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x0x Turkish News for the week ending 20 June 2020
[This is a transcript of the news broadcast on 20 June 2020]
Courtesy of Turkish Radio Hour, producer of the
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★ Former national security adviser John Bolton's book that is soon to be published has several references to the discussions between President Trump and his Turkish counterpart in person or over the phone, and also analysis of President Trump's attitude toward Turkey.
Among others, in the book Mr. Bolton claims that President Trump promised to President Erdoğan in a phone call that U.S. forces would withdraw from Syria's Kurdish held Northeast. Mr. Bolton writes that he opposed this move.
The British daily Guardian reports that John Bolton is facing calls to elaborate on a claim in his new book that Donald Trump agreed to help Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdoğan by intervening in a federal investigation into a Turkish state-owned bank.
The Turkish bank is being investigated for possible Iranian sanctions violations.
Bloomberg has reported that in April 2019, Trump instructed Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin and Attorney General William Barr to address Erdoğan's request that Halkbank avoid charges.
President Erdoğan has long maintained that the case against Halkbank is a politically motivated conspiracy to weaken Turkey, and has pressed both Obama and Trump to dismiss it.
President Trump's actions were not always friendly to Turkey, though.
On getting a release of U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson from a Turkish jail on trumped up charges, Trump told Bolton "you have it on Turkey. Hit 'em, finish 'em. You got it". When U.S. sanctions started on Turkey Pastor Brunson was released in October 2018. However it led to the collapse of the Turkish currency.
★ According to Dorian Jones of the VOA, Turkey is seeking to reap diplomatic rewards from its military success in Libya. Recent gains by Turkish-backed forces of the Libyan Government of National Accord are enhancing Turkey's influence in Libya and with the European Union, although France and Germany have sharply criticized Turkish military intervention in Libya.
Turkey sent military personnel to Libya in January to support the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord. It had been under sustained attack from forces led by Libyan General Khalif Haftar, who has a power base in eastern Libya. Haftar's Libyan National Army has the backing of countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Russia.
The Government of National Accord is recognized internationally as the legitimate government of Libya.
Political science professor Ilhan Uzgel of Ankara University said Erdoğan now sees an opportunity to extend Turkey's role as the European Union's gatekeeper to Libya. Turkey has myriad issues it is negotiating with Brussels in the renewal of a customs union on visa free travel.
In related news, on June 17 Russian foreign affairs minister Sergey Lavrov said Wednesday that he would welcome any efforts by the U.S. to use its influence on Turkey to help fashion a truce in Libya.
Turkey dismissed last week an Egyptian-backed cease-fire offered on behalf of General Khalifa Haftar. Turkish foreign affairs minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu scoffed that the general only wanted a truce because he was now losing on the battlefield. He said that as far as Ankara was concerned, the cease-fire initiative, broached by Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, another Haftar backer, was "stillborn."
Reuters reported on Saturday that the Egyptian president ordered his military to be ready to carry out any mission inside or outside Egypt, implying that Egyptian troops may be deployed to Libya.
★ According to Deutsche Welle, NATO defense ministers gathered amid a vocal argument between France and Turkey over a series of issues. France took issue with a naval incident in the Mediterranean, Turkey's support for one side in Libya's civil war, and more.
On Tuesday, Turkey said France violated UN and NATO decisions by supporting the forces of military strongman Khalifa Haftar against the UN-backed Government of National Accord -- led by Fayez Sarraj.
France's defense ministry on Wednesday accused a Turkish naval vessel of harassing one of its ships in the Mediterranean, saying its ship was trying to uphold the UN's arms embargo to Libya, and implying therefore that Turkey was trying to enable the delivery of weapons to the Tripoli-based government. France described the ship's actions as "extremely aggressive" and "unacceptable by an ally against a NATO ship."
★ Turkey's Defense Ministry said Wednesday that it had launched a military operation against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq, after carrying out a series of airstrikes, reports the Deutsche Welle.
The operation followed "increasing harassment and attempts to attack" military bases in Turkey near the border, the ministry said. It would continue to target the Kurdistan Workers Party and other "terror" groups in the region.
The government of Iraq summoned the Turkish ambassador on Tuesday to protest the initial aerial offensive.
Deutsche Welle writes that tens of thousands of people have died in the decades long conflict between Turkey and the Kurdistan Workers Party.
★ Turkey's constitutional court has announced its ruling on imprisonment of former People's Democratic Party cochair Selahattin Demirtaş, reports Bianet of Turkey.
The Constitutional Court has concluded that the right to personal liberty and security of Demirtaş guaranteed by the Article 19 of the Constitution has been violated as the period that he served behind bars as an arrestee exceeded the reasonable duration foreseen by the law. Demirtaş will be paid approximately $7000 in non-pecuniary damages.
Selahattin Demirtaş was detained on November 4, 2016. He was arrested and sent to Silivri Prison in İstanbul on the same day.
Selahattin Demirtaş and his party is being accused of collaborating with the rebel Kurdistan Workers Party.
In related news the constitutional court has also concluded that the arrest of former main opposition Republican People's Party MP Eren Erdem was "not legal" and "his right to personal liberty and security has been violated." Eren Erdem will be paid $4500 in local currency in damages.
The court indicated that as per the Article 19 of the Constitution, a person shall be arrested only when there is strong criminal evidence.
Eren Erdem was previously arrested and held in prison for 16 months, the local court gave a ruling of release for him on October 31, 2019.
Read more >> here <<
★ The Venice Commission of the Council of Europe has adopted a legal opinion as to the replacement of elected candidates and mayors in Turkey, reports Bianet.
Turkish government has been replacing the elected candidates and mayors, especially in Eastern and South Eastern Turkey. The elected officials are being accused of collaborating with the Kurdistan Workers Party.
The commission concluded that the dismissal of elected candidates and mayors is "incompatible with basic principles of democracy."
★ Almost 2 million Turkish students have taken the high school entrance examination Saturday despite concerns by parents and public at large that the exam will lead to widespread coronavirus cases, reports Bianet.
Before the exams physicians said that no serious measures have been taken to curb the spread of the disease, and that it was a really very big mistake to hold the exam under these circumstances.
★ The Turkish medical Association Central Council has announced on Thursday, June 18 that the premature opening in Turkey despite all warnings of the Association and experts is leading to alarming consequences in the country, reports Bianet.
The Association said " "while the pandemic was still ravaging the world and the first wave of the outbreak had not yet been taken under control in the country."
The Association accused the ministry of not sharing statistics on the pandemic.
It also characterized Istanbul as being a center of the pandemic like Wuhan, China.
In related news, six prisoners died of Covid-19 and there are 72 active cases in Turkey's prisons, Turkey's Directorate of Prisons and Detention Houses has announced. 374 prisoners have recovered.
Read more >> here <<
★ According to the Anatolia News Agency, "The numbers in recent days show that we have lost our position in the fight against the epidemic," Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said. "But we aim to remove the pandemic from our agenda by respecting the cleaning, mask and distance rules."
Coronavirus infections in Turkey doubled to nearly 1,600 per day since the Turkish government eased prevention measures earlier this month, lifting weekend curfews and domestic travel restrictions.
★ Turkey is among the 10 worst countries in the world for working people, according to the 2020 Global Rights Index by the International Trade Unions Confederation.
The report that is annually published during the International Labor Organization's conferences, was released digitally this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Read more >> here <<
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