Constitutional Court rejects HDP's request to postpone closureruling until after elections
On January 24, Turkey's high court rejected a request bythe pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) to delay the finalruling on the party closure case over alleged links to theoutlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) until after the elections in May.
The Constitutional Court also unanimously denied the HDP'srequest for an additional two months to prepare its defense.
It remains unclear when the court will make its final decision.
Opposition bloc rejects Erdogan's presidential candidacy
On January 26, the leaders of Turkey's six opposition partiesgathered for the eleventh time.
After the meeting, the parties declared that President Erdogancould not "constitutionally" run for re-election a third time unlessParliament agreed to call early elections.
The alliance is also expected to announce its presidentialcandidate at its next meeting on February 13.
Good Party deputy chair resigns after his remarks aboutKilicdaroglu's presidential candidacy
Deputy chair of the right-wing opposition Good Party, Cihan Pacaci,on January 26, announced hisresignation from the Presidency of Corporate Relations of his party after hisremarks about CHP leader Kilicdaroglu's possible presidential candidacy.
Before his resignation, Pacaci said that if Kilicdaroglu insistson running for the presidency, the Good Party can nominate its candidate.
Turkish Finance Minister defends lira devaluation as essential foreconomic growth
Turkish Finance Nureddin Nebati defended thedepreciation of the lira by claiming that if the value of the lira increases,the economy will slow down, and unemployment will climb. "If you make theTurkish Lira valuable, industrialization will slow down, and there will beunemployment," minister Nebati said.
Erdogan announces highly anticipated economic restructuringpackage before elections
After a cabinet meeting on January 23, President Erdogan announced that hisparty is preparing a draft bill to allow individuals and businesses torestructure debt to public entities before elections in May.
The draft would remove late payment penalties for unpaid taxbills, social security debts, and other liabilities and allow individuals andcompanies to pay their current debts in instalments after restructuring at afixed rate.
Turkish central bank to provide conversion support for companiesbringing foreign exchange
On January 26, the Turkish Central Bank declared that itwould provide foreign exchange conversion support to companies bringing foreigncurrency from abroad.
According to the central bank, as part of a scheme to protect liradeposits against foreign currency depreciation, businesses could benefit from a2% discount as a conversion support.
European Court of HumanRights AnnualReport 2022
In 2022, Turkey ranked first with 12,551(27 percent) applications out of 45,528 applications made to the ECHR andassigned to a judicial formation.
The ECHR ruled that there is a violationof human rights against Turkey in at least one article in 73 cases out of 80. Regardingpending cases, Turkey also came first with 20,115 cases out of 74,600applications.
The case of Turkish philanthropist andrights activist Osman Kavala was explicitly mentioned in the report.
"The case of Osman Kavala isemblematic. He has been in detention in Turkey for the past almost fifty-sixmonths despite a judgment of this court from 2019, as well as nine decisionsand one interim resolution by the Committee of Ministers of the Council ofEurope. His case shows the wrongs and unfair treatment that individuals mayface when the judiciary provides tools for repression instead of remediesagainst it."
President Erdogan: Sweden lost support for its NATO bid
After the Quran burning by anti-immigrant activist Rasmus Paludanoutside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm on January 21, Turkish PresidentErdogan announced on January23 that Sweden had lost Turkey's support for NATO membership.
"Those who encourage or justify this perversion haveundoubtedly considered the repercussions. If you do not respect Turkey's andMuslims' religious beliefs, we will not support your application to joinNATO," Erdogan said following a cabinet meeting.
On January 24, Turkey postponed a three-wayNATO meeting with Sweden and Finland in response to protests in Sweden. Themeeting, scheduled to take place in February in Brussels, has been postponed toa later date.
Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said on January24 that Sweden wants to restore dialogue with Turkeyfor joining NATO as soon as possible, indicating that becoming a NATOmember is Sweden's most important national security issue.
On January 27, the US, French, and German embassies warned theircitizens about possible terror attacks in Turkey, particularly in places ofworship.
On the other side, Sweden's foreign ministry advised its citizensin Turkey on January 28 to avoid crowds and demonstrations. "In the nextdays, continued demonstrations outside the embassy in Ankara and the consulategeneral in Istanbul might be expected," the ministry announced on its advice page for Swedesabroad.
Following warnings from foreign embassies in Turkey, the TurkishForeign Ministry issued two separate travel recommendations for Turkishcitizens on January 28 concerning potential Islamophobic, xenophobic, andracist acts in the United States and Europe.
The ministry advised its citizens to remain calm in theevent of possible xenophobic and racial violence and harassment and to stayaway from areas where protests may intensify.
On January 29, Turkish President Erdogan signaled that Ankaramight consent to Finland joining NATO earlier than Sweden, indicating that thiswould be a different message for Sweden, but also warned Finland not torepeat the same mistakes Sweden did.
Finland lifts arms embargo on Turkey to ease its NATO bid
In a new move intended to speed Finland's acceptance into NATO,Helsinki lifted an almostthree-year-old arms embargo on Turkey on January 25. The Finnish DefenseMinistry declared in a statement that it would restart exporting steel toTurkey to be used in the production of military equipment armor.
Ankara had earlier indicated that it was ready to ratifyFinland's membership. But Helsinki had previously stated that it would notjoin NATO without Sweden. Pekka Haavisto, the foreign minister of Finland,announced on January 23 that Helsinki would need to reevaluate its position ifTurkey continues to delay Sweden's entry.
U.S. top sanctions official to visit Turkey to warn once againabout Russian sanctions
Brian Nelson, undersecretary for terrorism and financialintelligence, will travel to Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Turkey nextweek. Nelson will visit Ankara andIstanbul on February 2-3 to meet with government officials, businesses, andfinancial institutions to underline that Washington will continue aggressivelyenforcing sanctions it has imposed on Russia over its war in Ukraine.
During the talks, Nelson is also expected to stress that theycould lose access to G7 markets if they do business with sanctioned Russianentities.
"Ankara fumes over Turkey comments in Pompeo's new book"by Nazlan Ertan, Al-Monitor
Ankara blasted former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo'sremarks on Turkey in his new book released this week as "misinformation"and "hypocrisy," accusing the hard-line politician of trying to woovoters as he vies for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
Turkish officials are primarily angry over Pompeo's narrative onthe two countries' differences over Kurdish militant groups and his reflectionson the strength of the Turkish military.
Turkey's top diplomat [Mevlut Cavusoglu] said it was "amazing"that Washington thought that the Turkish army did not have the capacity todefeat I.S. when Turkish forces had already recaptured chunks of territory frommilitant groups in northern Syria.
The reference to the video [July 15 2016, coup attempt] — which hedescribed as "so long and so obnoxious" that he suspected "amental health issue" — prompted Cavusoglu to accuse Pompeo ofdisrespecting the Turkish "martyrs" who died trying to prevent theputsch.
"Turkey faces tough options on Syrian rebel allies amidDamascus thaw" by Fehim Tastekin, Al-Monitor
Should the military escalation on the ground continue as Turkeypresses ahead with fence-mending with Damascus, rebels from the Turkish-backedSyrian National Army (SNA) and other armed factions might gravitate to HTS,which stands out as the best organised and disciplined outfit, both on thebattleground and in terms of civil administration via the so-called SalvationGovernment it has established in Idlib.
Integrating Turkish-paid SNA members into the Syrian army withcertain guarantees could be considered as a likelihood. Yet there is anothercritical factor to consider. Laying down arms and crossing to Turkey remainsthe last option of safe haven for rebels who have moved to Idlib and northernAleppo from other battlegrounds in Syria. Will Ankara accede to the prospect ofwar-hardened militants becoming its own domestic issue? It appears reluctant toanswer such disturbing questions for now as it awaits the moment the Turkishand Syrian leaders shake hands.
"Erdogan thrusts NATO expansion issue into Turkey'stense election campaign" by Huseyin Hayatsever, Birsen Altayli andJonathan Spicer, Reuters
This month, two provocative incidents in Stockholm have energisedTurkish President Erdogan ahead of tight elections and dimmed Sweden, andFinland's hopes of joining NATO before the summer, diplomats, analysts andopposition politicians say.
For Erdogan, it was an opportunity to rally support and distractfrom a cost-of-living crisis weighing on voters' minds.
Leaders of the opposition alliance looking to topple Erdogan andhis Islamist-rooted AK Party scrambled this week to fall in line with his viewand even take a harder line.
But analysts say the economy will likely remain the determiningfactor for most voters rather than foreign policy.
"CanThe Biden Administration Ensure That Turkey's Erdogan Stays Bribed?" byClifford Smith, 19FortyFive
Former NewYork City Mayor Rudy Giuliani dedicated an entire chapter in his post-Mayoraltybook Leadership to the idea that you should bribe only those who will staybribed. "Sometimes a leader has no alternative but to deal with someoneuntrustworthy," and at times like that, you must "lock up everydetail," and even still be aware that "they'll find some way toweasel out of it….
Erdogan ismaking intentionally unreasonable demands, after initially agreeing to allowSweden to enter NATO, possibly in order to hold over allowing the Scandinaviancountries till after his election, or worse. This is the behavior of someonewho will not stay bribed.
Yetindications are that Biden administration still considers Erdogan an actor thatwill "stay bribed." This is a mistake. The Biden administration needsto collect a significant change in Turkish behavior upfront, or else riskgetting little or nothing.
Turkey'sslide into an authoritarian state has been unmistakable, but just opaque enoughthat some are still failing to grasp its significance. If the Biden administrationdoes not quickly internalize the truth concerning Turkey's shocking descent,expect U.S. interests, the interests of NATO and its prospective members inScandinavia, and our shared cause in Ukrainian victory, to suffer.
"Howactivists shaped Sweden's NATO debacle" by Elisabeth Braw, Politico
Sweden'sprocess to join NATO should have been the easiest accession in the alliance'shistory — then Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan decided to play hardball,mixing legitimate fears about terrorism with electoral opportunisticpoliticking.
Unfortunately,various activists in Sweden, some Kremlin-linked, then decided to exploit thishighly fraught situation, and by aggravating Erdoğan and Turkey, they've nowhelped turn the country's NATO accession from virtually guaranteed to one that'snow in serious jeopardy — and other countries should learn from this mess.
TheQuran-burning protest was partly organised and funded by Chang Frick, ajournalist who once worked for Kremlin-controlled news outlet Russia Today.Frick runs a contrarian website, Nyheter Idag, and has in the past sported aT-shirt emblazoned with Russian President Vladimir Putin's face — though morerecently he's supported Ukrainian refugees.
Indeed, onemight ask whether Russia actually had a hand in the spectacle, and whether theactivists are simply useful idiots. Either way, other countries should takenote.
“Erdogan the arsonist (Erdogan Der Brandstifter)” by Jonas Breng, Stern
Erdogan has been ruling Turkey for so long that it is almostimpossible to imagine Turkey without him. But this year, on the 100thanniversary of the republic, everything may develop differently.
Erdogan, like an actor, can raise the fire if this works for him.In the Kurdish regions of Turkey, Syria and even in Germany. He makes hisopponents a target against his supporters who defend his own line.
Especially in this year's elections, he needs every vote,including the votes of Turks in Germany. He is trying to impress them in everypossible way. In his efforts, he also needs a problematic partner: NationalistMovement Party (MHP). This party is entrenched in critical positions in thearmy, judiciary and bureaucracy and is putting pressure on Erdogan. Well, wouldErdogan accept this if he lost the elections? His ruling AKP, like thefar-right MHP, is so entrenched in the army and the police and critics thinkthat Erdogan can stay in power despite the will of the people.