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Turkiye in April 2024

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2024-4-2

  1.  EU Commends Turkey’s Municipal Elections After Big Electoral Setback for Erdogan EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell commended the orderly conduct and professionalism of Turkey’s municipal elections, culminating in an opposition triumph. Citing the elections as evidence of Turkey’s dedication to local democratic processes, Borrell underscored the significance of fundamental rights and democratic principles in the context of EU-Turkey relations. The secular Republican People’s Party achieved victories in key urban centers, including Istanbul, over President Erdogan’s party. Borrell voiced his anticipation for reforms that would foster closer integration with the EU, in the context of halted membership discussions since 2018, and the pursuit of stronger collaboration in areas such as migration, energy, and commerce.
  2. Is Selcuk Bayraktar the Natural Successor to Erdogan?Turkish engineer Selcuk Bayraktar, renowned for his “TB2” drones that were crucial in Ukraine’s defense against Russia and have been deployed in various global conflicts, has become a notable figure in Turkey. As the son-in-law of President Erdogan, Bayraktar’s drones have enhanced his profile as a potential future leader. Although he has dismissed any political aspirations, there is ongoing conjecture about his possible presidential run, especially as Erdogan approaches the conclusion of his term limit by 2028. Bayraktar’s drones, acclaimed for transforming the dynamics of warfare, add to his growing prominence as Turkey seeks to expand its international clout.
  3. Turkey’s Shift From Anti-Israel Rhetoric to Diplomatic ReconciliationThe Erdogan government, in the midst of a change in domestic politics following Erdogan’s losses in local elections, is seeking to repair diplomatic relations with Israel, diverging from Erdogan’s prior anti-Israel statements. Even with Erdogan’s harsh critiques, a Turkish diplomat disclosed plans to enhance relations with Israel after the elections. The electoral setback experienced by Erdogan’s AK Party marks a notable change, leading to a commitment to reflection and possible policy changes. This alteration in Turkey’s political scene may influence the balance of power in the region, opening opportunities for renewed diplomatic dialogue between Turkey and Israel.

2024-4-3

  1. Akram Imamoglu:  Erdogan’s Political Threat Turkey’s opposition celebrated their victory in local elections this week, dealing a blow to President Erdogan’s party. Akram Imamoglu, of the Republican People’s Party, secured Istanbul’s mayoralty, symbolizing a shift in Turkish politics driven by economic challenges and security threats. Imamoglu’s win signals a formidable challenge to Erdogan’s dominance, positioning him as a key contender in upcoming presidential elections. A civil engineer and businessman, Imamoglu’s rise underscores a growing opposition to Erdogan’s rule, despite legal battles and Erdogan’s control over state institutions. Imamoglu’s ambitions could reshape Turkey’s political landscape, challenging Erdogan’s grip on power.
  2. Türkiye Denies Seeking to Reestablish Ties with Israel Türkish officials denied Israeli media claims suggesting Ankara is seeking to mend ties with Israel. The Center for Countering Disinformation dismissed these reports, citing Ankara’s consistent condemnation of Israel’s actions in Gaza and stating that Türkiye’s stance on the Palestinian cause remains unwavering. President Erdoğan, a vocal supporter of Palestine, canceled plans to visit Israel due to its “inhumane” actions. 
  3. Türkiye, U.S. Aim for $100 Billion Trade Target U.S. Embassy officials in Ankara said that Türkiye and the United States aim to bolster cooperation, targeting a trade volume surpassing $100 billion. The U.S. officials said Türkiye’s strategic location attracts American companies and that current trade talks focus on collaboration opportunities such as renewable energy. With current U.S. investments in Türkiye reaching $50 billion, and Türkiye’s investments in the U.S. totaling $2.7 billion, both sides seek to revitalize trade agreements for further economic momentum.

2024-4-16

  1. Turkey and South Korea Forge $10 Billion Partnership, Details of Altay Tank Revealed Turkey and South Korea’s trade volume surpasses $10 billion, with Korean firms investing $3.8 billion in Turkey, including the integration of two ALTAY Tanks. Bilateral trade reached $10.5 billion in 2023, with Turkey importing electronics, automotive parts, and cosmetics while exporting mainly electronic devices and motor vehicles. South Korean companies are prominent investors in Turkey’s automotive, energy, and construction sectors, with defense cooperation also expanding. The ALTAY Tank, featuring a Korean power unit, marks a milestone in defense collaboration. Both nations aim to strengthen military ties and enhance technology transfer for mutual benefit.

2024-4-17

  1. Erdogan’s Historic Visit to Iraq: Water and Energy at the Forefront President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s upcoming visit to Iraq on April 22 aims to address key bilateral issues, including the flow of water, natural gas, and oil to Turkey. This visit is set to explore new avenues of cooperation beyond energy, including trade, investments, and security enhancements. Erdogan declared water management as the primary agenda item for his visit. Speaking to journalists in Ankara, Erdogan highlighted the Iraqi government’s requests regarding water resources and committed to seeking resolutions. Following discussions in Baghdad, Erdogan plans to visit Erbil to bolster bilateral relations and address crucial resource issues.
  2. Erdogan Reiterates Turkey’s Ban on Military Sales to Israel Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that Turkey has neither sold nor allowed the sale of military equipment to Israel. This clarification came during a speech following a cabinet meeting in Ankara, where he addressed what he said were unfair accusations regarding Turkey’s supposed export of aviation fuel to Israel. Erdogan also highlighted Turkey’s role as the leading provider of aid to Gaza, mentioning the dispatch of a charitable ship carrying 3,774 tons of supplies. He warned of new tensions unless the injustices in Gaza cease and criticized nations that support Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

2024-4-18

  1. EU Sends Positive Signals to Turkey; Three Nations Urge Concrete Offers Following a prolonged pause in relations, the European Union has extended a warm gesture towards Turkey. During discussions at the EU summit in Brussels, prompted by a report from EU’s foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell, Germany, Italy, and Spain called for the EU to offer tangible proposals to enhance cooperation with Turkey, emphasizing the significance of resolving the situation in Cyprus as part of the peace process under UN guidance.
  2. Turkish Foreign Minister Accuses Netanyahu of Destabilizing the Region Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan accused Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu of escalating regional tensions to maintain power. Speaking in Doha alongside Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Fidan criticized the involvement of external parties in regional conflicts. He emphasized the urgent need for humanitarian aid in Gaza and advocated for a two-state solution to ensure peace. The ministers also discussed strengthening bilateral trade and economic cooperation, targeting a $5 billion trade volume, and deepening ties in tourism and energy sectors.
  3. Turkey Announces $10.2 Billion in New Defense Export Contracts Turkey’s defense exports continue to surge with new contracts worth $10.2 billion, according to the President of Defense Industries, Ismail Demir. During the Defense and Aerospace Industry Cooperation Days, Demir highlighted that Turkey’s defense exports reached $5.5 billion last year and are expected to grow further. Additionally, Turkey attracted $240 million in foreign direct investments in February, led by capital inflows and real estate sales to foreign nationals.

2024-4-22

  1.  Erdogan’s Strategic Visit to Iraq Threatens PKK, Bolsters Ankara-Baghdad Ties In his first visit to Baghdad since 2011, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s trip is set to address significant bilateral issues, including water and energy, counter-terrorism efforts, and the suppression of the PKK. Erdogan’s visit will include strategic agreements on water management and regional security. Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan announced that over 20 agreements will be signed with Iraq during the visit to Baghdad. The deals aim to institutionalize bilateral relations and promote regional stability and development. Concurrently, Iraq’s Minister of Water Resources, Aoun Dhiab, highlighted the significance of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers’ water rights during the visit, emphasizing the goal of securing equitable water shares for Iraq according to established agreements.
  2. US and Turkey Hold Counterterrorism Talks As Turkey-PKK Conflict Intensifies The US and Turkey have intensified their counterterrorism collaboration during recent discussions in Ankara, focusing on threats like ISIS and al-Qaeda. Despite ongoing disagreements over the US support for the YPG in Syria, the renewed dialogue aims to combat terrorist travel, disrupt crime networks, and counter financial channels used by terrorist groups. 
  3. Turkey Ranks as One of the Top Military Spenders Globally Turkey’s military expenditure reached $15.8 billion in 2023, placing it 22nd globally, as reported by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). This marked a 37% increase from the previous year, contributing to a 59% rise since 2014. Turkish defense exports also hit a record $5.5 billion, underlining its growing self-reliance in the defense sector. 

2024-4-23

  1. Türkiye and Iraq Ink 26 Accords, Including Key Infrastructure Deal During President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s historic visit to Baghdad, Türkiye and Iraq signed 26 agreements, spanning energy, trade, education, tourism, sports, health, and defense. Among the deals, a landmark Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was sealed for the Development Pathway project involving Türkiye, Iraq, Qatar, and the UAE. This initiative aims to construct a 1,200-kilometer highway and railway network, connecting Grand Faw Port to the Turkish border via key Iraqi cities. Turkish Transport Minister Abdulkadir Uraloglu emphasized the project’s significance for regional trade, foreseeing broader benefits for all involved nations.
  2. Erdogan Says Hamas Unlikely to Leave Qatar Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, during his return from Iraq, stated that Hamas is unlikely to leave Qatar, with no signs of change from Doha. He highlighted Israel’s complete control over Gaza could lead to further incursions into Palestinian territories. Erdogan also noted Iraq’s awareness and willingness to eliminate the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), aligning with Turkey’s ongoing fight against terrorism under international law. He hailed a new phase of cooperation with Iraq, focusing on combating militants and economic ties, acknowledging both nations’ mutual benefits in addressing these security threats and water needs.
  3. Türkiye’s Drones are Shaping Africa’s Security Landscape Türkiye’s drone technology is gaining prominence in African countries, affecting the continent’s security architecture. Unlike France, whose military presence is declining, Türkiye is assuming a growing role in aiding African governments against separatist movements. Defense collaborations with nearly 30 African nations extend beyond arms deals, fostering robust security alliances. Türkiye’s drones empower states to counter threats more cost-effectively, marking a significant shift in Africa’s security architecture. 
  4. Erdoğan Warns Armenia:  Door to Normal Relations Won’t Remain Open Forever Returning from Iraq, President Erdoğan addressed journalists, cautioning Armenia against being held captive by its diaspora’s narratives. Referring to Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s remarks on the 1915 events, Erdoğan emphasized the need to abandon baseless narratives and embrace historical realities. He urged Armenia to seize the moment, warning that opportunity doesn’t linger indefinitely. Acknowledging external provocations, Erdoğan urged Armenia to choose a path toward enlightenment, emphasizing the importance of decisive action in shaping a brighter future and the necessity of historical accuracy in navigating regional dynamics.

2024-4-23

  1. Türkiye and Iraq Ink 26 Accords, Including Key Infrastructure Deal During President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s historic visit to Baghdad, Türkiye and Iraq signed 26 agreements, spanning energy, trade, education, tourism, sports, health, and defense. Among the deals, a landmark Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was sealed for the Development Pathway project involving Türkiye, Iraq, Qatar, and the UAE. This initiative aims to construct a 1,200-kilometer highway and railway network, connecting Grand Faw Port to the Turkish border via key Iraqi cities. Turkish Transport Minister Abdulkadir Uraloglu emphasized the project’s significance for regional trade, foreseeing broader benefits for all involved nations.
  2. Erdogan Says Hamas Unlikely to Leave Qatar Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, during his return from Iraq, stated that Hamas is unlikely to leave Qatar, with no signs of change from Doha. He highlighted Israel’s complete control over Gaza could lead to further incursions into Palestinian territories. Erdogan also noted Iraq’s awareness and willingness to eliminate the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), aligning with Turkey’s ongoing fight against terrorism under international law. He hailed a new phase of cooperation with Iraq, focusing on combating militants and economic ties, acknowledging both nations’ mutual benefits in addressing these security threats and water needs.
  3. Türkiye’s Drones are Shaping Africa’s Security Landscape Türkiye’s drone technology is gaining prominence in African countries, affecting the continent’s security architecture. Unlike France, whose military presence is declining, Türkiye is assuming a growing role in aiding African governments against separatist movements. Defense collaborations with nearly 30 African nations extend beyond arms deals, fostering robust security alliances. Türkiye’s drones empower states to counter threats more cost-effectively, marking a significant shift in Africa’s security architecture. 
  4. Erdoğan Warns Armenia:  Door to Normal Relations Won’t Remain Open Forever Returning from Iraq, President Erdoğan addressed journalists, cautioning Armenia against being held captive by its diaspora’s narratives. Referring to Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s remarks on the 1915 events, Erdoğan emphasized the need to abandon baseless narratives and embrace historical realities. He urged Armenia to seize the moment, warning that opportunity doesn’t linger indefinitely. Acknowledging external provocations, Erdoğan urged Armenia to choose a path toward enlightenment, emphasizing the importance of decisive action in shaping a brighter future and the necessity of historical accuracy in navigating regional dynamics.

2024-4-24

  1. Erdogan Calls Netanyahu “Modern-Day Hitler”Turkish President Erdogan pledged to continue to expose what he called Israel’s atrocities in Gaza, condemning Prime Minister Netanyahu as a “modern-day Hitler” who won’t escape accountability. Erdogan said Turkey will present evidence to the International Court of Justice. Speaking upon returning from Iraq, Erdogan emphasized solidarity with Palestinians and warned against Israel’s control of Gaza.
  2. Turkey and Iraq to Open Joint Operations Center Turkish Defense Minister Yaşar Guler announced a new agreement with Iraq to establish a joint operations center, aimed at enhancing military cooperation. This follows a high-profile visit to Baghdad by Turkish President Erdogan, where multiple bilateral agreements were signed and discussions on security and anti-terrorism measures took place. Guler also commented on positive ongoing confidence-building talks with Greece and mentioned ongoing negotiations for Turkey to acquire and upgrade F-16 aircraft, despite facing challenges in the US Congress.

2024-4-25

  1. Arab States Reportedly Rejected Turkish Proposal for Arab Troops in Gaza and West BankTurkey proposed a security arrangement involving Arab states during the initial stages of the Israel-Hamas war, but faced rejection from countries including Egypt. According to Kan News, this plan included presenting a security strategy to the U.S. and Israel, potentially involving Arab forces in Gaza and the West Bank as part of a two-state solution. Despite Turkey’s attempts to influence the Palestinian arena and replace Qatar as a key mediator, Arab nations remain skeptical of Turkey’s motives, viewing its efforts with caution.
  2. Turkey Keeps Interest Rate Unchanged at 50% Despite Rise in Inflation Turkey’s Central Bank has decided to keep its key interest rate steady at 50%, following last month’s significant 500 basis points increase from 45%. This decision was made despite the country’s annual inflation rate escalating to 67.07% in March, with consumer prices rising by 3.16% from February. The Bank, expressing concern over inflation risks, chose to maintain the rate to assess the effects of recent monetary policy tightening. This approach aligns with efforts to manage the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, with inflation expected to peak in May before it begins to recede.

2024-4-26

  1. Lobbyists Seek Cancellation of Erdogan’s Visit to the United States Media outlets circulated reports that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s scheduled May 9 visit to the United States may be cancelled due to political pressure, though Turkey’s “Hurriyet” newspaper said Ankara has made no official decision about the visit and both Turkish and US delegations are still arranging the agenda. “Hurriyet” reported that a US-Israeli lobby group is seeking to halt the visit following Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh’s recent visit to Turkey. Expected topics for Erdogan-Biden talks include Gaza, defense cooperation, and counterterrorism to mend historical US-Turkey ties. Haniyeh’s visit followed reports of Hamas seeking a new base outside Qatar, later denied by both Hamas and Qatar.
  2. Türkiye Says PKK/YPG Can Have no Role in Syria’s Future At a UN Security Council session, Türkiye’s representative, Ahmet Yildiz, declared that the PKK/YPG, which he described as a terrorist organization, should have no role in Syria’s future due to its separatist and disruptive actions in northeast Syria. He emphasized the significant threat the group poses to Syria’s territorial integrity and political unity. Yildiz highlighted the need for international cooperation to tackle the ongoing crisis in Syria, now in its 14th year, involving security, economic, and humanitarian challenges. He stressed the importance of adhering to UN Security Council Resolution 2254 to rejuvenate the political process and advocated for the prompt convening of the Constitutional Committee. The session also saw the Syrian representative criticizing Türkiye’s terminology in referring to the Syrian government, to which Yildiz responded by urging a focus on future progress.
  3. PKK-Linked Istanbul Bomber Receives Life Sentence for 2022 Bombing A Turkish court has sentenced Ahlam Albashir, the main suspect in the 2022 Istanbul Istiklal street bombing, to seven life terms and an additional 1,794 years in prison. The attack, which occurred on the busy pedestrian street in November 2022, resulted in six deaths and injured 99 others. Albashir, a 23-year-old Syrian woman, was accused of offenses including undermining state unity and multiple counts of premeditated murder. Turkish authorities have linked the attack to the Kurdish YPG, which is seen by Ankara as an extension of the PKK, although the YPG denies involvement. 

