Last week, the Turkish public agenda had four main topics.
First was the visit of the Pakistani Army Chief of Staff Nadeem Raza to Turkey.
Secondly, passport requirements in travel between Turkey and Azerbaijan were lifted.
Thirdly, the Turkish National Football Team in the 2022 World Cup qualification has achieved victories against the national teams of Norway and the Netherlands.
The fourth topic was the vaccination and lockdown efforts against the coronavirus pandemic.
Pakistani Chief of Staff visits Turkey
General Yaşar Güler, Chief of the Turkish General Staff, and General Nadeem Raza, Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, held a ceremony in the capital Ankara, a statement by the Pakistan Embassy said on Thursday.
The Turkish Armed Forces has awarded the top Pakistani military general the Legion of Merit award for his services in promoting defense relations between the two countries.
Raza, who is currently on an official visit to Turkey, was given the award in “recognition of his outstanding services for promotion of Pakistan-Turkey defense ties.”
“Both the commanders held extensive talks. Matters of bilateral interest with an emphasis on the geo-strategic situation and the security challenges were discussed. Both sides reaffirmed the resolve to further enhance cooperation between the armed forces of the two brotherly countries,” the statement added.
During his trip, Raza met with Turkey’s Minister for National Defense Hulusi Akar, Commander of the Turkish Land Forces, General Umit Dundar, Commander of the Turkish Naval Forces, Admiral Adnan Ozbal, and Commander of Turkish Air Forces General Hasan Kucukakyuz, and the Head of the Presidency of Turkish Defense Industries, Ismail Demir.
The statement said that the Pakistan military delegation also visited various facilities of the Turkish defense industries, including Baykar, which is known for its high-end drone technology.
The Pakistan military delegation also visited APS Martyrs Park in Kecioren, Ankara, and paid tribute to the martyrs of the heinous terrorist attack on Pakistani school students in Peshawar in December 2014.
Passport Free Travels between Tukey and Azerbaijan
The national identity card will suffice for citizens of Turkey and Azerbaijan to travel between the two countries, with a stay for up to 90 days. Passports will not be needed anymore.
Announcing the new rules on Thursday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in a tweet: “As of today, traveling with Azerbaijan is now possible only with an identity card. All the obstacles are removed, our brotherhood is getting stronger.”
He used the hashtag “one nation, two states”, describing the deep-rooted ties between the two friendly countries.
With the new legislation, Turkish and Azerbaijani nationals will be able to travel without a passport using the new type of ID card installed with a chip.
A bilingual “entry-exit form” will be given to Azerbaijani citizens on their arrival to Turkey, and to Turkish citizens while departing from Turkey.
Citizens of both countries will need to show this document to the officers at border crossings along with the ID card.
If Azerbaijani citizens want to apply for a residence permit after the 90-day period expires, they will still have to use their passports.
In accordance with the coronavirus measures, COVID-19 test results are also required at the border gates.
On the same day that Cavusoglu has announced passport-free travel, the Turkish Minister of Trade said that Turkey and Azerbaijan should aim for a free trade agreement.
The newly agreed preferential trade agreement, which has come into effect on March 1st, only includes a limited number of products, and a free trade agreement is suitable for both countries, Ruhsar Pekcan said during her visit to Baku, the Azerbaijani capital.
She met Azerbaijan’s Economy Minister Mikayil Cabbarov, Communications Minister Resat Nebiyev and Sefer Mehdiyev, the Chairman of the State Customs Committee.
“We must mutually remove trade barriers to reach the $15 billion trade volume, as targeted by our Presidents, and pave the way for trade in local currencies,” she said.
About bilateral investments, she said that Turkey is ready to make the cooperation in infrastructure projects for the recently liberated region of Nagorno-Karabakh and others.
As part of her visit, she will also meet Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on Friday.
Victories of the Turkish National Football Team in 2022 World Cup Qualification
The Turkish National Football Team has won quick and overwhelming victories over the 2022 World Cup European Qualification Matches.
The matches were played against the national teams of the Netherlands, Norway and Latvia.
The matches with the Netherlands and Latvia were home games, held at Izmir Ataturk Olympic Stadium, while the game against Norway was held in Malaga, Spain.
Overwhelming victories first came with the Netherlands-Turkey game, which ended with a score of 2-4, with one score from Hakan Calhanoglu and three scores by the team captain Burak Yilmaz alone.
The game with Norway also ended in an overwhelming victory of 3-0, with one score being from Caglar Soyuncu and two scores from Ozan Tufan.
Although the game with Latvia had begun with a quick score by Turkish striker Kenan Karaman, the game ended in a tie of 3-3. The other two scores of Turkey were made by Hakan Calhanoglu and Burak Yilmaz.
The games were held with either none or minimal numbers of spectators due to coronavirus measurements.
Among the spectators of the game with Latvia, were the Minister for Youth and Sports, Muharrem Kasapoglu, Minister for Industry and Technology, Mustafa Varank, the President of the Turkish Football Federation Nihat Ozdemir, the President of the Football Clubs Foundation and the President of the Besiktas GC Ahmet Nur Cebi, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Team captain Burak Yilmaz has put himself to second place for the top scorer of the European (UEFA) qualifications with 4 goals, right below the Serbian striker Aleksandar Mitrovic.
The rest of the qualification games will be held in September this year, with Montenegro and Gibraltar as well.
Vaccination and Lockdown Efforts Against the Coronavirus Pandemic
Turkey’s health minister has announced the weekly coronavirus infection rates for 81 provinces of Turkey.
In the face of rising case and fatality numbers, Turkey announced the return of weekend curfews in high-risk areas, as well as other restrictions, in addition to special measures for the upcoming holy month of Ramadan of the Islamic calendar.
The number of cases per 100,000 people was 591 in the metropolis Istanbul, up from 401 in the previous week, 272 in the capital Ankara, up from 184, and 218 in the western Izmir province over 156 last week.
According to data, Black Sea province of Samsun continued to have the highest weekly case total with 678 per 100,000 people.
The southeastern provinces of Sirnak, Hakkari, Sanliurfa, Bitlis, and the eastern province of Van had the lowest COVID-19 infections per 100,000 people between the given dates, with Sirnak Province having just 23 per every 100,000 people.
As of Monday, Turkey has confirmed 42,552 (1706 symptomatic) cases and 193 fatalities, and 25,627 recoveries.
The total number of cases have reached 3.52 millions, the fatalities have reached 32,456, recoveries 3.13 million, and the number of tests made so far have reached roughly 40 million, since the beginning of the pandemic in Turkey back in March 2020.
Since Turkey began a mass COVID-vaccination campaign on January 14th, it has administered over 17.2 million coronavirus vaccine shots, according to official figures.
Around 10 million people to date have received their first doses, while second doses have been given to over 7.24 million.
“Among the countries which have yet to produce their own vaccine, Turkey stands as one of the states that conducts the highest number of doses,” Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter.
“We rank sixth among countries with the highest number of vaccines,” he said. “The countries that give more vaccines than us are the US, China, India, the UK, and Brazil.”
The first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were also administered, alongside Sinovac’s CoronaVac, in Turkey’s capital Ankara on Friday.
Turkey has so far received 2.8 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which was developed by ethnically Turkish scientists in Germany.
The total is set to reach 4.5 million in the coming weeks, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca told reporters in parliament on Tuesday.
People who had appointments for COVID-19 shots at Ankara City Hospital on Friday were asked for their preference between the Pfizer-BioNTech and CoronaVac.
There were no side effects reported by people who opted for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
People in Turkey can easily schedule appointments for vaccinations over the phone, online, and through the mobile app.