Turkish Government Fights Financial War With Cruise Lines

Turkish Government Fights War With Cruise Lines
Turkish Government Fights War With Cruise Lines
Istanbul Cruise Terminal
Istanbul Cruise Terminal

On February 19, 2017, we posted, “Royal Caribbean has decided to cancel all scheduled stops in Turkey for the 2017 cruise season, citing “unpredictability” in the country.

In a statement to travel agents, Royal Caribbean said that due to the current unpredictability of Turkey, and taking guests’ and crew members’ safety and well being into account, Royal Caribbean has decided to replace our calls in Ephesus (Kusadasi) with alternate ports-of-call for the 2017 Europe season.

“We truly regret having to take this action and thank you for your understanding and cooperation. Any decision we make is made in an abundance of caution and safety, as your clients experience in our ports of call is always our utmost priority.”

The Royal Caribbean avoidance of Turkey was on the heels of Carnival Corporation, Cunard Line, P&O Cruises, Celebrity Cruises and Windstar Cruises  decision to cancel Turkish port calls in December 2017.

Today, fighting back at the cruise lines, the Turkish government announced an incentive program for “cruise ships carrying over 100 passengers calling at Turkish ports in 2018 and 2019. Covering the period January 1, 2018, to December 31, 2019, the incentives apply to any cruise ship carrying more than 100 passengers. The Incentive Pack ranges from $25 up to $45 per passenger depending on the season and will be paid to cruise lines via shore excursions agencies.”

The population of Istanbul is 15 million in a country of 79.51 million. That compares to the United States with a population of 325.7 million, or roughly four times the size of Turkey. Though a fairly large nation, some things are very close, in fact too close for comfort. It is only 11 kilometers or 6.8 miles from the Atatürk Airport in Istanbul, Turkey to the Istanbul cruise terminal. You would think the close proximity of the airport to the cruise terminal would be great for tourism and would be very convenient for travelers.

Ambulances By Dozens After Suicide Bombers Istanbul Airport June 28 2016
Ambulances By Dozens After Suicide Bombers Istanbul Airport Attack June 28 2016

The Problem With Turkey – War Zone

A June 28, 2016  terror attack at Atatürk Airport in Istanbul, Turkey by a trio of suicide bombers at the airport, left at least 42 dead and more than 230 wounded, making  it clear, travel to Istanbul was unsafe.

After the failed coup two weeks later on July 15, 2016, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had more than 50,000 people arrested and 150,000 sacked or suspended from their jobs. Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police, military personnel and public servants were among those ensnared in the crack down. Turkey had become a massive human rights casualty of living in a war zone.

A   Turkish  court had sentenced 25 journalists to jail for alleged links to a group the government blames for a failed coup attempt in July 15, 2016. Twenty-three of them were convicted of membership of an armed terrorist organisation and were given prison terms of up to seven and a half years.

Human Rights Violations

Turkey launched an invasion of Syria in January 2017 to oust the People’s Protection Units (YPG) from the northwestern Syrian city of Afrin. On March 18, nearly two months later, they succeeded, and Turkish President Erdogan has plans of continuing the operation where civilians were killed as thousands fled the Turkish air strikes.

Further problems have arisen in Turkey due to the fact there is no specific anti-corruption and anti-bribery law in Turkey. The Ethics Rules Law is not applicable to the President, members of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, members of the Council of Ministers, members of the Turkish Armed Forces, and members of the judiciary and universities, thereby making corruption extensive. In a December report, 234,419 passports have been revoked.

Human Rights ViolationsOn Tuesday, March 20, 2018, the United Nations called on Turkey to end its 18-month-old state of emergency, saying that the routine extension of emergency powers has resulted in “profound” human rights violations against hundreds of thousands of people and may have lasting impact on the country’s socio-economic fabric.

Numerous watchdog newspapers including the Christian Broadcasting Network have published articles alleging that a March 7, 2018 article in the Turkish daily Yeni Şafak newspaper, which has close ties to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling AKP party, exposes the regime’s desire to form an “Army of Islam” to attack and destroy the State of Israel.

The article calls on the 57 member nations of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) throughout the Muslim world to join forces with their combined 5 million soldiers against the Israeli “occupiers” who would then be vastly outnumbered and unable to defend their country. The article was translated and posted by MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute),

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) founded in 1998 by Yigal Carmon. It is registered in the US with the IRS as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.  Carmon was a colonel at Aman, the Israeli military intelligence service, and later counter-terrorism advisor to Israeli prime ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Yitzhak Shamir. MEMRI is a nonprofit press monitoring and analysis organization with headquarters in Washington, D.C. MEMRI publishes and distributes free English language translations of Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Pashto, and Turkish media reports.

August 2011, the United States Department of State’s Office of International Religious Freedom in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, awarded MEMRI a $200,000 grant.

Clearly it is too soon to reverse the travel penalty against Turkey and once again begin putting cruise industry money back into the hands of those who would gladly bite the hands of those feed them.

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Video:World War 3: Turkey’s Erdogan calls for ‘ARMY of Islam’ to ATTACK Israel on all sides – DAILY NEWS