2024-4-29

  1. Istanbul’s Influential Mayor İmamoğlu Calls Hamas a Terrorist OrganizationCHP’s Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu stirred controversy by labeling Hamas a “terrorist organization” in an interview with CNN International. İmamoğlu’s remarks came amid Hamas’ armed resistance against Israeli occupation and atrocities, notably the Aqsa Operation initiated on October 7. Despite Israeli assaults on civilians and humanitarian facilities since October 7, causing thousands of casualties and immense suffering in Gaza, İmamoğlu’s characterization of Hamas faced backlash, with some contrasting it with President Erdoğan’s supportive stance on Hamas.
  2. İKB Group Provides Turkey with $6.3 Billion FinancingTurkey has secured significant external funding with the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group allocating $6.3 billion for projects spanning 2024-2026. Treasury and Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek highlighted this support, emphasizing its alignment with Turkey’s economic agenda. The funds target various sectors such as education, healthcare, transport, finance, agriculture, industry, energy, and infrastructure. Since its inception, the IDB Group has provided Turkey with $12.9 billion, ranking it fourth among countries benefiting from the bank’s favorable credit terms. 
  3. Turkey-Iraq Pact Reportedly Gives Turkey a Free Hand in Designated Zone of Northern Iraq The Iraq-Turkey security agreement allows Turkish forces to conduct military operations against the PKK within a specific area inside Iraq, in exchange for increased water supply from Turkey to Iraq. The deal, critiqued for compromising Iraqi sovereignty, encompasses military actions in a zone measuring a 300 km by 40 km. The agreement aims to address PKK activities in certain mountainous regions of Iraq and is part of broader Turkish ambitions to suppress the PKK, which is designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States, and the EU. The deal also involves cooperation on modern irrigation techniques and optimizing water use in Iraq’s agriculture.
  4. In an About Face, Turkey Reportedly Backs Mark Rutte’s NATO Secretary-General BidTurkey will support Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s candidacy for NATO Secretary-General, reports Dutch news agency ANP, citing NATO diplomats. Turkey joins nations like the US, UK, France, and Germany in backing Rutte, while four nations remain undecided. Rutte seeks to succeed Jens Stoltenberg in the role.

2024-4-30

  1. Istanbul’s Influential Mayor İmamoğlu Calls Hamas a Terrorist Organization CHP’s Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu stirred controversy by labeling Hamas a “terrorist organization” in an interview with CNN International. İmamoğlu’s remarks came amid Hamas’ armed resistance against Israeli occupation and atrocities, notably the Aqsa Operation initiated on October 7. Despite Israeli assaults on civilians and humanitarian facilities since October 7, causing thousands of casualties and immense suffering in Gaza, İmamoğlu’s characterization of Hamas faced backlash, with some contrasting it with President Erdoğan’s supportive stance on Hamas.
  2. İKB Group Provides Turkey with $6.3 Billion FinancingTurkey has secured significant external funding with the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group allocating $6.3 billion for projects spanning 2024-2026. Treasury and Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek highlighted this support, emphasizing its alignment with Turkey’s economic agenda. The funds target various sectors such as education, healthcare, transport, finance, agriculture, industry, energy, and infrastructure. Since its inception, the IDB Group has provided Turkey with $12.9 billion, ranking it fourth among countries benefiting from the bank’s favorable credit terms. 
  3. Turkey-Iraq Pact Reportedly Gives Turkey a Free Hand in Designated Zone of Northern IraqThe Iraq-Turkey security agreement allows Turkish forces to conduct military operations against the PKK within a specific area inside Iraq, in exchange for increased water supply from Turkey to Iraq. The deal, critiqued for compromising Iraqi sovereignty, encompasses military actions in a zone measuring a 300 km by 40 km. The agreement aims to address PKK activities in certain mountainous regions of Iraq and is part of broader Turkish ambitions to suppress the PKK, which is designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States, and the EU. The deal also involves cooperation on modern irrigation techniques and optimizing water use in Iraq’s agriculture.
  4. In an About Face, Turkey Reportedly Backs Mark Rutte’s NATO Secretary-General Bid Turkey will support Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s candidacy for NATO Secretary-General, reports Dutch news agency ANP, citing NATO diplomats. Turkey joins nations like the US, UK, France, and Germany in backing Rutte, while four nations remain undecided. Rutte seeks to succeed Jens Stoltenberg in the role.

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