Turkey is a popular tourist destination due to its warm climate, diverse travel destinations and especially its beaches.
Official language: Turkish
Currency: Turkish lira
Passport and visa: The passport must be valid for 3 months after the end of the trip. Finnish citizens are not required to have a visa for stays of less than 3 months.
According to the Turkish Passport Act, a person entering the country must have at least one blank page in his / her passport for the entry and exit stamps of the Turkish authorities. If a person’s passport does not have a blank page for the authorities’ entries, the authorities have the right to block the person’s entry.
Time difference to Finland: None.
Agriculture and fishing
Agriculture’s share of gross domestic product (GDP) has steadily shrunk since the 1950s and is now less than a tenth. The industry still employs just over a quarter of the employed. Turkey is largely self-sufficient in agricultural products, which also accounts for a significant portion of exports. State regulation of agricultural production has previously kept food prices high in the country.
- CountryAAH: Comprehensive import regulations of Turkey. Covers import prohibitions and special documentation requirements for a list of prohibited items.
Modern, mechanized agriculture is conducted mainly in the west and south. Along the Black Sea coast, traditional, small-scale family farming dominates. In the southeast there are feudal large goods. The civil war of 1984–1999 led to many fields in the south-east being laid bare.
Large parts of agriculture depend on irrigation. When the GAP project (see Natural Resources, Energy and the Environment) is completed, it is planned to have 1.7 million hectares of irrigated arable land added in the southeast. GAP was also intended to enable several harvests each year. However, GAP has been greatly delayed. Today, most irrigation in Turkey is still via open channels and ditches instead of through closed pipes. The age-old technology results in a significant waste of water and also increases the risk of salting.
Export crops are cotton, tobacco, wheat, fruits and nuts. The cotton cultivation also forms the basis for the textile and clothing industry. Cotton is grown mainly around Izmir in the west and Adana in the south. Hazelnuts are grown in the Black Sea region; Turkey is the world’s largest producer of hazelnuts. The area around Gaziantep is known for its pistachios. Tobacco is grown mainly in the northwest and fruits, grapes and olives along the Aegean Sea in the west. In the harsher climate of the Anatolian highlands, cereals are grown. The Turks are the world’s most frequent tea drinker and also one of the world’s largest tea producers. Almost all cultivation takes place in the province of Rize on the eastern Black Sea coast, adjacent to the border with Georgia. For Turkey defense and foreign policy, please check recipesinthebox.
The grasslands in the mountains farther east are used as pastures. In addition to sheep and cattle, Angora goats are raised which provide valuable mohair roll.
Thousands of pastures and logging have been hard at work in the south-eastern mountains. Livestock management has normally accounted for a third of Turkey’s agricultural production, but the number of animals was almost halved during the 1980s and early 1990s. During the 1990s, large forest areas were burned as part of the army’s warfare against the PKK guerrillas. Both the military and the guerrillas laid out land mines. In 2004, both parties pledged to stop using land mines in their internal conflict and the state undertook to clear the mines, but in 2015, around one million mines remained. The government’s promise now is that all mines will be gone by 2022.
Turkey engages in sea fishing in the Mediterranean and, in particular, in the Black Sea. However, fishing is hampered by transport problems, water pollution and depletion. Since the 1980s, fish farms have been built along the Mediterranean coast, where they have become an environmental problem. Turkish environmentalists want to see stricter laws governing the location of fish farms.
FACTS – AGRICULTURE
Agriculture’s share of GDP
5.8 percent (2018)
Percentage of land used for agriculture
49.8 percent (2016)
- Abbreviationfinder.org: Offers how the 3-letter acronym of TUR stands for the state of Turkey in geography.
Appeal against IS
About 150 people described as supporters of the Islamic State (IS) have been arrested in recent days in at least six different provinces. Turkey has previously been accused of letting go of IS, whose jihadist recruits often made their way to Syria and Iraq via Turkish soil. Turkish policy was sharpened after attacks between 2015 and 2017 that hurt the tourism industry, and now Turkish authorities are moving in to capture IS members and sympathizers, who are deployed on aircraft to their home countries.
Newspaper employees are punished
Six journalists in the opposition newspaper Sözcü are sentenced to prison terms. Sözcü is a government-critical newspaper, but its nationalist attitude means that even more liberally-read readers may be hesitant about its content. The editors are at liberty awaiting trial in the higher court, but the convicting judges express that the regime sees the editors as supporters of the coup attempt in 2016. The magazine has a larger edition than the more well-known left-wing magazine Cumhuriyet, which since the coup has been the subject of a similar but more noted tug of war with the regime via courts.
Court: Illegally banning Wikipedia
The Turkish ban on the online encyclopedia Wikipedia violates freedom of expression, the Constitutional Court reports. The ban was introduced in 2017 and has remained despite protests (see May 23, 2019).
Death penalty for the murder of Khashoggi
A Saudi court sentenced five unnamed people to death for involvement in the murder of exile Saudi Jamal Khashoggi, committed at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul (see mainly October 2, 2018 and November 15, 2018). No one in the circle closest to the crown prince is held responsible. The judgment is followed by more or less sharp criticism from the outside world. Turkey calls it “outrageous”.
