Erdogan signals elections to be held in May
President Erdogan signaled on March 1during a meeting at the parliament in Ankara that elections will take place onMay 14.
Since last month's earthquake, there have been conflicting rumorsabout whether the presidential and parliamentary elections would be postponeduntil later in the year or held as scheduled on June 18. Election officialswill be visiting the earthquake region this week to prepare a report on theregion's readiness for the elections.
Turkey's opposition party leaves the election coalitionone day after their regular meeting
Meral Aksener, the leader of Turkey's right-wing opposition GoodParty, declared on March 3that she rejected the decision of the opposition alliance over the presidentialcandidate and left the bloc.
"I regret to announce that the alliance has lost itsability to reflect the will of the nation in its decisions and turned intoa notary's desk striving to dictate a single candidate by ignoringother alternatives," Aksener said on March 3 at her party's headquarters.
She claimed that at bloc's regular meeting this week on March 2,five parties in the alliance proposed Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of theRepublican People's Party (CHP), as the alliance's presidential candidate, butshe proposed Mansur Yavas and Ekrem Imamoglu, CHP mayors of Ankara and Istanbulrespectively as presidential candidates. Aksener also called on mayors Yavasand Imamoglu to declare their candidacy, presenting this as a call from thenation to do their duty.
Several party members resigned from theGood Party and shared their proof on social media.
After Aksener's remarks, Kilicdaroglu said therewas no room for political games in the alliance and signaled thatmore parties could join. The parties' leaders consisting of the oppositionbloc, released separate statements emphasizing unity after Aksener'sstatements.
Later in the day, Imamoglu and Yavas releasedstatements on their social media accounts reiterating their support for CHPleader Kilicdaroglu and the opposition bloc.
The pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party gathered its top figuresin the party on March 4. HDP deputy co-chair Tayip Temel announced that theparty would determine whether to nominate a presidential candidate afterthis week's Labor and Freedom Alliance meeting. The alliance includesseveral leftist parties, such as the Workers' Party (TIP) and Labor Party(EMEP).
On the same day, five opposition party leaders of thebloc met at the FelicityParty's headquarters in the capital Ankara without the participationof Good Party leader Aksener to discuss the latest developments.
After the meeting, the leaders issued a joint statement statingthat they aim to win a victory with no losers. According to the statement,the leaders will meet once again on March 6 to declare their presidentialcandidate and the road map for the transition process after the elections.
Recent surveys suggest ruling party largely maintains supportdespite earthquakes
Despite considerable criticism of the government's first responseto the disaster, polls on March 3indicated that Turkish President Erdogan's ruling AK Party seemed to havemostly preserved its popularity after last month's earthquake.
Two polls conducted by Metropoll and Istanbul Economics Researchdemonstrated that the opposition had not gained any new supporters partlybecause of opposition bloc has not yet announced a presidential candidate,even though the elections are only two months away. Another reason,reportedly, was the opposition's lack of concrete plans to rebuild theearthquake-devastated areas.
While just 28% of poll respondents blamed the government, 34% heldbuilding contractors accountable for earthquake damage.
Turkey's economy grows by 5.6% in 2022; expectations lower for2023
Turkey's GDP increased by 5.6% in 2022, according to the official data released onFebruary 28. In the fourth quarter of 2022, growth was 3.5%, down from the4% growth rate of the third quarter. While financial and insurance activitiesincreased by 21.8% in 2022, the construction sector shrank by 8.4%.
In 2023, growth is predicted to decrease dramatically to 2.8% asearthquakes in February caused extensive damage in the country's south,according to a Reuters poll.
Goldman warns against potential foreignexchange instability in Turkey ahead of elections
In a research note published on March 1, Goldman Sachs warned about thepossibility of volatility in the foreign exchange market in the lead-up toTurkey's elections due to years of depletion of currency reserves and otherexpensive measures.
The bank claimed that issues might arise if companies andinvestors start to worry that a new government's adoption of more orthodoxeconomic policies would exacerbate volatility in the short-term foreignexchange market.
According to Goldman, after excluding illiquid assets likegold, bilateral swap lines, and IMF Special Drawing Rights, Turkey's reservesafter last month's devastating earthquakes total barely 42 billiondollars.
Reuters: Central bank's cheap export loan scheme reaches maximumlimit
The total amount of bank loans granted under a Turkish centralbank program that promotes exports and import substitution has reached 100 billionTurkish lira.
No loans under the Advance Loans Against Investment Commitmentscheme have been provided this week, according to two bankers who spoke anonymously.They added that the central bank would need to increase the limits for issuingmore loans.
"ICC asked to investigate Turkish government over persecutionof opponents around the world", The Guardian
The international criminal court (ICC) in The Hague is being askedto investigate the Turkish government for alleged crimes against humanity inits pursuit and persecution of opponents around the world.
A panel of European legal experts has compiled a dossier ofwitness testimonies giving details of torture, state sponsored kidnapping, andwrongful imprisonment of about 200,000 people, said to have been carried out bythe government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The dossier is due to be delivered onWednesday to the chief ICC prosecutor, Karim Khan.
Turkey is not a signatory to the Rome Statute that established theICC, but the Turkey Tribunal, an investigative body set up in 2020 by lawyersand human rights groups to collate evidence and witness testimonies, said thatat least some of the alleged crimes were carried out on the territory of 45 ICCmember states, as the government has pursued its perceived enemies well beyondits borders. Therefore, the tribunal argues, the ICC has jurisdiction.
The ICC presentation says there were 17 cases of enforceddisappearance in which victims were abducted from Kenya, Cambodia, Gabon,Albania, Bulgaria, Moldova, Mongolia and Switzerland and taken back to Turkey.
