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The primary opposition party in Turkey has claimed significant victories in key cities such as Istanbul and Ankara in recent elections, dealing a substantial blow to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s aspirations. Erdogan, who had hoped to secure control of these cities less than a year after winning his third presidential term, faced defeat as the opposition secured victories.

Ekrem Imamoglu, representing the secular opposition CHP, secured his second victory in Istanbul, defeating the candidate backed by Erdogan’s AK Party by a considerable margin. Similarly, in Ankara, opposition mayor Mansur Yavas declared victory early on, with a significant lead over his opponent.

These results mark the first nationwide defeat for Erdogan’s party in over two decades. Despite Erdogan acknowledging the outcome, labeling it a turning point, it’s a significant setback for his party’s dominance, especially considering the sweeping powers amassed by the presidency under his leadership.

The opposition’s success is considered the biggest electoral defeat of Erdogan’s career, prompting speculation about the future of Turkish politics. Supporters of the opposition celebrated the outcome as a historic moment, signaling a desire for change in the country’s political landscape.

Imamoglu and Yavas, both seen as potential presidential candidates in the future, emerged as key figures in the opposition’s triumph. The victories in major cities like Istanbul, which holds substantial economic and cultural influence, underscore the opposition’s strength and its ability to challenge Erdogan’s rule.

Despite Erdogan’s party retaining control in certain regions, particularly in central Turkey, the election results reflect a significant shift in the country’s political dynamics. With a high voter turnout and the inclusion of a sizable number of young voters, the elections have reshaped Turkey’s political landscape and set the stage for potential changes in the upcoming presidential election in 2028.

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Bosnia and Herzegovina is set to begin negotiations for EU membership, marking a significant milestone eight years after the formal application was submitted. Following a recommendation from the European Commission last week, EU leaders have approved the initiation of talks. European Council President Charles Michel extended congratulations to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s leaders, affirming their place within the European family. He emphasized the importance of continued efforts for progress, a sentiment echoed by Borjana Krišto, Chairwoman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, who expressed gratitude for achieving the necessary compliance with EU requirements.

The approval for Bosnia’s EU talks has been welcomed as a positive development by leaders across Europe. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz hailed it as a good message for the entire region, while Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenković described it as a historic day for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The road to EU membership has been long for Bosnia, with the country formally obtaining candidate status in 2022 after applying for membership in 2016. In the past year, Bosnia has made strides in passing laws aligned with EU priorities, particularly focusing on areas such as democracy, the rule of law, fundamental rights, and public administration reform.

Despite progress, Bosnia remains ethnically and politically divided, a legacy of the 1992-95 war. Further economic and democratic reforms will be necessary before formal EU accession can occur.

The EU’s commitment to the Western Balkans has been underscored by recent events, particularly in light of the conflict in Ukraine. Other countries in the region, including Albania, Georgia, Kosovo, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey, and Ukraine, are also at various stages of the EU application process.

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Trabzonspor fans stormed onto the field and attacked Fenerbahce players following Sunday’s Super Lig match. The violence erupted after Fenerbahce secured a 3-2 victory at Papara Park in Trabzon.

Bright Osayi-Samuel and Michy Batshuayi from Fenerbahce attempted to intervene while security services intervened. Turkey’s Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya condemned the violence, emphasizing that sports should embody sportsmanship.

Yerlikaya announced that an investigation had been launched, leading to the arrest of 12 fans. FIFA President Gianni Infantino also condemned the incidents, stressing the importance of player safety in football.

The tension escalated in the 87th minute when objects were thrown onto the field after Batshuayi scored the winning goal. Osayi-Samuel and Batshuayi were seen defending themselves against fans who rushed onto the field.

The Turkish Football Federation denounced the events as “unacceptable” and promised to impose appropriate sanctions. Trabzonspor coach Abdullah Avci lamented the chaotic state of Turkish football, while Fenerbahce manager Ismail Kartal called for tolerance and common sense.

This incident is the latest in a series of controversies in the Turkish league during the 2023-24 season, including an assault on referee Halil Umut Meler by MKE Ankaragucu president Faruk Koca in December.

Despite the unrest, Fenerbahce currently sits second in the Super Lig standings, trailing Galatasaray by two points and holding a significant lead over Trabzonspor.

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The initial trial related to the 2023 earthquake in Turkey has commenced, concentrating on the collapse of an Adiyaman hotel that resulted in 72 fatalities. The Isias Grand hotel in Adiyaman hosted a school volleyball team from Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus and a group of tourist guides during the earthquake, with 11 individuals charged for violating construction regulations. The earthquake, occurring on February 6, claimed over 50,000 lives in Turkey and Syria, causing the collapse or severe damage of 160,000 buildings and displacing 1.5 million people.

Charges have been brought against 11 people for breaching construction rules in connection with the collapse of the Isias Grand hotel in Adiyaman during last year’s earthquake. The hotel, which housed a school volleyball team from northern Cyprus and tourist guides, was one of the numerous buildings affected by the earthquake, resulting in significant casualties. The Turkish government initiated investigations, leading to the arrest of nearly 200 individuals, including construction contractors and property owners, for their roles in the disaster.

The trial began with the prosecution focusing on the Isias Grand hotel in Adiyaman, where a tragic incident unfolded during the earthquake last year. A group of 39 individuals, including students, teachers, and parents, had chosen the hotel for a volleyball tournament. The collapse of the hotel resulted in the loss of 35 lives from the group, with only four parents surviving. The trial has prompted the families of the victims to demand severe sentences for the accused individuals and the inclusion of charges against Turkish officials responsible for licensing the hotel.

The Isias Grand hotel, operational since 2001, faced allegations of construction malpractice, including the improper use of materials and unauthorized additional floors in 2016. The indictment revealed that gravel and sand from the local river were mixed with construction materials in the hotel’s columns. Families of the victims expressed outrage, accusing the Culture and Tourism Ministry of neglecting proper inspections despite granting the hotel a four-star rating, and they insisted on accountability for those responsible.

The extensive building collapses resulting from the earthquake stirred widespread criticism of the Turkish government for encouraging a construction boom without effectively enforcing building regulations. The trial has intensified calls for accountability, with grieving families emphasizing the need to charge those responsible for the Isias Hotel’s approval and urging justice for the lives lost. If found guilty, the 11 defendants could face prison terms ranging from two years and eight months to more than 22 years.

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A hostage incident at Hamburg Airport, involving a young child, concluded after 18 hours, as stated by local authorities. On Saturday night, a 35-year-old man breached security and drove onto the airport tarmac with his four-year-old daughter. Parking beneath a plane, he surrendered to the authorities without resistance and was subsequently apprehended. The child was reported to be unharmed, according to the police.

The disruption led to delays in several inbound and outbound flights, although operations have now resumed. At approximately 20:00 local time, the perpetrator fired his weapon into the air and hurled burning bottles from the vehicle, causing a commotion. While it remained unclear if he had explosives, he halted the car close to a fully occupied commercial flight, prompting the safe evacuation of all passengers on board.

Reportedly, the individual’s motive stemmed from disagreement with authorities over custody arrangements, expressing a desire to travel to Turkey with the child. Police spokeswoman Sandra Levgruen shared that he felt his life was in disarray, as per German broadcaster ZDF. Authorities attributed his actions to an “extraordinary psychological state” due to the custody conflicts with his ex-wife. The man had previously faced allegations of kidnapping the child when he took her to Turkey without permission, resulting in an investigation last year. The mother later returned the child to Germany.

Following the incident, Hamburg Mayor Peter Tschentscher extended his support to the mother, child, and their family. Meanwhile, the airport pledged to swiftly restore regular operations, having originally planned 286 flights with around 34,500 passengers for the day.

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In an announcement by UEFA, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland have been confirmed as the hosts for the 2028 European Championship. This joint bid became the sole contender after Turkey withdrew to concentrate on a joint bid with Italy for Euro 2032, which was also approved.

The choice of the UK and Ireland for Euro 2028 followed their decision to step away from being Europe’s preferred candidate for the 2030 World Cup. Key venues for Euro 2028 are expected to include London’s Wembley Stadium, which is slated to host the final, and Cardiff’s Principality Stadium for the opening match.

While England has hosted major football tournaments before, this marks the first time that the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Wales will host such an event. Matches are planned at various stadiums, including Glasgow’s Hampden Park and Dublin’s Aviva Stadium.

With this decision, Europe continues its tradition of sharing hosting duties, ensuring football’s reach and impact across the continent.

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The European Union’s highest court has rejected a case against the European border agency Frontex, which was brought by a Syrian refugee family forcibly sent from Greece to Turkey in 2016. The family’s lawyers argued that Frontex should be held responsible for the deportation of refugees without the opportunity to apply for asylum, which is considered illegal under international law.

However, the European Court of Justice dismissed their challenge, stating that Frontex lacks the authority to assess the merits of return decisions or asylum applications, and therefore cannot be held liable for any harm caused.

The Syrian family, consisting of a husband, wife, and four young children, arrived in Greece in 2016 as part of the European migrant crisis. They registered their intention to seek international protection on the Greek island of Leros but were subsequently transported to the island of Kos. After just eleven days in Greece, the family alleges that they were flown to Turkey by Frontex and Greek authorities without being given the opportunity to apply for asylum or receiving an expulsion decision. The family claimed that they were misled into believing they were being taken to Athens when they boarded the plane. During the flight, the parents were reportedly separated from their children, who were between one and six years old at the time, and they were not allowed to communicate with anyone during the journey.

The family was released in Turkey but lacked access to housing, water, or sanitation. They later fled to northern Iraq. In 2021, they brought their case to the European Court of Justice, supported by human rights lawyers and the Dutch Council for Refugees.

Following the court’s ruling, the family expressed their disappointment, emphasizing that Frontex should be held accountable for their unjust treatment. Their lawyers indicated that they intended to appeal the decision.

Legal experts argued that individuals should not be deported to another country without a proper assessment of their need for asylum, which they claim did not occur in this case.

The Dutch Council for Refugees and the law firm representing the family stated that the ruling raised questions about how Frontex should ensure respect for fundamental rights in its activities, as mandated by its role.

Frontex responded by requiring EU member states to confirm that individuals were given the opportunity to seek international protection and that their applications were processed in accordance with EU laws.

The European Parliament had previously noted that human rights organizations, media, and civil society groups regularly reported cases of pushbacks or collective expulsions at the EU’s borders, often involving excessive force by EU member state authorities. Frontex had faced accusations of failing to protect individuals in these situations.

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Wildfires in Greece have tragically led to the loss of 20 lives and are still raging out of control near Athens and the Evros region close to the Turkish border. Among those killed, 18 are believed to be refugees and migrants who had recently crossed the border and sought refuge in forests north of Alexandroupolis. Greece has expressed deep condolences for the deaths occurring in the Dadia forest near the Turkish border. The fires have been ongoing for five days and have extended along the coast and near the city. Efforts to contain the fires are being hampered by strong winds and scorching temperatures of up to 40°C (104°F).

The victims’ bodies were discovered near a shack close to the village of Avantas, north of Alexandroupolis, by the fire service. The fire service and local authorities had issued evacuation warnings through emergency services. The victims are believed to have recently crossed the border from Turkey along the River Evros, which is a common route for migrants and refugees attempting to enter the European Union. The risk of wildfires adds to the many dangers migrants and refugees face in their journey, including violence, arrest, and drowning in the Mediterranean.

The victims are predominantly male, with two of them being minors. The bodies were found within a relatively small radius, and their identification is expected to be challenging, necessitating the involvement of their relatives. Some individuals had been attempting to follow a well-established path through the forest to avoid detection.

Tensions have arisen in the local communities as some residents blame migrants for causing the fires. However, there is no concrete evidence to suggest that migrants were responsible for starting the Dadia forest fire. A video showing a man “arresting” migrants and refugees and accusing them of arson provoked outrage in Greece, leading to the arrest of the man behind the video and others involved.

In response to the tragic events, the Supreme Court Prosecutor initiated inquiries into both the causes of the fires in the Evros region and incidents of alleged racist violence against migrants following the deaths in the Dadia forest.

As the fires continue to spread, evacuations have been conducted in various areas, including villages near Alexandroupolis and parts of the capital city, Athens. The situation remains challenging for firefighters, compounded by the evacuation of nursing homes and the destruction of homes in some areas.

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The owner of the Domino’s Pizza franchise in Russia has announced plans to close its branches and file for bankruptcy, signaling an end to its operations due to the challenging business environment in the country.

DP Eurasia, which operates 171 Domino’s Pizza outlets in Russia, has decided not to proceed with the sale of its pizza chain’s shops in the face of increasing difficulties. This move comes in the wake of Western companies disengaging from Russia following the Ukraine invasion and economic sanctions.

While some businesses have chosen to exit, others, including Domino’s, have faced criticism for remaining. DP Eurasia owns 68 of the Domino’s Pizza shops in Russia and franchises 103 to local operators. The company’s presence in Russia will be terminated as a result of this decision.

DP Eurasia, which also holds master franchise rights for Domino’s in Turkey, Russia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, had been evaluating its options after sanctions were imposed. The Russian economy has been impacted by sanctions since the conflict in Ukraine in February 2022, leading to several well-known companies shuttering their operations.

Pressure was applied to other major brands like McDonald’s and Coca-Cola to follow suit. Some companies, such as Unilever, have defended their continued operations in Russia, citing complexities and potential takeovers by the Russian state.

Despite this, Domino’s Pizza Inc., the American multinational and master franchisor, clarified that it had ceased supporting the Russian market through its subsidiaries since early 2022.

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Egypt’s President, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, has urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to renew the grain export deal with Ukraine during a summit hosted by Russia.

Al-Sisi emphasized the importance of reviving the deal and finding a swift solution to supply the poorest African countries with grain. Russia had withdrawn from the agreement and subsequently bombed Ukrainian Black Sea ports. In response, Putin blamed the West for failing to fulfill its obligations under the deal and offered to provide Russian grain for free to six African countries.

These countries include Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, Central African Republic, and Eritrea, except Somalia, which is experiencing a severe humanitarian crisis. The summit also saw African leaders urging Putin to consider a peace plan proposed by them to end the war caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The plan calls for recognizing the sovereignty of both Russia and Ukraine, conducting urgent peace talks, and ensuring uninterrupted grain exports. The blockade of Ukrainian Black Sea ports following the invasion caused a significant amount of grain to be trapped, leading to a surge in world food prices and potential shortages in Middle Eastern and African nations that heavily relied on food imports from Ukraine.

The grain export deal was initially brokered by Turkey and the UN in July 2022, allowing cargo ships to access a designated corridor in the Black Sea for transportation. Ukraine is a major global supplier of crops such as sunflower oil, barley, maize, and wheat.

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