The terrorist attack targeting the Italian Church in Istanbul last week was at the top of the agenda.
The meeting between the head of the National Intelligence Organisation İbrahim Kalın and Hamas Political Bureau Chief İsmail Haniyeh in Doha took the second place on the agenda.
Another important development was the resignation of the Governor of the Central Bank.
ISIS terrorist attack on church in Istanbul
An armed attack was carried out on Santa Maria Church during Sunday Mass, on January 28, in Istanbul’s Sarıyer district. One person lost their life during in the attack.
Immediately after the attack, Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya made the following statement on his social media account:
“Today, around 11:40, during the mass at Santa Maria Church in the Büyükdere neighborhood of Sarıyer district, Tuncer Murat Cihan, among those attending the mass, was subjected to an armed attack by 2 masked individuals and unfortunately lost his life. An extensive investigation on the matter has been initiated, and efforts to apprehend the attackers are underway. We strongly condemn this heinous attack.”
After the attack, video footage related to the attackers was featured in the media. The video shows two attackers wearing black camouflage masks entering the church, opening fire on the people in the mass, and fleeing after one of the attackers’ guns jammed.
The attackers were later captured by law enforcement. It was shared with the press that the attackers were of Russian and Tajik origin.
Shortly after the attack, numerous addresses associated with individuals having connections to the attack were raided. In the operation, 51 suspects were taken into custody.
Meanwhile, another footage emerged showing the attackers travelling in a car with a Polish plate car just before the attack. The press also reported that the Consul General of Poland in Istanbul was also present in the Church at the time of the attack.
Detained individuals are as citizens of Tajikistan, Russia, and Türkiye. As part of the operations conducted by a special team of 150 people, firstly the suspects’ vehicles were identified. Following the route of the vehicles, the teams carried out operations at the addresses they detected.
51 individuals were taken into custody. Of the suspects, 23 were handed over to the repatriation center for deportation, while the procedures for the remaining 28 suspects are still ongoing. The statements of the suspects have also begun to be taken.
According to information shared by Anadolu Agency, 17 suspects who are members of the terrorist organisation ISIS and are connected to the attack were captured in an operation centered in Istanbul. Many organizational documents were seized during the searches at the addresses.
Another interesting point is that the Italian Church in Istanbul was attacked after Italian Prime Minister Giorgio Meloni’s visit to Türkiye.
Meeting between Ibrahim Kalın and Ismail Haniyeh
National Intelligence Organization (MIT) Head Ibrahim Kalın met with Ismail Haniyeh, the Political Bureau Chief of HAMAS, in Doha. The meeting addressed Israel’s attacks on Gaza, a possible prisoner exchange and ceasefire agreement. Kalın and Haniyeh also discussed measures to deliver humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people. The meeting emphasized the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Al-Quds as its capital as a fundamental step towards stability in the region.
Resignation of the Central Bank Governor
Another significant development of the last week was the resignation of the Central Bank Governor Hafize Gaye Erkan, less than a year after taking office. Erkan had assumed her position on June 9, 2023. Erkan wrote on her social media account:
“A major smear campaign has recently been organized against me. In order to prevent my family and my innocent child, who is not even one and a half years old, from being further affected by this process, I have requested our president to release me from my duty, which I have been carrying out with honor since the first day.”
Previously, it was claimed that Hafize Gaye Erkan’s father had interfered in the functioning and appointments of the Central Bank.
Following Erkan’s resignation, Minister of Treasury and Finance Mehmet Şimşek also made a statement:
“The decision made by the former President of the Central Bank, Mrs. Hafize Gaye Erkan, is entirely personal and at her own discretion. We respect her decision and are grateful for her service.
The new Governor, who is a well respected macroeconomist with an extraordinary depth of knowledge and expertise, will be appointed in line with my recommendation.
Under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, our economic program continues seamlessly and with a strong determination.
The support and confidence of President Erdoğan in our economic team and the program are unwavering.
As a team, we are committed to implementing our disinflation program and take necessary steps to achieve price stability.”
Vice President Cevdet Yılmaz also made a statement on Erkan’s resignation:
“I thank Mrs Hafize Gaye Erkan for her services. Mrs Erkan requested her pardon from her position as Governor of the Central Bank for personal reasons.
We will remember with appreciation her contributions to the activities she participated in, especially the Economic Coordination Committee. Our medium-term programme, which was personally announced by our President with strong political commitment, will continue to be implemented decisively.”
Hafize Gaye Erkan had worked in finance in the US for many years.
Fatih Karahan was appointed to replace Erkan. Karahan, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania in the US, had been working as Erkan’s deputy.