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09/15/2020

Last week in Turkey: Turkish-French clashes and the latest of the pandemic

Last week in Turkey: Turkish-French clashes and the latest of the pandemic

Turkish public agenda was shaken with the statements from the French President Macron last Thursday, targeting Turkish President Erdogan. The statements brought heavy reactions from the ruling AKP in Ankara.

Alongside Turkish-French diplomatic clashes, the ever-growing numbers of daily cases and deaths resulting from the coronavirus scared both the experts and the ordinary people. While the development of a vaccine seems far off, rumors of lockdowns have started spreading again.

“EUROPE MUST BE OPEN AND TOUGH WITH ERDOGAN”

Regional tensions have recently escalated over the issue of energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Ahead of the Med7 summit, the French President said on Thursday that “Europe must be ‘open and tough” with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan government and not with the Turkish people, “who deserve more than the Erdogan government”.

Macron added that “There should be a common attitude regarding Turkey. Europe should have a common policy on energy and strategic issues. Turkey is no longer a partner in the Mediterranean region. Turkey should clarify its intentions and avoid unilateral actions, adding that Turkey’s deals with the Libyan government were ‘unacceptable’. “We are talking about the respect for the international law. We want to avoid further escalation, the goal is an agreement but with certain conditions, and Turkey must clarify its intentions. When Turkey took unilateral decisions, France showed solidarity with EU member states. Our wish is to create a fruitful dialogue with Turkey, there is no other option. We need to live in peace.”

Erdogan’s reaction came during his speech at a symposium held on Democracy and Freedom Island.

In a direct reference to President Emmanuel Macron, Erdogan said “Macron has no knowledge of history. He does not know the history of France. Do not mess with Turkey and Turkish people. You are the one who killed 1 million people in Algeria and you are the one who killed 800,000 people in Rwanda. You cannot lecture us on humanity.”.

Other high-ranking officials from Turkey’s ruling party have accused French President Emmanuel Macron of resurrecting his country’s long history of colonialism.

Omer Celik, the spokesman for the Justice and Development Party, has Tweeted in a thread:

“Macron continues colonialism, while our President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues to defend the interests of the oppressed peoples, protect the peace, and frustrate the colonialists’ games. This is an old and immoral game of the colonialists. They offered a false show of love to exploit the people, but targeted their patriotic leaders. It is a point of pride for us that the colonialist mentality targets our president.”

When referring to the French support for Khalifa Haftar, Celik tweeted: “Macron is responsible for Haftar’s mass graves. Macron is now trying to play the colonial game in the Eastern Mediterranean using Greece. He is trying to carry the game he tried and ruined in Syria to the Mediterranean. He is targeting our president because Erdogan would not allow this aggression.”

Some reactionary statements against Macron also came from the Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, but his agenda was mainly the militarization of the Aegean Islands. He said:

“Meis Island needs to be demilitarized, like the other 23 islands. This place needs to be disarmed. As mentioned in all previous agreements in 1912, in1923, in 1947 Paris Agreement that the island must be disarmed, demilitarized. These islands have non-militarized status. 18 islands with this status were armed by our Greek neighbors in violation of the agreements, and soldiers were deployed there.”

He said these words while criticizing the French President Emmanuel Macron’s attitude towards the dispute in the region and calling on Greeks for not to fall for these initiatives:

“Mr. Macron’s insistence on some initiatives on these issues as I have just mentioned, is to cover up his failed policies and to justify himself in front of the world public opinion and his own public. According to our understanding, tensions and provocation do not help anyone, especially Greece. Turkey would continue to defend its rights in the region.”

He also criticized Greek president’s visit to Meis for the independence celebrations: “As if there is no other island left for celebration, they come to these. These acts, of course, disturb us.”

And speaking about activities of Turkey’s Oruc Reis ship in the Mediterranean, he underlined that there will be a back and forth movement as per the plan, stressing that “It is not possible to abandon the Turkish rights and interests there.”

When it comes to NATO, he said that: “Turkey is in favor of finding a political solution to our problems through dialogue, meetings, talks, and negotiations. Therefore, we support all kinds of initiatives taken within this framework. We are ready to host NATO’s fourth meeting. Let them come. We are right, we do not hesitate to meet.”.

He also criticized the US’ partial lifting of arms embargo on the Greek Cypriots stressing that, “It will lead parties into a deadlock and not into a peace and a solution. It does not suit the spirit of the alliance.”

PANDEMIC ON THE RISE AGAIN

The comeback of the Covid-19 pandemic was the second popular topic on the Turkish agenda this week. At the end of the last week, Turkey reported 1,527 more daily cases and 1,102 daily recoveries.

The country’s overall infection count now stands at 291,162, including 258,833 recoveries, according to the Health Ministry’s data. The death toll from the Covid-19 in Turkey has risen to 7,056, with 57 deaths just last Sunday. A total of 96,097 more tests were made over the past 24 hours, pushing the total tests done to nearly 8.52 million.

The number of patients in a critical condition now stands at 1,267, as the report suggests.

The Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has said on Twitter “The virus separates our loved ones from us. It is the struggle in unity and solidarity that will stop this trend… Let us not give a chance to the virus.”

While the numbers of active cases, daily cases and daily deaths have risen back to what it was in early June, rumors among the public circulate about the reapplication of the possible lockdowns.

It is still unclear what further measures will be taken if the numbers keep increasing, especially given that all shops, malls and restaurants remain open, primary schools have partially opened and universities have agreed to apply a hybrid curriculum this semester.

 
United World International

Independent analytical center where political scientists and experts in international relations from various countries exchange their opinions and views.

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