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TURKISH NEWS ROUND-UP:  Sunday 24.01.2021

New OECD Centre Opens in Istanbul

On 22nd January 2021 Istanbul opened the OECD’s (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) fifth regional centre, which will be instrumental in developing existing ties across a wide area including Eurasia, the Middle East and North Africa, southeastern Europe and Southeast Asia.  It is anticipated that the new Istanbul OECD centre will support countries in those regions and will lay the groundwork for a sustainable post-pandemic recovery.

Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, inaugurating the centre at a virtual event said “We are one step closer to our goal of making Istanbul a centre for international organisations, including the UN”.  He added that the new OECD centre would enable Turkey to contribute more to the organisation’s work across wide geographies.

Underlining the OECD’s important role in combating the pandemic’s negative impact on the world, Mr Erdogan continued “The organisation has prepared strong, inclusive and sustainable proposals for revitalising economic growth and employment on a global scale.”

Mr Erdoğan recognised that the OECD’s efforts would speed up the recovery process in the coming months and noted that the Istanbul headquarters would serve the organisation’s strategy towards partner countries and would also strengthen trade and investment relations with non-member countries.

We hope the Istanbul centre will play a truly central role in the work of the OECD and will provide a wide range of services in communication with Paris” he said.

Turkish Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan said that the opening of the centre will enable Turkey-OECD ties to enter a new era of co-operation.

Russia Signs Deal with Turkey on Production of Covid-19 Vaccine

Turkey has signed an agreement with Russian Sovereign Wealth Fund, RDIF, to produce their Sputnik V vaccine which it is expected to help in the battle against the Covid-19 virus, with transfer of the production technology already underway.

Turkey is also in talks with Germany regarding the joint production of another coronavirus technology.

Turkish doctors find link between heliocobacter and Covid-19

Turkish doctors are reported to have found a link between one of the most common and infectious bacteria, heliocobacter and Covid-19.  The recent study, conducted among 100 COVID-19 patients over a six-month period, at the Gulhance Training and Research Hospital in Ankara found that those with the bacteria in their bodies, estimated to be one in every two people in Turkey, had more severe discomfort in the digestive system if they contract the novel coronavirus.  Dr. Necati Balamtekin who led the research stated “The helicobacter increases the frequency of ACE-2 receptors, which are the gateway of the coronavirus into the body, in the gastrointestinal (digestive) system. This causes digestive system symptoms of the coronavirus, such as abdominal pain, diarrhoea, nausea, and vomiting, to be seen more frequently in people with H. pylori,” he said.

Dr Balamtekin urged those with helicobacter, who are in the high risk groups for Covid-19, to get immediate treatment, so they would face fewer digestive issues should they contract the virus.

Attack at Turkish Mosque

A Turkish mosque, near the Denmark-Germany border suffered an Islamophobic attack when someone wrote insulting articles on its walls, an official at the facility said yesterday.

Hurşit Tokay, the president of the mosque association, reported that he left the Aabenraa Mosque on the evening of January 22nd, but that, when he arrived on the morning of 23rd January he noticed writings on the wall which insulted the holy book of Islam.  The mosque, which operates under the umbrella of the Danish Turkish Islamic Foundation, was partially closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The incident has been reported to police and an investigation has been opened.  Footage from surveillance cameras in the area will be examined to trace the perpetrators.

Tokay condemned the attack but said the writings were erased and no other damage was detected to the mosque.

Turkey Set to Announce Reform Package

It has been over two months since President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that the Government will outline crucial reform packages on the economy and judiciary but, in a statement this week, Mr Erdogan informed that the reforms are almost ready to be announced.

Senior officials from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have confirmed that a draft of the Human Rights Action Plan has been submitted to Mr Erdogan and that further discussions will take place during next week’s meeting with the AKP central executive body.

Although no specific date has been confirmed, it is expected that Mr Erdogan will reveal the content of the reform package in the next few weeks, which is eagerly awaited by many.

It is also expected that the Reform Action Group will be resumed soon, to dicuss how the country will harmonise it’s acquis with that of the European Union, in order to progress Turkey’s accession to the EU.

Turkey/EU Agree Further Talks

Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu reported that, following his recent visit to Brussels, agreement has been reached not only to further enhance dialogue but to engage in concrete actions, whilst also agreeing the need to revisit the March 18 immigration deal, set up to reduce the influx of irregular migrants towards Europe.

Mr Cavusoglu further reported that his meetings with many of the EU’s leaders were “open, honest and positive” and that Turkey wants to build on the current positive atmosphere.  He added that EU officials will visit Turkey as soon as possible.

A written statement issued by the EU confirmed that “The European Union has a strategic interest in the development of a cooperative and reciprocally beneficial relationship, anchored in values and principles”


Turkey Sets Out 5 Year Plan for New Naval Additions

At a ceremony to launch Turkey’s latest Istanbul frigate, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that Turkey is among just 10 countries which have the ability to design, build and maintain their own warships, and added that five major naval projects will be completed within 5 years.

At the ceremony, which also marked the start of manufacture of a third ship for the Pakistani navy, Mr Erdogan also highlighted the exceptional defence relations between the two countries, which “has great potential.  We are moving a historical brotherhood between Turkey and Pakistan one step further. Just like Turkey, Pakistan also struggles against many terrorist threats in a difficult region. I believe that both countries can help each other in defying these threats,” he said.

The Pakistan Navy signed a contract with Turkey’s Military Factory and Shipyard Management Corporation (ASFAT) in July 2018 to acquire four MILGEM-class ships.

The MILGEM project was initiated in 2000 to locally design and build a fleet of multipurpose corvettes and frigates that will replace older ships. Turkey has built four corvettes so far in line with the programme, namely the TCG Heybeliada, the TCG Büyükada, the TCG Burgazada and the TCG Kınalıada, while the fifth vessel, the first MILGEM I-class frigate of its kind, the Istanbul Frigate, was recently added to the inventory of the Turkish military with Saturday’s ceremony.

Whilst speaking about naval capabilities, Mr Erdoğan hinted at some details of the new projects, signaling major improvements in the Turkish navy’s submarine, aircraft carrier and naval defence capacity.

He said a new aircraft carrier, which will be designed indigenously, will promote Turkey to the top league in the naval field.  Gökdeniz systems, the naval equivalent of Korkut low-altitude air defence, will be added to the inventory of the Turkish military with the Istanbul frigate, he added.

Mr Erdoğan also noted that six new submarines will be taken into service starting from 2022, one for each year.

The president also noted that Turkey is already among the world’s top three to four countries in the field of non-armed and armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)





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