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President Erdogan with the Turkish community in Komotini, Greece
★ Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited Greece this week. This was the first visit of a Turkish president to Greece in 65 years.
While in the Greek capital Athens, Mr. Erdoğan suggested that the Lausanne treaty may have to be modified. The treaty was signed in 1923 and among others determines the rights of the minorities and the borders between the two countries.
Greek leadership said that this was out of the question.
Mr. Erdoğan and his entourage later traveled to Western Thrace where the Greek citizen Turkish minority lives.
There he was met by enthusiastic crowds of local Turks.
During his trip Mr. Erdoğan said Muslims in the Greek border region were not able to choose their own chief mufti --religious leader, while Christian communities in Turkey enjoyed greater freedom to choose their patriarchs, suggesting the treaty was not being applied fairly.
★ The Voice of America's Dorian Jones reports that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan joined the Jordanian King against President Donald Trump on the Jerusalem move. President Trump declared this week that the United States will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Jordan's King Abdullah II visited Turkey this week and had meetings with President Erdoğan.
Reza Zarrab at witness stand
★ The trial of a Turkish banker in New York continued this week with the testimony of the main witness Reza Zarrab.
Reza Zarrab was also supposed to be in the trial as a defendant but with a plea agreement he turned a public witness.
Mr. Zarrab has being telling the court and the jury how he has set up elaborate schemes to launder Iranian oil money and bust US sanctions on Iran. He said many times under cross-examination that the banker in US custody has not received any bribes from him, but many others in Turkey including the economy minister of three years ago received large sums of money from him.
According to the Associated Press, Turkey's president says the New York trial is a U.S. conspiracy being staged to "blackmail" and "blemish" his country.
★ Speaking of Mr. Zarrab, before the start of the trials Turkish officials kept demanding that Mr. Zarrab be released , and with diplomatic notes to the US asked about his well-being.
When Mr. Zarrab turned a public witness and started implicating higher-ups in the ruling Justice and Development Party administration of Turkey, Turkish officials changed tune, started calling Mr. Zarrab a spy, among others.
And this week they started confiscating his assets in Turkey. Among the assets confiscated are 50 or so condominiums, several office buildings, a private jet and his private yacht.
Anybody who seem to be associated with Zarrab also got the ire of the Justice and Development Party administration. Turkish police detained at least 17 suspects as part of what the Hürriyet Daily News calls "a probe into Reza Zarrab". Their assets may also be confiscated, authorities say.
Some of the suspects are accused of "trying to send documents to the court in the US, and "partially or completely destroying, damaging or stealing documents and records regarding the state's security or its domestic and foreign political benefits".
★ Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has slammed suspension of an Istanbul district mayor, saying that the decision was unlawful. The mayor is from the Republican People's Party.
Battal İlgezdi, the mayor of Istanbul's Ataşehir district was suspended over corruption allegations by the Interior Ministry on December 8.
Speaking at a press confrerence on December 9, Kılıçdaroğlu said Mayor İlgezdi was acquitted from those alegations before.
In the recent past there were also numerous mayors from the pro-Kurdish peoples Democratic Party across Turkey had been suspended from their posts.
★ Speaking of the main opposition party, a member of parliament from the party submitted a bill to the Parliament speaker's office and proposed a 33% quota for women lawmakers, as well as members of municipal and provincial assemblies.
"According to an Oct. 1 dated list prepared by Inter-Parliamentary Union, of which the parliaments of 178 countries are members, with 14.9 percent Turkey ranks 133rd among 189 countries in terms of the representation of women in parliament. Turkey is behind Arab countries that have a ratio of 18.1 percent ," the proposal read.
The proposal added that Turkey ranks 168th in the list for the number of female ministers.
★ Turkish Industry and Business Association High Advisory Board Chair Tuncay Özilhan has urged for a "normalization" in the country and a "revision" of state of emergency conditions, stating that Turkey's recent record on democracy is having a negative effect on investments and the economy, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.
