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x0x Turkish News for the week ending 31 August 2019

[This is a transcript of the news broadcast on 31 August 2019]

Courtesy of Turkish Radio Hour, producer of the

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★ Turks observed the Victory Day on August 30 with controversy.

  The Justice and Development Party-led efforts to downgrade the role of Turkey's first president and Independence War hero Mustafa Kemal Atatürk cast a shadow on the celebrations.

  Victory Day in Turkey commemorates the key Turkish victory against Greek forces in the Battle of Dumlupınar (August 26-30, 1922). The outcome of the battle, which took place in Kütahya province in western Turkey, determined the overall outcome of the Turkish War of Independence (1919-1923).

★ Turkey's defense minister, Hulusi Akar, said Turkish and U.S. troops will soon begin joint patrols as part of a deal for a so-called safe zone in northeastern Syria, reports the Associated Press. He said a joint helicopter flight has already taken place.

  On August 7, the U.S. and Turkish governments arrived at an agreement to create buffer zones in northern Syria. Turkey has been threatening to take military action against the Syrian Kurdish militia YPG manning the area next to the Turkish border. Turkey says that the YPG is an extension of the rebel Turkish Kurds.

  However, the YPG is supported by the U.S. In fact, there were news reports this week claiming that the U.S. kept delivering weapons to them. Hüseyin Bağcı, professor of international relations at Ankara's Middle East Technical University, says that it is a double game.

  On Monday, Turkish president Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan issued a thinly veiled warning to Washington, saying that with or without U.S. cooperation, Turkey would enter Syria to create what Turkey calls a "peace zone." Erdoğan made the comment as he addressed thousands of supporters at an event to commemorate the Victory Day.

  U.S.-Turkish tensions have seen Turkey turning toward Russia. Erdoğan and Putin have met regularly as part of rapprochement efforts.

  Observers suggest the U.S. could see the deal with Turkey as a step to improve wider relations and lure Turkey away from Russia.

  This week, the YPG reportedly withdrew its forces and heavy weapons from Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn in northern Syria as part of the U.S.-Turkey deal.

  It is said that Turkey is suspicious of the U.S. According to Turkish Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Turkey's suspicions are built on past experiences of working on Syria with Washington.


★ Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met Tuesday with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow for talks aimed at bridging the deepening divide over the war in Syria. Russia supports the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Turkey backs some rebel groups.

  News reports say that after the talks, both leaders said they hoped to work together to ease tensions in Syria's Idlib province. Mr. Erdoğan has called for an end to a Russia-backed Damascus offensive against rebels in Idlib.

  Mr. Tayyip Erdoğan slammed the Syrian government over its offensive into the rebel-held Idlib on Tuesday, saying it was "unacceptable that the regime rains death on civilians from air and land, under the pretext of fighting terrorism."

  Meeting his Russian colleague, Vladimir Putin, Mr. Erdoğan also said that Turkey's troops in the region were "in danger".

  "We do not want this to continue," he said on the sidelines of Russia's air show MAKS outside of Moscow. "All necessary steps will be taken here as needed."

  Russia and Turkey had set up a demilitarized zone in the jihadi-dominated province. However, Syrian troops backed by Russian airpower have advanced in recent weeks against jihadi forces in the last major rebel enclave in northwestern Syria and encircled a Turkish military post.

★ While in Moscow, Turkish President hinted that Turkey may buy more weapons from the Russian Federation, including fighter jets. Journalist and analyst Murat Yetkin is saying that this is to get Russia to stop the Syrian army from taking over the last remaining rebel-held territory in Idlib northwestern Syria.

  However, Yetkin adds that no matter how much the Erdoğan regime tries to get Russia on its side, it will not stop Syrian President Bashar Assad's army in Idlib.

★ Bloomberg reporters Selcan Hacaoglu and Henry Meyer write that Turkey's president Erdoğan is considering Russian fighter jets in snub to President Trump.

  President Erdoğan has already caused a rift between the U.S. and Turkey, long-time allies and NATO members, by purchasing Russian air defense system S-400s. In turn, the U.S. removed Turkey from the F-35 joint fighter jet development project and said that it won't deliver the 100 jets Turkey ordered.

  After the U.S., Turkey has the second-largest army in NATO, and Putin is willing to sell more armaments if it helps drive a wedge between NATO and Turkey.

  "The fear in Washington is that this could be a slippery slope from being a difficult ally toward the 'Eurasian option' for Turkey in which they'd not formally leave NATO but deepen their ties with Russia and Iran," said Stephen Flanagan, a former special assistant to Presidents George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama who now is a senior political scientist at the Rand Corporation.

  In the meantime, this week the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee urged President Trump to place sanctions on Turkey for buying the Russian S-400 system.

  Read more at >> here <<


★ As we told you last week, the Turkish government ousted three Kurdish mayors in the east from their offices claiming that they are collaborating with the rebel Kurdish Workers Party.

  The mayor of Istanbul Metropolitan area Ekrem İmamoğlu traveled to Diyarbakır in southeastern Turkey in a show solidarity with ousted mayors and met with them.

  "In a place where elected officials do not leave offices via elections, there can be neither democracy nor the rule of law. The will of the people reflected in ballot boxes is not something that some in power can declare valid or invalid according to their own wishes," left-wing news site Duvar quoted İmamoğlu as saying in Diyarbakır.

  "I have brought you the greetings of 16 million people from Istanbul. I hope that they put an end to this lawlessness soon,'' İmamoğlu told the dismissed mayor of Diyarbakır, Selçuk Mızraklı and Mardin, Ahmet Türk.

  İmamoğlu is from the opposition Republican People's Party. His party collaborated with the pro-Kurdish Peoples Democratic Party in the local elections earlier in the year. By not fielding candidates in major metropolitan areas in Turkey, the People's Democratic Party enabled the Republican People's party mayors to sweep to power and loosen the grip of the ruling Justice and Development Party.


  Istanbul Municipality Administrative Building
★ Metropolitan Istanbul municipality dismissed more than 1000 staff hired between March and June polls.

  The outgoing ruling party mayor hastily hired these people and others totaling to 2500 individuals, and the new incoming opposition mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu administration says that they do not need the new hires.

  Later in the week, Mayor İmamoğlu held a meeting with the representatives of the 1000 people and told them that the decision was not personal, it just reflected the efforts of the new administration to save money. He also pointed out that the process was not transparent, and the jobs were not posted publicly for all to apply.

★ One of Turkey's opposition dailies Birgün reported that the Istanbul municipality has taken back five dormitories built to be managed by TÜRGEV, a foundation linked to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and will cancel the protocols for other municipality dormitories run by Islamist Organizations.

  The five dormitories cost $20 million in local currency to build. Mayor İmamoğlu promised during his election campaign that he will cut funding and support to central government-affiliated groups. The opposition has been saying that the previous administration has been using the Istanbul municipal funds extensively to fund the ruling Justice and Development Party related organizations and activities.


★ On Monday when Japanese investors sold the lira in droves, the Turkish currency had a flash crash that briefly sent it down by 10% against the dollar.

  The lira later recovered most of its losses to end the day down 1.2%.

★ According to Reuters, Turkey's economy is expected to shrink in the second quarter, its third straight quarterly contraction as it grapples with the effects of the recession.

  A poll on Thursday also pointed to zero growth in 2019 as demand and investment slow.

  Read more at >> here <<

★ Natural gas prices increased 15% as of September 1 in Turkey.

  There were a total of five hikes in the past 12 months, adding up to 54% increase in the price.

  The Turkish daily Cumhuriyet claims that prices fell 50% in the world while these hikes were taking place in Turkey.

★ Turkish Wealth Fund announced the winner of the bidding process to operate Turkey's National Lottery.

  The Demirören Group and its Italian partner Sisal took over the operations for the next 10 years.

  The Demirören Group is known for its close relationship with the Turkish president Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Many in the opposition claimed that the bidding process was rigged.

  Previously the Demirören group also won the bidding for Iddaa, the sports gaming organization, in partnership with the U.S. Scientific Games.


Vincent Van Gogh by Garip Ay

★ DOGO news website reports that Turkish artist Garip Ay is using an ancient technique to paint on water.

  The ancient technique is known as watercolor marbling in English.

  The marbling technique was initially primarily used for book covers or to decorate the inside pages with wildly colorful papers. However, artists like Ay have added a modern twist by using absorbent fabrics, glass, and wood as solid surfaces and adding acrylic paints alongside traditional natural pigments.

  Read more at >> here <<

  "Fantastic City", a 1962 painting by Cihat Burak

★ An exhibition of newly-uncovered drawings of Cihat Burak just ended at Bozlu Art Project. Cihat Burak was one of the most unique and extraordinary figures in Turkish painting.

  The drawings were found in a drawer in the museum-like home of Mengü Ertel, known for his friendships with artists, as well as successful artworks in various fields ranging from graphic design to posters and theater sets, these drawings also serve as a memorial for these two artists, both of whom are no longer in this world, and as an embodiment of the genuine, unselfish and amicable relationships of the time.

  The exhibition had near 80 artworks of Cihat Burak also involved quotes from his short stories and sound installations prepared by Mengü Ertel's son and founder of BabaZula Murat Ertel and his wife Esma Ertel. A surprise mini-concert also took place for art lovers on the opening night.

  Cihat Burak lived between 1915 and 1994.


★ The renowned Istanbul Cocktail Festival took place this Saturday this year at KüçükÇiftlik Park.

  With a focus on refreshing beverages for every palate, the day hosted live music performances from Büyük Ev Ablukada, Son Feci Bisiklet, Nova Norda, Nilipek., and others. Plenty of activities including workshops from award-winning mixologists, tastings, food pairings, "be your own bartender", gastronomy, boutiques, and much more ensured there's something for everyone.


★ An autumn classic Istanbul Rooftop Festival is inviting music lovers for the fourth time to the terraces for summer's most entertaining farewell!

  Istanbul Rooftop Festival, which is the most comprehensive festival in the city that hosts more than 30.000 music lovers since 2015, has the opportunity to experience 15 different venues with one ticket! The festival will be hosting more than 30 foreign and more than 100 local artists performing during the day. As well as exclusive music, there will be many festival activities taking place at different times in different venues.

  In addition to music, there will be boutiques, tattoo art, gastronomy and cocktail workshops, kite-making classes and yoga.

  While this year's Istanbul Rooftop Festival will be the most comprehensive one out of all, there will be more than 40 performances, it will take place in 12 different terraces.

  The Festival will take place on September 8.


★ University of Chicago's Oriental Institute-led archaeological excavations revealed how a city in Turkey was sacked 3500 years ago after archaeologists reached a layer dating back to earlier Bronze Age, the University disclosed.

  The mighty Hittite Empire of the era destroyed and burned the city of Sam'al located on a major route of trade between Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean Sea.

  The city is called these days Mound Zincirli and is in Turkey's Gaziantep Province.

  The excavations at the site have been going on since 2006 in collaboration with the University of Tübingen in Germany.

  Read about Sam'al on Wikipedia  >> here <<    University Chicago announcement is  >> here <<

EXCHANGE RATE for the U.S. dollar in Turkish Liras: 5.83


High and Low Temperatures in Degrees F, Weather
Ankara, in central Turkey        : 90/64 Partly Cloudy
Antalya, on the Mediterranean    : 97/81 Mostly Sunny
Erzurum, in Eastern Turkey       : 79/50 Showers
Istanbul, in northwestern Turkey : 86/73 Partly Cloudy
Izmir, on the Aegean             : 86/73 Mostly Sunny
Trabzon, on the Black Sea        : 79/70 Showers
Seawater temperatures:
Black Sea measured at Trabzon         : 76
Marmara Sea measured at Tekirdağ      : 76
Aegean Sea measured at İzmir          : 75
Mediterranean Sea measured at Antalya : 85


Edited by Ertuğrul Korkmaz


  In Turkey's premier league this week so far the following games were played:

★ In last week's games:


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