by instituDE, published on 27 March 2023


Nation Alliance's presidential candidate visits HDP co-leaders to seek party's support

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the presidential candidate of the main opposition bloc, visited the co-leaders of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) in the parliament on March 20.

The leaders discussed various issues at the meeting, which lasted around an hour and a half. Following the meeting, Kilicdaroglu briefed his party's position on the Kurdish question, saying, "The parliament is the address for the solution of all problems, including the Kurdish question."

Pervin Buldan, a co-chair of the HDP, said that they had discussed "the most fundamental problems" of the country and "what should be done after the elections."

Kilicdaroglu meets Germany's SPD leader in Turkey 

On March 21, the Republican People's Party (CHP) leader and opposition bloc's presidential candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu met with Germany's ruling partner Social Democratic Party (SPD) co-chair Lars Klingbeil and the accompanying delegation in the earthquake-ravaged province of Gaziantep.

During their meeting, the CHP and SPD leaders underscored the severe effects of the earthquakes that struck southeast Turkey and northern Syria on February 6.

Pro-Kurdish HDP not to run a candidate in presidential election

On March 22, the Labor and Freedom Alliance, which also includes the People's Democratic Party (HDP), decided not to nominate any candidate in the presidential election to be held on 14 May, a move to support Kemal Kilicdaroglu, Nation Alliance's candidate, uniting against President Erdogan's re-election. HDP votes will be critical for the opposition to surpass the 50% threshold required to elect the president and achieve a majority in parliament on May 14.

Conversely, the HDP declared it would compete under the Green Left Party in parliamentary elections to avoid party closure before the polls. 

On the same day, the court denied the party's request to postpone its oral defense from April 11 until after the elections.

New parties join ruling party's coalition

On March 20, the Islamist New Welfare Party (YRP) announced that it would not join any alliance and that its leader Fatih Erbakan would run as a presidential candidate in the May 14 elections.

However, the party joined the ruling coalition People's Alliance at the last minute, on March 24, just before election protocols were submitted to the High Election Board (YSK). Erbakan said that after a meeting with President Erdogan on March 24, they reached an agreement on "principles" with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). 

In addition, the radical Islamist Free Cause Party (HUDA-PAR) declared that it would run on the deputy list of the ruling party in the general elections.

Former CHP deputies urge presidential candidate Ince to withdraw from race

Former 107 Republican People's Party (CHP) deputies called Homeland Party leader Muharrem Ince to withdraw from the presidential race in favor of the opposition bloc's candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu. Former deputies emphasized in their letter that the country's top priority is to get rid of the one-man rule as quickly as possible.

There are some concerns that Ince is dividing the votes of the opposition and could force the elections into a second round. 

According to the regulations, Ince must collect the signatures of at least 100,000 citizens to be nominated as a presidential candidate.

The High Election Board (YSK) set March 27 as the final date for obtaining the required signatures. On March 25, Ince collected the signatures of 100.000 citizens thanks to the support of the AKP, which mobilized its party organization to enable Ince to divide the opposition bloc.

Kilicdaroglu announced on March 23 that he intends to garner more than 50% of the votes in the first round of presidential elections and also plans to visit Ince to get his party's support. Ince welcomed the meeting request and said that he would accept it.   

On March 21, Ince called on the Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Good Party to leave the Nation Alliance and join a new coalition with his party. Ince frequently says that the Nation Alliance would fail to solve Turkey's problems.

Election board approves Erdogan's third term candidacy; former election board head says the opposite

Despite the Constitution's two-term limitation on the presidency, the Supreme Election Board (YSK) unanimously accepted President Erdogan's application to be a presidential candidate in the 14 May election.


Number of closed businesses increases by 52 percent in February 

According to the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB), some 1,178 businesses closed in February, a 52.4 percent increase compared to the same month last year due to the ongoing economic crisis and the impact of the devastating earthquakes in February.

