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.
- COUNTRYAAH: 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 (BTC).
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 earthquake-hit countries.
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 attack.
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 basic requirements.
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 commission says.
“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 areas.
“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 Mediterranean.
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 in July.
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 while.
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 countries.
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 membership negotiations.
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 identity.
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 republic.
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 were arrested.
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 issue.
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.