An authoritative summary of 2014 in Turkey
In this combination of three photographs, ruling AKP supporters celebrate Erdoğan's election as president on Aug 10 (Left - Anadolu Agency), 49 Turkish hostages held by extremist militants in Iraq for 101 days arrive in Ankara after they were released on Sept 20 (Bottom right - Anadolu Agency) and a man kisses his son who was rescued after an explosion hit a coal mine in Soma on May 13 (Top right - AFP Photo / Bülent Kılıç).
Jan 2, 2014 - Crisis with Syria-bound MİT trucks
Amid corruption investigations implicating several high-ranking officials over the last weeks of 2013, the new year starts with heightened tension between the government and the Gülen movement that it had accused of attempting to stage a coup through its adherents in the judiciary and the security bureaucracy. Syria-bound trucks belonging to Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) were stopped by a prosecutor who sought to have the gendarmerie search the vehicles, marking a new era in the crisis between the government and Gülenists.
Jan 5, 2014 - ISIL releases Turkish journalist
Turkish journalist Bünyamin Aygün, who was kidnapped in Syria a month previously, returns to Turkey through the Cilvegözü border gate in Hatay after being freed from captivity at the hands of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants.
Jan 15, 2014 - Policeman who tear-gassed the ‘woman in red’ goes on trial
The trial of a police officer who sprayed pepper gas directly into the face of several protesters, including a woman in a red dress – Ceyda Sungur – in what became one of the most iconic photos from last summer’s Gezi resistance, begins in Istanbul. The prosecutor in the case demanded three years in jail for the 23-year-old officer.
Feb 15, 2014 - Parliament approves controversial judicial bill
Tension in Parliament boils over again as the government succeeds in passing a controversial judicial reform package amid fisticuffs and injuries, even as the opposition vows to take the package directly to the Constitutional Court without waiting for a presidential evaluation.
Feb 18, 2014 - President Gül approves disputed Internet bill
President Abdullah Gül shakes off furious criticism from inside and outside Turkey to sign into law a bill increasing state control over the Internet after receiving assurances from the government that problematic aspects of the bill would be amended.
March 6, 2014 - Top court rules former army chief’s jailing a rights violation
The Constitutional Court rules in favor of a complaint filed by Turkey’s former chief of staff, retired Gen. İlker Başbuğ, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2013 in the Ergenekon coup trial, on the grounds that his legal rights were violated. Başbuğ was released from prison the following day. More releases in key cases like Ergenekon and OdaTV followed it thanks to legal amendments.
March 11, 2014 - Young Gezi victim dies after 269 days in coma
Berkin Elvan, who had been in a coma since June 2013 after being struck in the head by a gas canister during a police crackdown on protesters, finally succumbs to his injuries. His funeral drew hundreds of thousands in Istanbul, while his death also sparked nationwide protests in which two more people died.
March 20, 2014 - Turkey blocks Twitter
Turkey blocks access to Twitter, hours after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan vows to close down the social media platform.
March 23, 2014 - Turkey shoots down Syrian plane
Prime Minister Erdoğan announces during a pre-election rally in Kocaeli that Turkish fighter jets had shot down a Syrian jet.
March 27, 2014 - Top secret Syria meeting leaked, YouTube banned
A series of leaks potentially damaging for the government and allegedly organized by Gülenists hits a climax as a top-secret security meeting at the Foreign Ministry, during which officials allegedly discussed a false-flag operation to draw Turkey into Syria’s war, are leaked on YouTube. Hours later the leak that Turkish authorities described as "espionage," Turkey’s Telecommunication Directorate (TİB) blocked access to the site.
March 30, 2014 - Ruling AKP wins local elections
April 2, 2014 - Constitutional Court unblocks Twitter
The Constitutional Court orders Turkish authorities to unblock Twitter. The administration complied with the ruling the following day, but government figures publicly slammed the court.
April 11, 2014 - Controversial judicial bill overturned
The Constitutional Court partly overturned a controversial judicial bill, demanding a redefinition of the justice minister’s increased authority.
April 23, 2014 – Erdoğan offers historic message to Armenians
Turkey issues a first-ever statement offering condolences to the descendants of slain Ottoman Armenians just a day before the 99th anniversary of the mass killings of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire during World War I. In a statement released in nine languages, Erdoğan highlighted the “shared pain” experienced during the 1915 events.
May 13, 2014 - Turkey’s worst mining disaster
Some 301 workers are killed in a coal mine in the western Turkish province of Manisa’s Soma district amid allegations of massive negligence. Erdoğan visited the town amid protests next day, during which he was accused of slapping a local, while his adviser was filmed kicking a mourner, drawing national and international outrage.
May 24, 2014 - Erdoğan stages rally in Germany
As prime minister, Erdoğan addresses thousands of his supporters in Germany during a highly symbolic visit that political analysts saw as the start of his campaign for the presidency.
May 29, 2014 - Constitutional Court unblocks YouTube
The Constitutional Court rules that the government’s decision to block YouTube violated the rights of users and freedom of speech.
May 31, 2014 - Anniversary of Gezi protests
Police use tear gas and water cannon on May 31 against demonstrators marking the anniversary of the Gezi Park protests in 2013. Scores of people were detained while many others were injured in Istanbul and Ankara. CNN International’s Istanbul correspondent Ivan Watson was detained and kicked by police in Taksim Square:
June 7, 2014 - Ground broken on Istanbul’s third airport
The construction of the world’s largest airport begins on June 7 in Istanbul with a massive groundbreaking ceremony.
June 11, 2014 - ISIL captures Turkish diplomats
Around 500 to 1,000 ISIL militants suddenly seize Turkey’s consulate in Mosul, capturing 49 members of the staff and triggering a 101-day crisis.
June 12, 2014 - Gezi trials start
Turkey holds the first hearing in a trial against more than 26 members of the Taksim Solidarity Platform, with prosecutors demanding lengthy prison terms for their part in leading the Gezi protests a year before.
June 18, 2014 - Top court paves way for retrial of Balyoz coup case convicts
Turkey’s top court delivers a landmark ruling, deciding that the rights of a majority of the convicted suspects in the ‘Balyoz’ (Sledgehammer) coup plot case were violated. Releases came the following day, while the retrial started on June 24.
June 19, 2014 - Number of Syrian refugees exceeds 1 million
The number of Syrians taking refuge in Turkey reaches 1.05 million with no peaceful end in sight to the war-torn country, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay announces.
June 26, 2014 - Kurdish peace bid boosted by bill
Turkish government submits a much-awaited bill to aid the ongoing Kurdish resolution process, providing a legal framework to talks and immunity to those who are involved in the negotiations.
July 1, 2014 - Presidential candidates announced
The ruling AKP declares Erdoğan as its presidential candidate. Previously, the CHP and MHP had announced former Secretary-General of Organization of Islamic Cooperation Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu as their joint candidate, while the HDP nominated its co-chair, Selahattin Demirtaş.
July 3, 2014 - ISIL releases Turkish drivers
All 32 Turkish truck drivers held hostage by militants from ISIL in Iraq fly back home to Turkey following their release after three weeks in captivity.
July 17, 2014 - Dink’s murder ‘not probed efficiently’
Turkey’s Constitutional Court rules that the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was not efficiently probed and that the rights of his family were therefore violated. http://bit.ly/1peK8o1
July 25, 2014 - High-speed train inaugurated
Turkey’s long-awaited high-speed railway line between the capital Ankara and the financial capital Istanbul is finally inaugurated, only to break down several hours later.
Aug 3, 2014 - ISIL onslaught in Yazidi heartland
ISIL attacks Sinjar Mountain in Iraq, killing, displacing or enslaving thousands of Yazidis. By the end of the month, the number of refugees from Iraq’s Yazidi religious minority that had fled to Turkey from the advance of jihadists would rise to 16,000.
Aug 10, 2014 - Erdoğan elected as Turkey’s 12th president
Erdoğan clinches Turkey’s presidency in the first round, winning the election in the first-ever popular poll for the country’s head of state with 51.8 percent of the vote.
Aug 28, 2014 - Davutoğlu designated as prime minister
Turkey’s ruling party formally designates Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu to be the successor of Erdoğan as both prime minister and chairman of the ruling AKP.
Sept 1, 2014 - First part of graft probes dropped
The smaller of two dossiers in the graft investigations of December 2013, which triggered a war between the government and its ally-turned-nemesis, the Gülen movement, are dropped by a new prosecutor. Suspects, among them a former minister’s son and a construction tycoon, were implicated in the Dec. 25 investigation. Meanwhile, 33 policemen, accused of being a part of the Gülenist “parallel structure,” were detained the same day.
Sept 6, 2014 - Ten workers killed in construction site accident in Istanbul
Ten workers are killed at a construction site in Istanbul when an elevator carrying them suddenly plunges to the ground.
Sept 11, 2014 - Coup charge against football supporters
An Istanbul court accepts an indictment charging members of the çArşı supporters’ group with conducting a “coup attempt” against the government, following its involvement in last year’s Gezi protests.
Sept 20, 2014 - ISIL releases Turkish diplomats
ISIL releases Turkey’s consul general in Mosul and 48 others whom it held for 101 days in captivity. Turkish authorities described the event as an “intelligence operation” and a “diplomatic success.”
Sept 26, 2014 - Syrian Kurds flee to Turkey
An official number of 160,000 Syrian Kurds flee into Turkey after an ISIL offensive in northern Syria. The photo by AFP's Bülent Kılıç shows ISIL militants stand just before explosion of an air strike on Tilşehir hill near, Turkish-Syrian border at Yumurtalık village, in Şanlıurfa province.
Oct 6-7, 2014 - Kobane fire burns in Turkish cities
In 35 Turkish provinces, 37 people die in violent protests against the ISIL assault on the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane, leading to a long stall in the peace bid between Ankara and Turkey’s Kurds. http://bit.ly/1494CKW
Oct 17, 2014 - Massive corruption case dropped
The larger of two dossiers in the graft investigations from December 2013 is dropped by the new prosecutor. Some 53 graft suspects including former ministers’ sons, the former manager of Halkbank, and a controversial Iranian-Azeri businessman had been implicated in the Dec 17 investigation.
Oct 22, 2014 - Istanbul grove new green hotspot
The planned construction of a small mosque next to the protected Validebağ grove on Istanbul’s Asian side triggers a new, long-running environmentalist protest. It would be followed by another environmentalist controversy after the felling of 6,000 olive trees for a thermal power plant construction in the Aegean town of Yırca in November.
Oct 26, 2014 - AKP-linked appointments to judiciary
Erdoğan appoints four AKP-linked lawyers to Turkey’s Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK). The elections for the 22-member judicial body had turned into a battlefield between the government, the opposition and Gülenists.
Oct 28, 2014 - Another coal mine disaster
Eighteen miners are trapped 375 meters underground after a flood at a coal mine in the Central Anatolian province of Karaman’s Ermenek district. Their bodies were eventually retrieved in stages over the following month.
Oct 29, 2014 - The Pesmerga crossing
As Peshmerga forces of the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) arrived in Turkey early Oct. 29, the Turkish intelligence agency has been commissioned to manage their crossing to Syria to help Syrian Kurds in the defence of the border town Kobane against ISIL.
Nov 3, 2014 - 28 migrants drown off Istanbul
Some 24 migrants perish after a boat carrying refugees capsizes off Istanbul’s northern coast.
Dec 3, 2014 - Last bodies recovered in Ermenek mine
The bodies of the remaining five victims at the Ermenek coal mine are recovered overnight, ending 38 days of painstaking search efforts.
Dec 14, 2014 - Police raid Gülenist media
Dec 19, 2014 - Arrest warrant for Gülen
A Turkish court issues an arrest warrant for U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, marking a new milestone in the government’s war on its ally-turned-nemesis a year after the massive corruption investigations that pitted the two sides against each other.
Dec 22, 2014 - ‘New phase’ in peace bid
Both the government and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) simultaneously announce that the stalled peace process has entered “a new phase.”