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x0x Turkish News for the week ending 06 January 2018
[This is a transcript of the news broadcast on 06 January 2018]
Courtesy of Turkish Radio Hour, producer of the
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★ A in New York jury found Turkish banker Hakan Atilla guilty for participating in 1 billion-dollar plot to evade US sanctions against Iran.
According to the National Public Radio reporter Peter Kenyon, Turkish officials are reacting angrily to a guilty verdict.
Kenyon adds that the case turned up testimony alleging high-level corruption in Turkey, including bribery that allowed Turks to violate US sanctions on business with Iran.
The Hürriyet Daily News reports that Turkish Prime Minister Mr. Binali Yildirim criticized the US verdict and said that the case was based on fabricated evidence by the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization, in other words by the followers of cleric Fethullah Gülen.
The Hürriyet daily news also reported that Turkey's President Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on January 5 that there is a "serious chain of plots in the United States". "There are not only legal plots but also economic ones in this process," Erdoğan told reporters at a press conference before his departure for France.
Cleric Fethullah Gülen has been living in self exile in Pennsylvania since 1999. He was once an ally of the justice and development party led by the current Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. However, Gülen and Erdoğan are now bitter enemies. Gülen and his followers are being accused of orchestrating last year's failed coup attempt that left 250 people dead and 2200 injured.
Read more at >> here <<
and space Read more at >> here <<
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★ In related news, Turkish authorities have prepared an extradition request for a witness who testified in the Turkish banker's trial, reports the Anatolia News Agency.
The witness, Hüseyin Korkmaz, is a former police investigator who collected evidence against Turkish government officials in a 2013 corruption case, which included some of the same defendants as the trial now ending in the United States.
Korkmaz faces several charges in Turkey including "being member of an armed terror group" and "attempting to overthrow the government of the Republic of Turkey."
★ Reuters reported on Thursday that Turkish prosecutors have issued arrest warrants for 70 people, including 58 serving soldiers, in an investigation targeting supporters of the U.S.-based cleric accused of orchestrating an attempted coup in July 2016, state media said on Thursday.
The operation was focused on the central Turkish province of Konya, with police carrying out simultaneous raids at addresses across 27 provinces, state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
More than 50,000 people are jailed and awaiting trial.
★ Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım on January 5 said "no one is above the law, whether be it a minister or a prime minister," in response to a question asking him to evaluate Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu's suggestion that it is the "police's duty to break drug dealers' legs" earlier this week.''
However, İbrahim Kalın, the spokesman for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, defended Mr. Soylu's comments on January 4, describing them as an "expression of determination."
Turkish Prime Minister's comments came after opposition politicians and lawyers filed a criminal complaint against the interior minister. In response to the outcry, the interior minister told daily Hürriyet he had made the remark to "draw attention to the issue."
The Istanbul Bar Association has also announced that it had filed a complaint against Soylu over his "unlawful" remark. The Bar Association chairman also noted that the interior minister's comments violated the principle of presumption of innocence.
★ Dorian Jones of the Voice of America reports that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is one of two senior Turkish officials who have made or are making trips to European Union countries in what analysts say is a diplomatic offensive to reset relations with the 28-member bloc.
The European Union is Turkey's No. 1 import and export partner. Relations between Turkey and the European Union, however, have been strained in part over human rights in Turkey, a controversial referendum last year to extend his powers, refugee migration and Turkey's quest for visa-free travel for its citizens across the European Union.
Mr. Erdoğan met Friday in France with counterpart Emmanuel Macron for talks on Syria and trade, and he signed a series of contracts. The two presidents also witnessed the signing of an agreement in which Turkish Airlines will purchase 25 jets from Airbus.
Turkey has been seeking to join the European Union but cannot do so unless certain criteria required for membership have been met.
Human rights concerns are set to be an even bigger obstacle to Turkey's bid to smooth over relations with Europe's other major powerhouse, Germany. German-Turkish relations all but collapsed last year over Turkey's accusations that Germany was harboring hundreds of people linked to a 2016 coup attempt. Germany, meanwhile, has likened the arrest and jailing of a number of its citizens, including two journalists and a human rights activist, to hostage taking.
Read more at >> here <<
Turkish foreign affairs minister Mr. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu visited his German counterpart, Sigma Gabriel, on Saturday in Goslar, Germany.
After the meeting the Turkish foreign affairs minister said that he agreed with his German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel that "difficulties and disagreement" with Germany needed to be solved through dialogue and cooperation.
One of the disputes between Germany and Turkey centers on the arrest of Deniz Yücel, a correspondent for German newspaper Die Welt. Turkish authorities accuse him of spreading propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party. He denies the charge.
Germany is Turkey's biggest trade partner but exports from Europe's largest economy to Turkey dropped by 5.9 percent year-on-year in the first nine months of 2017
Mr. Gabriel told the German magazine Der Spiegel on January 5 that Germany had refused to authorize "a large number of arms exports" to Turkey and that would remain the case until Yücel's case was resolved.
Read more at >> here <<
★ Orthodox Christians marked the Christmas Eve with a mass held on January 6 at the Fener Greek orthodox Patriarchate in Istanbul, reports the Anatolia News Agency.
Led by Patriarch Bartholomew, Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Ioannis Amanatidis and Ambassador to Turkey Petros Mavroidis were also present during the service which was telecast live by Athens' official broadcaster ERT.
The service was followed by ritual at the Fener dock in the Golden Horn, during which the patriarch threw a large cross into the sea to be retrieved by a group of swimmers.
Due to a difference in calendars, many Orthodox churches mark Christmas Eve on January 6 and Christmas is celebrated on January 7 and not Dec. 25.
★ Prominent Turkish chef and food writer Refika Birgül has criticized the country's importing of food products as "shameful". She says importation stems from higher prices of domestically produced food due to structural problems in the agricultural sector.
Ms. Birgül told daily Hürriyet in an interview on Dec. 29 that the cultivation of pulses (legumes) in Turkey is possible but many big supermarkets still prefer to buy them from abroad.
"Eating black-eyed peas imported from Peru is like treason [to Turkey] … The most painful thing is that Turkey is the native land of these beauties [pulses]. Everything started with big markets' demand for granting sensational price discounts," Ms. Birgül said.
Read more at >> here <<
★ A once-rich fishing ground, Turkish seas have seen a sharp decline in fish production, the result of overfishing, environmental factors and destructive fishing practices, according to experts, fishermen and restaurant owners, Cansu Şimşek of the Hürriyet Daily News reports.
The most radical solution to the situation comes from Turkey's "Slow Food Movement" representative and ecology activist Defne Koryürek, who proposes a "fishing ban for at least five years like abroad."
Environmental factors have also contributed to depleting fish stock in Turkish waters, according to Koryürek. "Anchovies have disappeared. Why? Because the sea waters are no longer cold. And why is that? Russians have built a dam on the Dnieper River [one of the major rivers in Europe flowing through Russia] and we have covered everywhere with hydroelectric power plants. Waste comes not only from the Danube River [Europe's second-longest river] but also from industry in the Marmara region, and all this waste ends up in the Black Sea. The fish cannot live in such conditions," Koryürek told daily Hürriyet.
Read more at >> here <<
★ Turkey's Chamber of Environmental Engineers has warned about air pollution levels in Turkey in its latest report, the Turkish daily BirGün reported on January 5.
Istanbul, Ankara, the southern provinces of Adana, Hatay, Mersin and Kahramanmaraş, the Black Sea provinces of Amasya and Samsun, the Central Anatolian provinces of Niğde and Sivas, and the western provinces of Manisa, Bursa, Denizli, Kütahya, Tekirdağ, Yalova, Kırklareli and Sakarya were all indicated in the report as having the worst air quality.
The report cited "uncontrolled urban transformation" as the main cause of air pollution for Istanbul. For the capital Ankara the main cause of air pollution is the use of low-quality coal for transportation and heating.
★ The Nusret Mine Ship, which defeated Allied fleets during World War I by laying mines on transit routes, was rescued 14 years ago from ruins and opened to visitors after a restoration process in the southern province of Mersin's Tarsus district.
The ship has hosted thousands of local and foreign visitors since then.