Arrested for encrypted messages
About 200 people, most of them in Ankara, have been arrested in yet another arrest wave aimed at designated supporters of exile preacher Gülen, whose movement is held responsible for the coup attempt in 2016. This time, arrest warrants against 260 people are based on the use of an encrypted messaging service, which will have been used to coordinate the revolt. Among the arrested are a mayor who belongs to the CHP party.
US abolishes Cyprus embargo
The US Congress Senate votes to lift a multi-year arms embargo on Cyprus. The House of Representatives has already adopted the proposal and President Trump is expected to sign. The embargo, targeting both Greek and Turkish Cypriots, was introduced in 1987 when the United States hoped that the parties on the shared island could be persuaded to make peace.
Increased support to the government of Libya
Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj makes an unannounced visit to Istanbul with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has promised military aid if the Tripoli government requests it. The day before, Erdoğan has introduced visa-free travel to Turkey for Libyans under 16 and over 55 years. The government in Tripoli is heavily employed by rebel forces, which from eastern Libya are trying to occupy the capital and are backed by several Arab neighboring countries.
Cooperation agreement between Libya and Turkey
Turkey and Libya’s internationally supported government sign an agreement on cooperation at sea. The Turkish president is launching joint exploration into the sea areas, which upsets Greece, which believes it is violating the law of the sea and reducing the Greeks’ access to areas around the country’s island world. Gas industry analysts expect a Turkish intention to disrupt plans for a natural gas pipeline to Greece from Cyprus, where there are also tensions between Ankara and Athens. Recently, the Turkish government has also signed an agreement with Fayez al-Sarraj’s government in Libya on military cooperation.
Lifetime of attention to murder
Two men are sentenced in Ankara court for murder and rape on 23-year-old Şule Çet. Her death in May 2018 has led to nationwide protests against sexual abuse and the fact that the defense has tried to reduce the two men’s responsibilities with reference to the woman’s modern lifestyle. The main suspect, Çağatay Aksu, who is described as a businessman, is sentenced to life imprisonment and his co-defendant to 18 years and nine months.
Istanbul mayor: AKP behind pressure on banks
Istanbul’s mayor Ekrem Imamoğlu (CHP) accuses the government of pushing the banks to go beyond major infrastructure projects. Since the AKP government party lost power over the big city to the opposition (see June 23), Istanbul has found it difficult to obtain the loans necessary to complete, among other things, the long-time extension of the metro. The problems do not appear, as the year before, to be that the value of the currency has decreased or that the economy has slowed down. Loans are now taken up in European banks rather than in Turkish state banks, which also avoid answering questions on the matter from international news media.
Migrants are relocated from Istanbul
Nearly 50,000 migrants have been forced to leave Istanbul since July, when the government decided to intervene against paperless migrants. Most will eventually be deported, the governor’s office says, while about 6,500 syrians have been placed in refugee camps. Turkey houses about 3.6 million Syrian refugees (more than any other country), but they do not receive official refugee status. They are now not allowed to leave the places where they are accommodated other than with short-term permits. In July, 547,000 Syrians were officially registered with Istanbul as their place of residence, and the authorities then set out: more are not accepted in the big city.
Turkey deports IS members
Turkey starts deporting IS members to their home countries. Among the first are a German, a Danish and an American jihadist, but it is not clear if they have been arrested in Turkey or in Syria. In connection with Turkey announcing its deportation plans a week earlier, the country’s interior minister said that Turkey has nearly 1,200 IS supporters in detention, and that 287 have been arrested since Turkish forces launched their latest offensive in northern Syria. Turkey has criticized Western countries for not addressing citizens who joined the IS, in particular the UK, which has deprived over 100 jihadists of their British citizenship. France points out that there has been an agreement with Turkey since 2014, according to which a number of French IS supporters have been sent home.
Release – and appeal
Ahmet Altan and Nazlı Ilıcak, both well-known journalists, are released conditionally after three years in prison. Both were arrested at the authorities’ mass strike following the coup attempt in 2016 and were convicted of their refusal to serve long prison sentences accused of being involved. The Court considers that they should instead have been sentenced for support to the terrorist group, which does not give as much punishment as the rebellion. A week later, Altan is arrested again, after the prosecutor’s office appealed his conditional release.
Struggles between government armies
Six Syrian soldiers lose their lives in confrontations between Syria and Turkey’s government forces. The battles are the first between the government armies since Turkey went offensive in Syrian territory (see October 9 and October 13).
Recognition in the United States: Armenians were subjected to genocide
The House of Representatives in the US Congress votes to classify the mass murders of Armenians and other Christians that occurred in the Ottoman Empire during the First World War as a genocide. Such official recognition has come from some 30 countries. Now, as before, the decision provokes anger in Turkey, which usually emphasizes that there were both victims and perpetrators in all the groups affected by the events between 1915 and 1917. The House of Representatives also wants sanctions on Turkish leaders as a result of the latest offensive into northern Syria., and calls on President Trump to punish the NATO country Turkey for the decision to purchase a Russian-made robot system (see July 17, 2019). The two stinging US decisions are delivered on Turkey’s National Day. On December 12, the genocide rating is also voted on in the Senate of the US Congress. Trump (who is on edge with the Turkish president on several issues) stresses to appease Turkey that he does not view the events as a genocide.
Trump repeals sanctions
US President Donald Trump reinstates the sanctions he imposed on Turkey on October 14. The reason for the sanctions was Turkey’s military offensive against the Kurds in Syria, but Trump estimates that Turkey has now fulfilled a ceasefire that was promised three days later. Both congressional and military leaders in the United States strongly criticize Trump’s decision to withdraw the US forces from Syria that have supported the country’s Kurds.
Russian and Turkish patrol in northern Syria
The Presidents of Turkey and Russia agree on joint patrolling of Syria’s border area in the north, along the border with Turkey. They demand that the Kurdish YPG militia be withdrawn so that it is not closer to the border than three kilometers. The agreement means that Turkish forces remain on Syrian soil, while the Syrian government army – on whose side Russia is acting – is back in areas it has not held for several years. It is not clear if Turkey will take seriously its plans to move Syrian refugees to the border zone.
Short ceasefire with demands for Kurdish retreat
US Vice President Pence and Foreign Minister Pompeo announce agreement with Turkey on temporary ceasefire: The SDF militia in Syria, which is dominated by Kurds, will have five days to withdraw from areas where the Turkish military is heading. From a Kurdish point of view, a stop for the fighting is welcomed, but the agreement is also seen as the US now giving Turkey the go-ahead to occupy part of Syria. In the city of Afrin, Russian forces take over a base that the US military has evacuated, which has symbolic significance – not least in the American debate about the power measurement between major powers that also takes place within the framework of the war in Syria.
War critics are arrested
Nearly 200 people who have been criticized via social media against the offensive into Syria have been arrested, reports the news agency Anatolia. Most have been released again, but for dozens of others, legal reckoning awaits. The leaders of the pro-Kurdish patient HDP are accused of spreading terrorist propaganda.
Stepped up insomnia between NATO countries
The US is facing financial sanctions against Turkey and calls for a halt to the military offensive into Syrian territory. The sanctions are directed at a couple of ministries and several heads of ministries: the Minister of Defense, the Minister of the Interior and the Minister of Energy. In addition, President Trump tweeted that US tariffs on Turkish steel should be increased from 25 to 50 percent and that negotiations on a major US-Turkey trade agreement be frozen. When the US introduced tariffs on steel the year before, it helped the value of the Turkish currency to fall (see 1 August 2018 and 12 October 2018).
Syrian army against the border with Turkey
Turkey’s offensive into areas in Syria controlled by Kurds is causing growing refugee flows. The UN organization Ocha counts 130,000 refugees. Syria’s government army is rolling units to the Turkish border following a settlement with the Kurdish-led forces, the SDF. The United States announces that virtually all remaining US military who have been in northern Syria for cooperation with the Kurds will be withdrawn. A significant part of the ground forces fighting for Turkey are Syrian rebels, who fought the Assad regime during the civil war. These forces are now accused of war crimes against Kurds. Nearly 800 relatives of IS jihadists must have succeeded in exploiting the clutter during the offensive to leave camps where they were detained.
Turkish Cypriot criticism of offensive
As a result of the military attack on northern Syria, the President of Turkey receives criticism unexpectedly: Mustafa Akıncı, leader of the Turkish-supported republic of northern Cyprus (which is not internationally recognized by any state other than Turkey). “It’s blood being spilled, not water,” Akıncı writes on social media, urging dialogue and diplomacy.
Offensive against northern Syria initiated
Turkish forces have crossed the border into northern Syria, declares Turkey’s President Erdoğan. Communities and Kurdish posts along the border are subject to aerial and artillery attacks, which are followed by ground troops. Deaths, both civilian and military, are already reported on the first day, and international criticism of Turkey is sharp. It is Turkey’s third military offensive into Syria since 2016.
Organization: Women’s murder increases
In connection with the trial in a well-known murder case, in which a man is accused of killing his ex-wife in front of the eyes of their 10-year-old daughter, an organization calling itself “We will stop the women’s murder” states that 354 women have been murdered in Turkey during the first nine months of 2019. In the noted case in Kirikkale, the defendant is later sentenced in October to life imprisonment. During the full year 2018, 440 women were murdered, the cove was an increase compared to 2017.
Trump message raises concerns and may create room for IS
Faced with Turkey’s plans for a march in northern Syria to establish a buffer zone on its own to return Syrian refugees (see September 5) comes a message from President Trump about US troop withdrawal being interpreted as the green light for a Turkish campaign. Kurds in Syria, which with US support have been fighting the jihadist IS, see the message as a betrayal. Since it is the Kurdish militia that captures and prosecutes IS members in Syria, the threat of an invasion – when the Kurds would move warring units to the north to fight the Turkish military – raises fears that IS will successfully seize the opportunity and re-emerge as a terrorist group, with international reach. Trump warns Turkey to go too far, but responds to the criticism that responsibility for dealing with IS lies on Turkey and the jihadists’ homelands.
