by instituDE, published on 2 January 2023



Opposition DEVA Party leader Babacan promises return to IstanbulConvention

Democracy and Progress (DEVA) Party Chair Ali Babacan addressedparty members on December 28 in Ankara, unveiling the party's19-point Women's Action Plan.

Babacan pledged that ifDEVA Party comes to power after the elections, he would first rejointhe Istanbul Convention, a Council of Europe Treaty for fighting violenceagainst women and children from which Turkey withdrew in 2021.


HDP commemorates Roboski Massacre on its 11th anniversary

On December 28, a memorial service was held for thevictims killed by Turkish Armed Forces jets 11 years ago at their gravesite. Anairstrike by Turkish Armed Forces jets killed 34 persons, including 19children, in the Roboski village of Uludere, Sirnak. 

Ferhat Encu, co-chair of the People's Democratic Party (HDP) inIstanbul, who lost family members and beloved ones in the Roboski massacre,said, "President Erdogan promised not to allow the massacre to beforgotten in dark corridors of Ankara, but the massacre has been covered up sofar,"

HDP Co-Chair Pervin Buldan also said that the government has madeno effective investigation and has not revealed the perpetrators until now.


Opposition leaders meet after rumors of dispute over Imamoglu'scandidacy

The leader of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP),Kemal Kilicdaroglu, and the leader of the opposition Good Party, Meral Aksener,met on December27 in Ankara. The move came after rumors of dispute on who will be thepresidential candidate in the next elections.

No official statements were released after the meeting, whichlasted for two hours and thirty minutes.


Senior ruling party figure signals early elections

Numan Kurtulmus, Deputy Chair of the Justice and Development Party(AKP), signaled early presidential and general elections, which were scheduledfor June 2023.

"Currently, the date of the election is June 2023. If certainrequirements arise, it may be possible to hold the elections sooner.But such an issue is not currently on our agenda." Kurtulmus toldpro-government daily Yeni Safak.




Erdogan eliminates retirement age requirement before elections toget voter's support

On December 28, President Erdogan lifted theretirement age limit for workers who started working before September 1999. Erdogan said 2.25 million individuals are eligible to retireimmediately.


The government's move comes months before the elections, whichmany expect to be Erdogan's most challenging in his two decades of power.


Erdogan: Turkey's Black Sea natural gas discovery currently totals710 bcm

President Erdogan announced on December26 that the total amount of natural gas that Turkey has discovered in theBlack Sea now stands at 710 billion cubic meters (bcm) after a new field was discovered.

Erdogan said Turkey had discovered a new reserve of 58 bcm inthe Caycuma-1 field and had increased the volume of an estimated reserve in theSakarya field from 540 bcm to 652 bcm.


Turkish Trade Minister warns grocery chains against priceincreases after minimum wage hike

Trade Minister Mehmed Mus hosted the headsof the four largest grocery chains with the highest number of branches in Turkeyto warn them against unjust price increases. 

There were some reports that price hikes in basic goods andfoodstuffs were observed just after the government announced a 54% rise in theminimum monthly wage for 2023 last week.


Poverty line in Turkey exceeds 26,000 lira in December

According to data from the Confederation ofTurkish Trade Unions, Turkey's poverty line increased to 26,481 lira in December,over five times greater than the country's minimum wage (5,500 liras). For thesame month, the hunger line reached 8,130 lira.


The government increased the minimum wage to 8,506 lira for 2023,slightly over the hunger line.  


Turkey reduces gas prices for industrial use and places ofworship

Turkey discounted gas prices for places of worship by42.73 percent, starting on January 1, 2023. The discount would alsoinclude industrial consumption with changing rates.

Turkish President Erdogan announced thediscount on Twitter on December 31.

The discount followed Russia's announcement to postpone thestate-owned gas importer and distributor BOTAS's 20-billion-dollar paymentuntil 2024.




Top Court rules finefor 'No' vote call in 2017's referendum unlawful

Ali Riza Ilker Cebeci, chairman of theTurkish Dentists Union of the time, applied to the Constitutional Court ofTurkey (AYM) for the financial fine imposed for his "No" vote call inthe 2017 referendum on the Constitutional Amendment. 

The Court found the fine unlawful and ruled that "his freedom of expression was violated."

Cebeci will be paid for litigationexpenses worth 10,195 lira (540 US dollars)


Appeals court upholdssentences for Gezi Park protests

The 3rd Penal Chamber of the IstanbulRegional Court of Justice upheld the verdict in the case involving the 2013 Gezi Park protests.

Osman Kavala, a businessman and rightsactivist, was sentenced to aggravated life in prison on April 25 for attemptingto overthrow the government. Seven defendants received sentences of 18 years inprison for their involvement in the attempt.

The Court found the defendants guilty offunding and organizing the nationwide protests against the Turkish government,which involved millions of people taking to the streets.

The Court of Cassation will now reviewthe appeals, the highest appeals court in the country.




Turkey summons French ambassador after protests in Paris followingmurder of three Kurds

After a Frenchman killed three Kurds in Paris last week, severalKurdish groups accused Turkey of being behind the killings and blamed Paris forfailing to safeguard the Kurds. Kurdish groups also staged many"anti-Turkish" protests in Paris and other French cities.

On December 26, the Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned France'sambassador to Ankara to express its dissatisfaction over "blackpropaganda" against Turkey.


Israel's new ambassador officially assumes her position in Ankara

Israel's new ambassador, Irit Lillian, officially assumed her role inAnkara on December 27 after presenting her letter of credentials to TurkishPresident Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Lillian had been the embassy's chargéd'affaires for the previous two years.

Sakir Ozkan Torunlar, the new ambassador of Turkey to Israel,also handed the Israeli Foreign Ministry a copy of his letter ofcredentials earlier this month. On January 11, he is expected to deliverthe letter to President Herzog.


Turkish, Syrian defense ministers meet in Russia after more than adecade

On December 28, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu hosted anunannounced meeting between Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and his Syriancounterpart Ali Mahmoud Abbas. This historic event marked the first officialengagement between Damascus and Ankara since the start of the Syrian Civil Warin 2011. The head of Turkish intelligence, Hakan Fidan, also attended themeeting with his Russian and Syrian counterparts.

Turkish Defense Ministry said that the talksincluded the Syrian crisis, the refugee issue, and joint efforts to fight allterrorist organizations in Syria. The three countries also agreed tocontinue the trilateral talks. 

Murat Yetkin, a veteran journalist and political analyst, read the latestmeeting as a suspension of the ground offensive option, at least temporarily,provided that there would be no further PKK/YPG attacks.

Yetkin said that the return of the Syrians who have been temporarilyprotected in Turkey is one of Erdogan's crucial topics before the elections tocalm his supporters. "Erdogan wants to see action, even if it is merelysymbolic. In contrast, Assad is reluctant to do any favor to Erdogan beforethe elections," he added.



"Will Erdogan and Al-Assad Shake Hands Soon?" by MustafaEnes Esen, Institute for Diplomacy and Economy

Turkey's National Defense Minister, Hulusi Akar, and Chief ofNational Intelligence Organization (MIT), Hakan Fidan, held a trilateralmeeting with their Russian and Syrian counterparts in Moscow on December 28. Suchmeetings enhance the image that things are getting normalized between Turkeyand Syria and that the Syrian refugees can return to their homeland sometime inthe near future.  

If Erdogan can secure a meeting with al-Assad ahead of theelections, this could give him an edge over his yet-to-be-named opponent. ButDamascus will probably keep the talks between the countries within the realm ofintelligence and security until the next elections. If Erdogan is to stay, thenit will reshape its negotiating strategy.

These trilateral meetings will likely continue among the securitybureaucracy for some time. Likewise, the agenda will be set around securityissues and reversing the SDF's gains in the last decade, a common goal thatserves both the interests of Ankara and Damascus. It is most likely that theAl-Assad government, which profoundly mistrusts Erdogan, will wait until thepresidential elections in Turkey for further normalization of relations. Butone should keep in mind that Ankara will probably have less incentive to yieldto the Syrian demands, such as withdrawing Turkish troops from Syria afterErdogan secures another win in the elections.

"Factbox: Turkey's raft of pre-election spending to swellbudget" by Nevzat Devranoglu and Daren Butler, Reuters

President Tayyip Erdogan's decision to allow more than 2 millionTurkish workers to retire early is his latest measure to ease economichardships in the run-up to tight elections, and it will swell governmentspending to record levels.

The fiscal stimulus - also covering the minimum wage, gas bills,and other areas - is seen directed at voters ahead of presidential andparliamentary elections that pose Erdogan's biggest political test in twodecades in power.

Last week the government raised the monthly minimum wage to 8,500lira ($455) for 2023, up 100% from a year earlier. The hike, intended to bluntthe sting of inflation, raised employers' concerns over increased costs andlayoffs.

"Turkish leaders woo women voters as election year closesin" by Nazlan Ertan, Al-Monitor

Aksener, whose five-year-old Iyi Party has formed a strategicalliance with the social democratic Republican People's Party (CHP), rarelyplays the feminist card in her political discourse. But last week, her partyorganized the "Great Women's Gathering," for which women supportersacross Turkey were taken to the capital and non-governmental organizationsadvocating women's and LGBT+ rights were invited.

Aksener accused the government of discriminating between men andwomen in life and work, limiting women to the roles of wives and mothers,allowing or even encouraging early marriages and turning a blind eye tofemicides. "We'll write history with women in the days to come," sheadded.

Aksener is not alone in efforts to garner female votes as Turkeyapproaches elections supposed to take place between April and June 2023. On December28, DEVA, a center-right party founded by Ali Babacan once known as thegovernment's economic maverick, disclosed its own women's program, pledging areturn to the Istanbul Convention, founding a ministry responsible for women'srights and a firm battle against early marriage and child abuse. 

"Turkey's Saturday Mothers, 27 years on, are still searchingfor justice and closure" by Arzu Geybullayeva, Global Voices

The Saturday Mothers first gathered in 1995, on Istiklal avenue,in Istanbul, looking for answers about the whereabouts of their loved ones whowent missing in the 1980s and 1990s while in police custody. According to TruthJustice Memory Center (HAHM), a local human rights organization set up in 2011,approximately 1,352 individuals have been victims of forced disappearances inTurkey at the hands of security forces and paramilitary groups between the 1980military coup and 2013.

Throughout their existence, Saturday Mothers routinely facedpolice violence. But as Saturday Mothers continue to call for justice, theirfamily members are also being targeted.

Despite years of campaigning, speaking before the Human RightsResearch Commission of the Turkish Parliament in 2011, and a meeting with thethen Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2011, little to no progress hasbeen made in getting a response from the state.

But the mothers are determined. Now, in their 27th year of existence,they are determined to get justice for their families, their loved ones, and tofinally find peace.