"The independence and impartiality of judicial bodies, a free and scientific academic environment, free media and a free internet environment are important parameters of a country's competitive power," he added.
The association's Chair Erol Bilecik echoed Özilhan's call for "normalization" in Turkey, which has been under a state of emergency since shortly after the July 2016 coup attempt.
★ Despite a rocky relations between Israel and Turkey, an Israeli company has signed a deal worth nearly 18.6 million euros with Turkey's Anadolu Isuzu, a joint automotive manufacturing venture between Turkey's Anadolu Group and Japan's Isuzu Motors, to buy buses, the Public Disclosure Platform said on December 6, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.
Anadolu Isuzu currently has 823 workers. Its revenue in 2016 was 830 million Turkish Liras.
In 2016, a total of 5,240 vehicles were produced, of which 666 were exported, by the company headquartered in Istanbul.
★ Türk Telekom has no plans to take on new debt and aims to keep capital expenditure spending to a minimum under a new five-year strategy, its chief executive told Reuters, as it focuses on paying out dividends.
The plan comes as ongoing concerns about Türk Telekom's top shareholder, the Saudi-backed Oger Telecom, have cast a shadow on Turkey's largest fixed-line operator.
Oger has missed the last three payments on a $4.75 billion loan, while the Turkish government wants to see Türk Telekom, the operator of the national telecoms grid, owned by a financially stable company, sources have told Reuters.
- Turkey's industrial production rose annually by 7.3 percent in October.
- Senior officials from Turkey and the European Union held a high-level Economic Dialogue meeting on December 8, saying they seek to improve ties, boost economic performance, and resolve major common issues after a rocky period in relations.
- The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has said it is providing İşbank, Turkey's largest private bank, with $55 million in financing to support small-scale renewable energy and resource efficiency projects in the country.
- Turkey's Atlasglobal has been certified as a 4-star airline by the international air transport rating organization Skytrax, the company announced in a release on December 5. Atlasglobal flies to more than 50 destinations in 35 different countries, according to the company.
- The Turkish government will take necessary measures if its banking system is impacted by an ongoing United States court case over alleged Iran sanctions evasion, Finance Minister Naci Ağbal has told Reuters in an interview.
- The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development stated on December 6 that it is supporting the debut bond issuance by Zorlu Osmangazi, a subsidiary of Zorlu Energy and part of the Turkish conglomerate Zorlu Holding, in a new 15 million euro capital markets transaction.
Zorlu Osmangazi carries out electricity distribution and sales services in five Turkish provinces: Eskişehir, Kütahya, Afyon, Uşak and Bilecik.
ARTS AND CULTURE
★ The opera "Ninatta," adapted from a novel by Ahmet Ümit, an author best known for his crime novels, premiered on December 2 at Kadıköy's Süreyya Opera, reports the Anatolia News Agency.
The book tells the story of the Hittites, an ancient civilization and empire present in north-central Anatolia in modern day Turkey, according to historians.
On its website, the state opera calls the opera "a cry against war."
"Ambitious kings' lust for land. A history written in blood. A hopeless longing. A young woman who feels love as a sin," reads the website's teaser for the opera.
Evrim Demirel composed the opera and Mehmet Ergüven is directing it.
★ Turkey is demanding that the 12 Zeugma mosaics, dating back to the 2nd century A.D. and is being exhibited at Ohio's Bowling Green State University Wolfe Art Center, should be returned to Turkey. Turkish authorities have asked for help from the Federal Bureau of Investigation for their repatriation.
But the FBI has informed them that the case falls under private law, noting that they can be referred to if authorities had sufficient evidence that could serve as a basis for criminal investigation.
A research commission in the Turkish parliament, established for the return and preservation of cultural assets, is overlooking the case, updating developments regarding the mosaics and compiling all of them in a draft report.
