We live in a world where each week is more interesting than the previous one, and you can only surprise us pleasantly. And Turkey is no exception. So the main news of Turkey for the week.
Idlib and Karabakh
Turkish armed forces have left seven observation posts in Syrian Idlib. This was reported by Reuters that citing its sources in the country’s leadership. Turkey evacuated 7 of 12 observation posts in Idlib. “Turkish troops retreated to areas controlled by forces supported by Ankara. The abandoned observation posts were previously surrounded by the Syrian army, ”the newspaper writes. The fact that the Turks would leave there was known for a long time, as it was stipulated by the agreements on Syria. The question is why now, because agreements on the withdrawal of posts and the creation of a demilitarized zone were signed between Putin and Erdogan on September 17.
This story began even earlier. In early February of this year, President Erdogan demanded that the Syrian government withdraw its military outside the Turkish observation posts in Syrian Idlib within a month. But as a result of the fighting, the alignment changed, the forces controlled by Damascus completely occupied the M5 highway, and Moscow and Ankara agreed on the M4 highway and posts. We agreed then, but they took it out now. It can be assumed that the withdrawal of Turkish troops from the M4 highway was tied to another case involving the Turkish and Russian military, namely Karabakh. However, all this is just an assumption.
In general, Ankara is doing well in relations with Moscow. Russian President Vladimir Putin at his press conference called Erdogan “a man” and added that the Turkish leader “does not wag his tail.” After Friday prayers, Recep Tayyip Erdogan responded live to Putin’s characterization: “Since I met Mr. Putin, he has remained exactly the same. His words carry weight, and the promises he makes are kept. And this is the indicator that gives our countries closer ties – this is rare. “
The war in Karabakh is over, but news from there of course continues. Turkish Minister of National Defense Hulusi Akar said that Turkey has sent 60 representatives of military personnel to the center for monitoring the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh.
“There are 60 of our soldiers in Azerbaijan now. All agreements on the construction of the center between the three parties have been reached, it remains to resolve a number of issues related to the construction, staff accommodation. Our people will work together with the Russians. We will talk with the Russian side about the duration of their stay there, and we will discuss this topic again, ”he said. According to Akar, “joint Turkish and Russian generals” will lead the work.
Mediterranean Sea Gas
We have already written about the EU sanctions against Turkey for drilling in the Mediterranean. Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendianis said last week that the EU should have gone even further in punishing Turkey for its illegal activities in the Eastern Mediterranean. To which Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu reacted as follows: “Dear Niko, here are some friendly tips for the new year: Stop asking others for help and insulting the dignity of the Greek people. May 2021 be the year that we will resolve our differences in an equitable manner, by speaking directly, sincerely and seriously. “
Nikos Dendias responded to this almost New Year’s greetings to his colleague, advising him to abandon threats against Greece, become “more European, less neo-Ottoman” and refrain from provocations in the new year. By the way, the Ottomans themselves considered themselves the direct heirs of the Roman (that is, the Byzantine Empire), so neo-Ottomanism is, in a sense, a Byzantine heritage, with which the Greeks, of course, strongly disagree. There are big suspicions that the exchange of New Year’s courtesies and congratulations is not over yet and will continue next year.
Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Monday opposed Greece’s demands for an arms embargo on Turkey amid ongoing tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean. “I do not consider the requirement to impose an arms embargo on Turkey as strategically correct. This is not easy to do against a NATO partner. We saw that NATO ally Turkey easily bought the missiles from Russia because it could not buy them from the United States, ”Maas said in an interview with Deutsche Presse-Agentur. And who can say that there is no rational grain in the words of the German Foreign Minister? The German minister also expressed hope that the disputes in the Eastern Mediterranean will be resolved through diplomatic channels.
Court to work
On December 23, an Istanbul court sentenced Turkish journalist Jan Dundar, who lives in Germany, to 27 years and 6 months in prison on terrorism and espionage charges. Dundar, being the editor-in-chief of the publication, published an article on the front page of Cumhuriyet stating that Turkish intelligence trucks allegedly carried weapons intended for Syrian “jihadist groups”. The headline sounded like this: “This is the weapon that, according to Erdogan, was not.”
Prior to this article in May 2015 (the event happened a year before publication, in January 2014, it was discussed in the press without illustrations), the Turkish authorities claimed that there were no weapons during the inspection of the trucks by the gendarmerie, however, Cumhuriyet published photos and videos after which it was said that the weapon was intended for the Turkomans. As a result, Dundar was detained, and after being released pending trial, he left the country.
The reaction to this story of the son of the founder of the Turkish nationalist party MHP Arpaslan Türkesh, Tugrul Türkesh, who swore on CNN Türk during the scandal that “the weapon was not intended for Turkomans.” True, after joining the ruling AKP party, Türkesh to never returned to this topic. The logic of the Turkish court is quite understandable, accusing the authorities of supplying weapons to ethnically close Turkomans then dealt a serious political blow to Ankara. By the way, the Turkish military withdrew to the territory controlled by the Turkomans. It is also clear that this episode is difficult to write down in the asset of Turkey’s already not cloudless relations with the European Union.
Speaking of the trial, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) said two days ago that it “found that there was no reasonable suspicion justifying the detention and preliminary detention of the co-chairman of the pro-Kurdish HDP party Selyakhattin Demirtash,” and reiterated the earlier ruling that The politician’s imprisonment was adopted for political purposes. In this connection, the court demanded that Turkey “immediately release the Kurdish politician from prison.” Demirtas was arrested on 4 November 2016 along with HDP co-chairman Fiegen Yüksekdag and imprisoned in Edirne, in the northwest of the country. Erdogan responded to these calls by accusing the European Court of “double standards” and “supporting the terrorist.”
Leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Devlet Bahceli again called on the chairman of the Good Party (Iyi Parti) Meral Aksener to return to the party. “Come back home, enough suffering!” Bahcheli said. New Year is a time of miracles and surprises, and who knows, maybe Akshener will heed the call of his senior comrade and return to his native land.
Regarding the celebration of the New Year – according to the announcement of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the country, hotels are prohibited from organizing entertainment programs for the New Year, and tourists are not allowed to gather during curfew (from December 31 to January 4) in large groups. In addition, after 22.00 hours it is prohibited to play and listen to loud music in restaurants, halls and other common areas of hotels. And Turkish hotels will return money to tourists for canceled New Year’s banquets. Turkey has suspended flights to and from the UK, Denmark, the Netherlands and South Africa, and the reason is the mutation of coronavirus infection in the UK. It is clear that Covid-19 played the role of the Grinch around the world, and alas, Turkey is no exception.
But there is good news, the Governor of Istanbul said that the metropolis has left behind the peak of the second wave of the coronavirus epidemic. “The number of hospitalized people decreased by 40%, and the number of those in intensive care – by 25%,” he said. Recently, a plane carrying the first batch of Sinovac, a Chinese vaccine against coronavirus, arrived in Turkey. Let’s hope that the coronavirus vaccination will work well. That’s probably all. Next week and of course the year will be no less interesting, stay with us.
material prepared by Gulsafa Bayramova