The TOBB also reported that 9,473 new companies were founded in February, a 33.5 percent decrease from the previous month and a 3.8 percent decrease compared to February 2022.

EU Donors' Conference to provide Turkey and Syria €7 billion for relief efforts after earthquakes

At a conference held on March 20 and organized by the European Union and the Swedish Council Presidency, donors provided 7 billion euros in aid to Turkey (6.05 billion euros)  and Syria (950 million euros) for reconstruction efforts following the devastating earthquakes in February.

The donation includes one billion euros from the European Commission, of which half will be used by the European Investment Bank (EIB), the lending arm of the bloc. The EIB temporarily lifted its nearly 4-year-long ban on funding Turkey to provide 500 million euros to contribute to relief efforts.

"Foreign investors test Turkey's waters after years in the cold" by Jonathan Spicer and Nevzat Devranoglu, Reuters

Scores of foreign investors are returning to Istanbul and Ankara after years in the cold for a flurry of meetings to understand whether Turkish elections could bring a tidal change for its economy and financial markets.

According to several investors and bankers involved, large foreign lenders including BBVA (BBVA.MC) and BNP Paribas (BNPP.PA) organized trips and calls for clients to meet current Turkish policymakers and opposition officials and advisers.

The investor visits and conference calls have ramped up in recent weeks and will continue through April, garnering far more interest than in years past including before the COVID-19 pandemic halted much travel, the sources said.

Another person familiar with an array of planned meetings said not only Western but Gulf-based investors are making inquiries about potential foreign direct investments, or FDI, rather than just financial assets.

A Western foreign investor who will visit Turkey soon said the group plans to listen to the opposition as much as possible but also meet central bank policymakers. 


57 children detained in Diyarbakir Newroz celebrations

Three children's rights organizations in Diyarbakir issued a joint statement outlining the violations of children's rights during the Newroz demonstrations. The police detained 57 children during the Newroz celebrations on March 21, the statement said.

The joint statement underscored that according to article 15 of the Law on Protection of the Child, the prosecutor assigned to the children's office should investigate a child. However, the investigation was carried out by the prosecutor assigned to the anti-terror branch of the police, the organizations said.


Turkey suspends flow of sanctioned goods to Russia as of March 1

Turkey suspended the transit of goods sanctioned by Western countries to Russia this month due to increasing pressure from the United States and Europe, a top export official and an EU official told Reuters.

An official from the European Union said Ankara had given verbal assurances to the European Commission that as of March 1, products will not be delivered to Russia if they are subject to EU, US, or UK sanctions and export controls.

According to Cetin Tecdelioglu, head of the Istanbul Ferrous and Nonferrous Metals Exporters Association, the Turkish government provided businesses with a list of banned products and directed them not to transship those to Russia starting on March 1. However, products made in Turkey, even if they contain parts from other countries, can still be delivered to Russia without any restrictions, Tecdelioglu added.

US Senator Menendez harshly criticizes Turkey, says it doesn't deserve to get F-16 jets 

Bob Menendez, US Senator and Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, harshly criticized Turkey for its actions on NATO enlargement, relations with Greece and Cyprus, and human rights record, claiming it does not "deserve" to get new fighter jets from the United States.

Senator Menendez made the remarks during a hearing when US Secretary of State Antony Blinken informed senators and replied to their questions.

Noting that Ankara "violates another country's airspace and territorial waters without provocation, buys Russian military equipment in violation of US law, has more lawyers and journalists in jail than almost any other country and jails its main political opponent right before elections, "How would you characterize such a country," he asked Blinken. 

Blinken responded, "I guess I'd call it a challenging ally.

"I call this country Turkey, and I do not believe that such a country deserves to get F-16s," Menendez said.

ICC rules against Turkey in arbitration case, Iraq halts crude exports 

Iraq ceased exporting crude oil from the northern Kirkuk resources and semi-autonomous Kurdistan region on March 25 after winning a long-running arbitration lawsuit against Turkey.

Baghdad previously claimed that Turkey had violated a mutual agreement by enabling the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to export oil through a pipeline to the Turkish port of Ceyhan. Iraq also regards KRG exports through the Turkish Ceyhan port as unlawful.

On March 23, the International Chamber of Commerce ruled in favor of Iraq. According to the ruling, Turkey has to pay Iraq around 1.5 billion dollars before interest for 2014-2018. A second arbitration case is also pending for the post-2018 period.

An Iraqi oil ministry official told Reuters that a delegation would soon travel to Turkey to meet with energy authorities and agree on a new mechanism to export northern crude oil from Iraq in accordance with the arbitration ruling.

Earlier this week, Turkish President Erdogan and Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, who traveled to Turkey for the first time since he came to power in October 2022, met in Ankara. However, both sides made limited progress on two controversial issues; the Turkish military presence in northern Iraq and the water-sharing dispute over transboundary rivers shared by Turkey and Iraq.


"Erdogan tries to salvage economic credibility before Turkey's election" by Orhan Coskun and Jonathan Spicer, Reuters

Former Turkish economy tsar Mehmet Simsek's refusal to return to politics has left President Tayyip Erdogan's ruling party scrambling to rebuild its economic credibility less than two months before landmark elections, insiders and analysts say.

Some AK Party (AKP) members had wanted Simsek to champion the party's latest rhetorical pivot to more free-market policies, after years of unorthodoxy.

The AKP declined to comment on whether it was revising its economic strategy ahead of the vote. Simsek declined to comment on his meeting with Erdogan.

The episode shows the difficulty of rebranding a government whose policies have set off a cost-of-living crisis and left the economy and financial markets heavily state-managed, analysts and investors say. 

"No US-Turkey Rapprochement Is Possible Under Erdogan" by Sinan Ciddi, Foundation for Defense of Democracies

After 21 years in power, while a rapprochement between the United States and Turkey may be possible, it cannot happen until President Recep Tayyip Erdogan leaves office. Put simply, Erdogan shares none of the values that define and undergird the transatlantic alliance that Turkey was an integral and trusted member of.

The greatest barrier to rekindling substantive Turkish-American ties is Erdogan himself. The Turkish leader has since the late 2010s slowly morphed into a transnational threat that is an insult to democratic governance worldwide. He is a forerunner among a small number of world leaders that despise substantive democratic governance. 

Erdogan wants all the benefits of being a strategic partner of the United States while consolidating an autocratic regime. This is both unrealistic and unacceptable.

If Turkish voters elect Kemal Kilicdaroglu to succeed Erdogan as president in May, Turkey will have a genuine opportunity to rebuild a substantive relationship, not only with the United States, but with all of its Western partners. On the other, should Erdogan be re-elected, he will seek to implement a reset of ties with the West. The United States should not settle for a bad ally.

"It's 50-50: Erdogan risks defeat in Turkey's knife-edge election" by Elcin Poyrazlar, Politico

If civil servants in Ankara are an accurate barometer of shifting fronts in Turkey's national politics, then the country's longest serving leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, really could be in trouble in May's election.

The main opposition, the Republican People's Party (CHP), says bureaucrats are already sending in their resumes in preparation for a new order, sensing that this could be the end of Erdogan's more-than-two-decade dominance over the state.

Although the opposition feels it has never had such momentum, however, Erdogan's camp says the president's extensive private polling tells a different story. They add that when people are asked who they think is going to win the election - often an accurate predictor of a final result - more than 50 percent say Erdogan.

Indeed, holding the election so soon after such a disaster [February 6 earthquake] - and in a region still subject to emergency rule by Erdogan - poses a huge logistical challenge and a possible threat to a fair and transparent contest.

Opponents have also speculated that Erdogan's government could manipulate around 5 percent of the vote, particularly in such confused circumstances — although the AKP has always furiously rejected such insinuations.