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In the final hours of Turkey’s presidential race, tensions have risen as Recep Tayyip Erdogan seeks to extend his 20-year rule by another five years. Opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu has appealed to nationalist voters by promising to expel millions of Syrian refugees, which Erdogan has labeled as hate speech and warned that it would benefit terrorists. Kilicdaroglu is trailing behind by 2.5 million votes from the first round, but he believes he can bridge the gap with the support of ultranationalist voters and those who didn’t vote in the first round.

Kilicdaroglu recently engaged in a four-hour Q&A session on a popular YouTube channel, BaBaLa TV, which has garnered 24 million views. This move was seen as a strategic move to reach out to young voters who didn’t participate in the previous round. The appearance on BaBaLa TV was crucial for Kilicdaroglu to counter Erdogan’s dominance over the Turkish media, as he controls approximately 90% of it.

International observers have criticized Turkey for not meeting the basic principles of holding a democratic election, citing limited media freedom and crackdowns on dissent. Erdogan has consolidated power over the past six years and suppressed political opponents, leading to their imprisonment. In a town called Bala, where Erdogan enjoys strong support, Kilicdaroglu is unlikely to find much backing. The majority of voters there supported Erdogan in the previous round, and there is little sign of first-time voters mobilizing.

While Turkey’s struggling economy was initially the main issue, the focus has shifted to the refugee crisis as the run-off vote approaches. Kilicdaroglu, aiming to attract ultranationalist voters, secured the support of the anti-immigrant Victory Party, whose leader claimed that Kilicdaroglu had agreed to repatriate “13 million migrants” within a year, in line with international law. However, Turkey hosts a much smaller number of refugees, and experts deem the discourse unrealistic and unfeasible.

Public opinion polls suggest that around 85% of Turks want Syrian refugees to return home, making the refugee issue a significant factor in the election. Kilicdaroglu is tapping into security concerns and the perceived threats associated with the immigrant crisis, terrorist attacks, and regional conflicts involving Russia, Syria, and Azerbaijan.

Erdogan has responded by claiming that he is already sending Syrian refugees back and plans to do more. He has also used manipulated videos to link Kilicdaroglu to the Kurdish militant PKK, which is considered a terrorist organization. His target is the pro-Kurdish HDP party, which supports Kilicdaroglu and has been falsely associated with the PKK by Erdogan. The HDP supports Kilicdaroglu to end what they perceive as Erdogan’s authoritarian rule but has reservations about his alliance with a far-right nationalist party.

Initially, there were expectations that Erdogan could be defeated due to his mishandling of the economy and his response to natural disasters. However, almost half of the voters supported him in the first round. The question remains whether Kilicdaroglu’s change in strategy will be effective. Some voters, like Songul, who desired change initially, have decided to stick with Erdogan due to a lack of trust in Kilicdaroglu and the absence of a viable alternative.

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The battle for the presidency in Turkey is likely to go to a run-off, with both candidates confident of victory. After being in power for 20 years, Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed his belief in winning another five-year term, while his opponent Kemal Kilicdaroglu seemed to have a favorable chance of winning. However, preliminary results from the first round showed Erdogan leading with 49.4% of the votes, compared to Kilicdaroglu’s 45%. Erdogan’s alliance of parties also secured a majority in parliament, providing an additional advantage in the presidential run-off.

The opposition parties in Turkey had joined forces to end Erdogan’s extended power, and the outcome of the election is closely watched by Western countries. Kilicdaroglu pledged to revive Turkish democracy and strengthen relations with NATO allies, while Erdogan’s government, with an Islamist-rooted background, accused the West of conspiring against him.

Following the announcement of the preliminary results, Kilicdaroglu remained optimistic, stating that he would win in the second round if the nation demanded it. However, there were concerns that the government was trying to obstruct the will of the people through challenges in opposition strongholds. Rising stars within Kilicdaroglu’s party reminded voters that Erdogan’s party had employed similar strategies in the past. The opposition highlighted the efforts of their volunteers in safeguarding the ballots to ensure a fair process.

Although Kilicdaroglu, who has lost several previous elections, struck a chord with his message of curbing the president’s excessive powers, Erdogan seems to have the upper hand despite the challenging circumstances. Turkey has been grappling with a cost-of-living crisis, with 44% inflation, exacerbated by Erdogan’s unorthodox economic policies. The government also faced criticism for its slow response to the earthquakes in February, which claimed many lives.

Overnight results indicated that Erdogan’s support in areas affected by the earthquakes only slightly decreased, with his backing remaining above 60% in most of the eight cities. Erdogan, speaking to his supporters, declared that he was far ahead, despite the final results not yet being available. The outcome defied pollsters’ predictions, who had suggested that Kilicdaroglu held an advantage and could potentially win without a run-off.

Unconfirmed results quoted by the state news agency Anadolu suggested that Erdogan’s AK Party, in alliance with the nationalist MHP, was heading for a parliamentary majority, with 316 seats out of 600. This result showcases the deep polarization within Turkish society, a century after the founding of the modern Turkish republic by Kemal Ataturk.

As the expected run-off approaches, it remains uncertain how close the race will be. Speculation has already emerged regarding the 5% of votes received by the third candidate, ultranationalist Sinan Ogan. Both Erdogan and Kilicdaroglu will likely seek Ogan’s endorsement, but it is unclear if his supporters will follow suit.

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Turkey’s President Erdogan is facing a strong opposition in the upcoming elections, as his main rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu has managed to unite allies from various political backgrounds. Kilicdaroglu, accompanied by his supporters, delivered a passionate speech in Ankara, promising to restore “peace and democracy.”

Erdogan, who has been in power for two decades, defended his record, claiming that he has successfully overcome numerous challenges, including the struggling economy and devastating earthquakes in February. The issues of the economy and natural disasters have been the focal points of the campaign for both the presidency and parliament.

Kilicdaroglu, aged 74, is known for his soft-spoken nature, but he delivered a strong speech that resonated with those who see him as their best chance to regain power from Erdogan, who has centralized authority and expanded his own powers significantly.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the main opposition candidate, is slightly leading in the opinion polls, and his supporters are hopeful that he might secure more than 50% of the vote, avoiding a run-off election in two weeks.

The alliance supporting Kilicdaroglu includes conservatives, nationalists, and even a pro-Islamist party, which has delighted many of his followers. Kilicdaroglu’s party maintains a strong secular stance but has made efforts to appeal to women who wear the headscarf. The six parties in the alliance have come together under the slogan “Haydi” (Come on!) and have a campaign song of the same name.

Tensions are running high in the lead-up to the election. Kilicdaroglu even wore a bullet-proof vest during his final rally in Ankara and at a previous event, highlighting the intensity of the race.

Muharrem Ince, one of the candidates for the presidency, withdrew from the race, citing targeted attacks on social media with manipulated videos aimed at swaying the electorate. The atmosphere surrounding the election has become both tense and crucial.

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Turkey stands at a critical juncture as its citizens must choose between two leading contenders for the presidency, each offering distinct visions for the future of the country.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has held power for over 20 years, pledges to establish a robust and collaborative Turkey, aiming to generate six million job opportunities. Erdogan also accuses the Western world of attempting to undermine his leadership. His political party, rooted in Islamism, aligns itself with traditional family values, while he portrays his opponents as “pro-LGBT.”

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, Erdogan’s main rival, enjoys broad support from the opposition and advocates for steering Turkey towards a more democratic and pro-Western position. He plans to revert the country, which is a NATO member, to a parliamentary system with a prime minister at the helm. Kilicdaroglu seeks to restore the independence of the judiciary, promote a free press, and position himself as an impartial leader, detached from any political party.

Erdogan currently wields extensive presidential powers, having governed under a state of emergency since 2017. Some believe that if he secures another term, there may not be significant changes as his authority is already substantial, and he may not seek to expand it further. Conversely, Kilicdaroglu aims to dismantle the presidential system and adopt a more impartial leadership approach, prioritizing the interests of all 85 million Turkish citizens.

These elections have far-reaching implications for Turkey’s trajectory, with Erdogan championing a strong and multilateral Turkey, while Kilicdaroglu advocates for a return to pro-Western policies, bolstered democracy, and independent institutions such as the judiciary and media.

In addition to Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Kemal Kilicdaroglu, there are five other parties in Kilicdaroglu’s alliance, each of which would have a vice president. Furthermore, Erdogan’s party colleagues who serve as mayors of Ankara and Istanbul would also hold vice presidential positions.

