Turkey had an unusual week, with numerous topics on the public agenda five of which were very prominent.
The First had was the dissolution of the political party Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which was widely known as a supporter of the PKK/YPG terrorist organizations.
The second was Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention, which was signed in order to fight domestic violence and oppression against women.
The third was the sudden change of seat in the Central Bank of Turkey, which had already changed its head in the recent months.
The fourth was a panel celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Moscow Treaty of Friendship between Turkey and Russia.
The fifth topic was the ongoing vaccination efforts and the normalization situation amidst the pandemic.
Dissolution of the Peoples’ Democratic Party
An indictment, prepared by Turkey’s top prosecutor for the closure of an opposition party in the country, accused the party of seeking to destroy the unity of the state and nation.
Bekir Sahin, the chief public prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals, filed the indictment, seeking dissolution of the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), at the Constitutional Court on Wednesday and the details of it were released on Thursday.
The 609-page indictment said the permanent closure of the HDP was a legal obligation for the indivisible integrity of the Turkish state, and peace and security of the nation. It said the party should also be fully deprived of the treasury grants.
The HDP is linked with the PKK terror group like the parties closed earlier by the Constitutional Court and that it is the terrorists’ offshoot in legal disguise, as proved by the evidence put forth in indictments at various courts and court verdicts against the HDP members, as well as various terror activities in previous years, it said.
“The defendant HDP went beyond openly supporting the terrorist organization PKK/KCK and acted as an organ of it,” it said, adding that the PKK and HDP are no different.
“HDP is a political-looking extension and organ of the terrorist organization, which operates in line with the orders and instructions of the armed terrorist organization PKK/KCK, accountable to the terrorist organization PKK/KCK, not the people for what they did or did not do,” it said.
It noted that the co-chairs of the party Pervin Buldan and Selahattin Demirtas are connected to the group’s ringleader Ocalan, who openly admits this fact.
On Friday, the head of Turkey’s Constitutional Court appointed a rapporteur on a lawsuit filed by the Supreme Court of Appeals’ chief prosecutor for the closure of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).
The rapporteur must complete his report on the first examination and present it to the Constitutional Court.
After that, the delegation will make the first examination of the case and decide whether the indictment is accepted. According to the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code, this period cannot exceed 15 days after the indictment is sent.
If accepted, the indictment will be sent to the HDP for pre-defense. The HDP has to plead within the time allowed by the Supreme Court.
Families in southeastern Turkey seeking the return of their children kidnapped by the terror group PKK on Thursday continued their protest of the PKK and the terror-linked HDP.
They said despite its claims to represent Turkey’s Kurdish population, the HDP actually only represents the terrorist PKK.
The protest began in September 2019 in Diyarbakir, when three mothers said PKK terrorists had forcibly recruited their children.
The sit-in outside the provincial office of the HDP – which the government filed a case against this week, seeking its closure over charges of terrorist links – has been growing every day, and entered its 563rd day on Thursday.
The presidential spokesperson Fahrettin Altun said on Twitter “It is an indisputable fact that the HDP has organic ties to the PKK, which Turkey, the United States and the European Union consider a terrorist entity.”
On Wednesday, the Turkish parliament revoked the seat of an HDP lawmaker Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu.
The leader of Turkey’s Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) voiced support for efforts to shut down the opposition HDP.
“The HDP is a criminal organization in political disguise. Its closure, without it being allowed to reopen under another name, is a duty of honor to history, justice, our nation, and future generations,” Devlet Bahceli told his party’s 13th Ordinary Grand Congress in the capital Ankara.
Withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention
On Sunday, Turkey withdrew from a European treaty on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, according to an Official news service.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed a decree to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention that was signed in 2011.
Family, Labor and Social Services Minister Zehra Zumrut Selcuk said on Twitter that women’s rights are guaranteed in domestic legislation, and especially in the Constitution.
Selcuk said the Turkish legal system is “dynamic and strong enough” to implement new regulations according to need.
She said violence against women is a crime against humanity and that Turkey will resolutely continue its fight against violence with the principle of “zero tolerance.”
Turkey was the first country to ratify the European convention adopted in Istanbul in 2011.
The convention seeks to prevent violence against women, including domestic violence, and bring an end to legal impunity for perpetrators.
While the convention was enforced in 34 countries, including Turkey, some countries Ukraine, the UK, Czechia, Slovakia, Moldova, Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Latvia, Hungary, Armenia, and Bulgaria signed the document but have yet to ratify.
The EU signed the convention on June 13, 2017, while Council of Europe members Russia and Azerbaijan did not.
