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x0x Turkish News for the week ending 28 September 2019

[This is a transcript of the news broadcast on 28 September 2019]

Courtesy of Turkish Radio Hour, producer of the

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★ According to Dorian Jones of the VOA, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is defying President Trump's sanctions on Iran and on Friday continued to chart a collision course with Washington over Iran.

  Mr. Erdoğan is categorically ruling out enforcing American sanctions intended to put Iran in an economic straitjacket. "It is impossible for us to cancel relations with Iran with regard to oil and natural gas. We will continue to buy our natural gas from there," Mr. Erdoğan said to reporters Friday, while returning from the United Nations General Assembly.

  Turkey is Iran's second-largest importer of natural gas.

★ Leaders of Pakistan, Turkey and Malaysia have decided to jointly launch an English language television channel dedicated to confronting Islamophobia and removing "misperceptions" about Islam.

  Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan announced the decision Thursday after his trilateral meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahatir Mohamad on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

  "The issue is much deeper, and merely a TV channel cannot be sufficient," said Muhammad Amir Rana, the director of Islamabad-based independent Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies. "Without a robust intellectual foundation, a TV channel would have no worth, except a reactionary propaganda tool."

★ A 5.8 magnitude earthquake in the Marmara Sea shook nearby Istanbul on Thursday in the early afternoon. 8 people were slightly injured.

  In the evening, an aftershock of 4.2 magnitude occurred.

  The experts say Turkey's biggest city of some 16 million people, sitting astride a major seismic faultline, would suffer large losses of life and property due to poorly constructed buildings and lack of disaster management plans when the expected big earthquake does strike.

  A 7.4 earthquake occurred in the nearby Gulf of Izmit in 1999, killing 17,000 people--some claim the actual toll was around 40,000-- including around 1,000 in Istanbul.

  Things have gotten worse in terms of preparedness since then. 470 disaster assembly points identified after the 1999 earthquake, only 77 have survived till now, the city's mayor, Ekrem İmamoğlu, said on Thursday. The rest have been built over.

  According to a circular sent by the Istanbul Governor's Office to municipalities in February, some 400,000 buildings in Istanbul are currently at risk, while nationwide, 6.7 million residential buildings need restoration work to be ready for an earthquake. The governor's office said an estimated 30,000 buildings could collapse in an earthquake.

  In related news, "We do not know when it will happen, but unfortunately I can say that we are approaching the end quickly," Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute Director Haluk Özener said during a press statement.

  Also, since the earthquake, a conflict has broken out between the Istanbul municipality and the government and the Istanbul governorate over who will be responsible for crisis management, according to investigative journalist Yıldıray Oğur. Each side has established its own crisis desk, Oğur said.

★ Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg scolded world leaders at a U.N. summit calling for climate action, saying people are suffering and dying from the effects of global warming and that all the leaders have are empty words.

  Although Turkey is not a major polluter, she also criticized Turkey.

★ We told you last week that Turkey's Justice and Development Party administration is targeting scientists who are informing the public on pollution.

  A Turkish court on Thursday sentenced one of them, food scientist Bülent Şık, to 15 months in prison for revealing information of scientific research about threats to the public health, Turkish news site Bianet reported.

  Bülent Şık, an academic working on food safety, was fired in a state of emergency decree in November 2018, due to a series of articles he wrote for Cumhuriyet newspaper revealing that poisonous chemicals in the food products and water were causing high rates of cancer in parts of western Turkey.


★ "President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is pushing a radical solution--resettling refugees in a swathe of Syrian territory controlled by the United States and its Kurdish allies. If that does not happen, he is threatening to send a flood of Syrian migrants to Europe," journalist Carlotta Gall wrote in the New York Times.

★ Defections from Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party are quickly mounting as members have become disillusioned with the direction of the party, former loyalists told Reuters.

  Over 800,000 members have resigned from the Justice and Development Party over the last year, figures on a state website show.

★ International Monetary Fund just published a report on the Turkish economy.

  In its three-page summary of the report' s findings, the fund criticised the short-sighted policies of the government, which it said were aimed at driving forward economic growth at the expense of financial stability.

  "Prospects for strong sustainable growth have weakened and risks remain on the downside," the International Monetary Fun said. "The current calm appears fragile", it added.


★ Organized by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts since 1987, the Istanbul Biennial has become one of the leading art events in the world. Titled "The Seventh Continent", this year's edition looks to be as exciting as ever.

  The 16th edition of the Biennial will be helmed by French art historian, writer, and curator Nicolas Bourriaud.

  The Biennial takes its name from a gargantuan pile of junk drifting in the Pacific Ocean dubbed "The Seventh Continent" that is five times the size of Turkey. Set to explore art in the Anthropocene age, which is the new geological era characterised by human activity on nature, Bourriaud's selection aims to raise awareness of issues like climate change while celebrating the diversity of global life, where migratory flows turn cities into megapolises sheltering a multitude of cultures.

  This year the Biennial returns to the Pera Museum, and Büyükada, where artworks will be dotted across houses and old buildings on the biggest of the Princes' Islands.

  Of the 57 participants at this year's edition, 38 artists will be showcasing work specially created for the Biennial. The net for this year's pool of artists was cast far and wide as usual, with participants hailing from Japan, Argentina, USA, Poland, Iran, and Thailand among other countries. Seven Turkish artists were handpicked to take part.

  The Biennial will also host various talks, film screenings, concerts, and food performances as part of its admissionfree public programme.

  The biennial started on September 14 and will end on November 10. Most events and exhibitions are free.

Click to open a larger version
★ A painting by renowned Ottoman painter Osman Hamdi Bey sold for $7.8 million in an auction in London.

  The 16"x 20" painting became the most expensive one by a Turkish painter.

★ The Dutch Consulate in Istanbul organized an event titled "Continuous Ties" for the Istanbul artists.

  The organization Space for Culture, municipalities of Avcılar and Şişli cooperated with the Dutch.

  The goal of the event was to get the local artists learn about each other, and also strengthen the Dutch-Turkish relations in arts and culture.

  The Dutch consular officials stated that they will take the event to 19 other cities in Turkey's different regions.

★ The 26th Adana Golden Bole Film Festival is continuing.

  On the third day, gala screenings of a number of films took place. Three more films that incorporates the element of crime to the screen met the viewers.

  The three films were:

  "Belonging", "Hive" and "It has been Seen". "Belonging" is about a man who kills his grandmother. "It has been Seen" tells the story of a prison ward who detects a new crime from letters sent to an inmate, and pursues to expose it fully and apprehend the criminals.

★ Turkey's historic Amasra town on the Black Sea has revealed one more structure from its rich past.

  In exploratory excavations, archeologists reached what they think is the Queen Amastris temple.

  The name of Amasra comes from the queen's name.

★ A series of events dubbed the "Festival without Handicaps" is taking place in the Turkish capital Ankara.

  Three artists and activists will express with murals the difficulties women with handicaps encounter in the city.

  The festival is put together by the joint efforts of the British Council and the municipality of Çankaya.

★ World-renowned Turkish pianists Güher and Süher Pekinel sisters are nominated for a lifetime achievement award by their recording company Arthaus Musik.

  Opus Klassik, one of the prestigous organizations of the classical music, gives the awards.

  In related news, the Pekinel sisters will be on the stage in the Turkish capital Ankara on October 3 and 4. The Presidential Symphony Orchestra will accompany the artists.


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