President and ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Chair Recep Tayyip Erdoğan addressed the public after the Presidential cabinet meeting in the capital city of Ankara yesterday (November 8).

Erdoğan talked about a series of issues, including the natural gas and electricity prices, the coronavirus pandemic, in-class education and the swearwords uttered by opposition İYİ Party's Lütfü Türkkan for a citizen as well as women's organizations and the İstanbul Convention.

He argued that while "the natural gas prices have increased from 115 US dollars to 1,100 US dollars in Europe, Turkey is still offering the natural gas consumed by citizens in households for nearly 150 USD."

Listing the "price cuts and support" provided by the state for natural gas and electricity bills and fuel oil prices, Erdoğan announced that "the TRT and Energy Fund shares on electricity bills have been lifted."

Referring to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak amid high numbers of cases and fatalities in the country, the President underlined, "The debate on schools must end now. In-class education at schools will definitely continue." Erdoğan also "broke the good news" that 40 thousand new healthcare personnel will be appointed to the Ministry of Health.

Erdoğan on women's rights

Further in his speech, Erdoğan lashed out at Lütfü Türkkan from opposition İYİ Party, who has recently resigned from office as the Parliamentary Group Deputy Chair upon the request of İYİ Party Chair Meral Akşener amid huge backlash over the swearwords he uttered for a citizen.

Addressing women's organizations, Erdoğan said:

"I am calling out to the women's NGOs from here. You, women's NGO, what do you do? Will you rise up only when a female, a woman from your organization is sworn at and insulted? Why don't you take up to the streets when the sister of a martyr of ours is sworn at and insulted? I wonder for how long you will keep on ignoring the attack on the sister of our martyr.

"Whoever utters a sentence starting with İstanbul Convention in this country, our women must first show the strongest reaction against them."

Uttered some four months after Turkey's final withdrawal from the İstanbul Convention by a Presidential decision amid widespread protests, these remarks have caused an outrage among women.

What happened?

Turkey has withdrawn from the İstanbul Convention with a Presidential decision published in the Official Gazette on March 20, 2021.

The decision in question said that "the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, which was signed by Turkey on May 11, 2011 and approved with the Cabinet Decree no. 2012/2816 on February 10, 2012, shall be terminated on the part of Turkey as per the Article 3 of the Presidential Decree no. 9."

Following this Presidential decision published at midnight, several social media users, women's rights defenders, lawyers and politicians, denounced the decision, recalling that the convention was unanimously approved at the Parliament and stressing that it is not possible for Turkey to withdraw from an international convention with a Presidential decision.

After the Presidential decision pulling Turkey out of the İstanbul Convention was met with criticisms and objections in both Turkey and around the world, the Communications Directorate of the Presidency released a written statement about the issue on March 22.

"As known, Turkey was the first signatory to the Istanbul Convention," the statement noted, arguing that the "İstanbul Convention, originally intended to promote women's rights, was hijacked by a group of people attempting to normalize homosexuality – which is incompatible with Turkey's social and family values. Hence the decision to withdraw."

The 10th Chamber of the Council of State finalized the court cases demanding the stay of execution and annulment of the Presidential decision withdrawing Turkey from the İstanbul Convention ahead of July 1, when the İstanbul Convention will no longer be in force in Turkey, according to the Article 80 of the Convention regarding denunciation.

By a vote of three to two, the 10th Chamber of the Council of State has rejected the requests for the stay of execution and annulment of the Presidential decision, which has pulled Turkey out of the İstanbul Convention, or the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence.