Turkiye in August 2023
August 1, 2023
- Istanbul Sets Deadline for Syrians to Leave or Return to Registered Provinces (Hurriyet Daily News). Turkey’s Interior Ministry has issued an ultimatum to Syrians under temporary protection, giving them until September 24 to leave Istanbul if registered in other provinces. The move comes as authorities aim to address illegal migration and alleviate overpopulation in the city. Failure to comply with the deadline may result in law enforcement taking action to return Syrians to their registered provinces.
- Turkish Coast Guard Rescues 45 Irregular Migrants Pushed Back by Greece in Aegean Sea (Anadolu Agency). The Turkish Coast Guard rescued 45 irregular migrants from Afghanistan who were pushed back into Turkish waters by Greek authorities in the Aegean Sea. The migrants were found in a life raft off the coast of Ayvacik, Canakkale province, and were brought ashore and transferred to the Ayvacik migration office. Turkey and international rights groups criticize Greece’s illegal practice of pushing back migrants, stating it endangers vulnerable lives and violates humanitarian values and international law.
August 2, 2023
- Türkiye and China Strengthen Ties to Foster Regional and Global Peace (Daily Sabah). Türkiye’s Maj. Gen. Gültekin Yaralı highlighted the importance of enhanced relations between Türkiye and China, expressing the desire to develop cooperation based on mutual trust and benefits. The ongoing high-level military dialogue provides an opportunity to advance bilateral defense collaboration. China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s recent visit to Türkiye further emphasized the commitment to enhance mutual strategic trust and deepen cooperation. The defense attaché at the Chinese mission in Türkiye, Senior Col. Li Guangya, underscored China’s role in safeguarding peace and sovereignty while opposing geopolitical competition in the Asia-Pacific region.
- Magnitude 5.0 Earthquake Hits Central Türkiye, No Casualties Reported (Daily Sabah). A magnitude 5.0 earthquake struck Türkiye’s central Konya province in the Selçuklu district. The quake occurred at a shallow depth of 7.24 kilometers and was felt in various districts of the province. So far, there have been no reports of injuries or casualties. Last week, a magnitude 5.5 earthquake shook southern Adana province, causing panic among citizens but no severe damage or casualties. This recent earthquake in Konya comes nearly six months after devastating quakes in the southeastern region that resulted in at least 50,000 fatalities.
- Turkish and Egyptian Officials Target $15 Billion Bilateral Trade within Five Years (Anadolu Agency). Türkiye and Egypt aim to achieve a bilateral trade level of $15 billion within five years after appointing ambassadors to each other’s capitals. Egyptian Trade and Industry Minister Ahmed Samir Saleh visited Ankara to strengthen trade relations, including supporting bilateral investments and organizing business events. Currently, the bilateral trade volume stands at around $10 billion. Diplomatic relations between the two countries have been at the level of charge d’affaires since 2013.
- Iran-Turkey Trade Declines to $2.6 Billion in H1 2023, with a Trade Deficit of -$61 Billion for Turkey (Tasnim Agency). Trade exchanges between Iran and Turkey in the first half of 2023 reached $2.635 billion, showing a 21 percent decline compared to the same period in 2022. Turkey’s exports to Iran remained relatively stable, while its imports from Iran decreased by 37 percent. The report indicates that Turkey’s balance of trade for the first six months of 2023 was -$61 billion.
- Escalating Racism Against Refugees in Turkiye Amid Political Conflicts and Economic Challenges (Al Jazeera). Economic pressures and opposition parties’ media incitement campaigns have contributed to the deterioration of relations between Turks and Arabs. The situation worsened during the presidential elections, with opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu promising to deport Syrians if elected. The rise in incitement has led to attacks on Arab tourists and residents, further deepening the divide. Some government policies and economic challenges have also contributed to the problem, leading to imbalances in handling the large number of refugees. The media’s role in perpetuating racism by disseminating false information and inciting hatred is also significant. Raising awareness and adopting the principle of cultural diversity are crucial steps to combat racism in Turkiye.
- Indonesia Buys 12 Turkish Anka Drones Worth $300 Million, Marking New Era in Bilateral Cooperation (TRT World). Indonesia purchases 12 Turkish-made Anka drones for $300 million, becoming the first Asian country to acquire Türkiye’s UAVs. The deal is part of Indonesia’s efforts to modernize its military equipment. Turkish ambassador to Jakarta highlights the potential for cooperation in various sectors between the two countries. The bilateral trade target is set at $10 billion, and diplomatic relations have seen notable developments.
- Türkiye Welcomes 23 Million Tourists in First Half of 2023, Records 17% Increase in Tourist Arrivals and 27% Surge in Tourism Income (Newstral). During the first half of 2023, Türkiye experienced a significant resurgence in its tourism sector, with tourist arrivals increasing by 17% to over 22 million. Tourism income also saw a substantial boost, rising by 27% to $21.7 billion.
August 3, 2023
- Turkish President’s Chief Adviser to Attend Ukraine Peace Talks Hosted by Saudi Arabia (Anadolu Agency). Akif Cagatay Kilic, the chief adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is set to attend the Ukraine peace talks hosted by Saudi Arabia on Saturday. The meeting aims to discuss the current situation in Ukraine and exchange views for achieving peace between Russia and Ukraine. Representatives from various countries and international organizations, including NATO, the EU, and national security advisers from multiple countries, are expected to participate. Kilic will also engage in bilateral talks with counterparts on the sidelines of the meeting. Turkey has been praised for its mediator role between Ukraine and Russia, calling for a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
- UK to Start Talks with Turkey to Refresh Bilateral Free Trade Deal (Arab News). The United Kingdom announced its intention to initiate talks with Turkey to refresh their existing bilateral free trade deal. The current trade agreement between the two countries, which was rolled over when the UK left the EU, is considered outdated. Both sides have reviewed the agreement and concluded that there is room for improvement through a new deal, which could potentially include services and the digital sector. While negotiations are expected to formally begin next year, the trading relationship between the UK and Turkey, valued at £23.5 billion ($30.7 billion) last year, is set to be deepened and tailored to the UK’s economic strengths. The UK government plans to gather input from businesses before the talks commence.
- Canadian Energy Company Enters Agreement for Oil Exploration in Kurdish Region of Turkey (Al Monitor). Trillion Energy, a Canadian oil and gas producer, has entered a “farm-in agreement” with a Turkish company for a 50% working and revenue interest in three oil exploration blocks located in the Cudi Gabar region of southeastern Turkey. The region has been a site of conflict between Turkish security forces and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Trillion’s deal involves exploration funding in exchange for partial ownership of the project. The Cudi Gabar region is believed to be part of an active petroleum system that extends from Iraq and Syria and contains significant oil fields. The recent discovery of a billion barrels of oil in the area has been touted as potentially transformative for the Kurdish-majority region’s economy. Critics have raised skepticism about the claims and suggested political motivations behind the announcement.
August 4, 2023
- Türkiye Announces New Chief of General Staff and Key Military Appointments (Yeni Şafak). Türkiye’s Supreme Military Council meeting led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan resulted in several key decisions, including the appointment of Gen. Metin Gurak as the new chief of General Staff. The meeting also saw changes in top military positions, with Selcuk Bayraktaroglu becoming the new Land Forces commander and Gen. Ziya Cemal Kadioglu taking over as Air Forces commander. Additionally, promotions were approved for 32 generals and admirals, along with 63 colonels moving up to higher ranks. This will raise the total number of generals and admirals in the Turkish Armed Forces from 266 to 286.
- Turkish Coast Guard Rescues 110 Irregular Migrants Pushed into Territorial Waters by Greek Forces (Anadlou Agency). Turkish Coast Guard teams have rescued 110 irregular migrants who were pushed into Turkish territorial waters by Greek forces in the Aegean Sea. The migrants were found on life rafts and inflatable boats off the coasts of various districts in Izmir and Mugla provinces.
August 7, 2023
- EU to Discuss Türkiye Visa Liberalization in Autumn Amid Accession Talks (Daily Sabah). A senior EU official revealed plans to address visa liberalization for Türkiye during upcoming autumn discussions…Ankara has urged renewed engagement in the accession process, Customs Union updates, high-level dialogues, and counterterrorism collaboration.
- Erdoğan to Lead Cabinet Meeting Addressing Russia-Ukraine War, Suspended Grain Corridor, and Economic Plans (Hurriyet Daily News). Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will oversee an upcoming cabinet meeting to discuss urgent matters like the suspended Black Sea grain corridor agreement due to Russia’s withdrawal. The focus will be on potential solutions, impact on global grain prices, ahead of Putin’s expected visit in August. Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan’s phone discussions with US and Ukrainian counterparts to extend the grain deal will be highlighted, along with other topics like collective bargaining and regional developments.
August 8, 2023
- Turkish Foreign Minister Stresses Turkiye’s Vital Role for EU’s Global Influence (Hurriyet Daily News). Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan stressed Turkiye’s pivotal role for the EU’s global influence during the 14th Ambassadors Conference in Ankara. Fidan advocated for a visionary approach to Turkiye-EU relations, highlighting the importance of full membership and the revival of the accession process. He asserted that the EU’s global impact relies on Turkiye’s involvement. Fidan also addressed the stalled grain deal in Ukraine, reaffirming Turkiye’s commitment to ending the conflict and resolving the global grain crisis. He expressed Turkiye’s aspiration to promote global justice, peace, security, and stability through cooperation with other nations. Fidan emphasized maintaining positive relations with Greece and urged mutual sincerity in the Aegean region.
- Turkiye’s Baykar Signs Strategic UAV Deal with Saudi Arabia to Boost Defense Localization (Daily Sabah). Turkiye’s Baykar and Saudi Arabia sign a strategic deal to localize UAV manufacturing, enhancing Saudi Arabian Military Industries’ (SAMI) role in the defense sector. The agreement includes technology transfer and follows a recent historic drone deal. Aselsan and Roketsan also signed agreements with Saudi Arabia’s NCMS, strengthening Turkish-Saudi defense cooperation.
- Türkiye Considers Gold Import Quota to Improve Deficit and FX Reserves (Reuters). Turkiye is contemplating the implementation of a quota on unprocessed gold imports to mitigate their impact on the current account balance and promote domestic production and exports. The move, primarily targeting Borsa Istanbul Stock Exchange members involved in precious metal brokerage, aims to curb the negative effects of increased raw gold imports on foreign trade and credit of payments. This initiative is anticipated to contribute to reducing the foreign trade deficit and enhancing Turkiye’s foreign exchange reserves, while certain import categories remain exempt.
- Greek Concerns Mount as Türkiye’s Missile Capabilities and Aerial Prowess Raise Alarms (Yeni Safak). Amid increasing worries about Türkiye’s advancing missile capabilities, Greek media has focused on the country’s potent defense industry, particularly highlighting missile systems like Cyclone, Lightning, Bora, and Typhoon. These systems, with varying ranges, have raised concerns that Greek islands could be within striking distance, prompting calls for strategic defense measures. The possession of an air tanker with in-flight refueling capabilities has further fueled apprehension, intensifying the push for Greek government action to counter the evolving security landscape.
August 9, 2023
- Erdogan Says Türkiye Will Reform Constitution to Liberate It from Coup-Era Ideology (Hurriyet Daily News). President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Türkiye has announced his intention to reform the country’s constitution, aiming to free it from the influence of coup-era military ideology…Erdoğan emphasized that constitutional amendments were a priority of the newly elected government, aiming to replace what he sees as a remnant of a coup d’état with a more inclusive and democratic framework. To ratify the new constitution, the support of 400 lawmakers out of 600 is required, and a minimum of 360 lawmakers’ votes are needed to hold a referendum.
- Türkiye’s Exports to UAE Reach Almost $2.5 Billion (Yeni Safak). Turkey’s exports to the UAE have reached $2.46 billion in the first seven months of the current year, reflecting a 30.9% increase compared to the previous year. The jewelry sector accounted for the largest share of these exports, amounting to $971.3 million. This growth in trade between the two countries is attributed to intensified diplomatic efforts and agreements signed during President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent visit to the UAE, covering various sectors such as energy, transportation, tourism, and advanced technologies.
- Türkiye and EU Agree on Fresh Economic Roadmap (Daily Sabah). Turkiye and the European Union (EU) have agreed on a roadmap to enhance bilateral trade and economic relations, signaling a re-engagement between the two sides. The discussions are focused on restoring strained ties, including negotiations on Turkey’s accession process, updating the customs union, and visa liberalization. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recent endorsement of Sweden’s NATO membership bid has contributed to this positive shift. The road map aims to strengthen trade dialogue and cooperation, particularly in updating the customs union agreement. Despite past disagreements, Turkey and the EU have a significant trade relationship, with bilateral trade reaching nearly $200 billion in 2022.
- Turkish Drone Maker’s Deal with Saudi Arabia Opens Door to New Defense Exports (Anadolu Agency). Following the historic defense and aerospace export contract between Turkish UAV producer Baykar and Saudi Arabia for the Bayraktar Akinci unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), new opportunities have emerged for Turkish defense firms. A UAV Manufacturing Indigenization Agreement was signed in Riyadh, attended by Turkish companies Baykar, Aselsan, Roketsan, and Saudi counterparts. Baykar signed agreements with Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) for local production and technology transfer, while Aselsan and Roketsan signed agreements with the Saudi National Company for Mechanical Systems.
- Erdogan Hails Meeting in Türkiye between Abbas and Hamas Leader Haniyah (TRT World). Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan highlighted the significance of a meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas political chief Ismail Haniya in Turkey…Erdogan reiterated Turkey’s strong support for the Palestinian cause and its commitment to a two-state solution for the Israel-Palestine conflict.
- Putin May Visit Turkiye to Discuss Syrian Refugees and a Potential Assad/Erdogan Meeting (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Sources close to the Turkish government revealed that the Syrian file would be one of the essential files in a possible visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Ankara that may take place during August and that he will discuss with President Erdogan the path of normalizing relations with Damascus and the return of Syrian refugees to their country…the agenda of Putin’s visit would focus on four main files related to the Black Sea grain agreement, from which Russia withdrew, trade relations between the two countries, and relations between Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Armenia, in addition to the Syrian file.
August 10, 2023
- Türkiye and UK Unveil Deal to Tackle Surge in Illegal Migration (Reuters). Türkiye and the United Kingdom have announced a joint deal to combat illegal migration and dismantle people-smuggling gangs. The partnership involves the establishment of a new operational center by the Turkish National Police, focused on enhancing intelligence alignment and collaboration between the two nations. The deal also facilitates the exchange of customs data and intelligence, aiming to disrupt the supply chain of materials used in illegal migration. The agreement is part of the UK’s “Stop the Boats” week and reflects efforts to address the issue of illegal migrants arriving in Britain. The collaboration will be highlighted at the U.K.-Türkiye Migration Dialogue meeting in autumn.
- Greece Pushes Back Migrants, Türkiye Rescues 30 People in Aegean Sea (TRT World). The Turkish Coast Guard rescued 30 irregular migrants in the Aegean Sea who had been pushed back into Turkish waters by Greek authorities. The migrants were found in a rubber boat off the coast of Dikili district in Izmir province. Türkiye and international human rights organizations have criticized Greece’s pushing back migrants, stating that it endangers vulnerable individuals and violates humanitarian and international laws.
- Türkiye Seizes ISIS’s Global ‘Lone Wolf’ Database (Daily Sabah). Turkish police conducted a successful operation in Istanbul, resulting in the seizure of a valuable database containing information about 9,952 “lone wolf” terrorists from the ISIS terrorist group. The process began with individuals linked to Iranian intelligence discussing the sale of the database stolen from ISIS leadership. The Iranian Ministry of Intelligence was negotiating the purchase of the database for 8.5 million euros ($9.33 million). The database contains biographical details of lone-wolf terrorists from various countries, including the U.S., Canada, the U.K., France, and Germany.
- Greek FM Hails Improved Relations with Türkiye (Hurriyet Daily News). Greek Foreign Minister Yorgo Yerapetritis has praised the improving relationship between Greece and Türkiye, attributing diplomatic progress to his rapport with Turkish counterpart Hakan Fidan. Yerapetritis emphasized cultivating peaceful Turkish-Greek relations, particularly in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean. They highlighted upcoming meetings between Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Despite ongoing disputes over territorial waters and island sovereignty, Yerapetritis suggested that arbitration might be considered through international courts.
- Erdogan Says Achieving Stability in Syria will Accelerate the Return of Refugees, and Turkiye is Ready for Dialogue (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey prevented the establishment of a “terrorist mini-state” on its southern border through the operations carried out by its forces in northern Syria, noting that achieving stability in Syria would contribute to accelerating the return of refugees to their country…”Through our operations in the north of Syria, we have prevented the formation of a terrorist mini-state at our southern borders. We continue to strike terrorist organizations in the north of Syria and Iraq, which threaten the territorial integrity of the two neighboring countries,” Erdogan added during a speech before the 14th meeting of Turkish ambassadors to the foreign ministry, which is currently being held in Ankara.
August 11, 2023
- 57 Governors Appointed in Major Reshuffle in Türkiye (Daily Sabah). In a significant reshuffle, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan appointed 57 governors in Turkey through a presidential decree…The appointments involve various provinces, with governors being the highest-ranking administrative officials in each area, appointed by the president based on the Interior Ministry’s recommendation.
- Türkiye Renews Anti-Terror Vow After Losing 6 Soldiers to PKK in Iraq (Daily Sabah). Following the killing of six soldiers by PKK terrorists in northern Iraq, Turkey reaffirms its commitment to cracking down on terrorism until its complete eradication. The Defense Ministry announced that nearly a thousand members of the PKK and its Syrian branch YPG have been “neutralized” in 2023. The recent casualties came from Operation Claw-Lock, targeting terrorists in northern Iraq. In Syria, measures are being taken to ensure security and stability in operation areas. Additionally, three high-ranking Daesh members were captured in a joint operation with the Syrian National Army, and PKK/YPG attacks on civilians in Afrin caused injuries.
- Turkey Inflation: Erdogan’s Policy U-turn Tests Patience (Reuters). Turks are expected to face further inflationary pressures, with economists predicting a rise of up to 8.5% in August, driven by a weakening lira and recent tax hikes. President Tayyip Erdogan’s administration is undergoing a policy U-turn, including interest rate hikes, to tackle inflation and stabilize the economy. Despite Erdogan’s previous opposition to high rates, the central bank, under new Governor Hafize Gaye Erkan, has increased rates by 900 basis points, causing the lira to plummet.
August 14, 2023
- Responding to Assad, Türkiye Says It Will Not Withdraw from Syria (Enab Baladi). Turkish Defense Minister Yasar Guler said it is inconceivable to leave Syria without ensuring the security of Turkiye’s borders, considering that his country has “sensitive points” regarding this issue…The minister added, according to the Turkish “Anatolia” agency’s translation of a televised meeting of the minister, on Saturday, August 12, that his country desires to establish peace in Syria, pointing out that “drafting and adopting a new constitution for Syria is the most important stage for establishing peace there.”
- Leap in Space Tech as Türkiye Launches Homegrown Probe Rocket (Daily Sabah). Türkiye has successfully tested its first domestically developed probe rocket, a significant advancement in its space exploration efforts. Developed by Roketsan, the missile was launched from Iğneada in Kırklareli province. This achievement aligns with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s 10-year space roadmap, aiming for moon missions, sending Turkish astronauts to the International Space Station, and creating internationally viable satellite systems. The program includes plans for a spaceport, building domestic rocket technologies, and positioning Türkiye as a key player in space exploration. Currently, Türkiye has nine active satellites in space, with plans for further developments, including the launch of the domestically developed Türksat 6A satellite.
- Turkiye Rejects Idea of Accepting 3rd-Country Migrants from UK (Anadolu Agency). According to anonymous sources, Türkiye’s cooperation with the UK in migration doesn’t include accepting third-country nationals from the UK in Türkiye. Türkiye’s efforts against irregular migration are a core aspect of its humanitarian foreign policy, driven by regional instability, conflicts, and economic challenges. The country aims to prevent dangerous journeys and loss of life caused by migrant smugglers while promoting legal migration pathways. The UK supports establishing a “Center of Excellence” under Türkiye’s General Directorate of Security to combat irregular migration and organized crime networks. Additionally, the UK backs Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s proposal on migration within the G-20 and G-7 platforms.
August 15, 2023
- Türkiye Prepares to Launch New Model for Returning Refugees to Syria (Daily Sabah). Turkey is preparing to launch the “Aleppo model,” a comprehensive plan to facilitate the safe and voluntary return of Syrian refugees to their homeland and address irregular migration. The project focuses on solving housing and unemployment issues in war-torn areas, with priorities set on the Aleppo region. Turkey has partnered with Qatar to build fully equipped homes in Idlib and Afrin. The plan includes agricultural plots, commercial facilities, and social services like education and healthcare. Turkey aims to cooperate with countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan to address irregular migration and is taking measures to regulate the employment of foreign workers.
- Türkiye Expects Armenia to Avoid ‘Provocative Steps’ on Lachin Road (Anadolu Agency). Turkey is closely monitoring the situation surrounding the Lachin road in the southern Caucasus and understands Azerbaijan’s concerns. Turkey expects Armenia to avoid “provocative steps” on the Lachin road and calls for recognition of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. Despite ongoing peace talks, tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia have risen over the Lachin road and Azerbaijan’s establishment of a border checkpoint on the road.
August 16, 2023
- US Sends Reinforcements to PKK/YPG-Held Syrian Territory (Daily Sabah). The United States has sent reinforcements, including fuel, weapons, and ammunition, to its bases in northern Syria’s Deir ez-Zor region, currently occupied by the PKK’s Syrian affiliate, the YPG. The convoy, guarded by military vehicles, arrived from the Syria-Iraq border crossing. The U.S. has consistently supplied military outposts near oil fields in the Hassakeh, Raqqa, and Deir ez-Zor areas. Despite Turkey’s security concerns and objections, the U.S. continues to support the YPG, a group considered a terrorist organization by Turkey and the U.S. This ongoing support strains relations between the two NATO allies.
- CHP’s Istanbul Mayor Signals Reelection Bid (Hurriyet Daily News). Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, a prominent figure in Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), has implicitly announced his intention to seek re-election in the upcoming municipal polls. He stated his strong connection with Istanbul and commitment to serving the city as its mayor. İmamoğlu’s declaration comes amid discussions within the opposition for party rejuvenation, raising speculation about his potential candidacy for the CHP chairmanship. He emphasized the need for unity and collective action to secure victory in the elections, and he expressed the importance of addressing party members’ concerns and sentiments for effective rejuvenation.
August 17, 2023
- Turkiye Roasts as Extreme Weather Fuels Wildfires, Disrupts Air Traffic (Al Monitor). Turkiye is grappling with multiple wildfires and extreme weather conditions, including high heat and humidity…Fueled by the extreme heat, at least 10 wildfires have been reported this week in various regions including the southeast and the Aegean and Mediterranean coast.
- Russian Raid Off Turkey’s Coast Tests Erdogan’s Resolve (Reuters). Russia’s recent raid on a ship near Turkey’s coast has brought the fallout from the Ukraine war to another NATO frontier, raising concerns about the Black Sea’s volatility. Armed marines boarded a Turkish-based vessel off Turkey’s northwest coast, prompting Russia’s inspection before the ship sailed to Ukraine. Turkey’s silence on the incident indicates its desire to revive a UN grain deal with Russia and maintain good relations with President Vladimir Putin, whom President Tayyip Erdogan has invited to Turkey for talks. The incident tests Turkey’s position as it seeks to balance its interests in the war and its economic cooperation with Russia.
- Türkiye Awaits Lagging Sweden to Fulfill Extradition Requests (Daily Sabah). Turkey is awaiting Sweden’s response to its extradition requests for terrorists and hopes that Sweden will fulfill its commitments not to provide shelter to terrorists and supporters of terrorists as part of its NATO membership bid. Turkey had approved Finland’s NATO membership but is waiting for Sweden to demonstrate its commitment to counterterrorism efforts. Turkey’s Justice Minister Yılmaz Tunç stated that terrorism is a common enemy and democratic countries should unite to fight it. The Turkish Parliament will consider Sweden’s response when discussing the ratification of its NATO accession bid.
- Russia Makes a Surprising Offer to Türkiye on Maritime Collaboration (Yeni Safak). Russia has expressed interest in establishing a partnership with Turkey in maritime activities, as the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSVTS) Director Dmitriy Shugayev announced. Shugayev highlighted Russia’s readiness for collaborative efforts with Turkey in the maritime sector, although specific details about potential military-technical cooperation within this domain are not yet being discussed. These comments were made during the “Army-2023 Forum,” a significant defense industry event in Russia that features participation from numerous defense sector enterprises and foreign companies.
August 18, 2023
- The US Imposes Sanctions on Turkiye-Backed Syrian Militias for Rights Abuses (Al Monitor). The US Treasury has sanctioned two Turkey-backed Syrian militias, Suleiman Shah Brigade and Hamza Division, accused of displacing and oppressing the Kurdish population in Syria’s Afrin. Allegations include human rights abuses and forced displacement. These groups, part of the Syrian National Army, stand accused of rights violations against Kurds, Yazidis, and others. Treasury revealed leader Abu Amsha’s orchestrated abductions and property seizures, with his car dealership as a financial conduit. Hamza Division faces similar accusations. The Biden administration has shown a commitment to accountability for rights violations.
- Turkiye Bolsters Border Security with Advanced Technology Amid Irregular Migration Challenges (Daily Sabah). Turkiye, a primary route for irregular migrants heading to Europe, employs cutting-edge technology to fortify its border security against illegal crossings from Iran. Electro-optic towers, thermal cameras, and ground surveillance radar monitor a concrete wall spanning the Ağrı province’s 83.6-kilometer border section. The border fortification, including 71 of 103 towers, is reinforced by thermal cameras capable of detecting movement up to 10 kilometers away. While experts await a comprehensive assessment, the wall and increased patrols have already curbed irregular migration, a significant concern for Turkey, which strives to address the issue through international cooperation.
- Monetary Tightening Cycle Likely to End, Positive for Global Economy: Turkish Treasury Minister (Yeni Safak). Mehmet Simsek, Turkiye’s Treasury, and Finance Minister, expressed optimism on Thursday, suggesting that the global economy is poised to exit the monetary tightening phase. Speaking at the general assembly of the Banks Association of Turkey, Simsek noted that the possibility of monetary easing by the latter half of 2024 has increased.
August 21, 2023
- Erdogan’s Chief Advisor: No Chance of Near-Term Meeting with Assad (Shaam). Akif Chagatay Kilic, a senior adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, ruled out the possibility of holding a meeting between the Turkish president and the terrorist “Bashar al-Assad” in the near future, in light of great tensions and conflicting statements about the possibility of holding meeting between denial and confirmation, which some considered as propaganda before The last Turkish elections.
- Tensions in Cyprus Amid Turkish Cypriot Plans to Build Controversial Road (Al Monitor). Tensions have escalated in Cyprus as Turkish Cypriot President Ersin Tatar affirmed plans to build a controversial road within the disputed island, despite opposition from UN peacekeepers and the Republic of Cyprus. The road would connect the Turkish Cypriot village of Arsos to the conflicted zone village of Pyla, encroaching on the United Nations buffer zone. A confrontation between Turkish Cypriot forces and UN peacekeepers occurred, resulting in injuries to peacekeepers. Tatar insists the road is a “humanitarian issue,” facilitating transportation for Turkish Cypriots, but the situation complicates Turkey’s relations with Cyprus.
- Erdogan to Visit Hungary for Talks (Yeni Safak). Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is set to visit Hungary for a one-day trip to attend the country’s founding day celebrations and the World Athletics Championships in Budapest. The visit comes upon the invitation of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban…Erdogan is also expected to hold talks with other counterparts attending the celebrations, including Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. The relationship between Turkey and Hungary was elevated to a strategic partnership level in 2013, and the ties between the two countries have been strengthening in various fields in recent years.
- Istanbul’s European Side Reaches its Critical Point of Water Scarcity (Daily Sabah). The Istanbul Water and Sewage Administration (ISKI) has issued a call for heightened water conservation on the European side of Istanbul due to severe water scarcity. The deputy general manager of ISKI, Bülent Solmaz, highlighted the challenge of addressing the evaporation of over 65 million cubic meters of water this year, exacerbated by minimal precipitation forecasts. The occupancy level of dams in Istanbul is at 33.18%, prompting measures to combat water scarcity.
August 22, 2023
- Turkish President Erdogan Criticizes UN Peacekeeping Force’s Intervention in Northern Cyprus Road Construction (TRT). UN peacekeeping force’s intervention in Northern Cyprus road construction was “unacceptable,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said. “The physical intervention of UN peacekeeping force soldiers on the territory that falls under the sovereignty of the TRNC is never acceptable to us,” Erdogan said after the Cabinet meeting in the capital Ankara. Erdogan’s remarks came after the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) last week intervened in road construction work to link the Turkish Cypriot village of Pile in the buffer zone with the rest of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).
August 23, 2023
- Türkiye to Unify Administration of Areas it Controls in Northern Syria (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Turkey plans to unify the administration of the areas under the control of its forces and the factions of what is known as the “Syrian National Army” loyal to it, in northern and northeastern Syria, by appointing one governor to assume the powers of managing those areas instead of 7 governors who were appointed to coordinate there, with the aim of preventing confusion in managing these areas. Sources familiar with the plan revealed that work is currently underway to develop a new system for coordination between Ankara and the local councils in 13 different regions, primarily Azaz, Jarabulus, Al-Bab, Afrin, Tal Abyad, and Ras Al-Ain.
- Erdogan Says UN Peacekeeping Force’s Intervention in Northern Cyprus Road Construction ‘Unacceptable’ (Yeni Safak). The UN peacekeeping force’s intervention in Northern Cyprus road construction was “unacceptable,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday. “The physical intervention of UN peacekeeping force soldiers on the territory that falls under the sovereignty of the TRNC is never acceptable to us,” Erdogan said after the Cabinet meeting in the capital Ankara. Erdogan’s remarks came after the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) last week intervened in road construction work to link the Turkish Cypriot village of Pile in the buffer zone with the rest of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). The road expansion is strategically important for residents as it will give them more options to reach Pile, where Turks and Greek Cypriots live together.
- FM Urges EU to Grab ‘Opportunity’ for Türkiye’s Accession (Daily Sabah). Türkiye and European Union will likely give another shot at the former’s full membership to the continental body in the coming months as a summer recess in EU bodies end. For Türkiye’s top diplomat, this is a window of opportunity for the EU. Speaking at a news conference in the capital Ankara with his Bulgarian counterpart, Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan said that their membership offered “new opportunities both for EU and Türkiye’s region.” “I recommend EU leaders to use this window,” Fidan said. He highlighted that Türkiye’s membership would reinforce the EU’s position as a global actor but it was apparent that most EU member states did not view it that way or “preferred not to.”
- France names first female envoy to Ankara (Daily Sabah). France has named Isabelle Dumont as its first female ambassador to Türkiye on Monday. Dumont, fluent in Turkish, served at the French Embassy in the capital Ankara from 2011 to 2013. She was also ambassador to Ukraine and the Greek Cypriot administration in 2015 and 2019, respectively. Following these assignments, she became an adviser for European and Turkish relations at the Elysee Palace in 2020. She provided counsel to French President Emmanuel Macron on European and Turkish relations. Her new role is likely to have a positive impact on Türkiye-France relations. She is expected to be in Türkiye this week and will assume her duties after presenting her letter of credentials to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
August 24, 2023
- Erdogan Says Ankara Does not Recognize Russia’s Annexation of Crimea (Anadolu Agency). Türkiye does not recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea and continues to see it as illegitimate, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reaffirmed on Wednesday. “Ensuring the security and well-being of our Crimean Tatar kin, who are one of Crimea’s native peoples, is among our priorities,” Erdogan said in a video message to the Third Crimea Platform Summit, which is being held in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv.
- Türkiye calls on Iraq to recognize PKK as terror group as FM visits (Daily Sabah). Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan urged Baghdad to recognize the PKK, still hiding out in the country’s north, as a terrorist group as he embarked on a three-day visit to Türkiye’s southeastern neighbor on Tuesday…As Türkiye strives to improve ties with Iraq, top diplomat Hakan Fidan made his first visit to the country since his appointment as foreign minister earlier this summer. Starting his three-day visit to the country, Fidan was blunt in his call to Baghdad for recognition of one of Türkiye’s primary security concerns: the PKK terrorist group.
August 25, 2023
- Türkiye Summons Danish Ambassador Over Continued Desecration of Quran (Anadolu Agency). Turkish diplomatic sources said that the Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned today, Thursday, the Danish charge d’affaires in Ankara, due to another act of desecration of the Holy Quran…“In response to the continued act of burning the Holy Qur’an in front of our embassy in Copenhagen and the embassies of (other) Muslim countries, the Chargé d’Affairs of the Embassy of Denmark in Ankara was summoned again to our ministry today,” said the sources, who requested anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media…This step came after burning the Holy Quran in the Danish capital, Copenhagen, for the fourth day in a row this week…Türkiye has so far summoned the Danish ambassador five times this month because of the desecration of the Holy Quran.
- Saudi-Turkish-Pakistani Tripartite Defense Committee Holds First Meeting (Anadolu Agency). On Thursday, the Saudi-Turkish-Pakistani tripartite committee held its first meeting in Riyadh…The panel discussed ways to enhance defense cooperation, according to a statement by the Saudi Ministry of Defense…The meeting was attended by Turkish Deputy Defense Minister Jalal Sami Tufakji, Saudi Assistant Defense Minister Talal bin Abdullah bin Turki Al-Otaibi, and Lieutenant General Muhammad Saeed from the Pakistani Armed Forces…The meeting of the Saudi-Turkish working group dealt with the road map related to cooperation in defense industries, technology transfer and localization, and the development of scientific research.
