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Posts tagged ‘Ottoman Land of Anatolia’

Turkey confirms 32 deaths, 1,141 new COVID-19 cases

May 24, 2020

ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkey’s health minister on Sunday announced 32 new deaths from COVID-19, bringing the death to in the country to 4,340. Fahrettin Koca also tweeted there were 1,141 new infections confirmed in the past 24 hours. The total number of infections has reached 156,827.

Turkey ranks ninth in a global tally by Johns Hopkins University but experts believe the number of infections could be much higher than reported.More than 118,000 people have recovered, according to the health ministry statistics.

The Muslim holiday marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, traditionally a time of gathering, was marked by a nationwide lockdown, the first of its kind in Turkey to combat the coronavirus. Previous weekend and holiday lockdowns affected a maximum of 31 out of 81 provinces.

Senior citizens above 65 were allowed out for a few hours for a third Sunday. People under 20 and above 65 have been under full lockdown, but days and times outside have been allotted according to age groups as part of easing efforts.

Turkey’s senior citizens allowed out for second Sunday

May 17, 2020

ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkey’s senior citizens were allowed to leave their homes for a second time as the country continues to ease some coronavirus restrictions. People above 65 —the age group most at risk of developing serious COVID-19 symptoms— can be outside for six hours Sunday, but their lockdown on other days continues. The health minister urged them to wear masks and practice social distancing.

Turkey has instituted partial lockdowns with people above 65 and under 20, who are ordered to stay at home. The measure towards senior citizens came into force on March 21 and were relaxed for the first time last week.

Children and teenagers were also allowed out this week on different days for several hours. The latest statistics by the health ministry put confirmed infections at 148,067 and the death toll at 4,096.

Turkey registers 41 new deaths, lowest since end of March

May 16, 2020

ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkey’s health ministry says 41 more people have died from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 4,096. The death rate is the lowest registered since the end of March.

Minister Fahrettin Koca also tweeted Saturday that 1,610 new infections were confirmed, which makes the total number of cases 148,067 in the nation of 82 million people. More than 108,000 people have recovered, according to the statistics.

Fifteen provinces, including Istanbul, are on a four-day lockdown. The country has instituted partial lockdowns to combat the novel coronavirus. People under 20 and above 65 have been stuck at home for weeks though they are now allowed to leave for a few hours on allotted days.

Other easing measures have gone into effect, including the opening of malls, barbershops and hair dressers. The number of provinces under lockdown on weekends and national holidays has dropped from 31 to 15.

Also Saturday, Turkey’s Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy told private broadcaster NTV he hoped for domestic tourism to begin after May 28 if COVID-19 statistics continue on a downward trend.

Children leave homes briefly as Turkey eases restrictions

May 13, 2020

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Parks filled with the sound of children on Wednesday as Turkey allowed kids ages 14 and under to leave homes for the first time in 40 days. The country’s youngest population were allowed to venture out for four hours between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. as Turkey eased some restrictions in place to fight the coronavirus outbreak. Youngsters between the ages of 15 and 20 will be able to leave homes for a few hours on Friday, while senior citizens were briefly allowed out for the first time in seven weeks on May 10.

In the capital Ankara’s main park, Kugulu Park (or Swan Park), young children wearing masks took turns going down slides and on swings. An adjacent street teemed with people and police called on the public to abide by social distancing practices.

“The weather is beautiful. This was a great opportunity because we were so bored at home,” said Zeyda Ozdemir, who brought her 8-year-old daughter, Zeynep, to the park. She added, however, that she felt “a little uneasy” because the park was more crowded than she had hoped it would be.

In the city’s Birlik Mahallesi neighborhood, two children were seen riding their scooters up and down a street while a voice from a loudspeaker on the top of the minaret of a nearby mosque called on the public not to be “fooled by the arrival of spring and good weather.”

“The danger of infection is not over yet,” the announcement said. The government set forth a “normalization plan” as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases have dropped, but warned of tougher measures if infections go up again. Malls, hairdressers, barber shops and hair salons were allowed to open Monday.

Meanwhile, a lawyer told The Associated Press that he has filed a lawsuit against China on behalf of a private company that is seeking compensation from the country for financial losses suffered because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Lawyer Melih Akkurt said the company was forced to suspend operations during lockdowns. It is the first commercial lawsuit in Turkey against China, where the coronavirus pandemic began, Akkurt said. The lawyer wouldn’t name the company, saying it wanted to remain anonymous. Other companies were preparing to file similar lawsuits, he said.

The lawsuit holds China responsible for economic losses, accusing it of among other things, failing to provide timely and accurate data to the World Health Organization, of concealing information on the virus’ infectiousness, of silencing doctors and not preventing its spread.

“My client believes there was intent rather than negligence by China,” Akkurt said. China rejects accusations of a cover-up or of not responding to the outbreak in a timely manner. Turkey has recorded more than 140,000 cases of the virus and nearly 4,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19, according to a tally by John Hopkins University. The true number is likely much higher because many people haven’t been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected without displaying symptoms.

Turkey sends medical equipment to help US fight virus

April 28, 2020

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey has dispatched a planeload of personal protective equipment to support the United States as it grapples with the coronavirus outbreak. A Turkish military cargo carrying the medical equipment took off from an air base near the capital Ankara on Tuesday, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported. It was scheduled to land at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington later in the day.

A top official said Turkey is donating 500,000 surgical masks, 4,000 overalls, 2,000 liters (528 gallons) of disinfectant, 1,500 goggles, 400 N-95 masks and 500 face shields. Turkey has sent similar medical equipment aid to a total of 55 countries — including Britain, Italy and Spain — in an apparent attempt to improve its global standing by positioning itself as a provider of humanitarian aid in times of crisis.

“We pledge to help our friends and allies in need to the best of our ability and stand in solidarity with nations around the world at this difficult time,” said Fahrettin Altun, the presidential communications director.

The U.S. ambassador to Turkey, David Satterfield, issued a statement thanking Ankara for the donation. “During times of crisis, like the worldwide effort to combat COVID-19, close coordination among like-minded allies and partners is key to developing a swift and effective response. None of us can do this alone.”

He said: “On behalf of the U.S. Government, I want to thank our NATO Ally Turkey for today’s generous donation of medical supplies and other essential equipment.” Satterfield said the equipment would be “received and managed” by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Turkish president rejects minister’s resignation over virus

April 13, 2020

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey’s president has rejected the resignation of the country’s interior minister who took responsibility for a poorly timed announcement of a weekend lockdown that prompted thousands of people to rush into the streets to stock up on supplies.

The 48-hour lockdowns across 31 cities — which were aimed to contain the spread of the coronavirus — were announced just two hours before taking effect on Friday night. Thousands of people rushed into the streets to stock up on goods, many without wearing mandatory face masks.

Images of large, closely-bunched crowds sparked criticism of the government’s planning for to top the coronavirus. Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, one of the most senior figures in Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government, announced late Sunday that he was stepping down, saying: “responsibility for implementing the weekend curfew decision … belongs entirely to me.”

Erdogan’s office said however that the president is not accepting the resignation and Soylu “will continue in his duty.” Soylu, 50, was appointed interior minister in August 2016. He joined Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party in 2012, having switched from the center-right Democrat Party. Since then, he has risen to be viewed by some as a potential successor to Erdogan and a rival of the president’s son-in-law, Finance Minister Berat Albayrak.

Landmark Istanbul loss a blow to Turkey’s Erdogan

June 23, 2019

ISTANBUL (AP) — The opposition candidate for mayor of Istanbul celebrated a landmark win Sunday in a closely watched repeat election that ended weeks of political tension and broke President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party’s 25-year hold on Turkey’s biggest city.

“Thank you, Istanbul,” former businessman and district mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, 49, said in a televised speech after unofficial results showed he won a clear majority of the vote. The governing party’s candidate, former Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, conceded moments after returns showed him trailing well behind Imamoglu, 54% to 45%. Imamoglu increased his lead from a March mayoral election by hundreds of thousands of votes.

Erdogan also congratulated Imamoglu in a tweet. Imamoglu narrowly won Istanbul’s earlier mayor’s contest on March 31, but Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, AKP, challenged the election for alleged voting irregularities. He spent 18 days in office before Turkey’s electoral board annulled the results after weeks of partial recounts.

The voided vote raised concerns domestically and abroad about the state of Turkish democracy and whether Erdogan’s party would accept any electoral loss. AKP has governed Turkey since 2002. “You have protected the reputation of democracy in Turkey with the whole world watching,” Imamoglu, his voice hoarse after weeks of campaigning, told supporters.

Following his second victory, tens of thousands of people erupted in mass celebration across Istanbul, including outside the offices of the Republican People’s Party, which backed Imamoglu. Jubilant supporters chanted “Mayor again! Mayor again!” Others hung out of cars, blaring horns and waving red-and-white Turkish flags.

Erdogan campaigned for Yildirim in Istanbul, where the president started his political career as mayor in 1994. The ruling party still controls 25 of Istanbul’s 39 districts and a majority in the municipal assembly.

Imamoglu will have to work with those officeholders to govern Istanbul and promised Sunday to work with his political opponents. AKP also lost control of the capital city of Ankara in Turkey’s March local elections, which were held as the country faced an economic downturn, battled high inflation and two credit rating downgrades in the past year.

Melahat Ugen said she switched her vote to the opposition because she could not afford to cover basic expenses. “I’ve certainly never voted left before,” she said. “But I’m 62, and a bag of onions costs too much. Everything is imported and we can’t afford it.”

Analysts say the result would increase pressure on Erdogan’s government, which is grappling with a shaky economy and multiple international crises. “The significance of Ekrem Imamoglu’s win in Istanbul cannot be understated…. he represents a much-needed change in political discourse,” Lisel Hintz, an assistant professor of International Relations at Johns Hopkins University SAIS, said.

Hintz said the mayor-elect withstood a divisive campaign by the government and prevailed with a positive message. “We now have to wait and see whether Imamoglu’s tenure as mayor will be interfered with in any way, whether by cutting off funding and hampering his office’s ability to provide services or by removing him under some legal pretext,” Hintz said.

Addressing Erdogan in his speech, Imamoglu said, “I’m ready to work with you” to solve Istanbul’s problems. The president has previously signaled an unwillingness to do so. Istanbul, a city of more than 15 million, draws millions of tourists each year and is Turkey’s commercial and cultural hub. Straddling Europe and Asia, Istanbul accounted for 31% of Turkey’s GDP in 2017.

Ozgur Unluhisarcikli, Ankara office director of the German Marshall Fund, argued that the loss of Istanbul is likely to fuel speculation of divisions within the ruling party and among its supporters. “It’s now clear that a sizable portion of the AKP voters is seriously dissatisfied by policies of the AKP,” he said. “The (opposition) was a house that was united. The AKP house looked like one that was already divided.”

The loss, he argued, also has international implications. Erdogan was already at odds with Western allies over Turkey’s plans to buy the Russian-made S-400 missile defense system and its challenge of EU-member Cyprus over natural gas drilling rights.

Bulut Emiroglu and Ayse Wieting in Istanbul contributed.

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