Before completely abolishing the powerful presidency, Kilicdaroglu’s coalition might need to utilize the presidency’s extensive powers to implement reforms if they lack sufficient control over the parliament.

Both parliamentary and presidential elections are scheduled to take place on May 14th. While Turkey is a member of NATO, Erdogan’s presidency has pursued close relationships with China and Russia. This includes the procurement of a Russian S-400 air defense system and the inauguration of Turkey’s first Russian-built nuclear plant, signaling closer ties with Russia ahead of the elections.

Erdogan advocates for a multilateral approach, positioning Turkey as a “haven of peace and security.” He also presents Ankara as a potential mediator in the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian conflict. On the other hand, Kilicdaroglu and his allies aim to revive Turkey’s EU accession process and restore military ties with the United States while maintaining relations with Russia.

Should Erdogan remain in power, Selim Koru believes that he will continue to steer Turkey away from the West while retaining its NATO membership. Erdogan envisions a future where Turkey’s NATO affiliation becomes less relevant in the medium to long term.

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Mexico is receiving a German Shepherd puppy from Turkey as a token of gratitude for Mexico’s search and rescue dogs’ help during February’s earthquake in Turkey. The puppy is intended to continue the legacy of Proteo, a Mexican rescue dog who passed away during the rescue operations.

The Mexican Ministry of Defense has asked people to vote on one of three names for the puppy: Proteo II, Arkadas, or Yardim. Mexico has specialized civilian and military teams with canine units that search for survivors during natural disasters.

These dogs gained popularity after saving several lives during the 2017 earthquake in central Mexico. When Turkey and Syria were struck by a massive earthquake in February, Mexico quickly deployed rescue teams with search dogs to assist in finding survivors.

During the rescue mission in Turkey, Proteo, a nine-year-old German Shepherd, located a man and a woman under the rubble before he died from exhaustion, according to his trainer. Proteo’s remains were returned to Mexico, where he was honoured in a ceremony before being buried.

Mexico’s Ministry of Defense, on its Facebook page, expressed gratitude for the puppy donated by Turkey, and hoped it would continue Proteo’s legacy in their search and rescue missions.

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has halted election campaigning after falling ill during a live TV interview. The broadcast abruptly ended, and after a 20-minute break, he returned to explain that he had contracted a serious stomach flu after two days of intense campaigning.

Erdogan, who is 69 years old, is facing a challenging election campaign, with main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu being selected to run for a group of six political parties.

The latest polls show a close race between the two men, with Kilicdaroglu having a good chance of winning the election on May 14, with a possible presidential run-off two weeks later. On Wednesday, Erdogan cancelled three appearances in central Anatolia on the advice of doctors.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan cancelled his scheduled events on Thursday, including the opening of Turkey’s first nuclear power station at Akkuyu, due to his illness. The nuclear power station’s inauguration was supposed to coincide with the upcoming election, but Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin will now attend online instead. During a live broadcast on Tuesday, Erdogan fell ill, causing the screen to go blank.

He returned after a break to explain that he had a serious stomach flu. There were speculations on social media that Erdogan had suffered a heart attack, but his head of communications, Fahrettin Altun, rejected the baseless claims and posted screenshots of the accounts spreading the allegations on social media.

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The catastrophic earthquake that shook Turkey on February 6th struck 200 miles from the epicentre, where freelance journalist Mir Ali Koçer was located. He drove down to the damaged area, picked up his camera and microphone, and began interviewing survivors.

On Twitter, he posted accounts of rescuers and survivors. He is currently being investigated for allegedly spreading “false news” and could spend up to three years in prison. At least four journalists are being looked into for reporting or making comments on the earthquake, including him.

Several more have reportedly been imprisoned, intimidated, or prevented from reporting, according to press freedom organisations. Turkey and Syria both experienced earthquakes that resulted in at least 50,000 fatalities. The detentions have not been addressed by the Turkish government.

Mr. Koçer, a Kurd who writes for pro-opposition news outlets like Bianet and Duvar, was smoking on his balcony in the southeast Turkish city of Diyarbakir the night of the earthquake when his two dogs started barking out of the blue.

Afterwards, he recalled how they had yelled in a similar manner in 2020, shortly before a lesser earthquake struck eastern Turkey.

