four more foreign national militants to the U.K., the Interior Ministry said. The ministry did not specify which group the fighters belonged to, but in recent months the ministry has been stressing the return of ISIS militants.
The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Turkey violated the rights of prominent philanthropist, businessman and human rights activist Osman Kavala, urging the country to free him immediately. The court on Dec. 10 ruled that Kavala's right to liberty and security, right to a speedy decision on the lawfulness of detention and the limitation on use of restrictions on rights were violated.
A U.S. Senate committee voted on Dec. 11 to advance a sanctions bill against Turkey for its offensive in northeastern Syria and purchase of a Russian missile defense system. The Republican-led Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted by 18-4 to send the "Promoting American National Security and Preventing the Resurgence of ISIS Act of 2019" for a vote in the full Senate.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan continued to slam the Nobel academy for the second day, calling it a "vampire community" for awarding Peter Handke. "The fact that the Nobel gave the award to this representative of the vampire intelligentsia group shows that a vampire community was formed," Erdoğan said, while also praising Aziz Sancar and Orhan Pamuk in his speech.
Google has revealed the top items searched in Turkey, with contested Istanbul mayoral elections topping the list, while the name that was searched the most was Emine Bulut, who was stabbed to death by her ex-husband in front of her 10-year-old daughter. The most popular search for "TV Shows" was "Mucize Doktor," while the most Googled song was "Derdim Olsun" by Turkish rapper Reynmen.
Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has claimed that journalism is not done properly anymore in Turkey, which is why he would like to become a journalist if he could “give up everything.” He also said that politicians have the “luxury” of making mistakes, whereas the same is not the case for journalists.
U.S. lawmakers announced an agreement on Dec. 9 on a $738-billion bill setting policy for the Department of Defense, calling for sanctions on Turkey over its purchase of the S-400s. The NDAA prohibits the transfer of F-35 stealth fighter jets, which Lockheed Martin Corp is developing, to Turkey. It expresses a Sense of Congress that Turkey's acquisition of Russia's S-400s constitutes a significant transaction under U.S. sanctions law.
Turkey's top court has ruled for rights violation in a case into the wounding of a protester with a tear gas canister shot by police during Gezi Park protests. "The force used against the applicant can't be said to be necessary because public officials can't prove that the applicant was not peaceful," the court said, while also ruling for Şahin to be paid 20,000 Turkish Liras as compensation.
Former Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ and lawmakers from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have reportedly failed a law exam. Some 27,537 people, including academics, members of the judiciary and politicians, took the mediation test on Nov. 24, with 6,271 of them passing via obtaining at least 91 points. Bozdağ, however, failed by receiving 72 points.
Turkey's Press Advertisement Institution has been blocking the ads of opposition dailies Evrensel and Birgün in a move that journalists describe as an attempt to silence critical media. "They are carrying out a system that aims to eliminate the newspapers as a whole," Birgün Board Chairman İbrahim Aydın told Duvar, while Evrensel Editor-in-Chief Fatih Polat said that the press institution has been implementing a systematical siege on the newspapers critical of the government.
Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Turkey on Jan. 8 for talks with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has said, adding that the TurkStream natural gas pipeline will be opened by both leaders during the visit. The two leaders will also be able to discuss other issues at talks which are likely to be held in the Turkish city of Istanbul.
The Istanbul-based Freedom of Expression Association has said in a recently prepared report that while the number of websites and domains blocked in Turkey was 80,553 as of 2015, this figure went up to 288,310 as of October 2019. The report said that the Internet censorship in Turkey has reached an "astonishing level."
Turkey has scored below average on the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2018 report, the results of which were released on Tuesday. 6,890 15-year-old students in Turkey took the PISA test, and the country placed 31st out of 37.
A Turkish court ruled on Dec. 11 to keep U.S. consulate employee Metin Topuz in jail as his trial on espionage charges continues. Topuz is accused of having links to the network of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen.
Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu has said that Ankara may reconsider İncirlik's status if the U.S. Congress imposes sanctions on the country amid the rift between two NATO allies over Ankara's purchase of Russian S-400 systems. The minister also said that Turkey had a constructive approach towards the U.S. on the issue, adding that the Congress needs to understand that they can't achieve anything through imposition.
Turkey will import horse and donkey meat from Sudan as part of the Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement that was approved in parliament's Foreign Affairs Commission last week. Some 500 tons of horse, donkey and mule meat, as well as 500 tons of animal giblets, including those of the aforementioned animals, will be imported from Sudan without Turkey implementing any customs tariffs.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has praised former media mogul Aydın Doğan, while thanking him on behalf of the country and the people. Doğan, who founded and ran Doğan Holding until 2010 and is currently the honorary chairman of the conglomerate, had a rocky relationship with Erdoğan before selling the company's media arm to pro-government Demirören Holding in 2018. "In addition to being a successful businessman, he is a good culture and arts man," Erdoğan said.
The United States has barred a former Saudi diplomat from entering the country over his alleged role in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Mohammed al Otaibi was serving as the Saudi consul general in Istanbul when Khashoggi was killed there.
European football's ruling body UEFA has slapped Turkey with a reprimand for military salutes that Turkish footballers perfomed to mark Ankara's offensive in northeastern Syria. The UEFA has also fined Turkish Football Federation 50,000 euros for crowd disturbances.
Economics
Turkey's Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) found 11 different models of smart phones and radio phones to be unsafe. Xiaomi, KAAN and BB Mobile are amongst the companies whose products failed inspections.
In an attempt to lower costs, Turkish Airlines will no longer offer rakı, gin or vodka on short flights. On international flights over six hours, THY will only offer one brand of whiskey in economy class.
The Turkish economy grew by 0.4 percent in the third quarter compared with the previous quarter on seasonal and calendar adjusted basis, the Turkish Statistical Institute said on Dec. 2. Compared with the same quarter of 2018, the Turkish economy expanded by 0.9 percent, the agency said.
Finance Minister Berat Albayrak has denied criticism regarding the budget not being spent for the public, saying that some 333,9 billion Turkish Liras are paid as salaries and social security premium payments for 3,4 million public employees. When asked about the reason for why the 853,8 billion lira tax revenue target that was determined for 2019 was not met, Albayrak pointed to tax rate discounts that were made to "support economic revival and the fight against inflation."
Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism has signed an annual sponsorship contract with Spain's popular soccer team Real Madrid. The team will be paid 12 million euros annually to wear Turkey-related visuals on their jerseys.
Morgan Stanley is reportedly investigating suspected mismarking of securities to conceal losses of as much as $140 million in a portfolio handled day-to-day by London-based Scott Eisner, a 2014 Yale University graduate and associate at the firm. The wager was claimed to be tied to the Turkish lira, a currency that whipsawed investors in 2018 and earlier in 2019 amid mounting political tensions.
Turkey saw a 10.56 percent annual hike in consumer prices in November, the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) said on Dec. 3. Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak said "a little" increase took place, as he commented on the double-digit figures.
The latest unemployment figures, pertaining to the month of August, were released on Nov. 15 by the Turkish Statistics Institute (TÜIK) indicating that unemployment increased 2.9 percent from the same month in the previous year, reaching 14 percent.
Car sales have dropped below the market expectations of 600 yearly sales, which might force dealerships to shrink operations or even close. As a result of the economic crisis, the industry average for yearly sales had dropped from 1 million to 620 thousand last year, and are expected to drop further to 470 thousand.
Urban Beat
Istanbul Municipality is hiring two Kurdish-speaking instructors for Kurdish lessons at the Arts and Professional Training Center. CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu met with graduates of the Kurdish Language and Literature department in August and said that the city would be offering Kurdish lessons and nursing services in Kurdish.
The founder and head chef of Anatolian restaurant Çiya won the highest cookbook award with his book Turkish Cookbook. Musa Dağdeviren won the Gourmand award, which is considered the equivalent of a Nobel for cookbooks. The book was published by world-renowned publishing house Phaidon.
Referencing a recent lavish baby blessing ceremony that sparked significant controversy, Islamist opposition Felicity Party (SP) Women's Branch President Ebru Asıltürk said that a recent wave of crazy consumption has negatively affected conservatives in Turkey. "We all must refrain from waste and showing off," she told.
The district of Didim in Turkey's Western Anatolian province of Aydın made an official decision on December 4 that stipulated they would not allow animals under the protection of the municipality to be sent to experimental laboratories. In Turkey there are already licensed and official institutions that breed animals for experimental purposes.
Sarp Palaur, known by the stage name Şanışer, on Dec. 4 took part as a panelist in a discussion organized by the Middle East Institute in Washington D.C. He said that his viral rap song named "Susamam" (I can't stay silent) is not only about the problems existing in Turkey, but all over the world.
Renowned Turkish actor Haluk Bilginer received an International Emmy Award for Best Performance by an Actor for his role in Şahsiyet, in which he plays Agah Beyoğlu - a serial killer diagnosed with Alzheimer's who will eventually lose all his memories. "Be sure that the society we're living in doesn't experience memory loss," Bilginer said in the ceremony.
Recent figures released by Turkey's Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning indicate that several Istanbul neighborhoods exceed the acceptable limit for the pm10 pollutant several times over.