Turkey in 2017: events and developments
Baku, Azerbaijan, Jan. 2
By Rufiz Hafizoglu – Trend:
Turkey is one of the countries of the region that play an active role in global and regional politics. One can say that the year 2017 was one of the most dynamic in the political history of the country.
What were the most memorable events of 2017 for Turkey?
Armed attack in nightclub in Istanbul
An armed attack took place on Jan. 1 at the Reina nightclub in Istanbul last year. Thirty-nine people were killed, 69 were injured as a result of the terrorist attack.
On Jan. 17, Istanbul police detained Uzbekistan native Abdulgadir Masharipov, known as Abu Muhammad Khorasani, who committed the terrorist attack.
Appeal of Turkish political parties to parliament to amend constitution
On Jan. 10, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) appealed to the Turkish parliament on amending the country’s constitution. The amendments provided for Turkey’s transition from a parliamentary form of government to a presidential one.
Boeing 747-400 cargo plane crash
Turkish cargo plane Boeing 747-400, on a flight from Hong-Kong, crashed near Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan Jan. 16 morning. The plane crashed several kilometers from the Manas airport.
Thirty-seven people were killed in the plane crash.
Mass dismissals of officials
On Feb. 8, a total of 4,464 people were dismissed within the fight against the movement of Fethullah Gulen, who was involved in the military coup attempt of July 15, 2016. Operations against the supporters of Fethullah Gulen are underway in Turkey.
Political scandal between the Netherlands and Turkey
On March 11, The Dutch authorities didn’t allow Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Turkish Minister of Family and Social Policies Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya to enter the Netherlands to participate in a meeting with the local Turkish community ahead of the April 16 referendum on constitutional reforms in Turkey.
Referendum to amend Turkey’s Constitution
On April 16, a referendum was held to amend Turkey’s Constitution. As many as 51.33 percent of voters cast their ballots in favor of the amendments to the constitution, 84 percent of voters participated in the voting. According to the amendments, the number of seats in the Turkish Parliament will increase from 550 to 600.
The amendments also suggest allowing Turkish citizens to run for the MP seats from the age of 18 (previously, the lowest age limit was 25), and holding parliamentary elections every 5 years (previously, the parliamentary election was held every 4 years).
Under the amendments, a Turkish citizen, no younger than 40, is allowed to run for president.
Furthermore, the amendments stipulate that the Turkish president heads the government and is granted the power to appoint ministers or replace them. Also, presidential hopefuls aren’t required to be non-party nominees any more.
Turkish president joins Justice and Development Party
On May 2, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan joined the Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Binali Yildirim, head of the party, proposed Erdogan's candidacy for the post of the party leader at the ceremony held for this occasion.
Mass demonstrations of opposition in protest against arrest of MP
On June 14, in a protest against the arrest of an MP from the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the party, and his supporters started a march from Ankara to Istanbul. The protest demonstration lasted 25 days.
New cabinet formed in Turkey
On July 19, Prime Minister of Turkey Binali Yildirim announced the composition of the new Cabinet.
Defense Minister Fikri Isik was appointed as deputy prime minister. Osman Askin Bak was appointed as Turkey’s minister of youth and sports, and Abdulhamit Gul was appointed the justice minister.
Turkish Deputy PM Numan Kurtulmus was appointed as minister of culture and tourism. Deputy PM Nurettin Canikli was appointed the minister of defense of Turkey.
Tender for construction of wind turbines
In August, Germany’s Siemens AG won a tender for construction of 10 wind turbines in Turkey.
The wind turbines are planned to be built in five provinces of Turkey, including its capital Ankara.
According to the tender terms, the construction should be completed within 21 months.
Moscow-Ankara agreement on Russian S-400 air defense systems
In September, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey signed an agreement with Russia to buy the S-400 Triumph air defense systems. Thus, Turkey became the first NATO country to use Russian-made air defense systems.
On Dec. 29, Turkey signed a loan agreement with Russia to purchase the S-400 Triumph air defense systems. The total purchase price was $2.5 billion and the first supplies are scheduled for late 2019-early 2020.
Turkey increasing military bases
In late September, Turkey deployed its military base in Somalia, where 200 Turkish servicemen will serve. As much as $50 million was spent on the construction of the military base. This is Turkey’s second military base outside the country.
Previously, Turkey adopted a law ratifying an agreement with Doha on deployment of Turkish military contingent in Qatar. On June 9, the military agreement between Qatar and Turkey came into force. The document was signed in Ankara on November 10, 2016.
Visa crisis between US and Turkey
On Oct. 8, the US suspended issuance of visas to Turkish citizens due to the arrest of an employee of the US Consulate General in Istanbul. Turkey also suspended the issuance of visas to US citizens.
Turkish authorities, commenting on the arrest of the Consulate General’s employee, noted that he had links with the movement of Fethullah Gulen.
The crisis in relations between the US and Turkey was resolved on Dec. 29, 2017, and the parties resumed issuing visas.
New opposition party created in Turkey
On Oct. 25, an opposition party led by Meral Aksener was created in Turkey. The new opposition party is called Iyi Parti (Good Party).
The motto of the newly created party is “Turkey will become better.”
Aksener, who claimed to become chairperson of Turkey’s Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), was expelled from the party Sept. 8.
D-8 should expand, says President Erdogan
On Oct. 20, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressing the D-8 summit said the composition of the D-8 Organization for Economic Cooperation (aka Developing 8) should expand.
Erdogan noted that economic and political ties between the D-8 member countries should also expand.
The Turkish president also said the D-8 member countries should use national currencies in trade.
Domestic car production
On Nov. 2, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the names of companies that will take part in manufacturing of domestic cars.
Anadolu Grubu, BMC, Kiraca Holding, Turkcell and Zorlu Holding are among them.
Erdogan said that starting from 2021, Turkey will start exporting domestically made cars to neighboring countries.
OIC emergency summit on Jerusalem in Istanbul
On Dec. 6, US President Donald Trump proclaimed that the US recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
On Dec. 13, East Jerusalem was declared the capital of Palestine in a resolution adopted following the OIC emergency summit in Istanbul. The OIC also urged all countries to condemn the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
After this, Turkey provided Palestine with a grant worth $10 million for economic development. Turkey will also build an industrial zone in Palestine.
Turkish president’s historic visit to Greece
On Dec. 7, the first visit of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Greece took place. The previous visit to Athens by Turkish President Celal Bayar took place in 1952.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, before his visit to Greece, proposed to amend the Lausanne Peace Treaty of 1923.
“Making changes to the Lausanne Treaty will benefit not only Turkey, but also Greece. Turkey is ready to discuss the details of the Lausanne Treaty with Greece if it agrees to make such changes,” Erdogan said.
Erdogan’s visit to Greece will be remembered not only because it is the first visit to the country at the level of the president of Turkey over the past 65 years, but also by Erdogan’s political polemics with President of Greece Prokopis Pavlopoulos.
Rufiz Hafizoglu is the head of Trend Agency's Arabic news service, follow him on Twitter: @rhafizoglu