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Turkey in a Week, January 14th, 2019

Last week the weather conditions were at the top of the news lists. The heavy snowfall in the middle and north eastern parts of the country as well as the heights of Bolu between capital Ankara and İstanbul effected life negatively. The first and secondary schools were temporarily closed in many parts of the country. Also the Shipping lines in Bosphorus were closed for certain days hindering public transport of İstanbul.

The court has decided the release of Eren Erdem, former RPP MP and the editor in chief of the closed down newspaper Karar, who has been in prison for 194 days for a ongoing case regarding the defendant’s alleged role in Fethullah Terror Organization’s (FETÖ) 17-25 December conspiracy. However, the prosecutor’s following objection was accepted by the higher court and the court decided redetention of Erdem.

The White House National Security Advisor John Bolton together with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joseph Dunford and US Special Representative James Jeffrey made an official visit to the Turkish president’s office regarding the proposed withdrawal of the US forces in Syria. It is rumored that the president Erdoğan politely refused to attend the meeting that took place between the visitors and the Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın, Vice Foreign Minister, Vice Defense Minister and Vice President of National Intelligence Agency (MİT). Kalın later told that he had handed two red files to Bolton, one of which is on the crimes and human right violations of YPG/PYD in Syria. Bolton’s previous comments regarding the US not withdrawing before the ISIS had been annihilated and the Kurds would be secured, had angered both the President Erdoğan and the government.

Ovacık Mayor Fatih Mehmet Maçoğlu, known to be the only communist mayor in Turkey was nominated for mayor for Tunceli. The Federation of Socialist Assemblies announced the nomination. Meanwhile, the seven Kurdish organization announced their alliance to support the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) for the coming local elections. At the same time the oppositions alliance between the GP (Good Party), FP (Felicity Party) and the RPP (Republican People’s Party) as well as the one between the ruling JDP (Justice and Development Party) and the NAP (Nationalist Action Party) have been giving fruits with nomination partnerships for metropolitan cities as well as district and towns. Despite some inner party and local disputes, the two blocks seem to consolidate the alliances for the coming local elections.

As the politics has intensified for the coming elections the public transport workers’ strike at in the third largest city İzmir came into prominence. Some has seen the strike as a designed blow to the incumbent mayor of the opposition RPP. Last week, president Erdoğan used his power to postpone the strike for two months.

The last days of the week witnessed a mild increase in the exchange rates that has been more or less stabilized for the last month. The seminal decrease in the imports accompanied by an increase in the exports have improved the current account. The economy gave current account surplus three months in a row. However, the economists argued that this development is due to the contracting economy, specially the domestic demand that had carried the long running high growth rates.

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