Education Minister Ziya Selçuk has announced that schools will reopen on Aug. 31 with distance learning, but face-to-face lessons will not resume until Sept. 21. Selçuk's comments came after the Health Ministry's Coronavirus Science Committee suggested that face-to-face lessons should be postponed for at least a month amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Turkey's banking authority lowered the mandated loan-to-assets ratio for deposit banks to 95 percent, formerly 100 percent. The relaxing of the stimulation policy follows record devaluation of the Turkish Lira against the dollar.
Only 11.1 percent of students who took the High School Entrance Exam (LGS) preferred to attend imam hatip religious high schools. Many poor students in Turkey are forced to attend the imam hatip schools due to lack of options where they live, or based on unsatisfactory performance on the entrance exams that results in them having no other option.
A Greek court has released two Kurdish journalists detained in Athens. Both Kaplan and Mordeniz were detained despite having press cards, news portal Gazete Karınca reported on Aug. 9, adding that the journalists were taken to Acropolis police headquarters.
Turkey's lira hit a record low of 7.32 against the dollar after losing nearly 19 percent against the greenback so far this year, with growing concern that state efforts to stabilize the currency could fizzle and spark bigger problems for the country's economy.
The United States has designated a key ISIS financial facilitator in Turkey, Adnan Muhammad Amin al-Rawi, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said in a statement on July 28. According to OFAC, al-Rawi has materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, ISIS.
A pro-Taliban group has recorded a video at Istanbul's Hagia Sophia, days after the site was converted into a mosque by the Turkish government. The footage showed the group chanting Islamic slogans while holding the flag used by the Taliban.
The Arab Parliament expressed its readiness to work with Iraq to mobilize regional and international support to stop the Turkish attacks on the Iraqi soil, following the death of two Iraqi border guards as a result of a Turkish drone strike on Aug. 11. The Arab League similarly condemned the Turkish drone attack saying that Turkey's action is "a blatant violation of Iraq's sovereignty."
Several women gathered in Ankara's Kurtuluş neighborhood and wanted to march towards Kurtuluş Park in an attempt to read a press statement there in protest of the government’s plan to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention. The women however faced a harsh police response, with several of them having been battered or detained.
Following a call with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotaki, French President Emanuel Macron announced he would deploy additional ships to the eastern Mediterranean and called on Turkey to halt oil and gas exploration in disputed waters.
Greek experts and politicians critical of the government have said that Athens has made a mistake with regards to the timing of the maritime deal that it struck with Egypt last week. They also accused Mitsotakis government of pursuing a “maximalist” and “very strict policy” in the Aegean and East Mediterranean.
Turkey wants to resolve its dispute with Greece over energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean through dialogue, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Aug. 12, while vowing to defend Turkey's coastal interests. "We want to reach political solutions through peaceful means in line with international laws," Akar said.
The World Bank issued its latest edition of the Turkey Economic Monitor (TEM) on Aug. 12, in which it pointed to the sharp drop in Turkey's Central Bank reserves. "Though short-term external debt obligations seem manageable, a growing current account deficit and the sharp decline in reserves have heightened external vulnerabilities," it said.
Turkey's main opposition CHP has disputed the official unemployment statistics, saying that the country's actual unemployment rate stands at 30.6 percent which corresponds to over 10.5 million people. CHP spokesperson Faik Öztrak has said that this number of unemployed people is higher than the populations of 109 countries.
MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli has said that demanding education in Kurdish shows captivity to imperialism, as he commented on Future Party leader Ahmet Davutoğlu's remarks. "The fact that Davutoğlu talked about the Kurdish issue and mentioned education in mother tongue is a scandalous example of the extent that captivity to imperialism has reached," Bahçeli said in a written statement on Aug. 12.
İYİ Party leader Akşener on Aug. 12 paid a visit to DEVA chair Babacan to congratulate him for his new party. The two opposition leaders later held a press meeting, during which Babacan was asked if he would consider joining the People's Alliance of the AKP and MHP should such an offer come. "What we need to focus on is to complete the process of producing and [party] organization," Babacan said in response to the question.
Several human rights groups have penned a letter to the UN Human Rights Office asking the organization to urge the Turkish government not to discriminate against LGBTI+ individuals and to take necessary steps to protect the LGBTI+ community from any attacks.
Main opposition Istanbul Municipality revealed that the Culture Ministry's contract workers had been destroying walls of ancient Galata Tower. The historic building had been taken away from the municipality last 2019, and forced to be evacuated in April.
Iraq cancelled on Aug. 11 Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar's visit to the country which was scheduled for Aug. 13, Iraq's foreign ministry said in a statement following the death of two Iraqi border guards as a result of a Turkish drone strike. The ministry also summoned the Turkish ambassador to hand him "a strong protest note and inform him of Iraq’s confirmed rejection of his country's attacks and violations," the statement added.
Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has not confirmed whether Cemil Bayık, one of the leaders of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), was killed in a drone strike. "Our anti-terror operations are ongoing. Our advice to the whole world is for them to follow Turkey in terms of the struggle against terror," Soylu told reporters in the capital Ankara on Aug. 12 when asked to comment on the issue.
Turkey's COVID-19 Science Committee member Prof. Özlem Kurt Azap said that everyone should be administered free flu shots before the influenza season kicks off in October. Azap said that flu patients could overwhelm the health system, which is why extensive vaccination should be carried out, especially if schools reopen.
French fighter jets arrived in Greek Cyprus on August 11, Politis daily reported. Greek Cyprus and France, allies in the eastern Mediterranean, have been in the midst of increasingly tense relations with Ankara about the critical region.
The deputy governor of southern province of Hatay on Aug. 11 shot and killed his mother and his brother in a brawl concerning inherited farming land. Tolga Polat was detained by police a few hours after he fled the scene. State-run Anadolu Agency reported on Aug. 12 that the deputy governor had been arrested by a court order.
Turkey's Koç University presented a new research center that will work on vaccines and treatments for infectious diseases including for COVID-19, funded by commercial İşbank for an annual budget over five million Turkish Liras. The new center will also work on diagnosis and public health.
Two Turkish oil companies were merged under a subsidiary named "beautiful energy," where they make up 6.5 percent of the energy market. TOTAL and M Oil will maintain their branding following the merge.
Editor's Pick
duvar englis podcasts
Duvar English’s editor-in-chief Cansu Çamlıbel and pollster Can Selçuki are joined by Robert Bosch Academy's Galip Dalay to discuss the impact of Turkish government's recent domestic policy moves on Ankara's international relations. They look for answers to whether there is any possibility that Turkey's relations with the West might change for the better any time soon.
Taner Akçam writes: The regime’s bold stroke vis-a-vis Hagia Sophia should not be seen as stemming from desperation. Rather, it is simply meant to relay the not-so-subtle message of the path to be followed by the "New Republic", and that message is that the “annihilationist tradition” of the old regime, inherited by the Republic’s founders, will be retained in the era to come.
Politics
Istanbul police on Aug. 5 raided Istanbul's İdil Culture Center where leftist folk band Grup Yorum carries out its musical works and detained five people there, including former hunger-striking academic Nuriye Gülmen. The People's Law Office announced on Aug. 11 that Gülmen was among the two who were arrested in the case.
Turkish Interior Ministry has sent a circular to 32 governors' offices warning them that PKK militants might be preparing to exchange a substantial amount of foreign currencies with Turkish liras to buy food and survival supplies for storage as part of their winter preparation plans.
Former HDP co-chair Selahattin has said in a letter that neither Turkish nor Kurdish identity is something to brag about. "If you are to hang an identity around your neck, let it just read 'only human,'" read Demirtaş's letter, which was shared by his wife Başak Demirtaş.
The European Union has said that it's "extremely worried" about the escalating tensions between Greece and Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean. Also on Aug. 11, Turkish Coast Guard Command announced that three people were injured when Greek navy opened fire on a private boat off the coast of Muğla.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) didn't ask to borrow money from Turkey, former Central Bank head Durmuş Yılmaz said to refute President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's claim. "This is a lie. The issue is technical. In short, the IMF didn't ask to borrow money from us. A commitment was made to a contingency fund and it wasn't realized. The proof: There is no such record on the Central Bank balance," Yılmaz tweeted on Aug. 11.
Women from the ruling AKP's women branches across Turkey have simultaneously filed criminal complaints against pro-government Islamist columnist Abdurrahman Dilipak for referring to defenders of the Istanbul Convention as “prostitutes.” Lawyer Rabia İlhan, who is the chairperson of the AKP's Istanbul women branch, said that AKP women will never stay silent against “dirty- and narrow-minded journalists.”
A new report to Congress by the Office of the Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Defense has criticised Turkey over being a “major facilitation hub” for ISIS militants even as the country simultaneously engages in “counter-ISIS activities.” The report also pointed to allegations of human rights abuses by Turkish-backed “hardline Islamist militias” in northern Syria.
A large piece of air conditioning equipment was removed from the chimney of an ancient palace in Istanbul following public outcry about its installment. The 16th century palace was commissioned by Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificient.
A construction project that will damage the Munzur Springs, considered sacred in the Alevi faith, has started in the eastern province of Dersim. Munzur River is a stream that runs through the Munzur Valley National Park, which is also home to the sacred goats of Dersim.
Turkey's Human Rights Association (İHD) observed dozens of deaths caused by rights violations in the first six months of 2020. Fourteen women were killed by men, two inmates died in prison and three law enforcement officers were found dead under suspicious conditions in the southeast.
