Natural resources, energy and environment
Turkey has natural resources in the form of
chromium, boron and many other minerals. At least 90
percent of all oil and 98 percent of gas must be
imported, but test drilling is underway in the Black
Sea, where oil is believed to be enough to meet the
country's needs for 50 years.
The government also plans to test for oil in the
Mediterranean in areas under Turkish Cypriot control.
Such a project would have at least as much political
significance as economic, as a counterbalance to the
Greek Cypriots' exploitation of the sea in cooperation
with Israeli companies. The Turkish government is
strongly targeting other countries and companies that
are involved in extraction outside Cyprus.
Major exports by Turkey with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.
Turkey is an important transit country for oil, in
the near future also for gas. From the Black Sea ports,
oil is shipped out through the narrow straits of the
Bosphorus. An Iraqi oil pipeline goes from Kirkuk to the
Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. The leadership has
repeatedly been subjected to sabotage on the war-torn
Iraqi side. Since 2006, Caspian oil has been flowing to
Ceyhan through the 160-mile Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline
During the 1990s, several gas pipelines were built,
primarily Blue Stream from Russia to Samsun. One third
of the line is at the bottom of the Black Sea. Russia
comes from about 55 percent of Turkey's gas imports, a
significantly lower proportion than just a dozen years
ago. Through the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum (BTE) pipeline,
Caspian gas is imported, some of which is planned to be
delivered to Europe. Despite US disapproval, Turkey also
imports gas from Iran.
Abbreviationfinder: A popular acronym site in the world covering abbreviation for each country. For example, TR stands for Turkey. Visit itypeusa for more information about Turkey.
In 2015, work began on building a gas pipeline from
the Caspian Sea in Azerbaijan via Georgia to Turkey. The
trans-Anatolian natural gas pipeline, Tanap, was
inaugurated in June 2018. The project has been supported
by the EU as part of the Union's efforts to reduce
dependence on Russian gas.
At the beginning of 2020, the Turk Stream underwater
pipeline will be used. Russian President Putin proposed
in 2014 a gas pipeline from southern Russia through the
Black Sea to western Turkey and further into the EU. The
project has worried EU leaders who fear it could
increase dependence on Russian gas. To also become
addicted to unstable Turkey, with a leader perceived as
unpredictable, has heightened concerns. The project was
shelved since Turkey shot down a Russian fighter
aircraft across the Syrian border in 2015 but resumed as
countries normalized their relations in 2016. Several
Balkan countries have announced their intention to
import Russian gas via Turk Stream, despite the US
deciding sanctions on companies involved.
Half of Turkey's electricity is produced using
natural gas and close to a third of coal. About a fifth
comes from hydropower and oil. A first nuclear power
plant with four reactors is being built by a Russian
consortium near the Mediterranean city of Mersin. In
2013, a Japanese-French consortium was commissioned to
build four more reactors near Sinop on the Black Sea. A
third nuclear power plant is planned at the Black Sea
near the Bulgarian border. According to the government,
nuclear power will cover 10 percent of the country's
electricity needs by 2030. The plans have been met by
strong protests from environmental organizations,
considering that Turkey is one of the world's most
Nearly 30 percent of Turkey's water is in the
Euphrates and Tigris river systems, where dams and power
plants have been built since the 1970s. At the same
time, more and more watercourses have been dried as a
result of overexploitation, possibly also climate
change. The regulation of the rivers causes concern in
the neighboring countries concerned. A growing part of
the electricity comes from hydropower, especially from
the Atatürk and Karakaya dams in the Euphrates. They are
part of the huge but disputed South East Anatolian
project GAP (Güneydoğu Anadolu Projesi), which was
launched in 1980 and which was also aimed at irrigating
large agricultural areas. In 1989, GAP was expanded to
become what the Turks described as the world's largest
regional development project. However, GAP has received
stinging criticism for threatening the environment and
cultural values in the southeast, where archaeological
remains are being submerged. Many observers have pointed
out that almost the entire population affected by the
projects, and forced to relocate to probably poorer
agricultural lands, is Kurdish and that this is why GAP
is being pushed ahead despite the protests. Officially,
the project aims to develop the most disadvantaged part
of the country, create modern infrastructure, raise
living standards and create economic growth, or with
President Erdogan's words "knock off the legs of
terrorists", ie the Kurdish guerrilla PKK.
Especially in western Turkey, there is a rapid
expansion of wind turbines.
Debris is a problem that calls for solutions, but has
also begun to meet with efforts. In Istanbul, a pilot
project was started in 2018 where the person who pledged
bottles and jars was rewarded with having the pledge
deposited on his certificate for bus and metro.
FACTS - ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
Energy use per person
1,648 kilograms of oil equivalent (2015)
Electricity consumption per person
2836 kWh, kWh (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions in total
345 981 thousand tonnes (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant
4.5 tons (2014)
The share of energy from renewable sources
13.4 percent (2015)
Turkey guarantees Syrian ceasefire
A ceasefire begins in Syria after the mediation of Turkey and Russia, and
both countries act as guarantors to respect the agreement. The United States has
not been involved in the negotiations.
Police in court
29 police are facing trial in Istanbul in the first major trial against
suspects for participation in this summer's failed coup attempt. 21 of them face
up to three times life imprisonment, while the others can be sentenced to a
maximum of 15 years in prison. All are charged with refusing to guard President
Erdogan's residence in Istanbul during the coup night.
Russia's ambassador murdered
Russian Ambassador Andrej Karlov is shot dead at a visit to a photo
exhibition in Ankara. A man shouting "Don't forget Aleppo! Don't forget Syria!"
shoots the ambassador in the back. Several other visitors must also have been
injured in the shootings inside the gallery. The murderer, a 22-year-old police
officer, is shot to death by special police officers. The Russian and Turkish
governments quickly agree not to let the murder affect relations between the
countries, which improved during the year and led to some cooperation on the war
in Syria. The Turkish government claims that the Gülen movement was behind the
Kurds are accused of attacking soldiers
14 soldiers are killed and over 50 people injured in a suicide attack against
a military bus in the city of Kayseri. The government says everything indicates
that the PKK was behind the attack. In what appears to have been revenge
attacks, 20 HDP offices are being attacked around the country. Several offices
are burned down, others are shelled. Police arrest nine people suspected of
participation in the attack against HDP. A few days later, the Kurdish TAK takes
on the attack on the soldiers.
13th of December
Official statistics show that GDP fell by 1.8 percent in the third quarter of
the year, compared with the same period in 2015. Consumer spending decreased by
3.2 percent and exports of goods and services by 7 percent. This is the first
downturn for the economy since 2009. The report is one of the clearest signs to
date that political instability following the coup attempt in July has
diminished residents' faith in the future.
Terrorist act in Istanbul
44 people are killed and 166 injured in what appears to be two concerted
explosions outside a football stadium in Istanbul. The assaults - a car bomb
followed by a suicide explosion - are aimed at police officers who have just
watched a match in the highest football league. At least 30 of the victims are
police. The government accuses the PKK of the attacks and swears revenge. As
with several previous similar assaults, it is the obscure Kurdish organization
TAK that takes on the deed. The authorities respond by arresting over 200 people
during raids in a large number of cities. A large proportion of those arrested
are reported to be members of or sympathizers of HDP. In addition, Turkish
flights are attacking what is described as guerrilla targets in northern Iraq.
New constitution proposal clear
The ruling AKP submits a proposal to Parliament on 21 amendments to the
country's constitution. The biggest change is that the country is moving from a
parliamentary democracy to a system of strong presidential power. For the time
being, it is unclear whether the post of prime minister should be abolished.
According to the proposal, the president should be able to appoint one or more
vice presidents. The proposal is based on the AKP receiving parliamentary
support from at least 14 members of the nationalist party MHP. Both CHP and HDP
strongly oppose the proposal, which is described by CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu as
"a regime change, not a system change". If Parliament votes on the proposal, it
will be a referendum on the issue, probably in the spring of 2017.
Tough expert criticism
The Council of Europe's constitutional experts, the Venice Commission, writes
in a report that the layoffs of state personnel following the coup attempt in
July contravene both the Turkish constitution and international law. According
to the experts, the dismissals are characterized by a high degree of randomness
and the collective punishments have meant that individual individuals have not
had their cases tried. At the same time, the European Judicial and Prosecutor's
Cooperation Organization (ENCJ) decides to exclude Turkey on the grounds that
the Turkish judicial system is no longer independent of the government.
Six-fold lifetime penalty is demanded for cupmakers
Prosecutors have requested six times a life sentence for 47 suspected coup
makers, 44 of whom are in custody. Among the crimes they are suspected of are
attempts to assassinate the president. The trial is to be conducted in the city
of Muğla in the southwest, in the province where the president lived in a hotel
that night when the coup attempt began. Erdoğan has claimed that he left the
hotel just 15 minutes before the soldiers came to kill him. It is unclear when
the trial will begin.
Teachers get their jobs back
About 6,000 teachers who were suspended from their services after the coup
attempt have returned to their jobs, the Ministry of Education says. More than
half of those who were taken off duty after 15 July.
The European Parliament wants to stop negotiations
The European Parliament votes with a large majority to freeze negotiations
with Turkey on membership of the Union because of the Turkish government's
"disproportionate" reaction to the summer coup attempt. The decision is most
symbolic, as the negotiations have been virtually silent for years and no one
still believes that Turkey should be able to join for several years. The Turkish
government dismisses the vote as "totally worthless".
Trial against Gülen
A lawsuit against Fethullah Gülen and 72 other people accused of trying to
overthrow the Turkish government is opening in Istanbul. Most defendants are
investigated in their absence. The charges relate to events that occurred prior
to the coup attempt in July.
15,000 to dismissed
A further more than 15,000 civil servants are laid off as part of the purges
following the summer coup attempt. Among those who lose their jobs are
everything from soldiers and police to tax inspectors and midwives. In total,
more than 125,000 people have been laid off or suspended since July. About
36,000 are in custody awaiting trial. According to President Erdoğan, the purges
are far from finished. At the same time, 375 institutions and associations are
closed, among them organizations working for minority rights, legal associations
and women's groups. In addition, 18 charities and 9 media companies are closed.
At the same time, the director of the Silivi prison outside Istanbul and another
19 employees are arrested there. Many of those arrested in the investigations
are being held in Silivri.
Protests lead to stopped child sex
Thousands of people are protesting in Istanbul against a bill from the
government that men imprisoned for having had sex with minors should be released
if intercourse is carried out "without violence or threat" and if they agree to
marry the victim. The government claims that the law is not intended to approve
rape, but among other things, the UN Children's Fund Unicef says it is "deeply
concerned" by the proposal, which is tentatively approved by Parliament. After
the protests, a parliamentary committee decides to withdraw the proposal for the
time being. However, it may be submitted again after rework.
Most critical EU report so far
This year's report from the European Commission on the state of Turkey's
proximity to the Union is the most critical to date. It states that the
possibility of Turkish membership hangs on a fragile thread because of the
government's actions following the summer coup attempt. "Democracy, the
independence of the judiciary and freedom of the press are not negotiable," said
Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn, urging Turkey to adhere to the EU's
The EU strikes back
The European Commission urges the Turkish government to resume a political
dialogue with the opposition, safeguard parliamentary democracy, respect for
human rights, the rule of law, fundamental freedoms and justice - demands placed
on a candidate country. Regarding PKK as a terrorist group is perfectly
reasonable, but arresting MPs from a legal party polarizes society, the
"Delicate relationship with the EU"
Turkey's EU Minister Ömer Çelik calls on all EU countries' ambassadors and
warns them that the relationship between Turkey and the European Union is in a
delicate phase. He criticizes what he sees as racist arguments from the EU
Nine employees at Cumhuriyet are arrested
Nine employees of the government-critical newspaper Cymhuriyet are arrested,
among them the editor-in-chief, a satirist and a chronicler who is known for his
opposition to President Erdoğan. Two of those arrested have been released
without charges being brought against them and two others are set free on the
grounds of their age.
Kurdish leaders arrested
Police arrest twelve of the HDP MPs, including the two party leaders
Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ. They are accused of spreading terrorist
propaganda and of not attending the hearing of prosecutors. They are arrested
and charged with seven of the others. The HDP says in a statement that the
authorities' intention is to crush the party and that this is the end of
democracy in Turkey. The HDP urges the outside world to respond to the "Erdoğan
regime's coup". The party later announces that it is suspending its work in
Parliament. The next day, nine more senior members of the HDP in the southern
province of Adana are arrested.
Continued mass dismissal
Another more than 10,000 government employees are laid off, most from the
Ministry of Education, Justice and Health. In addition, another 15 newspapers
and other media, mainly reported from the Kurdish-dominated part of the country,
are closed. The government also takes away from the universities the right to
appoint rectors. They will henceforth be appointed by the President among
candidates nominated by the higher education authority, YÖK.
Diplomats are seeking asylum
The German Ministry of the Interior says that 35 Turkish citizens with a
diplomatic passport have applied for political asylum in Germany after the coup
attempt in July. This involves both diplomats and family members.
The purges continue
In October, more than 12,000 police officers and more than 500 police
officers were suspended pending investigation. Arrest warrants have been issued
for 215 police officers and more than 230 militants have been fired. Now 109
military judges are also dismissed and the police carry out raids at the
Cassation Court, the country's highest appellate court, as well as at the
highest administrative court, the Council of State. Other court buildings are
also being searched. The police have orders to arrest 189 judges and prosecutors
who are suspected of being linked to the Gülen movement. The intelligence
service must have identified 56,000 people as users of a mobile app with the
help of which Gülenister is alleged to have spread information about the
attempts to undermine the state and seize power.
Agreement with Russia on gas pipeline
Russian President Putin is visiting Turkey as part of the normalization of
relations between the countries. He says that Russia and Turkey are now ready to
resume cooperation in all areas. During the visit, he and Erdoğan sign an
agreement to build a gas pipeline under the Black Sea, called Turkstream.
Car bomb kills 18
18 people are killed when a car loaded with explosives is detonated by a
suicide bomber in the southeastern province of Hakkari, the government says.
Eight of the victims are civilians. In addition, another ten soldiers and 16
civilians are injured in the explosion blamed on the PKK by the authorities.
Kurdish TV stations are closed
Turkish authorities shut down ten fully or partially Kurdish-language TV
channels, including the first Kurdish channel for children's programs.
Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ says 32,000 suspected members of the Gülen
movement have been arrested. After the coup attempt in July, 70,000 arrested
have so far been investigated. "The process continues," the minister says.
"Global fight against Gülen"
President Erdoğan, in a speech at the UN General Assembly, urges the world to
intervene against Fethullah Gülen and his "terrorist movement".
The elected mayors of 28 cities are dismissed and replaced by state-appointed
administrators. Most are accused of conspiring with the PKK, the others are
designated as Gülenists. Nearly half of them are arrested by police. Most of the
layoffs occur in the Kurdish-dominated part of the country.
Billions for Syrian refugees
The European Commission estimates EUR 348 million, equivalent to about SEK
3.3 billion, in humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees in Turkey. The money will be
used by the United Nations Food Program WFP in cooperation with the Turkish Red
Crescent. The sum is part of the € 3 billion that the EU has promised Turkey
against, in return, the Turkish government is preventing refugees from
continuing to EU countries. It is estimated that there are about 2.75 million
Syrian refugees in Turkey and the majority live outside the camps built in the
"Border cleared from IS"
The government says that Turkish forces in collaboration with Syrian rebels
have driven IS from all positions along the Turkish border. Thus, according to
the government, IS is no longer able to bring in recruits or supplies to Syria
from Turkey. Syrian sources confirm this.
New Turkish Front in Syria
Another at least 20 Turkish tanks, five squadrons, trucks and other armored
vehicles drive into Syria from the Turkish border city of Kilis. This opens a
new Turkish front against IS and Kurdish YPG.
Over 40 killed
The army says that 27 members of the PKK were killed and over 30 injured in
air strikes and ground fighting in the province of Hakkari. At the same time,
local authorities and news agency Anadolu say that a total of 13 soldiers and a
government-employed Kurdish village guard have been killed and up to 30 soldiers
injured in fighting in three provinces in southeastern Turkey.
Turkish flight kills Kurds in Syria
At least 40 people are killed in Turkish air raids against villages in
northern Syria. The army talks about killing Kurdish "terrorists", while local
spokesmen describe the victims as civilian Kurds. According to the government,
the aim of the attacks in northern Syria is to prevent the Kurdish YPG from
creating a corridor throughout the country, from the Iraqi border to the
Third Bosphorus Bridge inaugurated
President Erdoğan inaugurates the third bridge over the Bosphorus, located
near the northern outlet of the Black Sea. The 1,408 meter long bridge, named
after an Ottoman sultan from the 16th century, is one of the world's largest
suspension bridges. The construction has cost around SEK 25 billion and is
considered as part of the president's quest to enroll in the history books. It
has been criticized by environmental activists for the disappearance of a larger
forest area during the work.
Suicide attacks against police officers
Eleven police officers are killed and 78 people are injured when a truck is
driven to a police station in the city of Cizre near the Syrian border and a
larger explosive charge is detonated. The authorities suspect the PKK of the
attack and later the guerrillas take it.
Turkish troops into Syria
After a day's shooting across the border from both sides, a dozen Turkish
tanks roll into Syria. An elite force is also reported to be running into Syria,
as are Syrian rebels supported by Turkey. The invasion forces receive flight
support. IS is reported to be retiring from Jarablus, but President Erdoğan says
the effort is just as much aimed at the Syrian-Kurdish guerrilla YPG as against
IS. At the same time, US Vice President Joe Biden is coming to Turkey to try to
reduce tensions between the two allied countries. Relations between them have
been weakened both by differing views on the war in Syria and the attitude
towards the Gülen movement and developments in Turkey following the coup attempt
Terrorist act against wedding party
20th of August
57 people are killed, including 34 children, when a suicide bomber attacks a
wedding party in Gaziantep in southeastern Turkey, six miles from the border
with Syria. President Erdoğan says IS is probably behind the attack. Nearly 70
people are also injured, about ten of them seriously. Most wedding guests were
Kurdish. According to the Hürriyet newspaper, the explosive charge is
constructed in the same way as in previous attacks against Kurds in Suruç and
Ankara in 2015.
Relations with Israel are normalized
Parliament approves an agreement concluded by the government to restore
normal relations with Israel, six years after Israeli soldiers boarded the
Turkish ship Mavi Marmara and killed nine Turkish nationals; Another Turk later
died of his injuries (see also Foreign Policy and Defense). The agreement was
concluded at the end of June, but the ratification was delayed by the coup
attempt on July 15. Under the agreement, Israel will pay $ 20 million in damages
to military councils against Mavi Marmara who was on his way to Gaza. There will
be no legal consequences for Israelis involved in the attack.
At least ten people are killed and well over 200 injured in three blast
attacks in eastern provinces. PKK takes on the single most serious assault
directed at the police headquarters in the city of Elazığ. The four-story
building is almost completely destroyed. President Erdoğan accuses the PKK and
the Gülen movement of jointly supporting the attacks.
38,000 prisoners are released
Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ says 38,000 prisoners must be released
conditionally to leave room for the thousands arrested during the clean-up after
the coup attempt. They apply only to people imprisoned before July 1, 2016, and
not to persons convicted of murder, terrorism or state security crimes. The
Turkish prisons house 26,000 more prisoners than they actually have room for.
Fighting against companies
Istanbul police conduct concerted raids against 44 companies accused of
financing the Gülen movement's operations. Prosecutors issue arrest warrants for
a total of 120 directors. A few days later, the raids continue against a few
hundred companies in 18 provinces. The government orders that 187 businessmen's
assets be seized.
International criticism of the law on sex with children
A decision by the Constitutional Court to repeal a law that denoted all
sexual contact with children under the age of 15 that offends criticism within
the country and internationally. The Constitutional Court approves an objection
from a lower court that children between the ages of 12 and 15 are big enough to
understand the meaning of sexual intercourse, and that it is therefore wrong to
compare a 14-year-old with, for example, a 4-year-old. Several Turkish
children's rights organizations are responding to what they fear should lead to
pedophiles being able to go unpunished. The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs
calls on the ambassadors for Sweden and Austria to protest against data in these
countries that Turkey has decided to allow sex with children. The criticism of
Sweden is based on a Twitter comment from Foreign Minister Margot Wallström.
Gülen is requested to be extradited
The Prosecutor's Office in Istanbul sends a formal request to the US to
release Fethullah Gülen, reports TV channel CNN Türk. The letter should have
been forwarded by the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Diplomats on the run
12th of August
Turkish authorities are seeking 32 diplomats in foreign service who have
refused to obey orders to travel home and who in many cases have moved to
countries other than where they were stationed. A total of 208 Turkish diplomats
were called home after the coup attempt.
9th of August
President Erdoğan meets his Russian colleague Vladimir Putin in St.
Petersburg. Since Erdoğan apologized at the end of June for the firing of a
Russian war plan, relations between the countries have improved rapidly, not
least since Russia fared away from the coup attempt in Turkey much faster than
the EU or the US. Unlike the leaders in the west, Putin has also not raised
objections to the purges in Turkey. They both agree to try to breathe new life
into the relationships. A rapprochement between Turkey and Russia is expected to
benefit both countries, both economically and politically, but is viewed with
some concern in the West. Turkish leaders are making almost daily outings
against the EU, the US and NATO, which they accuse of betraying an ally for a
Million meeting in support of the government
At least one million people gather in Istanbul for a solidarity meeting for
the government and President Erdoğan. The leaders of the opposition parties CHP
and MHP also take part in the meeting to show national agreement against those
behind the coup attempt, while pro-Kurdish HDP has not been invited. HDP has
consistently been kept out of all common manifestations after the coup attempt.
Jagland agrees to the purges
Secretary-General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland says during a
visit to Turkey that the governments of Europe have not fully understood the
challenges that Turkey has faced through the Gülenists infiltration. Unlike most
political leaders in the EU, he says he has a full understanding that the purges
are necessary but emphasizes that they must of course be implemented in
accordance with the principles of international law and human rights.
"West" is accused of supporting the coup maker
President Erdoğan says in his hitherto sharpest outrage against the outside
world that the coup attempt was made according to a "manuscript written abroad".
He does not hide that he is referring to the United States and other Western
35 PKK members reportedly killed
The army says it has killed 35 members of the PKK guerrillas since they tried
to storm a base in the southeastern province of Hakkari. Most people should have
been killed in a plane crash. On the same day, eight soldiers were killed when
the PKK attacked an army posting on a road in the same area. 25 soldiers are
reported to be wounded in fighting in the area.
67,000 have been purged so far
Almost two weeks after the coup attempt, according to the government, almost
16,000 people have been arrested after the coup attempt and more than 51,000
have been dismissed. The worst affected is the education sector, where almost
43,000 people have lost their jobs. In the Armed Forces, 149 generals and
admirals have been dismissed, as have over 1,500 other officers. Hundreds of
employees at all government departments have been laid off. In a joint
statement, the presidents of the EU's highest courts say that the mass judgments
of judges and prosecutors are a threat to the independence of the judiciary and
thus to respect for human rights and civil liberties. Amnesty International and
other human rights organizations raise alarms about widespread torture and
inhumane treatment of persons arrested for participation in the coup attempt.
After first canceling the broadcast licenses for 24 radio or TV channels
accused of being close to the Gülen movement and issuing arrest warrants for
nearly 100 journalists, orders for a total of 131 media organizations to be
closed, including 45 daily newspapers, 23 radio stations, 16 TV channels. three
news agencies and dozens of magazines and publishers. Among the closed
newspapers are Zaman, Today's Zaman and Taraf, who have been behind many
revelations about corruption within the state leadership. Most banned media are
not considered to be linked to the Gülen movement but appear to be closed solely
for criticizing the government.
More schools and foundations are closed
The number of schools closed after the coup attempt is reported to be over
1,000. In addition, the government decides to dissolve 1,229 voluntary
organizations and foundations suspected of having contacts with the Gülen
movement. Among them are 19 trade unions, 15 universities and 35 hospitals and
health clinics. The government decides that arrested persons can be held in
custody for up to 30 days before a prosecutor has to decide on possible charges.
Normally this must be done within four days.
State of emergency
The National Security Council decides to introduce a state of emergency,
which according to Erdoğan makes it possible to "quickly remove all elements of
the terrorist organization involved in the coup attempt". The authorities also
repeal the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights.
About 35,000 purged
Three days after the coup attempt, the government says that around 35,000
people in public service have been dismissed or suspended from their jobs. These
are military, police officers, judges and prosecutors, teachers and other
employees in the education system, and employees in the administration. More
than three million civil servants are prohibited from taking holidays this year.
Increased concern in the EU
A statement from Erdoğan on the reintroduction of the death penalty causes
both the European Commission and the German government to state that it would
lead to the country's membership negotiations with the EU being suspended. The
death penalty was abolished in 2004 as a remission for the EU to begin
Military coup attempt is turned down
Late on the evening of July 15, parts of the army begin an attempt to oust
the government and take power. Tanks shoot the parliament in Ankara and attack
helicopters attack the security services headquarters in the capital. A battle
plan drops bombs that strike when right next to the presidential palace. Both in
Ankara and Istanbul, soldiers take control of important hubs. Via the state-run
TV company TRT, the couplers announce that they have taken power and announced a
state of emergency and curfew. They accuse the government of eroding democracy
and secularismpolity. Over the course of the night, government-loyal soldiers
gain step-by-step control of the situation, while thousands of government
supporters take to the streets to show their support for the elected leaders.
Most coup soldiers surrender. President Erdoğan describes the uprising as a
"gift of God" that gives the government the opportunity to clear out disloyal
militants. He accuses the Gülen movement of being behind the revolt, which Gülen
immediately denies. During the coup attempt 232 people were reported killed and
1,541 injured. A wave of mass arrests begins immediately.
Terrorist attack on major airport
45 people are killed and more than 230 injured when three suicide bombers
attack the Atatürk cowshed in Istanbul, one of Europe's largest airports.
Authorities say the approach suggests that the attackers may have been part of
the terrorist movement IS. They are said to have been identified as citizens of
Russia, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan respectively. Over the following days, around
30 people are arrested for taking part in the attack. Most are described as
foreign sympathizers to IS.
Election Stops Party Congress
The electoral authority in a district of Ankara forbids members of the
Nationalist Party MHP to hold an additional party congress to dismiss leader
Devlet Bahçeli. Oppositionists within the party want to replace him with someone
they believe can attract more voters to the party and better resist the
government's attempts to get support from the MHP to push through a new
constitution with stronger presidential power.
Explosion attacks in tourist area
Seven police officers and four civilians are killed when a car bomb explodes
in central Istanbul, near several of the city's major tourist destinations. The
explosive charge detonates when a bus with riot police drives past the parked
car where the bomb was placed. One of Istanbul's most famous mosques is reported
to have been damaged in the explosion. For the time being, it is unclear who is
behind the attack, but after a few days the obscure Kurdish group TAK takes it
on and says that tourists should not feel safe anywhere in Turkey.
Diplomatic conflict with Germany
Turkey condemns a decision by the German Confederation to describe the mass
killings of Armenians and other Christian minorities in the Ottoman Empire
during the First World War as a genocide (see also April 2015). The government
calls home the Turkish ambassador from Berlin for "consultations". President
Erdoğan says that the decision of the Bundestag will "seriously affect"
relations between the countries. Shortly thereafter, death threats are targeted
at eleven German MPs of Turkish burden who voted in favor of the resolution.
Everyone receives police protection around the clock and is advised not to visit
Turkey. The death threat coincides with President Erdoğan accusing them of
supporting the PKK and demanding blood tests to determine their Turkish
The Gülen movement is officially terrorized
The government decides to formally stamp the terrorist movement led by
Fethullah Gülen. In practice, the state has long described and treated Gülen's
supporters as terrorists, but now the movement is legally placed at the same
level as the Kurdish PKK.
Yıldırım takes over as head of government
As expected, the ruling party AKP Binali Yıldırım elects new party leader at
an extra congress. He is the only candidate and immediately after the election
is commissioned to form a new government. He says his main task is to push
through a new constitution with strong presidential power. High sources within
the AKP admit that Turkey already has a "de facto" presidential system, even
though it is formally contrary to the current constitution. Most heavy ministers
from the previous government retain their missions. The biggest change is that
EU Minister Vulkan Bozkır, who participated in the refugee agreement with the
EU, is allowed to leave room for AKP spokesman Ömer Çelik.
Members of Parliament can be prosecuted and excluded
Parliament voted by a good margin to lift the Members' legal immunity. 376 of
the 550 members vote for a law that allows members who have committed crimes to
be prosecuted and deprived of their seats in Parliament. The law formally
applies to all criminal members without exception, but is considered specially
written to enable the government to bring members of the pro-Kurdish HDP to
justice for allegedly conspiring with the terrorist-stamped PKK. A total of 138
members from various parties have been designated as criminals. President
Erdoğan commemorates the vote as a historic event and signs the law a few weeks
later. HDP has been seen as the biggest obstacle for him to push through a new
constitution that is supposed to give him far-reaching powers.
Prison for Dündar and Gül
The two prominent journalists who have been cleared of espionage but who have
continued to be charged with revealing state secrets are sentenced to multi-year
imprisonment. Can Dündar, editor-in-chief at Cumhuriyet, receives 5 years and 10
months in prison, while the newspaper's Ankarachef Erdem Gül is sentenced to 5
years. Dündar and Gül, who were released on trial already in February, remain
free pending their appeal. In August, Dündar, who is then abroad, announces that
he does not intend to return home because he does not trust the judiciary.
The head of government resigns
Rumors of disagreement between President Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet
Davutoğlu reach their peak when it is announced that Davutoğlu will step down as
leader of the AKP at an additional party congress on May 22. Thus, Davutoğlu
will also leave the post of head of government. Davutoğlu, who has always been
unbelievably loyal to Erdoğan, says that it is not his choice to step down but
that it has become a necessity. He also makes it clear that he will never ever
criticize President Erdoğan. Davutoğlu intends to continue as an MP for the AKP
when he resigns as head of government.
Fists against legislative proposals
A giant fight erupts in Parliament when the Constitutional Committee meets to
discuss a government proposal aimed at depriving MPs of their prosecution
immunity. The proposal aims to make it possible to prosecute Kurdish
parliamentarians for consultation with the PKK. At the battle that is considered
the worst in Parliament's history, members of the AKP and the Kurdish party are
battling HDP with water bottles and fists. Some members sit on the table to kick
or jump on the opponents.
