Most industrial facilities are located in western Turkey. Private manufacturing industry with textiles, vehicles and electronic goods has developed into the most dynamic sector in the economy. Believing Muslim business leaders in Anatolian rural cities account for much of the industry’s upswing.
The textile and clothing industry employs about one fifth of industry workers, but is now facing increased international competition. Textile companies are available in all sizes, and part of the production takes place in the informal sector, outside the control of the authorities. The textile industry has long been concentrated in Istanbul, Bursa, Izmir and Adana, but companies are now also moving to more remote parts of the country, where wages are lower.
The second largest number of employees after the textile industry has the construction industry, including cement manufacturing. The industry was in decline after the turn of the millennium, but since then a number of large projects under public auspices have been started (see Financial overview). The iron and steel industry is believed to be the 15th largest in the world.
Turkey has a significant license production of foreign car brands. Turkey also has a chemical industry and processes agricultural products.
- COUNTRYAAH: List of top trading partners of Turkey. Includes countries that imported most shipments from and exported most goods to the country.
A dynamic feature of the Turkish industry is the rapidly growing production that the “Anatolian Tigers” are responsible for. That designation is given to cities in the Anatolian hinterland where, for a couple of decades, private small and medium-sized entrepreneurs have in many cases built their companies into large groups, often with branches all over the world. It is often pointed out that these business leaders are believing Muslims, are happy to vote for the AKP government party and are driven by a strong work ethic. They have sometimes been likened to this enterprise by a “Turkish Gnosjö spirit”. These companies in cities such as Gaziantep, Konya, Kayseri, Denizli and many more are an important explanation for Turkey’s economic upswing. Their operations have benefited from the fact that several of the cities are classified as economic free zones, which, among other things, gives companies great tax relief.
The defense industry is under strong development. Turkey has its own production of tanks, military aircraft, satellites and warships. Drones (unmanned vehicles) have been used by the Turkish military both against Kurdish guerrillas in the country and in warfare on the Syrian side of the border. Both state-run Turkish Aerospace and the company Baykar, run by the president’s US-trained sister-in-law Selçuk Bayraktar, are developing drones. Arms exports are increasing strongly (see Calendar).
Other corona waves are feared
17th of June
Residents of the major cities of Istanbul and Ankara are ordered to wear face masks after reports of coronavirus infections increasing again (compare May 29 and June 1). In 48 out of 81 provinces, there is a mask in public places.
Turkey for offensive in northern Iraq
17th of June
Turkey launches a flight and ground offensive in northern Iraq in search of Kurdish rebels. A few days earlier, air raids were carried out for the same purpose. The offenses are motivated by Kurdish guerrillas attacking Turkish police and military posts at the border from bases in the mountains of northern Iraq. Kurdish guerrilla bases are not explicitly permitted, and PKK is rejected but tolerated by Kurdish autonomy in Iraq. At the central government in Baghdad, Turkey’s actions provoke irritation and diplomatic protests.
Night guards may carry firearms
Night guards, acting as the local citizen guard, are given a stronger role in a new law adopted by Parliament. The guards are allowed to carry firearms and visit people. Upset critics accuse President Erdoğan of wanting to set up his own militia. The force is sorting under the Ministry of the Interior and actually has a centuries-long tradition, but it has grown since the coup attempt in 2016. It is said to comprise 28,000 men.
Regime critics are deprived of freedom of charge
Parliament, dominated by the presidential party AKP, abolishes the freedom of prosecution of three members. One belongs to the largest opposition party CHP, two represent pro-Kurdish HDP. The three have previously been tried in court on charges of espionage or support for terrorism, and can be jailed after being deprived of their immunity. The opposition dismisses the handling as yet another step on the road to strengthened authoritarian rule.
Bazaar trading and flights are allowed again
The big bazaar in Istanbul is allowed to open again after the pandemic closure, as well as domestic air traffic. Parks, beaches, libraries and museums open as well as restaurants. Special rules apply to face masks and a limited number of customers. During the 559 years that the Great Bazaar has existed, it has never been closed for as long as during the covid-19 pandemic, other than as a result of fire or earthquake.
Pandemic rules are eased
Turkey’s mosques open again for prayer with many participants, more than two months after the shrines were closed to reduce the risk of spreading coronas. During the month of May, society gradually returned to more normal life. Store galleries and hairdressers are allowed open. 4,500 deceased and 160,000 infected have been confirmed by authorities.
45 Kurdish mayors deposed
15th of May
A total of 45 mayors of Kurdish origin, out of a total of 65, have now been suspended from their duties and replaced with people who are not elected. This then seized another five mayors (including those in Iğdır and Siirt) and forced to leave seats for executives appointed by the Turkish regime. The arrested are accused of having links to terrorism. In the 2019 local elections, they were elected as candidates for the party HDP (see especially 19 August 2019).
Corona relief becomes a political blow
15th of May
“Kindness infects easier than viruses” is a slogan suggested on bridges and bus stops to persuade wealthy Turks to assist the less fortunate during the corona crisis by paying their debts at grocery stores. Behind the message is Mayor Mansur Yavaş in Ankara, who, like Ekrem Imamoğlu in Istanbul, is running campaigns even though the government wants to stop them. The mayors’ popularity is growing and they are now seen as rivals to the president. The Ministry of the Interior has decided to review them. The government requires all donations to be channeled through the government’s own campaign National Solidarity.
Prosecution for help to flying car director
Seven people are suspected of crimes in Turkey after helping the former head of the Nissan car group escape an investigation into crime in Japan. The car director, Carlos Ghosn, was arrested during his escape to Lebanon via Turkey on December 29. In Turkey, on January 2, seven employees of an airline were arrested. The company MNG says its aircraft was used without a permit and has made a police report.
Turkish protective clothing is rejected
About 400,000 protective garments for care workers ordered from manufacturers in Turkey do not meet UK safety requirements, reports the Daily Telegraph. The NHS, the UK public health care system, has urged hospitals not to place their own orders on protective equipment for staff caring for covid-19 sufferers. Nearly half of the equipment ordered from Turkey was picked up by the British Air Force in April, but has not been distributed to healthcare personnel but remains in storage.
Turkish corona inserts in floodlights
26th of April
A Turkish citizen in Malmö who fell ill in covid-19 is taken to Turkey by ambulance flight. Relatives claim that the man has not received the care he needs in Sweden. At the same time, Turkey is reported to have sent coronavirus care equipment to 55 countries. Transport is eagerly highlighted in the light of sympathizers to the state leadership as an example of how Turkey succeeds better against the pandemic than other countries.
Turkey is waiting with Russian weapons
Turkey will wait to use purchased Russian-made anti-aircraft batteries, says a high-level representative who refers to the spread of coronavirus. The fact that the NATO country Turkey chose to buy a Russian weapons system has upset other countries in the military alliance, especially the United States (see July 17, 2019). The US has threatened Turkey with sanctions, and in addition, Turkey needs cooperation with the US central bank as a result of the Turkish government’s foreign currency loans. As far as is known, the corona crisis has not led to Turkey limiting any military efforts.
Rapid spread of viruses
Both the spread of infection and the sampling have taken off in Turkey, which has now registered over 2,000 deaths in covid-19 disease. More than 86,000 infected have been confirmed when a full 635,000 tests have been analyzed.
Panic hoarding before curfew
Curfew over the weekend (day and night) takes effect in 31 cities. The ban is introduced with just a few hours notice and triggers panic hoarding. It also leads to the resignation of Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu. During the weekend, the Ministry of Health states that about 1,200 deaths in covid-19 are known. On April 13, following the first deaths among prisoners, Parliament approved a proposal to release tens of thousands of prisoners from Turkey’s overcrowded prisons.
Exception for young workers
Turkey faces curfew for persons under 20 with reference to corona pandemic. As before, compulsory home quarantine applies to the chronically ill and people over the age of 65. But on April 5, adult employees between the ages of 18 and 20 will be exempt. The exception also applies to young people who have seasonal work in agriculture; Turkey has not imposed a general curfew for adults, but is fearing a harvest season with a labor shortage.
Kurdish guerrilla strikes against Iran’s gas exports
The Kurdish PKK guerrilla takes on responsibility for an attack on a gas pipeline in the province of Ağrı the day before, which led to the interruption of gas deliveries from Iran to Turkey. The attack in eastern Turkey is described as the first against a gas pipeline since 2015 and according to local sources has been carried out by Pjak, a Kurdish group in Iran that has close relations with the PKK. Turkey can replace the gas with imports from Russia. More noticeable may be such attacks for Iran, which has few sources of revenue left that are not hindered by US sanctions.
Prosecution in Turkey for the Khashogi murder
Prosecutions are brought in Turkey against 20 people suspected of involvement in the deliberate murder of writer Jamal Khashoggi 2018. Among those designated, who are not in Turkey, is a former adviser to the Saudi royal house and a former head of a Saudi security service. The two are held responsible for having staged the assassination, designated by an UN reporter as an extrajudicial execution. Khashoggi was murdered at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul and is believed to have been cut by the murder patrol (see mainly October 2, 2018 and November 15, 2018).
More Kurdish mayors are deposed
A further eight mayors from localities with Kurdish populations (among them Bitlis) are appointed and replaced by executives appointed by the government. Politicians and the party HDP, which is Turkey’s third largest, are accused of being members of a terrorist group and supporting the Kurdish guerrilla PKK. A total of 40 mayors have been appointed since the local elections in March 2019 (see 19 August 2019).
Support package against virus crisis
A state-of-the-art rescue package worth 100 billion Turkish lira ($ 15 billion) will help Turkey’s economy cope with the corona crisis. Especially the elderly and households that live under scarce circumstances should be able to receive support. For businesses, the president announces tax cuts. VAT on domestic air travel is almost completely eliminated during a quarter. It is a way of supporting Turkish Airlines, which normally has many international routes and is therefore hit hard when many countries stop flights. The borders to Greece and Bulgaria are closed again (see February 28).
Pandemic stops mass prayer
Collective prayers in Turkey’s mosques are suspended for the time being to limit the spread of the new coronavirus that is considered particularly dangerous for the elderly. For individual visits and individual prayers, the mosques remain open, the religious authority Diyanet reports. Gyms, cafes, cinemas and restaurants with live music are closed, while various forms of public events are canceled. Officially, only 18 cases of covid-19 viral disease have been confirmed, but thousands of pilgrims returning from visits to holy places in Saudi Arabia have been ordered to follow quarantine rules.
Agreement between Erdoğan and Putin on ceasefire in Syria
An armistice comes into force in northwestern Syria between Turkish forces on the one hand and Russian-backed Syrian government forces on the other. Presidents Erdoğan and Putin have agreed that the fronts should be frozen, a security corridor to be set up along the M4 highway in Idlib province and aid broadcasts for civilians to be released. On March 15, Turkish and Russian forces will start patrolling along the highway. There have been several ceasefires in Idlib in the past, but this time two government armies have fought each other, and Turkey has lost so many soldiers in recent weeks that the fighting has caused dissatisfaction with the Turkish public.
Turkey goes for new attacks in Syria
Turkey shoots down two Syrian fighter aircraft and launches a drone strike against a column of Syrian military vehicles in Idlib province. 19 Syrian soldiers lose their lives, according to data obtained by SOHR. For their part, Syrian forces have been able to shoot down three Turkish drones and the Assad government’s Russian allies say they cannot guarantee the security of Turkish flights over Syria. Turkey emphasizes that one is not looking for a military confrontation with Russia in Syria, but that is exactly what the outside world (not least the EU) fears.
Turkey opens for migrants west
Turkey opens the border with Greece for migrants. It gets turbulent at the border, where Greek authorities use harsh methods to prevent thousands of migrants from crossing. Under an agreement with the EU from 2016, Turkey will provide refugees, but will receive assistance from the EU with the costs. Migrants now tell reporters that they have received Turkey’s help to get to the border. President Erdoğan is accused, in particular of EU member states, of using migrants as a chip in a negotiation game. Erdoğan says Turkey is no longer able to host more refugees from Syria. Judging by the reports from the border, it is not only Syrian refugees who have arrived there but also migrants from other countries.
Stepping up between Syrian and Turkish forces
Syrian government forces attack Turkish soldiers in Syrian Idlib province. At least 33 turkeys lose their lives. Turkey responds by shelling the positions of the Assad forces, with an unknown number of dead as a result. Russian forces on the Assad side say they have not been involved. Including the events, more than 50 Turkish soldiers have lost their lives in the last month in fighting on the Syrian side of the border. The Assad government is on its way to recapture the Idlib province from jihadist militia, but is also at odds with rebel forces supported by Turkey.
Hunting for Gülenanhangare
The Ankara Prosecutor’s Office issues arrest warrants for an additional 467 people at 67 locations suspected of being supporters of exile preacher Fethullah Gülen. The investigation is about Gülenists having rigged police exams, but the allegations are part of a pattern of measures against the movement, which according to the regime was behind the coup attempt in the summer of 2016. Since then, suspected Gülenists in the tens of thousands have been cleared out of Turkey’s armed forces, law and school.
Legal battle: Kavala is released, and arrested again
A court acquitted nine activists linked to protests at the Gezi Park in Istanbul that took place in 2013. The demonstrations targeted a gallery building in one of the city’s parks, but developed into broader protests against the government. The Court considers that there is no evidence against the nine acts of social destruction. (Seven other activists, who have not been arrested, will not be acquitted.) One of those released is the businessman and cultural patron Osman Kavala, who has been detained for over two years, threatened with life imprisonment (see June 24, 2019). The court orders that he be released immediately, but only a few hours later Kavala is arrested again on the orders of prosecutors.
Tapered location between Turkey and Syria
The situation is spearheaded in northern Syria between Turkey and the Assad regime. Five Turkish soldiers lose their lives in the province of Idlib as a result of artillery fire from Syrian government forces. That causes Turkey to attack a number of Syrian positions and claim that more than 100 government soldiers have been neutralized, while at the same time some combat vehicles have been eliminated. The intensified conflict also heightens tensions between Turkey and Russia, which act in the area on the side of the Assad regime (see February 3). The UN organization Ocha writes up the total number of refugees recently, from both the Syrian provinces of Idlib and Aleppo, to about 690,000.
Disasters in severe weather
More serious accidents occur in inclement weather. In the Asian part of Istanbul, a domestic plane of the runway canes after landing and broken into several parts. Three people are killed and 179 are injured. South of Vansjön in the east, avalanches occur several days in a row. More than 40 deaths are required in the landslide, among them several rescue workers. The Afad Rescue Agency, established just over ten years earlier, was added in the aftermath of earthquake disasters in 1999, which claimed tens of thousands of lives.
Turkey and Syria in battle
Syria’s government army attacks Turkish troops in Idlib province in northern Syria and eight Turks lose their lives. Turkey has twelve observation posts in the area as a result of a settlement with Russia, and a short while ago a large column of Turkish military vehicles should have been seen in the area. Turkey responds with rockets and at least 13 Syrian soldiers die, according to SOHR. With over 20 dead, the fighting is believed to be the deadliest between countries since Turkey joined forces in Syria in 2016. Turkey and Russia (Assyrian Allies) disagree on whether Turkey has provided information in advance on the troops’ move. The day before, Syrian and Russian forces jointly attacked rebels in Idlib, according to SOHR with 14 civilian casualties as a result.
Turkey is building a house in Syria
Turkey has begun to build housing in Syrian territory for Syrians fleeing inland, says President Erdoğan. It should not be tent camps but real houses and they will be erected near the Turkish border, he says, who has previously made it clear that Turkey does not want to receive more refugees. According to the Turkish aid organization IHH, which has counted for 450,000 people who have moved to the Turkish border in the last five months, 10,000 homes are being built in a village in Idlib province. The main reason for the wave of refugees is that in Idlib there are rebel pockets that are being attacked by the Syrian regime’s forces with Russian allies.
Earthquake in the east
The provinces of Elazığ and Malatya in the eastern half of Turkey are shaken by an earthquake of magnitude 6.8 and hundreds of aftershocks. After a couple of days of rescue operations, at least 38 people were reported killed and 45 survivors unearthed. Still, people are buried in masses and around 1,600 have been found injured. The National Rescue Agency counts 80 demolished buildings and 645 in very poor condition. The President promises that new houses with steel frames will be built for people who have become homeless. The last hit in the country by a very serious disaster was in 1999, when 17,000 lives were claimed outside Istanbul.
Wikipedia is allowed again
Wikipedia is made available again, more than two and a half years after the Turkish authorities decided to block the Internet encyclopedia (see May 5, 2017). At the end of 2019, the Constitutional Court found that the ban was illegal.
Conflict with Egypt is spearheaded
State Turkish news agency Anatolia gets its Cairo office scanned. A Turkish national and three Egyptians are arrested. The raid leads to a diplomatic protest from Turkey the following day. The events take place in a situation where there are contradictions between Egypt and Turkey today in the region: in an ongoing civil conflict in Libya, the various sides support each other. There has been insomnia before, when Turkey backed the Muslim Brotherhood as ruler of Egypt before the Islamists were deposed by a military coup in 2013.
Gas pipeline via the Black Sea clear
A Russian-Turkish underwater pipeline for gas is inaugurated by Presidents Putin and Erdoğan. The purpose of the Turkstream project is to deliver Russian gas to Turkey and further to Europe. As in the case of Russian-German pipelines laid out in the Baltic, Russia wants to be able to sell gas to European buyers without having to cross Ukraine. Gas cooperation testifies to improved political contacts between Moscow and Ankara, but the inauguration takes place at the same time as Russia and Turkey support different sides in the civil war in Libya.
Turkish Libya insert green light
Turkey’s parliament gives the go-ahead to assist the Tripoli government in Libya militarily (see December 9 and December 15, 2019). The Tripoli government is trying to hold back forces led by General Khalifa Haftar, who controls most of Libya. The Tripoli government has requested Turkish aid, and Turkey is initially sending a smaller force described as military trainers. Since Haftar is supported by neighboring countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, as well as several major powers, Turkey’s actions in the conflict are perceived as a threat to regional stability.