President Erdoğan has once again given sales of white goods as an example to the economy’s current “climb," saying that it was thanks to the AKP that people now enjoy an "increased level of welfare." Erdoğan's comments came after Turkish Lira hit all-time lows against the euro and dollar as the coronavirus pandemic triggered massive capital outflows from the country.
Turkey’s state-run Halkbank, facing trial in the U.S. over charges of breaking sanctions on Iran, said on Aug. 10 that it was immune from prosecution and that U.S. laws did not cover its alleged misconduct. In a Manhattan court filing, Halkbank said its status as an "instrumentality" of Turkey shielded it from prosecution under principles of sovereign immunity.
Turkish hotels will cover COVID-19 testing and isolation costs for Russian tourists if they show symptoms of the disease at the airport, Sputnik Turkey reported. Hospitalization costs will fall upon the traveler's insurance.
Turkish Education Minister Ziya Selçuk has said that the occupancy rate of Islamic schools - Anatolian İmam Hatip high schools - has reached 99.8 percent. The statistics drew ire on social media, with hundreds of users pointing to the fact that students who fail to enroll in a high school are automatically placed in İmam Hatip schools.
Turkey announced on Aug. 10 that it dispatched a vessel named Oruç Reis to conduct a seismic survey in a disputed area of the eastern Mediterranean, a move that Greece said was "illegal." Turkey dismissed the Greek objections, with President Erdoğan saying that Ankara was ready to cooperate in finding "an acceptable formula that protects the rights of all."
Some 40 percent of youth aged between 25-29 are financially dependent on their parents, said a deputy of main opposition CHP. "Some 40 percent of our 6.1 million young people in the age group of 25-29, i.e. 2.5 million, are neither in unemployment nor in education. Due to the ruling government's policies, our youth in this age group are unfortunately living in a way that is depending on their parents,” Veli Ağbaba said.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is planning to make changes in the electoral system when parliament reopens in October. Various commissions were formed to work on the changes on the Law on Political Parties, Elections Law and Parliament Bylaws, sources told Duvar, adding that the first draft bills of the next legislative year will concern them.
The U.S.' health protection agency CDC has designated Turkey as a risky place for COVID-19, urging Americans to avoid all nonessential travel to the country. "COVID-19 risk in Turkey is high. If you get sick in Turkey and need medical care, resources may be limited," the CDC said.
CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has named the party's new top brass, the Central Executive Board (MYK), after its 37th ordinary congress. The number of individuals in the CHP MYK was decreased to 16 from 18. Tuncay Özkan and Ünal Çeviköz were left out, while Böke, Ali Öztunç, Yüksel Taşkın and Ahmet Akın were handed posts.
The Ankara branch of Turkish Health Workers' Union (SES) has said that there are currently approximately 50,000 coronavirus patients in the capital, 3,500 of whom are receiving treatment at hospitals. The SES based this figure on the number of patients each family physician in the capital is monitoring for suspected coronavirus infection.
Economy
Goldman Sachs revised its periodic forecasts for the Turkish lira, anticipating that it will continue to fall and will reach 8.25 to the dollar by next year. The lira has been the world's second-worst performing currency thus far this month, dropping four percent for a total of an 18 percent decline in 2020.
Economist and former Treasury advisor Mahfi Eğilmez has said that the Turkish economy is no longer predictable. "In an unpredictable economy, due to the fact the risks increase, this means that expenses will also increase,” Eğilmez wrote in a column on Aug. 5.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on July 15 that companies involved in construction of the TurkStream pipeline will be subject to the U.S. penalties unless they stop their works. “It’s a clear warning to companies. Aiding and abetting Russia’s malign influence projects will not be tolerated. Get out now or risk the consequences,” he said.
The Turkish Petroleum Refineries Corporation (TÜPRAŞ) ranked as Turkey's largest industrial business with 87.9 billion liras in annual production revenue. The oil company was followed mostly by automotive producers.
On the second anniversary of Turkey's transformation into a presidential system, the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) has prepared a report detailing how the country stands in the ensuing years, finding that the Turkish lira has lost four times its value since 2007.
Urban Beat
Mois Gabay writes: Do you think the Camondo family will be included in the Beyoğlu Culture Road project conducted by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism? What about Arif Ergin’s “Tekvin” novel, in which he imagined that there would be a “Camondo Museum” one day?
Artifacts from Istanbul's ancient Hagia Sophia will be displayed in a nearby public building that will be transformed into a museum. Formerly used as a land office, the late-19th-century building in historical Sultanahmet will be converted on the president's orders.
Luke Frostick writes: Edanur Kuntman’s Tales from Behind the Window has been nominated for an Eisner Award. If she wins, she will be the first Turk to win an Eisner. The story is a piece of creative-nonfiction and its main narrative is drawn from the memories of Kuntman’s grandmother growing up in the Çarşamba district of Samsun.