Turkish lawmakers enact the "disinformation bill"
The opposition referred to the legislation passed by the Turkishparliament on October 13 as censorship law that criminalizes the propagation ofalleged "disinformation" online.
The 40-article bill amends several laws, including the Penal Code,the Press Law, and the Internet Law. The new bill also introduces thenew crime of willfully disseminating false information, which requires amaximum three-year prison term.
The government will be able to more quickly prohibit access towebsites run by online news organizations with the new bill if they fail toremove "false" content.
Many critics worry that the amended laws would furtherrestrict dissent and criticism.
Turkey's main opposition party applies to annul the new"censorship law"
According to a party official, Turkey's main opposition party haspetitioned the top court to annul an article added to the penal code aspart of a new media law that imposes jail time for spreading"disinformation."
The Republican People's Party (CHP) leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu,had previously stated that his party would petition the Constitutional Courtfor the new media law to be annulled. The party also asked thecourt to suspend the law while the case is heard.
Death toll from Turkish mine explosion climbs over 40
Death toll from Turkish mine explosion climbs over 40
Following a mine fire in Soma which caused the death of 301 minerseight years ago, another major mine explosion occurred in the northern provinceof Bartin, and 41 miners died in the accident.
Turkish prosecutors have launched an investigation into the causeof the incident, but preliminary evidence suggests that the blast was caused byfiredamp, a term for methane in coal mines. The victims' families claimed thatthe mine's hazardous circumstances, particularly the leakage of volatile gases,were widely known before the accident.
Remarks made by President Erdogan at the catastrophe scene alsoraised questions over the government's approach to industrial accidents."We believe in destiny. These (types of accidents) will always occur. Weneed to know that," Erdogan said.
After the mine explosion, many Turkish organizations again broughtsafety violations in the coal industry to the agenda and blamed the government.
Turkey tests secretly developed ballistic missile Typhoon inthe Black Sea
On October 18, Turkey conducted a short-range ballisticmissile test in the Black Sea region. According to sources who spoke toBloomberg on the condition of anonymity, Typhoon was launched from a mobileplatform at around 7 a.m. local time from an airport close to the port city ofRize and traveled 561 kilometers (350 miles) before crashing off the coastof the port of Sinop.
Bloomberg claimed that the Turkish Defense Industry Presidency,overseeing the production of weapons built in Turkey, declined to provide anyinformation regarding the project.
Turkey's current account deficit increases in September
According to data fromthe Treasury and Finance Ministry released on October 17, the Turkish centralgovernment budget had a deficit of 78.63 billion lira ($4.23 billion) inSeptember.
Turkishcentral bank takes another move to strengthen the Turkish lira
OnOctober 19, Turkey's central bank announced further measures to increase liradeposits, including an increase in the percentage of bonds that banks must holdfor foreign exchange deposits and a requirement that banks with less than 50%lira deposits hold even more bonds starting in 2023.
Accordingto the new regulations, lenders would need to hold an additional 80-100 billionlira ($4.3-5.4 billion) worth of bonds. By the start of 2023, lira-depositshare targets will also be used to determine the level of securities banksmust hold.
Rates dramatically lower despite 83% inflation
Despite sky-high inflation in Turkey, the country's central bankhas cut interest rates for the third month in a row, marking its biggest dropthis year due to President Erdogan's unorthodox economic policy.
The Turkish central bank reduced the benchmark rate by asignificant 1.5 percentage points on October 20 to 10.5%. In August andSeptember, the bank lowered interest rates by one percentage point each.
The statement implied that the bank would take a "similarstep" in November, lowering the policy rate to single digits.
Turkey detains 705 people in a nationwide operation over allegedGulen connections.
Turkish authorities announced on October 18 the detention of 705 individualssuspected of having ties to the Gulen Group. The arrestees are charged withhelping the families of the prisoners sentenced under the lax terrorism laws ofTurkey. Süleyman Soylu, Minister of Interior Affairs, announced that thearrestees regularly transferred between 100€ and 300€ to those families in thelast eight months.
Freedom House issues new “Freedom on the Net” report
According to a recent study by Freedom House, a non-profit groupestablished to promote democracy and human rights, internet freedom hasdeteriorated in Turkey.
In the "Freedom on the Net 2022" report, Turkey receiveda score of 32 out of 100, compared to 34 in 2021, 35 in 2020, and 37 in 2019.In terms of internet freedom, any country with a score lower than 39 is deemed "notfree."
The full report is accessible at:
US officials meet with Turkish business organizations to discusssanctions on Russia
In the most recent effort by the West to compel Ankara intoadopting a more aggressive stance towards Moscow, US officials have helddiscussions with their Turkish counterparts over compliance with financialsanctions imposed on Russia due to its invasion of Ukraine.
In Ankara and Istanbul earlier this week, a delegation headed byElizabeth Rosenberg, assistant secretary for terrorist financing and financialcrimes at the US Treasury, met with the governor of the Turkish central bankand business organizations.
Both sides exchanged opinions to ensure regular control ofsanctions lists and not to violate the sanctions imposed on Russia throughTurkey.
Erdogan accepts Putin's offer to create a gas hub in Turkey
Turkish President Erdogan said on October 19 that he and hisRussian counterpart Vladimir Putin had agreed to establish a natural gas hub inTurkey.
Putin stated last week that Turkey is Russia's "mostreliable partner" for Russian gas exports to Europe.
Saudi Arabia's MBC Group signs deal with two Turkish companies
The MBC Group, the largest broadcaster in the Middle Eastthat Saudi Arabia owns, announced on October 19 that it had signed a five-yearpartnership with two Turkish production companies as a sign of ending anunofficial boycott imposed on Turkey.
After the murder of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi in the country'sIstanbul consulate in October 2018, tensions had escalated sharply. But thisyear, the relations started to warm with Turkish President Erdogan'sdiplomatic efforts while Turkey's economy struggled due to a depreciatinglira and skyrocketing inflation.
Turkish officials reject claims usage of chemicalweapons in northern Iraq
Turkish defense ministry and top government officials vehementlydenied claims that the Turkish Armed Forces had deployed chemical weapons inoperations in northern Iraq.
"Allegations that the Turkish Armed Forces used chemicalweapons are entirely unfounded and incorrect," said the defenseministry's statement.
This week, media affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party(PKK) released footage claiming Turkish ArmedForces used chemical weapons against the PKK in northern Iraq.
Following the rapprochement, Israeli Defense Minister BennyGantz to pay an official visit to Turkey
Next week, Israel's defense minister, Benny Gantz, will travel toTurkey for the first time in a decade.
Gantz is expected to meet with Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar,and he will be welcomed in Ankara by an honor guard.
"Erdogan gears up for huge pre-election spendingspree in Turkey," by Laura Pitel, Financial Times
"Analysts andTurkish opposition officials see the $50bn state-subsidized project — aimed athelping low-income families get on the housing ladder - as one of the openingsalvos of a huge spending campaign in the run-up to the vote, which is set tobe the toughest contest faced by Erdoğan during his almost 20 years in power.
Government spendingplans outlined last month show that, while the Treasury ran a roughly balancedbudget for the first nine months of 2022, it plans to end the year with adeficit of about TL460bn ($25bn) - a figure akin to about 3 per cent of grossdomestic product. That points to a huge spending spree.
In the months ahead, analysts expect Erdoğan to unveil anotherhuge rise in the minimum wage, as well as an increase in public sectorsalaries, giveaways for pensioners and cheap loans to homes and businesses inan effort to win back the support of wavering former supporters."
“Turkey has long been hell for journalists: Reportersslam country’s new ‘fake news’ Law”, by Lee Ying Shan, CBNC View From The Gulf
Turkey’s parliament last weekratified a law introducing jail terms for journalists and social media userswho spread "fake news," or disinformation. The term "fakenews" is often defined, more broadly, as misleading or fabricatedinformation peddled as legitimate news.
The law, proposed by PresidentRecep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AK Party, comes eight months before the country’sgeneral election.
"With this new law … thegoal is to control social media because conventional media is already underErdogan’s control," an exiled Turkish journalist told CNBC.
Turkey currently ranks 149 out of 180 countries in the globalPress Freedom Index, with 90% of national media under government control,according to the international non-profit organization Reporters WithoutBorders.
When the index debutedin 2002, Turkey ranked 107 out of 172 and wascategorized as "partly free."
Social media companiesare unlikely to fully abide by Turkey's new law requiring them to remove"disinformation" content and share user data with authorities,analysts say, raising the spectre of possible platform disruptions beforeelections next year.
Facebook, Twitter,Google, and others are required to fully comply with the law by next April orface possible advertising bans and eventually cuts to their bandwidth, posing adilemma for the companies before elections set for June.