- Ankara Condemns Joint US-YPG Exercises in Syria (Hurriyet Daily News). Turkish Defense Ministry officials have strongly criticized joint exercises conducted by the United States and the PKK/YPG terrorist organization in Syria, Hurriyet Daily reported…The ministry’s sources told the newspaper, “The United States continues to support the PKK/People’s Protection Units terrorist organization under the pretext of fighting ISIS. A terrorist organization cannot be fought using another terrorist organization.”..The exercise was held in the northeastern Syrian city of Qamishli from August 15 to 17, according to the officials…They added, “We expect friendly and allied countries to stop aid and support for the terrorist organization PKK and the People’s Protection Units and to provide sincere support for our battle against terrorism.”
- Fidan Vows to Cleanse Iraq of PKK in Conjunction With a Turkish Drone Strike (Al Jazeera). In a press conference in Erbil, Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan said that his country will work to purify Iraqi lands from what he described as PKK terrorism, in statements preceded by a Turkish drone strike that killed members of the party in northern Iraq…Fidan said, during the joint press conference with the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Masrour Barzani, that the meeting they held today, Thursday, allowed them to evaluate bilateral relations, noting that there is still a lot of work to “get rid of the scourge of terrorism.”
August 28, 2023
- Zelensky and Turkish Minister Discuss Black Sea Tensions (Al Monitor). Both leaders address Black Sea tensions in Kyiv, aiming to salvage grain exports after Russia’s withdrawal from a crucial deal.
- Defense Ministers Foster Security and Regional Ties (Trt Arabi). Turkish and Azerbaijani defense ministers convene to enhance security cooperation and address regional concerns. Discussions revolve around enhancing bilateral military collaboration and addressing regional security concerns.
- Top Greek Diplomat to Boost Bilateral Ties in Ankara (Hurriyet Daily News). Greece’s Foreign Minister Gerapetritis to meet Turkish counterpart, strengthening ties and preparing for comprehensive cooperation session.
August 29, 2023
- Turkey’s Economic Collaborations with Iraq and Saudi Arabia Surge to $17 Billion (Daily Sabah). Iraq and Turkey are on the verge of finalizing a $17 billion transport deal, aiming to revitalize Iraq’s economy by facilitating efficient movement of goods from the Gulf to Europe via an extensive rail and road network. The agreement, soon to be signed with Turkey, signifies a significant economic endeavor. Furthermore, Turkey and Saudi Arabia have signed an MoU to strengthen their collaboration in mining essential minerals crucial for emerging technologies like electric vehicles and solar panels.
- Upcoming Erdogan-Putin Meeting to Rekindle Black Sea Grain Deal (Daily Sabah). President Recep Tayyip Erdogan plans to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin to potentially bring Russia back into the critical Black Sea grain deal. The meeting is a part of Erdogan’s ongoing diplomatic efforts to prevent a global food crisis.
August 30, 2023
- Turkiye’s Trade Deficit Swells to $12.2 Billion in July Amid Increased Imports (Turke Conom). Turkiye’s trade deficit grew to $12.2 billion in July, a 14.2% increase from the previous year. Exports rose by 8.3% to $20.1 billion, while imports increased by 10.5% to $32.3 billion. The export-to-import ratio declined to 62.2%.
- UN and Turkish Cypriot President Discuss Controversial Cyprus Road Construction (TRT World). Turkish Cypriot President Ersin Tatar met with UN assistant secretary-general Miroslav Jenca to discuss a disputed road construction in Cyprus. The UN had intervened in the construction, leading Tatar to express that the project is humanitarian and born out of necessity.\
August 31, 2023
- Russia’s Grain Proposal to Turkiye: Economic Influence and Regional Ties (Reuters). Plan involves sending one million tonnes of discounted grain to Turkiye, backed by Qatar. Grain processed in Turkiye, distributed to needy nations. Russia’s proposal seeks to solidify economic influence, enhance Turkiye ties, and address criticism following its exit from the previous deal.
- Iraq-Turkiye Talks Focus on Water Management, Trade (Anadolu Agency & Turk Press). This week, Iraq and Turkiye engaged in diplomatic talks to enhance bilateral relations. Iraqi President Abd al-Latif Rashid met with Turkiye’s special envoy Faisal Iroglu to discuss water management for the Tigris and Euphrates basins. Simultaneously, the Iraqi Ministry of Trade held discussions with a Turkish delegation aimed at boosting economic and trade ties.
- Fidan Meets Libyan High Council of State Head (Anadolu Agency). According to a statement from the Turkish Foreign Ministry, Fidan received Muhammad Takala, the head of Libya’s Supreme Council of State, in Ankara. No further details about the meeting’s content were provided.