Last week, the public’s attention in Turkey was divided between three main topics.
The first topic was the cancellation of the friendship match between Turkish Galatasaray Football Club and the Greek Olympiacos Football Club due to Greek officials refusing the PCR tests the Turkish players had before the game.
The second was the rising popularity of the Hungarian Ambassador in Ankara, Viktor Matis, and the strengthening relations between the two countries.
The third was the massive leap taken in the field of COVID-19 vaccination in Turkey and the recent global concerns over the Delta variant of the virus.
Cancellation of Galatasaray-Olympiacos friendship match due to discriminant Greek officials
A dispute over coronavirus procedures has led to the cancellation of a friendship football match on Tuesday, with Turkish Galatasaray suggesting that they had faced discriminatory, rude and unfair treatment by Greek officials at the airport.
PCR tests of players for the Istanbul side were rejected by Greek officials and new virus tests demanded, Galatasaray announced Monday, leading to cancellation of the match with Greek club Olympiacos.
Moreover, Greek officials made them wait at the airport for two hours even though they had completed all the procedures, said Galatasaray.
The Club said the rejection of their PCR tests and Greek officials’ “rude” behavior were responsible for the cancellation and that they were flying back home.
“Galatasaray, the club that carries Turkish flag on its jersey with great pride and represents Turkey in Europe many times, have been disrespected like this for the first time. We expect an apology on our country’s behalf from Greek officials for their treatment that was against human rights,” the club said.
“As we thoroughly brought what the Greek officials demanded beforehand (such as PCR tests done in the last 72 hours, rapid antigen tests done in the last 48 hours and vaccine certificates), some people among our group passed through,” the club said.
“Later on, one of the Greek officials said that they do not accept our PCR tests and we need to get re-tested in an impertinent attitude, even though there is a mutual recognition protocol on PCR tests between Turkey and Greece.
The Club reporter Deniz Gülen said on Galatasaray TV that Greek officials did not even provide water to drink any water to the squad during the ‘procedures’.
“Greek officials refused to let the Galatasaray squad use lounge facilities, and did not even give us water,” he said.
“After the Turkish ambassador’s intervention, they provided us with water following a two-hour wait,” the reporter added.
“Our squad began the procedures to return to Istanbul after all efforts failed.”
Turkey’s Youth and Sports Minister Mehmet Kasapoglu condemned Greece’s mistreatment of players on Twitter.
“I talked to club President Burak Elmas and Manager Fatih Terim on the phone and told them that we stand by them,” he added.
Additionally Turkish Foreign Minister and Football Federation (TFF) has reprimanded Greek authorities for their manners against Galatasaray.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on social media “malignant and unsportsmanlike treatment that Galatasaray faced in Greece cannot be accepted. We always stand by all of our teams!”
The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) released a similar message on its website as Greek officials’ behaviors in Athens “cannot be accepted even though Galatasaray fulfilled all the health procedures, which were requested.”
The TFF also condemned the Greek authorities for their behavior that damages the spirit of sports.
Turkish football club Galatasaray returned to Turkey on Monday after Greek customs officials rejected their PCR tests.
Rising popularity of Hungarian Envoy to Turkey and the relations between Turkey and Hungary
Turkish-Hungarian diplomatic relations have taken a massive leap according to the Hungarian Ambassador to Turkey, Viktor Matis.
Matis has recently been very popular on Turkish social media, with his fluent Turkish and his admiration for the Turkish people and its culture.
Yesterday Matis jokingly tweeted: “Good Morning! If you see any sleepless Turkish bureaucrats around, do not be surprised! Today is a busy day: Minister’s meeting coordination plans, interviews, business meetings and lunches, and there is always bureaucracy in between. Our work has just begun! Good luck to you all!”
Again on yesterday, the Hungarian Foreign Minister said that the EU should resolve its problems with Turkey with regards to refugees and migration as soon as possible.
“The coronavirus pandemic and migration will determine the world politics and economy in the future, and the EU should be prepared for this,” Peter Szijjarto told reporters following an EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels.
Szijjarto said that migration waves must be stopped in order to ensure the security of Europe.
A March 2016 agreement between Turkey and the EU has been widely praised for stemming irregular migration, but Turkey says it is due for a comprehensive update and has criticized the bloc for failing to uphold its end of the deal.
According to the Ambassador Viktor Matis, Hungary has been a cultural hub for the Turks with numerous architectural and cultural sights such as Gul Baba Mausoleum in Budapest, or various Turkish baths and fortresses in Budapest, Eger and Szigetvar.
Turkey and Hungary want to boost bilateral trade by focusing not only on commerce but also on cultural interactions between the countries, said Hungary’s ambassador to Turkey.
“For Turks, Hungary is a gateway to Europe. For Hungarians, Turkey is a bridge between East and West,” said Viktor Matis during an online seminar last year.
Saying that bilateral development started accelerating in 2013 when a Strategic Cooperation Council was established, he said the bilateral trade volume target was set at $6 billion.
He noted: “A few years ago Turkey said it would be among the world’s 10 largest economies and there’s no question this will happen or not. The only question is when. We think this will happen in a short time.”
Turkey’s investment in Hungary was over $2.4B last year, according to Matis.
A diplomat needs to get creative while doing his/her job during coronavirus lockdown as personal contacts constitute the basis of the job, said Matis during the 17 day lockdown in May.
Matis said they bring the routine cultural activities of the embassy to social media, and added: “It is the best place to express ideas. We also need to boost economic ties through videoconferences.”
He stressed he is still in contact with the Hungarian community in Ankara, saying: “We still have a lot to do, but now it is harder to keep in touch, create bonds with people and represent Hungarian interests in many great cities of Turkey.”
As one of the ambassadors to Turkey with high numbers of social media followers, Matis said this interest is not particularly for him, but an indication of Turkish people’s interests for Hungary and Hungarians.
He occasionally shares Turkish poems on Twitter, as reading these poems gives him relaxation, he added.
For the rest of the year, the center is planning more activities, including a Hungarian library section in the eastern Kars province of Turkey, and Hungarian Trace Tour in Ankara, Matis also said.
Mass vaccination campaign and concerns over the Delta Variant of COVID-19 Virus
Turkey administered a total of 827,975 COVID-19 vaccine shots last Thursday, according to official figures released the next day.
The country has administered over 58 million vaccine doses since it launched the vaccination campaign in January, according to the numbers published by the Ministry of Health.
More than 37.99 million people have received their first doses, while over 17.61 million got their second dose.
Moreover, around 2.7 million people received their third doses.
To date, 60.35% of the country’s adult population has received at least one vaccine dose.
The ministry also confirmed 5,404 new coronavirus infections and 59 deaths have occurred in the last 24 hours, while 5,126 more patients have recovered.
In a Twitter post, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca urged people to get vaccinated at the earliest.
“The number of cases has started to increase in provinces where the vaccination rate is low,” he warned.
Amid a nationwide fall in virus cases and an expedited inoculation drive, Turkey has entered a new normalization phase, lifting almost all virus-related restrictions.
However, seeking to limit the spread of the coronavirus Delta variant, which began urging panic around the glove, Turkey has suspended flights from Bangladesh, Brazil, South Africa, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.
Meanwhile, passengers from the UK, Iran, Egypt, and Singapore are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 72 hours prior to their flight.
After 10 weeks of global decline, COVID-19 deaths are increasing again with the virus “ripping around the world at a scorching pace,” the World Health Organization Head Tedros Adhanom said on Monday.
“In places with high vaccination coverage, the Delta variant is spreading quickly, especially infecting unprotected and vulnerable people and steadily putting pressure back on health systems,” he added.
Tedros said that vaccines had never been the way out of this crisis on their own, “but this current wave is demonstrating again just what a powerful tool they are to battle back against this virus.”
The Delta variant is now in more than 104 countries including various cities in Turkey, and WHO expects it to soon be the dominant COVID-19 strain circulating worldwide.
“My message today is that we are experiencing a worsening public health emergency that further threatens lives, livelihoods, and a sound global economic recovery,” Tedros said.
Separately, responding to a question by the Turkish news agency Anadolu Agency, WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said that the health agency had designated a new variant of interest: the Lambda variant.
“WHO has been monitoring this variant for a while. The earliest sequenced samples of Lambda were reported from Peru in August 2020,” said the WHO spokesman.
“There is increasing evidence that this variant is overtaking other virus variants in some countries that are seeing an increase in cases,” and the variant is believed to be in 29 countries.
Various European countries have already been shaken down by this virus variant and went back to the strictest public measures.
The Dutch government announced on last Friday that coronavirus measures were again tightened to curb a surge.
At a news conference along with Health Minister Hugo de Jonge, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said new restrictions will be implemented on Saturday morning.
These measures will remain in effect until Aug. 13.
Cafes and restaurants will be closed from midnight to 6 a.m. and businesses will be able to receive customers according to social distancing measures.
Clubs and bars will not be allowed to open and live performances, including concerts.
Events lasting more than one day will be reduced to 24 hours.
Businesses operating in the service sector will accept customers, according to the distance rule.
The UK reported the highest single-day number of COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours.
In England, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that in the week to July 3, one in 160 people had COVID-19, the highest since February.
In Wales, the number is one in 340, also the highest since February, and in Northern Ireland one in 300, the highest since April.
Scotland has the highest infection rate of all four nations, with the figure being one in 100, the highest since January.
The increase in infections across the UK is being driven by the Delta variant, first identified in India. The speed of Britain’s vaccination program is, for now, holding down deaths.
On Wednesday the Delta Plus variant of the coronavirus was detected for the first time in Israel, media reports said.
Ninety percent of cases are caused by the Delta variant in Israel, where there has been a significant increase in the number of infections in recent days.
The Tel Aviv administration has made it mandatory again, for those returning from abroad to be quarantined until a COVID-19 test at the airport results in a negative status.
As many as 521 people tested positive for the virus in the last 24 hours, according to the Health Ministry.
On the other hand, Turkey has conducted a study of its CoronaVac, the first Phase 3 study in the world with results published in a scientific journal.
Two doses against symptomatic COVID-19 had 83.5% efficiency, according to intermediate results of the randomized Phase 3 study conducted with more than 10,000 participants aged 18-59.
It was led by Hacettepe University in Ankara, regarding the CoronaVac vaccine developed by the Chinese company, Sinovac,
Data obtained with the participation of researchers from 24 centers in Turkey, were published in The Lancet, one of the world’s leading peer-reviewed scientific medical journals.
Murat Akova, a scientist at Hacettepe Faculty of Medicine, Department of Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology, said that Phase 3 studies were previously carried out in Indonesia and Brazil but results have not been published in an international peer-reviewed medical journal until now.
“The results of the Phase 3 study conducted in Turkey with the Sinovac vaccine are the first randomized controlled studies in the world on this subject and published in a peer-reviewed journal,” said Akova, who is also coordinator and author of the study.
“The results presented on the effectiveness of the vaccine are a very important development for the world as well as for Turkey,” noted Akova.
Stating that no life-threatening side effects were found during, he said it is an effective and safe vaccine that produces sufficient antibodies, according to the findings.