by instituDE, published on 17 April 2023


Imprisoned ex-HDP co-chair pledges to make PKK disarm

Selahattin Demirtaş, a former co-chair of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) currently imprisoned in Edirne Prison, tweeted on April 13 that they would do anything to make the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) lay down all arms in Turkey.

Demirtas said, "As a promise to our people, we will do everything we can to ensure that the PKK entirely disarms in Turkey. We will definitely succeed. We will resolve our issues in the Turkish Grand National Assembly in accordance with the legislation."

The PKK has recently announced that they would extend their period of inactivity, which was first implemented in the aftermath of the February 6 earthquakes, until the elections on May 14. 

Turkey launches its first amphibious assault ship

During a ceremony in Istanbul on April 10, the TCG Anadolu, Turkey's first amphibious assault ship, was launched with the participation of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The TCG Anadolu can only handle light aircraft, primarily helicopters, and jets with shorter runways. It has a length of 232 meters and a width of 32 meters, and it can carry 1,400 personnel, combat vehicles, and support units to operate overseas.

Erdogan launches election campaign, promises to reduce inflation 

Turkish President Erdogan launched his re-election campaign on April 11, promising to reduce inflation to single digits and increase economic growth. 

Erdogan's dramatic interest rate cuts drove inflation to a 24-year high of more than 85% in October but later fell to roughly 50% in March according to official data.

Erdogan also added that their priority in the coming period would be to rebuild the cities devastated by the February 6 quakes. 

Erdogan's election campaign also included promises such as abolishing interviews for public personnel recruitment, free internet for university students, and interest-free 'marriage' loans.

On April 13, Erdogan said in a television interview that zoning amnesty rules would be considered an "inexcusable crime" under the new constitution to be drafted after the elections. 

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) administration has previously enacted nine zoning amnesty laws.

Presidential candidate Kilicdaroglu meets another candidate Ogan for election security 

Nation Alliance's presidential candidate and main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu and far-right ATA Alliance's candidate Sinan Ogan held a meeting at the CHP headquarters on April 12 and discussed election security.

After the meeting, Ogan highlighted their concerns about election security. Ogan said many Syrian, Iraqi, Afghan, and Pakistani people were on the voter lists. Ogan also claimed that only 450,000 of the over 2 million voters who left the earthquake zone after February 6 were registered, and the remaining 1 million 626 thousand voters did not register.

Kilicdaroglu outlines his goals for the first 100 days in office

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the presidential candidate of the Nation Alliance, published a brochure on April 13 outlining his first 100 days in office.

Kilicdaroglu's pledges include mitigating tax and insurance burden on workers, abolishing interview practices in public personnel recruitment, supporting farmers for the cost of fertilizer and seeds, prioritizing small businesses, appointing 100,000 teachers, restructuring the Turkish Red Crescent, relocating of Turkish Presidency to Çankaya Mansion.


JPMorgan predicts Turkish lira to be 30 per dollar after elections

JPMorgan forecasted that the Turkish lira would likely decline significantly and may approach 30 to the dollar following the elections next month.

JPMorgan analysts projected that the lira, now trading at about 19 to the dollar, will initially decline to 24 to 25 and reach 26 by year's end in a "strong commitment" scenario. Additionally, economists anticipate a 25% increase in benchmark government bond yields.

They calculated that the real effective exchange rate (REER), which accounts for prices and compares the lira's value to those of other currencies with which Turkey conducts substantial commerce, was currently around 32% below its "fair value."

Turkish Central Bank purchases millions of dollars every day at Istanbul's Grand Bazaar

Journalist Yener Karadeniz from Ekonomim, the online news source, claimed that the Turkish Central Bank carries 5 billion liras in iron safes on wheels to Istanbul's Grand Bazaar daily with vehicles owned by the Interior Ministry and receives 260 million dollars in exchange. This kind of exchange is reportedly a first in the history of the Central Bank.

Grand Bazaar sources informed Journalist Karadeniz that the Central Bank has just begun making such foreign exchange purchases. 

OECD report: Turkey has lowest employment rate 

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) report on labor force and employment, Turkey's employment rate has remained unchanged, with a rate of 53.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2022. This figure is much lower than the OECD average of 69.6 percent, putting Turkey in last place out of 39 countries.

Turkey also has the lowest female labor-force participation rate among OECD countries. Female employment in Turkey was 35.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2022. 

In terms of average weekly working hours, Turkey ranked second in the OECD countries after Colombia, with 45.6 hours.


Kurdish man thrown from helicopter sentenced to prison for terrorism

Osman Siban and Servet Turgut were detained by soldiers who began an operation in the Çatak district of Van province on September 11. They were found two days later in the intensive care unit of the Van Regional Training and Research Hospital.

According to Osman Siban, he and Servet Turgut were thrown from the helicopter after being imprisoned and tortured by soldiers.

Osman Siban was sentenced to 7 years and 6 months in prison on April 12 by the Mersin 2nd Heavy Penal Court for "being a member of a terrorist organization."


US imposes sanctions on new Turkish firms for helping blacklisted Russian companies 

On April 12, the Biden administration issued new sanctions on more than 120 targets, including companies with headquarters in Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, allegedly supporting Russia's military operations in Ukraine and assisting it in evading sanctions. 

The US Treasury placed sanctions on Dexias, an industrial products company with a base in Turkey that is reportedly utilized as an intermediary for Radioavtomatika, a company that the US Treasury had previously blacklisted due to its acquisition of foreign goods for Russia's defense industry. Another company, Azu International, based in Turkey, is also subject to sanctions after the Treasury accused it of helping to facilitate the backfill of goods, including computer chips, to Russia. 

