by instituDE, published on 17 June 2024


"Coming to Terms with the Loss of Turkey" by Nick Danforth and Aaron Stein, War on the Rocks

Following decades of fretting over “who lost Turkey,” Washington finally seems to have overcome its grief. Having passed through the stages of shock, denial, and anger, the mood is now approaching one of acceptance. Instead of berating Ankara or desperately seeking to win its favor, U.S. policymakers have belatedly abandoned their expectations of securing automatic Turkish cooperation.

For now, Washington and Ankara would do well to embrace the status quo. Both countries have plenty of issues on their plate. They are not prepared to cooperate to help resolve them, and that’s fine. Given that policymakers in both countries suspect each other of trying to sabotage their key interests, the relationship is still doing much better than might be expected. And for those who believe Washington should prioritize democracy promotion in its relationship with Turkey, abandoning the reflexive impulse to court Ankara’s favor will create more room to do so.

Today, transactionalism is working. Washington appears to have recognized that with shared interests dwindling, it need not prioritize cooperation with Turkey as a goal in itself. In doing so, policymakers have tacitly agreed to the perspective often voiced by Turkish interlocutors: Turkey cannot be lost because its policy is driven by its own interests. Where U.S.-Turkish interests overlap, whether in Africa, the Middle East or Eurasia, Turkey will work toward these interests without the need for American incentives. Where U.S.-Turkish interests diverge, Turkey will do what it wants regardless of what America tells it. As a result, U.S. policymakers can stop worrying about who lost Turkey. Ankara will find its own way, and Washington will find what it needs in the Middle East elsewhere.

"Putin is unhappy that Erdogan’s pro-Western turn is harming Russian interests" by Bunyamin Tekin, Turkish Minute

In a rare bilateral meeting, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan in Moscow on Tuesday.

The meeting marks Putin’s first encounter with Fidan since his appointment and came just a week after Putin criticized Turkey for its deepening economic ties with Western financial institutions.

As Fidan met with Russian officials, World Bank President Ajay Banga was in Ankara meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek. They discussed the “Country Cooperation Framework Program” between Turkey and the World Bank, which recently doubled its exposure to Turkey to $35 billion.

Russia analyst Kerim Has highlighted the unusual nature of Putin’s meeting with Fidan, noting that it is rare for Putin to meet with foreign ministers, signaling significant underlying issues. Has suggested that economic tensions, particularly related to Turkey’s growing economic dependence on the Western economic ties, are key factors in the strained relations.

With Turkey relying heavily on Russian natural gas, Putin’s strategic delay of his visit to Turkey signals deeper unresolved issues. Unpaid debts and the stalling of the natural gas hub project indicate significant economic friction, Has underlines. This tension is further compounded by Russia’s reluctance to allow Turkey to control pricing of the Russian gas it sells to Europe.

As Turkey’s economic struggles have forced it to lean more towards the West, Russia feels its investments in Turkey, aimed at circumventing Western sanctions, are at risk. The strained communication between Putin and Erdogan, with fewer direct interactions, indicates the growing volatility of their bilateral relations.

"Turkey's Erdogan reigns supreme at hypocrisy and double-speak" by Sinan Ciddi, Global Voices

Erdogan’s entire stance is a façade, built on lies and hypocrisy. If Erdogan believed Israel to be the “terror” state he accuses it of being, committing genocide which even “Hitler would have been jealous of,” why would Ankara continue business ties? 

Turkey continued to sell other vital materials, including everything from explosives, and concrete to thermal underwear worn by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). Many political elites with business interests in Israel and close to Erdogan, including former Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, and Erdogan’s own son, are profiteers from continued business with Israel. 

It took losing the March local elections for Erdogan to get serious about cutting trade ties with the Jewish state, although speculation is rife that goods are still being shipped from Turkey to Israel, by way of third countries. 

These moves by Erdogan signal two things: that Erdogan and his cronies have been motivated more by greed than principle, and that his U-turn to punish Israel may backfire. The Israeli government likely has recourse to take Turkey to court for breaking existing contractual obligations. Already, U.S. members of Congress got the ball rolling by signing and sending a bipartisan letter to the Biden administration, calling upon the White House to “invoke antiboycott provisions under the Export Control Reform Act.” If the Turkish trade restrictions are enforced, then many Turkish firms engaged in business with Israel are likely to be hit with significant revenue losses.


Erdogan's Meeting with Former Grey Wolves Leader's Widow Sparks Speculation of Rift with MHP

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Ayse Ates, the widow of murdered former Grey Wolves leader Sinan Ates, at the presidential palace in Ankara on June 11. 

Ayse Ates and her two daughters, Bengisu and Banucicek, attended the meeting, which Ates described as positive, noting that Erdogan listened closely to them. Justice Minister Yilmaz Tunc, who was also present, stated that Erdogan is committed to ensuring justice for Sinan Ates.

Sinan Ates was assassinated in Ankara on December 30, 2022. His widow has been actively seeking justice and has expressed concerns about the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) executives hindering the investigation.

The meeting has intensified rumors of tension between Erdogan and his far-right ally, MHP leader Devlet Bahceli. Shortly before the meeting, Bahceli posted a photo on Instagram with a ring inscribed “God is sufficient for me,” interpreted by many as a threat against Erdogan. MHP Deputy Chairman Semih Yalcin also downplayed the significance of Erdogan’s meetings, stating that the president can meet with anyone he wants.

Analysts suggest that the investigation into Sinan Ates's murder could strain the relationship between the AKP and MHP, especially if high-ranking MHP figures are involved.

Erdogan Visits CHP Headquarters After 18 Years, Sparks Political Debate Between Allies

Turkish President Erdogan visited main-opposition CHP leader Ozgur Ozel on June 11, marking his first visit to CHP headquarters in 18 years. His last visit was during his tenure as Prime Minister when he attended the opening of the new CHP building and met with then-Chair Deniz Baykal.

Erdogan was accompanied by AKP Deputy Chair Mustafa Elitas and was welcomed by Ozgur and lawmaker Namik Tan. 

AKP Spokesperson Omer Celik commented on the meeting and said they discussed preparations for a new constitution, and Erdogan emphasized the importance of protecting gains made through the latest economic program. Celik also noted Erdogan's call for a unified stance against all forms of divisive politics.

CHP Spokesperson Deniz Yucel mentioned that Ozel raised issues, including the Gezi, Sinan Ates, Emine Senyasar cases, and trustee mayor appointments during the meeting.

One day after the meeting, Bahceli stated that the AKP and the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) should form an alliance. "It is the sincere wish of the MHP that a broad-based alliance between the AKP and the CHP is formed with the support of the other elements of the Table of Six, taking into account the constant smearing by the dissatisfied segment within the AKP,” Bahceli said.

Responding to Bahceli, Ozel invited him to join their Turkey Alliance if he is dissatisfied with his current alliance. Ozel emphasized that those responsible for today's issues must bear the responsibility and should not push their accomplice towards them.

Commenting on this, Erdogan praised Bahceli for his calm, statesmanlike response. Erdogan stated that if the CHP leader had been able to stomach the return visit, he wouldn't have made such a statement. Erdogan added that he finds it unnecessary to respond and affirmed that the People's Alliance will maintain its stance and solidarity.

In response to Erdogan, Ozel claimed that Erdogan's comments were likely directed at his alliance partner, the MHP. He pointed out that the real issue is that the People's Alliance partners communicate through the CHP and recommended the two parties communicate directly.

Meanwhile, Erdogan mentioned in his Eid al-Adha message that the "softening" process in politics helped unify the nation. However, Bahceli opposed this "softening" narrative, stating there was no abnormal situation in the country and that such messages had "insidious" targets.

Despite these harsh statements, on the first day of Eid, Bahceli affirmed MHP's support for Erdogan and stated, "The People's Alliance will continue; there will be no cracks between us."

MHP Leader Bahceli Calls for End to Turkey-EU Readmission Agreement

In an address to the party's lawmakers in the Turkish Parliament on June 11, MHP leader Devlet Bahceli called for ending the Turkey-EU readmission agreement, which mandates the return of migrants who entered Europe through Turkey, contrasting with Erdogan's policies.

Bahceli stated, "The demographic stability and future of our nation are threatened by dangerous migration flows. We must stop irregular migration and terminate the readmission agreement."

He also emphasized, "The gradual and voluntary return of Syrian refugees under temporary protection in our country should be ensured in a safe and dignified manner."


China Criticizes Turkey's 40% Tariff on Chinese Vehicles

On June 14, China's Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) expressed strong dissatisfaction and opposition to Turkey's decision to impose an additional 40 percent tariff on vehicles imported from China. MOFCOM urged Turkey to immediately remove the additional tariff.

MOFCOM stated that Turkey's action violates WTO rules, harms the interests of enterprises on both sides and negatively impacts Turkish consumers. This discrimination against Chinese products violates the principle of most-favoured-nation treatment, MOFCOM added.

On the same day, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian said Turkey's additional tariff on Chinese cars contradicts WTO rules and hinders the stable development of China-Turkey bilateral relations.

Finance Minister Simsek Meets with World Bank President to Discuss Economic Cooperation

On June 11, Minister of Treasury and Finance Mehmet Simsek met with World Bank Group President Ajay Banga at the Ministry of Treasury and Finance. The meeting, which lasted about an hour, was closed to the press.

Banga's visit marks the first visit to Turkey by a World Bank Group President in a long time. They discussed developments in the Turkish economy and the 'Country Cooperation Framework,' which outlines financial and technical cooperation between the World Bank and Turkey for the 2024-2028 fiscal years.

Following the World Bank visit, an International Monetary Fund (IMF) delegation, led by World Bank Vice President Lakshmi Shyam-Sunder and IMF Turkey Desk Chief James Walsh, visited Ankara. The IMF delegation held separate meetings with representatives from the economic bureaucracy and the private sector as part of their annual routine visit.

US Imposes New Sanctions on Over 300 Targets, Including Turkey

On June 12, the US imposed new sanctions on over 300 targets, which include entities in Russia, Turkey, China, and the United Arab Emirates. 

The Treasury Department and State Department announced these sanctions would increase pressure on foreign banks that continue to do business with Russia. Foreign financial institutions could now face penalties for engaging in transactions with blocked individuals or designated Russian banks such as VTB or Sberbank. 

According to the Treasury Department, the sanctions target more than 90 people and entities across various international networks, affecting countries like China, South Africa, Turkey, and the UAE.

Turkish Competition Authority Fines Google $14.85 Million for Hotel Search Obligations

On June 10, the Turkish competition authority fined Google approximately 482 million lira ($14.85 million) for not meeting its obligations regarding hotel searches. 

The authority announced it imposed the fine as Google did not resolve concerns raised by the competition board about fair competition with local search engines.

Turkey Proposes New Tax Measures Targeting Companies 

Turkish lawmakers have drafted new tax proposals primarily targeting companies to bolster the budget following last year’s earthquakes, Bloomberg reported.

According to a source familiar with the matter, the plans aim to generate an additional revenue of 226 billion liras ($7 billion), equivalent to about 0.7% of gross domestic product. The new legislation is expected to be presented for parliamentary discussion by the end of this month.

The proposals include imposing a minimum 15% tax on multinational corporations for profits earned in Turkey, which is expected to bring in 40 billion liras in extra annual income next year. Turkish companies are also slated to contribute an estimated 90 billion liras annually through a new minimum tax base.

Furthermore, real estate investment trusts will be required to pay a minimum corporate tax on profits from property transactions, projected to generate an additional revenue of 7.2 billion liras, according to the Treasury’s estimates.


Experts Call for Tougher Measures on Turkey's Non-Compliance with ECHR Rulings

The Human Rights Commission of the Federal Assembly held a special session in Berlin to mark the 71st anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the 76th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

During the session, experts highlighted Turkey's refusal to implement ECHR decisions regarding the release of businessman and human rights activist Osman Kavala and former HDP co-chairs Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag.

Experts called for a tougher stance against Turkey for ignoring the ECHR's Kavala decision and suggested that countries refusing to implement ECHR rulings should be excluded from the "club of democracies," warning that the Council of Europe risks losing its credibility otherwise.

AKP Withdraws Controversial Espionage Legislation Amid Free Speech Concerns

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has dropped plans to include a controversial piece of legislation in a proposed judicial package, which was feared to further curb freedom of speech by expanding the definition of espionage, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy group chairman Murat Emir told reporters during a meeting in parliament on June 13.

Emir stated that AKP officials have promised to remove the proposed "agents of influence" legislation from the ninth judicial package, which includes amendments to the Turkish Penal Code (TCK).

