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Edited by Fuad Tokad
★ A grueling yet resilient night for recent Turkish history, on July 15, 2016, more than 250 persons were killed and more than 2,000 others were injured while resisting coup soldiers who took to the streets in tanks and with guns.
Istanbul's Bosporus Bridge was shut down by soldiers at around 10 p.m., the parliament was under rocket attack, and the putchists had planned an
assassination against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who was at the time in the Aegean province of Marmaris.
Jets flew by buildings in Istanbul and Ankara, and the state broadcaster TRT was taken hostage.
Thousands of citizens across the country went out on the streets in a bid to stop the coup from materializing as officials took turns on various television broadcasters until early in the morning on July 16, reassuring the population that they remained on duty.
Ankara has since blamed U.S.-based Fethullah Gülen and his Fethullahist Terrorist Organization for attempting to overthrow the government.
A state of emergency was declared on July 20, 2016. Until this day, the emergency rule has remain uninterrupted - renewed seven times with the latest
period officially due to end on July 19.
Over a 100,000 probes on Fethullahist Terrorist Organization were launched until July 10, 2018, Justice Ministry data showed. The number of people arrested over Fethullahist Terrorist Organization charges have reached 20,008. The number of people charged with Fethullahist Terrorist Organization links have reached 13,362, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.
★ In related news, Turkey's state of emergency imposed in the wake of the defeated 2016 coup attempt is expected to be lifted on July 18, a top Turkish presidential aide said on July 13.
"If we are faced with a very extraordinary threat, the state of emergency mechanism can be declared again," Ibrahim Kalin told reporters after the country's first cabinet meeting under the new presidential system.
However, an analyst suggested that ending emergency rule could prove to be more cosmetic than meaningful, since the new presidential system gives the president the power to rule by decree.
The presidential aide also said Turkey welcomed the NATO declaration which was adopted during the two-day summit on Wednesday and
Thursday in Brussels.
The summit statement affirmed a commitment made in 2014 after Russia annexed Crimea that NATO allies would halt
defense spending cuts and start spending more as their economies grow, with the aim of moving toward 2 percent of gross domestic product within a decade.
"Tailored assurance measures for Turkey to respond to the growing security challenges from the south contribute to the security of the Alliance as a whole, and will be fully implemented," the final communique said on Turkey.
★ Nationalist Movement Party leader Devlet Bahçeli reiterated on July 14 that his party will do its part to ensure the checks and balances mechanism is in place and works under Turkey's new executive presidential system.
"We have completed our preparations to actively participate in legislative works in order to carry out the task of overseeing the 'checks and balances' mechanisms, a task delegated to us by the nation. The Nationalist Movement Party will execute this duty thoroughly," Bahçeli said in a press meeting in the Turkish capital Ankara, one day before the anniversary of the failed July 15, 2016 coup attempt.
"On July 24, Turkey won, the Turkish nation, and our democracy won", Bahçeli said, referring to Turkey's twin presidential and parliamentary elections.
The Nationalist Movement Party had formed an alliance, the
"People's Alliance", with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's ruling Justice
and Development Party.
★ Turkey wants to organize a small meeting on Syria after a highly anticipated summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 16, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, calling on all relevant international actors to exert efforts to create conditions to hold healthy polls in the war-torn country, reports the Hürriyet Daily News.
Trump and Putin will meet on July 16 in the Finnish capital for the first time since the former took office in January 2017. One of the most important issues the two presidents will discuss will be Syria, Trump said at a press conference in Brussels on July 12.
Erdoğan held bilateral meetings with a number of leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and a brief talk with Trump on the margins of the NATO Summit on July 11 and 12.
He said he discussed the recent developments in Syria with all the leaders and called for solidarity in resolving these matters. "The objective is to hold healthy elections in Syria as soon as possible. Coalition forces [led by the U.S.] Turkey, Russia and Iran should work altogether to take the Syrian people to the polls," he said.
A process launched by Turkey, Russia and Iran is aiming to accelerate political settlement to the Syrian issue by first writing the new constitution and then going to the polls. A meeting to this end had taken place in Geneva in June with the participation of U.N. representatives and officials from the Syrian regime and opposition groups.
When asked about his conversation with Trump, Erdoğan said the ongoing deal with the U.S. over the withdrawal of the YPG (the militia of the Syrian Kurds, that Turkey says is an extension of the rebel Turkish Kurds) from Manbij and congressional efforts to stop the delivery of F-35s to Turkey were the top issues.
On the content of the NATO Summit, Erdoğan said Turkey emphasized on the need for a coherent and joint fight against terrorism.
He also reiterated that NATO has decided to launch a comprehensive training mission for Iraqi security institutions in Iraq. "The fact that Turkey will assume the position of the deputy commander of this training mission is a concrete reflection of Turkey's commitment to NATO as well as Iraq's stability and security," he said.
★ Muharrem İnce, the main opposition Republican People's Party's presidential candidate, has vowed to purse the presidency, despite losing to President
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the June 24 elections.
'I want the presidency seat. It is the president that rules the country, not the prime ministry. The reason for a political party to exist is its desire to rule the country. A leader of a political party naturally should be the presidential candidate," İnce said in a televised interview with private broadcaster HaberTürk late July 12.
After losing the elections again to the ruling Justice and Development Party, which received 49 percent of the votes in the June parliamentary and presidential elections, the Republican People's Party has been facing problems within the party over its leadership. Calls for current leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu to resign have been mounting, with many favoring İnce to lead the party.
★ Turkish police launched an operation on July 11 to detain 234 people associated with author and televangelist Adnan Oktar over accusations including forming a criminal gang, fraud and sexual abuse, Istanbul police headquarters said.
It said in a statement the raids were carried out by its financial crimes section in an operation the Anatolia News Agency described as having been spread across five provinces and that searches of properties were continuing.
Police launched one raid in the early hours on Oktar's house at Çengelköy on the Asian side of Istanbul and detained him and his guards.
Oktar's guards briefly resisted the police, Hürriyet correspondents reported from the scene, adding that security forces seized an arms cache, as well as body
armors and armored vehicles at the televangelist's residence.
Oktar hosts talk show programs on his television channel, A9, on which he has discussed Islamic values and sometimes danced with young women he calls "kittens" and sang with young men, his "lions".
In 2006, Oktar wrote the Atlas of Creation under his pen-name Harun Yahya, arguing that Darwin's theory of evolution is at the root of global terrorism. He has written more than 300 books, translated into 73 languages, his channel says on its website.
Turkish televangelist Adnan Oktar has blamed the "British deep state" over his detention in Istanbul along with dozens of his followers on July 11, with several charges ranging from sexual abuse to military espionage against him.
★ The Turkish lira recovered some losses Thursday hours after it hit record lows. New Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's son-in-law, sought to reassure nervous markets that the central bank's independence was not in question.
The wild currency gyrations following Albayrak's appointment underscore concerns over what economic policy Erdoğan will adhere to now that he has consolidated power following his June re-election.
The lira approached five to the dollar late Wednesday in a nearly 30 percent depreciation since the beginning of the year.
The heavy decline is a result of worries over Erdoğan's economic expansion policy.
Analysts say after the June election, key ministers led investors to believe Erdoğan would adopt austerity measures to rein in inflation. They are concerned the president, with the appointment of his son-in-law, may be seeking more control over monetary issues while excluding two prominent government figures from any say on policy.
"The two faces of market-friendly policies, Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek and Finance Minister Naci Ağbal, are being excluded from policymaking roles," economist İnan Demir of Nomura International Securities said.
Erdoğan unnerved markets Tuesday by declaring his belief that "we will see interest rates fall in the period ahead." Investors say any interest rate reduction would result in the total collapse of the currency, and that further increases are needed to secure the lira.
Political analyst Atilla Yeşilada of Global Source partners suggests that political considerations could outweigh economic concerns.
"Something needs to be done. And the traditional recipe is belt-tightening and structural reforms in the traditional sense, to curtail domestic demand," he said. "The challenge is not that Erdoğan is incapable of signing off for such a recipe. He is facing local elections in March 2019, which are extremely important, and the voters need to be fed, and that is the opposite of what the traditional recipe requires."
ARTS AND CULTURE
Read by Athena
★ The Kuşadası Youth Festival, which brought together 90,000 music lovers last year, has started, reports the Turkish daily Sözcü.
Kuşadası is a holiday resort town in Turkey's Southwest on the Aegean Sea.
Held with the contributions of Kuşadası Municipality, the festival is taking place at Davutlar Sevgi Beach.
A total of 36 musicians and bands, the biggest new and old names of Turkish pop music, are on the festival:
The festival will end on Sunday, July 15th.
★ Turkish art historian and art consultant Itır Lir Tan Senesi is participating in an exhibition titled "10 Women, One Soul" on the Italian island of Capri.
The exhibition is part of the annual open air arts festival dubbed "Capri the Island of Art".
The goal of the exhibition is to tell about the women's rights and the difficulties women artist face in the international art market.
Eliana Petrizzi, Francesca Cesarini and Ilaria del Monte from Italy, Sarah Van Hoe from Belgium, Itır Lir Tan Senesi and the organizer of the event Liquid Art Systems founder Franco Senesi were present at the opening of the exhibition.
★ With a presidential edict, Turkey's special laws for the creation and maintenance of the State Theater's and State Opera and Ballet General Directorate has been abolished. The edict directed the attachment of the two institutions to the presidential office and undertook radical changes, reports the daily Sözcü.
Among the changes is the removal of the autonomy of the two institutions.
According to the veteran Turkish actor Genco Erkal the government is trying to privatize the two institutions. Most analysts say that if a privatization takes place, the two institutions won't be able to survive.
★ The same presidential edict eliminated the legal framework for the National Library. The library houses 3 million books, paintings, recordings, photographs, and other collections. Among these are 26,000 rare manuscripts.
Parliamentarian Atila Sertel from Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party, in a speech at the Turkish parliament said that instead of strengthening the library, the administration that talks about "nationalism" and "nativism" is eliminating the National Library.
The National Library was started in 1948.
★ Turkey's internationally renowned pianist and composer Fazıl Say says that he is having problems finding venues in Turkey to perform. His August 14 concert was canceled from Istanbul's Harbiye Open-Air Theater, possibly due to the pressure of the ruling Justice and Development Party administration.
Say says that he gives over 100 concerts around the world in a year, and there are numerous venues open up for him for these concerts right away. But he says he resents the fact that he is not able to find a venue in his home country of Turkey.
Fazıl Say was born in 1970 in the Turkish capital Ankara. He was a child prodigy who is able to do arithmetic with four digit numbers at the age of two. At the age of three, his parents started him take piano lessons when they discovered that he was able to play tunes on a flute.
At the age of 14 he wrote his first composition, a piano sonata.
In 2008 the European Union made Say a "Cultural Ambassador", and he received the German ECHO, an Association of recording companies of Germany, award four times. He has over 40 other awards from around the world.
In 2013, he was given a 10-month jail term for insulting Islam and offending Muslims. He apparently tweeted the 11th century Persian poet Omar Khayyam's poetry, which poked fun at an Islamic vision of the afterlife. The jail sentence was suspended on condition that he does not offend again. After this incident, Say thought of leaving Turkey and settling in Japan.
Three years later, Turkey's Supreme Court of Appeals reversed the conviction, ruling that Fazıl Say's Twitter posts fell within the bounds of freedom of thought and freedom of expression.