Their report says Turkey initiated works when a faculty member at the Bowling Green University revealed the possibility that the 12 mosaic panels exhibited at the Wolfe Art Center for 47 years might have been stolen from the ancient city of Zeugma in the southeastern province of Gaziantep. Two academics later wrote a report on the origins of the mosaics.
Both reports confirmed the mosaics belonged to the same cultural layer as the famous Gypsy Girl mosaic of Zeugma, prompting the Turkish government to contact the FBI and museum officials.
Zeugma was an ancient city in southeastern Turkey that revealed exquisite mosaics in recent excavations.
★ A retired Turkish and literature teacher, who is living in the western province of Manisa's Salihli district, paints fruit and human figures on the walls of houses and gardens in the Çökelek neighborhood.
Mustafa Toga, 65, whose nickname is Picasso Mustafa, started painting the outer walls of his house two years ago. At the request of his neighbors, he painted various figures on the outer and garden walls of dozens of houses. Mostly painting animal and nature figures, Toga does not refuse special requests.
Speaking to state-run Anatolia News Agency, Toga said he has been doing oil and charcoal painting for 40 years.
★ A huge rock mass in the ancient city of Aigai, located in Turkey's western province of Manisa, has been broken by treasure hunters, thinking that it contained valuable artifacts, reports the Anatolia News Agency.
The rock was most likely left by the ancients to symbolize the mother goddess Kybele.
Aigai, one of the cities established by the ancient Aiol people of western Anatolia, has a history going back 2,800 years in Manisa's Yunusemre district. Dating back to the 8th century B.C., Aigai was one of the 12 Ionian cities mentioned by Herodotus and is sometimes known as "Nemrut Fort". The city was a significant center of trade in the Hellenistic era.
★ The Akbank Sanat World Music Days this year is set to host musicians from four regions across the world, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.
The first concert will be performed by Estonian violinist and vocal Maarja Nuut, who has been praised by the lead singer of Duran Duran, Simon Le Bon.
Nuut's music combines traditional dance tunes, songs, and stories with live electronic music to create an intricate layered soundscape in a space where minimalism and experimental music meet the village musical traditions of pre-war Europe.
On December 13, the World music days will host the Andrei Racu Folk Quartet, playing traditional Romanian music.
On December 20, n'goni player Abou Diarra will take the stage at Akbank Sanat. Trained by a virtuoso blind master, Vieux Kanté, Diarra going through the most remote villages of West Africa, as well as modern metropoles, collected both traditional, hidden music as well as urban, contemporary sounds.
The final concert will be given by Tania Oleiro on December 27. She will bring music From the most respected Fado houses in Lisbon, Portugal.
★ Archaeological excavations have unearthed a settlement, rock tombs, temple and a 50-meter-deep water tunnel in Turkey's eastern province of Erzurum's Dumlu neighborhood. The settlement is believed to date back to the Urartian Kingdom.
Researcher and writer Ömer Faruk Kızılkaya, who studies the history and culture of Erzurum, have heard that
treasure hunters were digging in the rural areas in the Dumlu neighborhood.
Kızılkaya searched the area and found rock tombs, temples, settlements and a water tunnel belonging to an ancient civilization in the region. He then applied to the Provincial Directorate of Culture and Tourism for the protection of this region.
Traveling to the region with reporters from Anatolia News Agency, Kızılkaya went down in a cave where rock tombs were located and people in the ancient civilization had carved rocks to meet their water needs 50 meters below the ground.
Kızılkaya said the rock tombs, the temple area and the remains in the region may belong to the time of the Urartu Kingdom.
Kızılkaya also said the upper part of the region should be examined in detail, as he had found remains of a settlement where the king tombs were, adding that the region had been badly damaged by treasure hunters.
★ Turkey's Culture and Tourism Ministry spent nearly $24 million on archaeological excavations and researches this year, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.
According to information provided by the ministry, 118 Turkish and 32 foreign excavations were carried out in Turkey, as well as 57 museum excavations, 20 public investment excavations, 144 rescue excavations, 125 Turkish surface surveys, nine foreign surface surveys, six underwater researches and 20 surface cleaning works were conducted throughout the year.
34 restoration projects were finished, while 83 restoration projects and 126 investment projects are still being carried out, with $15 million being spent on these projects.
Between 2003 and 2017, the ministry increased by 32 times the money allocated for the expropriation of private lands. This year, 126 immovable estates in 19 cities were expropriated.
★ Turkey's Bülent Erkan is known as the "son of the mountains" for spending almost two decades trying to protect nature and photographing the wildlife. He has had a documentary about his life, which won numerous awards last year.
Seventeen years ago, however, Erkan was a hunter. It was when he saw a mountain goat cry, he decided to dedicate his life to nature.
Approaching the animal to within some 10 feet, Erkan saw the chamois with tears in its eyes and thought it was wrong to kill it. After that, he stopped hunting and dedicated his life to the mountains and the protection of wildlife.
Erkan is now trekking mountains in pursue to protect natural life, leaving feed for fish and planting trees.
"For about 17 years, I have been taking photos of bears. I made an aquarium in the village and am breeding trout," he said.
Despite facing opposition from his family, Erkan said he never gave up on living in the mountains.
By protecting nature and the wildlife, Erkan aims to leave a better planet for the future generations.
★ Turkish illustrator and academic Mehmet Korkut Öztekin, who made his name illustrating the half-human half-robot Robocop comics, is currently on the world's top sales lists for his latest international project "Out of the
Woods", reports the Anatolia News Agency.
Dr. Öztekin, a professor in the Fine Arts Faculty of İzmir's Dokuz Eylül University, made the illustrations for New Zealander Brent Williams' "Out of the Woods," a story of depression and anxiety written about his own life.
The book, which was completed over a three-year period using oil paints, has drawn interest in e-trade platforms and won the right to enter the archive of the Cartoon Museum in London.
Dr. Öztekin said prior to the Robocop work, he had worked on the "Hellraiser" project with famous British director, writer and painter Clive Barker and Brandon Sieferd.
He said he was invited to cartoon festivals and got the chance to work with leading names in the sector.
"Students from foreign countries have written theses on me. I have given interviews to international magazines. I have been well received around the world. I am surprised and honored," he said.
★ "Purple Horizons", a Turkish-made film telling the struggle of a Syrian girl fleeing civil war in her country, has returned home with awards from Pakistan and Italy.
The film won "Best Movie," "Best Foreign Movie" and "Best Scenario" awards at Pakistan's 8th International Lums Film Festival and will be released in theaters in Europe and Turkey simultaneously in April 2018.
The movie has won 15 international awards so far.
See the official teaser video on YouTube at: Read more at >> here <<
★ Korean War veteran Süleyman Dilbirliği, who adopted a five-year-old Korean orphan girl during the Korean War, has died at the age of 91 in Istanbul. Dilbirliği had adopted Eunja Kim during the war and named her Ayla, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.
Two days later his wife also passed away.
The story of Dilbirliği and Ayla came to prominence recently after director Can Ulkay told their story in the movie titled "Ayla," which is Turkey's foreign-language Oscar nominee.
After the gala of the movie in Istanbul in November, Ayla went to hospital to visit Dilbirliği, her godfather.
"Ayla" received awards at international film festivals including the Asian Pacific Film Festival in Los Angeles and the Cape Town International Film Festival.
Dilbirliği, who had been under treatment at the Haydarpaşa Numune Research and Training Hospital since Nov. 12, died of multiple organ failure on December 7.
Turkish troops served under UN command during the 1950-53 war and 774 Turkish soldiers were killed.
Ayla has been nominated as Turkey's entry for Best Foreign Language Movie in next year's Oscars.
★ An excavation team made u p of 25 people, includes 15 prisoners who have been working to reveal historical artifacts in the ancient city of Kedrai on Sedir Island, also known as Cleopatra Island, off Turkey's western province of Muğla. The ancient city is home to the ruins of the Apollon Temple, theater and cemetery.
To get to the island, the excavation team takes a half hour boat ride to the port in Çamlı neighborhood. Nearly 150,000 locals and foreigners visit the island every year.
The ancient city has its theater with a capacity of 2500 people. The theater is being excavated and cleaned. Archaeologists also found many inscriptions which helps in understanding the history of Kedrai and Karia.
★ A short film shot by Turkish university student Doğa Çakaloz will be shown at the Cannes Film Festival next year, according to a statement by the İzmir-based Yaşar University on December 4, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.
"Çakaloz, a third year student in our Faculty of Arts and Design Department, participated in the Crystal Camera Short Film Contest between universities and won first place," said the statement.
The contest took place on Nov. 28 and landed Çakaloz's film the opportunity to be screened at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.
Çakaloz's movie, "Where are you" was shot in the Bayındır district in İzmir.
Famous Turkish actor Bekir Aksoy plays the role of the main character.
EXCHANGE RATE for the U.S. dollar in Turkish Liras: 3.84
High and Low Temperatures in Degrees F, Weather
Ankara, in central Turkey: 50/37 Mostly Cloudy
Erzurum, in Eastern Turkey: 59/54 Partly Cloudy
Istanbul, in northwestern Turkey: 61/50 Showers
Izmir, on the Aegean: 28/7 Showers
Trabzon, on the Black Sea: 61/50 Partly Cloudy
Snow depths at skiing locations:
Erciyes in Kayseri, Central Turkey : 28 inches
Ilgaz in Kastamonu, North Central Turkey: 11 inches
Kartalkaya in Bolu, Western Turkey : 20 inches
Palandöken in Erzurum, Eastern Turkey : 15 inches
Saklıkent in Antalya, Southern Turkey : No snow
Sarıkamış in Kars, Eastern Turkey : 9 inches
Uludağ in Bursa, Western Turkey : 18 inches
★ In the UEFA champions league in group G Turkey's Beşiktaş beat its German rival RB Leipzig 2 to 1. Beşiktaş is now the undefeated leader in its group.
The game was played in the German teams turf.
★ In the UEFA European league, the Turkish team Konyaspor had a draw with Portugal's Vitoria Guimaraes 1 to 1. However, Konyaspor was eliminated and is unable to go up to the finals. In the same league another Turkish team Başakşehir was also eliminated although it beat Portugal's SC Braga to 2 to 1 on Thursday.
★ Premiere League
In the Turkish soccer premier league:
* In games played so far this weekend:
Bursa Sp - Fenerbahçe 0 - 1
Kasımpaşa - Trabzon Sp 0 - 3
Malatyaspor - Göztepe 2 - 3
Antalya Sp - G. Birliği 1 - 1
G. Saray - Akhisar Sp 4 - 2
Kayseri Sp - Beşiktaş - - -
Osmanlı Sp - Alanya Sp - - -
Sivas Sp - Başakşehir - - -
Konya Sp - Karabük Sp - - -
* Standing in the league as of week ending 14
1 - Başakşehir 30
2 - G. Saray 29
3 - Fenerbahçe 26
4 - Beşiktaş 26
5 - Kayseri Sp 26
6 - Bursa Sp 24
7 - Göztepe 24
8 - Trabzon Sp 22
9 - Akhisar Sp 19
10 - Sivas Sp 19
11 - Kasımpaşa 18
12 - Alanya Sp 17
13 - Malatyaspor 16
14 - Antalya Sp 13
15 - Osmanlı Sp 11
16 - Konya Sp 11
17 - G. Birliği 11
18 - Karabük Sp 8
★ In the Euroleague basketball games two Turkish teams had the following results in the 11th week of playing:
Serbia's Red Star beat Turkey's Anadolu Efes 100 to 81
Spain's Barcelona Lassa was beaten by Turkey's Fenerbahçe 68 to 83
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