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x0x Turkish News for the week ending 26 May 2018

[This is a transcript of the news broadcast on 26 May 2018]

Courtesy of Turkish Radio Hour, producer of the

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★ Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called on Turkey's citizens on May 26 to convert their dollar and euro savings into lira, as he sought to bolster the ailing currency which has lost some 20 percent of its value against the U.S. currency this year, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.

  The presidential elections that will be held on June 24 will be critical for Turkey as the executive presidential system approved by the constitutional amendments will be fully in effect after the president is elected.

  Less than a month ahead of the elections, the Turkish economy is struggling.

  The Turkish Central Bank decided to raise the top interest rate 300 basis points to 16.5 percent in an emergency meeting on May 23, after the Turkish Lira's daily depreciation of 5 percent against the United States dollar. The dollar/lira rate hit an all-time high, reaching 4.93 hours before the bank raised interest rates.

  Concerns about management of the economy and the independence of the Central Bank after the snap elections on June 24 are said to be affecting the depreciation of lira, alongside high inflation, a rising current account deficit, and the rally of the dollar.

★ A Turkish banker sentenced to 32 months in prison for plotting to help Iran evade U.S. sanctions on billions of dollars of oil proceeds took steps on May 25 to appeal his conviction in New York.

  Mehmet Hakan Atilla, 47, deputy director general of Turkish lender Halkbank, was convicted by a US federal jury in January on five counts of bank fraud and conspiracy following a five-week trial.

  US District Judge Richard Berman handed down the unusually light sentence of 32 months in a Manhattan court on May 16. US prosecutors had wanted him put away for 20 years. Mr. Atilla will be free to return to Turkey after serving his sentence.

  Turkey has insisted that Mr. Atilla is innocent. US prosecutors say the scheme to violate US economic sanctions involved billions of dollars' worth of Iranian oil proceeds held at Mr. Atilla's employer.

  The explosive case strained ties between Ankara and Washington, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan calling the trial "a plot against Turkey".

  The conviction hinged on the testimony of Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, who was arrested by US authorities in 2016 after jetting to Florida with his pop-star wife and child on a family holiday to Disney World.

  Mr. Zarrab, 34, initially pleaded not guilty then flipped, becoming a US government witness after admitting being involved in the multi billion-dollar gold-for-oil scheme to subvert US economic sanctions against Iran.

  His testimony identified Mr. Atilla as a key organizer in the scheme, but also implicated former Turkish ministers and even Erdoğan.

★ In related news, Reuters reported that a New York City jail guard accused of taking more than $45,000 in bribes to supply contraband to an inmate matching the description of wealthy Reza Zarrab pleaded not guilty to five criminal charges on May 25.

  Victor Casado, from the Bronx, entered his not guilty plea to bribery, fraud, contraband smuggling and two conspiracy counts before U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan, according to a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman in Manhattan.

  Casado worked at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, where Zarrab, a dual national of Turkey and Iran, had been held on charges that he conspired to help Iran evade U.S. sanctions.

  Federal prosecutors accused Casado in court papers of having taken between $45,000 and $50,000 in bribes from "Inmate-1," typically through an unidentified lawyer.

★ Turkey's army chief on May 25 visited the southern border province of Hatay to inspect troops taking part in the ongoing Operation Olive Branch in northwestern Syria.

  In a statement, the Turkish General Staff said Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar was briefed by the commanders on duty in the region and issued orders, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.

  Akar said the Turkish army is concentrating on clearing away terrorist mines and explosives so locals can return to their homes in peace and security, the report said.

  Operations to provide all the public's basic needs, notably health care, are continuing, he added.

  On Jan. 20, Turkey launched "Operation Olive Branch" to remove the armed Syrian-Kurdish group People's Protection Units from northwestern Syria's Afrin region.

  On March 18, day 58 of the operation, Turkish troops and Free Syrian Army members liberated the town of Afrin.

★ With four weeks to go to snap parliamentary and presidential elections, the main opposition Republican People's Party and the Nationalist Movement Party will declare their election manifestos this weekend, while President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will hit the road for his election campaign rallies.

  The Republican People's Party's official campaign slogan will be "We're coming for the nation," while its logo will read "Enough," Deputy Republican People's Party leader and spokesman Bülent Tezcan said at a press conference on May 25.

  The Republican People's Party's manifesto will be read out by party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who will also introduce the Republican People's Party's candidates to run for parliament in the June 24 vote.

  Tezcan said the Republican People's Party's manifesto will be built on five main themes: Justice, education, the economy, social peace and foreign policy. It will highlight the abolition of the state of emergency as a priority and the establishment of an independent, impartial and fair justice system.

  The Nationalist Action Party, which is partnering with the ruling Justice and Development Party under the "People's Alliance" in the election, will unveil its manifesto on the same day as the Republican People's Party.

  Meanwhile, having already unveiled the manifesto of his ruling Justice and Development Party, President Erdoğan will start campaigning for the upcoming elections from Erzurum on May 26. His next election rallies will be held in the western provinces of Aydın and Balıkesir on May 27. Erdoğan is expected to hold around 30 rallies until the date of the election.

★ IYI (Good) Party leader Meral Akşener has slammed the ruling Justice and Development Party's election manifesto for the upcoming June 24 elections, saying it made promises to fix the problems they created during their 16-year tenure.

  "What have you done in the past 16 years?" Ms. Akşener said at an election rally in the Central Anatolian province of Kayseri on May 25, criticizing the Justice and Development Party's 16 years in power.

  Her comments came after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan introduced his Justice and Development Party's election manifesto on May 24, proposing to bring "more democracy and prosperity" to Turkey.

  "They say they will improve the economy. But he himself [Erdoğan] is the one who caused Turkey to deindustrialize indefinitely," she said.

  She criticized the government's privatizations and tax reforms, saying the ruling party "linked Turkey's economy to only the construction sector."

  "They are incapable of managing this economy," she said.

★ Turkey will become a software-production base after the early elections on June 24, Republican People's Party presidential candidate Muharrem Ince vowed as part of his election promises on May 24.

  "I see the [indigenous automobile project] as a waste of time. I would want to see Turkey becoming a software base," Mr. Ince said in a televised interview with private broadcaster CNN Türk.

  "We will also suspend the Canal Istanbul [project]," Ince said.

  Responding to questions posed by three journalists in a moderated discussion, Ince listed his plans including in economy, internal politics, foreign policy, education, production and more.

  Before any other policies, Ince vowed to suspend public spending that lacks urgency if he is elected.

  Asked whether he has any major projects such as producing an indigenous car, Ince said his biggest project for Turkey will be "peace."

  In response to economic precautions declared by the longtime ruling Justice and Development Party, Mr. Ince said they do not have the right to promise anything after 16 years in office and that they should "apologize."

★ At least 51 foreign nationals have been detained in Istanbul for their alleged links to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), according to a police source on May 25, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.

  Anti-terror squads conducted simultaneous raids in 11 districts to apprehend the suspects, who were allegedly plotting terror attacks, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

  Police also seized organizational documents and digital tools linked to the group.

★ Russian President Vladimir Putin said on May 25 that Turkey has the right to choose its own military aircraft, amid Turkey's deal to buy missile-defense systems from Russia.

  As a NATO member, Turkey decided to buy the "best of its class" with Russia's S-400 missile defense, Putin was quoted as saying.

  His remarks came during a meeting with officials of leading global news agencies, including Turkey's Anadolu Agency, as part of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

  Under an accelerated timetable for the S-400 deal, Russia's first deliveries of the S-400 to Turkey are due in late 2019 or early 2020.

  The S-400, Russia's most advanced long-range anti-aircraft missile system, can carry three types of missiles capable of destroying targets including ballistic and cruise missiles.

★ In related news, Hürriyet Daily News reported that Turkey will respond if the United States suspends delivery of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets to Turkey, Turkish Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hami Aksoy said on May 25.

  The bill passed by the U.S. Senate committee, including a measure to prevent Turkey from purchasing Lockheed Martin F-35 jets is "against the spirit of our alliance with the U.S.," Aksoy told reporters in a press conference.

  A U.S. Senate committee passed its version of a $716 billion defense policy bill on May 24, including a measure to prevent Turkey from purchasing Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets.

  Lockheed Martin will deliver the first F-35 fighter jet to Turkey on June 21.

  Relations between Turkey and US have been strained over a host of issues in recent months, including U.S. policy in Syria and a number of legal cases against Turkish and U.S. nationals being held in the two countries.


★ Ben Coxworth of the New Atlas, an online publication that covers technology, reports that youthful entrepreneurs at Turkey's Young Guru Academy have created a high-tech smart cane for the blind.

  Dubbed the "WeWALK", the cane consists mainly of an electronic handle, with a regular "analog" white cane inserted into the bottom.

  While the tip of that conventional cane is used to detect ground-level obstacles, head-level obstructions get pinged by ultrasound pulses emitted by the WeWALK. Whenever such hazards are detected, the device lets the user know by buzzing their hand through either of two (left or right) vibration buttons.

  There's also a front LED to help partially-sighted users see in the dark, along with a touchpad, which can be used to remotely operate a Bluetooth-connected iOS or Android smartphone. This phone connectivity means that users can utilize the WeWALK's built-in speakers to receive verbal directional cues from supported apps such as Google Maps, or use its near-field mic to confer with Amazon Alexa, which is also supported. Additionally, because the technology is built around an open platform, third-party developers could add their own smartphone-based functions down the road.

  The WeWALK cane received the Edison Awards, a first for a Turkish company. Among the recipients of this award in the past are Tesla and HP.

  Read more at >> here <<



★ Istanbul Modern is in a temporary venue in Istanbul's Beyoğlu district with a new exhibit by British sculptor Anthony Cragg, reports the Turkish daily Sözcü.

  Anthony Cragg is considered to be most original and innovative artist of the contemporary sculptor. His exhibit at Istanbul Modern is named "The Nature of the Man".

  In the exhibit wall reliefs from the artist's earlier years, products of experiments with different material and techniques are displayed.

  The director of the Istanbul modern Levent Çalıkoğlu says that every phase of Anthony Craig's 40-year plus career has been shaped with his contribution to the art of sculptor with new ideas and concepts.

  Artist page: Read more at >> here <<


★ Countdown for the second Samsun Youth Festival has started, reports the daily Sözcü. The program of the Festival has been also disclosed. It is full of names from Turkey's pop and rock music artists, old and new.

  The Festival will take place from June 20 to June 23 in Turkey's Black Sea city of Samsun.


★ The Turkish wrapper Tankurt Manas has a new album. "Subconscious" will be published by Sony Music and Base Mode Records, reports the Turkish daily Sözcü.

  In the album Tankurt Manas has duets with other renowned artists such as Ayben, Kamufle, Server Uraz, Emrah Karakuyu.

★ The rise of the US dollar against the Turkish currency lira is eliciting interesting comments from Turkey's art world.

  The veteran theater artist Genco Erkal, referring to the Turkish folk ritual of praying for rain when there is a drought, says: "There is prayer for rain but why not one for the dollar? Let's go out all together in these holy days. Perhaps somebody would hear us."

  Other names from the Turkish art world had the following comments:

  Gani Müjde : "While we were sleeping, dollar has grown"

  Sevinç Eratalay: "Our country is not sinking because the dollar is rising, the dollar is rising because the country is sinking".

★ The City Theaters of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality is starting its summer season on June 2, reports the daily Sözcü.

  Popular plays from yesteryears and new ones will be staged throughout the season. One of these plays from 1960s is "Cibali Police Station", which was written by the renowned Turkish theater actor and playwright Muammer Karaca.


★ Renown Turkish actor and director Cansel Elçin's film "The Man Who Carries the Angels" will be on screens in Moscow on May 27, reports the Turkish daily Sözcü.

  The director says that the best way to establish dialogue between countries goes through art and sports. "Therefore I take great pride in having the film screened here", he adds.

  The film tells the story of a person who is at child age and looks at marriage from a completely different perspective.


★ Turkish folk musician Sümer Ezgü and the Regional Symphonic Orchestra held a concert titled "We Came from Anatolia" in Kazakhstan's capital Almaty, reports the Doğan News Agency.

  Anatolia refers to the Asiatic mainland part of Turkey.

  The orchestra is made up of authentic folk instruments group, string instruments group and folk dances and vocals group, adding up to 30 people. Kazakh string instrument dombra player Nazira Mahambetova also participated in the concert.

  Ezgü and the orchestra had three concerts in Kazakhstan. He played a rearrangement of the Kazakh song Kamajay with the accompaniment of Nazira Mahambetova. He told the audience that he regularly plays the song in Turkey and it is very much liked by the Turks.


★ In Turkey's southwestern town of Milas workers found an oval structure during clearing operations to create a park, reports the Turkish daily Sözcü.

  The remains of the structure revealed over 100 marble blocks. The authorities at the Milas Museum have started researching the site and immediately started rescue excavations.

  However, so far there has been no determination of the age of the structure. The excavation work is continuing at the site, the authorities are thinking that the structure may be either a monument or a religious site.


★ In Turkey's Northwestern city of Bursa, the historical wooden door of a mausoleum dating back to the 16th century has been burned by vandals. The mausoleum is for Hatice Sultan, the sister of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent.

  The people of the neighborhood has called the police and the fire department after seeing flames coming out of the mausoleum, but the fire department was not able to save the door. The people said that recently drug users were loitering around the structure.

  See more pictures here: >> here <<


★ As part of the European Museum Nights, all government-operated museums in Turkey were open until 11 PM on May 18 and the visits were made free.

  The European Museum Nights are organized by the Council of Europe, UNESCO and ICOM.


★ The only pyramid-shaped mausoleum in Turkey was damaged by treasure hunters, reports the Turkish daily Milliyet.

  The treasure hunters have ransacked the inside of the mausoleum.

  Mausoleum was built for a Greek boxer and his family some 2300 years ago.

  The inscriptions on the structure writes:

  "You white-toothed animals, stay at your designated places. Because I will look from the top and be on the watch so that no timid person would come and damage the mausoleum.

  "Because this is the grave of Diagaros who died in war, and his wife, named by her father Aristomahka, who could be compared to gods and, who was superior to everybody else for raising exemplary children and being faithful to her husband".

  The mausoleum is located about 20 miles outside the southwestern city of Marmaris on a hilltop. Locals were thinking that it is a Muslim saint's grave and were making offerings.



★ The 40th International Excavation, Research and Archeometry symposium took place in Turkey's Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University between May 7 and 11.

  As of 2017, there were 141 archaeological excavations and 102 research projects in Turkey.

  The symposium was attended by scholars from US, Germany, Australia, Belgium, France, Holland, Britain, Switzerland, Italy, Japan, Canada and Poland. There were over 300 papers presented at the symposium.

  Dr. Recep Karadağ and Emine Torgan of the Turkish Cultural Foundation Cultural Heritage Preservation and Natural Dyes Laboratory made a presentation titled "Archaeometric Investigations of Archaeological Textile Works and Preservation Conditions" and "Pigment Analysis at Kanlıtaş Tumulus Excavation Findings".

  The Turkish Cultural Foundation is a US-based organization for promoting and preserving Turkish culture and heritage worldwide. It supports education, particularly in the area of humanities, for disadvantaged students in Turkey.

EXCHANGE RATE for the U.S. dollar in Turkish Liras: 4.71


High and Low Temperatures in Degrees F, Weather
Ankara, in central Turkey:        77/55 Thunderstorms
Antalya, on the Mediterranean:    81/66 Thunderstorms
Erzurum, in Eastern Turkey:       70/45 Thunderstorms
Istanbul, in northwestern Turkey: 77/68 Thunderstorms
Izmir, on the Aegean:             86/68 Thunderstorms
Trabzon, on the Black Sea:        77/68 Mostly Cloudy
Seawater temperatures:
Black Sea measured at Trabzon         65
Marmara Sea measured at Tekirdağ      68
Aegean Sea measured at İzmir          74
Mediterranean Sea measured at Antalya 76



Premiere League

★ Results for week: 34
G. Birliği - Bursa Sp 1 - 0
Akhisar Sp - Osmanlı Sp 2 - 1
Malatyaspor - Kayseri Sp 3 - 2
Alanya Sp - Antalya Sp 3 - 2
Trabzon Sp - Karabük Sp 3 - 0
Başakşehir - Kasımpaşa 3 - 2
Beşiktaş - Sivas Sp 5 - 1
Fenerbahçe - Konya Sp 3 - 2
Göztepe - G. Saray 0 - 1
★ Standing in the league as of week ending 34
1 - G. Saray 75
2 - Fenerbahçe 72
3 - Başakşehir 72
4 - Beşiktaş 71
5 - Trabzon Sp 55
6 - Göztepe 49
7 - Sivas Sp 49
8 - Kasımpaşa 46
9 - Kayseri Sp 44
10 - Malatyaspor 43
11 - Akhisar Sp 42
12 - Alanya Sp 40
13 - Bursa Sp 39
14 - Antalya Sp 38
15 - Konya Sp 36
16 - Osmanlı Sp 33
17 - G. Birliği 33
18 - Karabük Sp 12

★ Euroleague
★ The final games are played
  Turkey's Fenerbahçe was beaten by Real Madrid 85 to 80 in Istanbul in the final leg of the championship game.

  Spain's Real Madrid is the champion, Turkey's Fenerbahce is the 2nd, Lithuania's Zalgiris 3rd, and CSKA Moscow 4th.

★ In the Turkish basketball premiere league the rankings are: 
1 FENERBAHÇE       57
2 TOFAŞ            54
3 EFES             51
4 BEŞİKTAŞ         50
5 BANVİT           48
7 ESKİŞEHİR        46
8 SAKARYA          44
10 KARŞIYAKA       42
14 GAZİANTEP       40
15 GİRESUN         39
16 UŞAK            36

★ The semi final games are currently taking place


[Saat 18:30 and 19:30 'da iki kez okuyun]

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