The ship, which changed the fate of the Dardanelles Battle, had served the fleet for many years. After the ship finished its mission in 1955, it began carrying dry cargo in 1962 under the name "Kaptan [Captain] Nusret."
But since 1990, the ship remained idle docked at the Port of Mersin. With the initiation of a group of volunteers, the ship was disembarked in 1999 and restored after being purchased by the Tarsus Municipality.
Following a nearly four-year work, Nusret began to be displayed at the Nusret Mine Ship Museum and the Çanakkale Victory Cultural Park in 2003.
★ Earth-sheltered houses in Turkey's Central Anatolian province of Sivas are set to become a part of a holiday village to lure tourists from all over the world.
The Sivas Municipality is building more houses, inspired by the "Hobbit Houses" in the blockbuster "Lord of the Rings" and which received keen interest by domestic and foreign visitors. The new houses are currently under construction, as six current hobbit houses, which hosted tourists from European countries as well as Australia, China and Japan, have been insufficient in meeting demands.
Built in the Paşabahçe picnic area, the terraced houses cater to the needs of large families.
The one-bedroom abodes, fascinating with their architecture, each have a kitchen, living room and a bathroom. They rent for $35 a day in local currency .
Sivas authorities aim to increase the number of the hobbit houses to 50.
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★ Historical structures in Turkey's southeastern province of Şanlıurfa's Harran district are being restored. Considered one of the oldest settlements in the world, the city has been home to various civilizations since 6000 B.C., as well as the Assyrian and Umayyad capital.
Among the historical structures in the district are conical domed houses, built on square or almost-square grounds.
Şanlıurfa has a long history. On a hilltop there is the Göbeklitepe, an ancient site with stone objects erected some 12,000 years ago. The Harran area is also thought to be where the first farmers of the world came to existence. In the Şanlıurfa city itself there are artifacts and structures left over from 19 civilizations.
Read more at >> here <<
★ Istanbul Modern Cinema will present a program of films nominated for the "Best Foreign Language Film" category at the 90th Oscars ceremony between January 11 and 21.
The films in the program are from diverse cultures and languages and were big hits in a number of festivals around the world. Despite being Oscar-nominated, they are all somewhat outside of the Hollywood track, by acclaimed names from European and world film.
Read more at >> here <<
★ Istanbul's Basilica Cistern has broken annual visit to record, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.
The cistern, located close to the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul's historic Sultanahmet area and overseen by the Istanbul Municipality, continued to draw interest from visitors despite undergoing a restoration.
The museum was visited by just over one million people for a fee and nearly 150,000 people for free, marking an overall increase of around 350,000 from 2016.
The historic cistern is currently undergoing a comprehensive restoration, a first in 500 years. The restoration is due to end in March.
The Basilica Cistern covers an area of 95,000 sq. ft., of which 82,500 sq. ft. is open and 11,000 sq. ft. is closed to the public. The cistern, historically used to serve the water needs of Istanbul locals during the Byzantine and Ottoman eras, has a storage capacity of around 100,000 tons of water.
Two upside-down Medusa bases below two columns in the northwestern corner of the cistern are considered to be masterpieces of Roman-era sculpture and are among the most popular parts of the cistern for visitors.
★ Archaeologists have found burial chambers in the ancient city of Metropolis in Turkey's Aegean province of Izmir for the first time.
Various gifts and bones belonging to a family have been uncovered within the chambers.
The burial chambers date back to the first century. Inside the chambers are candles, bronze mirrors and spoons, as well as glass and ceramic tear bottles, which are believed to have been offered as gifts to the dead.
So far more than 11,000 historical artifacts have been unearthed in Metropolis.
The history of the city dates back to the Classical Age and has continued with the Hellenistic Age, the Roman and Byzantine eras, the
Beyliks era and the Ottoman era.
A Hellenistic-era ancient theater, Bouleuterion (assembly building), Stoa (colonnaded gallery), a Roman bath and Palaestra complex, as well as two small baths are among the discoveries in the ancient city.
Read more at >> here <<
★ The exhibition showing cartoons from the 34th Aydın Doğan International Cartoon Competition will open on January 5 at the 75'inci Yıl Art Gallery in the southern province of Adana, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.
