Turkey. During the year, Turkey was marked by the debate over the dominance of the nationalist establishment. The police found a series of mass graves in January and February with a total of 57 people, most of them Kurds, who had been murdered by the underground militant group Hizbullah (‘the party of God’, not to be confused with the Iran-backed guerrilla in Lebanon). The group had used military weapons purchased by the government, prompting government critics to believe that the country’s leadership had used Hizbullah in the fight against the banned guerrilla group PKK (Kurdish Workers’ Party).
The government decided in January to respect an order of the European Court of Human Rights not to execute Abdullah Öcalan, imprisoned former leader of the PKK, until his case has been raised in a higher instance. The PKK announced its support for Öcalan’s earlier call for peace on February 8.
Three mayors belonging to the Kurdish party Hadep (Halkin Democracy Party, People’s Democratic Party) were detained for just over a week in February, but were then released pending trial. At the same time, 18 members of Hadep, including party leader Ahmet Turan Demir and former party leader Murat Bozlak, were sentenced to three years and nine months in prison for supporting the PKK.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER: Offers three letter and two letter abbreviations for the country of Turkey. Also covers country profile such as geography, society and economy.
Parliament elected Ahmet Necdet Sezer, President of the Constitutional Court, on 5 May as new president. He received 330 votes out of 533; Seventeen members abstained. Sezer went hard at the end of the summer, when he refused to sign a decree that the government had proposed, which would have made it possible to dismiss public servants who are perceived as overly Kurdish or overly Islamic-minded.
On August 15, Turkey signed two UN conventions to guarantee the social and political rights of minorities. At the same time, in the autumn, the Turkish government’s own human rights commission published a report criticizing the use of torture in prisons and police stations. The country’s largest human rights organization, IHD (Insan Haklari Dernegi, Human Rights Association), also reported on 406 cases of torture, 112 extrajudicial executions or deaths during torture and 211 withdrawn or prohibited publications in the first eight months of 2000. The EU noted in a November 8 report that Turkey has long before the situation is satisfactory in terms of human rights.
Necmettin Erbakan, Prime Minister 1996-97 and leader of the Islamist subsequently banned Welfare Party (Refah Partisi, RP), was sentenced March 10 to one year in prison for a speech in which he criticized the government’s secularist policy.
33 militant Islamists were sentenced to death on June 16 for inflicting the hotel fire that claimed the lives of 37 left-wing intellectuals in the city of Sivas in 1993. A further 14 Islamists were sentenced to prison for between six and a half and 20 years.
On June 27, Parliament approved the country’s next five-year development plan. Among the main features were increased resources for infrastructure in the country’s Kurdish parts, lost public expenditure and an investment in small businesses. Parliament approved on 23 June plans for an oil pipeline to be built from the capital of Azerbaijan Baku to the port city of Ceyhan on the Turkish Mediterranean coast.
At least 32 people, most women and children, drowned on May 20 when two excursion boats sank in the Black Sea.
Anatolia has been inhabited for thousands of years. In the 8th century BCE, the Greeks founded the city of Byzans by the strategically important Bosphorus Strait, through which traffic between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean passes. After the Roman conquest of Byzan in 96 BCE, Emperor Constantine ordered its reconstruction, renamed Constantinople and made it the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. It survived a century after the fall of Rome and the Western Roman Empire at the hands of the Mongols.
1453-1918 The Ottoman Empire
The Turks attacked Constantinople in 1453, renamed it Istanbul and made it the capital of the thriving Ottoman Empire. In the 16th century, the empire stretched from present-day Algeria in the west to the Caucasus in the east, from Hungary in the north to the southernmost part of the Arabian peninsula in the south, and the population rounded it 50 million – 10 times more than in the then United Kingdom. Western visitors marveled at the government’s efficiency and wealth and the respect it had for farmers’ rights. This also explains why Christian peasants in the Balkans frequently joined the “faithless” Muslims in the struggle against the Christian nobility and church.
Yet the 17th-century empire began to be overtaken by the impressive technological development and aggressive trade expansion in Western Europe. When the Portuguese opened the trade route south of Cape of Good Hope, the Ottoman monopoly on trade between Europe and the East gradually eroded. Even the empire’s own borders had to succumb to the onslaught of European traders who imported French, English and Dutch goods into the eastern Mediterranean.
The development of the Turkish empire came to anticipate the history that would later surpass the great civilizations of India and China. Everything was transformed into a peripheral market, which was forced on European products and which in turn provided the necessary food and raw materials for industrial development and the labor market in Europe. The Turkish craftsmen went bankrupt, the local textile industry could not compete with British technology, and the farmers became poorer because they had to pay prices for imported products.
In the 19th century, a modernization movement known as Tanzimat sought to introduce European ideas and centralize the state by taking advantage of modern technology, the telegraph and the railways. Agreements were signed with Great Britain and Germany, but the abundant capital and quantity of goods merely increased Turkish dependence on Europe. The main consequence was that the huge Turkish foreign debt made the country “the pariah of Europe”.
Due. dissatisfaction with the autocratic government developed in the early 20th century the first secret organization within universities and military academies. It was the “young Turks” who, in 1908, led a rebellion in Macedonia. Within a few days, Sultan Abdul Hamid was forced to accept the imposition of a constitution limiting his powers of power. The following year he was forced to resign. He was replaced by Mohamed V, who handed over the real power to the Young Turks. They developed a nationalist policy that brought them in opposition to the country’s foreign trade partners and a number of the country’s ethnic minorities – especially Greeks and Armenians.
Almost ten percent minus during corona quarter
Turkey’s economy shrank by 9.9 percent during the “corona quarter” from April to June 2020, compared to the same quarter a year earlier. Export revenues in particular declined. This was in line with how the covid-19 pandemic hit the economies of most European countries, and better than other major countries classified as emerging economies. During the first quarter of the year, when Turkey was still recovering from a downturn that took a serious toll in 2018, the economy grew by 4.5 percent, but the measures taken during the pandemic, including support for certain industries and the major state airline, puts pressure on the Treasury (see 17 August). Since the first quarter of 2020 also showed negative figures, the formal criterion for recession is met: two negative quarters in a row.
Lawyer dies of hunger strike
Lawyer Ebru Timtik dies after going on hunger strike for 238 days in prison, accused of terrorist crimes. At the funeral the next day, the police use tear gas against her friends and sympathizers gathered at the cemetery on the northern outskirts of Istanbul. Ebru Timtik was a member of a legal group that is alleged to have links with the banned Marxist party DHKP-C. Opposition parties, lawyers’ organizations and the EU believe that her case testifies to a lack of legal certainty in Turkey. After being arrested in the autumn of 2018, Timtik was sentenced to 13 and a half years in prison. One week after her death, the Supreme Court decides to release his fellow lawyer Aytaç Ünsal, who is said to have gone on hunger strike for over 200 days, sentenced to a long prison term for a terrorist crime which he denied.
Sharp criticism of the corona app
A telephone app created by Turkish authorities to track the spread of coronavirus during the covid-19 pandemic is sharply criticized. Anyone who posts via the Hayat Eve Sığar app can also attach photos, which contributes to concerns about a “reporting culture” where people blame others. The Ministry of Health has not stated how long the data will be stored. Travel companies also have access to the information.
Largest gas discovery in the Black Sea
21th of August
Turkey has made its largest discovery of natural gas in the Black Sea to date, announces President Erdoğan, who hopes that deep-sea extraction will begin delivering gas in 2023, when modern Turkey celebrates its 100th anniversary. The find was made outside the city of Ereğli and is estimated to cover 320 billion cubic meters. The value of the Turkish currency rose when the news of the discovery began to spread, but fell again when it turned out that the preliminary data had spoken of an even larger gas discovery (see 17 August).
Another museum becomes a mosque
21th of August
President Erdoğan is turning another museum in Istanbul with a sanctuary background into a mosque. The medieval Byzantine Church of the Savior in the Fatih district, which was converted into a mosque during the Ottomans, has been a museum since 1945. During the museum’s period, its old Christian frescoes and mosaics have been produced and restored. The building is also known as the Chiora Museum or Kariye Müzesi (see July 10 and July 24).
Military trainers to Libya
Military trainers and advisers will be sent from both Turkey and Qatar to Libya’s internationally recognized government in Tripoli. Agreements have been signed, according to official announcements in Tripoli, where the defense ministers of the countries concerned have been present.
Currency and crisis meeting
The president is calling on the national debt and banks to an economic crisis meeting since the currency has fallen to its lowest value to date against the US dollar, down by almost 20 percent since the beginning of the year. According to analysts at the financial company Goldman Sachs, the central bank has spent $ 60 billion trying to prevent the currency collapse since the New Year, and Turkey’s foreign exchange reserves have fallen from 106 to almost 90 billion dollars. One major reason is the lack of tourism revenue as a result of the corona pandemic (2019 generated tourism revenues of up to $ 35 billion), while support measures against the corona crisis cost large sums. And that gives the state problems in the fairly short term: in the coming year, Turkey has loans of $ 170 billion that must be repaid.
Turkish attack kills Iraqis
Two senior Iraqi border guards are killed along with a driver in a Turkish drone attack. The attack takes place in the part of Kurdistan that is in Iraqi territory. Since Turkey launched its latest offensive against Kurdish rebels on Iraqi soil (see June 17), Turkey’s ambassador to Baghdad has received two protests from the Iraqi Foreign Ministry. Another protest is now under way, and Iraq is canceling an impending visit by Turkey’s defense minister.
The search for energy sources in the sea is escalating
Turkey begins exploration for gas with the research vessel Oruç Reis off the Greek island of Kastellorizo near the Turkish south coast, with five military vessels as escorts. It is a decision that increases tensions in the eastern Mediterranean region. On August 12, a Turkish and a Greek frigate collide, and at the end of the month, both countries conduct military exercises at sea. Several countries claim sea areas where there are prospects of finding gas. The mission of the exploration vessel was slowed down in July to allow for negotiations with Greece and Germany, which are currently EU presidencies. But after the announcement that Greece and Egypt will set up a common economic zone in the eastern Mediterranean, exploration is set in motion. Turkey, for its part, has signed an agreement with the Libyan government in Tripoli on future energy sources in the sea (see December 9, 2019).
According to COUNTRYAAH, the population of Turkey in 2000 was 63,240,083, ranking number 18 in the world. The population growth rate was 1.580% yearly, and the population density was 82.1696 people per km2.