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★ Turkey has withdrawn 40 of its troops from a NATO military drill in Norway, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.
The images of Turkey's first president and independence war hero Atatürk and the current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan were displayed as targets of enemies during the drill at NATO's Joint Warfare Center in Stavanger, Norway held between
November 8 and November 17, while a NATO soldier posted defamatory words about Erdoğan on the social media. NATO announced on
November 17 that one technician and a military officer had been sacked.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg apologized to Turkey over the incident.
The NATO chief stressed that Turkey is a "valued NATO Ally, which makes important contributions to Allied security."
★ Arrests are continuing in Turkey, ostensibly for being followers of the cleric Fethullah Gülen. Gülen is accused of orchestrating the 2016 coup attempt.
The attempt cost the lives of over 250 people, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who was then the Prime Minister was tried to be killed and the Turkish Parliament was bombed.
According to the Anatolia News Agency, over 25 former and current employees of the Marmara University were arrested on Friday in Istanbul.
On November 18 at least 36 suspects, including on-duty military and police officers were arrested.
★ Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ slammed Greece on
November 16 over the recent conviction of two Muslim clerics or "muftis."
Ahmet Mete, the elected mufti of the city of Xanthi (İskeçe) in northern Greece and Erkan Azizoğlu, the imam of the nearby village of Glafki (Gökçepınar), were each sentenced to seven months in prison by a court in Thessaloniki on
November 13 for disturbing a religious ceremony and usurping authority.
The Greek-citizen Turkish minority in Greece would like to choose their own religious leaders, but the Greek government wants to appoint leaders that they prefer.
Speaking at an event in Istanbul, Bozdağ slammed Greece for not letting a Muslim be buried in accordance with his religious beliefs by a mufti elected by the local community instead of one appointed by the state.
He said this was against the Lausanne Treaty. "Where is freedom of religion and conscience?" he asked.
Defendants Mehmet Hakan Atilla and Reza Zarrab
★ Neither jailed Iranian-Turkish businessman Reza Zarrab nor his lawyer attended a court hearing in Manhattan on
November 16 to discuss the case ahead of the trial, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.
Mr. Zarrab is being accused of helping Iran avoid U.S. sanctions and bribing senior Turkish officials and bank executives.
A Turkish government bank official, who is also in U.S. custody, is the other defendant in the trial.
In Zarrab's absence, there are mounting press reports in the United States that Zarrab, 34, may now be cooperating with U.S. authorities in search of a plea bargain deal.
Analysts say that the Justice and Development Party administration top officials are afraid that Zarrab may name them as recipients of bribes. In 2013 Turkish prosecutors aligned with Fethullah Gülen also probed the top echelons of the Justice and Development Party administration, but these Gülenists prosecutors were eventually removed from office.
According to the Bloomberg news, U.S. prosecutors have also disclosed evidence of Zarrab's relationship with Erdoğan in court filings. According to the prosecutors, Zarrab told about the money laundering scheme to Erdoğan and sought his support, and directed donations to charitable foundations associated with Erdoğan family members.
Experts in U.S. - Turkey relations say that the proceedings could also hurt the Turkish economy.
★ In related news, Istanbul chief prosecutor's office has launched a probe into Preet Bharara, former U.S. Attorney in-charge of the jailed Iranian-Turkish gold trader Reza Zarrab's case, and Joon H. Kim, Acting U.S. Attorney, on
November 18 over evidence used in trial of Turkish citizens.
Some Justice and Development Party administration officials claim that the U.S. probes are started by U.S. prosecutors at the instigation of the followers of cleric Gülen.
★ According to Dorian Jones of the Voice of America,
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met Monday with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, the fourth encounter between the two leaders this year and part of a warming of relations in the wake of tensions following Turkey's 2015 downing of a Russian warplane operating from a Syrian air base.
But analysts say despite recent images of smiles and warm handshakes between the two leaders, cracks in that rapprochement are starting to show and signs of tension remain.
"Putin and Erdoğan, they don't trust each other, particularly true on the part of Putin. He sees Erdoğan as unpredictable," observed Haldun Solmaztürk, head of the 21st Century Turkey Institute, an Ankara-based research group. "That is a major problem in international relations and if you don't trust your partner there is not much you can do," he said.
The hastily arranged Sochi meeting came after Moscow was forced to postpone an international gathering this month in Astana on resolving the Syrian civil war. Turkey threatened to boycott the gathering because of Russia's invitation to the Syrian Kurdish group, the PYD. Turkey says PYD is linked to the Kurdish rebels in Turkey.
★ Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan used an address to party officials Friday in Ankara as an opportunity to launch a blistering attack on the U.S. policy in Syria, Dorian Jones of the VOA reports.
Erdoğan openly asked why the U.S. is involving itself in a country 12,000 kilometers away. He then accused Washington of breaking commitments and promises, claiming the country was trying to trick him.
Bilateral relations have hit a low point over U.S. arming of the Syrian Kurdish group the PYD in its fight against the Islamic State.
In a sign of the level of mistrust generated over the dispute, Erdoğan accused the U.S. of sending large amounts of cash to Islamic State.
★ President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has blasted Turkey's Central Bank, saying it is "on the wrong path" and claiming that a lack of government intervention in monetary policy has saddled Turkey with high inflation and a slowdown in investment, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.
★ The number of corporate bankruptcies will likely increase 4 percent in 2017 from the previous year, as losses in the value of the Turkish Lira hit companies that hold debts in foreign exchange currencies, Euler Hermes, a leading credit insurance company stated on
November 15, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.
★ Turkey saw an annual rise of 30.3 percent in the number of newly established companies in September, the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges revealed on
The union said almost 6,930 companies were established in the month.
★ A road and rail corridor connecting war-torn Afghanistan with Turkey and Europe was signed off by officials from five countries on
November 15 in Turkmenistan's capital Ashgabat, reports the Agence France-Presse. The five countries are Afghanistan, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkmenistan.
ARTS AND CULTURE
★ Three more gilded seals in the Tekeli Mehmet Paşa Mosque in the historic neighborhood of Kaleiçi of Turkey's southern province of Antalya have disappeared.
The historic mosque, which is located next to a clock tower, one of the monuments of Kaleiçi, is believed to have been built by Tekeli Mehmet Paşa between 1606 and 1616.
Some of the 18 gilded seals on each of the three entrance gates of the 500-year-old mosque had also gone missing in the past.
★ Archaeologist have unearthed an ancient settlement, dating back to the early Bronze Age, in Turkey's Central Anatolian province of Nevşehir.
Archaeologists have started examining the field after a little hill was discovered in Çakıltepe, 12 1/2 miles from the city center.
So far numerous artifacts, including glasses, bowls and other historical pieces, were found in the field.
Archaeologists and professor Yalçın Kamış in charge of the survey said the settlement dated back at least 3,000 years and was an important archaeological site.
Kamış said they had also reached the ruins of a 4,000-year-old fort and city walls. The mound actually is multilayered and contains ruins from Bronze Age, Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine era settlements.
★ Istanbul's historic Sirkeci Train Station has started hosting an antique festival starting on Nov 17. Antique dealers from cities across Turkey is being hosted at the festival, selling centuries-old pieces such as copper objects, telephones, chandeliers, and Ottoman-era manuscripts.
The festival will continue for nine days, ending on Nov 27.
★ Turkish actress Tuba Büyüküstün has come together with the world-famous actress Angelina Jolie in Los Angeles.
Ms. Büyüküstün was in Los Angeles to attend the International Asian Film Festival, which ended last week, where she was a jury member.
The two actresses met at a cocktail party organized for the screening of "First They Killed My Father," a film directed by Jolie.
A UNICEF goodwill ambassador, Ms. Büyüküstün and U.N. goodwill ambassador Ms. Jolie talked about social responsibility projects and film.
Ms. Büyüküstün has many fans around the world, especially in the Middle East, due to her appearance in various TV series.
Ms. Büyüküstün and Ms. Jolie are also known for their works for refugee children. Both actresses visited refugee camps in Turkey and Jordan in the previous years to draw attention to the plight of refugee children.
★ A new exhibition on Füreya Koral is on an Istanbul. Koral is one of Turkey's foremost Contemporary ceramic artist, reports Hatice Utkan Özden of the Hürriyet Daily News.
Curated by Karoly Aliotti, Nilüfer Şaşmazer and Farah Aksoy, the exhibition adopts a new approach to Koral's life. According to Aliotti, Turkish people know Koral mainly through her family background, as a relative of celebrated painter Fahrelnissa Zeid and renowned engraver Aliye Berger, and as a child born at the famous Şakirpaşa Mansion. The exhibition, however, seeks to make Koral known for her stunning contributions to contemporary ceramic art in Turkey.
The exhibition will display nearly 200 pieces of art, documents and photographs, with works that range from the 1950s to her death in 1997.
Koral's merging of architecture and ceramics left a distinctive mark on Istanbul, and her art is still observable in many places: Divan Hotel, Ka Han on Harbiye Street, a ceramics board in Mim apartment on Teşvikiye Street and İMÇ, to name a few.
★ The replica of Yenikapı 12, a sunken ship unearthed during Marmaray subway excavations in Istanbul, is currently on display at the Istanbul Archaeology Museums, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.
Yenikapı 12 is one of 37 ships dug up during excavations carried out by the Istanbul Archaeology Museums, and is the most accurate example to date of a small commercial ship once used in the Middle East.
A coastal maritime vessel, the ship has drawn attention for its flat bottom, which allows it to enter shallow harbors and bays.
This ship has characteristic design that was used until the ninth century.
After a two-year construction period, the new Yenikapı 12 was finally launched to sea last month from the Tuzla shipyard, before being moved to the garden of the Istanbul Archaeology Museums.
The ship will also be on display during the 15th International Ship and Boat Archaeology Symposium, which will take place in 2018 in Marseilles.
★ The Hagia Yorgi Church, located opposite the Mihrimah Sultan Mosque in Istanbul's Edirnekapı, which has been restored by Turkey's General Directorate of Foundations, will open on
November 19 at a ceremony in the presence of Greek Patriarch Bartholomaios, reports the Hürriyet Daily News
Within the scope of the restoration project, the school building, the priest house, the guard house, the bell tower and the fountain have also been restored along with the church.
The history of the church dates back to the eighth century. The current church is a structure rebuilt in 1826 after an older structure collapsed.
★ Works have been continuing to reveal the secrets of Lake Van, Turkey's biggest lake in the eastern province of Van. Recently, a 3,000 year-old fort has been unearthed in the lake. Previous works had revealed stalagmites that were at least 30 feet long, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.
Underwater photographer and videographer Tahsin Ceylan, Van Yüzüncü Yıl University Fishery Faculty academic Mustafa Akkuş, diving instructor Murat Kulakaç and diver Cumali Birol dove into Lake Van and studied the 3,000 year-old fort.
the fort most likely belonged to the Urartian civilizations, as the stone structure in the fort was made up of cut stones mostly used by the Urartians.
It is thought that the fort was built when the lakes waters withdrew thousands of years ago, and then was abandoned when the waters rose again.
★ Turkey's Culture and Tourism Ministry has announced that the ancient city of Xanthos, located near the village of Kınık in Fethiye, southwest Turkey, will be ready to welcome visitors in 2018 after restoration works, reports the Hürriyet Daily News. The neighboring ancient city of Letoon will also once again be ready to host visitors next month.
Among the most important centers in the ancient era, Xanthos and Letoon are expected to host more visitors with newly built reception centers and renewed façades.
The two sides are registered together as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO back in 1988.
Xanthos was the capital of the Lycian Union during the Archaic and classical eras. It is famous for its heroic resistance against the attacks of the Persians and the Romans, and it is one of the ancient sites in Turkey with the longest ongoing excavation works. The first findings in the ancient city date back to 2,800 years ago.
Letoon, the religious center of the Lycian civilization, is home to temples built in the name of Leto, Apollo and Artemis. It also features the ruins of a Roman theater and a historic fountain.
