Turkey May 2020-

Written by  //  October 21, 2020  //  Europe & EU, Turkey  //  No comments

Turkey 2018 – May 2020
#ArtsakhStrong Solidarity Toolkit

Fighting rages as Armenia, Azerbaijan engage in talks
After almost one month of fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh, dozens of civilians and hundreds of soldiers have been killed.
(Al Jazeera) Turkey will not hesitate to send soldiers and provide military support for Azerbaijan if such a request is made by Baku, Vice President Fuat Okaty said, adding there was no such request at the moment.
Turkey has vowed full solidarity with Azerbaijan and has accused Yerevan of occupying Azeri lands.
Speaking in an interview with broadcaster CNN Turk, Oktay also criticised the OSCE’s Minsk group – formed to mediate the conflict and led by France, Russia and the United States – of trying to keep the issue unresolved and supporting Armenia, both politically and militarily.

9 October
Turkey’s Black Sea Gas Discovery May Be Bigger Than Thought
In August, Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan said that the country had made a large natural gas discovery in its waters in the Black Sea. Back then, the estimate Turkey gave was of 320 billion cubic meters of natural gas and said this was its largest-ever gas discovery. Erdogan hailed the find as a historic find that would help Turkey’s energy security.
Turkey currently imports nearly all the gas it consumes.
…after further exploration drilling is completed, Bloomberg’s sources said, the Turkish government is about to disclose a “sizable revision” to the initial estimate.
Champagne tells Turkey to ‘stay out’ of Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict
(Canadian Press) Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said Friday he deplores a statement by Azerbaijan’s president that a military solution is the only way to solve his country’s current crisis with Armenia.
The renewed fighting in the decades-old conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the Nagorno-Karabakh region entered its ninth day Friday and will be a key focus of Champagne’s second overseas trip in less than two months.
Armenia, Azerbaijan agree to ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
Turkish involvement
(AP via CBC) The current escalation marked the first time that Azerbaijan’s ally Turkey took a high profile in the conflict, offering strong political support. Over the past few years, Turkey provided Azerbaijan with state-of-the-art weapons, including drones and rocket systems that helped the Azerbaijani military outgun the Nagorno-Karabakh separatist forces in the latest fighting.
Armenian officials say Turkey is involved in the conflict and is sending Syrian mercenaries to fight on Azerbaijan’s side. Turkey has denied deploying combatants to the region, but a Syrian war monitor and three Syria-based opposition activists have confirmed that Turkey has sent hundreds of Syrian opposition fighters to fight in Nagorno-Karabakh.

8 October
Greece, Cyprus threaten EU sanctions against Turkey over Varosha
Greece says if Turkey does not reverse reopening part of Cypriot ghost town, it may seek to trigger economic sanctions.
The latest move by Turkey risks upending decades of efforts to achieve a political reunification of the island as a federal, bi-communal state.
It is also a slap in the face of the EU, which last week resisted Greek and Cypriot calls for sanctions over Turkey’s hydrocarbon exploration in the region.

2 October
Why Armenia and Azerbaijan Are on the Brink of War
(Foreign Affairs) Turkey sided with Azerbaijan in the initial conflict in the 1990s, and the two countries share close ethnic and cultural ties. Commentators and officials—mostly Turks—describe the relationship as “one nation, two states.” Until recently, however, Turkey’s involvement in the dispute was relatively limited. But as Ankara has adopted a more assertive posture in the Middle East and eastern Mediterranean under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, it has become more forthright in its support for Azerbaijan.

2 October
Nagorno-Karabakh: Turkey’s Support For Azerbaijan Challenges Russian Leverage
(NPR) As world powers call for peace and the warring parties pledge to fulfill “historic” missions, ordinary people are suffering the most as fighting flared this week in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region on Russia’s southern border. The territory, located in Azerbaijan, is claimed by both Armenians and Azerbaijanis.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry said Friday it “welcomed” the condemnation of violence by the presidents of Russia, France and the United States. The ministry said Armenia is “committed” to a peaceful resolution and accused Turkey of direct involvement in the most recent hostilities.
Turkey is not hiding its support for Azerbaijan. The two countries have close ethnic and linguistic kinship, while Turkey’s relations with Armenia are burdened by the Ottoman Empire’s 1915 mass killing of 1.5 million Armenians, which most historians and a growing number of countries, including the U.S., consider genocide. Turkey rejects the term.
In a speech to the Turkish Parliament Thursday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed Armenia for the renewed fighting and said, “Our Azerbaijani brothers are now waiting for the day they will return to their land.”

11 September
Eric Reguly: A dispute in the Eastern Mediterranean has brought Turkey and Greece close to war once again. But this time it’s different
Every decade or so, the two countries come close to blows over a disputed hunk of rock or stretch of water in the Aegean Sea and other seemingly insignificant bits of the Mediterranean. There were little skirmishes in 1987 and 1996, either of which could have turned explosive if cooler heads had not prevailed.
This time it’s different, because potentially vast reserves of gas, and perhaps oil, are at stake and every country in the region wants a piece of the action. Many are getting it, but not Turkey. The gas discoveries were supposed to unite the region’s countries, including the Palestinian Territories, and provide them with cheap energy and a steady stream of export dollars. Instead, the fight over hydrocarbon exploration rights has injected another dose of instability into an already volatile region.
Everyone knows the Eastern Mediterranean contains lots of gas; some of it is already being delivered by pipeline to Egypt and Israel, cutting their energy import bills and carbon footprints. History has largely sidelined Turkey. The way the maps of the territorial waters, continental shelves and exclusive economic zones (EEZs) are drawn means that Greece and its ally the Republic of Cyprus have the greatest access to the subsea spoils in the Aegean and huge swaths of the Levantine Sea.

27 August
Turkey Tests the EU’s Resolve in the Eastern Mediterranean
(Carnegie Europe) The contentious issues between leading NATO member Turkey and Western European countries abound: Syrian refugees, Turkey’s maritime boundaries with Greece and Cyprus, drilling rights in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, Turkish military operations in Syria and Libya, and NATO’s missile defense architecture.
Lately, Ankara has chosen to pursue an antagonistic approach, making disruption a major ingredient of its foreign policy. When existing rules do not serve its objectives—as with the dispute over maritime boundaries and drilling permits—Turkey unilaterally creates new rules, in the belief that the other side will bow to pressure.
The reasons for Turkey’s policy attitude are to be found in the country’s domestic political situation.
Opinion polls are bleak for the Justice and Development Party (AKP), the party of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, which has been in power since November 2002. Since the 2017 change of constitution, the 2018 presidential and legislative elections, and the 2019 municipal election, the religious-conservative party has lost its long-standing political dominance in Turkey.
In addition, a string of misguided economic and monetary policy decisions—especially on interest rates—has put the economy and the Turkish lira in dire straits, despite spending $65 billion in hard currency reserves to buffer the country’s currency.

14 August
Iran and Turkey denounce UAE over deal with Israel
(The Guardian) Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has increasingly styled himself as the Palestinians’ lone regional champion, despite his country having had diplomatic relations with Israel for decades.
After the Trump administration published a “vision for peace” in January, Erdoğan said Turkey would never accept the proposals and accused Arab Gulf nations of betraying the Palestinian cause.
In response to the UAE deal, Turkey’s foreign ministry said: “History and the conscience of the people living in the region will not forget and never forgive this hypocritical behaviour.”

16 July
Five Reasons Why the West Will Lose Turkey
BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 1,647
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The Turkey we once knew no longer exists. Despite NATO objections and US warnings, Ankara acquired the advanced S-400 anti-aircraft system from Russia. In response, Washington canceled Turkish participation in the F-35 program. In the latest episode of this saga, a Turkish court sentenced a US Consulate employee to almost nine years in prison for aiding the Gülen movement. President Erdoğan has behaved like a bully toward the EU, weaponizing Muslim refugees and migrants. He has also issued direct threats to Greece and regularly antagonizes Israel.
… First, Turkey is changing fast. The Islamization of the country is a bottom-up rather than a top-down process. Anatolian Turks, who tend to be more conservative and religious, have higher birth rates than the westernized Turks of Istanbul and the Aegean coast.
Second, the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War has led to the dramatic revitalization of the Kurdish Question. In November 2013, the establishment of the Kurdish autonomous region of Rojava sent shock waves through Ankara.
Third, the gradual withdrawal of the US from the Middle East and the subsequent return of Russia have changed regional security dynamics.
Fourth, Turkey’s growing ties with Russia are neither tactical nor coincidental. Geopolitical considerations partly explain Turkey’s departure from its pro-Western orientation.
Fifth, Turkey is becoming an authoritarian country. Turkey has a long tradition of westernization, but it is on a slippery slope where the rule of law is becoming increasingly problematic and the division of powers has grown blurry.

10 July
Erdogan Signs Decree Allowing Hagia Sophia to Be Used as a Mosque Again
The decree came after a Turkish court revoked the site’s 80-year-old status as a museum and is likely to provoke an international furor.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a decree Friday ordering Hagia Sophia to be opened for Muslim prayers, an action likely to provoke international furor around a World Heritage Site cherished by Christians and Muslims alike for its religious significance, for its stunning structure and as a symbol of conquest.
The presidential decree came minutes after a Turkish court announced that it had revoked Hagia Sophia’s status as a museum, which for the last 80 years had made it a monument of relative harmony and a symbol of the secularism that was part of the foundation of the modern Turkish state.

7 May
Erdogan Faces His Biggest Test of the Pandemic: The Economy
Some are hoping that the coronavirus achieves what some of the president’s advisers have failed to do: persuade Mr. Erdogan to reverse his authoritarian grip over fiscal policy in Turkey.
(NYT) An economic crisis was looming even before the coronavirus gripped Turkey with unexpected ferocity. But the contagion has quickly and ruthlessly laid bare the ways President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has left the economy vulnerable, presenting him with the greatest challenge of his 18 years in power.
The outbreak has exacerbated already high unemployment and inflation, and unified his political opposition. It has raised fresh concerns about Mr. Erdogan’s heavy investment in giant infrastructure projects that analysts have long warned were too costly to sustain.

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