Fazıl Say was here in the Bay Area some years ago and performed at a concert in San Jose.
★ Applications to the Sixth International Bosporus film Festival has started.
Films made in 2017 and 2008 will be able to participate in the full length and short film competitions. Applications will be accepted through August 17 through the festivals website.
In the full length film competition, the Best Film award is approximately $20,000 in local currency. There are also various amounts of monetary awards for Best Director, Best Male Actor, Best Female Actor, Best Script, Best Cinematography, and Best Plot.
The Best Short film will get an award of approximately $2000. The best short documentary will also fetch the same amount.
Also, all the short films will be competing for a $5000 award.
★ Turkey's Ministry of Health has complained to Turkey's censoring agency, the Supreme Board of Radio and Television, that renowned Turkish pop music singer Mustafa Sandal's clip for his song "Reset" is not appropriate.
In the 200-second video clip, a nurse in a miniskirt uniform dances for a brief 15 seconds.
In a statement The ministry says that this scene is inappropriate and demeaning to the nursing profession.
The statement added that the ministry will take active steps to stop the negative content for healthcare workers, protect human dignity, general morality and the mental health of children and adolescents.
See the video below.
★ Archaeologists from the Selçuk University have found 100 watch towers in Turkey's central province of Konya's Boz Mountain National Park.
The towers were erected some 2000 years ago during Roman rule of the area as border posts. Later Byzantine administration also used them.
During the Roman era, the area hosted a Roman garrison and then in the early Christian age it was made and episcopacy. After the Seljuk conquest, the area became an important commercial center.
An eight-people archaeological survey team have been conducting surveys for the past two years on a 9000-acre area in the park. The towers were located on a road in the area. During the Seljuk era, Seljuk administration also built
caravanserais on the route.
The survey team found silver coins from the earlier days of the Ottoman Empire, and also Dutch and Saxon coins, which indicate that even during the 16 century the area was important in terms of commerce.
The team hopes that in the future the area would be turned into an archaeological park.
★ In Turkey's Aegean province of Manisa, treasure hunters have hit the Sacred Cybele Area. The illegal excavations that the treasure hunters have been carrying out are destroying the ancient structures.
Dr. Yusuf Sezgin, the head of the Aligai excavations, has shared the pictures of the illegal excavations on social media and lamented that the Sacred Cybele Area was turned over to the treasure hunters.
Cybele is an Anatolian mother goddess. She is the ancient Phrygia's only known goddess. Her Phrygian cult was adopted by Greek colonists of Asia Minor and spread to mainland Greece and to its more distant western colonies around the 6th century BC.
Cybele's origins are thought to go back to the Sumerian Queen Kubaba, who ruled about 4500 years ago. She was the only queen among the Sumerian rulers.
★ Ancient rock paintings close to the peak of the 13,500-foot high Cilo mountain in Turkey's southeastern province of Hakkari is attracting the attention of visitors and archaeologist like.
Dr. Mehmet Işıklı of the Erzurum Ataturk University Archaeology Department says that experts have to conduct more research to determine the age of the paintings. He says that the paintings can be several thousand years old or just date back to a few centuries. The research to determine the age involves analyzing the technique, style and symbolism of the paintings.
However, Dr. Işıklı says that there aren't enough experts in Turkey to analyze the hundreds of sites with rock paintings throughout Turkey.
★ Turkish authorities stopped the excavations in the ancient city of Ephesus led by Austrian archaeologists in 2016 due to a dispute between Austria and Turkey. The dispute was not on archaeology but rather Turkey's objections to hanging of anti-Turkish posters in the Austrian capital of Vienna.
The latest news is that Turkey's foreign affairs ministry once again approved the Austrian excavations at the ancient site. However, in June when Austrian authorities closed seven mosque, one of them Turkish, and extradited 11 Turkish imams, the Culture and Tourism Minister of Turkey did not approve the restarting of the Austrian excavations. With a new cabinet just formed in Turkey, Austrian archaeologists are keeping their fingers crossed for an approval by the new culture and tourism minister.
