The Buzz in Turkey: Interview with Altug Ozgun of Cetinkaya

The Buzz in Turkey: Interview with Altug Ozgun of Cetinkaya

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The economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic continue to resonate in Turkey, says Cetinkaya Partner Altug Ozgun from Istanbul. Ozgun reports that Turkey’s economy has been “shaken because of the reduction in productivity during the lockdown.” In particular, he says, “tourism as a whole was impacted severely … affecting the overall economic condition.” 

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has recently accepted the resignation of Treasury Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, Ozgun reports, and appointed previous Transportation, Maritime and Infrastructure Minister (from 2013-2015) and Development Minister (from 2016-2018) Lutfi Elvan in his place. According to Ozgun, the government has also recently announced a program to fight inflation by concentrating on the production and agriculture sectors, as well as the exportation of defense technology. 

Despite the economic and political fallout of the pandemic, the Turkish parliament is still active, Ozgun reports, noting that, after the US election, Turkey’s government announced a program of legal and human rights reform. A new law providing for online court proceedings is expected to be passed and implemented soon, he says, and he reports that changes will be coming soon to the country’s criminal law as well. Additionally, at the beginning of 2020 Turkey’s prosecution system adopted a plea bargain system for some specific crimes to reduce court workloads, and Ozgun reports that “we can expect that prosecutors soon will be given the prerogative to offer settlements similar to the deferred prosecution agreements in the UK or the US.” 

The Turkish government has also been active lately enforcing certain laws, and Ozgun explains that, “since the Social Media Law was passed a few months ago, not one of the big companies – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Tiktok – has registered a local representative in Turkey.” To combat the issue, he says, the Turkish Government has fined each of the companies ten million Turkish lira, and given them another 30 days to register. “If they fail to do so,” he says, “they will be fined an additional 30 million lira.”