After leaving Diyarbakir, Mr. Koçer went to Gaziantep. He was horrified to see images of carnage and victims suffering in subfreezing temperatures in villages close to the earthquake’s epicentre.

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According to his agent, the body of former Premier League player and Ghanaian Christian Atsu was discovered in Turkey’s earthquake debris.

Atsu, 31, was wrongly reported to have been rushed to the hospital last week. He was really playing for Super Lig team Hatayspor following earlier stops at Newcastle United and Everton.

After the earthquakes that struck Turkey and Syria on February 6 and killed tens of thousands of people, he had been reported missing in Antakya.

Nana Sechere tweeted: “It is with the heaviest of hearts that I have to announce to all well wishers that sadly Christian Atsu’s body was recovered this morning. My deepest condolences go to his family and loved ones.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their prayers and support. I ask that whilst we make the necessary arrangements, that everyone would please respect the privacy of the family during this very difficult time.”

After spending a portion of his boyhood at the Feyenoord academy in Ghana, Atsu joined Porto in 2011 and then signed with Chelsea for a sum of £3.5 million two years later. He was loaned to Vitesse, Bournemouth, Everton, and Málaga and did not play for the Blues’ first team.

Atsu had a fruitful loan season with Newcastle in 2016–17, and the following year, he committed permanently to the team for £6.2 million. He played with the Magpies for 75 games before moving on to Al-Raed in Saudi Arabia and then Hatayspor. On February 5, the day before two tragic earthquakes shook southeast Turkey, Atsu entered the game as a replacement and scored the game-winning goal against Kasimpasa.

Outside from football, Atsu served as an ambassador for the children’s charity Arms Around the Child, which has offices in Ghana, South Africa, and India and offers homes, protection, support, and education for kids.

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According to Turkish authorities, 113 arrest warrants have been issued in relation to the building of the structures that were destroyed by the earthquake on Monday. There have already been at least 12 people detained by Turkish police, including construction workers.

Rescue operations have been hampered in some areas due to protests in southern Turkey. More than 28,000 individuals have now been officially declared dead in Turkey and Syria.

More arrests are anticipated, but many will interpret the move as an effort to shift responsibility for the catastrophe in general.

Since many new buildings in Turkey are unsafe because of widespread corruption and government practises, experts have been warning about this for years.

In order to promote a construction boom, including in earthquake-prone areas, those rules permitted so-called amnesties for contractors who flouted building regulations.

The earthquake caused the collapse of thousands of buildings, prompting concerns about whether human error contributed to the severity of the natural disaster. After 20 years in office, the president’s future is in jeopardy as elections approach.

The United Nations’ top humanitarian official, who was in the Turkish province of Kahramanmaras on Saturday, called the earthquake the “worst occurrence in this region in 100 years.”

For the first time in 35 years, the Turkish-Armenian border crossing reopened on Saturday to permit the passage of aid.

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Following Monday’s earthquakes, rescuers in Turkey are looking for a group of school volleyball players inside a collapsed hotel when they discover three bodies. Officials in Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus reported that the bodies of two teachers and a student were found in the Isias Hotel in Adiyaman.

39 individuals, including teams for both boys and girls, are alleged to have been present when the structure collapsed. The location, where the relatives of the players have gathered, is still under search.

In southern Turkey and northern Syria, the earthquakes have claimed thousands of lives. Along with their coaches and parents, the players had travelled to Adiyaman from Famagusta Turkish Maarif College.

Four members of the group are known to have survived the collapse of the seven-story building, having apparently made their own way out of the rubble.

Officials were quoted by Turkish-Cypriot media as claiming that an eighth-grade student was recovered after the bodies of two instructors were discovered on Wednesday, bringing the total number of fatalities to three.

Around 170 people, including family members and rescuers, have travelled to the wreckage from the portion of Northern Cyprus that is under Turkish control. They would stay there until the remaining pupils were located, according to an island education official.

One of the mothers at the scene questioned the structures’ construction and inquired as to whether they had undergone sufficient inspection.

It is known that deaths occurred in the two countries for close to 16,000 people. The World Health Organization has cautioned that without food, water, shelter, fuel, or electricity, many more people risk dying.

More than 72 hours after the disaster happened, expectations are dwindling for the numerous people left under wrecked structures as freezing weather creeps in.

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