Headlines from the centennial!
Twice before, I printed in this column “headlines from the year 2026.” Perhaps it is time to try the same for the very trendy centennial of the Republic. This is what headlines from the Istanbul press in the year 2023 should look like:
- The former leader of the now-defunct Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, appeared before court for the 123rd time to make his defense. Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu has been tried under arrest since 2014 on charges that he was the leader of a clandestine political movement which aimed to topple the government.
More than 100 members of that terrorist organization who had been disguised as parliamentarians are also being tried.
- In response to criticism from the Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights that detention periods in Turkey were too long, the government maintained that most suspects were being tried without detention. A government official cited some 6 million suspects standing court in a mega trial without detention on charges of attempting to democratically overthrow the government simply by voting for the opposition.
- Turkey once again affirmed at the U.N. Security Council that Iran’s nuclear bombs were for peaceful purposes.
- A top military official said the army would soon finish off the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) with the help of intelligence sharing with the United States. Meanwhile, the official apologized for the errant bombing of Diyarbakır last week which killed 348 people.
- Turkey threatened to freeze its diplomatic ties with the 96 countries that have criminalized denials of the Armenian genocide unless they reduced prison sentences for the offense.
- President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reiterated his threats of sanctions against Saudi Arabia unless the ruling dynasty there passed political reforms.
- As the number of journalists in jail has reached 29,321 according to foreign observers, the justice minister said all but two of the journalists under detention were terror suspects. He added, “There are only 27,643 in jail.”
- EU Minister Egemen Bağış said that “the European nations could put Turkish membership into their appropriate places.” Minister Bağış made the comments after Brussels encouraged Turkey to resume its candidacy, which was suspended in 2014.
- After returning from his 614th visit to North Africa in the last five years, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told reporters that he had not given up hope of offering Turkey as a role model to the emerging democracies there.
- Mey Gida, an alcoholic beverages producer, has applied to the tobacco and alcohol watchdog to obtain a license for its brand-new product, alcohol-free rakı. The company said the new brand will be called “Zemzem,” or holy water.
- Ankara said it would agree to host 2,867 Palestinians released last month in exchange for the two Israeli soldiers kidnapped by Hamas in 2019. A Foreign Ministry statement said the guests would be employed as schoolteachers after intensive Turkish language courses.
- Foreign Minister Davutoğlu once again reiterated his commitment that “one day we will all pray at the al-Aqsa Mosque in the Palestinian capital Al-Quds.”
- The State Supreme Morals and Cultural Values Committee announced a new test which will measure citizens’ piousness more accurately than previous ones. In response to criticism that the test results discriminated against some citizens, the committee’s chairman said: “It is a pure coincidence that those citizens who fail the annual test suffer misfortunes in life. They should work harder and become better citizens.”
- The Transatlantic Trends Survey has found that Turks held more liberal values than they did last year. The poll revealed that this year only 87 percent of Turks said they hated foreigners, non-Muslims and less pious Muslims, compared to 92 percent in 2022.
- The aerospace powerhouse TAI announced that it had successfully completed the first all-Turkish fighter jet. It said the first prototype had derailed during the field tests.