Turkey's agreement to rehome thousands of Syrian refugees in exchange for greater freedom around EU has sparked controversy around Europe, especially in the UK where both sides of the Brexit camp are weighing in on Turkey's possible EU accession. We explore Turkey's history with the EU - and discuss how likely it is that the country will be granted EU membership.
Turkish property & economy news
With the aim of boosting the property market, the government is planning to offer work permits to anyone who buys Turkish real estate above a certain level. The move follows the 2013 offer of residency visas for home buyers, and will probably extend to allowing buyers to become Turkish citizens. Turkey's property market is booming, with properties increasing by 93 percent in the last five years. However, critics say the market still has room to grow.
The days of 3G mobile data are long gone - in Turkey, anyway. With the roll out of 4.5G data across the country, Turks can now stream, download and make video calls faster than ever before. With 5G data tipped to arrive in 2020, 4.5G is an interim data measure that will be most welcome in a country of voracious mobile users.
Istanbul's Selim Bridge, the third link between the Asian and European sides of the city, was completed on Sunday in an official linking ceremony attended by Turkey's president and prime minister. The enormous suspension bridge will officially open in August and will help ease traffic in the city, as well as being an important link to the Marmara Motorway. The bridge is one of a number of city-changing infrastructure projects championed by President Erdogan.
News from around Turkey: A Turkish town is up for a Nobel Prize for its acceptance of and work with Syrian refugees; an unauthorised Banksy exhibition flies in the face of the artist's anti-commercialisation stance - but might just raise awareness of refugees in Istanbul; an Antalya company is hoping to start tourist submarine trips from Alanya; EXPO 2016 could see the likes of Justin Bieber and Madonna visit Antalya; and Turkey's Grand Bazaar is set to receive a facelift.
Turkey's property market is set to receive a huge boost with the introduction of a "Golden Visa" scheme, like that already in operation in Portugal and Cyprus. Anyone investing $500,000 will receive automatic residency, a move likely to attract more investors, especially in Istanbul, Turkey's number one spot for overseas property buying. The move will also net billions for the Turkish economy.
Data released by the Turkish Statistics Agency (TUIK) shows that real estate sales in Turkey to foreigners have increased by a huge 23.8% in October 2015 over the same period in 2014. Showing continued faith, growth, and appeal, it seems as though investors and home buyers will not be deterred from the ever growing Turkish property sector.
It's been a rocky few months for Turkey. Following an inconclusive general election in June, majority party AKP failed to form a coalilition with any of the opposing parties. A second general election, held this past weekend, yielded much more decisive votes: AKP is back, and with enough votes to lead without need of a coalition. Whatever you think of President Erdogan, it's clear the economic reforms he spearheaded in the past decade or so have brought the country incredible prosperity. With Erdogan back holding the reigns, the lira has rallied and investment will surely follow.
Ancient tombs in Fethiye used as a dumping ground have been cleared after a media outcry; a group of excavated gladiator tombs are to be exhibited in Mersin; two trade deals with Russia could earn Turkey $100 billion; a sunken island in Istanbul is attracting great interest; the site of the Ankara bombings is to be renamed Democracy Square, and EU states attempt to hammer out a deal to ease the flow of refugees into Europe.
A bull intended for a Kurban Bayram sacrifice made a bid for freedom just outside of Istanbul. Elsewhere in Turkey, Istanbul residents are outraged over three new ferries that have been introduced without consultation; ancient artifacts have been uncovered at Demre, the resting place of Saint Nicholas; a Roman-era sarcophagus will be returned to its rightful home in Turkey; and 41 million tourists are expected to visit Turkey by the end of of this year, matching 2014 figures.
The largest migration in recent history has pushed Europe and the countries bordering Syria into crisis point. Governments are struggling to deal with the influx of refugees fleeing civil war, with few countries wanting to take responsibility. Turkey has admitted the largest number of refugees - almost two million - and while resources are stretched, grassroots and local government organisations are working hard to deal with the growing numbers of displaced people.
This week in tourism news: a restoration of a 2000-year-old Istanbul castle has social media abuzz with comparisons to children’s cartoon character Spongebob Squarepants; a sea tunnel currently under construction in Istanbul should be completed ahead of schedule by the end of next year; an index report shows Turkey still has plenty of room for improvement in the tourist stakes; the introduction of tax-free zones mean tourists can visit designated resort areas without passports, boosting spending; and cruise ship traffic is on the rise, especially in Istanbul and Izmir.