Turkey Country Report
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan achieved his long-standing ambition of establishing himself as executive president in the elections held on 24 June 2018. Erdoğan will now rule based on Turkey’s new constitution, passed in 2017, which entails diminished checks and balances over executive authority. Reduced predictability is likely, particularly in foreign and economic policy, as manifested during the recent US-Turkey diplomatic crisis and the resulting collapse of the Turkish lira. Meanwhile, Erdoğan's own party now depends on its ultranationalist coalition partners for a combined parliamentary majority. The integration of the ultranationalists into the government renders a ceasefire with the Kurdish separatist Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan (PKK) in southeastTurkey highly unlikely. There remains an elevated risk of high-casualty attacks by the Islamic State and PKK affiliates in Ankara and Istanbul.
An obstructive bureaucracy and commonplace corruption remain operational weaknesses, particularly for companies seeking either state tenders or business permits without a political connection. Bureaucratic inefficiency was further exacerbated by the upheaval of Turkey's legal institutions after the 16 April 2017 constitutional referendum, adding to existing instability resulting from the government's extensive purges in late 2016. Although striking rights are constitutionally enshrined, labour strikes and work stoppages in practice remain uncommon in Turkey, in part due to the state of emergency in place since the July 2016 coup attempt, as well as domination of the labour market by "yellow" labour unions that enjoy close relations with the government.
Fighting between the Kurdistan Workers' Party (Partiya Karkerên Kurdistanê: PKK) and the government in the country's southeast has abated after reaching a peak in mid-2016. Likely targets for the PKK in the southeast are security forces assets and personnel, as well as pipelines and hydropower plants. Meanwhile, there remains an elevated risk of improvised explosive device (IED) and shooting attacks by PKK affiliates and Islamic State militants in major cities like Istanbul and Ankara. Both groups are likely to target the security forces, while the Islamic State is equally likely to target touristic locations, airports, and malls, although its intent will probably remain unmatched by its capacity.
Turkey's military entrenchment in northern Syria is unlikely to give rise to reprisal attacks by the Syrian government, with Turkey's military intervention having taken place with consent from the Syrian government's patron, Russia. Although Turkey considers the territorial consolidation of the Syrian-Kurdish militia group YPG a major threat, a Turkish ground operation against YPG militants, on the eastern bank of the Euphrates river, remains highly unlikely while the militants remain supported locally by US military personnel. However, there remains an elevated risk of an unintended escalation, involving Turkey's Syrian proxy groups and the US-backed YPG, which would risk drawing in Turkish and US personnel.
The re-emergence of mass opposition protests in key cities such as Istanbul and Ankara is highly unlikely, with opposition leaders having acknowledged President Erdoğan's victory in the 24 June 2018 elections. Nonetheless, in the extreme event of an opposition protest movement emerging, there would probably be counter-protests by government supporters, resulting in localised violence, entailing collateral property damage risks, resulting from stone throwing and arson, and the erection of makeshift road barriers. Violent protests in Turkey's Kurdish-majority southeast are unlikely in the one-year outlook, as evinced by the relative inaction of the Kurdish population since a spate of unrest in 2014.
Vaccinations required to enter the country
No vaccinations are required to enter the country.
Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.
Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.
Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).
Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).
Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).
For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.
Natural disasters also pose a potentially significant threat to visitors to the country. Turkey is situated in one of the most active seismic zones in the world; the north of the country often experiences violent earthquakes (e.g. the Izmit earthquake in the summer of 1999 that left 18,000 dead). The east is also affected; a powerful 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck eastern Turkey on October 23, 2011, causing 500 deaths.
Turkey also occasionally experiences destructive torrential rains and consequent flooding and landslides. Heavy rain in Istanbul caused flash flooding and significant transportation disruptions on three separate occasions in summer 2017.
The road network is of good quality in big cities and infrastructural improvement projects are underway. Road signs are posted in accordance with international protocol. However, traffic fatality rates are worryingly high in Turkey. Pedestrians do not have the right-of-way on Turkish roads and should exercise extreme caution when crossing the street; drivers are generally aggressive and frequently ignore traffic regulations. It is advised to avoid traveling at night on smaller roads outside cities.
It is recommended to use only official taxis equipped with a meter.
The rail network is reliable and connects the major main cities. High-speed rail lines (YHT), which are cheap and comfortable, run between Ankara-Konya and Eskisehir-Istanbul.
Many local airlines operate flights between major cities. Winter weather conditions can lead to severe delays and cancelations, especially in Istanbul at the Istanbul-Atatürk (IST) and Sabiha Gökçen airports.
Travelers should be aware that traffic restrictions may be enforced in districts neighboring Syria and Iraq as well as in the department of Agri, where access to Mounts Ararat and Tendürek requires prior government authorization.
Turkey's climate varies by region. The climate is Mediterranean in nature along the Aegean and Mediterranean seas; summers there are hot and winters are mild. The climate is continental inland with temperatures than can fall below 0°C in the winter and climb above 40°C in the summer (particularly in Anatolia). Along the coast of the Black Sea the climate is more temperate and wetter.
Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz