Turkey. The year was marked by crises both domestic and foreign policy. The Islamic Welfare Party (Refah Partisi, RP) – whose government had been forced to fall by the military in 1997 and succeeded by a coalition led by the Motherland Party (Anavatan Partisi, ANAP) – was declared illegal in January when it was considered to have violated the secular principles of the constitution. Party leader Necmettin Erbakan was banned from holding any political office for the next five years. When the verdict fell in 1998, however, the party had already been reformed under the name Dygdpartiet (Fazilet Partisi, FP). The vast majority of the welfare party’s MPs joined the Virtue Party, which thus became the largest party in parliament.
According to Countryaah, the capital of Turkey is Ankara. The military’s pressure on the Islamists continued. Islamic schools were closed, female students were forced to take off their shawls and several politicians belonging to the Virtue Party were sentenced to prison, including Istanbul Mayor Recep Tayyip Erdoǧan. Playwright and actor Mehmet Vahi Yazar was sentenced in August to 24 years in prison for putting up a play about a country where the military oppresses Muslims.
However, it was revelations about politicians’ contacts with the mafia that caused the greatest dissatisfaction. In August, a wanted murder suspect, Alaattin Cakici, was arrested in France equipped with a Turkish diplomatic passport. It was discovered that he had contacts within the government, and a minister, Eyup Asik, was forced to resign. When it emerged that the Prime Minister and Leader of the Motherland Party, Mesut Yilmaz, likely helped one of Cakiki’s contacts to buy the state bank T邦rkbank, the Republican People’s Party (CHP, Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi) stopped supporting Yilmaz. The government fell in December, just before Yilmaz planned to step down to pave the way for the new election to be held on April 18, 1999. The government crisis was unresolved by the New Year.
Abdullah Öcalan, leader of the PKK (Partia Karkaren Kurdistan; Kurdistan Workers Party), pleaded several times during the year to cease fire and announced several unilateral ceasefires. Turkey took no notice of these plays. But in November, a turning point was reached in the Kurdish question: Öcalan was arrested in Rome. There he had come via Moscow since Turkey, with military pressure, had forced Syria to evict him from his many years of refuge in Syria-controlled territory.
Öcalan sought asylum in Italy at the same time as Turkey requested him extradition. Italy announced that both cases would be investigated but that Öcalan could not be extradited as long as Turkish law provides room for the death penalty. Mass demonstrations against Italy erupted in Turkey. What would happen to Öcalan was unclear at the end of the year.
The leader of the Human Rights Association (IHD), Akin Birdal, was subjected to a murder trial in May that he survived with little need. In July, a one-year prison sentence was set against him for “provoking hatred” in connection with his statement for a peaceful solution to the Kurdish issue.
In July, Parliament approved new measures against inflation. new tax legislation. This meant lower income tax, which the government hoped would lead to better income reporting. Inflation fell in 1998 but was still 77% towards the end of the year.
2014 AKP/Gülen power struggle
On December 17, 2013, a comprehensive corruption scandal started. While the prime minister was on a state visit to Pakistan, police struck in Istanbul, arresting 47 people – predominantly officials of various ministries and almost all affiliated with the ruling AKP party. They were charged with corruption, money laundering and gold smuggling.
On January 7, 2014, the government struck again. With a decree, 350 policemen were removed from their posts – including the heads of the police departments dealing with financial crime, smuggling and organized crime. Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen described it as purging within the police, while Prime Minister Erdogan described arrests as an attempt at a “legal coup” targeting the AKP of those who were envious of Erdogan’s own success. Erdogan appointed Gülen as the person responsible for the coup attempt. When interviews were posted on the internet that implicated Erdogan in the corruption scandal, Turkish authorities shut down YouTube and Twitter.
The full extent of the scandal was never revealed. Apparently there was talk of corruption – several of the responsible ministers resigned from office – but also of a power struggle between Gülen and the AKP – a number of the police officers who had carried out the arrests subsequently committed suicide.
In May, the coal mine in Soma was hit by a fierce fire that over two days cost 301 miners life. The miners had already demonstrated in 2013 against the life-threatening working conditions in the mine, and a proposal by the opposition a few weeks earlier to investigate the working conditions in the mines had been voted down by the AKP in parliament. Turkey is one of the countries in the world with the worst working environment.
Israel’s staffing of its embassy in Ankara and the consulate in Istanbul had only just returned to normal levels after several years of work to improve Israel-Turkey relations when Israel launched a war against Gaza in June 2014. The war triggered a series of violent demonstrations in front of the embassy and consulate. threw stones at the buildings. Israel then cut back on its staffing for security reasons. Prime Minister Erdogan sharply criticized Israel’s war: “Ever since [Israel’s] establishment in 1948, we have witnessed every day and every month these attempts at systematic genocide… But first and foremost, every Ramadan we have witnessed these attempts at systematic genocide ”. He added that Israel’s war derailed the attempts to establish links between the two countries.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan of AKP won the August 2014 presidential election with 51.8% of the vote. In 2nd place, independent Islamic candidate Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu got 38.4%, while leftist Selahattin Demirtaş from HDP got 9.8%. Demirtaş won big in Kurdistan, thus reflecting the fierce polarization in the country. Erdogan inaugurated Ahmet Davutoğlu as new prime minister.
In 2011, Turkey played a key role in the West’s efforts to overthrow Gaddafi in Libya, and has since made significant efforts to ensure a viable moderate Islamic government in the country. In vain. In December 2014, as the last country, Turkey canceled its flights to Libya. It had become far too dangerous after the country was de facto in civil war.
Cheating builds exacerbates earthquakes
An earthquake that, according to American geologists, has a magnitude of 7.0 shakes the Izmir region in western Turkey and the Greek archipelago. Almost three days later, a three-year-old girl is found alive during the landslides in Bayraklı, which is the most severely affected town, and almost four days later, another one of the same age is rescued. According to the daily Hürriyet, some of the collapsed buildings were built with substandard concrete. Four days after the earthquake, the number of confirmed deaths has exceeded 100 and almost 1,500 aftershocks have been recorded.
More than 10,000 dead in corona pandemic
The virus covid-19 has now claimed more than 10,000 deaths in Turkey. The World Health Organization (WHO) has previously praised Turkey, which has managed to keep the death toll at a moderate level, but also questioned the infection rates reported by Turkey, as they did not clearly show whether there were confirmed cases. In the major Turkish cities, requirements for face masks were introduced in July and since September, mask coercion has applied throughout the country.
Image of Erdoğan in a French newspaper
A satirical cartoon in the French magazine Charli Hebdo further irritates President Erdoğan (see October 24). This time it is Erdoğan personally who is crocheted by a cartoonist who, among other things, lets him lift a woman’s costume so that her buttocks are visible. The Turkish Presidential Office announces both judicial and diplomatic action and the prosecutor’s office in Ankara is launching a criminal investigation. In 2015, a massacre was committed at Charlie Hebdo’s editorial office in Paris after the newspaper published controversial drawings with the Prophet Muhammad as a motif.
Judgment against Turkey for lack of freedom of expression
Turkey violated opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s freedom of speech when he was convicted of defaming President Erdoğan in 2012, when Erdoğan was prime minister. Mr Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the CHP party, as a Member of Parliament, criticized Turkish airstrikes and the construction of a dam. Seven judges, including one Turkish, are now sentencing Turkey to the European Court of Human Rights. According to the ruling, Turkey will pay Kılıçdaroğlu’s legal costs as well as damages. The Court’s right to deal with the issue stems from the fact that Turkey is a member of the Council of Europe. Kılıçdaroğlu has also been one of Erdoğan’s sharpest critics in recent years.
Sharp exchange of words between presidents
French President Emmanuel Macron should undergo a psychiatric examination, President Erdoğan emphasizes. Contacts have soured after a bestial murder of a teacher in France, who showed satirical drawings depicting the Prophet of Islam to his students during a lesson on freedom of speech. Macron has defended freedom of expression, even for satirical cartoons with a religious cape, and has spoken out strongly against Islamism. The Turkish side claims that France uses freedom of speech as an excuse to insult Muslims. France calls home its ambassador for consultations. A few days later, Erdoğan calls for a boycott of French goods, but Turkey also condemns the assassination of the teacher. In the background are several disputes between the two NATO countries, including French criticism of Turkey’s involvement in the conflicts in Syria and Libya.
Crown Prince sued for murder at Saudi consulate
Hatice Cengiz, fiancée of Jamal Khashoggi who was assassinated at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018, is suing the Saudi crown prince in US court. According to the lawsuit, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and more than 20 other people are responsible for the murder and the motive must have been that Khashoggi campaigned for democratization of the Arab world. Behind the atmosphere is, in addition to the fiancée, an organization formed by Khashoggi, who lived in exile in the United States and had disagreed with Saudi Arabia’s government (see latest September 7, 2020).
Turkey tests Russian air defense
Turkey is testing the Russian-made air defense system purchased despite US protests (see April 1, 2019 and July 17, 2019). The test firing of at least one S-400 robot takes place near the Black Sea, Turkish media report. The NATO military alliance, led by the United States, disapproves of NATO country building systems combined with Russian materiel.
Newspaper in exile is punished
Former editor-in-chief of the opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet, Can Dündar, has his bank accounts frozen and his assets seized by court order. Dündar, who lives in exile in Germany, has displeased Turkish authorities through his activities as a journalist and has also been sentenced to prison (see 16 July 2018).
Erdoğan supports stubborn candidate in Cyprus
President Erdoğan is making an impact on Turkish Cypriot politics by announcing the opening of the old resort of Varosha in Cyprus, which has been closed since the Turkish invasion of the island in 1974. It takes place a few days before presidential elections are to be held in the northern part of Cyprus, which is under Turkish Cypriot control and in consultation with the nationalist candidate Ersin Tatar. The incumbent President of the Turkish Cypriots, Mustafa Akıncı, who is in favor of reunification with the Greek Cypriot-ruled southern part of Cyprus, sees Erdoğan’s intervention as interference. Turkey’s invasion and occupation in 1974 took place in response to a coup attempt aimed at linking Cyprus to Greece, but the two-state solution with a separate Turkish Cypriot republic is only recognized by Turkey and creates confusion in relations with the outside world.
Downsizing in the eastern Mediterranean
Turkey is taking back the oil rig Yavuz from disputed waters near Cyprus, after EU heads of state and government threatened Turkey with sanctions. At the same time, Turkey and Greece, which are also at odds with each other over sea areas, have held several talks in recent weeks to establish a mechanism to prevent a military conflict from being triggered by mistake. The risk has increased due to the fact that the two countries held several military exercises in the eastern Mediterranean. With the NATO military alliance in an active role, the countries are now discussing both maritime borders and claims for energy recovery (see also 13 September).
Canada stops arms exports to Turkey
Canada temporarily suspends arms exports to Turkey. It comes after reports that drones using Canadian military technology have been used by Azerbaijan in the conflict with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh. The decision was later criticized by Turkey, which accuses Canada of double standards, as it continues to export arms to countries involved in the conflict in Yemen.
Conflict with pro-Kurdish party intensifies
The pro-Kurdish mayor of the city of Kars is being replaced by a state-appointed governor. This since arrest warrants were issued for 82 members of the HDP party. A total of 48 of the 65 HDP mayors elected in 2019 have been removed from office (see 23 March 2020). The arrests are now rooted in government-critical demonstrations that took place in 2014, when Turkey chose not to intervene when the Islamic State (IS) attacked Kurds in the Syrian border town of Kobane. Turkey claims that the HDP called on people to take part in the demonstrations, which ended in the deaths of 37 people.