by instituDE, published on 10 April 2023


HDP rejects to submit verbal defence for closure case

In a petition, the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) informed the Constitutional Court on April 6 that their election-related duties would prevent them from submitting their verbal defense. 

The verbal defence was previously scheduled for April 11 by the Court. However, the HDP requested that the hearing be postponed until after the elections on May 14, but its demand was rejected. 

The HDP said that the top Court's rejection to postpone the party's defence was evidence of intervention in the free and impartial election process.

After Good Party, main opposition party's Istanbul office targeted in an armed attack

Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Istanbul provincial chair Canan Kaftancioglu announced that the party's Istanbul office was subjected to an armed attack on April 6.

She said an unidentified assailant fired 6-7 bullets at the CHP office.

On March 31, two bullets similarly hit the Good Party's building in Istanbul.

Both alliances seek support from new parties ahead of elections

Opposition bloc's presidential candidate, CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, visited Party for Change in Turkey (TDP) leader Mustafa Sarıgul at the TDP headquarters on April 6 as part of his election campaign. After the meeting, Sarıgul announced his party would support Kilicdaroglu in the May 14 presidential elections.

Sarıgul was a former mayor from the CHP. He formed the TDP after leaving the CHP.

Kilicdaroglu also visited Democratic Left Party (DSP) chair Onder Aksakal on the same day to seek their support. After the meeting, Aksakal did not offer support and only wished for success for Kilicdaroglu. But, one day later, DSP chair Aksakal announced that the party would support President Erdogan and enter the elections under the AKP deputy list. Aksakal's remarks came after the ruling AKP party's delegation visited the party.

Aksakal's announcement caused a split within the party. The DSP's Trabzon Provincial Organization criticized the decision and called it a "betrayal to the legacy" of DSP founder and former Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit. He also declared they would not abide by the headquarters' decision and support the opposition bloc Nation Alliance's candidate Kilicdaroglu.

Meanwhile, DSP Vice Chair Onur Iste resigned from his post and announced his decision on Twitter.

Nation Alliance to run in elections under two parties, People's Alliance MHP submits its candidate list

The Nation Alliance, consisting of six parties, will run in the May 14 parliamentary election under the Republican People's Party (CHP) and Good Party lists. 

The other four parties, the Felicity Party, the Democrat Party, the Democracy and Progress (DEVA) Party, and the Future Party, will nominate their parliamentary candidates from the CHP's list. 

The parties submitted the new protocol to the Supreme Election Council (YSK) on April 7.

On the other hand, the ruling People's Alliance's far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) submitted their deputy candidate list for all 81 provinces to the YSK on April 6. 

All parties in the People's Alliance appear to be entering the election with their logos. People's Alliance includes the ruling AKP, MHP, New Welfare Party, and Great Unity Party. Free Cause Party and Democratic Left Party are the supporting parties of the alliance.

AKP, CHP, Good Party and Green Left Party submitted their deputy candidate lists to the YSK on April 9. HDP parliamentary candidates will compete under the Green Left Party list in the 2023 general elections due to a possible closure by the Constitutional Court.


Consumer prices increases by 50.51% annually in March

Annual inflation in Turkey declined to 50.51% in March, according to figures released on April 3 by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TUIK).

However, ENAG Inflation Research Group, an independent entity established in 2020 to track the country's inflation, said the annual inflation rate in March was 112.51%, significantly higher than the official figure.

Total debt of Turkish state-owned enterprises peaks in 5 years

The overall debt of state economic enterprises (SEE) increased by 1,161% between 2017-2022. 

The overall debt of the SEEs, which was 49,9 billion liras in 2017, climbed to 350.8 billion liras at the beginning of 2022 and reached 619.2 billion liras by the end of 2022, according to data from the Treasury Ministry. Domestic debt accounted for 537.1 billion liras of the overall debt, while foreign debt was 82.1 billion liras. 

To mitigate the effects of the recent economic crisis, the government has given SEEs various tasks. Under conditions of severe inflation, some of them were used to "stabilize food prices," while others were utilized to "suppress energy prices."


Freedom House Transnational Repression Report

The most prolific perpetrators of transnational repression continue to be the governments of China, Turkey, Russia, Egypt, and Tajikistan. 

Since the July 2016 coup attempt against the government of President Erdogan, Ankara has relentlessly pursued exiles associated with the Gulen and Kurdish movements. Freedom House's Transnational Repression database includes 132 incidents perpetrated by Turkish authorities. 

In September, a businessman named Ugur Demirok became the latest victim of the world's most brazen campaign of renditions when Turkey's intelligence agency kidnapped him from Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan.

"Turkey: Police and Gendarmerie Abuses in Earthquake Zone", Human Rights Watch

Law enforcement officials sent to police the region devastated by Turkey's February 6, 2023 earthquakes have beaten, tortured, and otherwise ill-treated people they suspect of theft and looting. One person died in custody after being tortured. In some instances, law enforcement officials have also failed to intervene to prevent individuals from violently assaulting other people they allegedly suspected of crimes.   

"Credible reports of police, gendarmes, and military personnel subjecting people they suspect of crimes to violent and prolonged beatings and arbitrary, unofficial detention are a shocking indictment of law enforcement practices in Turkey's earthquake region," said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia Director at Human Rights Watch. "Law enforcement officials are treating the state of emergency for the natural disaster as a license to torture, otherwise ill-treat and even kill with impunity."

Turkish officials should conduct full, prompt, and impartial criminal and administrative investigations into all reports from the earthquake region of police, gendarmerie, and military personnel torturing or otherwise ill-treating people, regardless of whether they suspect the victims of criminal activities.


Russian FM in Ankara to discuss critical issues

Sergey Lavrov, the foreign minister of Russia, arrived in Ankara on April 6 for a two-day visit to discuss Ankara's relations with Damascus and Yerevan and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

After discussions involving senior officials from Russia, Turkey, Syria, and Iran in Moscow earlier this week, Lavrov visited Ankara to meet Mevlut Cavusoglu. The meeting in Moscow was scheduled as part of the Kremlin's efforts to mediate a reconciliation between the Turkish and Syrian governments.

The official meetings between the two ministers and the delegations occurred on 7 April. The two ministers shared the bilateral issues and regional developments they discussed at the meetings with the press.

Among the most critical topics on the agenda was the grain corridor agreement, which was put into practice last year under the mediation of Turkey and the United Nations (UN).

The parties also discussed the normalization process between Ankara and Damascus, which was initiated under the mediation of Russia.

Lavrov noted that in the next stage, the foreign ministers of 4 countries are planning to meet in Moscow and working on the dates.

Iraq accuses Turkey of attacking Sulaymaniyah airport

A drone assault that hit Sulaymaniyah airport on April 7th, according to Lawk Ghafuri, head of foreign media affairs for the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), did not result in any damage, flight delays, or cancellations.

On April 7, Iraq blamed and demanded an apology and an end to the war on Iraqi territory.

According to a Turkish defence ministry official, no Turkish Armed Forces operation took place in that region on April 7.

On April 5, the Turkish Foreign Ministry announced that Ankara had closed its airspace to flights to and from the airport starting from April 3, citing increasing activity of outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants in the area. The decision will remain in effect until July 3, Ministry added.


"Is Netanyahu using Erdogan's handbook?" by Servet Akman, Institute for Diplomacy and Economy

As soon as Prime Minister Netanyahu took office, he drafted a judicial package that envisaged major changes in the judicial system and presented it to the Israeli parliament, the Knesset.

In the past three months, protest demonstrations have been held throughout the country with the participation of opposition parties every week, and participation in these protests has reached extraordinary levels.

We witness that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refers to Erdogan's handbook when taking such a step that could change the regime in the country. Erdogan, who was exposed to the biggest corruption operation in the history of Turkey in 2013, eliminated such a threat to his ruling by targeting the judicial system. Netanyahu also aims to put the election of members of the Israeli Supreme Court under the government's control and that the Court's decisions can be overruled by an absolute majority in the Knesset.

Netanyahu announced that he could not stand the pressure and postponed the voting of the judicial package. However, it seems unlikely that he would completely abandon the judicial reform.

The Supreme Court could convict Prime Minister Netanyahu for the ongoing corruption investigations and end his political life. An authority-seeking leader could be expected to try to thwart such an attempt that could cost his political life.

We can even say that Erdogan is pleased with Netanyahu's authoritarianism. Indeed, we are in a period where we witness many examples of authoritarian leaders supporting each other.

“The Proliferation of Bayraktar Tb2 Drones and Their Risks” by Mustafa Enes Esen, Engin Büker, Yüksel Akkale, Institute for Diplomacy and Economy

The emergence of new players in drone warfare has led to significant advancements in drone technology over the past decade, with Turkish armed drones becoming one of the most sought-after UAVs in recent years.

The use of armed drones has often been criticized for reducing the threshold for the use of force, leading decision-makers to resort to lethal force more readily against a broader range of perceived threats than in the past. In this vein, TB2 drones have been deployed in various war theaters, including Libya, Syria, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Ukraine. In Libya, the deployment of these drones in the civil war changed the nature of the conflict and the level of violence that ensued. In Syria, TB2s were deployed against the units of Al-Assad’s army to prevent an exodus of Syrian refugees and protect Turkish armed forces. In Nagorno-Karabakh, the drones were successful in overcoming Armenian defenses. In Ukraine, they have effectively destroyed Russian military equipment, especially in the early stages of the war. 

The use of armed drones in military operations has also raised concerns about civilian casualties resulting from attacks targeting insurgents in close proximity to civilian populations. The process of calculating potential side effects and collateral damage is a complex procedure aimed at preventing civilian casualties during attacks, and violations may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity. However, despite efforts to establish legal norms and standards for using armed drones, there continue to be violations.

Regardless of the legitimacy of complaints, armed drones are likely to remain a fixture in modern armed conflicts. However, to mitigate the risks associated with the proliferation of armed drones, it is crucial for Turkey and other countries to establish clear legal frameworks and engagement doctrines that articulate the means and goals of the use of force. Failure to do so will lead to an increase in civilian deaths and instability as armed drone technology continues to spread.

"Breakaway candidate could give Erdogan a lifeline in tight Turkey election" by Orhan Coskun and Daren Butler, Reuters

Muharrem Ince, formerly of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), joined the fray last month and secured a spot on the ballot at the weekend, fuelling concerns among Erdogan's opponents about a split in the opposition vote.

Some analysts say Ince might agree a deal with Kilicdaroglu and withdraw before the vote to boost the opposition which, polls suggest, retains an edge over the incumbent Erdogan. But Ince indicated he would not bow to such pressure.

A senior opposition party official, declining to be named due to the issue's sensitivity, said Ince's candidacy would make it difficult to defeat Erdogan in the first round but this can be overcome if, as the opposition alliance expects, his support and that of the fourth candidate Sinan Ogan drops to near 5% by election day.

A senior official from Erdogan's AK Party said its internal polls put Ince's support at some 8-9%, but did not provide the data.

Analysts say that whichever alliance - ruling or opposition - controls parliament will be well placed for its candidate to win a second presidential round given they could campaign on stability. Polls indicate the AKP will remain the largest party in parliament.

"Who would the US and EU want to win the Turkish elections?" by Murat Yetkin, Yetkin Report

Russia does not hide the fact that it is in favor of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan winning the upcoming 2023 elections in Turkey. Their domestic interests require such support.

China is silent. They look at the issue from a commercial point of view, and also from the point of view of the Uighur Turks.

Investors from the US and EU countries may return to Turkey with its huge domestic market and geographical location, first with the steps on the Central Bank etc., and then with their promises of "predictability" and "judicial independence" if they keep their promises. This is a high possibility.

But when it comes to politics, things change.

EU capitals are worried that if Kilicdaroglu sends Syrians back, they will take other routes to Europe. But Erdogan is willing to keep them in Turkey for his own political and economic interests. This is what suits them.

A Turkey that turns its face back to the West is not in the interest of the religious, right-wing, conservative and racist circles in the West who see the EU as a Christian Club. In the eyes of most EU politicians, Turkey must remain the antithesis. That is why they secretly prefer Erdogan to win the elections.