April - month of political surprises in Turkey
Baku, Azerbaijan, April 30
By Rufiz Hafizoglu - Trend:
April 2018 can be considered one of the most intense months in the political life of Turkey. In particular, this month Turkey laid the foundation for the Akkuyu nuclear power plant, and it was decided to hold early presidential and parliamentary election in the country. April in Turkey can also be called a month of political surprises.
What important events took place in April 2018 in Turkey?
Akkuyu nuclear power plant - the dream becomes reality
In early April, the Turkish province of Mersin hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for laying foundation of Turkey's first nuclear power plant "Akkuyu", which was attended by the Presidents of Turkey and Russia - Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin. Turkish Minister of energy and natural resources Berat Albayrak called the Akkuyu nuclear power plant a 60-year dream of Turkey.
Prior to Vladimir Putin's visit to Ankara, the Turkish Atomic Energy Agency issued a license for the construction of the first unit of nuclear power plant "Akkuyu". The agreement on the construction of Akkuyu NPP was signed on May 12, 2010 in Ankara between the Russian and Turkish governments, and on December 13 of the same year Akkuyu Nuclear JSC was registered. The Akkuyu NPP project involves the construction of four power units with Russian WWER-1200 reactor plants of 3+ generation that meet the highest post-Fukushima safety standards. The capacity of each unit will be 1200 MW. The cost of the project is estimated at $20 billion.
Akkuyu is the world's first NPP project implemented under the BOO model (build-own-operate). In accordance with this formula, Russia will have the right to use the station's facilities. In 1955, Turkey signed an agreement with the United States on the peaceful use of the atom. At the end of 1965, Turkey began research in connection with the construction of the nuclear power plant, and in 1981 an agreement on cooperation with the IAEA was signed.
Turkey takes the tomb of Shah Suleyman to its former place in Syria
Ex-Minister, the current Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey Fikri Ishik said that the tomb of Shah Suleyman in Syria, which for security purposes was transferred by the Turkish army on February 22, 2015, will be returned to its place.
Previously, the tomb was moved from the Northern part of Syria because of the danger of its destruction by terrorists of "Islamic State" (IG), on the Turkish-Syrian border in the village of Eshme. According to the International Treaty of 1921, the burial place of the founder of the Ottoman Empire on the banks of the Euphrates is a Turkish enclave.
The grave of Suleyman Shah in the Syrian district of Kobani was protected by about 40-member guard of honor of the Turkish army.
Date of receipt of the Russian SAM S-400 revealed: Turkey interested in Russian weapons
Unable to purchase the US anti-aircraft missile system (SAM) "Patriot", Turkey was forced to turn to Moscow for the purchase of the Russian SAM S-400. In December last year, Russian and Turkish representatives signed a loan agreement for the supply of S-400 air defense systems in Ankara. According to the statement of the Secretariat of the Turkish defense industry, Ankara intends to purchase two batteries of this complex, which will be serviced by the Turkish side.
At the beginning of April this year, Ismail Demir, Director General of the Secretariat of the defense industry (SSM) of Turkey, said that Turkey will receive the S-400 in July 2019. In April of this year, the Russian side announced that it had started production of the S-400 SAM under the Turkish contract.
Having achieved success in the implementation of the contract on anti-aircraft missile systems, Ankara began negotiations on the acquisition of Russia's anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM) "Cornet", and the parties are also exploring the possibility of cooperation on reinforcement of armor plating of Turkish tanks.
Turkey, Iran and Russia seek to resolve Syrian crisis
The trilateral summit of the presidents of Turkey, Russia and Iran - Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Vladimir Putin and Hassan Rouhani - started in Ankara on April 4 this year. During the summit, the leaders of the three countries once again expressed readiness to resolve the Syrian crisis within the framework of international law and the territorial integrity of the country. All the leaders issued a statement saying that the preservation of the territorial integrity of Syria is one of the main priorities. In turn, during the summit, President Erdogan proposed to Russia to create field hospitals in Syria.
Ankara hopes for record figures in tourism sector
The president of Turkey noted that the country has great tourism potential and makes every effort to consistently increase the number of tourists. In particular, 5.1 million tourists visited Turkey in the first quarter of this year.
"It is expected that in 2018, 36 million tourists will visit Turkey. It is necessary to pay special attention to the development of tourism and recreational infrastructure in the provinces bordering Iran, which are often visited by Iranian tourists," the head of state said.
Turkish armed forces will not leave Afrin
The liberation of the Syrian Afrin district from the PYD and YPG terrorists can be considered an indicator of Turkey's determination in the fight against terrorism. However, unfortunately, the victory of the Turkish armed forces over the terrorists is evaluated ambiguously in the West. During the operations, the Western countries demanded the withdrawal of Turkish troops from Afrin. Commenting on the statement of Western politicians and political organizations, the minister of national defense of Turkey said that as long as there is a threat of terrorism in Syria, the Turkish armed forces will not leave Afrin. After that, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that Turkey still faces a terrorist threat from Syria.
Turkey supported air operation in Syria
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) of the United States General Joseph Dunford said April 13 that at 21:00 by the Eastern coast time, the armed forces of the US, the UK and France attacked targets in Syria in order to prevent the further use of chemical weapons.
"Our forces were integrated at the stage of planning and implementation of the operation. The targets, on which the strikes were staged, are directly linked to the chemical programs of the Syrian regime. We have also chosen targets so that to minimize the risk to civilians. The first goal is a research center in the Damascus area. This Syrian facility was the center for the development, research and production of chemical and biological technologies. The second goal was a facility for chemical storage to the west of Homs," - said the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
After that, the Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that Ankara welcomes the air operation in Syria. The report noted that the attack on chemical facilities in Syria is a response to chemical attacks in the Syrian Douma against the civilian population.
The Central Bank of Turkey withdraws its gold reserves from the US
The Central Bank of Turkey transferred to Turkey its gold reserves, previously stored in the US Federal Reserve System.
The total amount of gold reserves held by the Central Bank of Turkey in the United States was 220 tons. The media reports, currently other Turkish banks - Ziraat Bank and Vakıfbank also started work on the transfer of gold reserves in the amount of 95 tons from the United States to Turkey.
Turkey also plans to increase the country's gold reserves through the sale of old cars. To this end, local municipalities will sell abandoned or confiscated cars, and the proceeds from the sale of these cars will be placed in state banks, and later sold for gold.
Turkey to hold early parliamentary and presidential election
The leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Devlet Bahceli put forward an initiative of holding early parliamentary and presidential election in Turkey on April 17. Bahceli proposed to hold early elections on August 26 this year. The next day, President Erdogan, following a meeting with Bahceli, said that early parliamentary election is necessary for Turkey, and it will be held on June 24 this year. This statement by Erdogan was a surprise to Turkey's political parties.
Erdogan also said that the early election in Turkey is a cautionary step against the forces that intend to destabilize the country.
In turn, the Turkish parliament on April 20 approved a new date for early election. Some 386 deputies out of 537 voted for the early parliamentary and presidential election, and the election will be held on June 24.
On April 26, the Turkish Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) announced the number of political parties that will participate in the parliamentary and presidential election.
Turkey and Azerbaijan have increasingly strengthened relationship
On April 25, the official welcoming ceremony of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev took place at the Palace of the Turkish head of state – Külliyye. During a joint press statement with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, President Erdogan said in Ankara that Turkey will continue to support Azerbaijan in the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Erdogan noted, the issue of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict is a national issue for Turkey. The Turkish president also noted that relations between Ankara and Baku are developing in all directions.
Commenting on President Ilham Aliyev's visit to Ankara, the Turkish presidential administration told Trend that Azerbaijan has been and remains Turkey's most reliable strategic partner.
"Turkey and Azerbaijan were able to direct all their potential to the development of the region," the Turkish president's administration stated.
Rufiz Hafizoglu, Deputy editor-in-chief of Trend
Follow the author on Twitter: @rhafizoglu