The Council of Europe and leaders of some European countries expressed concern on Saturday for Turkey’s withdrawal from a European treaty on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.
“Turkey‘s announced withdrawal from the Council of Europe‘s Istanbul Convention on violence against women is devastating news,” said Marija Pejcinovic Buric, Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, in a statement.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Twitter that he deplored the decision. “This decline in rights is worrying.”
Germany’s Foreign Office also issued a statement on Turkey’s withdrawal, saying the move “sends the wrong signal to Europe and to women in Turkey.”
US President Joe Biden on Sunday said Turkey’s decision to withdraw from a European treaty on preventing violence against women was “deeply disappointing.”
The EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement that the Istanbul Convention was the first international legally binding instrument to combat violence against women and domestic violence.
“We cannot but regret deeply and express incomprehension towards the decision of the Turkish government to withdraw from this convention that even bears the name of Istanbul,” Borrell said.
On Sunday, Turkey’s decision to withdraw from a European treaty on preventing violence against women “by no means denotes that Turkey compromises protection of women,” Turkey’s Communications Directorate said.
As to the reason of withdrawal, the directorate said the convention’s original intention of promoting women’s rights “was hijacked by a group of people attempting to normalize homosexuality” and that it is incompatible with Turkey’s social and family values.
Highlighting that Turkey was not the only country with “serious concerns” about the convention, it said six members of the EU, namely Bulgaria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia, also have not ratified the treaty.
“Poland has taken steps to withdraw from the Convention, citing an attempt by the LGBT community to impose their ideas about gender on the entire society,” it said.
The Turkish Constitution, Civil Law, and Penal Code, as well as a 2012 law on the protection of the family and the prevention of violence against women serve as legal mechanisms to uphold and promote women’s rights, said the statement.
It added that Turkey also remains a party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
Change of Central Bank Governor
Turkish Central Bank Governor Naci Agbal was dismissed and replaced with former MP professor Sahap Kavcioglu, according to a new presidential decree published in the official gazette on early Saturday.
Agbal was appointed governor only a couple of months ago in November 2020, after former governor Murat Uysal was dismissed.
He formerly headed the finance ministry from 2015-2018.
Sahap Kavcioglu was an MP in the government party AKP in that same period.
The Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey (CBRT) will continue to use monetary policy tools effectively to achieve a permanent decline in inflation, the new governor Kavcioglu said on Sunday.
“The decline in inflation will foster macroeconomic stability through the fall in country risk premiums and a permanent improvement in financing costs, and will contribute to the development of conditions essential for sustainable growth that will enhance investment, production, exports and employment,” Sahap Kavcioglu said.
Kavcioglu, a former parliamentarian, was appointed to head the Central Bank, after the dismissal of Naci Agbal in the early hours on Saturday.
“In line with the transparency and predictability principles in policies, communication channels will be used effectively to address all stakeholders,” Kavcioglu said, stressing that meetings of the Monetary Policy Committee will go on as previously scheduled.
The Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey had decided on Thursday, before the appointment, to increase its policy rate by 200 basis points from 17% to 19%.
However, after these unstable changes of seats in the Central Bank and other unexpected political news, the Turkish Lira lost 20% of its value on Sunday evening.
Panel on Treaty of Moscow
On Tuesday, Turkey marked the centennial anniversary of the “Friendship and Fraternity Treaty,” also known as the “Moscow Treaty.”
“Today, we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the ‘Friendship and Fraternity Treaty’ signed by the Government of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey and the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic on 16 March 1921,” said a Foreign Ministry statement.
Noting that the Treaty of Moscow has an important place in Turkish-Russian relations, the ministry said it “was signed one year after the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.”
The Treaty “not only carries political significance under the circumstances of the period, but has also produced legal consequences that remain valid today.”
“Being the first treaty signed between the Government of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey and the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, the ‘Moscow Treaty’, while defining the eastern borders of our Young Republic, has also served as a basis for the solidarity and cooperation with the Soviet Russia in the period after the First World War,” it added.
Noting that Turkey and Russia are continuing their dialogue and cooperation at the bilateral and regional levels today, the statement reads: “We believe that this understanding of cooperation will continue in a way that will contribute to regional peace, stability and prosperity besides our bilateral relations.”
On Tuesday, Russia extended its greetings to Turkey on the centennial of the Moscow Treaty.
In a statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry said the treaty signed in 1921 between Turkey’s Grand National Assembly of Turkey and the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic is one of the “fundamental documents” that laid the foundation for modern relations between the two states.
“We consider this significant date, together with the centenary of bilateral diplomatic ties that was celebrated in 2020, as historical evidence of the mutual understanding of the importance of the Russian-Turkish partnership.”
The two countries’ relations are “based on the principle of good-neighborliness, mutual respect and consideration of interests, aimed at joint productive work for the well-being and prosperity of the peoples of Russia and Turkey, for the sake of peace, security and stability in the region and the European continent as a whole,” the ministry said.
“Russia is ready to enhance constructive cooperation with Turkey in all areas, expand trade, economic, and investment cooperation, implement promising projects in energy, industry, and infrastructure, and improve cultural and humanitarian exchanges and human contacts,” it added.
“Following the spirit and principles of the Moscow Treaty, which has not lost its political and historical relevance over the past hundred years, is the key to the further progressive development of relations between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Turkey,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
The Turkish parliament speaker on Monday said Russia was not only a neighbor of Turkey but also a partner.
“Russia is not only our neighbor, but also our friend and cooperation partner on the way to the future. What we have accomplished in the last 18 years is proof of this,” Mustafa Sentop told the centennial anniversary panel of the Treaty of Brotherhood, also known as the Treaty of Moscow.
Turkey and Russia should be partners with “common sense” in their relations, Sentop said.
“The best way to achieve this is to have reasonable expectations” and act with a sincere approach to tackle issues, he noted.
Sentop added: “It’s not possible for any country to take the road to a prosperous future alone. Turkey and Russia are on the right track in this sense.”
“The Moscow Treaty has a special place. This treaty is also important, in terms of recognizing the Turkish Grand National Assembly Government by Russia and establishing our eastern borders. With this agreement, the two countries agreed to support each other in solidarity. Turkish-Russian relations are of course much more profound. The footage we have just watched is the footage that carries the spirit of that time to this day. We witnessed a sincere friendship between the two sides, with these footages caught on camera that day. I would like to thank the Russian State Archives for providing the images to the present day and to the honorable academician Mehmet Bora Perincek for presenting these footages to us.”
One of our United World International (UWI) columnists, Dr. Mehmet Perincek has also made a speech during the panel about the past, the present and the future of Turkish-Russian relationship:
“For both Turkey and Russia, there are the same threats and opportunities of 100 years ago. The necessities of these two countries today coincide with the necessities of that time period when the Treaty of Moscow was signed. These two countries can overcome such problems, ensure their national securities, and develop their economies while in cooperation. Only through cooperation, we can enjoy prosperity and peace in our region. The cooperation in the Caucasus Region is an example in this respect. Just as we have faced with the threat of the Caucasian Wall back in the 1920s, we are faced with the threat of PKK/PYD and ISIS in our region and in Syria today. The Turkish-Russian cooperation is not only a necessity in this region, but it is also a necessity against the imperialist threats in the Southern Caucasus, Eastern Mediterranean, Black Sea and Libya. The Treaty of Moscow is not only a historical relic. It is rather a document that will shed light and guide today and tomorrow. Therefore, the same spirit and determination of the strategic cooperation of the 1920s, is also a necessity for today. “
The Current Situation of Turkey Against the Coronavirus Pandemic
Turkey has reported 20,428 (965 symptomatic) new coronavirus cases, with 102 deaths as of Sunday.
Since March 1, Turkey started easing weekend curfews while continuing weeknight curfews throughout the country to halt the virus’s spread.
The country has started allowing more in-person education and restaurant dining, based on the local risk assessment of each province.
“We cannot ignore the virus. Nor should we let it take away our normal lives. We can achieve this by following the precautions,” Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter, when sharing the statistics.
The number of cases per 100,000 people was over 251 in the metropolis Istanbul, up from 178 in the previous week, and 107 in the capital Ankara from 68, and 111 in the western Izmir province from 78.
According to the data, Turkey’s Black Sea provinces, such as Samsun continued to have the highest number of cases this week with 508 per 100,000 people.
The southeastern provinces of Sirnak, Siirt, Hakkari, Mardin and Sanliurfa had the lowest COVID-19 infections per 100,000 people between the given dates.
Turkey’s overall case tally is now over 3 million, while the nationwide death toll has reached 30,061.
As many as 17,615 more patients in the country won the battle against the virus, taking the total number of recoveries past 2.82 million.
More than 36.35 million coronavirus tests have been done in Turkey to date.
Since Turkey began a mass COVID-19 vaccination campaign on January 14, it has administered over 13.17 million doses of vaccine, 8 million of which have received their first doses, while more than 5 million people have completed a two-dose course.