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x0x Turkish News for the week ending 11 January 2020

[This is a transcript of the news broadcast on 11 January 2020]

Courtesy of Turkish Radio Hour, producer of the

TURKISH CULTURAL PROGRAM, every Saturday from 2 P.M. to 4 P.M.

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★ U.S. media reported that in a phone conversation with the Iranian president Hassan Rouhani Turkish president Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called Iranian general Qassem Soleimani a martyr and that President Trump expressed surprise about that.

  Gen. Soleimani was killed in a U.S. drone attack.

  The U.S. media reports were probably based on a tweet by the Iranian Embassy in Turkey. The tweet quoted Mr. Erdoğan as using the word martyr.

  However, officials in the Turkish capital Ankara with the Turkish Radio and Television denied this.


★ On Wednesday Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin met in Istanbul for the inauguration of the TurkStream gas pipeline. The pipeline will carry gas from Russia to Turkey and from there on it will be distributed to Europe. Russia has been waging an undeclared war against Ukraine, and one of the goals of the Russian president was to bypass Ukraine.

  Turkey and Russia show a unique example of cooperation in a region plagued by heightening tensions, the Russian president said.

  Messrs. Putin and Erdoğan had a meeting before the inauguration ceremony. Both leaders have expressed concerns about the impact of the escalating tension  between the United State and Iran. Putin said it could "seriously aggravate the situation in the region".

  In an op-ed for a Turkish newspaper, Turkey's former deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan wrote that Turkey and Russia have found themselves on opposing sides in many issues around the Middle East and North Africa, but the two sides are successfully using diplomacy to find compromises.

★ On Wednesday Tom O'Connor wrote an article in Newsweek magazine titled "Donald Trump wants other countries more involved in the Middle East, but Russia and Turkey already are."

  "One NATO nation, Turkey, has already heeded Trump's call, deepening Turkey's involvement in Syria, as well as in the North African nation of Libya, another Arab country beset by a 2011 uprising. In pursuing both endeavors, Turkey has run up against--and come to an understanding with--another major foreign power, Russia." Tom O'Connor added.

  Read more >> here <<

★ On Monday, January 6, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared the start of a military deployment to Libya. As we reported to you last week, the United Nations-backed Government of National Accord of Libya, which is battling Eastern Libyan forces led by Khalifa Haftar, asked for Turkish help.

 In November 2019, Turkey signed a military cooperation agreement with the Government of the National Accord of Libya. Along with the military cooperation agreement, Turkey also signed a maritime agreement that extends Turkish control over a critical part of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.

  In related news, in an article titled "Factors Motivating Turkey in Libya" in Stratfor, an American geopolitical intelligence platform and publisher, Sinan Ciddi wrote:

  - Turkey is sending troops to Libya not to engage in conflict, but to force a cease-fire.

  - Turkey's primary concerns in Libya are to pursue oil and gas interests in the Mediterranean and rally domestic support behind President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He also wants to direct the attention of the Turks away from the ailing economy.

 - Erdoğan will work with Russian President Vladimir Putin to secure a cease-fire in Libya, not only to protect Turkish interests but also to project himself as a regional actor to deal with.

★ According to Reuters, Turkey and Libya are close to signing a memorandum of understanding for the compensation of Libyan debts of $2.7 billion to Turkish companies that worked in Libya before the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Turkish businesses are staying away from Libya due to unpaid debts.

Muzaffer Aksoy, the head of the Turkish-Libyan Business Council, says that despite the absence of Turkish businesses in Libya, the trade between the two countries remains good. Turkish exports reached $2 billion on an annual basis, and imports from Libya are $350 million.

★ Turkish and Greek diplomats met Friday in a bid to defuse rising bilateral tensions over control of the eastern Mediterranean Sea, which is at the center of a regional scramble for what might be vast gas reserves, reports Dorian Jones of the VOA.

  The Turkish-Greek gathering in the Turkish capital Ankara follows Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's confirmation Thursday of plans for a "diplomatic initiative" to calm tensions between the two NATO nations.

  Greece and Turkey are historical rivals with long-existing territorial disputes over the shared Aegean Sea and divided the island of Cyprus, Dorian Jones adds.

  Those rivalries have been exacerbated by a dispute over the control of the Mediterranean Sea, where significant exploration for hydrocarbons has been going on since Israel's discovery of the vast Leviathan gas field.

Greece has exploited Turkey's regional isolation by building an alliance with Israel and Egypt while seeking to develop and distribute natural gas. All the countries have strained or nonexistent relations with Turkey.

★ Eastern Libyan forces led by Khalifa Haftar are rejecting Turkey and Russia's call for a cease-fire starting Sunday.

  Haftar's Libyan National Army issued a statement Thursday, saying it appreciates their effort to "seek peace and stability," but it will continue the war against "terrorist groups," meaning the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli.


★ According to The Hill, an online publication that focuses on politics, policy, business, and international relations, basketball team Celtics center Enes Kanter has also assumed the role of a political figure against Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

  "Standing almost seven feet (211 cm) tall, the Swiss-born Turkish athlete has built himself an impressive contact list of high-profile U.S. politicians and D.C. insiders," The Hill writes.

  However, Enes Kanter is a wanted man in Turkey for his support for the US-based preacher Fethullah Gülen. Many in Turkey and abroad see Gülen and his followers as the organizers of the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey.

  Read more href="http://thehill.com/homenews/house/477599-enes-kanter-sees-political-stardom-after-nba-and-wwe"> &g>> here <<

★ In an article in the Foreign Affairs magazine, Philip Gordon and Amanda Sloat wrote that the U.S. and Turkey still need each other and called the current relations between the two countries "the dangerous unraveling of the U.S. Turkish alliance".

  The article cites Turkey's purchase of Russian missiles, sending of troops to Syria to contain the U.S. ally Kurdish militia and the U.S. lawsuit against a state-owned Turkish bank as some of the issues that are souring the relationship between the two countries.

  The authors said that there are high costs to now treating Turkey like a rival, including pushing Turkey closer to the U.S. adversaries such as Iran and Russia.

  "To prevent such a disastrous outcome, the Trump administration and Congress both need to better understand the roots of the clash between Turkey and the United States, and avoid counterproductive actions that will only drive the two countries further apart," the authors added.

  PHILIP H. GORDON is the Senior Fellow in U.S. Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. He served as Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs from 2009 to 2013 and as White House Coordinator for the Middle East from 2013 to 2015.

  AMANDA SLOAT is a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. She served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Southern European and Eastern Mediterranean Affairs from 2013 to 2016.

  Read more href="http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/turkey/2020-01-10/dangerous-unraveling-us-turkish-alliance"> >>> here <<

★ According to the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet, inclement weather forced several international and domestic flights from Istanbul's new airport canceled on Monday.

  The new airport is by the Black Sea coast, where the weather could get extremely rough during the winter. The critiques of the airport were pointing this out when it was being planned.

  In related news, although not on the Black Sea coast, authorities also closed Istanbul's second airport Sabiha Gökçen to traffic until Wednesday morning after a Boeing 737 jet skidded off the runway due to weather conditions.

★ A Chinese consortium has applied to the Turkish authorities for the purchase of 51% of the Turkish company that built the third bridge on the Bosporus and is currently operating it. />
  The bridge cost $3.5 billion to build and the Chinese consortium is offering for 51% only $688 million.

  The Turkish government has guaranteed an annual income of $464 million to the company, but it's only making $135 million from tolls. The difference is being paid by the Turkish government.


★ The rating agency Fitch is forecasting a further deterioration of the asset quality of Turkey's banks in 2020. Nonperforming loans may increase as much as 8% of the total gross loans by the end of the year from 5.2%.

  Read more >>> here <<

★ The Turkish economy paper Dünya reports that Turkish consumer borrowing had increased by 20% in the second half of 2019 due to major cuts in interest rates. However, the interest rate cut had not stimulated corporate borrowing, which increased only by 4.4%.

  From July 2019 until the end of the year, Turkey's central bank cut its benchmark interest rate to 12% from 24% in a series of reductions.

★ In an interview with the Turkish daily Karar, renowned Turkish-born MIT economist Daron Acemoğlu said that Turkey has a serious productivity problem because the government has compromised the independence of key institutions and failed to encourage the development of new ideas and technologies.

  Instead of encouraging improvements in productivity, the ruling Justice and Development Party grew the economy through investments in construction and real estate.

★ President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan fired dozens of senior staff from Turkey's Treasury and Finance Ministry, Privatization Administration, and National Lottery with a decree published in the Official Gazette on Wednesday.

  Analysts say that Mr. Erdoğan does not like anybody who goes against him, without disregard to the validity of their views.

★ The Turkish Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak is the son-in-law of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Critics say that he is simply a spin doctor and unable to make economic policies on his own but simply executes what Mr. Erdoğan wishes.

  This week Mr. Albayrak said the Turkish currency had gained 10 percent since the end of August 2018, the month when a currency crisis ravaged financial markets. What Mr. Albayrak did  not mention, the experts point out, is that since the beginning of 2018, the Turkish currency had lost 35% of its value against the dollar.

★ The World Bank's Global Economic Prospect report published recently writes that the Turkish economy had started to stabilize in late 2019, but risks remain. The report adds that confidence and investment in the economy remain low.

  The bank forecasts a growth of 3% in 2020 in Turkey. In contrast, the Justice and Development Party administration forecasts a 5% growth.

★ Turkish automotive sales declined dramatically in 2019, according to İlhan Kesici, an opposition parliamentarian in Turkey.

  Mr. Kesici gave the following figures for sales:   "These are the signs of an approaching 'nuclear winter'" he added.



★ Istanbul's Dorock XL in the Kadıköy district will have an event titled "The Elvis Presley Show".

  A look-alike singer will perform the music of the King on January 14 and 15.

  At the same venue, the following events will take place:

  1/15: Freddie Mercury Show

  1/16: The band Pera performance

  1/17: Singer-songwriter Kalben performance

  1/18: Singer Gaye Su Akyol performance


★ A concert titled "Hello to 2020" will feature MAGMA and Boğaziçi jazz choruses at Istanbul's Cemal Reşit Rey concert hall on Sunday, January 12.

  The choruses were on a tour of Europe in March 2019. They performed in eight cities in the five different countries and were warmly received.


★ MDTIstanbul, a modern dance group within the Istanbul State Opera and Ballet, performed at the Zorlu PSM to a full hall this week.

  The performance was titled "Elektronika". Three different choreographers using the same dancers featured three different dance styles.

  The common theme between the three works were human relationships, living in a crowded environment, and efforts to conform to the rules of the environment.

  The first work was titled "Excitement" and the choreographer was Dong-Kyu Kim, music was by Jiho Jang.

  Choreographer Dong-Kyu Kim says that Turkish and Korean cultures resemble each other. As in Korea in Turkey there a lot of serious rules. A society needs rules. My choreography tells about these. You may even say that it is telling what life is about.

  The second work, choreographed by Evrim Akyay was titled "Come on". It featured ballet steps adapted to electronic music.

  The third work was titled "Mantra". It featured the choreography of İhsan Rüstem and the music of Seymour Milton.


★ Culture and Arts Employees union in Turkey claims that the State Opera and Ballet And State Theaters directorate will layoff 350 artists and employees from its ranks.

  The union also claimed that there is also nepotism involved in deciding who will be kept in the ranks of the artists and employees.

www.TurkRadio.us www.TurkRadio.us

★ The Green Crescent, an organization that fights with substance dependency, is organizing the Fourth International Green Crescent Cartoon Competition.

  The theme of the competition will be "the importance of healthy living in the 100th year of fighting with substance dependency". This year is the 100th year of the establishment of the Green Crescent

  Submissions of cartoons to the competition will continue through February 14. The grand prize is about $1600 in local currency.


★ The 30th anniversary of the death of Cemal Süreya, a renowned Turkish writer and poet, has been commemorated throughout Turkey with many events. Two teachers in Eastern Turkish provinces had their elementary school students recite the poetry of the master.

  Also, The Cemal Süreya Culture Arts Association organized a commemoration event at Caddebostan Culture Center in Istanbul's Kadıköy.

  The event had poetry recitation and folk song performance by folk musicians Ozan Çoban and Güneş Demir. The musicians brought to the audience songs with lyrics incorporating Süreya's poetry.


★ Caddebostan Culture Center has started an exhibition by Mustafa Delioğlu titled "From the Old and From the New".

  The exhibition has 65 paintings of the artist. The artist says that some paintings are 15 to 20 years old, while some are only one week.

  The acrylic and oil paintings bring to forefront myths and fables, the artist says.

  The exhibition will be on until January 26.


★ Istanbul's İş Sanat Kibele Art Gallery started its first retrospective exhibition of 2020 with works by Tomur Atagök.

  Tomur Atagök is a women's rights activist painter, researcher, educator and museologist.

  The exhibition features over 100 works by Atagök created by questioning everyone and everything including herself, works that have themes about women, including the power that women attain due to her ability to procreate, and their use of this power to protect the society and sustainability of life.

  Tomur Atagök was born in Istanbul. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the Oklahoma State University and later a Master of Arts at the College of Arts and Crafts and University of California, Berkeley

  In 1980 she returned to Turkey and started working at the Istanbul Painting and Sculpture Museum as an assistant director.

EXCHANGE RATE for the U.S. dollar in Turkish Liras: 5.87


High and Low Temperatures in Degrees F, Weather
Ankara, in central Turkey        : 41/30 Foggy
Antalya, on the Mediterranean    : 63/48 Mostly Sunny
Erzurum, in Eastern Turkey       : 30/16 Snow
Istanbul, in northwestern Turkey : 48/39 Light Rain
Izmir, on the Aegean             : 57/43 Partly Cloudy
Trabzon, on the Black Sea        : 52/43 Rainy
Snow depths at skiing locations:
Erciyes in Kayseri, Central Turkey      : 36 inches
Ilgaz in Kastamonu, North Central Turkey: 25 inches
Kartalkaya in Bolu, Western Turkey      : 56 inches
Palandöken in Erzurum, Eastern Turkey   : 20 inches
Saklıkent in Antalya, Southern Turkey   : 24 inches
Sarıkamış in Kars, Eastern Turkey       : 20 inches
Uludağ in Bursa, Western Turkey         : 55 inches


Edited by Ertuğrul Korkmaz


Premier League

* Results for week: 17
Beşiktaş        -      G. Birliği      4 - 1
Başakşehir      -      Kasımpaşa       5 - 1
Trabzon Sp      -      Kayseri Sp      6 - 2
G. Saray        -      Antalya Sp      5 - 0
Ankaragücü      -      Denizli Sp      2 - 2
Rize Sp         -      Fenerbahçe      1 - 2
Sivas Sp        -      Göztepe         1 - 0
Alanya Sp       -      Konya Sp        2 - 1
G. Antep Sp     -      Malatya Sp      1 - 1
* Standing in the league as of week ending 17
 1 - Sivas Sp        37
 2 - Başakşehir      33
 3 - Trabzon Sp      32
 4 - Fenerbahçe      31
 5 - Beşiktaş        30
 6 - Alanya Sp       29
 7 - G. Saray        27
 8 - Malatya Sp      24
 9 - G. Antep Sp     24
10 - Göztepe         23
11 - Denizli Sp      22
12 - Rize Sp         20
13 - G. Birliği      18
14 - Kasımpaşa       15
15 - Konya Sp        15
16 - Antalya Sp      14
17 - Ankaragücü      12
18 - Kayseri Sp      10


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