★ In Turkey's South Western province of Muğla's Yatağan district is a magnificent ancient city named Stratonikeia. In recent excavations at the ancient city, archaeologist unearthed 15 churches and their magnificent mosaics from early Byzantine era which date back to the fourth century.
The ancient city is on UNESCO's World Heritage Temporary List. Stratonikeia has hosted many civilizations throughout the centuries. It is one of the largest cities built with marble. The head of the excavations, Pamukkale University Archaeology Department head Bilal Söğüt, says that they have found remains of structures dating back to 3500 years at the site.
★ Turkey's central provinces in the Cappadocia region are renowned for their underground cities. In the province of Kırşehir archaeologists have located 15 cities over the years. Three of these underground cities have been excavated and now are ready for visits.
Authorities are excavating the remaining 12 cities. The underground cities contain water wells, churches, rectangular rooms, granaries for animals, air shafts, places for candles and oil lamps. Different locations in the cities are connected with tunnels.
The entrance to the cities are protected with huge round rock gates.
The culture and tourism assistant manager of Kırşehir Eyüp Temur says that in the second century, the ancient early Christians sought refuge in the cities from the pagan Romans.
★ The Divriği Great Mosque and the ancient hospital are among the historical gems from Turkey that are on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The two ancient structures are located in Turkey's east central province of Sivas, in the small town of Divriği.
A team of experts are leading the repairs and renovation of these 800-year-old structures. The restoration work is expected to take 2 1/2 years.
During this time both the mosque and the hospital are closed to visitors.
A steel structure built around and on top of the historical buildings is protecting them from the elements. The steel structure is built in such a way that it does not touch the ancient buildings so that no damage occurs from the structural steel elements.
★ In Turkey's Black Sea city of Karabük, during work to widen a road, workers found an 1800-year-old grave. The grave revealed dozens of artifacts from the Roman era.
The local authorities have taken the area and the artifacts under protection.
EXCHANGE RATE for the U.S. dollar in Turkish Liras: 4.84
High and Low Temperatures in Degrees F, Weather
Ankara, in central Turkey: 86/64 Partly Cloudy
Antalya, on the Mediterranean: 104/82 Mostly Sunny
Erzurum, in Eastern Turkey: 73/61 Thunderstorms
Istanbul, in northwestern Turkey: 90/73 Thunderstorms
Izmir, on the Aegean: 95/77 Mostly Sunny
Trabzon, on the Black Sea: 79/73 Thunderstorms
Black Sea measured at Trabzon 76
Marmara Sea measured at Tekirdağ 77
Aegean Sea measured at İzmir 80
Mediterranean Sea measured at Antalya 82
★ The 657th historical Kırkpınar Oil Wrestling competitions have started on July 10, reports the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet.
This year the opening ceremony did not include the municipal marching band, and traditional drum and zurna music due to a recent railroad accident that caused the deaths of 24 people in the vicinity of the wrestling venue.
As of Saturday, from among hundreds of competitors 16 rose to the top.
On Saturday, the outcome of the wrestling between Recep Kara and Ali Gürbüz was decided by viewing the video records in favor of Ali Gürbüz. However, Recep Kara is still insisting that he won.
In the meantime, Turkey's wrestling Federation suspended the two referees involved until an investigation.
Recep Kara has been the champion of the competitions four times since he started wrestling there 22 years ago. He says he won't attend the competitions anymore if he is not declared the winner.
Oil wrestling involves smearing the entire body with olive oil. This makes it difficult for the wrestlers to hold each other. Wrestling takes place in an open grassy field. The wrestlers wear trousers made of leather which extend to just below the knee. Victory is achieved when one wrestler either pins the other to the ground or lifts his opponent above his shoulders.
[Saat 18:30 and 19:30 'da iki kez okuyun]
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