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x0x Turkish News for the week ending 05 August 2017

[This is a transcript of the news broadcast on 05 August 2017]

Courtesy of Turkish Radio Hour, producer of the

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★ Special counsel Robert Mueller is questioning witnesses about whether former Trump administration national security adviser Michael Flynn was secretly paid by the Turkish government during the final months of the 2016 presidential campaign, according to The New York Times.

  Flynn was President Donald Trump's national security adviser for just 24 days, but he has become one of the central figures in the investigation of possible collusion between Russia and the Trump presidential campaign.

  Read more at >> here <<

★ Turkey, once considered the model of an open, secular democracy in the Muslim world, now seems to be stuck in reverse, reports the VOA correspondent Paul Alexander. The government is cracking down on dissidents and erasing the line between religion and state in a country that has served as the bridge between East and West.

  Founded nearly a century ago, the overwhelmingly Muslim republic incorporated Western thought and philosophy and focused on science. It became an early member of NATO and aimed for European Union membership.

  But President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, riding a wave of domestic conservatism, is turning toward increasingly authoritarian rule. The once-vibrant news media have been the target of mass arrests since a failed coup attempt a year ago, with journalists joining opposition legislators in jail on terrorism charges.

  Critics inside and outside the country see a steady assault on the secular system, along with marginalization of minorities, which they fear could feed extremism.

  Paul Alexander's report ends by saying that "the government has shackled most of the media and critics of Erdoğan's more conservative policies find themselves labeled as terrorists".

★ Turkey's top diplomat vowed Thursday to root out militants plotting against China, signaling closer cooperation against suspected Uygur Turkish militants hailing from China's far west who have long been a sore point in bilateral relations, reports the Associated Press.

  Turkey's Anatolia News Agency reported that "We see China's security as our security," Turkish foreign affairs minister Çavuşoğlu told a joint news conference on Aug. 3 with Chinese Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi.

  Mr. Çavuşoğlu's visit follows President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's trip in May, where he met President Xi Jinping and attended a meeting on China's One Belt, One Road project, which aims to stimulate global trade and growth through a campaign of infrastructure development.

  It was the fourth meeting between Messrs. Erdoğan and Xi since 2015.

  Read more at >> here <<

★ According to Reuters, thousands of people rallied in Turkey's largest city on Sunday against security measures Israel has imposed at the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, shortly after Israel removed other measures that led to two weeks of violent Palestinian protests.

  The rally in Istanbul, called "The Big Jerusalem Meeting" and organized by Turkey's Saadet Party, drew some five thousand people to the Yenikapi parade ground on the southern edge of Istanbul.

  Protesters were brought in by buses and ferries from across the city, waved Turkish and Palestinian flags, and held up posters in front of a giant stage where the chairman of the Saadet party and representatives from NGOs addressed the crowd.

  "The Al-Aqsa mosque is our honor," read a poster.

  Saadet is a Islamic fundamentalist party with no representation in the Turkish Parliament.

  Read more at >> here <<


★ Nearly 500 people are standing trial in Turkey's capital Ankara for their alleged roles in a failed coup attempt last July.

  "They're charged with murder, violating the constitution and attempting to kill the president," National Public Radio's Lauren Frayer reports from Turkey. "Most are military officers who were stationed at an airbase where fighter jets took off and bombed Parliament on the night of the attempted coup last summer."

  The failed coup killed some 249 civilians and the government declared a state of emergency. Then, it suspended or fired about 150,000 people from their jobs, National Public Radio's Peter Kenyon reported, and arrested more than 50,000. The crackdown has drawn criticism from human rights groups. "Being tried in absentia is Fethullah Gulen, a cleric the government calls the plot's mastermind. He lives in the U.S. and denies any role," Lauren added.

  Many of the suspects could face life in prison if convicted, according to the Associated Press.

  Turkey doesn't have a death penalty, but Lauren Frayer reported that "people shouted 'Bring back the death penalty!' as defendants filed into court, flanked by Turkish police and soldiers. Someone waved a noose over the crowd."

  There are other trials ongoing in Turkey related to the attempted coup, but as the BBC reports, this is the largest one yet. It's expected to continue until Aug. 19, reports Turkey's Anatolia News Agency.

  In related news, a four star general, Akın Öztürk, refused the charges against him. He said he was actually trying to persuade the other soldiers involved in the coup to give up. Ever since the day he was arrested, Öztürk maintained the same story. In his testimony to the court, he denounced the coup attempt and said there were external forces also behind the coup attempt.

  "To be tried on accusations of being a traitor and of being related to the treacherous coup attempt is the biggest punishment that can be given to me," he said.

  "I wish I had died in one of the operations [during the coup attempt] so I would not face such allegations," Öztürk told the court on Aug. 4, the fourth day of the trial.

  Read more at >> here <<

  Read more at >> here <<

Gulluoglu Baklava: Now in Turkish government hands
★ Lauren Frayer also reports that Turkish businesses are snagged in government's post-coup crackdown.

  Over the past year, the government has expropriated nearly 1,000 Turkish companies " from carpet makers to TV stations to a popular brand of baklava. Most of them are accused of having ties to cleric Fethullah Gülen.

  Total assets of all the companies expropriated by the government amount to less than $15 billion, compared to Turkish GDP of about $850 billion. So it's a small fraction of the total economy, but enough to frighten foreign investors, Attila Yesilada an economist with New York-based Global Source Partners, a management and financial consulting firm, says.

  "Law and order and due process have been completely suspended," "the owners " shareholders — never had their day in court", Yesilada adds.

  Foreign investment is down by half compared to this time last year. All three ratings agencies have downgraded Turkish debt to junk status in recent months.

  Read more at >> here <<

★ A German publishing group filed a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights over jailed German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel's case.

  Yücel was arrested on Feb. 27 on charges of "propaganda in support of a terrorist organization" and "inciting the public to violence," after first being detained on Feb. 14.

  Yücel's "baseless and prolonged detention has made immediate on the ground coverage from Turkey impossible," his publisher Die Welt said.

  In related news, Reporters Without Borders, the European Federation of Journalists, and several journalist unions also asked the French government on Aug. 3 to do everything in its power to have Turkey free 27-year-old freelance journalist Loup Bureau. Bureau was arrested when he crossed from Syria to Turkey on July 26. Turkish authorities are accusing him of "aiding and assisting at terrorist organization".

  Read more at >> here <<

★ Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party is planning to give authority to muftis to enact marriages. Muftis are government employees responsible for religious affairs in provinces and townships.

  Since the establishment of the Republic in 1923, only civil marriages are legal in Turkey. Analysts are saying that the ruling party is trying to please its conservative base.

  Commenting on the draft law, Turkey's family and social policies minister Ms. Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya has said that authority to enact marriages should not be given to imams, however.

  Ms. Kaya also claimed that the draft law would address the issues of child marriages and second wives, as imams already often oversee religious marriages in both cases, despite the fact that both are outlawed.

  Ms. Kaya also said the number of women ministers should increase, commenting on the appointment last month of Jülide Sarıeroğlu as labor and social security minister, thus increasing the number of women in the cabinet to two.

  She said that women should be also able to lead the economy, defense and interior ministries. "There are female defense ministers in many countries. Why don't we have a female defense minister?" she said.

  Read more at >> here <<

★ According to Turkey's Information and Communication Technologies Authority, the number of Internet subscribers in Turkey has increased by 126% over the past four years to 62 million in 2016 and 2 million new subscribers were added in the first quarter of 2017.

  Most of the new subscribers are using mobile Internet.

  Read more at >> here <<

★ Some 150,000 car owners have made insurance claims for damage caused by heavy hail in Istanbul on July 27, which left holes on hoods and broke many windshields, as thousands of others have been waiting in line to file their insurance claims, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.


★ The Turkish publisher Turhan Günay of Cumhuriyet Books and the Turkish publishing house Evrensel have been named co-winners of the Geneva-based International Publishers Association's 2017 Prix Voltaire prize on Aug. 3, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.

  The International Publishers Association Prix Voltaire, which comes with a prize of 10,000 Swiss Francs or $10,318, is awarded for courage in upholding the freedom to publish.

  Turhan Günay, the editor of Cumhuriyet daily's book review since 1985, who went on trial last week with sixteen other Cumhuriyet journalists on charges of aiding terror, was released from prison, along with six other defendants, on July 28 in an Istanbul court ruling after being held for more than 270 days.

  Evrensel Publishing House, founded in 1988, was closed down in 2016 with a statutory decree under Turkey's emergency rule, a move which had been criticized harshly by the International Publishers Association.

  Read more at >> here << Palestinian director Elia Suleiman how do you sleep last night

  ★As we reported to you a few weeks ago, on June 19, Antalya Mayor Menderes Türel announced that they have decided to merge the national and international contest categories in the Antalya International Film Festival.

  Criticizing this decision as a "historical mistake" and asking the festival committee to reverse it, various Turkish film associations and organizations held a joint press announcement on July 31 and said the Antalya Film Festival has been a tradition, organization and memory of the Turkish film sector for 53 years.

  "At a time that the festival has reached a level where it can contribute more to our film, such a wrong decision has both surprised and offended the Turkish film industry," the statement said.

  In the meantime, the festival's artistic director Mike Downey has announced that Elia Suleiman, a renowned Palestinian film director who has won awards at various European festivals, has become the jury president of the festival this year.

  Born in Nazareth in 1960, Suleiman, who has expressed the absurdity of war and the carelessness of humankind in his movies, has a unique style of blending tragedy with comedy. Aside from being a producer, he is also recognized with his academic contributions to cinema and social service projects.

  Read more at >> here <<

★ The Kadıköy Municipality Theater Festival opened its curtains on Aug. 4 for the 15th time this year in Istanbul's Anatolian neighborhood.

  As it is marking its 15th year, the festival will last 15 days until Aug. 18, presenting the most popular theater plays performed on Kadıköy stages throughout the season.

  The Freedom Park Amphitheater is the venue for the festival performances, which will include the most popular play by the Entropi Theater, "Polite Peace", and the Moda Theater's "All the Crazies Love Me".

  All plays will be free in the festival.

  Read more at >> here <<

★ Ruins with the traces of a massive earthquake that occurred 1,300 years ago have been unearthed in the ancient city of Assos in Turkey's northwestern province of Çanakkale's Ayvacık district, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.

  An important coastal town in the ancient times, the city, where Aristotle founded the first philosophy school, is a popular spot for thousands of visitors every year thanks to its Roman-era theater, agora, necropolis and walls.

  Professor Nurettin Arslan, who leads the excavations in the ancient city and the head of Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University's archaeology department, said the new season of excavations started in July.

  He said works are continuing around the western gate of the city as well as in a structure served as a public house. "Last year a big Roman-era house was unearthed. It collapsed during an earthquake and all of its rooms were there. We will continue opening the other rooms in the house this year. Works are also continuing in a field we call gymnasium and at the entrance to the agora," he added.

  Prof. Arslan says that it is very rare to find traces of an earthquake in an ancient city.

  Among the latest finds in Assos is an 1800-year-old pencil. One side of the pencil is sharp and the other side is a bit more flat, Prof. Arslan said. "These pencils were used in that era to take notes and to make accounts on wax tablets. The flat side of the pencil is used to correct the mistakes; it is equivalent to today's eraser," he said. a

  Read more at >> here <<

★ The ancient city of Ani, located on the Turkish-Armenian border and called the "cradle of civilizations" as it has been home to many ancient civilizations, has doubled its number of visitors after its registry in the UNESCO World Heritage list, reports the Anatolia News Agency.

  Close to the Arpaçay district in the eastern province of Kars, Ani was the capital of the Armenian emperors between 961 and 1045 A.D. at the time of the Pakradouni Dynasty. Home to the 11th and 12th century structures of Islamic architecture, Ani entered the tentative UNESCO World Heritage list in 2012 and the permanent list on July 15, 2016.

  The first settlement in Ani dates back to the 3000s B.C. and became home to many civilizations such as the Saka Turks, Sasanians, Bagratuni Dynasty, Byzantine, Seljuk, Ottomans and Russians.

  Read more at >> here <<

★ The ancient city of Xanthos in Turkey's southern province of Antalya's Kaş district, known as the "city of sorrows," opens the door of a different world to its visitors both with its sad history and ruins that defy time, reports the Anatolia News Agency.

  Excavation work in the ancient city, located in Kınık neighborhood, was started in 1950 and has been maintained by Akdeniz University Social Sciences Institute Archaeology Department.

  The department member and deputy head of the excavations, Aytaç Dönmez, said that the first findings in the ancient city date back to 2,800 years ago and the city entered the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1988.

  In the Roman era, Xanthos was wanted to be built as a Roman city in terms of architecture and city planning but the locals of Xanthos objected to it, he said.

  "Then Brutus rushed into the city with his armies. All men attacked the Romans in the Agora. Women and children burned themselves on a holy place, known as the Sarpedon road. When he saw all these people who burned themselves, Brutus got sorry and ordered his soldiers to capture each Lycian alive. Then Xanthos became a Roman city," Dönmez explained.

  Read more at >> here <<

★ New findings that will shed light on the 10-year Trojan War, mentioned by Homer in his epic "Iliad," were unearthed during excavations in the 5,000-year-old ancient city of Troy in Turkey's northwestern province of Çanakkale's Tevfikiye village, reports the Dogan News Agency.

  Visited by thousands of people every year, mostly from the Far East, Troy saw excavations begin in July that are being led by a team of 40 people, with Culture and Tourism Ministry official Veysel Öztürk joining the excavations as an observer.

  "As we went deep into the lower layers, we found the late-Roman era structures and a water system, Hellenistic-era walls and a 3,500-year-old stone road from the Troy-6 and Troy-7 periods. We are about to reach new information particularly about the Troy-6 period, which is considered as Homer Troy and associated with the Trojan War. We have obtained some information. We have also reached very important architectural findings into the Trojan War. We will work to detail these findings until the end of the excavations in September," head of the excavations Professor Rüstem Aslan said.

  Aslan said Troy had many unanswered questions. "One of these questions is that the location of the latest Bronze Age cemetery was not found. We know that there are cemeteries from the Hellenistic, Roman and late Byzantine eras. But we were not able to find the latest Bronze Age cemetery which is associated with the Trojan War. We have plans regarding it; we will start working on a number of [likely] spots [that the cemetery may be located] in the coming years," Aslan added.

  Read more at >> here <<


★ In the Neolithic settlement of Çatalhöyük in Turkey's Central Anatolian province of Konya and one of the earliest settlements in the history of mankind, no war, conflict or violent attacks occurred for 4000 years, archaeological excavations in the region have revealed, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.

  The settlement was home to some 8000 people and dates back to 9000 years ago.

  Speaking to the Anatolia News Agency, Ian Hodder said excavations turned 25 this year in the ancient settlement and so far lots of findings have been unearthed. Ian Hodder is a professor at the Stanford University.

  Dr. Hodder added that people did not emphasize individualism. They did not have a leader. The number of people who lived in Chuck a week or years adds up to between three and eight million.

  Read more at >> here <<


EXCHANGE RATE for the U.S. dollar in Turkish Liras: 3.52


High and Low Temperatures in Degrees F, Weather
Ankara, in central Turkey:        91/66 Showers
Antalya, on the Mediterranean:    88/79 Showers
Istanbul, in northwestern Turkey: 97/75 Partly Cloudy
Izmir, on the Aegean:             95/81 Showers
Trabzon, on the Black Sea:        84/75 Mostly Cloudy
Erzurum, in Eastern Turkey:       93/57 Partly Cloudy
See water temperatures:
Black Sea measured at Trabzon         78
Marmara Sea measured at Tekirdağ      77
Aegean Sea measured at İzmir          79
Mediterranean Sea measured at Antalya 85


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