Turkiye in March 2023
8 March 2023
- UN Says Türkiye Quake Damage Could Exceed $100B (Daily Sabah). Damage from the massive earthquakes that jolted southeastern Türkiye last month is estimated to be over $100 billion, the United Nations said Tuesday. “Already it is clear that just the damages alone will amount to more than $100 billion,” Louisa Vinton of the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) told reporters via video link from Gaziantep province, adding that the recovery costs “will be on top of that.” The magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 quakes on Feb. 6 caused widespread destruction in the southeast of Türkiye, killing over 45,000 people and leading to the collapse or severe damage of over 230,000 buildings.
- UN Relief Coordinator: Global Supply Chain Unable to Supply Turkey with Enough Tents (Anadolu Agency). The United Nations Resident Coordinator in Turkey, Alvaro Rodriguez, says that the global supply chain is unable to meet the urgent need for tents in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in southern Turkey. The UN appeal to raise $1 billion within three months has only been funded by $100 million. Most of the aid comes from the United States and Germany, and additional contributions are needed to meet the humanitarian needs of about 9 million people living in 11 states affected by the earthquake.
9 March 2023
- After 20 Years in Power, Will 2023 End the Reign of Turkey’s ‘Sultan’ Erdogan? (Al Arabiya). Despite the amount of power he has consolidated over the years, Erdogan faces an uphill battle in the upcoming presidential election. The conditions leading up to this election are unlikely to play in favor of another presidential term for him…Erdogan has faced strong criticism targeted at how his government has handled the [earthquake] disaster, including the slow rescue operations and how the government’s personnel did not collaborate with relief agencies and local authorities. The six-party opposition alliance’s chosen candidate to challenge Erdogan in the upcoming elections, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, fanned the fire of the public’s anger. He said: “They failed in this as they failed in every other issue, they don’t know how to manage the state. If there is anyone responsible for this process, it is Erdogan. It is this ruling party that has not prepared the country for an earthquake for 20 years.”
- Cavusoglu: Quartet Meeting in Moscow to Discuss Syria (Anadolu Agency). The Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, announced that a quadripartite meeting between Turkey, Russia, Iran, and the Syrian regime will be held in Moscow next week, as a precursor to a foreign ministers’ meeting. Mevlut Cavusoglu made this announcement in response to a question during a joint press conference with his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, held in the Turkish capital, Ankara, on Wednesday following talks between the two officials.
10 March 2023
- Turkish Lira Falls to Record Low (Al Hurra). On Thursday, the value of the Turkish lira hit a new record low of 18.962 against the dollar, as investors attempt to assess the economic impact of the massive earthquakes that hit the country last month. In addition to the economic impact of the earthquakes, the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for May 14 are adding to the uncertainty for investors in Turkiye. They are eager to know whether Ankara will continue policies pursued under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan or change course as promised by the opposition. The Turkish Treasury announced on Thursday that it had borrowed $2.25 billion in an international bond issue due in 2029. This brings the total amount borrowed from international markets by the Treasury to $5 billion so far this year. Meanwhile the Central Bank’s reserves decreased by 9.3 billion dollars in the last month.
13 March 2023
- Turkish Defense Minister Says F-16 Talks with Washington Have Reached a Positive Point (Anadolu Agency). According to Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, discussions with the US Department of Defense regarding procuring F-16 fighter jets have reached a positive point. Akar stated that the Turkish government is aware of the White House’s support and hopes that Congress makes a wise decision. Additionally, Akar emphasized that Turkey has alternatives and is vital in acquiring F-16s.
- 36 Parties to Run in Türkiye’s Crucial Election as Alliances Reshuffle (Daily Sabah). The Supreme Election Board (YSK) announced Saturday that 36 political parties could compete in Türkiye’s upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections slated for May 14. The head of the YSK, Ahmet Yener, announced the details regarding the elections, including poll hours, how many people will be casting votes on a single poll, and more, following two days of assessments.