Turkish Court Arrests 6 Kurdish Politicians in Diyarbakir 

A Turkish court arrested six politicians, including former mayors and their deputies, from the predominantly Kurdish province of Diyarbakir. They were detained on June 8 as part of a crackdown on Kurdish politicians. The arrests followed a series of raids across Diyarbakir and its districts, conducted as part of an investigation by the Diyarbakir Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. 

Those arrested include Ahmet Kaya, former co-mayor of Ergani district, along with former co-mayors Ramazan Kartalmis and Fesih Yalcin, and deputy mayors Gulistan Polat, Esveri Malkoc, and Cavidan Yaman. The politicians are accused of 'membership in a terrorist organization' due to their participation in rallies, municipal activities, and other events between 2014 and 2019.


Putin Hopes to Meet Erdogan in Kazakhstan Next Month

Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his desire to meet with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan during a regional meeting in Kazakhstan next month. 

In a rare bilateral meeting, Putin met with Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan in Moscow on June 11.

He told Fidan that he hopes to meet Erdogan in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, around July 3rd or 4th for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meeting. Putin stated that this gathering would allow them to discuss various current issues.

U.S. Ambassador: Turkey's Ties with the West Strong Despite Gaza Disagreement

Turkey remains firmly aligned with the West, and its partnership with the United States is stronger than ever, despite disagreements over Israel's war in Gaza, U.S. Ambassador to Ankara Jeff Flake told Reuters in an interview.

Flake praised Turkey's support for Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty, highlighting its actions, such as halting Russian warships from transiting to the Black Sea and supplying drones to Kyiv.

Although President Erdogan's planned visit with President Biden at the White House last month was cancelled due to scheduling issues, Flake indicated that the tense situation in Gaza also played a role. However, he added that Turkey's close ties with Hamas leaders provide a valuable channel during conflicts and ceasefire talks, with Washington sometimes asking Ankara to deliver messages to Hamas.

Flake also expressed hope that Turkey would not join BRICS but said such a move wouldn't change its Western alignment. He emphasized that Turkey understands Russia's economy is becoming a wartime economy with limited prospects, especially due to Western sanctions. Finally, Flake mentioned that Washington is working with Ankara to reduce its energy dependence on Russia.

Turkish Navy Frigate Passage through Taiwan Strait Prompts Chinese Military Response

On June 4, local media reported that a Turkish Navy Ada-class anti-submarine frigate, patrolling near Japan since April, recently sailed through the Taiwan Strait. In response, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) quickly deployed the Type 052D Lishui guided missile destroyer, shifting its surveillance area from the western side of the center line to the eastern side.

Turkish-Islamist Party in Germany Fails to Secure European Parliament Seat

A newly formed Turkish-Islamist political party in Germany, accused of ties to President Erdogan, did not secure enough votes to win a seat in the European Parliament elections held on June 9. 

The party, the Democratic Alliance for Diversity and Awakening (DAVA), received 148,724 votes from among Germany's 65 million eligible voters. DAVA participated in the elections with 11 candidates, most of whom had Turkish origin.

US Imposes Sanctions on ISIL-Linked Individuals After Joint Investigation with Turkey

On June 14, the United States imposed sanctions on four individuals connected to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) following a joint investigation with Turkey, announced the Treasury Department.

The sanctions are aimed at three supporters of an ISIL-affiliated human smuggling network and one individual involved in setting up an ISIL militant training camp, the US Treasury said.

The statement highlighted that these individuals were investigated and sanctioned in close coordination with the Turkish government. It was also noted that Turkey is concurrently taking measures against this network domestically.

Erdogan Meets with UAE and Brazilian Presidents, Chats with Biden in G-7 Summit 

The leaders of the G7 countries, representing the world's seven largest economies, met this year in Borgo Egnazia in Italy's Puglia region, hosted by Italy, the term president. President Erdogan attended the 3-day summit as a special guest and met with United Arab Emirates President Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

In his meeting with Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Erdogan stressed the importance of Islamic unity against Israel's actions in Palestinian territories and called for an immediate and permanent ceasefire and humanitarian aid to the region.

During his discussion with Brazilian President Silva, Erdogan talked about Turkey-Brazil relations, the situation in Gaza, and global developments.

President Erdogan also had a brief conversation with US President Joe Biden during the summit.