Analysts andconsultants said the companies have global privacy standards they are unlikelyto breach in Turkey as that could set dangerous precedents for other countrieslooking to exert control on social platforms.
"Turkish electionthe keyword for Erdogan’s normalization with Assad" by Ghassan Ibrahim, Arab News
This month,Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that he can meet withPresident of Syria Bashar Assad when the time is right.
There areseveral reasons that prompted Turkey to change its tone toward Damascus andthink pragmatically, away from the values that it has adhered to for more thana decade.
It appears to be the desire of the Turkish ruling party to withdraw akey card in the hands of the Turkish opposition, which held the Justice andDevelopment Party responsible for the influx of refugees.
Turkey’s opposition, theso-called "Nation Alliance"—a coalition of six political parties—isgreasing the rails for Erdogan, ensuring that Turkey’s autocratic turn islikely to become institutionalized.
On October 16, he ratified aparliamentary bill which critics have decried as a "censorship law," or in thegovernment’s parlance: "disinformation law."
During parliamentarydeliberations, the main opposition Republican People’s Party did virtuallynothing to prevent the law from being passed. Yes, in the end, they could nothave prevented its passage as they lack a parliamentary majority. However,Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the CHP, was not even in parliament. Instead,he was in Washington meeting withstudents and intellectuals and seemingly touring the mid-Atlanticcorridor. For Turkey’s beleaguered opposition leader, there could not have beena worse time to schedule a visit to the United States and just bumble around.
The alliance membershave not only failed to declare a presidential candidate but also failed toenunciate a political and economic platform. We have no idea what they intendto do should they attain the office. Insider information suggests that each ofthe political leaders is interested in two things: which party gets to leadwhich agency and who will land the presidency.
EU Turkey Report 2022
European Commission has published the 2022country reports for Turkey. Here are some of the findings in the report:
Thereare serious deficiencies in the functioning of Turkey's democraticinstitutions. During the reporting period, democratic backsliding continued.Structural deficiencies in the presidential system remained in place. Keyrecommendations from the Council of Europe and its bodies have yet to beaddressed. Parliament continued to lack the necessary means to hold thegovernment accountable. The constitutional architecture continued to centralisepowers at the level of the Presidency without ensuring the sound and effectiveseparation of powers between the executive, legislative and the judiciary. Inthe absence of an effective checks and balances mechanism, the democraticaccountability of the executive branch continues to be limited to elections.
Despitethe lifting of the state of emergency in July 2018, some legal provisionsgranting government officials extraordinary powers and retaining several of therestrictive elements of the state of emergency remained in place.
Turkey'sjudicial system is at an early stage of preparation. The serious backslidingobserved since 2016 continued during the reporting period. Concerns remained,in particular over the systemic lack of independence of the judiciary and unduepressure on judges and prosecutors. Only 515 judges or prosecutors dismissedfollowing the coup attempt were reinstated, despite several being acquitted.The lack of objective, merit-based, standardised and pre-established criteriafor recruiting and promoting judges and prosecutors remains a source ofconcern.
Regardingthe fight against corruption, Turkey remained at an early stage of preparationsand made no progress in the reporting period. Overall, corruption is widespreadand remains an issue of concern.
Thedeterioration of human and fundamental rights continued. Many of the measuresintroduced during the state of emergency remain in force. Non-implementation ofthe judgment in the Kavala case has marked yet another benchmark of Turkey'sdrifting away from the standards for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Asof April 2022, out of the 65 municipalities won by the HDP in the 2019 localelections, 48 elected mayors have been replaced by state-appointed trustees andanother six elected municipal mayors have been replaced by AK Party mayors, asthese were dismissed from their roles by law decrees. Currently, some 5 000 HDPmembers and officials remain in prison.
3985 judges and public prosecutors have been dismissed for alleged links to theGülen movement since the 2016 attempted coup and only 515 have been returned totheir positions. 17 more judges and prosecutors were dismissed over thereporting period.
Thecurrent laws on anti-terrorism, the internet, intelligence services and theCriminal Code impede freedom of expression and run counter to Europeanstandards. Selective and arbitrary application of legislation continued toraise concerns as it infringes the basic principles of the rule of law andright to a fair trial.
Turkey'snon-alignment with EU restrictive measures against Russia is of particularconcern due to the free circulation of products, including dual use goods,within the EU-Turkey Customs Union. This creates a risk of undermining EUrestrictive measures. For the Customs Union to continue functioning the partiesmust fully respect existing rules and avoid undermining mutual trust.