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x0x Turkish News for the week ending 10 August 2019

[This is a transcript of the news broadcast on 10 August 2019]

Courtesy of Turkish Radio Hour, producer of the

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★ A 35-year-old German man, identified only as Osman B., has reportedly been arrested in Turkey for posts he shared on Facebook. He is being accused of spreading propaganda.

  In 2017, a series of arrests of German citizens for "political reasons" led to a serious crisis between Germany and Turkey. Since then, most of them have been released; however, according to several German news sources, seven German citizens are currently in prison in Turkey for political reasons.

  In its travel and security information on Turkey, the Federal Foreign Office explicitly warns against sharing critical articles online, saying arrests and prosecutions of German citizens were often carried out in connection with social media posts that are critical of the government. Even liking a post is sufficient in some cases.

  In related news, a German soldier is being held in Turkey for unknown reasons, the German Foreign Office confirmed on Thursday.

  Turkish authorities are requiring the 21-year-old man to present himself to law enforcement once a week until further notice.

  Germany's embassy in Turkey said that Turkey had not named any political reasons for his arrest.


★ Turkey's Ida mountain range -- located in the northwest of the country -- is known for its rich biodiversity. Covered in an untouched forest, it is home to countless species of plants, birds, insects and reptiles, some of them endemic to the region. It is one of the last remaining "green lungs" in a country with a rapidly growing population and economy that is gobbling up land and natural resources.

  Large parts of the Ida mountains belong to a popular Turkish national park, but that could soon be history. Part of the forest near the village of Kirazlı is being cut down to make room for a gold mine. Canadian mining company Alamos Gold is behind the project.

  Locals are vehemently opposed to the project. Ten days ago, some 300 activists set up a protest camp near the cordoned-off mine construction site.

  An elderly man who traveled from the nearby city of Çanakkale to join the protest says he has come here to "stop the carnage" -- as he calls the deforestation effort. "The nature in our region is pristine, and we know that the mine will damage it," he adds.

  Every day, the activists head to the construction site, brandishing self-made placards and loudly protesting against the planned mine. A Twitter campaign got 10,000 people to support their cause.

  Turkish government first allowed the Canadian company, Alamos Gold, to fell down 45,000 trees, then reduced it considerably, and claimed that the company observed the limit. But environmental protection NGO TEMA determined that 200,000 trees were cut. The fact that official government figures are far lower has only further outraged people in the area.

  Activists fear the mine will have a devastating impact on the environment and contaminate the local freshwater supply.

★ China's central bank transferred $1 billion worth of funds to Turkey in June, Beijing's biggest support package ever for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan delivered at a critical time in an election month, based on a swap agreement dating back to 2012. 

  The cash infusion, done in secret,  boosted Turkey's foreign reserves around the time of Istanbul local elections that had left international investors fretting about the country's political and financial stability.

  While it marks a success in Erdoğan's effort to re-align Turkey's international relations by forging new partnerships with the likes of Russia and China, those ties aren't a match for traditional allies in the West it risks further alienating, said Özgür Ünlühisarcıklı, the Turkish head of the German Marshall Fund of the United States. 

  He says it may be a good source of financing but is not a remedy for Turkey's longer-term needs, and no replacement for Turkey's long-standing relations with the U.S. and the West.

  Turkey has been trying to sign similar agreements with other partners and inked a deal with Qatar last year that dwarfed similar attempts. The agreement with Qatar at the height of a currency rout provided $3 billion in inflows from the Gulf state.


★ The Foreign Policy Research Institute published an article penned by Aaron Stein titled "Putin's Victory: Why Turkey and America Made Each Other Weaker."

  On July 16, President Donald Trump articulated the first of what is expected to be two actions taken in response to Turkey's purchase and acquisition of the Russian made S-400. He removed Turkey from the F-35 stealth fighter program and prevented from purchasing 100 of the planes it ordered, and the US manufacturer was ordered to stop purchasing parts for the plane from Turkish suppliers. 

  "The F-35 cannot coexist with a Russian intelligence-collection platform that will be used to learn about its advanced capabilities" the Whitehouse later said.

  The Russian-made S-400 air defense system was designed for multiple purposes, including the detection and tracking of American stealth aircraft, including the F-35. 

  Aaron Stein concludes his article with:

  "The result of the S-400 saga, for both Washington and Ankara, may run counter to the intent of each countries' strategy. The threat of sanctions did not deter Turkey's S-400 purchase, and its implementation may drive Turkey to deepen defense cooperation with Putin. Ankara will also soon have to grapple with the reality that Turkey is not as powerful as its leaders think it is. Sanctions will hurt, and the Turkish defense industry will come under considerable strain. Turkey has also lost the F-35, an aircraft it has spent over 1 billion USD to help develop. Erdoğan has also deepened relations with Putin, who enables his worst instincts but also has gained leverage over Turkey. The result, of course, is that the United States and Turkey will emerge from this crisis comparatively weaker than where they both started, while Russia has gained a new political partner in Erdoğan, enriched its defense industry, and may have the inside track to drive the wedge between Turkey and the West ever wider."

  Read more at >> here <<

  Aaron Stein is the Director of the Middle East Program and a 2019 Templeton Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.

★ He isn't missing; he was abducted. Since February 19 we've searched everywhere for our son Mustafa Yılmaz. There isn't a single place we haven't gone. We always came up against closed doors. Only five parliamentarians listened to us. Where is the humanity? Where is people's conscience?"

  Nevin Yılmaz has been looking for her son Mustafa for the past half-year. It's as if he's disappeared off the face of the Earth, she told Deutsche Welle. She doesn't know what he's been accused of. She has asked both the Interior Ministry and the Justice Ministry for support.

  In the aftermath of the attempted coup on July 15, 2016, more than 100,000 people were sacked from positions of public office. Mustafa Yılmaz was one of them. Then, in February this year, he disappeared -- along with five other people. Mustafa Yılmaz, Salim Zeybek, Erkan Irmak, Yasin Ugan, Özgür Kaya and Gökhan Türkmen all disappeared in Ankara on different days in February.

  Their relatives, as well as some politicians and civil society organizations, are firmly convinced that these six people had been classified by the Turkish security services as members of the Gülen movement. Followers of the US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen were accused of orchestrating the attempted coup. The families of the disappeared have been unable to get an audience with any of the official authorities.

★ A controversial appointment to a subsidiary company of the Istanbul municipality has resigned after an uproar over his history of provocative social media posts.

  Istanbul's opposition mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu announced on Thursday that he had appointed as the head of a municipal subsidiary Bahaddin Yetkin, an official known for his social media posts against opposition figures and women and for his ties to the ruling Justice and Development Party.

  Yetkin was promoted to head ISBAK, a company that oversees smart city policies. In 2011, he applied to run as a Justice and Development Party candidate in parliamentary elections for the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa. 

  Yetkin closed his Twitter account on Thursday after Turkish media outlets began publishing his old posts.

  On Friday, the Turkish news site OdaTv reported that Yetkin had resigned from his position.

  The Istanbul municipality released a statement saying it had accepted his resignation on the same evening.

  "It has become evident both from public posts on social media and from investigations that were completed this evening that (Yetkin) had shared posts on social media that absolutely do not tally with the views of this administration,'' the municipality's statement said.

  Read more at >> here <<

★ Bianet, a Turkish human rights news website, discovered it had been banned by a court, along with 136 websites and social media sites, the website's lawyer said on Thursday.

  Turkey's rural police organization apparently requested the ban of Bianet, which is backed by Swedish funds.

  However, the court removed Bianet from the list a day later, after receiving a letter from the rural police that said it had been included by mistake.

  The court had not questioned initial request by the rural police to block the 136 web links, or the request to remove Bianet.

  "There is no reasoning in the rural police petition, there is no reasoning in the court ruling. The court banning access due to one application is a very problematic situation for press freedom and freedom of expression," she said.

  Turkish authorities regularly block access to websites. Access to Wikipedia has been blocked since April 2017, and Twitter and YouTube were banned in the past.

  Critics say President Tayyip Erdoğan has undermined democracy and human rights in Turkey. The government says it has acted justifiably against threats from militants at home and abroad, including plotters behind a failed 2016 coup.

  Read more at >> here <<

★ According to the Associated Press, Turkish Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Thursday a deal it has reached with Washington to set up a so-called safe zone in northeastern Syria is a good start but warned against delays in implementation.

  Syria's government, meanwhile, described the agreement as a serious escalation that violates its sovereignty, and said it was part of Turkey's "expansionist ambitions" in Syria, 

  As we reported to you last week,  Before the agreement Turkey was massing troops along the border to invade Turkey and route the US-allied Syrian Kurdish militia controlling the area.   

  Turkey considers the Syrian Kurdish militia an extension of the rebel Turkish Kurds' Kurdistan Workers Party, which is considered by the European Union and the U.S. a terrorist organization.  

★ An investment group owned by Turkey's military pension fund is in last-minute talks about a takeover of British Steel, offering hopes of a deal that could save thousands of jobs, reports the Financial Times.

  The search for a buyer has been underway since British Steel entered insolvency in May.

  A rival offer is on the table from Liberty House, the UK industrial conglomerate led by India-born metals magnate Sanjeev Gupta.

  The Turkish investment group owns 49.3 percent of Turkey's steel producer Erdemir, which stands to benefit from any deal though increased sales opportunities.

  The Turkish bid envisages boosting production at Scunthorpe, according to two people with knowledge of the situation.

★ Istanbul's new airport opened in April many months behind schedule, and issues have now come to light as reported by Germany's Aerotelegraph and Stuttgarter-Zeitung.

  The main problem is that the new airport is located close to one of the world's largest areas for migratory birds.

  This worries both conservationists and pilots, the latter because they fear what would happen should their aircraft collide with a large bird.

  According to Aerotelegraph, experts warned the authorities of potential risks before the airport opened.

  Istanbul's older Ataturk facility had this problem but the number of migratory birds crossing its area was 80 percent fewer.

  Other potential issues with the new airport concern difficult wind conditions and poor visibility from time to time, reports Stuttgarter-Zeitung.

  Turkey's Transport Minister Cahit Turhan has been forced to admit that there could be issues in spring and summer, so longer waiting times at the airport could be expected reports Stuttgarter-Zeitung.

  The above media source also reports that some users have already complained about crumbling floor tiles, dirty toilets and general sloppiness.

  The flight approaches are also lengthy and taxiing takes a long time.

  Read more at >> here <<



★ C Aquilaof the Times reports that Edinburgh Fringe Festival is chronicling 100 years of Turkish history in a single hour. This multimedia piece created by Yeşim Özsoy packs enough material into its running time to fuel a dozen Fringe shows. 

  If the premise is ambitious, the storytelling is unconventional. Özsoy's history lesson is delivered through the prism of an Istanbul mansion, with the writer-performer incarnating everything from furniture to ornaments to create a layered, multifaceted narrative. 

  The tone of these accounts ranges from the whimsical to the melancholic. We hear from a curtain that delights in eavesdropping on family life and a household container that is later re-purposed as a lamp.

  Each of her stories touches upon aspects of the city's 20th-century history, from the decline of the Ottoman Empire and the Greco-Turkish war of 1919-22 through two world wars and disputes in Cyprus. 

  A busy staging intensifies the narrative fragmentation. Ghostly black-and-white footage accompanies the performance, with shadow puppetry used to depict the construction and demolition of the house. 

★ At the Edinburgh Festival, there was a Turkish artist couple's play also. Erdal Beşikçioğlu and Fadik Sevin Atasoy staged their play titled "Muse an inspiration angel".

  The play received great interest and will be on stage 9 times. 

  It also got invited to London for performances. 

★ Youth Philharmonic Orchestra of Turkey is back at home after touring Europe. During the tour, the orchestra had seven concerts in Germany and Italy.

  Renowned Turkish conductor Cem Mansur established the orchestra 13 years ago and is currently also leading it.

  The orchestra is made up of 76 talented musicians from the leading conservatories of Turkey.

  The concerts in Europe included works from Beethoven, Rahmaninov, Weber, Wagner Chaykovski and Turkish composer Füsun Köksal.

  In addition to over 9000 audiences in the venues, the orchestra's Berlin concert was broadcast in Germany through radio Deutschlandfunk Kultur.

  The German paper Der Tagesspiegel wrote that art lovers listened to the German concert with much pleasure under the headline "The Hope Carriers of Turkey".

  In the orchestra's concerts in Sicily, Italy, world-renowned pianist Ivo Pogorelich performed.

  Pogorelich said that it was very pleasurable for him to accompany the young musicians.


★ The international Kadıköy Festival will soon have the "Cartoon and Booksellers Days".

  The event will start on August 22 and continue through August 27 in two venues with the participation of 40 booksellers.

  There will also be book collectors, publishers of comics books, manga, cartoons and artists themselves.

  Among the guests at the fair will be the director of the renowned Austrian Kunst Cartoon Museum, Gottfried Gusenbauer, journalist and comics book specialist, Didier Pasamonik, postcard collector, Sarkis Karamanuk, collector of books published in Cairo and Bulak, Aly Abdelwahab Elsayed. 

  Concurrently with the exhibitions, the festival will also have concerts with the participation of students and their teachers at the Kadıköy Municipality Children's Art Center and Youth Arts Center.


★ We mentioned in our news protests against deforestation due to mining activities on Mount Ida (Kaz Dağları).

  The artists in Turkey are joining the protests. The Turkish daily Cumhuriyet reports that D22 theater actors are organizing events to protest the massacre of the nature on Mount Ida as part of their "The Forest of Writers" project.

  On Friday evening there was an event at the Kozyatağı Culture Center, and renowned theater actor Berkay Ateş called on the public to attend.

  "We want to share our poems and songs with you. Let's all be a young tree for Mount Ida, for our nature, for our country this Friday" his call said.

  Turkish folk music artists  Erdal and Mercan Erzincan said "with Turkish folk songs and poems, we will be with you. We want to say stop to the destruction on Mount Ida, we are expecting you to come."

  Other artists at the event were Fırat Tanış, Ahmet Aslan, Tilbe Saran, Şerif Erol, Gizem Erdem, Güven Murat Akpınar, Seda Türkmen, Esra Şengünalp, Bora Akkaş, Yağızcan Konyalı.

  Every two tickets purchased for the event were used to purchase a young tree to be planted.


★ Turkey's Ministry of education is calling teachers to participate in a competition. Dubbed "Hasan Ali Yücel Short Story Competition among the Teachers" is asking for works with the theme "Anatolia". The winner will receive a 10,000 Turkish lira (approximately $1800)".

  Submissions for the competition will be through September 30. The winner will be announced on November 24.

  The stories of the first comers from each province of Turkey will be published in a book.

  Hasan Ali Yücel, who lived between 1897 and 1961, was a Turkish writer, teacher and politician who served as Minister of National Education of Turkey from December 1938 to August 1946. He is remembered for his reforms of the education system, and the foundation of Village Institutes. He was the father of Turkish poet Can Yücel.

  In 1997, UNESCO was associated with the celebration of the centenary of his birth.

★ Speaking of poet Can Yücel, the international Knidos Culture and Arts Academy's "Ninth Secret of Knidos Festival" is continuing.

  As part of the festival, there was a commemoration of Can Yücel at his grave, and a visit to his home.


★ Turkish glass artist Felekşan Onar has been invited to attend the Venice Glass Week that will take place between September 7-15 in Venice, Italy.

  Artist's short film titled "Esma" will also have its debut at the Festival.

  The film tells the story of 900 glass oil lamps that Sultana Esma ordered from Murano Italy in the 1500s for the Sokollu Mehmet Pasha Mosque in Istanbul.

  The artist will participate in a conference called "Murano-Istanbul: A Glassmaking Journey II". Historians and scholars from Italy and Turkey will attend the conference.


★ The Turkish branch of Siemens has announced that its opera competition is accepting applications through August 29.

  Siemens has been organizing the competition since 1998. It is the only opera competition in Turkey.

  The competition will take place at the Istanbul Culture and Arts Foundation premises starting on September 6 and ending on September 8.

  The applicants have to be either just started their careers in opera or opera students.

  The students who win in the competition will get a chance to continue their education in Germany.

  The jury will be headed by Professor Yekta Kara. 


★ A 257-year-old government building has been left to its own for the past 17 years and it is deteriorating rapidly. It stars and window frames are falling apart and the locals in the town of Maden are asking the historic building to be saved and used as the seat of the district administrator for the town.

  Although a government office for the protection of cultural and natural sites has declared the historical building as a top priority protection site, so far no government funds have been allocated to protect it.

  The town of Maden is in Turkey's eastern province of Elazığ. The governments of the Ottoman Empire and later the Republic of Turkey used the building from the time it was built in 1872 to 1987 continuously as an office building for various government units. Starting in 1987 it was vacated and fell into disrepair.

★ Pressure on artists are continuing was the headline of an article in the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet.

  Turkish folk musician Selçuk Balcı was supposed to perform in the Malatya Festival. He then found out when his name was removed from a poster for a concert. When he called the organizers of the concert and asked what is happening, he was told that one of the sponsors of the concert decided not to sponsor the concert after all, that they had to remove his name.

  At this point, Selçuk Balcı said to the organizers that his plane tickets were already purchased and hotel reservations were already paid, and he would still come and perform at the concert free for the people of Malatya.

  After this, the organizers had a meeting, and got back to Selçuk Balcı's agent and told him "please understand us, there is pressure from above".

  Selçuk Balcı thinks that his concert was canceled because he used the phrase "Everything will be fine" in a number of venues. The phrase is a slogan of the opposition.


★ Jennifer Lopez was in Turkey's Mediterranean province of Antalya as part of her tour "It's My Party".

  Jennifer Lopez and accompanying 90-people strong entourage arrived in Antalya Airport before her concert with two private jets from Moscow Russia.

  She went to her hotel with the escort of the Turkish police.

  The tickets to the concert were around $1300 in local currency.

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


High and Low Temperatures in Degrees F, Weather
Seawater temperatures:


Edited by Ertuğrul Korkmaz


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