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x0x Turkish News for the week ending 24 June 2017

[This is a transcript of the news broadcast on 24 June 2017]

Courtesy of Turkish Radio Hour, producer of the

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Edited by Fuad Tokad

★ Main opposition Republican People's Party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said that he wants a Turkey free of tension, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.

  "Turkey has suffered and has been suffering from tensions. I wish for a Turkey that we can get rid of tensions," Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu said in Turkey's western province of Bolu on the 10th day of his party's "Justice March."

  The Republican People's Party started its "Justice March" after its Istanbul deputy Enis Berberoğlu was sentenced to 25 years in jail for "revealing state secrets" on June 14 in a case into Syria-bound trucks of Turkey's National Intelligence Agency.

  The party is marching towards Istanbul from the capital Ankara.

  Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu on June 24 said that the march will add new meanings to Eid al-Fitr.

  "We are on the 10th day of the Justice March. I wish Eid al-Fitr to bring peace and well-being to our country," he also said.

  Saying that he doesn't like to talk about a Turkey that's polarized and tense, Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu noted that "the people miss a country that can live together."

  "A Turkey where people can live together, engage in civilized debates and come together is the common longing of all of us. The main aim of this march is that," he added.

  Lawyers from Istanbul bar joined Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu on the march.

★ Police have apprehended five suspected suicide bombers on Turkey's border with Syria, according to a statement released by the governor's office of Turkey's southern province of Hatay, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.

  "Five attackers who were sent to our country from Syria to carry out suicide bombings were caught in an operation on June 23 before they reached central Hatay," the statement released on June 24 read, as it added that the operation was carried out jointly by the police and intelligence units.

  In its statement, Hatay Governor's Office said that the suspects were planning to carry out suicide attacks inside Turkey.

★ There is no information that an abducted Turkish teacher has been killed by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, the governor's office in the eastern province of Tunceli has stated, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.

  Previous reports had said a 23-year-old teacher, Necmettin Yılmaz, was killed by a group of Kurdistan Workers Party militants after being abducted on a highway.

  The Tunceli Governor's Office, however, stated that efforts to find Yılmaz, who has been serving as a teacher in the Çiftçibasi village of the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa, are still ongoing.

  Yılmaz was reportedly driving on a highway en route to the Black Sea province of Gümüşhane for a vacation on June 16 when a group of Kurdistan Workers Party militants stopped his car. After he refused to meet the militants' demands, the group reportedly opened fire and abducted Yılmaz, after which they set his car alight.

★ Turkey will thwart all regional plots and those who think otherwise will get their answers on the field, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, adding that Turkey is aware of the "crisis scenarios" that are being tried to be staged in the region, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.

  "We are aware of the games being played in Syria and Iraq and the crisis scenarios that are being tried to be staged in the region. However, we hope that everyone knows this truth; Turkey is too big a bite to be swallowed in these types of games," Erdoğan said in his message released to mark Eid al-Fitr on June 24.

  A day earlier, President Erdoğan said that Turkey will "never" allow the establishment of a state in northern Syria, while criticizing the United States for cooperating with the Syrian Kurds' Democratic Union Party and its armed wing Peoples' Protection Units.

  Turkey has repeatedly asked the U.S. to cut its ties with the Peoples' Protection Units, which it says is an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, and a terrorist organization.

★ Turkey has sent a first batch of soldiers to Qatar in line with a recent deal on deployment, along with five armored vehicles, the Turkish military said June 22, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.

  "The transfer of five armored vehicles and 23 military personnel at 8 a. m. on June 22, 2017, to Doha was completed as part of a troop deploying process by the Turkish Armed Forces to Qatar" as part of a deal on "the training, cooperation and deployment of troops," it said.

  Turkey's parliament on June 7 fast-tracked legislation to allow troops to be deployed to a military base in Qatar, two days after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with Doha in the worst diplomatic crisis in the region in years, over allegations that Doha supports terrorism.

★ Two Russian warships and a submarine in the Mediterranean have fired missiles at Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) targets in Syria, the Russian defense ministry said on June 23, reports the Agence France-Presse.

  It said that Turkish and Israeli military "were informed in a timely manner of the missile launches through communication channels," but it did not mention the United States.

  Russia suspended its communication channel with the U.S. about military operations in Syria from June 19 after a U.S. jet shot down a Syrian warplane on June 18, with Moscow accusing Washington of failing to issue a warning.

★ In related news, a Russian ship used for gathering intelligence passed through Istanbul's Bosporus Strait early on June 24.

  The ship called "Kildin," which belongs to the Russian navy, headed towards the Black Sea after passing through the Bosporus at around 8:15 a. m.

  Strict security measures were taken during the passage and coast guard boats, as well as naval police accompanied the intelligence ship.

  Read more at >> here <<

★ Turkey's Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu on June 21 described Japan as Turkey's chief economic partner in the Asia-Pacific area, reports the Anatolia News Agency.

  His remarks came after meeting his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida in Tokyo to discuss bilateral relations, and regional and global issues as part of a two-day official visit.

  "Japan is our biggest economic partner in the Asia-Pacific region," Mr. Çavusoglu said during a joint press conference with Mr. Kishida after the meeting.

  He said Turkey is pleased that Japanese companies played an important role in the completion of important infrastructure projects in the country, noting that work on the Sinop Nuclear Power Plant on the Black Sea coast was continuing in cooperation with Japan.

  Mr. Çavusoglu also said concrete steps will be taken for the construction of the Turkish-Japanese Science and Technology University, which was approved by parliament on June 12.

  An Istanbul Pride March from previous years

★ Istanbul Governor's Office has announced that it will not allow the LGBT Pride March, which was set to take place on June 25 in Istanbul's Taksim Square, citing security concerns and public order.

  The march had been conducted in Istanbul for 13 years, but in June 2015 police dispersed the march using tear gas and rubber bullets. It was also banned by the Istanbul Governor's Office in 2016 for the same reasons as this year, reportes the Hürriyet Daily News.

  Read more at >> here <<

  Interior of the Hagia Sophia

★ Turkey on June 23 condemned a Greek Foreign Affairs Ministry statement critical of a Koran recital and call to prayer held at the Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya) in Istanbul earlier this week, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.

  "The Ministry of the Foreign Affairs of Greece, instead of extending its congratulations to the Turkish people on the holy month of Ramadan and the Laylat ul-Fitr, opted for distorting the recital of Koran and call for prayer in Hagia Sophia," the Turkish Foreign Affairs Ministry said.

  Laylat ul-Qadr, also known as the "Night of Power," is one of the most important dates in the Muslim religious calendar. According to the Islamic belief, it marks the night when the Koran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammed in 610 AD.

  "The record of Greece [violations] in the field of freedom of religion, which is among the fundamental human rights, is well-known," the Turkish Foreign Affairs Ministry added.

  Hagia Sophia served as a Christian church until it was converted into a mosque when the Ottomans conquered Istanbul in 1453. It was turned into a museum in 1935 upon the orders of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder and first president of the Turkey Republic.

  Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate organized a special program, which included the recitation of the Koran and prayers, at Hagia Sophia on June 21 to mark the Laylat al-Qadr.

  The Religious Affairs Directorate head Mehmet Görmez attended the program, which was broadcast live by state-run television TRT.

  A Greek statement on June 22 read: "Hagia Sophia is a UNESCO world heritage site. The attempt to convert it into a mosque - through reading of the Koran, holding of prayers, and a number of other actions - is an affront to the international community, which needs to be duly mobilized and to react."

  However, Turkey rejected the criticism, accusing Athens of failing to uphold the rights of its Muslim minority.

  It said elected imams from the Turkish Muslim community had faced lawsuits. It also said the Greek authorities had rejected requests for Muslims in the northern city of Thessaloniki to use a historic mosque for Ramadan prayers.

  "Therefore, one can question what Greece, which still does not have a mosque open for worshiping in its capital either, understands from the interfaith dialogue that it has referred to in [the June 22] statement," the ministry added.


★ Celebrating her 25th year in music, Turkish singer Sertab Erener will be on stage in the Aegean towns of Bodrum on July 8, Ayvalık on July 11, Altınoluk on July 12 and Çeşme on July 14, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.

  In 2003, Sertab Erener won the Eurovision song contest for Turkey with her song "Every Way That I Can".

  Read more at >> here <<

★ The 24th Istanbul Jazz Festival will take place between July 4 and 20, with a brand-new showcase to run parallel alongside the festival, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.

  "Vitrin: Showcase for Contemporary Music from Turkey," sponsored by SOCAR Turkey, will bring successful musicians and ensembles of the local scene together with leading representatives of international music industry. The showcase will also include the presentation of the SOCAR Turkey Silk Road Tour Support Award to two acts.

  The showcase, which will take place from July 5 to 8, will include several festival concerts by 30 artists and ensembles from Turkey.

  The 24th Istanbul Jazz Festival, which is organized by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV), will feature more than 200 local and international names in 20 different venues around Istanbul.

  The 24th Istanbul Jazz Festival's Lifetime Achievement Award will go to Kamil Özler, the conductor of TRT Big Band, and Fatih Erkoç, a veteran of Turkish pop and jazz music.

  The music marathon "Night Out" and the free-of-charge open-air event "Jazz in the Parks" will be held on the Asian side of Istanbul as part of the festival program. The festival will feature "A Childlike Day," which is a special event that includes performances and workshops for children.

  Read more at >> here <<

★ The winners of the 34th Aydın Doğan International Cartoon Contest, organized by the Aydın Doğan Foundation and considered to be the Oscars of the cartoon world, were announced on June 20. The three winners have focused on the refugee crisis in their works.

  British cartoonist Ross Thomson, a recipient of many awards in the previous years, was announced the winner of this year's contest.

  This year, the contest received 2,220 cartoons by 641 artists from 63 countries. The preselected committee chose 261 cartoons by 187 artists from 40 countries. These 261 cartoons were evaluated by a committee, headed by Tan Oral, at the Bodrum Işıl Club. The other jury members included Ercan Akyol, Latif Demirci, Piyale Madra (Turkey), Rudy Gheysens (Belgium), Mohsen Nouri Najafi (Iran), Peter Nieuwendijk (Netherlands), Joel Pett (U.S.) and Cristina Sampaio (Portugal).

  The second and third places of the contest went to Iranian cartoonist Shahram Rezai and Brazilian Raimundo Rucke Santos Souza, respectively. The runner-up and third place cartoons also focused on migration and refugee issues.

  The winner of the "Strong Girls, Strong Tomorrows" category, organized for the first time this year in the contest to draw attention to the education of girls and the strengthening of their social position, was 52-year-old Fethi Gürcan Mermertaş from Istanbul.

  The artists' awards will be presented at a ceremony to be held in November in Istanbul.

  The winning cartoons will be showed at the Milta Bodrum Marina Ottoman Shipyard Kaymakamlık Art Gallery until June 27.

  Read more at >> here <<

★ Koç University's Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations (ANAMED) located in Istanbul has opened the exhibition "The Curious Case of Çatalhöyük," celebrating the 25th excavation season of the Çatalhöyük Research Project.

  Çatalhöyük is an ancient city that dates back to 9500 years.

  The exhibition narrates the reflexive methods of the excavations from the initial phase when the trowel touches the soil to the documentation of the finds and from laboratory analysis to the transfer of information.

  It sheds light on the work of the research team of international specialists and explains the various stages of an excavation project. Although field excavation remains a primary form of investigation in Çatalhöyük, digital, experimental and visual reconstruction methods are increasingly employed to aid research and interpretation.

  This legacy is reflected in exhibition displays with 3D printed replicas of selected finds as well as laser-scanned overviews of the mounds. A virtual reality project presents an immersive recreation of the Çatalhöyük settlement.

  Equipped with virtual reality headsets, visitors will be transported back into a Çatalhöyük building to observe what life was like back then.

  This contemporary approach will be followed by incorporative artistic interventions to underline how the site has been subject to various works of art and offers new perspectives to understand life in Çatalhöyük.

  Only about 7% of the site has been excavated in the past 25 years. The current excavation head since 1993 is Stanford Professor Ian Hodder.

  Read more at >> here <<

★ A 2,300-year-old ancient road has been unearthed in the ancient city of Termessos in Turkey's southern province of Antalya, reports the Doğan News Agency. The ancient city is known as one of the cities that Alexander the Great failed to conquer. Alexander laid siege to the city in 333 BC. The city was abandoned in the fifth century.

  Located on a natural platform on top of the 5500-foot-high Güllük Mount, Termessos is 30 kilometers away from the city center. No excavation works have yet been carried out in the ancient city, which still maintains its magnificent structure.

  The current ruins in the city are from the Hellenistic, Roman and Eastern Roman eras, and include walls, the Hadrian's triumphal arch, the cisterns, the theater, the gymnasium, the agora, the odeon and the heroon.

  Read more at >> here <<

★ The Central Anatolian province of Çorum, which is home to the Hittite capital Hattusha and the ancient site of Alacahöyük, Turkey's first national excavation field, expects to host half a million visitors a year after work carried out by the Culture and Tourism Ministry and the Çorum Governor's Office is completed, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.

  Hattusha has been declared a Historical National Park in the Boğazkale district, and since Nov. 28, 1986 it has been a part of the UNESCO World Heritage List.

  "The best-preserved ruin of a Hittite Temple from the 13th century B.C., known as Great Temple, is located in the Lower City. Other temples of similar date and shape are situated in the Upper City. The remains of a densely inhabited city district were unearthed in the Lower City, where their foundations and arrangement can still be seen in the area north from Great Temple," according to the UNESCO website.

  Read more at >> here <<

★ A Roman-era sarcophagus of Hercules is currently on display in Geneva, Switzerland, but will return to its home in Turkey's Mediterranean province of Antalya following a Swiss court ruling in 2015, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.

  Turkish Culture and Tourism Minister Nabi Avcı, at an opening ceremony in Geneva, said the return of the Hercules sarcophagus is a new phase in Turkey's long-time international struggle.

  The Roman-era sarcophagus of Hercules was seized in December 2010 by the Swiss customs administration following an inventory check.

  It was sculpted toward the end of the second century, when the area was under Roman rule, and part of the inventory of Phoenix Ancient Art which specializes in antiquities.

  In March 2011, the Swiss federal culture office said the sarcophagus came from Turkey, from the ancient city of Dokimion - present day Antalya province. And in 2015, a Swiss public prosecutor ordered the return of the sarcophagus to Turkey. The two countries agreed on the display of the sarcophagus for three months at Geneva University.

  Considered a major archaeological find, the sarcophagus depicts the 12 labors of Hercules.

  Read more at >> here <<

★ A mosaic dating back to the 4th century has been found in the Gölbaşı district of the eastern Turkish province of Adıyaman.

  Two brothers who work locally as farmers discovered the mosaic structure, which features Ancient Roman characteristics, while they were working in their field in Gölbaşı.

  Adıyaman is one of the most archeologically significant provinces in Turkey. Among its archeological sites are the caves of Perre, the fortresses at Gerger and Samsat, the "Cendere" Bridge, and Mount Nemrut, a ceremonial and burial tumulus for King Antiochos I of the Komagene kingdom.

  Read more at >> here <<

★ The issue of earthquake returned to prominence again last week after a 6.2-magnitude quake shook İzmir's Karaburun coast, again raising fears about Turkey's level of preparation for a massive temblor.

  Now, new findings suggest the question also vexed the minds of Trojan engineers and architects around three millennia ago, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.

  The traces of measures that were taken against earthquakes in the ancient city, which now lies in the northwestern province of Çanakkale, can still be seen, Professor Rüstem Aslan, a Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University (ÇOMU) academic and the head of excavations in the ancient city of Troy, said. "Thanks to these measures taken by ancient-era engineers and architects, these magnificent walls in the ancient city have been surviving for centuries."

  Troy received more damage from quakes than it did during the 10-year Trojan War, and the traces of those earthquakes can still be seen today, Aslan told Doğan News Agency.

  Read more at >> here <<

★ Some 387 students who are over the age of 60 have completed their first year at a course dubbed "refreshment program" at Akdeniz University in Turkey's Mediterranean province of Antalya, Mesude Erşan of the Hürriyet Daily News reports.

  The gerontology department of the university started a project for people who are over 60, most of whom retired a year ago, teaching them medicine and law. They also educate them on house work and knitting.

  Lessons are held three days a week with classes beginning in the evening at 5:00 p. m. Lessons go on for approximately 2.5 hours a day. The program also offers senior citizen students ID cards like other ordinary university students, giving them the opportunity to access university facilities such as the library.

  The demand for the courses have been huge, some 1500 students have enrolled in them.

  Ali Akbaş, a 64-year-old retiree, said he was feeling extremely healthy and excited as if he has begun a new job.

  "When I came here, I had high blood pressure and diabetes. I was taking nine pills per day. My diabetes and blood pressure have dropped to a normal level. I lost seven kilograms. I learned how to cook and knit a jumper," he said.

  Read more at >> here <<

★ A new method capable of mapping out the damage caused to DNA by cigarette smoking for the first time has been developed by Turkish scientist Aziz Sancar, the 2015 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, and his team from the University of North Carolina's School of Medicine, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.

  Dr. Sancar and his team published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

  "It would be good if this helps raise awareness of how harmful smoking can be. It also would be helpful to drug developers if we knew exactly how DNA damage is repaired throughout the entire genome," he said.

  "I'm certain that this information will lead to a better understanding of why certain people are predisposed to cancer, and which smoking-related mutations lead to lung cancer specifically," said Sancar.

  Read more at >> here <<


EXCHANGE RATE for the U.S. dollar in Turkish Liras: 3.51


High and Low Temperatures in Degrees F, Weather
Ankara, in central Turkey:        86/57 Partly Cloudy
Antalya, on the Mediterranean:    102/79 Mostly Sunny
Istanbul, in northwestern Turkey: 88/70 Mostly Sunny
Izmir, on the Aegean:             99/75 Mostly Sunny
Trabzon, on the Black Sea:        75/68 Mostly Cloudy
Erzurum, in Eastern Turkey:       79/48 Partly Cloudy
See water temperatures:
Black Sea measured at Trabzon         70
Marmara Sea measured at Tekirdağ      73
Aegean Sea measured at İzmir          77
Mediterranean Sea measured at Antalya 78


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