Rescue package after major travel bankruptcy
The Turkish government is preparing a package of support worth around SEK half a billion for tourism operators as a result of the bankruptcy of British travel group Thomas Cook. More than 21,000 of the company’s British customers were stranded in Turkey, where Antalya, Bodrum and Dalaman were major destinations. A noticeable downturn is being experienced in the industry, although Thomas Cook’s subsidiaries in other countries survive and can continue to sell trips to Turkey.
Journalists free after court decisions
Five former journalists in the opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet, including the cartoonist Musa Kart, are set free on the decision of the country’s highest court of appeal. The five, who are accused of supporting terror groups through the newspaper’s surveillance of Turkey, were convicted along with nine other employees in 2018 (see February 19, 2019).
Erdoğan wants to send refugees to the buffer zone
Turkey may need to open the way for migrants to apply to Europe, warns President Erdoğan. In a speech in Ankara, he declares that Turkey wants “logistical support” to set up a buffer zone in northern Syria (see August 7) and that at least one million Syrian refugees will be moved there, in a first step. Turkey houses about 3.6 million Syrians who have fled the country since the civil war broke out in 2011. Through a 2016 agreement, the EU provides Turkey with support in exchange for halting migrant traffic. In recent months, Turkey has increasingly deported Syrians to its home country. At the same time, there is a risk of new refugee flows from the south as a result of the Syrian regime’s offensive to recapture the Idlib province.
Kurds are arrested in raids
Raids against Kurds are conducted in 29 provinces. The mayors of Diyarbakir, Mardin and Van – all elected for the pro-Kurdish party HDP in the local elections held in March – are forced to leave their missions and are arrested along with another 400 Kurds. Turkish authorities accuse them of having ties to the banned guerrilla movement PKK (see also April 11, 2019). Evaluators have doubts about the purpose of the raids: firstly, to show that the government is keeping pressure on militant Kurds, and partly to push a wedge between collaborative forces within the political opposition. The fact that the ruling AK party made losses in the spring elections was largely due to cooperation between the pro-Kurdish HDP and the secular and nationalist parties CHP and Iyi (the good party).
Buffer zone between Kurds and Turkey
Turkey and the United States agree to establish a buffer zone in northern Syria and coordinate the zone from Turkish soil. The multi-mile zone in question should extend between the Turkish border and areas in Syria that are under Kurdish control. The Kurdish-dominated SDF forces in Syria, which cooperated with the United States against the extremist movement IS, have been alarmed by Washington’s announcement that US forces should be withdrawn. The Kurds fear that it would then be free for Turkey to once again, like 2016 and 2018, cross the border into Syria and strike against Kurdish areas.
Church building in suburb of Istanbul
President Erdoğan laid the foundation stone for the first new church built in Turkey since the country became a republic in 1923. The Syrian Orthodox Church is erected in Yeşilköy, located west of Istanbul’s city center, on Lake Marmara.
Contested dust fills
Turkish authorities have started filling a controversial pond in the river Tigris with water, says an environmental organization that opposes construction. The very old community of Hasankey in the Batman Province in the southeast will be submerged by the water. The Ilisa dam is also disputed because neighboring Iraq fears that the project, with lowered water levels downstream, will exacerbate the drought problems there. The activists have tried in vain to stop the construction, including by turning to the European Court of Human Rights.
Signatories of war protests receive new trials
Academics who have been penalized for supporting a peace petition with their signatures have been violated their civil rights, according to the Constitutional Court. In their appeal, they criticized the defense force’s strike in Kurdish-dominated southeastern Turkey. More than 200 of over 2,000 academics have since been convicted of spreading “terror propaganda” and almost 600 are under investigation in the judiciary. The Constitutional Court has decided that the trials should be reassigned and that the parties concerned are entitled to damages.
Imprisonment for journalist murder
Seven people are sentenced to court for involvement in the murder of journalist Hrant Dink 2007. Dink was shot to death outside the editorial to his newspaper Agos, which was bilingual (Turkish and Armenian). The murder shook the country, not least when it emerged that there were state employees with security information who had known about the murder plan but had not acted. A 17-year-old was convicted of the 2011 murder and the seven who are now being jailed are linked to the same extremist group as him.
American-Turkish aircraft business is stopped
The US confirms that cooperation with Turkey around the fighter aircraft F-35 is suspended as a result of Turkey’s decision to purchase the Russian air defense system S-400. The message is left five days after the start of the Russian robot deliveries. NATO countries have promised to hike to avoid Russian weapons systems. Turkish pilots are now forced to cancel their F-35 training in the US and production of about 900 parts to the F-35 that would have happened in Turkey will be moved to US factories. For the manufacturer Lockheed, the discontinued aircraft business represents a major financial breakdown (see April 1, 2019).
Turkish diplomat is murdered in Iraq
An attack on a Turkish consulate in Erbil in northern Iraq requires three lives. A Turkish diplomat and two other people are shot to death. Turkish forces carry out a few days later air strikes targeting the Kurdish PKK guerrilla in the Qandil Mountains in Iraq. Some time before the attack in Erbil, the PKK announced that one of the movement’s leaders and other persons had been put to death in a Turkish raid.