The exhibition can be visited until January 20.
★ The Istanbul Aid Orchestra and well-known Turkish pianist Gülsin Onay will be on stage on January 7 during "Mozart Night," organized by the Darüşşafaka Association at the Fulya Art Center, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.
The Istanbul Aid Orchestra is a volunteer orchestra founded in January 2017 with some of the most experienced musicians in the city.
The orchestra donated the income of its first concert to the Istanbul representative of the Animal Rights Federation, and the income of its next concert will be donated to the Darüşşafaka Association, which focuses on educating orphans in Turkey.
★ A rare ancient Ephesus coin will be put up for auction on January 7 in New York with an estimated price between $200,000-$300,000, Özden Acar of the Hürriyet Daily News reports.
The 14-gram and 23-milimeter electrum (a mix of gold and silver) coin is related to the god of light, Phanes.
The coin dates back to 625-600 BC.
Other various ancient Anatolian coins will also be sold in the auction on January 7. Among them are 10 electrum coins and a silver coin from Balıkesir's ancient cities of Mysia-Kyzikos, as well as 12 coins from İzmir's Ionia dating back to 650 B.C., seven coins from Foça, 16 coins from the Lydian-Karun era and eight coins from Antalya's Phaselis.
In the auction, there will also be other groups of coins from various regions for sale. This might lead one to think their sources are local ancient artifact smugglers.
★ Veteran actor Münir Özkul died on January 5 at the age of 93. Özkul had been suffering from a respiratory disease and dementia since 2003 and had been treated in his home in Istanbul for a long time, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.
Özkul was awarded the honorary title "State Artist of Turkey" in 1998.
In 1972, he received the Golden Orange Award, known as the Turkish Oscars, for Best Actor in his performance in the Turkish movie "Love, My Brother".
During the 1970s, he appeared in many films by Ertem Eğilmez.
He is best known in Turkey for his roles "Mahmut Hoca" in the cult comedy film series "The Chaos Class" and Yaşar Usta in the film "Our Family".
★ The Mor Augin Monastery, located at the foot of the Bagok Mountain in Turkey's southeastern province of Mardin's Nusaybin district, is waiting to be discovered, reports the Anatolia News Agency.
Mor Augin and 70 of his disciples who came from Egypt established the
monastery. Built during the Roman era 1700 year ago and closed down when its priest died in 1970, the monastery was reopened to worshippers in 2011 with the initiative of Syriac senior priest Raban Yakim Unfal, who came from the nearby Midyat district.
The monastery, set on a slope above the Mesopotamia plain and only a stone's throw away from Syria, is considered to be the second Jerusalem for Syriacs.
The architecture of the Mor Augin Monastery is different from the other unusually beautiful monasteries in Mardin, and has the biggest church bell in Turkey. Syriacs, one of the world's oldest Christian communities, visit Mardin before pilgrimaging to Jerusalem.
★ Photography artist Zeynep Sezerman's third solo exhibition "For a Moment" will open on Jan 7 at the Caddebostan Culture Center in Istanbul. Ceylan Harmancı is the art consultant of the exhibition, which will continue until Jan 17.
See her photos at: Read more at >> here <<
EXCHANGE RATE for the U.S. dollar in New Turkish Liras: 3.74
High and Low Temperatures in Degrees F, Weather
Ankara, in central Turkey: 50/32 Foggy
Antalya, on the Mediterranean: 70/52 Partly Cloudy
Erzurum, in Eastern Turkey: 32/14 Foggy
Istanbul, in northwestern Turkey: 55/45 Foggy
Izmir, on the Aegean: 63/45 Mostly Sunny
Trabzon, on the Black Sea: 55/48 Mostly Cloudy
Snow depths at skiing locations:
Erciyes in Kayseri, Central Turkey : 20 inches
Ilgaz in Kastamonu, North Central Turkey: 19 inches
Kartalkaya in Bolu, Western Turkey : 27 inches
Palandöken in Erzurum, Eastern Turkey : 12 inches
Saklıkent in Antalya, Southern Turkey : 13 inches
Sarıkamış in Kars, Eastern Turkey : 19 inches
Uludağ in Bursa, Western Turkey : 35 inches
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