14 March 2023
- Türkiye’s Earthquake Death Toll Rises to 48,448 (Anadolu Agency). The death toll from powerful earthquakes that struck southern Türkiye last month has risen to 48,448, the country’s interior minister said on Monday. “6,660 of the dead were foreign nationals, and most of them are our Syrian brothers,” Soylu said at a news conference in quake-hit Malatya province along with Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy. Debris removal work continues, he said, adding that 10,000 of a total of 56,000 damaged buildings have now been demolished and their debris removed.
- Türkiye Halts Transit of Sanctioned Goods to Russia (Daily Sabah). Türkiye has appeared to halt the transit of sanctioned goods through its territory to Russia, the Russian business paper Kommersant reported Thursday, citing executives of Russian logistics companies. Kommersant reported that several managers said earlier this week that Turkish customs authorities had started rejecting the transit of goods to Russia and Belarus where declarations included customs codes of items named on a European Union list of sanctioned goods.The executives said that Turkish customs officials cited a government directive to halt transit, but there had been no formal public government announcement of any change in Türkiye’s transit policy on goods going to Russia or Belarus.
15 March 2023
- US National Security Advisor Meets Turkish Presidential Spokesman (Anadolu Agency). White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said he would meet Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin in Washington on Tuesday. In a press statement, he said the meeting would focus on a series of issues of concern to the two countries, including the issue of Sweden and Finland joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). He expressed his belief that there is no reason why Sweden and Finland should not be guaranteed NATO membership during the alliance’s summit this summer.
16 March 2023
- Erdogan: Türkiye to ‘Do Its Part’ on Finland’s NATO Bid (Daily Sabah). President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will meet with Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto in Istanbul on Friday. The leaders will discuss all aspects of bilateral relations and steps that can be taken to improve cooperation.
According to the statement, they will also exchange views on last year’s NATO Madrid summit, Finland’s NATO membership bid, Türkiye-EU relations, and regional and international issues… On Wednesday, two Turkish officials told Reuters that the country’s Parliament would “likely” ratify Finland’s NATO accession bid before it closes in mid-April.
- Kılıçdaroğlu at the Syrian Border: No One Will Be Able to Enter Turkey By Waving Their Arms (Cumhuriyet). Nation Alliance presidential candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu gave a statement on the Syrian border in Hatay…Kılıçdaroğlu said, “We will send our Syrian brothers and sisters to their homeland within two years at the latest without bringing a disgrace to this noble nation…We will also return Afghans who crossed the Iranian border and came to Turkey to Iran, where they came from. We want Syria, Iran and Afghanistan to know this. We speak plainly and clearly. We don’t have a secret account behind us. There is no prejudice against any country or any foreigner. But we want to live freely in our own country. We do not want the demographic structure of our own country to change…No one will be able to enter Turkey through these borders by waving their arms. I want this to be known by everyone.”
20 March 2023
- Erdogan Announces Extension of Black Sea Grain Deal (Anadolu Agency). The Black Sea grain deal that was due to expire on Sunday has been extended, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Saturday. “As a result of our negotiations with both parties, we have ensured the extension of the agreement period expiring on March 19″…Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said the deal “is extended for 120 days.”
21 March 2023
- Turkish Border Guards Charged with ‘Torture, Killing’ of Syrian Refugees (Bianet). Eight people from Syria who on March 11 crossed into Hatay, southern Turkiye, were beaten by border guards. Two of them were killed and two were put in intensive care in a hospital in Syria after their deportation. The Reyhanlı Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office opened a murder investigation against the gendarmerie officers responsible for the incident, the lawyer who took up the case told Bianet. Two gendarmerie lieutenants and one first lieutenant were arrested.
22 March 2023
- Erdogan Vows to Reduce Iraq’s Water Scarcity (Iraqi News). Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged Tuesday to step up the flow of water along the Tigris River to drought-stricken Iraq for one month. Baghdad accuses Ankara of withholding water in dams that choke the Tigris and Euphrates rivers near their point of origin in Turkiye. The issue has gained added urgency as the entire region is gripped by a years-long drought that has emptied water reservoirs and threatened food security for millions of people.
- Türkiye Urges Iraq to Designate PKK as Terrorist Group (Daily Sabah). President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called on the Iraqi people to recognize the PKK as a terrorist organization, as he welcomed Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani in Ankara on Tuesday. Noting that terrorist groups PKK, Daesh [ISIS], and the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) pose a threat to Türkiye and Iraq’s security, President Erdoğan said the two countries reaffirmed their commitment to fighting all forms of terrorism.
23 March 2023
- Pro-Kurdish HDP Decides Not to Nominate Presidential Candidate, Dealing Blow to Erdogan (Bianet). The third-largest election alliance in Turkey has decided not to nominate a candidate for the presidential election…At a press conference in Ankara, Pervin Buldan, co-leader of the Kurdish issue-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the leading party of the alliance, said, “We’ll fulfill our historical responsibility against the one-man rule”….While she criticized the ruling party and the presidential system throughout her speech, she refrained from openly announcing support for the opposition candidate. Both the HDP and the six-party main opposition alliance have advocated a return to a parliamentary system.
24 March 2023
- Turkish Parliament Approves Finland’s NATO Membership Proposal (Anadolu Agency). The Bill of Law for approving the protocol of Finland’s accession to the North Atlantic Treaty (NATO) was approved by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Turkish Grand National Assembly…The Foreign Affairs Committee will present its report on the proposal to the General Assembly. The proposal is expected to become law without interruption due to the parliamentary election.
- HDP Joins Green Party Lists for Upcoming Elections Amidst Possible Ban (Bianet). The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) will compete in the May elections under the Green Left (Yeşil Sol) Party, as confirmed by its co-leader Mithat Sancar. The possible closure of the party spurred the decision, Sancar said late yesterday (March 22) during a live interview on Halk TV. The closure case filed in 2021 is currently in the newest phase. Sancar recalled that they had predicted that the closure case would coincide with the elections as part of “the government’s strategy.” “We will not enter a process where there is a risk of closure, even if there is a one in a thousand chance,” said Sancar.
27 March 2023
- Twitter Schemes Raise Meddling Concerns Ahead of Turkish Polls (Daily Sabah). Social media giant Twitter is back in the spotlight for its “complex” algorithm that is enabling a covert psychological operation aimed at boosting opposition voices with less than two months until Türkiye’s May 14 vote, stoking concerns that an electoral intervention is on the agenda. It is known that Twitter…has long collaborated with the U.S. government to conduct psychological warfare operations, burying and censoring certain topics while amplifying the visibility of others…There is now a growing fear in Türkiye that one such operation…is targeting the integrity of the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections, broadly described as the most critical vote in the country’s recent history.
- Türkiye, Armenia to Reopen Borders after Decades (Daily Sabah). Türkiye and Armenia are planning to permanently open the land borders between the two neighbors for the first time in over three decades, Armenian officials said Friday. The land border will initially open only for diplomats and citizens of third countries until the beginning of the tourist season, Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan said.
28 March 2023
- Türkiye , Syria, Russia, and Iran to Resume Meeting in Moscow in Early April (Bianet). The deputy foreign ministers of Turkiye, Syria, Russia and Iran will meet in Moscow in early April, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov has announced, according to RIA Novosti. The meeting previously scheduled for March 15-16 was postponed “to an indefinite date.” On these dates, Syria’s President Bashar Assad visited Moscow to meet his counterpart, Vladimir Putin. The quadripartite summit was postponed due to this Assad-Putin meeting, some reports suggested.
- Nearly 60,000 Syrian Refugees Return Home from Türkiye after Quake (Hurriyet Daily News). About 60,000 Syrian refugees have returned to their homeland after the Feb. 6 earthquakes devastated their homes in Türkiye, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on March 27…Refuting claims that there is an influx of refugees from Syria to Türkiye, Akar stressed that the Turkish border with Syria was strictly protected against illegal crossings.
- Türkiye Summons French Envoy over “Awarding” of YPG Terrorists (Daily Sabah). Türkiye’s Foreign Ministry on Monday summoned the French Ambassador Herve Magro to Ankara to convey “strong condemnation” of two PKK/YPG terrorists being awarded medals of “honor” at the French senate last Saturday. The French senate has hosted members of the PKK’s Syrian wing, the YPG, and awarded medals of “honor” despite the repeated security concerns and warnings of its NATO ally Türkiye.
29 March 2023
- Turkish Presidential Candidates Finalized for May 14 (Daily Sabah). It is now final that four candidates will be competing in Türkiye’s upcoming elections on May 14, according to the list released by the Supreme Election Council (YSK) on Monday. “As a result of consultations, by alphabetical order, Mr. Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, Mr. Muharrem Ince, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and Mr. Sinan Oğan have been determined as the presidential candidates for the May 14, 2023, Presidential and Parliamentary Elections,” the head of the YSK, Ahmet Yener, announced as the application window for candidates nominated by voters came to a close.
- PKK Extends Unilateral Ceasefire with Turkey Until after Elections (Bas News). The leadership of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has extended their order to suspend military activities against Turkey until after the country’s presidential elections, which are scheduled for May this year. The PKK first issued the order in the wake of the powerful earthquakes in early February, which caused massive death and destruction in the country.
- PKK Implicitly Voices Support for CHP’s Kılıçdaroğlu for Elections (Daily Sabah). The PKK’s umbrella organization’s “co-chair,” Bese Hozat, said during an interview on Monday with a PKK-affiliated channel that it supports the stance of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). “We find the HDP’s stance of supporting the Nation Alliance valuable, important, and meaningful. It will directly affect the outcome of the elections. Therefore, we support this stance,” Hozat said. Saying that the upcoming elections will be of critical importance, Hozat noted that it wants the current government down.
30 March 2023
- Erdogan Says Türkiye Will Cut Power, Gas Prices, Hike Minimum Wage (Daily Sabah). President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday announced that Türkiye would be cutting electricity and natural gas prices while also pledging an increase in the minimum wage. Electricity prices will be lowered by 15%, and gas prices for industrial users will be reduced by 20% in April, Erdoğan told the lawmakers from his ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in Parliament.
31 March 2023
- Erdogan Accuses 6-Party Opposition Coalition of Being Led by Pro-PKK Parties (Daily Sabah). The six-party opposition coalition has been led from the beginning by the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the pro-PKK Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said late Wednesday. In an interview on ATV’s A Haber in the capital Ankara, Erdoğan noted, “In fact, the CHP and HDP have been leading this table right from the beginning, while others are mere supporters.”
- Finland’s NATO Membership Accepted in the Turkish Parliament (Daily Sabah). Türkiye’s Parliament approved Finland’s NATO accession bid, becoming the last nation after Hungary to greenlight the Nordic country’s membership in the military bloc. For a new country to join NATO, each of the alliance’s existing members must give formal approval. All 276 lawmakers present voted unanimously in favor of Finland’s bid.
- Vice President of CHP, the Opposition leader Party, Vows to Cancel Two Nuclear Plants (Yeni Safak). Gülizar Biçer Karaca, Deputy Chairman of the CHP, argued that Türkiye is facing the consequences of wrong policies implemented over the past 16 years. In her statement, Karaca indicated that if her party comes to power, they will cancel all nuclear power plant projects in Türkiye… Meanwhile, Erdoğan said his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin might travel to Türkiye on April 27 to attend the inauguration ceremony of the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant.