Pandemic hits Erdoğan’s Turkey again but not only that

Journalist-Writer

President Erdoğan takes a pessimistic look at the map showing “very high” pandemic risk parts of Turkey, painted in red, adding up to other problems and scandals. (Photo: Presidency website)

Unfortunately, it’s not only the COVID19 pandemic that hit Turkey with its third wave as President Tayyip Erdoğan admitted in his March 29 statement. According to Erdoğan’s statement, now 58 out of 81 Turkish provinces where 80 percent of the population live are at the “very high risk” level. Despite telling people to obey the “mask, distancing and hygiene” rule Erdoğan was much criticized by the opposition because of breaking those rules in his Justice and Development Party (AKP) local congresses since January. The physicians and scientists saw that coming but Erdoğan’s ministers thought they knew better.
But the failing plans are not limited to the early relaxation and violations of the pandemic measures. In the same speech, President also complained about the constitution which was approved through a referendum in 2017 lead by him and his ally Devlet Bahçeli, the leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

Not just the Constitution

The President explains that he does not find the new Constitution sufficient, which gives him all the executive power, with the following words:
“Consecutive efforts of constitutional amendments in Turkey have been inserted into the basis of the original text and prevented the expected results”.
As soon as you ask a question like “What kind of results were expected?” in today’s Turkey it’s very easy to be stamped out as a coup chanter by the pro-government social media propagandists. It is not a coincidence that the circles that see their cancellation of the Istanbul Convention against violence against women as a “victory” are now obsessed with “bringing the Caliphate back”. What are those expected results that could not be achieved by Erdoğan’s government that he wants anew?
There are some fiascos, too. Let’s live aside from the videos on social media about “AKP yuppies”; some of them as sniffing cocaine, showing up with luxurious cars, dancing parties on Bosporus yachts, and five-star Antalya hotels, while their fathers and mothers tell poor people to be more pious. While the chief imam of Hagia Sophia (Ayasoyfa) suggesting people to be patient against the economic difficulties and they would be rewarded in the other world, the news about those close to Erdoğan’s government having attractive salaries from more than one public agency are surfacing up in the media.

Upstairs-downstairs

For example, the “right of attendance” received by Borsa İstanbul (İstanbul Stock Exchange) board members, other than their other salaries have been increased by 33 percent upon Qatari partner. Erişah Arıcan, the Chairwoman of the Stock Exchange who is also on the board of the Turkish Wealth Fund will receive 24,000 Turkish Lira. It is meaningless to give its day-by-day changing USD equivalent when 1 USD was above 8,30 lira on March 30, but it’s approximately ten times the minimum wage. Fahrettin Altun, Erdoğan’s Communications Director, and Hakan Atilla, the former Deputy Chairman of the Halkbank who had served time in the US will receive 18,000 TL each as board members.
The board members of Türk Telekom, including Erdoğan’s Chief Economy Adviser Yiğit Bulut, and Deputy Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Ömer Fatih Sayan will receive 34,000 Lira each. The media claims the total monthly income of those close to administration through the multi-salary system mounts up to 200,000 Lira or around 90-100 times the minimum salary.
All of those are taking place in same Turkey when 52,000 people, 45,000 of them being university graduates have applied to take the examination opened by the municipality of the southern city of Adana to employ 200 people to work in offices and parks.
Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) denounced that multi-salary system as an “absolute plunder” and vowed to give an end to that when they come to power.

Religious sects and orders in the military

Indeed, activities of Islamic sects and orders are not particular to the military; there are reports about them in the police force, judiciary, and other sensitive public agencies. But, unfortunately, the latest examples are reflected in the media from the Turkish Armed Forces, so let’s focus on that. Brigadier General Serdar Atasoy, who was appointed as the Intelligence Chief of the Land Forces Command a while ago, became a confessor when the investigation about being a member of Fethullah Gülen’s illegal network.

Senior judiciary reporter Tolga Şardan wrote for the news-site T24 about the rivalry between Rear Admiral Ahmet Cevdet Kaplan, the Naval Forces Supply Commander accused of being Gülenist, and Rear Admiral Mehmet Sarı, who attended the “Kurdoğlu Order” meeting in Ankara with his military uniform and turban. On the other hand, “reactionary activity” in military schools was no longer barred. It had been removed before and was brought again after the July 15, 2016, military coup attempt, indicted to be motivated by Gülen. No lessons are taken.

Carelessness in economy

It has become a custom now: when important figures of the AKP government want to give a message to the outside world and “markets”, they no longer waste time with pro-newspapers and televisions. They broke playing with them, knowing that it has no effect left on anyone. Instead, they talk Bloomberg. For example, the President’s Chief Advisor for Security and Foreign Policy, İbrahim Kalın, spoke there about the S-400 missiles. New Central Bank Governor Şahap Kavcıoğlu gave his first interview to Bloomberg. He aimed to calm the “markets”, to say that he would not lower the interest just as quickly. But the opposite happened and the Turkish lira started to depreciate against the US dollar again, seeing above 8.30 on March 30. Perhaps the effect of seen as a troublesome neighbor by the European Union, instead of a prolonged candidate and still tense relations with the US should be taken into consideration while assessing the developments in the Turkish economy and markets. Simone Kaslowski, the Chairman of Turkey’s biggest bosses club TUSIAD said on March 30 that “Economy is not just economy” and “injustice, rule of law and democratic rights” should be observed for e better working economy.
President Erdoğan denounced the fluctuations in the market as “baseless and shallow financial movements.” If it is so insignificant, then why did he called on citizens to bring their dollars and gold to the banks for the second time in a week?
This is perhaps a sign of the lack of distrust by the citizens that started to become obvious.

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