by instituDE, published on 1 July 2024


"What will Turkey gain from F-16 deal with United States?" by Barin Kayaoglu, Al-Monitor

Turkey will acquire 40 new F-16 Block 70 Vipers and roughly 80 modernization kits to upgrade its aging aircraft to Viper levels. The most important advantage to buying new F-16s from the United States and upgrading the Turkish Air Force’s fleet of roughly 240 F-16s is that it would help Turkey remain a major air power in its region. Turkey has been operating the aircraft for almost 40 years, and its pilots and ground crews are well versed in the ways of the “Fighting Falcon.”

Another advantage to the new F-16s and modernization kits from America would be their effect on Turkey’s own upgrade efforts. For several years, Turkish Aerospace Industries (TUSAS) has been working to upgrade the country’s F-16s under the “Ozgur,” or “Free” in English, project. 

The Lockheed Martin plant in Texas manufacturing the F-16s is already working at full capacity and that 2027 or 2028 is the earliest Turkey can receive its aircraft. 

The new F-16s and modernization kits are meant to serve as a stopgap measure in the interim. In addition, there is still hope that Turkey could acquire the F-35s after all. Earlier this year, US Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland teased the possibility of Turkey returning to the F-35 project should it trade in its S-400s.  

"How a Texas Factory Is Emerging as a Key Ammo Supplier for the U.S., Ukraine" by Doug Cameron, The Wall Street Journal

The Pentagon is seeking to boost U.S. output of 155mm shells from around 30,000 a month currently to 100,000 by the end of 2025. 

The push to quickly expand domestic manufacturing will rely heavily on foreign countries. Machine tools and other critical gear needed to run domestic factories come from plants in countries such as Japan, Germany and Turkey. 

General Dynamics selected Repkon, whose headquarters are in Turkey, to supply the presses because no U.S.-based vendor could meet the deadline of having the plant up and running in two years. 

“Do the Russians have this technology?” U.S. Army Secretary Christine Wormuth asked Ibrahim Kulekci, chief executive of the Turkish firm that designed and installed key machinery in a plant of General Dynamics in Texas.  

Kulekci said they wouldn’t get it from his firm. “Keep it that way,” Wormuth responded.

“Without the support from Turkey, this facility would be empty,” Wormuth said after the plant tour.

"Turkish Frustration With EU Talks Is Prompting Outreach to BRICS" by Selcan Hacaoglu, Bloomberg

Turkey has reached out to the BRICS club of major emerging nations that includes Russia and China, in a sign of growing frustration over a lack of progress in talks to join the European Union.

“We have relations and are holding talks, negotiations with the BRICS countries and they’re also going through an evolution,” Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan told Haberturk television in an interview late Monday. “If the EU had the will to take a step forward, our perspective on certain issues could be different.”

Fidan’s remarks appeared aimed at prodding the EU to speed up talks with Turkey at a time when the country is pursuing a delicate balancing act in an increasingly polarized world.

Fidan said Turkey may also apply for an upgraded dialogue partnership with the Association of South East Asian Nations. The BRICS countries are developing a lending system and conduct trade among themselves in local currencies, he said, something Ankara also favors.

“The different and beautiful thing about BRICS compared to the EU is that it includes all civilizations and races,” Fidan said. “If it can become a little more institutional, it will produce serious benefits.”

"Don’t cut Turkey out of European defence efforts because of Erdoğan", by Gonul Tol, Financial Times

NATO leaders will meet in Washington in July at a critical moment for European defence.

To stand on its own feet on defence, Europe must start entertaining uncomfortable ideas. That includes incorporating Turkey into plans to scale up Europe’s military capabilities. For many European leaders, however, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan tops the list of unsavoury partners — and for good reason. His autocratic rule, unpredictability and tirades against the west often anger them. 

The EU lacks the military capabilities to match its aspirations. Defending Europe from a revisionist Russia must involve non-EU NATO countries. The awkward truth is that excluding Turkey from efforts to boost European defence because of Erdoğan is myopic.

Turkey already plays a critical role in defending Europe. It takes part in NATO operations and many EU missions. Besides, building up the continent’s capacity to defend itself is a generational project and Erdoğan will not run Turkey forever, no matter how hard he tries. 

Rebuilding European defence is a monumental task. When Europe gets its military act together, it must incorporate Turkey into its plans. This will not only boost the defence of a post-American Europe but anchor a post-Erdoğan Turkey in Europe’s security architecture. 


Turkey's Opposition Leader Predicts Early Elections Within 18 Months

Turkey's main opposition leader, Ozgur Ozel of the Republican People's Party (CHP), stated that nearly half of Turkish citizens call for early elections. He predicts these elections could happen within the next 18 months, which is earlier than the scheduled 2028 date. 

Ozel spoke to reporters after a parliamentary ceremony, noting that recent surveys indicate the CHP is steadily increasing its lead each month, maintaining its position as the country's leading party. However, Ozel acknowledged that early elections require support from the ruling party, as 360 out of 600 lawmakers' votes are necessary, which CHP currently lacks.

Finance Minister and Main Opposition Discuss Economic Policies in Lengthy Meeting

Minister of Treasury and Finance Mehmet Simsek and CHP's Deputy Chairman responsible for the Ministry of Treasury and Finance (Shadow Minister of Treasury and Finance) Yalcin Karatepe held a meeting at the Ministry lasting over 4 hours on June 24. 

Karatepe, speaking at a press conference at CHP Headquarters, told reporters that they presented their suggestions in four main areas during the meeting. He stated they proposed an interim increase in the minimum wage to Simsek and emphasized the necessity of raising pensions. 

Karatepe also criticized the Turkish Statistical Institute, saying they proposed establishing an independent advisory board and expressed their concerns about tax fairness. Karatepe expressed disappointment that the government showed no willingness to change its approach of blaming citizens for inflation after the meeting.

Responding to Karatepe's statements, Simsek stated they acknowledged all issues raised and provided transparent explanations from their perspective to the CHP. He expressed concern that the CHP's public messages after the meeting seemed aimed at their supporters rather than constructive dialogue.

Opposition MP Claims Far-Right Candidate Ogan's Assets Rose by $3 Million 

An opposition lawmaker claimed a significant increase in the personal assets of Sinan Ogan, a far-right presidential candidate in the 2023 election after he endorsed President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the presidential runoff. 

Hasan Ozturkmen, a lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), stated on June 25 during a program that Ogan acquired several properties and luxury homes before and immediately after the runoff. The total value of these properties exceeds TL 100 million ($3 million). 

According to Ozturkmen, Ogan bought an 800-square-meter mansion on a seven-acre plot of land, a 2,941-square-meter property in the Golbasi district of Ankara, and a luxury apartment in Ankara's Cankaya district.

Istanbul Mayor Imamoglu Accuses Government of Hiding True Refugee Numbers

On June 26, Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu accused government officials of lacking transparency regarding the number of refugees in Turkey, claiming they have not shared accurate figures with local authorities, including himself. 

Turkey’s Interior Ministry recently reported 1,087,017 foreigners in Istanbul, including 530,612 Syrians with temporary protection and 3,252 foreigners under international protection. 

The mayor stated that there are nearly 2.5 million refugees in Istanbul, constituting 17 to 18 percent of the city’s official population of 16 million. 

He pointed to increased water consumption in Istanbul as evidence of the growing refugee population, noting that the average per capita water use has risen from 180 cubic meters to 225 cubic meters.

Felicity Party Postpones Extraordinary Congress Amid Leadership Controversy

The opposition Felicity Party postponed its planned extraordinary congress scheduled for June 30, according to a statement released on June 26. Earlier, Temel Karamollaoglu had indicated he would step down as Chairman due to health reasons, prompting the party to prepare for the congress. 

Karamollaoglu endorsed Mahmut Arikan as the party’s candidate. Another contender, Selman Esmerer, announced his withdrawal from the race via social media on June 26.

The postponement is reportedly linked to Party Spokesperson and Istanbul Deputy Birol Aydin's decision to declare his candidacy without party approval and his subsequent refusal to withdraw it.

Good Party Co-Founder Resigns, Criticizes Leadership's Alignment with President Erdogan

Koray Aydin, a founding member of the nationalist Good Party, has resigned from the party, criticizing its former leader for poor election results and her growing alignment with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. 

Aydin, a former minister, said in a June 27 announcement that Meral Aksener's recent meeting with Erdogan at the presidential palace was the final straw for him. He accused the Good Party of straying from its original goals since its establishment in 2017 and aligning too closely with the government. 

Aydin added that he would continue serving as an independent lawmaker in parliament.


Turkey Removed from FATF Grey List After Anti-Money Laundering Progress

Turkey has been removed from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) "grey list" of countries requiring special scrutiny after its plenary meeting in Singapore on June 28. 

Turkey was placed on the "grey list" in 2021 due to concerns about money laundering and terrorist financing. The decision to remove Turkey followed recent meetings between FATF officials and Turkish authorities to review progress in addressing these issues.

According to a statement from the Paris-based body after its meeting in Singapore, Turkey has made "significant progress" in enhancing its anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing measures.

Central Bank Holds Key Interest Rate Steady Amid Inflation Concerns

Turkey's central bank decided on June 27 to maintain its key interest rate unchanged for the third consecutive month. The monetary policy committee announced it would keep the policy rate steady at 50 percent while closely monitoring inflation risks. 

The bank stated it would continue with a tight monetary policy stance until there is a notable and consistent decrease in the monthly inflation trend.

Central Bank's Net Foreign Exchange Position Improves by $79.7 Billion

The Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey (CBRT) has significantly improved its net foreign exchange position, increasing by $79.7 billion over the last 51 business days.

This improvement is attributed to the Central Bank's efforts to strengthen foreign exchange reserves and stabilize the market. Experts believe this increase could positively impact the country's economy and lead to more stable exchange rates.

Tourism in Turkey Sees 12.47% Increase in First Five Months of 2024

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism released tourism statistics for the first five months of 2024, showing that 15.78 million foreigners visited Turkey, a 12.47% increase from the same period last year.

Germany topped the list with 1.85 million visitors, followed by Russia, England, Iran, and Bulgaria.

In May alone, the number of foreign tourists increased by 14% compared to last year, reaching 5.13 million.


ECtHR Rules Turkey's Detention of 314 After Failed Coup Lacked Reasonable Grounds

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled that the detention of 314 people following a failed coup in July 2016 lacked sufficient grounds to justify reasonable suspicion. 

In its decision on June 25 in the case of Duymaz and others v. Turkey, the court merged the applications of the 314 individuals into a single judgment due to their similar nature. 

The court stated that the reasons for their detention did not meet the criteria for reasonable suspicion. Ankara was instructed to pay 5,000 euros each in non-pecuniary damages and cover costs and expenses.

ECtHR Orders Turkey Violated Fair Trial Rights in Civil Service Job Denials

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled that Turkey violated the fair trial rights of seven individuals who were denied civil service jobs due to undisclosed negative background checks, which prevented them from contesting the allegations. 

On June 25, the ECtHR issued its decision in the case "Kurkut and others v. Turkey," merging the applications of the seven people due to their similar content. The court found that Turkish courts failed to inform the applicants about the background checks and did not seek their comments on the allegations. 

The court awarded each applicant €2,000 in non-pecuniary damages, plus additional amounts for costs and expenses.


Erdogan Open to Meeting Assad to Restore Turkey-Syria Relations

On June 28, after Friday prayers, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said he is open to a possible meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to help restore relations between the neighboring countries.

When asked about Assad's comments on being open to normalization initiatives that respect Syria's sovereignty and contribute to counter-terrorism, Erdogan said Ankara and Damascus could work together to restore ties. 

"There is no reason for it not to happen," Erdogan stated, adding that Turkey has no intention of interfering in Syria's internal affairs.

Pope Francis Plans to Visit Turkey Next Year

On June 28, Pope Francis expressed his desire to visit Turkey next year to celebrate the anniversary of the first council of the Christian Church in Iznik.

According to a Vatican statement, he shared this intention with a delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in Istanbul. Francis is also expected to visit Istanbul before heading to Iznik.

EU Adopts New Sanctions Against Russia for Ukraine Invasion

On June 24, European Union countries approved a 14th package of sanctions against Russia following its 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

The sanctions include various measures targeting Russia's gas sector for the first time. After a 9-month transition period, the EU will ban the use of EU ports for trans-shipment of Russian LNG. Ships that have supported Russia's war effort will also be banned from EU ports and detained.

Additionally, the EU expanded its sanctions list to include 69 entities and 47 individuals, bringing the total to over 2,200. New additions include Russia's state-owned shipping firm Sovcomflot and its CEO, as well as companies from China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates.

US Imposes Sanctions on Entities Allegedly Funding Iran's Military

The United States imposed sanctions on nearly 50 entities and individuals on June 25, accusing them of facilitating billions of dollars for Iran's military. 

According to the U.S. Treasury Department, these targets are part of a "shadow banking network" used by Iran's Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The sanctions specifically focused on dozens of companies located in Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates, and the Marshall Islands, as well as firms based in Iran and Turkey.