Two prominent columnists from the government-critical newspaper Cumhuriyet
are sentenced to two years in prison for illustrating their chronicles with a
satire drawing of the Prophet Muhammad previously published by the French
magazine Charlie Hebdo. Among other things, they had been charged with
"violating religious ideals".
Biggest legal case collapses
The Supreme Court of Appeal rejects the judgments against 275 people
convicted of coup attempts through the network called Ergenekon (see Modern
History). Among those released are a number of senior officers, journalists,
lawyers and academics. They were sentenced in 2013 to long prison terms, but
eventually a series of trial errors, questionable evidence and evidence of
political control of the process were revealed. The fall was seen as the
Islamist-based government's final victory in the power struggle against the
secular establishment that has dominated Turkey since the founding of the
Yet another trial of Hrant Dink
A trial is initiated against 34 people charged with connection to the murder
of Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink (see January 2007). Among the
defendants are the former and current chief of police intelligence, Istanbul's
former police chief and former chief of police intelligence department in
Istanbul. The defendants are accused of, among other things, participation in a
criminal network. Some of the accused have been accused of leaking information
about the corruption legacy that had branched into 2013 at the time of
then-Prime Minister Erdoğan's inner circle, leading to speculation that the
trial against them is now part of a political settlement. The Constitutional
Court ruled in 2014 that the murder had never been sufficiently investigated.
Mass arrests of gülenists
Hundreds of people are arrested in a large police raid, mainly in Istanbul,
against suspected supporters of the religious Gülen movement. They are accused
of helping to fund a "terrorist organization". About half of those arrested have
worked at Bank Asya, which had ties to the Gülen movement until it was taken
over by the state in 2015. At the beginning of the month, 68 suspected Gülenists
Criticism from the European Parliament
The European Parliament adopts a resolution criticizing the Turkish
government's "diminished respect for human rights and the rule of law". Turkey's
Union Minister Volkan Bozkır dismisses the resolution as "worthless" because it
also includes a reference to the "genocide" of Armenians in 1915. President
Erdoğan has recently said that the EU should not try to teach Turkey democracy.
Hard fighting in the southeast
About 30 people, both designated PKK members and soldiers, are killed
according to military sources during a couple of days of fighting in the
southeast. According to President Erdoğan, security forces have killed 5,300
armed Kurds since the ceasefire was broken in July 2015.
Suicide bomb in Istanbul
Four people are killed and 36 injured in a suicide attack near the most
popular pedestrian street in central Istanbul. Three of the victims are Israeli
tourists, two of whom also have US citizenship, and the fourth are Iranians.
Twelve of the injured are also foreign nationals. Authorities say they identify
the perpetrator as a Turkish member of the Islamic State (IS).
Refugee settlement with the EU
Turkey and the EU conclude an agreement for all refugees and migrants
arriving in Greece as of March 20 to be returned to Turkey. For every Syrian
refugee who is sent back, a Syrian who is already in Turkey will be given a new
residence in an EU country within Schengen area. The idea is that the
possibility of coming directly to an EU country should cause Syrians to refrain
from the dangerous boat trips across the Aegean Sea. The settlement is described
as temporary and a maximum of 72,000 refugees are allowed to come to the EU. The
return will be done with the help of the UNHCR and funded by the EU. Turkey is
guaranteed € 3 billion to take care of the refugees with a chance of another 3
billion until the end of 2018. Turkey guarantees that all refugees who are
returned there will be treated according to international law and not returned
to their home countries. The settlement does not include the nearly 60,000
refugees already in Greece without being able to move further north. The EU is
not going to meet Turkey on all counts. Freedom of visa to the EU for Turkish
citizens can only be granted if Turkey meets 72 specific requirements and
negotiations on EU membership should only be initiated for a single new
"chapter", on budgetary issues. Cyprus refuses to approve a Turkish approach to
the Union as long as Turkey does not recognize the Greek Cypriot government and
enters Cypriot vessels into Turkish ports. How the distribution of refugees
within the EU is to be implemented is not stated in the agreement. Of the
160,000 refugees in Greece and Italy that the EU has already promised to take
care of, not even 1,000 have been received in other countries. Cyprus refuses to
approve a Turkish approach to the Union as long as Turkey does not recognize the
Greek Cypriot government and enters Cypriot vessels into Turkish ports. How the
distribution of refugees within the EU is to be implemented is not stated in the
agreement. Of the 160,000 refugees in Greece and Italy that the EU has already
promised to take care of, not even 1,000 have been received in other countries.
Cyprus refuses to approve a Turkish approach to the Union as long as Turkey does
not recognize the Greek Cypriot government and enters Cypriot vessels into
Turkish ports. How the distribution of refugees within the EU is to be
implemented is not stated in the agreement. Of the 160,000 refugees in Greece
and Italy that the EU has already promised to take care of, not even 1,000 have
been received in other countries.
New suicide attack in Ankara
the 13th of March
At least 37 people are killed and 120 injured when one or two suicide bombers
detonate a car filled with explosives near a bus stop in central Ankara. Shortly
after the attack, which is the third serious killing in Ankara in five months,
Turkish air strikes the PKK's positions in northern Iraq. After a few days, TAK
takes on the attack, just as the group did after the previous terrorist attack
in Ankara on February 17. TAK also speaks this time about revenge for the
Turkish army's attacks in the southeast.
The largest newspaper is confiscated
4th of March
A court orders that the media group Feza be placed under forced management.
Feza owns the country's largest newspaper Zaman, with a daily edition of over
600,000 copies, the English-language edition Today's Zaman and the news agency
Cihan. The group is close to the religious Gülen movement and has constituted
one of the few remaining government-critical media in Turkey. The court does not
justify the takeover, which means that all managers are dismissed and that the
state appoints new management. Police take control of the editorial offices
after driving away hundreds of protesters with tear gas and water cannons. The
state takeover is heavily criticized by the Turkish opposition, international
media organizations and Western governments.
Terrorist attacks are blamed on Kurds
At least 28 people are killed and over 60 injured when a suicide bomber
detonates an explosive charge next to buses with military personnel near the
Ankara parliament. The government blames the attack on the Syrian Kurdish
militia YPG in cooperation with the PKK and promises to mercilessly strike back.
YPG denies involvement in the attack, but Turkish aircraft attack PKK bases in
northern Iraq in response to terrorist attacks. The day after the attack in
Ankara, six Turkish soldiers are killed in an explosive attack in the
southeastern part of the country. An organization called the Kurdistan Liberty
Falcons (TAK) takes on the attack in revenge for the army's attacks in the
southeast, but the government dismisses the task.
Dismissal from the Constitutional Commission
The largest opposition party CHP leaves the commission to draft a new
constitution. The Nationalist MHP says that unless the CHP is involved, it will
also jump off. The reason for the drop-off is the AKP government's attempt to
strengthen the power of the presidential office, which is a heart issue for
Erdoğan. Previous attempts to rewrite the constitution have fallen on the same
Syrian Kurds are being shot
Despite protests from both the country's western allies and Russia, Turkish
artillery is firing the Syrian Kurdish guerrilla YPG to prevent it from
occupying the city of Azaz at the Turkish border. The Turkish government fears
that the YPG will strengthen its grip on the region and in practice establish an
autonomous area. The shooting is ongoing for several days. The government is
"shocked" by statements in Washington describing Turkey and the YPG as allies at
the same level.
The UN requires an investigation into MR crimes
The UN calls on Turkey to investigate whether soldiers in the
Kurdish-dominated part of the country have shot dead unarmed civilians. A movie
posted on the internet seems to show how soldiers in the town of Cizre open fire
on a group of civilians pulling a cart loaded with corpses while holding up
white flags. In a report from Human Rights WatchRecently, harsh criticism has
been directed at the rapidly diminishing respect for human rights in Turkey. The
organization reports in a report that the president and the government are
trying to remove all the forces in society that can balance their power.
According to HRW's spokesperson, the collapse of the peace process with the
Kurds, the blow to the media and the lack of an independent judiciary makes the
future look dark for Turkey. HRW also criticizes the EU for ignoring the serious
human rights situation in Turkey in the hope of helping to curb the flow of
refugees to Europe.
The president sues the opposition leader
President Erdoğan sues opposition leader Kılıçdaroğlu for slander, since he
called the president a "pitiful dictator". In 2015, the president sued the
opposition leader after he was offended by Kılıçdaroğlu saying that the new
presidential palace had "gold toilet seats".
Kurdish politicians arrested
Among those arrested in south-east Turkey during the PKK strike, there are 18
elected mayors and almost 50 members of the HDP council. The mayor of the big
city Van is sentenced to 15 years in prison for membership in the PKK.
Terrorist act of PKK
In the city of Çınar in the southeast, six people, including three children,
are killed when a truck loaded with explosives is detonated at a police station.
PKK is suspected of the attack. President Erdoğan says that the fight against
PKK should now be stepped up. A few days later, however, Prime Minister
Davutoğlu says the military efforts are "nearing the end".
Academics protest against the violence of the army
Over 1,200 academics at 90 Turkish universities are appealing to the
government to interrupt the armed raids against suspected PKK members in the
country's southeastern provinces and to resume the peace process. A criminal
investigation is immediately launched against the signatories of the open
letter, which has also been supported by dozens of foreign intellectuals. In a
dawn raid against the University of Kocaeli, east of Istanbul, 14 people are
arrested and another seven arrested. A number of university employees in other
cities are threatened with dismissal. The EU condemns the arrests as "extremely
worrying". More than 600 journalists support a call for support from the
criticized academics. President Erdoğan threatens academics with paying a high
price for "falling into the trap of treason".
Terrorist attack in downtown Istanbul
Ten German tourists are killed in what is believed to be a suicide attack in
the Sultanahmet tourist area in Istanbul. Many Germans are also injured. The
suspicions are directed at the Islamic State (IS). The government says the
perpetrator has been identified as a person who has recently come to Syria from
Syria. The days after the attack, at least seven people with suspected
connections to the act are arrested. Turkish ground forces are also attacking IS
positions in Syria and Iraq, near the Turkish border.