Main events in Turkey in March 2018
Baku, Azerbaijan, March 31
By Rufiz Hafizoglu – Trend:
March 2018 can be assessed as the victorious month for Turkey, as the Turkish Armed Forces liberal administrative center of Syria's Afrin district within the Operation Olive Branch in this month.
The month is also remembered with other important political and economic events in Turkey.
What important events happened in March 2018 in Turkey?
The Turkish Armed Forces completely liberated administrative center of Afrin
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that the Turkish Armed Forces and the Free Syrian Army had liberated the administrative center of the Syrian Afrin district from the PYD and YPG terrorists. After the liberation of the administrative center, Turkey sent humanitarian aid to Afrin, and announced beginning of the restoration of the city's infrastructure.
After establishing full control over Afrim, Erdogan said that the Turkish Armed Forces could enter Sinjar in northern Iraq to fight the PKK.
"If the Iraqi government delays the fight against the PKK, Turkey’s Armed Forces will solve this problem rapidly," Erdogan said.
The General Staff of Turkey revealed number of deaths during the Operation Olive Branch
The Operation Olive Branch in the Syrian district of Afrin can be considered one of the most successful operations of the Turkish Armed Forces. Furthermore, there was not recorded any case of violence or cruelty by the Turkish Armed Forces, not only against civilians, but also against militants caught in captivity.
As part of the Operation Olive Branch, 51 Turkish servicemen were killed and 255 servicemen men were injured. As part of the operation, about 4,000 terrorists were killed.
Turkey's defense industry increases exports
In early March, the Turkish Defense Industry Undersecretary (SSM) said that the country's defense industry exports increased by 16.6 percent compared to the same period in 2017, amounting to $ 258.9 million in January-February 2018.
During this period, Turkey's defense products for $10.5 million were exported to Great Britain, $9.4 million - India, $8.2 million - China, $7.9 million - Qatar, $6.4 million - Italy and to Azerbaijan - $5.2 million.
The rest of the exported defense products - worth $ 191 million - accounted for other countries. In recent years, Turkey has invested about $ 35 billion in the defense industry sector.
Security measures strengthened in Ankara
Ankara police have strengthened security measures in the Turkish capital. The move came following the statement by the US Embassy in Ankara that it will suspend its work on March 5 for security reasons.
Security measures have also been strengthened in places of the Turkish capital where US citizens live. Following this, raids were conducted in several provinces of Turkey, as well as in Ankara. About 40 people were detained, including citizens of Iraq and Syria, during the raids.
Turkish Airlines (THY) plans to increase number of local pilots
Turkish Airlines (THY) intends to increase the number of local pilots in the company, THY CEO Bilal Eksi told Turkish media. He noted that a training center, where 250 people study, was established for this purpose in the western Aydin province of Turkey in 2016.
Currently, about 800 foreign pilots work at THY. It is expected that the training centers in Turkey will annually train about 400 local pilots with an annual THY requirement of 500 people.
Turkish Airlines aims to ensure that until 2023 all its pilots are locals. In 2017, the number of Turkish pilots working in the company hit 2,611 people.
Turkey detains 2 Greek servicemen – tensions between Athens, Ankara grow
On March 2, two Greek servicemen were detained in Turkey. The incident occurred in the forest area around the Evros River, along which the border between the two countries runs.
The General Staff of Greek Armed Forces said that there was one junior officer among the Greek servicemen detained by Turkish border guards.
Commenting on the incident, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said that Ankara will not extradite two Greek servicemen who illegally crossed the Turkish border.
On March 7, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hami Aksoy sharply criticized Greek President Prokopios Pavlopoulos and urged him to respect the territorial integrity of Turkey.
This statement was made in response to statements by President Pavlopoulos that Greece must return its historical lands.
Plane belonging to Turkey’s Basaran Holding crashes
A private Turkish plane traveling from Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates to Istanbul disappeared from the radar at 17:40 on March 11. Eight passengers and three crew members were on board the plane belonging to Turkish firm Basaran Holding. The aircraft crashed in a mountainous area in western Iran and caught fire after the crash. Later, a representative of the Emergency Situations Office of Iran reported about the death of all passengers and crew.
Turkey sent a commission to Iran to investigate causes of the crash.
Canakkale-1915 bridge in Turkey to open earlier than scheduled
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has changed the date of commissioning of the Canakkale-1915 suspension bridge, which was scheduled for 2023. He said that the bridge will be opened March 18, 2022.
Erdogan noted that the bridge is being built at an accelerated pace.
The construction of the Canakkale-1915 suspension bridge, which will become the longest suspension bridge in the world, was launched in March 2017.
The bridge will not only connect the Gelibolu peninsula with the Lapseki area, but will also shorten the transportation of goods from Europe to the Aegean and Western Mediterranean regions of Turkey, bypassing Istanbul.
Turkey sends second protest note to Germany
Turkey sent Germany a second diplomatic note over the recent upsurge of attacks targeting Turkish mosques and cultural associations. The first protest note was sent March 12.
Turkey tests ballistic missiles
Turkey has successful tested the first domestically developed ballistic missiles.
The missiles were jointly developed by Turkey’s Scientific and Technological Research Council and the country’s Defense Industries Research And Development Institute.
For the first time they were presented at the IDEF 2017 13th International Defence Industry Fair in Istanbul.
Skripal case not in Turkey’s interests
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag clarified the Skripal case and noted that Turkey doesn’t intend to take any measures against Russia in connection with this incident.
“The crisis concerns relations between Russia and the UK, and they must resolve this issue between themselves,” the deputy prime minister said.
Turkish PM talks on EU future
Internal problems of the EU threaten its existence, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said.
Yildirim noted that the EU, as before, applies double standards regarding Turkey.
“Despite the contradictory steps of the EU towards Turkey, Ankara is a supporter of the development of relations with this structure,” Yildirim said.
An association agreement between the EU and Turkey was signed in 1963. Ankara filed an application for membership in the EU in 1987, but accession negotiations were launched in 2005.
Turkey expects over 30M tourists in 2018, simplifies system for registration of companies
Turkey expects the number of tourists visiting the country to be over 30 million in 2018, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said. Yildirim said that the tourism sector will be profitable in Turkey in 2018.
He added that Turkey will also simplify the registration system of companies.
According to the Turkish Institute of Statistics (TUİK), Turkey's revenues from the tourism sector grew by 18.9 percent in 2017 compared to 2016, and amounted to $26.283 billion.
By late 2017, 32.4 million tourists visited Turkey, which is by 27.84 percent more than in 2016.
In 2017, 58,422 companies with foreign capital were registered in Turkey.
In 2017, the number of registered German companies was 428, Syrian - 256, Iranian - 231 and Russian - 146, and the number of foreign companies registered in Turkey grew 14.38 percent compared to 2016.
Rufiz Hafizoglu, expert on Turkey, head of Middle East Desk at Trend News Agency. Follow him on Twitter:@rhafizoglu