Last week, the public agenda in Turkey has been busy with three main topics.
First was the El Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele’s official visit to Turkey.
Second was the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Azerbaijan and Turkey, which are often regarded as close allies.
Third were the heavy snowfall and the halt of daily life throughout the entire country and especially around Marmara Region, including the country’s most populated city Istanbul.
El Salvadoran President’s visit to Turkey
El Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele has begun his first trip abroad this year on Thursday with a visit to Turkey.
“This Thursday, on a State Visit, I will hold a meeting with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Turkey,” Bukele said on Twitter.
“In 2021, the Turkish Cooperation Agency facilitated the online training module ‘Methods to combat COVID-19’, which benefited 35 doctors and representatives of the health sector in El Salvador,” the El Salvador government said in a statement. “El Salvador has also explored opportunities for Turkish companies to invest in El Salvador, specifically in the energy and tourism sectors.”
Turkish president Erdogan said Wednesday he attaches “great importance” to the upcoming visit by El Salvador’s President to Ankara.
“Have a good trip,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, replying to a tweet by Bukele regarding his visit to Turkey.
“As Turkey, we will be very pleased to host you. We attach great importance to your visit, which we believe will strengthen our relations with El Salvador,” Erdogan added.
Speaking in a joint news conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday, Bukele voiced his country’s will to be a part of Turkey’s growth.
Bukele said that during their meeting with Erdogan, they discussed investment and cooperation in the fields of energy, construction, ports, defense industry, infrastructure construction, exports, imports and trade.
Underlining that the trade between the two countries grew by 80% in a year, Bukele said that if the bilateral trade volume grows at the current pace, the target of 500 million USD can be reached in a few years.
The trade volume between the two countries neared 50 million USD last year, according to Erdogan.
Noting that El Salvador mostly works with the US, Bukele said that it is also important for El Salvador “to look elsewhere, and Turkey is one of the most important countries in this regard.”
A signing ceremony for six agreements in various areas, including the defense industry and trade, took place ahead of the joint news conference between Erdogan and Bukele following the one-on-one and inter-delegation meetings.
There are agreements signed or close to being signed with Turkish companies in areas such as ports, defense industry equipment and aviation materials, Bukele noted, saying: “So, that’s only for starters.”
“Tomorrow (Friday), we are having another meeting with a lot of other companies. And even after the meeting with all of these companies, we have another meeting with one more company that is going to help us build our first satellite. So, we can send it into space and have the first El Salvadoran satellite that would be built with Turkish technology.”
And on Friday, Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) and El Salvador signed a memorandum of understanding on space and satellite systems.
In a Twitter post, TAI said that President of El Salvador Nayib Bukele visited the company and “got information about our products.”
“We have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Space and Satellite Systems,” it added.
President Nayib Bukele his country sees Turkey as “an example” to follow.
Noting that his country is one of the smallest countries in the world and at the center of the entire American continent, Bukele said: “After 200 years of liberating ourselves from the Spanish crown, El Salvador is finally taking firm steps to achieve its true independence and write a history of modernity and progress.”
His remarks came during his speech in the Center for Latin American Studies (LAMER) at Ankara University.
“Today, we are in the right direction: we are turning our country into a beacon of light for Central and Latin America,” he continued.
The course of history would not change if the country cannot overcome obstacles, he said, adding: “On this point, we agree with the Turkish people, because step by step we begin to dream and build a prosperous, innovative nation that looks ahead to the future without fear, as Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (the founder of the Republic of Turkey) did, that man who dreamed of a Republic of Turkey, which is now an example for us.”
He added that “a friendly, free, independent, and sovereign state is being formed” in El Salvador.
The president emphasized that his government wants “the world to see El Salvador as an example, not only of what we Salvadorans can achieve but of all the potential that exists in Latin America.”
Bukele also said that being the first president of El Salvador who paid an official visit to Ankara is an honor for him.
He said his country can offer countries like Turkey “a fair, peaceful, and lasting relationship.”
30th Anniversary of the re-establishment of the diplomatic relations with Azerbaijan
“Today, we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the reestablishment of our diplomatic relations with friendly and brotherly Azerbaijan,” said Turkey’s Foreign Ministry in a statement.
“Azerbaijan declared her strong will to become a member of the international community enjoying equal rights on 29 October 1991 coinciding with the 68th anniversary of our Republic and gave us twice the reason to celebrate on that day,” the statement added.
“Turkey officially recognized the Republic of Azerbaijan without delay, and diplomatic relations were established with the signing of the ‘Protocol on Reestablishment of Diplomatic Relations between the Republic of Turkey and the Republic of Azerbaijan’”.
“Turkey became the first state to establish diplomatic relations with Azerbaijan after independence,” it added.
“During the past three decades, Turkey stood by friendly and brotherly Azerbaijan in both good and difficult times, showing this once again by greatly rejoicing as the valiant Azerbaijan Armed Forces liberated the occupied territories in the 44-day long Patriotic War,” the statement noted.
“The will that shapes our relations, which are elevated to the alliance status with the Shusha Declaration signed on 15 June 2021, shall continue as before,” it added.
“This approach is also befitting the statements of Gazi Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, that ‘Azerbaijan’s joy is our joy, and her sorrow is our sorrow’ and of Heydar Aliyev, National Leader of Azerbaijan, that ‘One nation, two states.’”
“After three decades, today, there is a much stronger Turkey and a much stronger Azerbaijan, whose fraternity and close cooperation is also the assurance for peace and stability in their common region,” it added.
“Celebrating the 30th anniversary of the reestablishment of our diplomatic relations with Azerbaijan, we look to the future with confidence and reiterate our determination for cooperation towards common welfare and development.”
Azerbaijan’s Embassy in Ankara also released a statement, marking the 30th anniversary of the re-establishment of Turkish-Azerbaijani diplomatic relations.
Turkish-Azerbaijani relations have reached the highest level in bilateral and international platforms, displaying an unprecedented example of brotherhood, the statement stressed.
Underlining that Turkish people showed support for Azerbaijan, which went through a difficult process after gaining its independence and 20% of its lands were occupied, the statement added that Ankara also supported Azerbaijan’s “44-day Patriotic War” that started on Sept. 27, 2020.
Noting that Turkish-Azerbaijani relations evolved into a strategic alliance after Ankara and Baku signed the Shusha Declaration signed last June in the Azerbaijani city to boost post-war cooperation and promote stability, the statement said: “We wish peace, stability, prosperity and brotherhood to our peoples as the 30th anniversary of relations is celebrated with justified pride.”
Heavy snowfall throughout Turkey
Heavy snowfall hit all around Turkey last week, especially the Marmara Region and the country’s largest city Istanbul, shuttering shopping malls, disrupting traffic and closing a mega-airport.
The snow blizzard first hit southern parts of the country and locals were caught unprepared in provinces such as Gaziantep and Mersin, where the local climate is milder throughout the year.
With a cold front and snow settling over parts of the country, a town in central Anatolia, had plunged to a -30.9 Co, said the meteorologists.
The town of Gurun in the Sivas province saw Turkey’s coldest weather, followed closely by the village of Samat in Gerede in the northwestern Bolu province, which hit -29.6 Co, and Dortdivan, also in Bolu, with -28 Co.
Forecasts expected for both Sivas and Bolu provinces higher temperatures over the next several days, allowing locals some relief from the winter chill.
After reaching the city of Istanbul around Sunday evening, heavy snowfall caused traffic jams in the city’s working-class districts of Zeytinburnu, Bahcelievler, Sariyer, and Kagithane on the European side.
Some passengers as well as vehicles were stuck due to heavy snow.
In Pendik on the city’s Asian side, a fire truck trying to rescue a vehicle got stuck on the road itself.
Most schools were already closed on Monday for a two-week semester break.
The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality said in a statement that 1,300 homeless people had been given shelter from the frigid weather in various buildings and hotels.
Every day the municipality is also distributing more than two tons of food at 500 locations for stray animals, the statement added.
Istanbul Governor said that due to heavy snowfall, routes from northwestern Turkey to Istanbul are closed until further notice.
Governor also announced that shopping malls in the city will close at 19:30 local time.
Turkey’s major international aviation hub Istanbul Airport also shut down to flights for a few days due to heavy snowfall.
“Dear passengers, due to adverse weather conditions, all flights at Istanbul Airport have been temporarily stopped for flight safety,” Istanbul Airport operator IGA posted on Twitter.
Separately, national flag carrier Turkish Airlines suspended its operations at Istanbul Airport until 04:00 a.m. local time on Tuesday, Turkish Airlines’ senior vice president for media relations, said on Twitter.
Operations at Istanbul other airports continued, but with the number of flights reduced by 15%.
Passengers whose flights are canceled due to flight reductions were transferred from the airport to hotels by shuttles.
The mega-airport has partially reopened to flights after a one-day hiatus, the country’s civilian aviation authority announced.
“After having received parking space approval, Istanbul Airport runway 18/36 was opened to traffic on Tuesday at 12:00 (noon) local time, with priority for divert flights,” said a tweet by the Civil Aviation Directorate General.