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Turkey in a Week, February 18th, 2019

The hot debate of the week was on the government’s move to open regulated points of sale for counteracting the ever rising food prices. The government, instead of addressing the economic recession and increasing wave of bankruptcies continued to put the blame on the multiple tiers of middlemen in the food market. In the midst of the economic turmoil, in spite of the shrinking demand, the prices have continued to rise, together with the increasing rate of unemployment, culminating into a period of stagflation. With the economic crisis, the economists argue that it is no surprise that the prices of basic commodities are on a rising trend.

The regulated points of sale for a number of commodities, especially the vegetables and fruits were opened in metropolitan cities, primarily in İstanbul and Ankara. Some argue that the regulated prices do not carry any profits and even constitute a great loss on the side of the public funds. Moreover, some argue that the regulated markets was also taking their toll on the retail businesses, forcing prices below procurement costs and cause a good deal of loss in already strained market conditions.

The points of sale are yet limited to Ankara and İstanbul. There is a purchase quota of two kilograms. The first tier of commodities offered in the regulated points of sale include tomato, potato, onions and eggplants.

A summit between Russian president Vladimir Putin, Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani and Turkish president Tayyip Erdoğan was held in Sochi. The summit was on the latest developments in Syria. The hot point of the summit was Idlib, the last enclave of Islamic opposition. The three countries announced that they are against and support the struggle against Heyet Tahrir Şam organization (HTŞ). HTŞ is a splinter group from former El Kaide terrorist network and has recently seized considerable power in İdlib. Putin told that the violence caused by the Islamic militants would not go unpunished. Ruhani argued that Syria should be governed by its own government including İdlib. Erdoğan told that they were very close to a solution.

Given each country has its own agenda regarding Syria, Turkey also has a special interest in the Kurdish militia stationed at its borders and uses some Islamic opposition in Syria as a leverage against Kurdish controlled regions.

Meanwhile another summit was held in Warsaw entitled, “Peace and Security in the Middle East” with the participation of a number of countries including Israel, the gulf countries and also Palestinian authority. Russia had refused to participate and Turkey participated only at the ambassador level.

On the 100th day of hunger strike the PDP Hakkari MP Leyla Güven went on for releasing constraints on Abdullah Öcalan’s imprisonment, a number of PDP MPs went out to the street. For protesting and supporting the hunger strike the MPs wanted to walk to Leyla Güven’s house. However, the police did not let the group to take to the street and encircled the group. During the demonstration, a scuffle between the police and the group ended with PDP Diyarbakır MP Saliha Aydeniz falling to the ground and wounded.

Binali Yıldırım, former and last prime minister, currently the parliamentary speaker and the ruling JDP’s candidate for İstanbul mayor, finally decided to resign from his parliamentary post.

The Supreme Election Committee announced that the number of frozen records for the coming elections has reached almost a hundred thousand.

President Erdoğan announced that the paid military service practice would be permeant and gave details regarding the future practice of exemption by payment.

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