The public agenda In Turkey has been busy with three main topics last week.
Firstly, an official visit paid by the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Saudi Arabia as a part of the normalization of relations between the two countries.
In the second place, there was a diplomatic visit paid by the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to Venezuela.
And thirdly, nationwide celebrations were held and messages were given on May 1, and then on Eid al-Fitr, a holiday celebrated in Turkey and throughout the Muslim World.
Normalization between Turkey and Saudi Arabia
It seems to be that the two regional powers Turkey and Saudi Arabia, which had been at odds for many years, have entered a new phase in their diplomatic relations, with President Erdogan’s visit to Riyadh.
The press reported that, along with the relations between the two countries, the murder case of Jamal Khashoggi, who has been killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, was discussed in the meetings.
Turkish officials said Khashoggi, a prominent critic of bin Salman, was killed and dismembered inside the consulate in an operation that had been approved by the “highest levels” in Riyadh.
His remains have never been found.
The accusations strained ties between the two regional powers, leading to an unofficial Saudi boycott of Turkish goods, which has slashed Ankara’s exports to the kingdom by 90%, Reuters reported.
The gruesome act risked isolating Saudi Arabia, and especially Prince Mohammed, while escalating Riyadh’s regional rivalry with Ankara.
But trade between the two has been gradually improving, and in January Erdogan said he was planning a visit to Saudi Arabia.
In statements he gave after performing Eid al-Fitr prayers at a mosque in Istanbul on Monday, Erdogan noted that there are very positive developments in the Gulf region.
He added that his visit to Saudi Arabia and his meeting with Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed will have a positive impact on the relations of the two countries, which he stressed will witness great development in various fields, especially tourism.
“I am confident that the visits of our Saudi brothers to Turkey will increase even more,” he remarked.
Erdogan stressed that Saudi-Turkish relations will rise to a very distinguished level in several fields.
“We discussed this issue during bilateral talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,” he emphasized.
The Turkish president pointed out that the influx of Saudi tourists would contribute to boosting tourism in Turkey, expressing his optimism that this year’s season will be very good.
Speaking to journalists on the presidential plane returning from Saudi Arabia, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey and Saudi Arabia are determined to continue this effort for the common interests and stability of the region.
“I believe my visit will herald a new era in the ties between our two countries. We have demonstrated our common will to enhance ties on the basis of mutual respect and trust, most clearly and at the highest level,” he said.
The Turkish president announced that Turkey would support Saudi Arabia’s bid to host the 2030 World Expo in Riyadh.
Turkey has also been in negotiations with Egypt, Israel and the United Arab Emirates to normalize relations.
Erdogan described the new era as a process of making friends and not enemies, and that ties should be improved with countries with whom “we share the same beliefs and thoughts.”
He said Turkey has decisive role in regional relations with Egypt and Israel, and it will gain nothing by completely cutting ties.
“Turkey has a policy on Israel, and such a policy is also possible with Egypt,” Erdogan said, adding that positive outcomes show steps can be taken also at a higher level.
Developments in Turkish-Venezuelan relations
The relations between the two countries that lie in two opposite sides of the earth, Turkey and Venezuela, are improving more than ever.
The Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu has paid an extensive diplomatic visit to Venezuela in this context.
Cavusoglu also had a meeting with the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in this context.
On his first day in Caracas, Minister Cavusoglu attended the official inauguration ceremony of the Turkey Maarif Foundation San Roman College, and then came together with Turkish and Venezuelan business people in a meeting to develop our economic relations with Venezuela, where trade and investment opportunities were discussed.
On April 29, Minister Cavusoglu inaugurated the 3rd Turkey-Venezuela Joint Cooperation Commission together with Vice President of Venezuela, Tareck El Aissami and Foreign Minister Felix Plasencia.
At the meeting opportunities for further development of our relations were discussed with the participation of the Ministers of Tourism, Health, Education and Fisheries of Venezuela.
Later, at a meeting with President Jorge Rodriguez of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Minister Cavusoglu emphasized that we would further strengthen our inter-parliamentary relations.
Finally, Minister Cavusoglu was received by President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela and noted that the relations between their countries developed on the basis of the friendship of their Presidents.
At the end of the third meeting of the Turkey-Venezuela Joint Cooperation Commission, together with the Joint Declaration, a total of seven agreements were signed in the fields of tourism, fisheries, youth, education, trade and economy.
“Our friends are making great efforts to make these meetings and mechanisms successful,” he added.
The agreements will be signed in the presence of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro at the closing session, said Cavusoglu.
“The increase in our trade has increased our hopes for the future. We encourage Turkish businesspeople to invest in Venezuela”, he said.
Aissami thanked Cavusoglu for his visit.
“We make productive, prosperous, mutual investments for our peoples,” he said.
“Turkey struggles to protect and defend world peace. It encourages us to work together in building a more just world,” said the Venezuelan vice-president.
Cavusoglu also said that Turkey stands beside Venezuela, in his closing remarks,
“Our trade has increased by approximately 300% in 2021, compared to the previous year. Despite the distance between us, we rank Turkey first in Venezuela’s exports. When we look at the figures in the first three months, we see that we will easily reach the $ 1.5 billion target,” he said.
“I would like to emphasize once again that we strongly oppose sanctions against Venezuela. We will continue to stand by the friendly country Venezuela,” he added.
Turning to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Cavusoglu said: “I would like to once again share the greetings of President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan to you and the people of Venezuela. We are waiting for you in Turkey as soon as possible.”
“Your close friendship and strong will to develop cooperation carries us forward in every field. Your mutual visits in 2018 were a turning point in our relations,” he added.
Cavusoglu said that seven agreements and a mutual declaration have been signed during the meeting.
Stating that they want to sign agreements in the fields of health, fisheries, and tourism during Maduro’s visit to Turkey, Cavusoglu stated that Turkey would do its part with its institutions.
Speaking at the closing session of the Venezuela-Turkey Joint Cooperation Commission, President Maduro hailed the Turkish government for facilitating talks between Russia and Ukraine and wished success in the process.
He said that Turkey has helped Venezuela when it needed the most, referring to the medical aid extended by Turkey during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have established very strong political and diplomatic relations based on trust in the recent years between Turkey and Venezuela,” said Maduro adding Turkey opposed the sanctions against his country.
He also called on Turkish investors to come to Venezuela.
“Venezuela has now started to recover; it is now advancing step by step with its efforts. Let Turkish investors come here and invest because we have a very wide economic portfolio. It’s time for the Turks to invest here,” he said.
He said he would visit Turkey soon.
“I think we maximized this joint commission. We have signed many agreements in various fields. I will go to Turkey to address all these issues, to accelerate cooperation, and to shake the hand of my dear friend Erdogan,” he added.
“We love Turkey. We are real friends of Turkey. Venezuela is Turkey’s best friend. Long live Venezuela-Turkey relationship, long live friendship, long live peace, long live cooperation,” he said.
Turkish people celebrated the May 1st Labor Day and the subsequent Eid Al-Fitr
May 1 Labor Day and the subsequent Eid Al-Fitr were celebrated in Turkey.
In this period, while Turkey is in a difficult economic crisis, participation in Labor Day parades and demonstrations was very high.
Labor unions were allowed to enter in small groups to Taksim Square, where the Istanbul Governor had banned mass celebrations.
The first group to take place was the Confederation of Revolutionist Labor Unions (DISK). Union leaders held a commemorative ceremony at the Republic Monument in Taksim Square.
Then the Trade Union Confederation (HAK-IS) entered the square.
In memory of those who lost their lives in the bloody massacre of 1 May 1977 in Taksim Square, the groups left flowers along the infamous Kazanci Street and then visited Taksim Republic Monument.
Ergun Atalay, leader of the Confederation of Turkish Labor Unions (TURK-IS), and his delegation were also present in Taksim.
Atalay, who said that protecting the rights of women, people and workers in Turkey and around the world is an unwritten decision, noted that labor rights have not been protected in Turkey for many years.
Police barricades also surrounded Taksim Square.
On the other hand, intense security measures were taken in and around the Taksim Square. Taksim square, Talimhane and Tarlabasi avenues, Divan junction, Gezi park, Ataturk Culture Center and the area surrounding up to Sirselviler and Istiklal Street were all surrounded by police barricades and were closed to traffic. Police also have set up checkpoints at all points leading to Taksim Square.
Citizens and tourists were not allowed in or out of the Square. Security measures were also taken on all roads and streets leading from Taksim Square to Istiklal Street and to the Historical Tunnel.
Police intervened in groups that wanted to march to Taksim Square without permission from various points. A total of 164 people who marched unauthorized, were detained.
There were no other arrests or police clashes in Istanbul or in any other major cities such as Ankara or Izmir.
Vatan Party issued an official declaration, expressing their solutions to the ongoing labor problems, for the Labor Day:
A new world is being established. The unipolar world order is coming to an end. A sovereign, publicist, and a communal political and economic establishment is rising from Asia. This will increase the imperialist threats and challenges targeting our country and region during this rough period. However, with these difficult challenges, new opportunities arise.
Today, the overwhelming majority of our working class is still non-unionized. The percentage of workers represented by a union is only 14, according to official numbers. In reality, it does not even exceed 8 percent.
This is not acceptable!
By making a change in the relevant legislation, it will be an arguably effective measure to impose a restriction on the dismissal of workers due to their participation in a labor union. There should also be no change of work areas in the organization process of the union.
Even if these and similar problems are solved, the situation is still serious. Within the current system, it is impossible to prevent the deepening economic crisis and its consequences with ordinary measures. Union struggles, collective agreements, efforts of the labor organizations and day-to-day measures of the government are not enough to overcome the crisis.
After the 1980 coup, the finance economy officially declared the worker and the manufacturer crippled and bankrupt. The final solution lies in long-term political measures. The long-term solution to saving the working class is the Production Revolution! We mean nationwide austerities, investments, employment efforts, a production focus and a just distribution of the national wealth!
Erdogan met with workers at the Ramadan Iftar dinner held at the Istanbul Shipyard in Tuzla.
Reminding that it was them who declared 1st of May as an official holiday in Turkey in 2009 as the Labor and Solidarity Day.
President Erdogan added:
“As a brother of yours who started life as a worker myself, I also consider May 1st as my own holiday. We wanted to share the joy of our Labor and Solidarity Day by meeting with our shipyard workers and representatives of our Turkish Labor Union at the Ramadan Iftar dinner table on this beautiful evening of 1st of May. Tomorrow we will celebrate Eid together. I also congratulate your Eid al-Fitr as a holiday of our country, the Muslim world and the entire humanity. I pray god to guide us to the next Eid and the other holidays with welfare, health and prosperity. Erdogan noted that they focus their attention on investment, employment efforts, production and exports. Erdogan stated “Our purchasing power may have decreased due to the high cost of living, but after providing employment for 30 million citizens and providing a stable income to every household every month, hopefully we will make up for all these losses in a relatively short time. As Turkey continues to work, produce and embraces today and the future, no one can weaken this country with the help of god.”