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x0x Turkish News for the week ending 18 April 2020

[This is a transcript of the news broadcast on 18 April 2020]


Courtesy of Turkish Radio Hour, producer of the

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NEWS


★ According to the Associated Press, Turkey's president has rejected the resignation of the country's interior minister who took responsibility for a poorly timed announcement of a weekend lockdown that prompted thousands of people to rush into the streets to stock up on supplies.

  The authorities announced the 48-hour lockdowns across 31 cities, aimed to contain the spread of the coronavirus, just two hours before taking effect on Friday, April 10 night. Thousands of people rushed into the streets to stock up on goods, many without wearing mandatory face masks.

  Read more >> here <<


★ In an article in the Foreign Policy Magazine Tessa Fox wrote that Turkish president Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's battle with opposition local governments over who provides coronavirus relief is endangering the public.

  The article covers how Mr. Erdoğan tries to prevent local governments' coronavirus pandemic related relief activities by declaring them illegal. Mr. Erdoğan is especially keen on putting impediments in Istanbul Mayor Mr. Ekrem İmamoğlu's relief efforts since Mr. İmamoğlu is seen is a potential rival in the 2023 presidential elections.

  Even in smaller localities Mr. Erdoğan's Justice and Development Party administration is restricting the opposition. In the opposition-run Antalya municipality on the Mediterranean coast the Interior Ministry shut down a soup kitchen serving 2000 people including many who had lost work due to coronavirus. The kitchen was run on donations from the public rather than by the state, which the ministry used as justification to shut it down.

  Tessa Fox concludes her article with the following paragraph:

  "The conflict between opposition-run municipalities and the national government amid the coronavirus pandemic follows a pattern since the Justice and Development Party's 2019 local elections losses. For a year, the national government has sought to take away revenue and limited budgets for the [opposition] Republican People's party municipalities."

  Read more >> here <<

  In related news, Turkey's Interior Ministry started investigating Istanbul and Ankara Metropolitan area Mayor's from the opposition Republican peoples party for their donation campaigns for coronavirus, the Turkish daily Sözcü reported on Friday. The ministry blocked the donation campaigns on March 31. It claims that the two mayors were trying to form a state within the state.

  The ministry also put a hold on the Istanbul municipality's bank account. According to the Istanbul Metropolitan area Mayor Mr. İmamoğlu there is approximately $130,000 in local currency in the account. The mayor called the ministry's blocking of the people's money as a "weak and wretched attitude".

  Read more >> here <<


★ 11 mayors from the main opposition Republican peoples party asked the Turkish government to impose a full curfew to curb the spread of coronavirus infections, reports Bianet.

  The 11 mayors include Turkey's largest metropolitan areas Istanbul and the capital Ankara.


★ Turkish experts in statistics and public health keep providing analysis on the Turkish government's reporting of coronavirus fatalities.

  Some analysts claim that the Turkish government is underreporting coronavirus deaths.

  Three separate analyses have looked into the number of deaths in 2019 and compared it with deaths in 2020. The number of deaths is publicly available on Turkish government websites. The comparison reveals that there was a major increase in 2020 in the number of deaths. The conclusion is that the actual number of deaths from coronavirus is as much as 3 to 4 times higher than what the Turkish government claims.

  As of today, according to the government statistics the number of deaths stands at 1890.


★ Deutsche Welle published an opinion piece titled "Turkey's coronavirus outbreak reveals Erdoğan's inhumanity".

  The article says that Turkey is granting amnesty to 90,000 detainees, but jailed journalists and political prisoners will remain behind bars. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Mr. Erdoğan is relentlessly persecuting his critics, says Hülya Schenk, the author of the opinion piece.


★ According to news reports, a bill in the Turkish Parliament on coronavirus pandemic contains curbs on social media usage.

  The bill is supposed to include mitigation measures on the impact of coronavirus pandemic on the economy, however, it foresees Turkish state control on communications on social media networks.

  The opposition says that the measures will take Turkey one more step closer to a full dictatorship.

★ According to a survey by Turkey's central bank, Turkey's economy is expected to contract by 0.6% this year. The 89 participants of the survey were from the finance industry, business world, and other professionals.


★ Writing in the Carnegie Europe website, Mark Pierini said:

  "An agreement with the International Monetary Fund on making use of its new coronavirus emergency measures -- especially the Rapid Credit Facility and the Rapid Financing Instrument, which come with fewer conditions attached than the usual Stand-By Arrangements -- would help. However, on April 13, Turkey's president once again rejected striking an agreement with the International Monetary Fund."

  He added that the International Monetary Fund estimates Turkey's gross domestic product to contract by five percentage points.

  "In the medium-term, European demand for Turkey's main exports -- automobiles, household appliances, garments, and aerospace components -- is likely to be sharply reduced. Turkey's reliance on foreign direct investment and short-term finance from European sources will be affected by the European Union's need to relaunch domestic industries and by the reluctance to invest in a Turkey that continues to see a sharp degradation of its rule-of-law architecture."

  Mark Pierini is a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe with a focus on developments in the Middle East and Turkey.

  Read more >> here <<

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