This article is a joint product of Rusorient and SouthFront: Analysis & Intelligence; Thanks to J.Hawk for the help with the English text.
Late last week, the Turkish media published information that Turkey is about to end its visa-free travel arrangements with 89 countries due to some agreement with the EU. Turkey’s MFA, however, denied these reports, adding that such action would take place only if Turkey becomes an EU member. The majority of Turkish press supported MFA’s decision, opting in favor of maintaining the existing relationships over foggy prospects of EU accession.
Turkish media is still paying close attention to the scandal which erupted on January 8 following the Royal Court of London decision. The court decided to freeze the accounts of Turkish diplomats, which meant the personnel of Turkish embassies and consulates could not receive their salaries.The court made its ruling in response to a suit brought by members of the Republic of Cyprus government. Papers covering the event included «Hürriyet»,«Cumhuriyet», «Yeni Şafak», and others, and they all support the country’s government and criticize British court’s actions as unlawful.
On December 11, the Turkish paper Vatan published an article concerning the speech by Azerbaijan’s president Ilkham Aliyev at the Cabinet ofMinisters meeting. Aliyev spoke about the situation in the region and expressed concern. Aliyev noted that hundreds of thousands of Middle East’s inhabitants became refugees and are now awaiting their salvation in Europe where, in turn, radical and Islamophobic sentiment is on the rise. Commenting the tensions in the Russia-Turkey relations, Aliev referred to it as “undesirable.” He also touched upon the conflict with Armenia, whose leaders he accused of lack of interest in resolving the situation and of prolonging the negotiations process.
On January 12, there was an explosion on the Sultan Akhmet Square in Istanbul which caused many casualties. National leaders reacted instantly to the event and sent their condolences to the people and government of the Republic of Turkey. Turkish media paid a great deal of attention to Angela Merkel’s words. She called on the two countries to cooperate in the fight against terrorism. Hürriyet wrote that “the whole world supports Turkeyin this situation.” Statements by the president and prime minister of Georgia also received considerable attention, as they conveyed condolences to the relatives of the victims and underscored the solidarity of the whole Georgian nation with the brotherly Turkish nation.
On January 13, newspaper SoL published an article citing a New East Outlook article written by Henry Cummins on the US biological weapon development in Georgia. The journalist claims that the laboratory was built by Turkish construction firms, and the weapons developed there could be used to artificially trigger natural disasters.
The major event of the week was the 8th Conference of Ambassadors held in Ankara and in Gaziantep between January 11 and 16. The conference agenda included the following matters: holding the UN World Humanitarian Summit in Ankara, the migration crisis, Turkey as an important humanitarian diplomacy player, development and foreign aid, and others. On January 16, on the last day of the conference, Turkey’s Minister of Foreign Affairs took part in opening Turkish MFA office in Gaziantep where, he said all the refugees including from Syria who need aid could come. Mevlyut Chavushoglu said that Turkey already spent more than $8 billion on the refugees.