Turkish court sentences journalist to jail, first ruling under newcensorship law
A Turkish court on February 28 sentenced ajournalist to 10 months in prison for spreading disinformation. It is the firstjail term under the new disinformation law that parliament passed four monthsago, which critics say threatens free speech.
Journalist Sinan Aygul shared a Twitter post claiming the securityforces sexually abused a 14-year-old girl but later deleted his post andapologized for sharing it before confirming with the authorities.
Cavusoglu: NATO talks between Turkey and Nordic countries toresume on March 9
Mevlut Cavusoglu, foreign minister of Turkey, announced on February27 that discussions with Sweden and Finland over their applications to joinNATO would restart with a meeting on March 9 in Brussels. "Unfortunately,we have not seen satisfactory steps from Sweden regarding the execution ofthe Madrid memorandum," Cavusoglu added.
After a Danish far-right politician burned a copy of the Koranoutside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm in January, Ankara cancelled talkswith Sweden and Finland over their applications to join NATO.
Turkey and UAE sign agreement to boost trade after warmingrelations
On March 3, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey signed anagreement in Abu Dhabi to boost trade between the two countries. A signingceremony was held in Abu Dhabi with the participation of both sides.
Speaking in Istanbul via video conference, Turkish PresidentErdogan said theComprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) would usher in a new era ineconomic and trade relations between the two countries.
Turkey and the UAE started bilateral economic talks last year,with improving political relations following UAE President Sheikh Mohamedbin Zayed's visit to Turkey in 2021.
Top Egyptian diplomat visits Turkey after a decade
On February 27, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu met his Egyptiancounterpart in the earthquake-ravaged Adana province, marking a top Egyptiandiplomat's first visit to Turkey in a decade.
Later, Turkish and Egyptian ministers visited Mersin, where anEgyptian aid ship landed.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Shoukry said he believes that therelations between the two countries will improve better in the period forward,and his country would continue to support Turkey in its earthquake efforts.
Cavusoglu said Turkish President Erdogan and his Egyptiancounterpart Sisi could meet soon in Turkey or Egypt after the deputy foreignminister-level talks concluded.
Report: "Eurasianists in Turkey and Their Media on the War inUkraine" by Enes Esen, Servet Akman, Ahmet Kalafat and Bahadır Gulle, Institute for Diplomacy and Economy
The Russianinvasion is not only being fought on the battlefields in Ukraine. Russian mediais also attempting to sway public opinion in favor of the Kremlin within Russiaand elsewhere through disinformation and speculation. This is one of thereasons why several Russian media outlets have been blocked by Westerngovernments with the outbreak of the war.
Turkey didnot participate in Western sanctions to undermine the Russian war machine.Likewise, it did not confront Russian propaganda targeting Turkish publicopinion. For instance, the Russian state-sponsored Sputnik News Agency and RSFM (Voice of Russia–Sputnik FM) continue to operate their Turkish-languageeditions as before.
Nonetheless,most of the Russian propaganda in Turkey is not overtly conducted by Russianstate-affiliated media outlets. Eurasianists in Turkey carry out the Kremlin’sbidding to influence Turkish public opinion in favor of Russian war efforts.They blame the West, specifically NATO and the US, for instigating the war inUkraine and causing regional instability. They also attack Turkey's politicalopposition for their milder views on NATO and the US and recommend that theTurkish government prioritize its relations with Russia. They also see the warin Ukraine as an opportunity to further undermine Turkey’s frail relations withthe West.
Our findingsindicate that Eurasianist media employ a variety of strategies and techniques,such as amplification of genuine uncertainty, opportunistic fabrications, andmultiple contradictory narratives. They spread biased and misleading ideas,information, or claims with the intention of advancing Russian interests inTurkey.
We believe that deconstructing these methods employed by the Eurasianistsis essential to understanding how they endeavor to steer Turkey toward Russiaand authoritarianism.
"Turkey's Disaster - and Erdogan's - How the Earthquake CouldSpell the End of His Rule" by Soner Cagaptay, Foreign Affairs
Erdogan's political persona may not be able to stand up to thecoming maelstrom. The earthquake this month is a disaster of historicproportions. It killed more people than did the Turkish War of Independence acentury ago.
Perceiving a drop in his popularity, Erdogan may decide in thecoming weeks to postpone elections. Such a postponement flies in the face ofTurkey's constitution, but Erdogan could use his grip over key institutionssuch as the Supreme Election Council (YSK), the national board for supervisingpolls, to delay the vote.
Erdogan will try to cling to power, either postponing elections inbreach of the country's constitution or holding unfair polls under a state ofemergency. If protests start and spread around the country in reaction to hismoves or crackdowns, he could even extend the state of emergency to the wholecountry. Perhaps anticipating public pushback, he shut down Turkey's universitieson February 11, sending over eight million students to virtual classrooms anddispersing young people from possible centers of protest and rebellion.
"Sports stadiums shake as fans bash Turkey's earthquakeresponse" by Andrew Wilks, Al-Monitor
The government's response to the Feb. 6 earthquake disaster inTurkey has sparked growing protests on the streets, in soccer stadiums andonline — and a corresponding crackdown on free speech.
Over the weekend, as a pause on sporting events in the aftermathof the quakes ended, outrage at the shoddy response to the disaster bubbledover at soccer grounds.
Fans of Fenerbahce and Besiktas, two of the country's most popularclubs, chanted for the government to resign. Although TV broadcaster beINSports muted the noise from the crowd during the protest, video footage waswidely shared across social media. Shortly thereafter, the Turkish FootballFederation called a meeting of clubs to discuss the option of barring fans fromattending matches.