EU sanctions in support of Cyprus
EU foreign ministers agree on sanctions against Turkey for what is seen as illegal drilling for gas in the Mediterranean, in the economic zone of Cyprus. Among other things, EU funding for Turkey 2020 will be limited and negotiations on a new air transport agreement may be halted. Ministers urge the European Central Bank (ECB) to review its loans to Turkey and consider personal sanctions on executives involved in test drilling. Turkey claims to protect its own and Turkish Cypriot interests in gas supplies – the Turkish Cypriot part of the island is not covered by the rights that Cyprus has as an EU country.
Drop off noticeable to the president
Ali Babacan, minister of economic policy in 2002-2007 and known as a liberal, leaves the ruling party AKP, which he himself co-founded. He clarifies that he is disappointed with the current government and says that Turkey “needs a fresh start”. Two days earlier, President Erdoğan has fired the Governor. Disagreement over interest rate policy is assumed in both cases; the president wants interest rates to be kept low to stimulate the economy. It has been speculated that Babacan intends to form a new party with President Abdullah Gül. Another defender, Ahmet Davutoğlu who has been Foreign Minister and Prime Minister, has already made it clear that he wants to form a new party (see February 27 and May 6, 2019).
Sharp position between Turkey and Libyan rebels
General Haftar’s Libyan rebel forces lose the city of Gharyan south of Tripoli and target part of the anger against Turkey, which supports Libya’s internationally accepted government – Turkish vessels and companies can now become targets. Soon it is announced that six Turkish citizens have been taken prisoner by the Haftar camp, unclear under what circumstances. Turkey threatens to strike against Haftar and the six sailors are released on July 1.
Trial on protests in park
A lawsuit is being opened against 16 people accused of rioting against the president through the 2013 Gezi Park protests. Among those charged with life imprisonment include cultural patron Osman Kavala, city planner and architects. The protests in Gezi Park, one of Istanbul’s remaining green lungs, were aimed at development plans.
Bitter AKP loss in Istanbul
Opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoğlu (CHP) also wins the re-election to the mayor’s office in Istanbul, this time by a large margin, about 775,000 votes or almost 10 percentage points, before Binali Yıldırım (see March 31 and June 16). The AKP government party is thus losing power over the big city after 25 years, and for President Erdoğan – who himself was once the mayor of the city – the electoral defeat is the most difficult to date. The voters’ concern that the country’s economy is deteriorating is believed to be an important reason why the AKP’s candidate does not win.
Strict lifetime for designated dome leaders
Judgments are given against 224 defendants in one of the largest mass trials since the coup attempt in 2016. Some of the criminal prosecutors covered by the case are on the run, but 17 generals are among 128 people sentenced to life imprisonment with particularly aggravating circumstances – the extra-severe life sentence that introduced when the EU pushed Turkey to abolish the death penalty. Former Air Force commander Akın Öztürk, designated as a pilot, is one of the convicted. Almost daily there is news of new arrests or arrest warrants in which the wanted persons are linked to the Gülen movement, which is ultimately blamed for the coup. Of the nearly 290 trials so far, 261 have resulted in 3,239 prosecutors being convicted, according to statistics from the Justice Department reported by al-Jazira. At the same time, tens of thousands of people have been punished in other ways,
UN reporter wants to see murder commission
There is credible evidence that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and other high-level individuals were personally responsible for the murder of columnist Jamal Khashoggi, UN Reporter Agnès Callamard estimates (see January 24, 2019). She believes that the murder should be investigated by an independent international commission. Khashoggi’s life was extinguished by Saudi agents at the country’s consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, but according to Saudi Arabia, it did not take place on the crown prince’s orders. The Kingdom holds eleven other responsible, five of whom are threatened with the death penalty (see January 3, 2019).
Match about Istanbul in TV debate
One week before the re-election to the mayor’s office in Istanbul, the candidates meet in a TV debate. The debate in itself is historic, it is said to be the first in Turkey since the AKP came to power in 2002. The candidate of the ruling party, former Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, leans into the debate against his ministerial qualifications and claims that he was stolen on votes when lost to the main opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoğlu on March 31. In the first election result, Yıldırım received 13,000 fewer votes, after which the election was rejected.
Valoro worsens the state’s loan terms
One week before the disputed re-election in Istanbul comes a message that makes the Turkish government’s loan more expensive. The country’s credit rating has previously been on what is usually called the level of debris. Now the rating is lowered even more by the valuation institute Moody’s, to B1. Uncertainty about the impartiality and efficiency of state institutions is one of the reasons raised. The Ministry of Finance responds with annoyance and claims that the graders have not taken into account positive things such as growing tourism.
Turkish security service had to intervene in Moldova
Like Ukraine, Kosovo and Gabon, Moldova has allowed Turkish security services to fetch Turkish citizens who are identified as enemies of President Erdoğan. The European Court of Human Rights criticizes Moldova for dismissing Turks, who were teachers, in 2018 without legal grounds. The parties concerned are awarded damages. For its part, Turkey has been repeatedly criticized by the Court of Justice for violations.
Ultimatum aimed at robotics
The United States gives Turkey an ultimatum: By July 31, the Natolanden Turkey will refrain from its planned purchase of Russian robots. Unless the US F-35 aircraft agreement is frozen, Turkish pilots are forced to cancel their training in the US and Turkish companies’ participation in fighter aircraft development projects is halted (see April 1, 2019).
Turkish offensive against Kurdish guerrillas
Turkish forces enter Iraqi territory during a military offensive against the PKK. The Kurdish guerrillas have bases in mountain areas at the border. Two weeks after the offensive began, the Turkish Defense Forces state that 43 PKK supporters were harmless.
Wikipedia ban to MRI court
The foundation behind Wikipedia – the online encyclopedia open to all users – appeals to the European Court of Human Rights with complaints in Turkey. Since April 2017, authorities have been blocking access for users in Turkey, which, according to the Wikimedia Foundation, constitutes a violation of freedom of expression. Turkey has many convicts behind it in the human rights court, and tends to pay fines rather than follow the rulings. The foundation claims in vain to have tried to discuss with the authorities and protest against the ban through Turkish courts.
Alleged degree cheating behind strike
Arrest warrants are issued for 249 current or former employees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They are suspected of having links to the coup-accused Gülen movement. The grant is based on investigations in some 40 localities in the country that Gülen supporters should have been admitted to government service through manipulation of entrance exams (see also February 12).
The PKK conductor insulation is mitigated
Imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan may receive lawyer’s visit again, confirms the Ministry of Justice. Öcalan was arrested in 1999 and has been kept in almost total isolation for the past eight years. On May 2, his lawyers were released to prison island for the first time since 2011. Nearly 3,000 Kurdish prisoners have hunger strike – they have refused to eat solid food – since November in protest against Öcalan’s isolation. On May 26, prisoners announce that the hunger strike has ended.
Multiple penalty for assault
A man is sentenced to 53 life sentences for a 2013 bombing in the city of Reyhanlı – one sentence for each manslaughter and one for violating “state integrity”. Punishment of that kind has replaced the death penalty and brings extra harsh treatment. The convicted person is a Turkish citizen, but the state has accused the regime in Syria of the attack (see September 12, 2018).
Marine muscles are practiced before deep-sea drilling
It is only two months since the latest naval forces exercise, but Turkey is launching a major naval exercise off its coasts – in the Black Sea, the Aegean and the Mediterranean. This is taking place in the face of ongoing tensions over natural resources: the EU has warned Turkey to look for oil and gas in the sea around the member state of Cyprus, where Turkey plans drilling during the summer.
Decision: Re-election in Istanbul
The mayor’s election in Istanbul, where the ruling AK party’s candidate lost, is annulled (see March 31 and April 11). The election will be held on June 23. In several districts, citizens go out and knock on saucepans in protest of the Election Board’s decision. Onursal Adıgüzel, vice-chair of the secular opposition party CHP whose candidate Ekrem Imamoğlu was previously proclaimed electoral winner, commented strongly that it is “allowed to vote against AKP, but illegal to win” and calls it dictatorship. Two heavy voices within President Erdogan’s own party soon join the critics of tearing up the Istanbul elections: former President Abdullah Gül, one of the AKP’s founders, and former Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.
US flags for oil deal with Iran to be stymied
The United States announces that, after May 2, it will no longer be exempt from the Iran sanctions for countries buying Iranian oil. Among eight countries that were told in November that they could continue their oil purchases despite US sanctions, there were major buyers such as China, India and Turkey, but as of now, countries with US priority contacts will also be affected (see May 28 2018 and November 5, 2018). Turkey protests sharply, but a few weeks into May, Turkish sources say that oil purchases from Iran have ceased.
Kurds consider themselves stolen on rolling victories
The pro-Kurdish party HDP appeals to the electoral authority to have the local elections in certain districts annulled. Representatives of the HDP, who were first approved as candidates, have won in their districts but are still prevented from taking up the trust assignment. Instead, the mission has gone to the second of the local elections, a candidate for the presidential party AKP (see March 31).
Crisis packages will strengthen the economy
Finance Minister Berat Albayrak announces a reform package aimed at improving Turkey’s economy (see March 11). Banks – especially government – should be supported, the tax system reviewed and measures to curb inflation should be taken, it is called.
Parliament of Italy: Armenians were subjected to genocide
The lower house of the Italian parliament votes to recognize the suffering of the Armenians in 1915-1916, in connection with the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, as a genocide. The government of Rome is not bound to take official position, but is expected to do so. Turkey – which also states high death rates, but denies that the incidents constituted genocide – immediately requests clarification from Italy on the country’s official stance. Silvio Berlusconi’s opposition party Forza Italia abstains.
The US stops aircraft business
The United States is suspending continued supplies and cooperation with the F-35 fighter aircraft, since Turkey – despite its membership in NATO – has decided to buy in the Russian robot system S-400. The US Department of Defense and Pentagon headquarters fear that Turkey’s knowledge of the F-35 could be used to make the Russian robotic system more effective against aircraft used by Western countries (see September 13, 2017 and April 3, 2018). Turkey has planned to buy 100 American F-35s and manufacturer Lockheed Martin is also planning to develop some equipment for the plane on site, with the participation of eight Turkish companies.
Elections for Erdogan’s party
The ruling AK party loses in important metropolitan cities when local elections are conducted. Mansur Yavaş, candidate for secular CHP and Iyi Party (The Good Party), wins the mayor’s post in the capital, Ankara. In Istanbul, opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoğlu wins against former Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım – but the results of many polling stations are questioned. The president has campaigned hard for his party and talked about a fate election, but the results are interpreted as voters dissatisfied with how the AKP is managing the country’s deteriorating economy. Kurdish voters’ support for AKP has also declined. The turnout is 85 percent.
Headwind for pro-Kurdish opposition before elections
With daily verbal attacks by President Erdoğan and about 40 mayors in prison, the pro-Kurdish party HDP has been uphill ahead of today’s local elections. In 95 out of 102 municipalities that were won by prosecutors in 2014, the government has appointed new local authorities. Municipal leaders who are imprisoned are accused of supporting terrorism in the form of PKK. Critics like HRW believe that Erdoğan has put democracy at risk.
Punished for charges against the president’s circle
15 people who have accused people in the president’s inner circle of corruption are being punished with life imprisonment. The Istanbul court believes that they tried to overthrow the government. Police and prosecutors who tried to investigate the corruption charges have been fired and about 70 people in total have been brought to justice. The charges go back on a scandal that forced three ministers to resign (see December 2013). President Erdoğan, who was prime minister at the time, has argued that recordings cited as evidence were falsified.
Criticism against Erdoğan for massacre images
An election message from President Erdoğan provokes strong reactions. At the Gaziantep elections, he shows bloody photos taken by the killer himself during the terrorist attacks against Muslims in New Zealand on March 15. Erdoğan, who points out that the man mentioned Turkey in a hate manifesto, attacks Westerners’ inability to deal with Islamophobia. He also calls his political opponents in Turkey weak. A spokesman for the CHP criticizes Erdoğan for using the terrorist act to fish votes. New Zealand’s Foreign Minister emphasizes that the lives of New Zealanders are being jeopardized by Erdoğan reinforcing conflict feelings.
Party tactics can affect local elections
14th of March
On March 31, the ruling AKP and MHP will gather for the first time behind joint candidates in local elections. The parties are set up as the People’s Alliance, formed for the 2018 presidential and parliamentary elections. Previously, the AKP has been able to attract votes thanks to growing prosperity, now worse times can make disappointed voters look for alternatives. Household consumption fell by 8.9 percent in the last quarter of 2018. Everyday goods like eggplant are among the more expensive (see February 11). Electoral tactics can also produce unexpected results: One of the leaders of the pro-Kurdish HDP says the party is considering not running in some places in the west, this is because opposition CHP should have the chance to defeat the government alliance.
11th of March
The Turkish economy went into recession 2018, official statistics show. This means that the economy has shrunk for two consecutive quarters. In the last quarter, the decline was 2.4 percent, after a negative 1.6 percent in the previous quarter. Impaired trade relations with the US, which among other things make import goods more expensive, are one of the explanations (see 29 August 2018 and 4 March 2019). The average for 2018, with the two minus quarters included, was a growth of plus 2.6 percent. This means that the year was the weakest since Turkey began to recover from an international economic downturn in 2008-2009.
Tear gas against March 8 demonstration
International Women’s Day is celebrated with a demonstration in central Istanbul. Police who use tear gas stop the demonstration. A few days later, the president accuses the participants of disrupting the order at Friday’s call to prayer. Erdoğan holds the opposition parties CHP and HDP accountable. In a statement signed by an March 8 group, the president in turn is criticized for using the demonstration as “election material” ahead of the March 31 local elections.
Kavala risks life imprisonment
4th of March
Prosecutors are asking for life imprisonment for Osman Kavala – a community-committed businessman and philanthropist – and 15 other people. They will face trial on June 24, local media reports. Kavala is linked to demonstrations against construction plans in Gezi Park in Istanbul in 2013, when the current president Erdoğan was prime minister. Kavala’s case is one of many that human rights organizations highlight as examples of how the Turkish state leadership is undermining the rule of law (see October 18, 2017 and November 21, 2018).
More expensive selling Turkish goods to the United States
4th of March
Turkey will lose its favorable terms of trade with the United States. Turkey is “financially advanced enough” to no longer need to benefit, states the US government. The GSP program, from which both Turkey and India are now suspended, is intended for developing countries and provides access to the US market free of duty for certain goods. Turkey has been covered by GSP since 1975.
Prison for CHP politicians with connection to leaks
Istanbul politician Eren Erdem, former MP for the opposition party CHP, is sentenced to just over four years in prison on charges linked to the coup attempt in 2016. The case is also linked to a revelation when the chasing Gülen movement leaked audio recordings to mass media today. The material was embarrassing to the circle of President Erdoğan, then prime minister, as it indicated a lack of control over the border with Syria, which was, among other things, passed by IS- jihadists.