The State Department also imposed restrictions on two Turkish shipping firms. The firms are believed to support Pola Raiz, a previously blacklisted Russian shipping company.

Egyptian FM visits Turkey second time after the February quakes 

On April 13, Egypt Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry arrived in Ankara and met his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu. 

After the meeting, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced that Ankara and Cairo would work more closely on Libya, where they support rival groups. He stated that the two countries would cooperate on a roadmap for holding elections in Libya and could collaborate on training and reinforcing a joint military between forces in Libya's east and west. 

Cavusoglu and Shoukry also announced that the two countries had agreed on a time frame for re-appointing ambassadors and holding a summit between the two countries' leaders.

Cavusoglu: Next meeting on Syria expected to be in early May

Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu stated on April 13 that the foreign ministers of Russia, Iran, Turkey, and Syria are expected to meet in early May.

Damascus has been forcing Ankara to end its military presence in the country's north. But Cavusoglu insists that this can only be achieved according to a road map.

Cavusoglu also acknowledged that involving Iran in high-level talks between the Turkish and Syrian governments has been difficult. He said he could not characterize Tehran's role as constructive or destructive in the process so far.

Turkey summons Danish ambassador to protest attacks on Koran and Turkish flag

Turkey summoned the Danish ambassador in Ankara to strongly condemn attacks on the Koran and the Turkish flag on April 14 in front of the Turkish Embassy in Copenhagen. 

The Turkish foreign ministry issued a statement saying that these attacks are unacceptable in the context of free expression.

Four Turkish soldiers injured in attacks in northern Syria

On April 16, the Turkish defense ministry reported that four Turkish soldiers were wounded in artillery and rocket attacks on bases in northern Syria. According to the ministry, the attacks were carried out by the Syrian Kurdish YPG / Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The defense ministry also said the necessary response was given with strong attacks on targets.


"What if Kemal Kilicdaroglu Wins Turkey's Election?" by Steven A. Cook, Foreign Policy

What would it mean for Turkish politics and foreign policy if Kilicdaroglu won? Without a doubt, it will be a sigh of relief for millions of Turks if Erdogan is vanquished and relinquishes his office. But it is unlikely that Turkey will revert to a past that never existed.

Making fundamental changes to Turkey's political institutions will not be as easy as "urgently implement[ing] … constitutional and legislative amendments," as Kilicdaroglu and company suggest. Having captured the state, neither the party's leaders nor their activists throughout the bureaucracy and the judiciary are likely to give it up so quickly. 

How can anyone be sure that, once firmly ensconced in the presidency, Kilicdaroglu will want to give up the powers of the executive presidency? After all, politicians generally like to accumulate power, not cede it. In addition, the new Turkish president would be likely to confront a vicious and vengeful opposition determined to see him fail. The executive presidency would be an advantage in a knife fight with the AKP and its partner, the Nationalist Movement Party.

And even if Kilicdaroglu wants to follow through on the Nation Alliance's promise to do away with the executive presidency, there is no guarantee that his ambitious vice presidents Ekrem Imamoglu and Mansur Yavas will agree. As Istanbul's mayor, Imamoglu in particular has at times acted in a highhanded manner similar to his nemesis, Erdogan.

Turks seem fed up with Erdogan and the AKP, which are overbearing, corrupt, and anti-democratic. They will rejoice if he is defeated, but no one should expect it to be morning in Ankara.

"Turkey accuses Iraqi Kurdish party of being under 'full control' of PKK" by Amberin Zaman, Al-Monitor

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told that the PKK had taken "full control" of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the second largest political party in the Kurdistan region of Iraq and junior partner in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

Cavusoglu's comments follow the April 8 drone strike targeting the US-led coalition's top ally in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) in Syria. Commander in Chief of the Syrian Democratic Forces Mazlum Kobane and Ilham Ahmed, leader of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) — a top government body in Kurdish-controlled northeast Syria — were in a convoy en route to Sulaimaniyah International Airport together with three US military personnel when the drone struck the perimeter of the airport. US Central Command and the Pentagon confirmed the presence of US staff in the cortege, saying their lives were imperiled and that an investigation was underway.

The Iraqi president's office blamed Turkey for the attack and is demanding that Ankara apologize for its actions.

The prevailing consensus is that Turkey deliberately avoided striking the vehicle carrying Kobane, knowing that US military officials were in it. Rather, it sought to send a clear message of displeasure over CENTCOM's decision to continue flying the SDF commander in and out of the Sulaimaniyah airport.

"Why normalization with Egypt is harder for Turkey than Iran" by Fehim Tastekin, Amwaj Media

While there are some overlaps in the factors behind the deterioration of Iran and Turkey's relations with Egypt over the years, each case has its own stubborn reasons. In fact, unlike a decade ago, Ankara's issues with Cairo today are much more persistent than those of Tehran.

While multiple issues prevent improved ties between Egypt and Turkey, the main current contention is over Libya. Here, Cairo's objections and expectations are multidimensional.

On the one hand, Turkey's acquisition of a military base in Libya is considered dangerous in the region. Moreover, Turkish agreements with the Tripoli-based government—whose legitimacy is disputed by the Sisi administration—cause discomfort. 

While it was decided to continue working on the reopening of embassies, it was stated that a presidential-level meeting would be postponed until after the May 14 general elections in Turkey. Of further note, Cavusoglu made no secret of Egyptian objections to the hydrocarbon deal with Tripoli.

Egypt is neither very willing to meet Turkey's expectations from a normalization of ties. Cairo has no intention of disrupting the energy equation in the Eastern Mediterranean in favor of Turkey. 

All in all, while there are overlaps in the obstacles to Iranian and Turkish normalization with Egypt, the Ankara-Cairo track requires more serious steps and a willingness to adopt policy changes.