Registered unemployment in Turkey usually commutes around 10 percent, but what the labor market really looks like is difficult to measure, as there is a large informal sector. Child labor occurs and trade union activities are made more difficult.
There is a state fixed minimum wage (Lira 2,020 for 2019, corresponding to just over SEK 3,500). The level is a little higher for a person who is married and has several children, but the salary is still small in relation to the cost of living.
In the textile and clothing industry, which is dominated by small companies, in 2008 only one-third of the workers were registered. Among the unregistered were many foreigners who worked illegally in Turkey. Child labor is not uncommon. Difficult conditions for many Syrian refugees who traveled to Turkey during the Syrian civil war may have worsened the situation. The British human rights organization Business & Human Rights Resource Center (BHRRC) has paid attention to child labor in factories that are subcontractors to clothing chains in Western countries.
The proportion of women who work for work is lower in Turkey than in any other country in the OECD Economic Cooperation Organization. However, one exception is the CEOs, of whom twelve percent are women. It is seen as a relatively high proportion that may be related to the fact that so many companies are family owned. In the official statistics, unemployment is slightly higher for women than for men, but the real difference is believed to be much greater, although it is hidden by peculiarities in the registration of employees. As such, many women who work unpaid for relatives and families are also included, usually in agriculture. Of 7.7 million women employed in 2012, 53 percent, or 4.1 million, worked without pay or health insurance.
- COUNTRYAAH: List of key population facts of Turkey, covering most basic population data, religion statistics, and language profiles.
The position of women in the labor market has varied greatly. In 1988, more than a third of the country’s women had registered work, 20 years later only a fifth. Extensive immigration to the cities, not least from the poor south-eastern provinces, which took place during these years is believed to have been recorded. Poor working conditions in the big cities, social pressure and problems with childcare pushed women to stay home. In 2013, after some good years in the economy, the proportion of women had again risen to over 30 percent.
Several laws restrict unions’ rights to organize workers and officials, conduct collective bargaining and call for strikes. Fines and imprisonment may affect those who participate in strikes. During the major prestige projects carried out under Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government, the pace of construction has been under pressure and a number of accidents have been reported. Workers who participated in protests have been arrested.
The possibility of union operations is also limited by the fact that almost 60 percent of Turkish companies have fewer than ten employees and that small employers such as these tend to counter the unions.
Information on the proportion of unionized workers varies widely between different sources, but it is clear that membership rates have decreased significantly in recent decades and are now well below the average among OECD countries.
Public sector officials have no right to collective bargaining.
The largest trade union organization is Türk-İş and claims to have 1.75 million members.
FACTS – LABOR MARKET
11.9 percent (2019)
21.3 percent (2019)
Yıldırım candidate in Istanbul
Binali Yıldırım, President of Parliament, was prime minister until the post was abolished last summer. Now the ruling AK party wants to see him as mayor of the big city of Istanbul. President Erdoğan, who himself held the mayor post before becoming governor, nominates Yıldırım as the party’s candidate for the local elections on March 31.
Offensive is planned against Kurds in Syria
President Trump announces that US ground troops will be taken home from Syria. It is happening at the same time as Turkey is threatening a new offensive against the Kurdish YPG militia there. For the Kurds, both messages are alarming. The 2,000 Americans have assisted Kurdish-Arab forces fighting IS, but in practice have also provided protection for Kurds: Both Turkey and the Syrian regime oppose the autonomy of the Kurds in the process of building up in northern Syria, but the chances are greater that the Kurds avoid attacks as long as there are Americans in place. The United States has also approved a major arms deal with Turkey, which may purchase Patriot robots and anti-aircraft robots (see December 21, 2017 and April 3, 2018).
Nearly 2,000 life sentences for coup attempts
Nearly 2,000 people have been sentenced to life imprisonment since the failed coup attempt in July 2016, according to Anatolia News Agency. In 956 of the 1934 cases, the judgment which has replaced the death penalty: life as a result of specific aggravating circumstances (see 19 april, May 21 and July 12). More than 3,050 people have been identified as supporters of the fugitive Fethullah Gülen, whom the Ankara government accuses of staging the coup. 1,123 of these have received prison sentences of various lengths.
US Senate: Crown Prince behind the murder
13th of December
The US Senate agrees with Turkey’s conclusions: The Saudi Crown Prince is identified as responsible for the murder of a journalist at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul (see November 10). The Senate also votes to end US support for the Saudi-led military operations in Yemen. The president can veto the Senate’s decision by veto, but the vote figures testify to opposition to Trump’s foreign policy.
Arrest warrant for murder of consulate
A Turkish court issues arrest warrants for two former close associates to Saudi Arabia’s crown prince. Both are accused of involvement in the murder of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul (see 2 October, 19 October and 15 November). The murder victim Jamal Khashoggi’s remains have not yet been found.
Ventures in Venezuela in sight
President Erdoğan visits Venezuela and expresses support for the country’s hard-working leader Nicolás Maduro. Erdoğan criticizes the United States, which maintains sanctions on Venezuela. Maduro, whose regime is in crisis and has failed to manage the country’s oil reserves to provide prosperity, hopes that Turkey will invest in a mining area in southern Venezuela where gold, diamonds and colts are found. Business relations between the countries are to be expanded, states the two heads of state.
Prosecution against Gülen for diplomatic murder
Prosecution is being brought against 38 people accused by Turkish authorities of the murder of Russia’s ambassador Andrej Karlov (see December 19, 2016). Among the defendants are the president’s arch enemy, the fugitive Fethullah Gülen.
Erdoğan and Orbán see common enemy in Soros
President Erdoğan acts as Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán: he launches a fierce attack on the Jewish businessman and philanthropist George Soros. Erdoğan claims that Soros financed the now imprisoned Osman Kavala (as well as Soro’s businessman and philanthropist), who dared to challenge the Turkish leadership by announcing demonstrations (see October 8, 2018, October 18, 2017 and June 2013). Soros, who claims that the conspiracy theory is false, announces a few days later that his foundation is ending all its operations in Turkey.
Five are threatened with death penalty for consulate murder
The Saudi Prosecutor’s Office is prosecuting eleven people for involvement in the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul and will demand the death penalty for five of them. The cause of death was an injection, an overdose of sedative, it is stated in a communication. The initiative should have been taken by a former head of the intelligence service. Turkey calls for an international investigation to investigate the murder. The US faces sanctions against 17 people.
The EU wants to be able to examine refugee support
According to a 2016 agreement with the EU, Turkey provides for refugees from other countries so that they do not try to travel on dangerous roads to Europe. But according to the EU Court of Auditors, which controls how EU spending is spent, it is not clear that the money always reaches the right people because Turkey does not want to give the recipients names. “We can see that money goes to refugees, but we can’t see that all money goes there,” says one of the auditors. Turkey refers to privacy protection in computer systems, but EU auditors believe it can be solved by carrying out checks by authorized persons. In Turkey, there are just over three million refugees from Syria and 300,000 from Iraq.
Evidence for several countries
Turkey has shared tape recordings from the events at the Saudi consulate when journalist Jamal Khashoggi was assassinated on October 2. The Turkish president confirms in a televised speech that recordings exist and that Saudi Arabia, the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany have received them. Sabah magazine has previously reported that evidence has reached the US CIA security service.
The United States calls for PKK leaders
The United States announces rewards of up to $ 5 million to anyone who can provide information on three designated leaders of the Kurdish guerrilla PKK: Murat Karayılan, Cemil Bayık and Duran Kalkan. In Turkey’s leadership, there is a strong dissatisfaction with the US cooperating with Kurdish forces in Syria in pursuit of IS- jihadists. Since 1997, however, the United States also officially considers the PKK a terrorist group.
Oil business clear sign with Iran
The major powers China, Japan, India and Turkey are exempt from US sanctions that impede oil deals with Iran. A total of eight countries can continue to buy oil from Iran without risking US punishment. Two, like Turkey, are NATO countries: Italy and Greece. The others are US allies in Asia: South Korea and Taiwan. President Trump justifies the exception that he does not want the world oil price to skyrocket, which would be a risk of cutting off all Iranian production.
Erdoğan takes care of Cypriot resources
President Erdoğan warns international energy companies to participate in oil and gas projects in the waters off Cyprus. All recovery requires approval from Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots, he emphasizes. In 1974, Turkish forces invaded the northeastern part of the island, with a Turkish population, in response to a coup aimed at uniting Cyprus with Greece. Turkish forces remained and Cyprus has remained divided, making it difficult, among other things, for membership negotiations with the EU. Only Turkey has recognized the Turkish Cypriot Republic established after the invasion. In February, a ship from the Italian oil company ENI was blocked on its way by Turkish warships.
Syrian city is patrolled by Turks and Americans
Turkish and US forces jointly patrol the city of Manbij in northern Syria, three miles from the Turkish border. Manbij has been controlled by a Kurdish militia, YPG, which has US support but is seen as terrorists by Turkey. The joint patrol dates back to an agreement concluded in June, after Turkey gained control of the Kurdish enclave Afrin and threatened to move on to Manbij. YPG soldiers have withdrawn from Manbij in accordance with the agreement.
The metro area is opened during construction
President Erdoğan opens Istanbul’s new, international major airport. The ceremony takes place on the 95th anniversary of the founding of modern Turkey. As a result of construction delays, traffic will initially only include flights to five destinations, but it will be expanded by the New Year. The airport on Istanbul’s European side will be fully completed only by 2028, when there will be six runways. At least 30 construction workers have lost their lives during the work that has been going on since 2015. A number of workers have been arrested during demonstrations, about 20 are still imprisoned.
Crown Prince swears free from murder charge
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is publicly speaking for the first time about Jamal Khashoggi’s death. He refrains from the murder and says that the guilty should be punished – but he does not comment on how such an incident could have occurred without his knowledge. He also claims that he does not believe that relations between Saudi Arabia and Turkey will be damaged. President Erdoğan, who has described Khashoggi’s death in Istanbul as a plot, is on the phone with the Crown Prince. No possible agreements are made public.
MHP is running for mayor election
There will be no cooperation between the Nationalist Party MHP and the ruling party AKP before the local elections, says MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli to party comrades. In the elections to be held on March 31, 2019, the mayor’s posts in the major cities of Istanbul and Ankara, among others, will be filled, and Bahçeli explains that the MHP is running with its own candidates. In Parliament, however, the MHP continues to vote with the AKP. MHP and AKP entered into an alliance ahead of the 2018 parliamentary and presidential elections, the bay strengthened President Erdoğan’s camp. Now the MHP is said to be dissatisfied that the AKP does not want to agree to an amnesty for convicted criminals. The other nationalist party, the Good Party, led by Meral Akşener, is an opponent of Erdoğan.
Erdoğan does not identify Saudi rulers
President Erdoğan claims that journalist Jamal Khashoggi was subjected to a planned political assassination of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Erdoğan demands that the suspects be tried before a court in Turkey – but he chooses not to accuse the Saudi Crown Prince. The president also does not include details of the assassination that the Turkish authorities let the media know about; it is not yet clear how the authorities can know so much about what happened inside the consulate.
Saudi Crown Prince is hired by murder charges
The Saudi government admits that journalist Jamal Khashoggi met the death of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. 18 people are arrested and two linked to the country’s mighty crown prince, who by many outside Saudi Arabia is suspected of having ordered the murder, gets fired. The explanation given – that there was a fatal fight at the consulate – convinces few and is contradicted by Turkish information. The incident has led to a crisis for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has made the appearance of wanting to democratize Saudi Arabia. The crisis also employs US President Trump, who values oil business and Saudi cooperation against Iran highly.
Shuttle diplomacy on presumed death torment
Saudi Arabia has pledged $ 100 million to US stabilization efforts in Syria. It reports on US media while Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo visits the Saudi King and Crown Prince for a meeting on journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who is suspected of being murdered for his criticism of the royal house (see October 2). The day after, Pompeo visits the president of Turkey, where authorities claim that Khashoggi was tortured to death and forensic technicians search the Saudi consul’s residence. In the US, politicians in both major parties demand clearer moral action vis-à-vis Saudi Arabia.
Free American pastor
Pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been accused of helping terrorists, is released. He does get sentencing, but the sentence is considered to be served in house arrest (see August 1). Brunson returns to the United States. His case has been closely followed by evangelical Christians who belong to President Trump’s electoral base and the verdict has been preceded by intensive US-Turkey negotiations. Many stumbling blocks remain, including Turkey doing business with Iran despite US sanctions on Tehran.
Saudis are suspected of disappearance
One week after the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Turkish authorities are working to identify 15 travelers from Saudi Arabia, who were at the consulate in Istanbul when he disappeared. The investigators suspect that the travelers were a murder victim sent by the state and took pictures from the consulate’s surveillance cameras as they left the country. Turkey, the United States and the United Kingdom demand that Saudi Arabia explain what has happened to the regime critic Khashoggi (see October 2).
Turkey and Kuwait agree on defense plan
Turkey and Kuwait sign a joint defense plan for 2019 with the stated aim of increasing military coordination. The agreement says nothing about Turkish forces being placed or practiced in Kuwait, but such opportunities are also not ruled out. In Kuwait’s neighboring Saudi Arabia, the agreement is reportedly disapproving. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait disagree on two common oil fields. From a Saudi point of view, it is also claimed that Turkey supports the Islamist organization the Muslim Brotherhood, which many of the Middle East regimes are suspicious of.
Cultural heritage at Bosporen for sale
Turkey’s squeezed economy has led to an increased supply of sought-after properties near the sea in Istanbul. A yalı, a classic villa on the Bosphorus, can cost over half a billion SEK and buyers who have the resources available – in Qatar and other Gulf states. The interest may be linked to the possibility of becoming a Turkish citizen at the same time. About a tenth of about 600 villas on the water are for sale, brokers told AFP. At the same time, it is reported that some of President Erdoğan’s major infrastructure projects may be slowed down. It is one of the elements of the finance minister Albayrak’s three-year program for the Turkish economy (see September 20).
President Erdoğan is warmly welcomed during a state visit to Hungary. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán commends Turkey’s “stability” as crucial to Europe’s security, in particular an agreement with the EU to curb refugee flows. “It is nice for Erdoğan to visit an EU country where he is not attacked for human rights violations,” a critical economics professor, Tamás Szigetvári, told AFP, aiming to make both the Hungarian and Turkish rulers more difficult to be regime critics.
Highest inflation since 2003
In September, inflation in Turkey reached almost 25 percent: consumer prices rose 24.5 percent compared to a year earlier, according to the state statistical authority TUIK. This is the highest figure since August 2003, and significantly higher than expected despite the fact that all assessors are aware of the problems in the Turkish economy (see September 13). Finance Minister Berat Albayrak says new measures to fight inflation will be announced shortly.
Saudi journalist disappears at consulate
Journalist Jamal Khashoggi is as engulfed by the earth after a visit to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Khashoggi lives in exile in the United States and co-operates with the Washington Post since he became disillusioned with the mighty Crown Prince and criticized Saudi Arabia’s warfare in Yemen. He went to the consulate to get a document he needed as a private person, but has been reported missing by his Turkish fiancee. The Turkish Foreign Ministry calls the Saudi ambassador for an explanation.
Prison for Gülenbror
Kutbettin Gülen is sentenced to ten years and six months in prison by a Izmir court. He is the brother of the fugitive Fethullah Gülen, who is accused by the president of lying behind the coup attempt in 2016. Kutbettin Gülen, who was arrested a few months after the coup attempt, was charged with membership in an armed terrorist organization.
Erdoğan and Merkel try to heal open wounds
Demonstrations are held for and against President Erdoğan as he inaugurates one of Europe’s largest mosques in Cologne as a round-up on a state visit to Germany. Turkey, whose economy has deteriorated, wants better relations with Europe’s strongest business community. Germany is interested in Turkey being able and willing to keep its agreement with the EU on restricting refugee flows. Germany has criticized mass arrests in Turkey, while Erdoğan is dissatisfied that Germany does not release terror-accused Kurds and supporters of the Gülen movement, which he accused of a coup attempt in 2016.
Court releases opposition politician
Turkey’s highest court of appeal, known as Yargitay, decides that MP Enis Berberoğlu (CHP) should be released. He was sentenced in 2017 to 25 years in prison for leaking classified material to the Cumhuriyet newspaper, but his sentence was reduced to five years and ten months. According to Yargitay, the sentence must be postponed as long as Berberoğlu is elected to Parliament (see June 15, 2017).
The finance minister warns of worse times
Turkey has seen growth in its economy for years, with the highest listing plus 7.4 percent in 2017. Expectations now fall drastically. In 2018, the economy is expected to grow by 3.8 percent and next year the forecast is 2.3 percent, Finance Minister Berat Albayrak announces. The finance minister, who is the son-in-law of the president, understands that it may be relevant to “tighten the lashing belt” and warns of high inflation – double-digit numbers – even next year.
Contested luxury jumbo gift from Qatar
The opposition party CHP has criticized President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for the purchase of a luxury equipped jumbo jet of model Boeing 747-8. The plane is a gift to Turkey from the emir of Qatar, is the president’s response. Turkey is one of the countries that has supported Qatar in a protracted and costly dispute with neighboring countries.
Buffer zone should reduce suffering in Idlib
An agreement between President Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin hopes that civilians in Idlib Province in Syria will avoid a government offensive. At the Sochi meeting, Erdoğan and Putin have agreed to establish a demilitarized zone, up to a few miles wide, between rebel areas and the Assad regime forces, which Russia supports. Turkish and Russian troops will be monitoring the zone. Turkey also has postings in Idlib (see September 8).
The request for prayer in Haga Sofia is rejected
The Constitutional Court rejects a request that the grand old shrine of Haga Sofia in Istanbul be re-used for Muslim prayer. Haga Sofia was built as a church when the city was called Constantinople, but later transformed into a mosque and later, in the 20th century when Turkey became a secular state, into a museum. The request is rejected on formal grounds, which indicates that the Constitutional Court considers that it has no right to decide the issue. The organization that sought permission claims that the ban on prayer violates freedom of speech and religion.
Several decisions to strengthen the currency
Inflation rose to 18 percent in August and the Turkish currency has continued to plummet. This makes loans and purchases from abroad expensive. Economists believe that the recession will threaten at the end of the year. The central bank is now acting by raising its key interest rate – the price of a week-long loan from the bank – from 17.75 to 24 percent, and this is happening even though the president is opposed to interest rate hikes. An immediate consequence is that the value of the employed Turkish currency rises by five percent against the dollar. On the same day, the president decides by decreethat real estate deals in the future must be settled in Turkish lira. Both transfers and leases have so far often been in US dollars. In August, the central bank implemented what economists have described as a rate hike, when the central bank made its overnight lending more expensive for the banks.
Turkish operation in Assad Mount
The Turkish security service MIT has been operating inside Syria and has arrested a terror suspected man in the city of Latakia, controlled by the Assad regime during the entire civil war. The man is charged with a 2013 bombing in the city of Reyhanl ı on the Turkish side of the border that claimed over 50 lives. Turkey has singled out the Syrian regime for the act. The Syrian government denies the allegations.
Air attack after failed power meeting
President Erdoğan, who fears refugee streams against Turkey when the Assad regime in Syria attacks rebel-held areas, airs open disappointment on Russia after a failed summit in Tehran over the conflict. Erdoğan wants to see a ceasefire to avoid carnage, but the day after the meeting the Russian airstrikes against Idlib are extended. The regime side also drops thin bombs.
Growing concern for Turkey’s economy
Credit rating agency Moody’s lowers its credit rating for 20 Turkish banks. This means that it is considered unsafe to lend money to them, and therefore it will be more difficult and expensive for the banks to lend money. The central bank promises to help the banks, but financial market concerns are growing over how the government will cope with the country’s economy. The currency continues to decline in value. Since January, the value of the lira has decreased by 40 percent against the dollar. This makes it increasingly expensive for Turkey to buy imported goods. It will also be more expensive for Turkish people and companies that have taken loans in foreign currency to pay for the loans.
Turkish response to US tariffs
By decree from the president, tariffs on a variety of American goods are shocked: cars, rice, alcohol, tobacco and makeup. The day before, Erdoğan also argued for a boycott of electronics, such as phones manufactured in the United States. A request for the release of the terrorist and spy accused Pastor Andrew Brunson, whose legal case helped to trigger the trade dispute, is rejected by a court in Izmir.
Qatar promises to invest in Turkey
Qatar promises direct investment in Turkey for $ 15 billion. The message is left after a meeting between Qatar’s regent and the Turkish president in Ankara. This almost doubles the Qatari investment in Turkey and takes place even though Turkey’s pressured position poses risks to investors. A separate agreement with Qatar provides the Turkish economy with an influx of dollars. Turkey is one of Qatar’s main suppliers of goods and also has a small military base in the country.
Sharp conflict with Trump’s United States
President Trump doubles US tariffs on steel and aluminum from Turkey. The message gives Turkey’s currency slider steeply performing. During the first quarter of 2018, Turkey’s steel exports to the United States fell by half compared to the same period in 2017, and trade is now thrust into a situation when the lira is already collapsing. President Erdoğan urges citizens to come to the nation’s rescue: “If you have dollars, euros or gold under the pillow, go to the bank and exchange them for Turkish lira.” Inflation is at 16 percent, but the central bank refuses to fight it with a rate hike, as Erdoğan wants to keep interest rates low. Bankers voiced concern over a banking crisis in Turkey, which has a time of credit expansion behind it. A large part of the loans have been taken in foreign currency, when the lira falls in value, the loans become more expensive.
Iraqis are drowning in the Mediterranean
9th of August
Seven Iraqi children and two adults drown when a migrant boat drops off the resort of Ku ş adası on the west coast of Turkey, near the island of Samos. Four people survive. Anatolia news agency told a man who lost his wife and three children that the smugglers did not want to give them life jackets. Human trafficking has decreased but has not stopped since the EU and Turkey signed an agreement in 2016, which says that Turkey is returning migrants who reach Greek islands in exchange for, among other things, EU financial support. In the spring of 2018, the Iraqi government stated that nearly 30,000 Iraqi refugees had returned from Turkey and Syria since mid-2017, partly as a result of the security situation being improved in places where IS was driven away.
Pastor in the center of the US-Turkey tire
US faces sanctions against Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu and Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül on how to handle the case of an imprisoned American. Evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson, who served in a small congregation in Izmir, is accused of conspiring with regime-critical groups: Kurdish PPK and the Gülen movement. The New York Times writes that Brunson is one of 20 Americans arrested after the coup attempt in 2016. According to the BBC, President Erdoğan has let him understand that he is prepared to exchange the pastor with Fethullah Gülen, who is in exile in the United States.
Germany removes sanctions against Turkey
According to the German Government, a restriction on export guarantees to Turkey will not be renewed. In addition, the German Foreign Ministry removes a text warning Germany to travel to Turkey because of the risk of being arrested. The changes in the German attitude occur after Ankara lifted the state of emergency in the country.
Turkey and the Netherlands resume relations
After the Dutch and Turkish foreign ministers meet at the NATO summit in Brussels in mid-July, the countries decide to resume diplomatic relations. Soon, the Netherlands will again have an ambassador in Ankara, while the Turkish ambassador will be in place in The Hague. In spring 2017, a diplomatic crisis arose between the countries (see March 2017) after the Netherlands refused Turkish ministers to hold elections in the country.
The state of emergency is lifted
The government cancels the nationwide state of emergency, which was introduced after the failed coup attempt in 2016. Over the past two years, more than 107,000 government employees have been laid off from their jobs and more than 50,000 people have been detained pending trial. Many of those who lost their jobs are accused of supporting religious leader Fethullah Gülen, who was previously an ally of Erdoğan but now lives in exile in the United States. Turkey accuses Gülen and his movement of being behind the coup attempt in 2016, when the parliament building was bombed with fighter jets and over 250 people were killed.
Journalist is acquitted in espionage case
An Istanbul court acquits Erdem Gül, a political journalist in the opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet, of charges of espionage. In 2016, Gül was sentenced to prison for revealing state secrets when Cumhuriyet published his article in which Turkish security services were accused of trying to deliver weapons to Syrian rebels. Editor-in-chief Can Dündar was sentenced to prison, but is in Germany. Turkish authorities are trying to get Dündar extradited and, at the end of 2018, make new allegations that he was partly responsible for a protest wave in 2013.
Turkish security service acts abroad
The security service MIT has arrested two opponents of President Erdoğan, one in Azerbaijan and the other in Ukraine. Both have been brought to their home country designated as supporters of the Gülen movement, which is accused of the coup attempt against the president in 2016, reports the news agency Anatolia. When MIT carried out such an action in Kosovo in March, it led to a management crisis in Kosovo. In April, Turkish authorities stated that 80 Gülenists were brought home similarly. This has also happened from countries in Africa.
Lifetime convictions for the coup accused
Bloody clashes that occurred on a bridge over the Bosphorus during the coup attempt on July 15, 2016 lead to life sentences. Anatolia News Agency reports that 72 people are sentenced to life for overthrowing business while twelve others are sentenced to life for murder of presidential campaign general and his 16-year-old son. In the same court in Silivri outside Istanbul, 27 defendants are sentenced to long prison sentences for assisting. According to the charges, 34 civilians and seven coup makers were killed on the bridge. Many lawsuits are still ongoing around the country.
Mine managers felled for fire disaster
Five miners are sentenced to up to 22 years in prison for the worst mining disaster in Turkish history. Of 800 workers who were trapped by the fire in the Soma mine in 2014, 301 were put to life poisoned by gases. In addition to the top executives, nine of 51 defendants are sentenced to prison for up to eleven years. Among the 37 others who are acquitted by the court in the city of Akhisar, there is the chairman of the mining company.
President with new superpowers
President Erdoğan begins his second term, now with greater powers than any Turkish leader had since the Second World War. A new government is presented on the same day, without Prime Minister and with fewer ministers and ministries. A number of committees responsible for various subject areas will continue to report directly to the President. Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu may keep the job, but Erdoğan appoints his son-in-law Berat Albayrak as Finance Minister. It worries the financial market and raises fears that the presidential board will be characterized by nepotism, brotherhood politics.
Railway maintenance questioned after an accident
A train with about 360 passengers leaves on the way west from Istanbul. Twenty-four people lose their lives and hundreds more need hospital care. One reason for the derailment may be that heavy rainfall has undermined the railway. Some parts of the rail have, according to the Hürriyet newspaper, floated in the air as a result of the erosion, but according to authorities, the track was inspected by April.
Hundreds of designated arrests
A new wave of arrests is announced: another nearly 350 people, including 271 military, will be arrested on the orders of prosecutors. Everyone is accused of conspiring with the preacher Fethullah Gülen’s movement, writes Anatolia News Agency. Measures against designated Gülenists have resulted in severe penalties for military personnel (see April 2018). Two days later, it is announced that more than 18,600 civil servants – police, military and academics – will be fired, in addition to the 110,000 who lost their jobs with the support of exemptions since the coup attempt in 2016.
Prison for regime-critical journalists
A court announces a multi-year sentence for six journalists in the Zaman newspaper, which backed presidential rival Fethullah Gülen. The newspaper was closed after Gülen was blamed for the coup attempt in July 2016. One of the convicts, most of whom remain on the loose with travel bans, is Şahin Alpay (See March 2018).
Inflation on the way to high numbers
Inflation is up over 15 percent for the first time since 2003. According to the statistics authority, consumer prices in June had risen by almost 15.4 percent compared to the same month last year. It is increasing the pressure on the government to take measures to strengthen the country’s economy. It is also expected that the central bank will raise interest rates. On paper, the central bank is independent, but President Erdoğan has repeatedly annoyed the markets by demanding that interest rates be kept low.
Famous journalist released
Journalist Mehmet Altan has been released after nearly two years in prison, reports the press freedom organization P24. The balcony was arrested in September 2016 accused of involvement in the coup attempt against the president. He remained detained even though the Constitutional Court in January this year decided that he would be released. According to P24, about 180 journalists are still incarcerated, most arrested with the exception of state of emergency.
Prokurdic party is able to block
According to results known the day after the presidential and parliamentary elections, President Erdoğan and his AK party retain a majority in parliament thanks to the alliance partner MHP’s surprising electoral success. The pro-Kurdish HDP reaches almost 12 percent of the vote and thus passes the ten percent block to Parliament. The opposition questions both elements of the elections and state media reporting on them.
Erdoğan wins the presidential election
President Erdoğan proclaims victory in the presidential election already on Election Day. According to Anatolia News Agency, he has received 52.5 percent of the vote against 30.7 percent for the prime candidate Muharrem Ince when almost all votes are counted, while pro-Kurdish HDP’s Selahattin Demirtaş has reached 8.4 percent and Meral Akşener 7.3 percent. During the coming term (five years), the president’s power will grow in accordance with constitutional amendments approved in a referendum last year. Among other things, the president is given the right to intervene in the judicial system and to call for state of emergency.
Erdoğan is challenged by a CHP candidate
Six candidates stand in the June 24 presidential election. President Erdoğan appears to meet unexpectedly strong opposition from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), Muharrem Ince, who is considered to have done well during the election campaign. To win without a second round, a candidate must reach more than 50 percent of the vote. On the same day, elections are also held for the parliament, where 600 members are to be elected, 50 more than in the 2015 elections. to enter Parliament. Two alliances participate, one between the ruling AKP and the National Action Party (MHP) and one between four opposition parties (see May 6). Read more about the election and the candidates in the Foreign Magazine: The arbitrariness of the principle of Erdogan’s Turkey
Four dead in election-related violence
Four people are killed in connection with AKP politician Ibrahim Halil Yıldız visiting the mainly Kurdish city of Suruç in southern Turkey during his campaign for the June 24 election. According to state news agency Anatolia, Yıldız and his companion are attacked by militant shop owners and supporters of the Kurdish party HDP. Opposition sources claim that Yıldız bodyguards open fire after receiving a hostile reception. Eight or nine people must also have been injured and 19 people arrested, including an election candidate from HDP. Among the victims are Ibrahim Halil Yıldız’s brother.
High growth in superheated economy
The Turkish economy is growing by over seven percent in the first quarter of the year, according to official statistics. At the same time, economists point to several problems, such as high inflation (over twelve percent) and a growing current account deficit. They warn of the risk that the growth rate will slow down in the coming quarters. Although the Turkish central bank raised interest rates in May, the high inflation figures lead to a fall in the exchange rate for the euro against the euro.
Turkey criticizes Austria’s plans for the deportation of imams
Turkey criticizes Austria for deporting up to 60 Turkish imams and their families as well as closing seven mosques. The Imams are accused of receiving money from foreign powers. The Austrian Government believes that measures are being taken to combat “political Islam”. Ibrahim Kalın, spokesman for President Erdoğan, calls the act “racist” and “anti-Muslim”. Relations between the countries were already strained. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz opposes Turkish EU membership.
HDP support unclear factor before elections
Opinion polls for the June 24 presidential and parliamentary elections suggest that President Erdoğan will be re-elected, but only after a second round of elections in July. At the survey institute Gezici, which interviewed 6,811 people, Erdoğan receives just under 49 percent of the vote. Main counterpart Muharrem Ince reaches just under 26 percent and Meral Akşener just over 14 percent, while pro-Kurdish HDP candidate Selahattin Demirtaş gets just over 10 percent. The measurements give different indications as to whether the party HDP will pass the ten percent block to Parliament.
The Riksbank clears the interest rate jungle
The central bank announces a simplification of interest rate policy with the aim of dampening the lira’s fall and dispelling fears that Turkey’s economy will deteriorate. The strong growth of recent years has been seen as a trump card for President Erdoğan not least in the run-up to the June 24 presidential and parliamentary elections, but the currency has fallen in value lately, with 13 percent just over the past month. The new rules, which make the repo rate the policy rate, enter into force on 1 June. The repo rate is the “price” the central bank applies to bank companies for loans or investments in the central bank.
Stringent life sentences for the coup accused
A court in the Izmir province sentenced 104 militants to life imprisonment on charges of involvement in the coup attempt in 2016. They are sentenced in accordance with a section that provides more severe punishment than life in general; life sentence based on aggravating circumstances replaced the death penalty when abolished. A total of 280 militants have so far been put on trial for suspected crime during the uprising. More than 50, according to Anatolia News Agency, have been sentenced to seven to 20 years in prison.
Erdogan gathers summit against Israel
Following the spring riots in the Gaza Strip, when a total of about 100 Palestinians were shot dead by the Israeli army, President Erdoğan compares Israel’s treatment of Palestinians with the Nazis’ persecution of Jews. A summit of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in Istanbul calls for the establishment of an international peacekeeping force to protect the Palestinians. Six months earlier, also in Istanbul, the OIC condemned the US recognition of Israel’s control over Jerusalem.
Sharp criticism of Israel
Turkey faces sharp criticism of Israeli army shooting at Gaza demonstrators with sharp shots; around 60 people have been shot dead when protests at the Gaza border culminated in Israel’s official 70th anniversary celebration. President Erdoğan uses words such as “state terrorism” and ” genocide “. The diplomatic relations between Turkey and Israel are buzzing, with diplomats sent home as a result.
Four opposition parties in the alliance
In the June 24 parliamentary elections, the opposition parties set the Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Good Party (IYI), the Lucky Party (SP) and the Democratic Party (DP) as the Alliance for the nation. The purpose is to invite opposition to the governing AKP and its partner National Action Party (MHP). In the presidential election held on the same day, three of the four opposition parties have their own candidates. Prokurdish HDP stands outside both alliances.
Islamist opponents are challenging Erdoğan
Muharrem Ince, the political veteran and opponent of Islamization of the state, is nominated as the opposition party’s CHP candidate in the June 24 presidential election. According to the BBC, the CHP is planning to support parties on the right to increase the chance of defeating incumbent President Erdoğan. The AKP government party states that several parties are behind Erdoğan: besides AKP mainly nationalist MHP, but also an ultranationalist party, GDP.
Imprisoned becomes presidential candidate
Selahattin Demirtaş becomes the pro-Kurdish party HDP’s candidate in the June 24 presidential election, despite being held captive. He was arrested in the aftermath of the coup attempt in 2016, as well as other Kurdish politicians accused of conspiring with the banned PKK. Under Demirtaş’s leadership, the HDP entered parliament in the elections in 2015. Between four other opposition parties are discussions on cooperation that could pose a serious challenge to President Erdoğan.
Convicting sentences in press freedom cases
Thirteen journalists in the opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet are convicted by a court outside Istanbul, which finds that they have assisted illegal organizations designated by government as terrorist groups. Among the fallen are the editor-in-chief Murat Sabuncu, the cartoonist Musa Kart and the columnist Kadri Gürsel. They are threatened with imprisonment but are on free hold pending trial in higher court. Three defendants are released by the court.
Life imprisonment for Erdoğan defender’s death
Sergeant Ömer Halisdemir shot dead one of the people believed to have led the erection against President Erdoğan during the 2016 coup night and was then killed himself by people who participated in the coup attempt. Now 18 people have been sentenced to life imprisonment for the sergeant’s death in Ankara. Ömer Halisdemir has been given hero status after his death. Public places carry his name and children are named after him, writes Anatolia News Agency.
Pro-Kurdish parliamentarians are punished
Two other members of the pro-Kurdish party HDP are deprived of their seats in Parliament on the grounds that they were convicted of crimes: Osman Baydemir for insulting a police officer and Selma Irmak for terrorist propaganda. Nine HDP MPs are currently incarcerated and eleven have been suspended from Parliament. Turkish authorities accuse HDP of having links to PKK guerrillas. HDP denies the allegations. HDP members will step out of the House on April 20, when Parliament approves the new election date. 386 out of 550 members vote yes.
Erdoğan is speeding up elections that confirm presidential rule
Presidential and parliamentary elections will be held on June 24, 2018, President Erdoğan announces in a televised speech. Thus, the elections are scheduled for a year and a half, from the planned November 2019. Erdoğan achieves several benefits: Elections are held while Turkey has a good economy, which can benefit the president and his party. The date also cuts a rival to Erdoğan: former Interior Minister Meral Akşener has formed a new party, but the party has existed for a short time. Last but not least, the election means that constitutional changes that give the president increased power will be applied sooner than they would have otherwise. Erdoğan’s powers have been granted by way of exception since the coup attempt in 2016 becomes a normal state when the presidential regime is introduced after the election.
More get fired in the defense
The Armed Forces will lay off another nearly 3,000 employees, reports the news agency Anatolia. The parties involved have links to the Gülen movement, it is stated in a statement from Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli. To date, 8,568 defense personnel, including 150 generals, have lost their jobs in the purges that have been ongoing since the coup attempt in 2016. Preacher Fethullah Gülen, in exile in the United States, continues to deny charges that his movement would have been implicated in the coup.
Afghan migrants flee home
Turkey has begun to fly migrants home to Afghanistan from the city of Erzurum in the east. The news agency Dogan reports that about 3,000 Afghans are being transported to their homeland from the area. According to data in Turkey, almost 18,000 Afghans have entered the country illegally over the past three months in the hope of being able to move on to other countries.
Ship accident highlights Bosphorus risk
The dangers of dense ship traffic through the Bosphorus are confirmed when a Malta-flagged cargo ship crashes into one of the old summer residences at the narrow strait separating Europe from Asia. Such a wooden villa, often with magnificent carpentry joy, is called yalı. Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk has described the endearing wooden villas – and a previous accident – in a book about Istanbul. 42,000 vessels passed through the Bosphorus in 2017.
Close cooperation with Russia
President Vladimir Putin is visiting Ankara, where he and host Recep Tayyip Erdoğan are forging closer ties. They are discussing the start of construction for Turkey’s first nuclear power plant Akkuyu, which Russian Rosatom erects in Mersin on the south coast of the Mediterranean, and Turkey’s purchase of Russian air defense robots, a deal that worries allies within NATO. When completed, the power plant will provide ten percent of the Turkish energy demand. The two countries are also building a gas pipeline to facilitate Russian gas exports via the Black Sea, past Ukraine.
Migrant smuggling behind bus tragedy
At least 17 people die in a bus accident on the motorway between the Ğ d ı r and Kars. The bus, which according to Anatolia news agency is packed with migrants from Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, is starting to burn. The governor discloses smuggling by the Ğ d ı r “frequent”.
Gülenister sent home from Kosovo
Kosovo releases six Turkish nationals linked to the Gulen movement, which Turkey accuses of the coup attempt in 2016. Kosovo’s Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj claims he was not informed of the deportation, which was done in cooperation between Kosovo and Turkey’s intelligence services. Haradinaj calls on both the interior minister and the spy chief to step down. Many countries have said no when requested to be extradited, but according to Bekir Bozdağ, Deputy Prime Minister, Turkey’s security service has succeeded in bringing home 80 suspected Gülen supporters from 18 countries.
Sharp criticism from EU summit
EU heads of state condemn Turkey’s actions against Greece and Cyprus. On March 2, two Greek soldiers were arrested who had entered a military protection zone in Edirne in the north, but Turkey has not decided what will happen to the soldiers. At the same time, Turkey is preventing, with naval vessels, oil and gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean, approved by Cyprus’s internationally recognized Greek Cypriot government. Behind Turkey’s actions is believed to be a case of eight Turkish militants who fled to Greece in connection with the coup attempt in 2016. So far, Greece has refused to release them.
New law regulates the internet
A new law gives RTUK the authority to stop broadcasting via the Internet. In order to be allowed to distribute content via the internet, those responsible for the platform must apply for permission from RTUK. According to AFP, the law’s critics point out that this could mean that network giants like Netflix and Youtube can be stopped. They could also be forced, for example, to remove content that dislikes Turkey’s rule.
Life guards are not prosecuting in the United States
US authorities have shut down criminal investigations against eleven of President Erdogan’s bodyguards who are accused of stabbing protesters in Washington in 2017, when Erdogan visited President Trump. In four cases, the cases were closed just before a US visit by Prime Minister Yıldırım in November, in seven cases the cases were cleared the day before a US foreign minister’s visit to Erdoğan in Ankara, AFP notes.
Folded for insulting writers
The European Court of Human Rights convicts Turkey of violating journalists Şahin Alpays and Mehmet Altan’s rights. Turkey will also pay EUR 21,500 to each of them. The columnist Alpay is under house arrest pending judgment while Altan, who is also an economics professor, has been sentenced to life imprisonment. Both are accused of being linked to the Gülen movement, which is held responsible for the coup attempt in 2016. Turkey has ratified the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and pledged to follow the court’s ruling.
Turkish anger against UN report
In a UN report, the Turkish government is identified as responsible for violations of hundreds of thousands of people during the state of emergency introduced after the coup attempt in 2016. Both deaths and torture are addressed. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, emphasized, among other things, that 160,000 people have been arrested and 152,000 public servants have been laid off. The government of Ankara dismisses the report as “one-sided” and “unacceptable”.
Trouble after Afrin’s fall
Nearly 100,000 people are on the run as a result of the fighting in Afrin, the UN estimates. A commander of the rebels, allied with Turkey and now accused of looting, states that several people have been arrested and that the forces have set up roadblocks to find theft. Investigation of the charges is also promised from Ankara. Syria’s Foreign Ministry designates the Turkish-led takeover of power in Afrin as illegal and requires the forces to leave Syrian territory. According to SOHR, the fighting has claimed more than 1,500 lives among the Kurdish warriors who defended Afrin.
Crucial in Afrin
Not fully two months after Turkey’s offensive against Afrin began, Turkish forces and their Syrian rebel allies have pushed the Kurdish YPG militia into retreat and taken control of the city. About 250,000 civilians are on the run, according to SOHR, and the AFP news agency reports that rebels are looting shops and homes. A few days earlier, Afrin’s largest hospital has been hit by Turkish bombing. SOHR states that 16 civilians are killed in that event alone, including two pregnant women. Turkish Red Crescent confirms the incident but indicates no death toll.
Author in house arrest
The author Şahin Alpay, who was arrested after the coup attempt in 2016, is transferred to house arrest following a court decision. The Constitutional Court has upheld his request for release, but the decision is not followed by the Criminal Court; there is a case to which he stands accused of crimes.
Turkish plane crash in Iran
11th of March
A Turkish private plane crashes in the Zagros Mountains in Iran, for unclear reasons. The eleven people on board perish. Everyone, including the crew, were women and the Bombardier plane belonged to a Turkish industrial owner. The company had been at a bridal show in the United Arab Emirates. The pilots were experienced, reports the Hürriyet newspaper: one of them had been a fighter pilot, the other had worked for Turkish Airlines.
Free while waiting for them
The newspaper Cumhuriyet’s editor-in-chief Murat Sabuncu and the investigative reporter Ahmet Şık, who have both been detained for more than a year, are released on hold pending judgment while the newspaper company’s chairman Akın Atalay remains in custody. Several journalists linked to the newspaper are charged with terrorism-related crimes, including cartoonist Musa Kart and columnist Kadri Gürsel, who were released last year but are still facing charges. Former editor-in-chief Can Dündar, who is also threatened by a long prison sentence, is in Germany.
Major risks in loans to Turkey
The rating agency Moody’s further lowers Turkey’s credit rating, from Ba2 to Ba1; levels that are usually called garbage status. There are several circumstances behind the assessment that the Turkish state may find it difficult to pay its loans, despite the good economic growth. Moody’s mentions the risk of terrorist acts, uncertainty about how the public institutions work, mass arrests of civil servants and Turkey’s military involvement in Syria.
Preparing for close combat in Afrin
Turkey’s total losses in Syrian Afrin have risen to at least 40, after eight soldiers were confirmed killed in a single day. Within the framework of “Operation olive branch”, 600 men from special forces have now been brought to the area. This indicates that Turkey is expecting close quarrels in the urban environment. SOHR reports that 141 civilians lost their lives so far, among them 27 children.
Öcalan relative imprisoned
Dilek Öcalan, niece of incarcerated PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, is sentenced to two and a half years in prison for disseminating terrorist propaganda. She has been in Parliament since 2015 as a representative of the pro-Kurdish party HDP. Nine of HPD’s parliamentarians serve prison sentences, accused of linking to PKK. They refuse terror charges.
Well-known artists are stopped in etheric media
Ethermediebolaget TRT admits that there is a list of 208 songs that must not be played in the ether. The list was made in 2016 and the ban is motivated by the tunes conveying bad ideals to children and young people, encouraging the use of alcohol and tobacco or spreading terror propaganda. Among the songs, both Turkish and Kurdish, are recordings with famous artists such as Demet Akalın, Sıla and Bengü.
Stop for Armenia normalization
Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, through decree, halted a process intended to lead to normalized diplomatic relations with Turkey. Negotiations began in 2009 and two key agreements have been carved out with the help of Russia, the United States and France, but the agreements have not been approved by the parliaments of Armenia and Turkey.
Severe penalties for abuse of young people
A schoolmaster is sentenced to 572 rands in prison for sexually assaulting 18 boys, multiple media reports. The school where he worked for several years offers religious instruction for teens. Prior to the judgment in the Adıyaman province in the south, a couple of other abuse cases have caused great upset. Human rights activists state that the number of cases discovered and reached by the courts has risen steeply over a ten-year period. The government has appointed a commission to propose measures and is also considering introducing chemical castration, which has hitherto been stopped by the judiciary.
Syrian Kurdish leader arrested
Salih Muslim, former chairman of the Syrian Kurdish Party PYD, is arrested on Turkish demand at a hotel in Prague. Turkey, who accuses him of terrorism, says he will be requested extradition, and reacts with dissatisfaction when released after a few days. PYD is the political branch of the YPG militia. According to the Czech Foreign Minister, there were no links to two cases where Czech citizens are being detained in Turkey accused of fighting the YPG.
Armenia’s decision barred from insomnia
The Dutch parliament decides, with only three votes against, to recognize the mass murder of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 1915 as genocide. Turkey responds with sharp criticism. On the Turkish side, it is claimed that there was no systematic campaign targeting Armenians, and that Armenians exaggerated the number of people killed. Turkey points out that Turkish civilians were also badly affected in the events of the First World War. To date, more than 20 countries have officially joined the assessment that the Armenians were subjected to genocide. Since Turkish politicians were stopped from holding elections in the Netherlands in the spring of 2017, relations between the two NATO countries are tense and they are now even more strained.
Slow for Turkish offensive
After a month’s offensive against Afrin in Syria, the President of Turkey is quite alone in describing “Operation Olive Branch” as a success. According to SOHR, 25 villages have been taken. The Syrian army, according to the state news agency Sana, will enter Afrin to stop the Turkish military; in that case, Turkey’s relations with Russia are also being strained to back up the Assad regime.
One goes free, sex gets life time
Deniz Yücel, a correspondent for the German newspaper Die Welt and imprisoned in Turkey for a year, has been released, says his employer. When arrested, he was accused of spreading terrorist propaganda. The case has contributed to strained relations between Germany and Turkey. On the same day, the three well-known writers Nazlı Ilıcak, Mehmet Altan and Ahmet Altan are sentenced to life imprisonment for overthrowing activities as well as police trainer Şükrü Tuğrul Özşengül, newspaper Zaman’s director Yakup Şimşek and the layout Fevzi Yazıcı. According to Anatolia News Agency, all six have been identified as supporters of the exiled presidential rival Fethullah Gülen.
Rising death toll in Afrin
The offensive against Afrin has so far claimed the lives of 31 Turkish soldiers and 143 have been wounded, the army reports. SOHR reports other people’s losses: 152 killed Kurdish fighters, 165 among Syrian rebels allied with Turkey and at least 74 civilians. None of the data can be confirmed by independent sources. Ankaras mayor tells us that the street where the US embassy is located will be renamed after the offensive, to the “Olive branch avenue”. It happens despite or precisely because the offensive is rejected by the United States, which cooperates with Kurds in Syria; Turkey’s military actions create tension in relations with other NATO countries.
New HDP leaders, new suspicions
Pervin Buldan is elected new leader of the pro-Kurdish party HDP, she shares the leadership with Sezai Temelli. Just a day later, she learns that she is suspected of spreading “terror propaganda”; these include criticism of the Afrino offensive. Two days after the change of leader, Buldan’s representative Serpil Kemalbay is arrested and detained for a week, until she is released with, among other things, travel restrictions. The Ministry of the Interior reports that 474 people have been arrested on similar suspicions. HDP has new leaders because Selahattin Demirtaş, who is usually attributed the honor for the party reaching out to non-Kurdish voters as well, has been detained since 2016 accused of connection to the PKK guerrilla.
High price for Syria efforts
Eleven Turkish soldiers lose their lives, two of them when a helicopter is shot down. It is Turkey’s biggest loss to date during the African offensive against Kurdish forces in northern Syria. Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım calls the fallen martyrs.
Sharp criticism from the EU
The European Parliament calls on Turkey to repeal the exception laws introduced after the coup attempt in 2016. According to EU parliamentarians, they are used to “weaken the rule of law”, “stifle legitimate and peaceful opposition” and silence the free press. The resolution also condemns hundreds of arrests by people who have criticized the offensive against Afrin in Syria.
Turkish presence in Idlib
Turkish military establishes its fourth post in Idlib province in northwestern Syria, where jihadist group Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham has strongholds. The jihadist group claims to have shot down a Russian fighter aircraft on February 3, and Russia is expecting Russian media to help find the pilot’s remains. Turkey’s action goes back to Syria talks in Astana where Russia and Iran agreed to set up zones to bring down the war in Idlib, the city of Homs, Daraa in the south and Greater Damascus.
President Erdoğan is welcomed in the Vatican by Pope Francis, the first Turkish leader to visit the Catholic Church’s senior leader in nearly 60 years. Italian police have banned demonstrations, but a Kurdish crowd manages to protest the African offensive. When the pope visited Istanbul in 2014, he emphasized that Muslims are exposed to hatred and threats in the world, but in 2016, in Armenia, Francis outraged Turkey by calling the Ottoman forces’ murders of Armenian Christians during World War I a genocide.
Turkish soldiers are killed
Five Turkish soldiers lose their lives when a tank is fired during the operation in the Afrin enclave in Syria. It is Turkey’s biggest loss since the offensive against the Kurdish militia began.
Amnesty chief remains in custody
A court in Istanbul decides, after several new trips in the case, that Amnesty International’s Turkey chief Taner Kılıç ‘s case may be kept in custody. He was arrested in the summer of 2017 and accused of linking with the president’s exiled rival Fethullah Gülen. Amnesty dismisses the charges as unfounded.
Open protests against offensive
30th of January
Turkey’s largest medical association TTB with 83,000 members has since the offensive against the Kurdish enclave Afrin in Syria supported a peace call. The president has called the doctors “terrorist lovers”, prosecutors have launched an investigation and eleven leading members of the organization have been arrested. They are released for a few days in February but are told that they are being monitored. Former ministers, writers and actors have also signed an open letter signed by 170 people demanding that the offensive be terminated.
Offensive is testing the friendship within NATO
Five days after Turkey launched a military offensive in Syrian territory, against Kurdish forces supported by the United States, Presidents Erdoğan and Trump speak on the phone. The interview confirms that the two major NATO countries have opposite interests: Trump urges Erdoğan to step down efforts in Syria, Erdoğan says the US should stop supporting Kurdish guerrillas.
Ski travelers in bus accident
Lack of road safety comes into focus when a bus full of families on the road on winter holidays crashes with eleven casualties and 46 injured as a result. The bus came from Ankara and was going to the ski resort of Uludağ near Bursa in the northwest, less than 20 km from Istanbul. Official statistics published by AFP speak of 7,300 deaths in traffic in 2016.
Turkish offensive against YPG in Syria
Turkey launches an offensive from the Hatay province against the Kurdish militia YPG in Afrin, northern Syria. Artillery fire is followed by air strikes and after a few days by ground forces with armored vehicles. Turkey thus opens a new front in Syria, where the NATO nations Turkey and the US have different interests; The US supports the YPG’s efforts against IS jihadists. YPG controls part of the border even east of Afrin and Turkey’s prime minister says a goal is to establish a three-mile wide buffer zone at the border.
Treatment of pregnant young people appears
Information that a hospital in Istanbul has darkened 115 pregnancies in girls under the age of 18, two ministries announced. Many of the girls come from Syria and Turkey have been accused of seeing between their fingers that the refugee crisis has led to girls being given away too soon. The scandal, first reported in the Hürriyet newspaper, has led to protests via social media. The question is also sensitive in light of the fact that the Diyanet religious authority has faltered in its view of child marriage.
Exception laws are extended
The National Security Council recommends that the state of emergency be extended for the sixth time; that the proposal is approved in Parliament is regarded as a formality. The state of emergency was introduced a few days after the coup attempt in 2016 and lays the foundation for both just over 55,000 arrests and the dismissal of over 140 | 000 public servants, so far.
Istanbul channel is presented
The details are published in the plans on a new channel between Lake Marmara and the Black Sea. The canal will be 4.5 km long and relieve the Bosporen as a fairway. The canal’s southern mouth is located in Küçükçekmece on the western European side of Lake Marmara. With urban development and logistics at the canal included, it will be Turkey’s most expensive infrastructure project to date, says Minister of Transport and Communications Ahmet Arslan. Turkey will be able to charge for passage through the canal, while traffic through the sound like the Bosphorus is free according to international conventions.
Protected from coup suspicion
More than 1,800 suspended public servants get their jobs back, because it was concluded that they were not involved in the attempted coup d’état in 2016. The suspicions were related to an app that should have been used by the coup makers, but authorities later say that many downloaded the app unknowingly.
Writers remain in custody
Although the Constitutional Court has decided that the authors Şahin Alpay and Mehmet Altan should be released, a criminal court in Istanbul decides to keep them in custody. Both were arrested in the wake of the coup attempt in 2016 and have been identified as supporters of the fugitive Fethullah Gülen. Political scientist Alpay has been a columnist in the Gülen-friendly newspaper Zaman, which has been closed by authorities, while Altan has written books on Turkish politics. Also, Altan’s brother Ahmet, writer and journalist, is deprived of liberty. According to the site P24, 151 journalists are imprisoned, most arrested after the coup attempt.
Asylum to Turkish helicopter pilot canceled
An Athens Court of Appeal temporarily suspends the political asylum granted by Greek authorities in December 2017 to a helicopter pilot who brought seven Turkish militants to Greece after the Turkish coup attempt in July 2016. Turkey has requested the pilot and the seven military extradition. Greek authorities considered that the pilot’s human rights would be in danger of extradition and that there was no evidence that the man was involved in the coup attempt, but the decision was appealed by the Greek government and the case will be re-filed in court on February 15, 2018.
Frosty meeting between Erdoğan and Macron
President Erdoğan talks in Paris with France’s President Emmanuel Macron. But the hopes Erdoğan may have had about defrosting the frosty relations with the EU are not being met. Macron suggests that Turkey should settle for a “looser relationship with the EU” than membership. At a joint press conference, Macron criticizes the imprisonment of journalists in Turkey, stressing that “a democracy must respect the rule of law”.
The Ministry of the Interior dismisses the mayor
The opposition criticizes the Interior Ministry’s decision to dismiss Murat Hazinedar, mayor of Beşiktaş, a central part of Istanbul, which they believe is unfounded. Hazinedar, who belongs to the Republican People’s Party (CHP), is accused of belonging to the Gülen movement.
Long prison sentence for HDP politicians
Idris Baluken from the pro-Kurdish party HDP is sentenced to 16 years and 8 months imprisonment for terrorism-related crimes. He was first arrested in November 2016, then released a few months later. Baluken and several of his party mates are accused of having ties to the Kurdish guerrilla PKK. All of them deny that there is anything in the charges.
Turkish banker convicted of sanction
A US court convicts a Turkish banker for helping Iran bypass US sanctions. Mehmet Hakan Atilla works for Halkbank, which is largely owned by the Turkish state. He is sentenced to five out of six charges, but not for money laundering. The Turkish government criticizes the ruling and believes it is interfering with Turkey’s internal affairs. Turkish ministers accuse the court of having a connection with minister Fethullah Gülen, who Ankara claims lay behind the coup attempt in 2016. Atilla’s sentence will be announced in May: 32 months in prison.