Defender on his way to leave AKP
Several prominent politicians, polled by President Erdoğan, plan to leave the ruling AK party and form an outbreak party, media reports. Among the dissatisfied are former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Ministers Ali Babacan, Mehmet Şimşek, and Nihat Ergün. According to the reports, the party will be formed after the local elections on March 31 and aim for the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2023. A clear result for the AKP in the municipal elections would give the outcasts wind of their sails, not least if former President Abdullah Gül joins them.
Convicting convictions against journalists
In the legal sequence between the judiciary and the opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet, the convicting judgments against 14 employees are set. Six people, including the cartoonist Musa Kart, are now expected to go to prison. Some, including the excavation reporter Ahmet Şik and former managers Akın Atalay and Mehmet Sabuncu, can still appeal their verdicts. A couple of those convicted are considered to have served their sentences by the time they have already been detained (see July 16, 2018 and September 20, 2018). According to the international press organization IPI, 155 journalists and media executives are currently imprisoned in Turkey.
Mass hunting on Gülenan trailers
Authorities carry out grants throughout the country in search of just over 1,100 named people who are identified as supporters of the Gülen movement, who are held responsible for the attempted coup d’état in 2016 (see January 15). According to the Prosecutor’s Office, 130 of the listed police chiefs are in active duty who are accused of having cheated on the degree with the aim of infiltrating the police corps. 729 people are arrested, some of whom are later released. A week later, new raids are carried out, based on just over 300 arrest warrants against, among other soldiers.
Cheap Vegetables – Now as Whale Pork?
Municipal vegetable stands in Istanbul sell 300 tonnes of vegetables during the day. Cheap. The purpose is to push down the prices customers are forced to pay to ordinary retailers and stores. More than 50 municipal stands will be erected in Istanbul and 15 in Ankara in the coming week. The customer may buy a maximum of three kilos of, for example, potatoes, onions and tomatoes. President Erdoğan has declared war on “food terrorism” – statements he made at elections before local elections on March 31. Opposition parties argue that the president is blaming his own inability to limit inflation, and instead makes trading a scapegoat for price increases.
Turkish anger towards French Memorial Day
France faces a national memorial for the Armenian genocide, declares President Macron, thus fulfilling an election promise. The date of the annual memorial day will be April 24. France, which houses a large group of Armenians, recognized the events of the Ottoman Empire during the First World War in 2001 as a genocide. In Turkey, which believes it was not a genocide Armenian was exposed to, the reaction on Memorial Day becomes a sharp condemnation from the presidential office.
UN reporter calls for consulate murder
An UN-affiliated investigator will call the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi committed at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Agnès Callamard, Special Rapporteur to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on issues related to extrajudicial executions, visits Turkey around the end of the month. But the head of the Human Rights Watch organization Kenneth Roth says the investigation should be done by an official UN representative with a mandate from the World Organization, which has more authority than the reporter (see January 3).
Hunting for Gülenister is expanded again
In more than 30 provinces, the police are hunting 222 designated followers of preacher Fethullah Gülen, who lives in exile in the United States. At least 50 of them are active military personnel. As before, the proposal is based on the fact that the Gülen movement is accused of the coup attempt in 2016. Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül stated earlier in January that 31 088 persons were sentenced and / or imprisoned for connections to Gülen (see, among other things, December 18, 2018).
Trump proposes buffer zone
President Trump is threatening Twitter with financial devastation if Turkey attacks Kurdish forces as US soldiers leave Syria. At the same time, Trump is urging the Kurds not to provoke Turkey. Foreign Minister Pompeo warned Turkey at the beginning of the year to “slaughter” Kurds. Trump wants to see a three mile wide buffer zone between Turkish and Kurdish forces, but does not specify who set it up and monitor it or where the zone should be located. President Erdoğan’s answer is that Turkey should set up a security zone. But it should lie on the Syrian side of the border – and the Damascus regime for its part equates it with Turkish occupation. Turkey has been demanding an airbound zone near the border almost since the Syrian civil war began in 2011.
Ukraine buys attack drones
Ukraine has decided to buy six reconnaissance and attack drones of Turkish manufacturing, reports Turkish press. The Bayraktar TB2 drones are said to be capable of flying up to 685 miles during a day with a load of 55 kilos. Ukrainian President Poroshenko confirms the agreement, whose value in money is not disclosed.
Court tries murder of Russian diplomat
A trial is initiated against 28 people accused of the murder of Russia’s ambassador to Ankara (see December 19, 2016). 13 of the suspects are in custody. Preacher Fethullah Gülen, who lives in a country escape in the United States, is among the other defendants being tried in his absence. According to the indictment, they must have planned the murder in order to damage Turkey’s relations with Russia.
Trial against accused of murder of consulate
A trial has begun in Saudi Arabia against people accused of the murder of freethinker Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul (see 2 October, October 19 and December 5, 2018). The Prosecutor’s Office is asking for the death penalty for five of eleven defendants, who, according to authorities, violated his powers by killing Khashoggi while he was being questioned. Turkey’s request for 18 suspects to be released and tried before a Turkish court has been rejected.