Imamoglu verdict: Main opposition leader slightly criticizes GoodParty leader; Turkish media watchdog fines three Tv channels
Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the head of the Republican People's Party(CHP), the main opposition party in Turkey, said on December19, "One party should not interfere in the internal issues of anotherparty," indicating the opposition right-wing Good Party.
Kilicdaroglu's comments followed rumors that Meral Aksener, theleader of the Good Party, supports CHP's Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu,who was sentenced to prison with a political ban last week, if he makes a bidfor the presidential election next year.
The head of Turkey's higher electoral body (YSK) warnedthat if appeal courts uphold Imamoglu's conviction, he might not be ableto serve as president even if he wins the election. His comments receivedharsh criticism for being politically driven, which increased concerns aboutthe board's independence before the elections.
Moreover, three Tv channels were fined by Turkey'smedia watchdog for criticizing the prison sentence and political ban imposed onIstanbul Mayor Imamoglu and for criticizing Erdogan's economicpolicies.
Tele1 channel was penalized by the Radio and TelevisionSupreme Council (RTUK) after two of its leading commentators called theImamoglu verdict "a coup against the will of the people."
The third fine was levied against Fox TV for the wordsof Sera Kadigil, Istanbul deputy of Turkey's Labor Party, on the FoxTV programme.
For years RTUK has been accused of smacking independent orcritical news outlets with heavy fines, but as the elections come closer, thestate-run organization has ramped up its enforcement.
Interior Ministry files a criminal complaint against IstanbulMunicipality for alleged links of personnel to terrorist organizations
On December 24, Turkey's Interior Ministry revealed that theyhad filed a criminal complaint against the opposition-run Istanbul MetropolitanMunicipality. The Ministry claims that 1668municipality personnel have links to "terroristorganizations." The Ministry also added that 484 out of 505 people who arethe subject of this investigation were recruited without passing a securitycheck.
A year ago, the Ministry asserted that hundreds of municipalitypersonnel may have connections to "terrorist groups."
Imamoglu, the mayor of Istanbul, said that thegovernment is attempting to appoint a trustee mayor to the municipality.
Opposition leader and ex-deputy prime minister regrets supporting the2017 referendum
Ali Babacan, the leader of the opposition Democracy and ProgressParty (DEVA) and a former deputy prime minister in Erdogan's government, saidduring a Q&A session on a social media website that heregretted not publicly opposing the 2017 referendum that changed Turkey'ssystem to a presidential regime.
At the time of the referendum, Babacan was an AKP deputy in the parliamentand supported the presidential regime. He resigned from the ruling party inJuly 2019.
The French assailant kills three Kurds in Paris; HDP condemns theattack
On December 23, the 69-year-old attacker killed threeKurdish people at a Kurdish cultural centre and a hairdressing salon in centralParis, with one in intensive care and two with serious injuries. The Frenchshooter said that heintentionally targeted Kurds in a hate crime.
The pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) in Turkeydenounced the most recent incident in Paris and called for support for Kurdishpeople in Europe.
Top Turkish business group chair: Political bans have no place indemocracies
The president of the Turkish Industry and Business Association(TUSIAD), Orhan Turan, said thatpolitical bans had no place in a democratic society, referring to IstanbulMayor Ekrem Imamoglu's political ban issued by a local Turkish court last week.
Turan also added that the government's main aim should be toreduce inflation and that the minimum wage should be adjusted to keep employeesfrom being crushed by inflation.
Turkey increases the minimum wage by 55% for the new year
Turkish President Erdogan announced on December22 that the country's monthly minimum salary in 2023 will be 8,506 lira (455dollars), a 55% increase over the figure decided in July and a 100% increasefrom January.
The government determined the number as employer and employeeunions could not reach an agreement.
Turkish state banks in pursuit of securing more capital forlending ahead of elections
Under the condition of anonymity, two banking sources and onegovernment official told Reuters thatTurkish state-owned banks are in discussions with the Treasury and the country'ssovereign wealth fund to obtain more capital that would enable them to increaselending and extend loans before elections next year. According to one bankingsource, the total capital increase is expected to be nearly 2.7 billion dollars.
Tesla may soon expand to Turkey
Tesla, U.S. electric vehicles manufacturer, may soon open storesin Turkey. The tech giant is looking to hire people in Turkey. On December 21, Tesla'sjob board listed several "car servicing" positions for the Besiktasdistrict of Istanbul. Tesla currently has official stores in Israeland Jordan in the Middle East.
Top medicalassociation chair Fincanci remains in jail after court hearing
On December 23, after the hearing, alocal court ruled for Sebnem Korur Fincanci, the chair of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB),to remain in prison over the charges of "making propaganda for aterrorist organization."
Due to her comments questioning theallegations that the Turkish army deployed chemical weapons against theKurdistan Workers Party (PKK), Fincanci was arrested on October 27.
Sweden's highest court refuses to extradite Turkishjournalist explicitly voiced by Erdogan
Sweden's Supreme Court rejected the extradition of Turkishjournalist Bulent Kenes, the only person mentioned explicitly as a requirementfor Turkey's approval of NATO's Nordic expansion.
Erdogan specifically referred to Kenes, the former editor-in-chiefof Today's Zaman, at his meeting with Ulf Kristersson, the new primeminister of Sweden, in Ankara last month.
"The rejection of our request for the extradition of BulentKenes is a very unfavourable decision." said Turkish Foreign MinisterMevlut Cavusoglu during a press conference on December 20.
On December 22, Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom visitedAnkara and participated in a news conference with his Turkish counterpartCavusoglu.
Minister Billstrom said that Stockholm had taken concretesteps on each of the provisions of the trilateral agreement that the twocountries signed in June. In response to Billstrom's remarks, Cavusoglu saidthat there has been no real progress in the extradition of theso-called terrorist-related criminals and freezing of their assets.
Defense Minister Akar: Talks with Russia continue to use Syrianairspace for a possible operation
Turkey and Russia are discussing using the airspace over northernSyria for a future cross-border operation against the YPG, Turkish DefenseMinister Hulusi Akar said.
In November, Turkey commenced airstrikes targeting YPG targets,and President Erdogan cautioned of a potential ground offensive.
Bulgaria negotiates with Turkey to find alternative sources ofRussian gas
Rossen Hristov, energy minister of Bulgaria, was inIstanbul on December 23 to arrange forlong-term access to LNG terminals in neighbouring Turkey and gas transportationto its border.
Russia stopped supplying Bulgaria with gas in Aprilafter Sofia refused to pay in roubles. Russia was covering over 95% ofBulgaria's gas demands.
"We are committed to cutting our dependence on Russia,"Hristov said, hoping a deal with Turkey could be reached this year.
"Why Does a Diplomat's Accident Make the News?" byMustafa Enes Esen, Institute for Diplomacy and Economy
Last week, on December 15, a traffic accident occurred in Şişli,Istanbul. According to the first reports in the Turkish press, the U.S.consulate vehicle, which was travelling on Büyükdere Street, crashed into a carmoving in front of it.
The U.S. Embassy in Ankara made a statement upon the inclusion ofJulie Eadeh, the U.S. Consul General in Istanbul, in the accident even thoughshe had nothing to do with it. In the statement, the Embassy stated that amember of the U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Turkey was involved in the accident, butthe person involved in the accident, Mounir Elkhamri, was not the wife of JulieEadeh.
Foreign mission employees enjoy broad diplomatic privileges in thecountry where they work. Even if they are involved in a fatal accident, theymay not be tried. It seems unlikely that Elkhamri will be prosecuted andpunished for this accident if the U.S. authorities do not voluntarily removehis immunity in the Istanbul accident. The deliberate use of the name of ConsulGeneral Eadeh, who avoided coming to the fore with her family due to herpainful experiences in the past, disturbed the U.S. authorities.
"Will Turkey Pay a Price for Helping Iran BreakSanctions?" by Sinan Ciddi and Behnam Ben Taleblu, Foundation for Defense ofDemocracies
The designation of Ayan and his network should beget a much largerinvestigation by the Treasury Department into Iranian sanctions evasion schemesthrough Turkey and the degree to which the Turkish state may have permitted orenabled such activity. Conversely, inaction by the U.S. government could beperceived as a sign of weakness by other powers - be they friend or foe - andexploited.
The Biden administration should further authorize the TreasuryDepartment and any relevant authorities to investigate to the fullest extentpossible the money flows enabled by the Ayan network and the specific terroristorganizations they funded to impede ongoing and deter future smugglingoperations.
There's no doubt that the United States has bent over backward tobe seen as keeping Turkey on its side, given the issues raised by the Ukraineconflict. But it's high time policymakers realized that as long as Turkeycontinues to enable adversaries like Iran to evade American sanctions, it willonly be an ally in the name.
"The Dangerous Lesson Turkey's Erdogan Learned fromPutin" by Michael Rubin, 19FortyFive
In recent days, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedlythreatened to fire ballistic missiles at Athens unless Greece compromises itssovereignty in the Aegean Sea. Erdogan's threats were both predictable, givenState Department's "both-siderism," and given how he has seen Putin'sbombast work.
Erdogan's demands upon Greece are as unreasonable and predatory aswere Putin's threats upon Ukraine.
The threats Erdogan now makes should suffice for an end to allmilitary sales and cooperation with Turkey. Today it is time for Biden—orCongress if Biden will not step up—to put an embargo on Turkey. Nor shouldthere be any more port calls or joint exercises. The U.S. Air Force shouldrelocate from Incirlik.
So long as Putin, Xi, or Erdogan believe themselves immune fromthe consequence of aggression, then an attack becomes more likely.