★ The venture "Paris Combo," founded by Belle Du Berry and David Lewis of the rock band "Les Endimanches," was in Istanbul
as part of the world tour for their latest album on November 13, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.
The band also has a song titled "Istanbul", inspired by a
visit to the city in the early 90s. You can listen to the song >> here <<
The H├╝rriyet Daily News carried out an interview with the Paris
Combo. The interview can be read >> here <<
★ Yonca Moralı of the Hürriyet Daily News reports that
Turkey's southeastern province of Gaziantep is home to one of the world's most enigmatic and fascinating archeological sites in the world.
We are not talking about Zeugma and its celebrated mosaics, but the Yesemek sculpture workshop, which lies on the hills of Karatepe about 70 miles from the city center in the İslahiye district.
Around 300 sculptures weighing between 1/2 to 15 tons lay scattered on the landscape. Some of these are semifinished. They depict imposing lions, sphinxes, and mountain gods, dating back to the late Hittite period between 1000-900 B.C.
The sculptures are thought to have been destined to the monuments of the Samal Kingdom capital, located in today's Zincirli Mound, which is another important archeological site nearby.
The logistics of how blocks weighing up to 15 tons were sent to nearby cities are still debated.
After the Assyrian invasion of the eighth century B.C., production abruptly came to an end and the workshop was closed.
Between November 7 and nine, there was a symposium in Gaziantep attended by 50 Turkish and international experts from different fields ranging from archeology, history, mineralogy, petrology and the protection of cultural heritage.
Among the topics discussed was Yesemek. Site was first excavated between 1888 and 1902 by Felix von Luschan.
★ Turkey's Culture and Tourism Minister said on
November 16 that Turkey ranks second in television series exports after the U.S.
Popular Turkish TV series have been exported to over 200 countries, contributing to a boom in the country's domestic television industry.
Turkish TV series' success abroadÔÇ"from the Middle East to the Balkans and Eastern Europe to Latin AmericaÔÇöstarted five years ago with "One Thousand and One Nights", whose plot centers on a single mother with a sick five year-old son who seeks a loan from her smitten boss.
Another successful series is "The Magnificent Century" starring Halit Ergenç, which focuses on the life of the 16th century Ottoman Sultan, Süleyman the Magnificent.
EXCHANGE RATE for the U.S. dollar in Turkish Liras:
High and Low Temperatures in Degrees F, Weather
Ankara, in central Turkey: 59/41 Partly Cloudy
Antalya, on the Mediterranean: 68/59 Thunderstorms
Erzurum, in Eastern Turkey: 50/30 Rainy
Istanbul, in northwestern Turkey: 61/52 Showers
Izmir, on the Aegean: 63/54 Thunderstorms
Trabzon, on the Black Sea: 73/55 Mostly Cloudy
Naim Süleymanoğlu on a Paraguay stamp
★ World and Olympic champion former Turkish weightlifter Naim Süleymanoğlu died on
November 18, at 50-years-old, after undergoing a liver transplant surgery on Oct. 6, state-run Anatolia News Agency reported.
Officials of the hospital had stated the surgery was performed successfully based on Süleymanoğlu's initial signs of recovery.
Süleymanoğlu was a world champion nine times, Olympic champion in three Olympics and European champion three times.
He was nicknamed "The Pocket Hercules" due to his small stature of 4'10".
★ Of around 200,000 certificated scuba divers in Turkey, only 30 percent are women, Turkish Underwater Sports Federation Scuba Diving Board Member Engin Kondul has said.
Kondul said it is mostly university students and working women above the age of 30 who are able to engage actively in scuba diving.
★ In the Euroleague, the Turkish teams Fenerbahçe and Anadolu Efes had two games this week:
Anadolu Efes was defeated by Greece's Panathinaikos 81 to 82
CSKA Moskova was defeated by Fenerbahçe 93 to 95
Earlier in the week Fenerbahçe was defeated by Greece's Olympiacos 83 to 90
Israel's Maccabi Fox Tel Aviv was beaten by Turkey's Anadolu Efes 72 to 92
★ In the FIBA Europe cup, the two Turkish teams had the following results: