[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on Turkey and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Turkey Page Editors or of Jadaliyya.]
The Coronavirus Outbreak
Turkey and COVID-19: Is another Italy in the making? “Unless the government takes drastic measures, including a complete lockdown, Turkey could be heading to the brink of a catastrophe,” argues Cengiz Çandar, commenting on what experts are saying on the ongoing crisis.
Corona excuses of the AKP and the usual repetitions. Criticizing the government response to the outbreak, Kemal Can writes that Ankara “is forcing this unfounded optimism upon the public. As usual, it accuses those who dare raise doubts of ‘national treachery’ and ‘ungratefulness.’”
Turkey expands quarantine to towns across country to fight coronavirus. “Turkey has quarantined 41 towns, villages and neighborhoods in 18 provinces. Residents are required to shelter in place and, in some areas, entries and exits are barred after residents tested positive,” reports Ayla Jean Yackley.
The coronavirus is exposing the flaws of Erdogan’s strongman rule. “The Turkish case violates what political scientists call ‘the authoritarian bargain.’ Authoritarian regimes can sustain power not only through repression but because they distribute resources to citizens. In Turkey, we seem to get neither the money nor the democracy. Our society is far more advanced than this outdated system,” argues Aslı Aydıntaşbaş.
Hasty burials during pandemic days. “The imam too is apologetically in a hurry. I try to appear comforting in reiterating over and over again that everything is in order according to Islam. I even attempt to reassure him by patting his shoulder but my hand remains hanging in the air as the wide-eyed imam is aghast of this potential physical contact.” Aydın Selcen writes about losing his mother and mourning rituals in time of coronavirus.
Coronavirus: A Global Challenge
COVID-19: The world’s 9/11. “The year 2020 is not only forcing us into quarantine; it is also urging us to ponder the codes of the new world order,” writes Hilal Kaplan, arguing that COVID-19 is as much of an invisible enemy as terrorism was in the aftermath of September 11.
Post-coronavirus states. “Once the dust settles, the governments will inevitably come under greater scrutiny. National governments may be the official standard units for international interaction. But, as this outbreak has highlighted and in fact bolstered, the network of people across the globe is far more intense and substantial,” argues Şafak Göktürk.
Coronavirus: Cradle or grave for populism? “The way populist politicians behave in the face of a virus is practically a schoolbook case of ‘what not to do in times of diseases.’ Perhaps the aftermath of this terrible coronavirus tragedy will show the public just how shallow and dangerous populist policies and politicians can be in times when dire decisions need to be made,” writes Emre Gönen.
The Migrant Crisis
Coronavirus Pandemic Impacts Turkey’s Approach to Displaced Syrians. “The coronavirus pandemic has forced Turkey to recalibrate its usual approach to displaced persons and how it takes advantage of circumstances in Syria,” writes Aykan Erdemir.
Turkey’s refugee ‘extortion diplomacy’ must end. “Ankara is using migrants as pawns in an attempt to blackmail the EU,” Greece’s Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias wrote in an op-ed on the Financial Times.
Turkey’s Two-Level Game in the Refugee Dispute with the EU. “The government is aiming to secure wins at the domestic level because any progress at the European level is very unlikely at the moment. As long as the impasse with the EU over refugees remains, it is most likely that it will keep prioritizing domestic considerations,” writes Özgehan Şenyuva.
Turkey and the West
The Outlook for Turkish Democracy: 2023 and Beyond. “However Turkey emerges from the crisis, an Erdogan triumph in the next presidential vote would likely seal the country’s trajectory away from liberalism and the West for a generation,” writes analyst Nick Danforth in a policy note.
Can Turkey benefit from continued EU enlargement? “The gradual integration of the western Balkans spells opportunities. There is a huge ‘but’ however. EU leaders won’t accommodate Ankara’s demand for updating the customs union for instance, unless there is a degree of political liberalisation in the country,” argues Dimitar Bechev.
Turkey and Syria
Is Turkey ready to take on jihadis in Syria’s Idlib? “While Turkey and Russia seek to maintain a cease-fire in Idlib, the Syrian government and jihadi groups want to resume battles,” writes Khaled al-Khateb
Does HDP have political party potential? “Today, when the PKK has been totally defeated in Turkey and abandoned by its ‘big brother’ in Syria and Iraq, it is imperative for the HDP to transform itself into a political party of Turkey,” argues İhsan Aktaş.
The Fight against the Coronavirus
“Nerde bu devlet” mi demiştiniz? Hilal Kaplan compares how countries worldwide have reacted to the challenge posed by the coronavirus outbreak, and what Turkey is doing instead. Arguing that Ankara is responding better than many European countries, the columnist writes that “it will continue to do so.”
Avrupa çıplak! Melih Altınok argues that Turkey successfully passed the first coronavirus test and adds that this is due to reforms that the government has been implementing since the beginning.
Gecikmenin faturası. Taha Akyol praises the Turkish government for taking measures that slowed down the diffusion of coronavirus in Turkey, but with a caveat: when it comes to testing and social isolation, the country is running late.
Kaynak Yeniçağ: Bireysel OHAL'lerimiz ve Devletin OHAL'i. Fatma Çelik argues that it is necessary to take further measures, but that this has to be done by remaining within the law.
Cinsel istismar ve kadına şiddet kapsam dışı. According to Abdulkadir Selvi, people convicted for terrorism, sex crimes, murder, and violence against women will not be granted a early release. Turkey is discussing a bill to allow a large number of prisoners to serve reduced jail time due to the spread of coronavirus.
COVID-19, Health and Politics
Kefen parasını yedikleri milleti, ceset torbasıyla gömüyorlar, medyamız hâlâ otogar gösteriyor! Yılmaz Özdil criticized Turkey’s media, by arguing that Turkey is the only country in the world where the journalists are not showing what is currently going on in the hospitals.
Belediye bağış kabul eder ama kampanya yapamaz! The Interior Ministry has blocked two donation accounts set up by the İstanbul and Ankara municipalities—controlled by the opposition—and meant to fight the pandemic. Resul Tosun argues that the step taken by the municipalities was against the law, and was politically motivated.
Kanal İstanbul niye evde kalamıyor? Asking “why doesn’t Kanal Istanbul stay home” too, Akif Beki comments on the recently held fist tender for the construction of a new waterway connecting the Black Sea and Marmara.
Ulaştırma Bakanı Turhan, Kanal İstanbul ihalesi nedeniyle mi görevinden alındı? Mehmet Barlas contends that the tender for Kanal Istanbul might be the reason why former Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Mehmet Cahit Turhan has been recently removed from his place.
Babacan’ın partisi dertlere DEVA olabilir mi? “The launch of DEVA certainly offers the Turkish people some new ideas; however, in a climate of mistrust and growing fatalism, Ali Babacan must show the people that he really understands the key issues that lie at the heart of our country’s ills and has solutions which will truly remedy these problems,” argues Mehmet Gün, commenting on the new party put together by former Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan.