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Meşelik: University shooting, 4 killed

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A research assistant at a university killed 4 people on the Meşelik campus of Eskişehir Osmangazi University at around 3:00 p.m. The research assistant, Volkan Bayar, 37, killed deputy dean Mikail Yalçın, faculty secretary Fatih Özmutlu, research assistant Yasin Armağan and lecturer Serdar Çağlak at the education faculty of the university. The university’s rector Hasan Gönen said there had already been an ongoing investigation into Bayar. Bayar had accused some academics of being a member of FETÖ and investigation was ongoing but he was on duty. The dean was probably his target. There may have been verbal discussions with the dean before. Ayşe Aypay, who had a conflict with the assailant, said they had filed a complaint about him many times and they have filed a petition to the [Education] Ministry’s Council of Higher Education [YÖK] and the presidency has retained it. The attack sparked panic at the university and university officials announced that faculty exams were canceled. Meanwhile, the assailant surrendered and was detained by police following the attack. There was no indication of the assailant’s motive, describing him as a research fellow at the university working in the education faculty. Police took him for questioning. 

Tripartite summit of Iran, Russia and Turkey

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After a tripartite summit in Ankara, the Turkish, Russian and Iranian presidents stressed their joint resolve to oppose separatism as well as the use of terrorism as an excuse for changing Syria. The statement followed a two-hour closed-door meeting among Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. They emphasized their strong and continued commitment to Syria’s sovereignty, independence, unity, territorial integrity and non-sectarian character. In the statement, they “expressed their determination to stand against separatist agendas aimed at undermining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria as well as the national security of neighboring countries.” The leaders “expressed their conviction that there could be no military solution to the Syrian conflict and that the conflict could be ended only through a negotiated political process.” 

They believe in an agreement to form a Constitutional Committee, supported by the UN Secretary-General and the international community. They reiterated “the necessity to assist the Syrians in restoring the unity of their country and in achieving a political solution of the ongoing conflict through an inclusive, free, fair and transparent Syrian-led and Syrian-owned process based on the free will of the Syrian people and leading to a constitution enjoying the support of the Syrian people, and free and fair elections with the participation of all eligible Syrians under appropriate UN supervision”. The presidents also reaffirmed their determination to continue their active cooperation on Syria for the achievement of a lasting cease-fire. The three countries will continue cooperation in the fight against terrorism and their efforts to ensure calm on the ground and protect civilians in the de-escalation areas. They stressed that the creation of de-escalation areas was temporary as provided for under a May 2017 memorandum. The statement also took note of developments on Syria since their previous meeting last November in Sochi. 

EU to send a technical team for visa exemption

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Turkey’s EU Minister Ömer Çelik told members of the Turkish Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee that EU will send a technical team to Turkey for agreement on the proposal for granting a visa exemption. The technical team to be deployed to Ankara will officially discuss the content of the Turkish proposals, which include an amendment on the anti-terror law and the data protection law. The visa liberalization process had to delay because of the problems between Ankara and Brussels. In fact, countries like Germany, Austria and Netherlands have sharpened their position against the Turkish accession, with the new government in Vienna openly calling to end accession talks. The EU minister slammed recent remarks from Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who called on the EU to end accession negations with Turkey. In the meantime, the Turkish EU minister will travel to Paris on April 4 for talks with French Foreign Minister Jean Yves Le Drian and France’s EU Minister Nathalie Loiseau in Paris. During the meeting, they will talk about recent developments in Turkey-EU relations, bilateral ties, as well as regional developments. Turkey blasted Macron’s meeting with the YPG delegation at the French presidency last week, as well as his offer to mediate between Ankara and the Syrian Kurdish group. Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist organization due to its links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). 

Erdogan, Putin Turkey’s first nuclear plant

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During a ceremony in the capital Ankara on April 3, Turkey and Russia launched construction of Turkey’s first nuclear power plant in the province of Mersin. Erdoğan said that the Akkuyu plant will become the 56th nuclear plant under construction in the world and the first reactor of the Akkuyu plant will put into operation in 2023. Erdogan added that the relationship with Russia is very important, referring to an agreement for Ankara to purchase long-range S-400 missile defense systems from Russia and the Turkstream natural gas pipeline project to transport Russian gas. Putin said that they are founding Turkey’s nuclear sector and they aim to produce the first energy unit in 2023, on the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Turkey. He added that the nuclear plant will supply 10 percent of Turkey’s electricity demand. The plant will have a capacity of 4,800 megawatts in four units and a working life of 8,000 hours per year. In the first phase of the construction, two units with a capacity of 2,400 megawatts are planned. 

Turkey’s TAEK atomic energy authority on April 2 granted Russian builder Rosatom a construction license to start work on the first unit of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant. Meanwhile, Turkey’s approval for Gazprom’s onshore portion of the TurkStream gas pipeline’s second line is still pending, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on April 3. All permissions for the offshore part have been received and it is under construction, he added. Akkuyu nuclear plant will be built by Russia’s Rosatom on the Mediterranean coast for a price tag of $20 billion. Rosatom holds a majority share in the plant with 51 percent, while 49 percent was originally planned to be divided between a Turkish consortium of three contracting conglomerates under the name Cengiz-Kolin-Kalyon (CKK), but Kolin and Kalyon decided to pull out of the project because of an inability to agree on commercial terms. Rosatom has said it is talking to Turkish state electricity producer EÜAŞ as a new shareholder in the project. 

U.S, Turkey in talks over patriot missiles

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Turkey and the United States are in talks over the procurement of the Patriot missile system, and a senior U.S. official is expected to pay a visit to Ankara on March 31 to discuss the issue. Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said that Turkey will continue talks on Patriot missiles and other systems compatible with NATO, adding that Ankara looks positively towards all kinds of joint work that will guarantee the security of the southern borders of the country. He said that the U.S. is still an ally despite the situation in Syria. Yıldırım said that this would not be an “alternative” to the Russian S-400 anti-missile defense systems, that are “independent” systems. Turkey continues to hold talks with the Franco-Italian Eurosam consortium and the U.S. to buy missile defense systems. In fact, the system that Turkey is buying from Russia cannot be integrated into NATO systems. Foreign Ministry undersecretary Ümit Yalçın is set to visit Washington soon, “possibly next week,” as part of working groups established between Turkey and the U.S., said Aksoy.

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