IIn brutal Turkish films, there is a clichéd saying by Mafia bosses: “It’s easy to get into this world, but difficult to get out of.” This sentence also sums up the politics that Turkey has in view of the Covid-19 plague that the whole world is fighting against. No matter in which country you live, you can enter Turkey freely. You don’t ask for a Covid-19 test or a health certificate. However, if you want to leave Turkey, you cannot get on the plane without having presented the Turkish Airlines check-in staff with a certificate of a negative Covid-19 test. The reason for this is clear: in the countries to which the plane flies, you know very well how serious the pandemic situation in Turkey looks. That’s why you don’t let anyone in without a negative test result. It is also clear why we do not require a certificate when entering the country: We have no money, we are dependent on the foreign exchange of the tourists. The bitter rule of the Mafia also applies to us: It’s easy to get into Turkey, but difficult to get out of.
On the Turkish version of the column
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As everywhere in the world, the epidemic also expanded in Turkey from March. In April, the daily infection rate peaked at 5138 cases. But we are not doing anyone an injustice: Due to various measures by the government and the great willingness of health workers to make sacrifices, the rate was reduced to 786 at the beginning of June. However, for those in power in Turkey there was something that mattered more than health: the economy. On June 1, Erdogan stepped in front of the cameras and announced steps towards “normalization”. In order to revive the economy, which was already in crisis before the pandemic, and to stimulate domestic and foreign tourism, virtually all measures were suspended. Doctors warned that normalization too soon is causing the pandemic to spiral out of control. But the government had no ear for such appeals.
There is currently one allegation that low case numbers are being deliberately published so that foreign tourists can continue to come to the country. All travel restrictions have been lifted. Shopping centers opened their doors. Erdogan inaugurated the Hagia Sophia Mosque with 350,000 guests and held a meeting in an Anatolian city with thousands of people. While doctors pleaded for social distance, he had a hundred thousand party members come to Istanbul for a celebration. The number of cases soared again to almost 2000 infected people per day. According to the official figures, which are to be viewed with reservations, the daily rate of corona deaths has exceeded sixty. Around seventy health care workers have now died. Medical professionals experience that their bitter fight against the virus was practically in vain. They revolted last week.
In order to draw attention to the fact that the number of infections is increasing and to commemorate their deceased colleagues, the Turkish medical association TTB, in which 88 percent of the doctors are organized, said last week for the protest week under the motto “You are not able to govern, we go on it ”. From the beginning of the pandemic, the doctors had criticized health policy and called for the figures to be made transparent. Now they performed short actions in hospitals with a black bow on the collar. As a result, the association – the nation’s largest health care organization – was accused of treason. Devlet Bahçeli, chairman of Erdogan’s right-wing extremist coalition partner MHP, described the action with the black ribbon as a “toxic and sick plot” and called for the medical association to be banned. Bahçeli went further and said the doctors involved in the action were “more dangerous than the virus”.