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Archive for the ‘Ottoman Land of Anatolia’ Category

Ukraine’s president meets Ecumenical Patriarch in Istanbul

November 03, 2018

ISTANBUL (AP) — Ukraine’s president has met the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, as some Ukrainian clerics prepare to break ties with the Russian Orthodox Church. President Petro Poroshenko and Patriarch Bartholomew I spoke in Istanbul on Saturday, weeks after the patriarchate’s Oct. 11 decision to recognize the independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Russia in turn broke off ties with the Constantinople Patriarchate.

Poroshenko thanked the patriarch, who is the “first among equals” in the Orthodox world, for supporting the Ukrainian church’s independence. The Ukrainian church had been under the Russian Orthodox Church since 1686. Ukrainian clerics are now being forced to pick sides, to join the independent Ukraine Orthodox church or remain within Russian influence, as the fighting persists in eastern Ukraine between government forces and Russia-backed rebels.

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Turkish court convicts US pastor of terror yet frees him

October 12, 2018

ALIAGA, Turkey (AP) — A Turkish court on Friday convicted an American pastor on terror charges but released him from house arrest and allowed him to leave the country, a move that’s likely to ease tensions between Turkey and the United States.

The court near the western city of Izmir sentenced Andrew Brunson to 3 years, 1 month and 15 days in prison for allegedly helping terror groups. But since the evangelical pastor had already spent nearly two years in detention, Turkish law allowed him to remain free with time served.

The earlier charge of espionage against him was dropped. Brunson, a native of North Carolina whose detention had sparked a diplomatic dispute between the two NATO allies, had rejected the espionage and terror-related charges and strongly maintained his innocence.

The 50-year-old native of North Carolina had faced up to 35 years in jail if convicted of all the charges. With tears in his eyes, he hugged his wife Norine Lyn as he awaited the decision Friday. Lawyer Ismail Cem Halavurt said Brunson was expected to leave Turkey for the U.S., but it was not clear when. His lawyer said the electronic ankle bracelet for monitoring was removed. Brunson was seen going back to his home in Izmir from the court.

President Donald J. Trump tweeted he was praying for Brunson and announced his release, saying “WILL BE HOME SOON!” Washington had repeatedly called for Brunson’s release and in August had slapped sanctions on Turkey.

But a top Turkish official criticized Trump’s tweet and American pressures for the pastor’s release. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s communications director Fahrettin Altun repeated the president’s message that Turkey would not bow to threats of sanctions and said the court’s ruling proved the judiciary’s independence.

Brunson, who has lived in Turkey for more than two decades, was one of thousands caught up in a widespread government crackdown that followed a failed coup against the Turkish government in July 2016.

He was accused of committing crimes on behalf of terror groups and of alleged links to outlawed Kurdish militants and a network led by a U.S.-based Turkish cleric who is accused of orchestrating the coup attempt.

“I am an innocent man. I love Jesus. I love Turkey,” Brunson told the court Friday, speaking in Turkish. Earlier, the court called two witnesses following tips from witness Levent Kalkan, who at a previous hearing had accused Brunson of aiding terror groups. The new witnesses did not confirm Kalkan’s accusations. Another witness for the prosecution said she did not know Brunson.

The pastor, who is originally from Black Mountain, North Carolina, led a small congregation in the Izmir Resurrection Church. He was imprisoned for nearly two years – detained in October 2016 and formally arrested in December that year – before being placed under house arrest on July 25 for health reasons.

Tony Perkins, the commissioner for the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, said he welcomed the court’s decision Friday along with “the millions of Americans who have been praying for Pastor Brunson’s release.”

Washington imposed sanctions on two Turkish officials and doubled tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum imports in August. Those moves, coupled with concerns over the government’s economic management, helped trigger a Turkish currency crisis.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had resisted U.S. demands for Brunson’s release, insisting that Turkish courts are independent. But he had previously suggested a possible swap of Brunson for the Pennsylvania resident Fethullah Gulen – the cleric that Erdogan has accused of being behind the coup attempt.

Gulen has denied the claim. Turkey has demanded his extradition but so far U.S. officials say Turkey has not provided sufficient reason for U.S. officials to extradite the cleric, a former ally of Erdogan who had a falling out with the powerful leader.

Brunson’s trial came as another major diplomatic case is developing in Turkey involving Saudi writer and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi, who disappeared at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week. Turkish officials claim the writer may have been killed inside the Saudi diplomatic mission and Turkish newspapers have released pictures of alleged Saudi agents flown in to allegedly handle the killing. Saudi officials reject the claim as “baseless.”

Associated Press journalists Mehmet Guzel contributed from Aliaga and Suzan Fraser from Ankara, Turkey.

German economy minister visits Turkey to expand trade ties

October 25, 2018

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Germany’s economy minister started a two-day visit to Turkey on Thursday, bringing with him a 30-person business delegation in a bid to boost trade ties between the two countries.

Germany is a top trading partner for Turkey. The visit comes as the NATO allies are trying to mend ties after clashing over numerous issues in recent years, including Turkey’s jailing of German journalists. Last year, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused German officials of acting like Nazis after Turkish politicians were barred from holding election campaign rallies in Germany.

The visit by German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier also comes months after Turkey faced financial turmoil with a slump of the Turkish currency.  “Germany has an interest in a stable and dynamic economic relationship with Turkey,” Altmaier said ahead of the trip.

Altmaier and Turkish Trade Minister Ruhsar Peskan will convene for the first time the Joint Economic and Trade Commission, which seeks to improve trade, industry, tourism and infrastructure projects between the two countries.

Altmaier on Friday is opening the second session of the German-Turkish Energy Forum with Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez.

Turkey says ‘Nazi remnant’ dispute with Dutch has ended

October 03, 2018

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey’s foreign minister says the country is working with the Netherlands to end diplomatic tensions and that the days when Ankara described Dutch policies as “Nazi remnants” are behind them.

Turkey and the Netherlands reinstated ambassadors last month following a dispute triggered by a Dutch decision to bar Turkish officials from campaigning on Dutch soil for a 2017 referendum on increasing the powers of the president. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan used the term “Nazi remnants” to criticize the Netherlands.

Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said at a joint news conference on Wednesday with Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu: “Today is a positive day in relations.” Cavusoglu insisted that Turkey never accused the Dutch people of being “Nazis.”

He added: “As we agreed, we left those days behind.”

Turkey will open Paraguay embassy after its policy shift on Jerusalem

Friday 7 September 2018

Turkey will open an embassy in the Paraguayan capital Asuncion, the South American country said on Thursday, a day after President Mario Abdo reversed the previous administration’s decision to move its diplomatic mission in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

Turkey’s ambassador to Paraguay has been operating out of Buenos Aires. Turkey has a consulate in Asuncion and another in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay.

By opening the embassy, Turkey is expressing support for Paraguay’s stance on Israel, Paraguay’s Foreign Minister Luis Castiglioni told reporters.

Paraguay and Guatemala relocated their embassies in Israel to Jerusalem after US President Donald Trump recognized the city as the country’s capital in December, in a move denounced by most of the international community.

In a phone call on Wednesday, US Vice President Mike Pence urged Abdo to stick to his predecessor’s decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem, the White House said in a statement.

“The vice president strongly encouraged President Abdo Benitez to follow through with Paraguay’s previous commitment to move the embassy as a sign of the historic relationship the country has maintained with both Israel and the United States,” the statement said.

Hours after Paraguay’s new government announced it would move its embassy back to Tel Aviv from Jerusalem, Israel responded by ordering the closure of its embassy in Paraguay.

The Palestinian Authority hailed Paraguay’s “honorable” decision on Wednesday, announcing that it will “immediately” open an embassy in the Paraguayan capital.

Most countries do not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the whole of Jerusalem, arguing that peace talks should determine the city’s final status. Paraguay cited this as one reason to move its embassy back to Tel Aviv.

Castiglioni said he expected to meet his Turkish counterpart at the United Nations General Assembly in New York this month.

Paraguay considers Israel’s decision to close its embassy hasty and disproportionate, and hopes Israeli authorities will reconsider, Castiglioni said.

Source: Middle East Eye.

Link: https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/turkey-open-paraguay-embassy-after-policy-shift-jerusalem-1863572311.

Erdogan vows to abandon dollar in trade

Sunday 02/09/2018

BISHKEK – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday vowed Ankara would pursue non-dollar transactions in trade with Russia and other countries, accusing the US of behaving like “wild wolves.”

Both Turkey and Russia are reeling from punitive economic measures imposed by Washington.

“America behaves like wild wolves. Don’t believe them,” Erdogan told a business forum during a visit to Kyrgyzstan, in comments translated into Kyrgyz.

He said his country was in negotiations with Russia over non-dollar trade.

“Using the dollar only damages us. We will not give up. We will be victorious,” Erdogan told the meeting, attended by Kyrgyz and Turkish businessmen as well as government officials.

Ties between NATO members Washington and Ankara hit a new low last month as US President Donald Trump announced steep new tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminium in response to the detention of an American pastor in Turkey.

The Turkish lira shed a quarter of its value last month as the trade war with the US ratcheted up.

Russia meanwhile saw its ruble tumble to two-year lows in August after the US announced fresh sanctions in connection with a nerve agent poisoning incident in the British city of Salisbury.

Erdogan has also used the visit to ex-Soviet Kyrgyzstan to demand the Central Asian country of six million people relinquish all ties to Fethullah Gulen, a US-based cleric and educator Ankara accuses of fomenting a coup in 2016.

Speaking Sunday, Erdogan said Turkish businesses should invest in Kyrgyzstan but “may face barriers from FETO,” the term Ankara uses to describe the network of people and institutions linked to Gulen.

The refusal of the United States to extradite 77-year-old Gulen to face trial in Turkey is one of several sore points that have plagued a once-strong bilateral relationship.

Gulen, whose Hizmet movement has led to the creation of schools in dozens of countries including Kyrgyzstan has always denied any links to the 2016 coup attempt.

Since July 2016, over 55,000 people have been arrested over coup links in Turkey, while more than 140,000 public sector employees have been sacked or suspended.

Source: Middle East Online.

Link: https://www.middle-east-online.com/en/erdogan-vows-abandon-dollar-trade.

A look at Turkey’s post-coup crackdown

August 30, 2018

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey blamed military officers loyal to a U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen for a failed military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 and declared a state of emergency five days later to clampdown on a vast network of alleged Gulen supporters in the military and other state institutions. The state of emergency led to mass arrests and purges.

Opponents say President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government used its emergency powers to crackdown on all dissent — not just Gulen’s movement. The cleric denies involvement in the coup. The two-year-old state of emergency expired in July, after Erdogan kept to an electoral campaign promise not to extend it, but new anti-terror laws enacted since then allow authorities to press ahead with mass purges of public employees.

Here’s a look at Turkey’s post-coup crackdown:

ARRESTS: Some 160,000 people were detained for questioning, of which over 77,000 were formally arrested for alleged links to terror organizations, including Gulen’s network and outlawed Kurdish rebels. Those arrested include military personnel, police, journalists, lawmakers, judges and prosecutors.

According to Justice Ministry figures, close to 35,000 people put on trial for links to Gulen’s network have been convicted so far. Around 14,000 others were acquitted.

PURGES: More than 130,000 people have been purged from the public service through emergency government decrees. Those dismissed include tens of thousands of teachers and close to 6,000 academics. Around 1,300 people were re-instated to jobs by a commission that was set up to review cases but 18,000 other appeals were rejected.

MILITARY: Some 170 generals and around 7,000 other senior military officers were arrested as part of the crackdown. At least 58 generals and 629 senior officers have been convicted to life terms in prison so far in trials against military officers, according to Justice Ministry figures. Eight generals were acquitted.

MEDIA: At least 143 journalists or media workers are currently behind bars, most accused of links to Gulen or Kurdish rebels, according to the Turkish Journalists Syndicate. Using emergency decrees, the government closed down around 200 media organizations, including newspapers, periodicals, radio stations and television channels.

POLITICIANS: Ten legislators from Turkey’s pro-Kurdish political party, including former co-chairs Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, are in prison on terror charges for alleged links to Kurdish militants. Enis Berberoglu, a legislator from the main opposition Republican People’s Party, is in prison convicted of espionage for giving an opposition newspaper images allegedly showing Turkey’s intelligence agency trucking weapons into Syria.

ACTIVISTS: Human rights activist and businessman Osman Kavala is in jail pending trial, accused of seeking to overthrow the government and having alleged links to Gulen. Eleven prominent activists were arrested last year at their hotel on an island off of Istanbul while on training. They were eventually released from jail pending the outcome of their trial for supporting terror groups. Among them was Taner Kilic, Amnesty International’s former Turkey chairman, who was released earlier this month.

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