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x0x Turkish News for the week ending 07 March 2020
[This is a transcript of the news broadcast on 07 March 2020]
Courtesy of Turkish Radio Hour, producer of the
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★ Turkish and Russian presidents met in Moscow on Thursday to find a solution to the conflict Idlib province in northwestern Syria.
Numerous articles in the world press interpreted and assessed the meeting and its aftermath. Here is a summary:
★ Writing in the Bloomberg Marc Champion said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's dream of positioning Turkey as an independent international power is in tatters after Thursday's deal with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin to halt the fighting in Syria's northwestern Idlib province.
Champion credits Erdoğan for raising Turkey's profile initially, but then his aspirations to become the leader of the Islamic world after the 2011 Arab spring uprisings
were dashed, first by the removal of Egypt's president Morsi from the Muslim Brotherhood from office, then
his inability to remove Syrian President Bashar Assad from power.
Champion also writes that the Erdoğan administration's
policies have alienated its Western allies, leaving Turkey alone to deal with a mounting crisis just across its border in northwest Syria, where Assad's forces have been systematically clawing back territory in Idlib, the last rebel-held province.
Without support from the West and the U.S., Erdoğan had to deal with Russia, Syria's main backer.
"What we saw in Idlib is the predicament of Erdoğan 's empire," Champion quoted Soner Çağaptay, director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, as saying. "His vision that Turkey could be a stand-alone power has been proved completely wrong."
★ Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan saved face with a destructive offensive against Syrian government forces to retaliate for the dozens of Turkish troops they killed in Idlib but it is Russian President Vladimir Putin who won the strategic victory in Thursday's ceasefire deal, said National Defense University professor Ömer Taşpınar in an op-ed for the Asia Times.
★ Russia said on Wednesday that Turkey had failed to stop what it called terrorists in Syria's last rebel-held province of Idlib from attacking civilians and Russian positions stipulated by a pact to create a demilitarized zone in the region, Russian news agency TASS reported.
"Attacks and massive artillery shellings of neighboring peaceful settlements and the Russian airbase Hmeymim have turned from sporadic into daily," said Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov.
He said fortifications of what he called terrorists had merged with Turkish outposts in Idlib that were built according to a 2018 agreement made with Russia.
★ Also in the headlines were the following:
- Agence France-Presse: Turkey Raises Migrant Pressure on Europe Over Syria Conflict: Around 13,000 migrants have gathered along the Turkish-Greek border, the International Organization for Migration said as several thousand migrants were in skirmishes with Greek police firing tear gas across the frontier.
- VOA: more than 1 million Syrians civilians in northwestern Syria have fled to Turkey's border from the Syrian government forces, Turkey's president Erdoğan is determined to prevent a new exodus of Syrians entering Turkey.
- VOA: The European Union said Friday that it would host an international donors conference in June for refugees from Syria and surrounding countries, even as the bloc criticized Turkey for using asylum-seekers as political pawns.
Read more >> here <<
- Deutsche Welle: The president of the European Commission has pledged millions of euros and a fresh deployment of border guards to manage a new wave of migration. The flare-up on the border follows tension between the European Union and Turkey.
- VOA: Europe locks down Greece border, blames Turkey for the migrant crisis.
- VOA: Turkish forces shot down a Syrian warplane in Syria's Idlib province Tuesday, in an escalation of Turkey's military offensive against Syrian government forces, as Moscow warns Ankara.
- VOA: Greek police have been using tear gas, water cannon, and stun grenades to push back the border crossers, and Turkey is accusing Greek forces of shooting and killing at least four migrants - a charge Greece denies.
- Deutsche Welle: Thousands have gathered in Berlin to demand that German Chancellor Angela Merkel change her stance and support the opening of the European Union borders to migrants. Migrants are attempting to cross into Greece from Turkey.
- VOA: Monitors in Syria said Friday that a cease-fire was largely holding on the first day of a truce between Russia, which backs Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces, and Turkey, which backs some Syrian rebel groups.
- Steven Cook, Foreign Policy: Syria Is Turkey's Problem, Not America's. Steven A. Cook is the Eni Enrico Mattei senior fellow for the Middle East and Africa studies at the Council on Foreign Relations..Read more >> here <<
- The Times: Erdoğan is trapped in a conflict of his own design:
The Turkish leader's disastrous swivel towards Russia has left his country dangerously exposed, Hannah Lucinda Smith writes
- Pepe Escobar Asia Times: Empires of the steppes fuel Erdoğan Khan's dreams:
As Putin meeting looms, no one in Moscow believes any word, promise or cajoling from Erdoğan anymore.
★ Turkish police on Wednesday detained the news director and a reporter with OdaTV over a report on the funeral of a member of the Turkish intelligence service who died in Libya.
OdaTV showed footage on Tuesday of the funeral in the western province of Manisa, saying the ceremony was held silently, without the participation of high-ranking officials, which is common practice.
Turkish authorities issued arrest warrants for news director Barış Terkoğlu and reporter Hülya Kılınç for exposing the identity of
the intelligence officer.
However, OdaTV said that the identity of the official had already been revealed by opposition Good Party Istanbul deputy Ümit Özdağ at a press conference in parliament that was broadcasted online.
Later on Thursday, the authorities blocked access to the news website of OdaTV.
And on Friday the government arrested Odatv Editor-in-Chief Barış Pehlivan.
★ Speaking of blocking of sites, the Justice and Development Party administration has blocked more than 300,000 sites since 2006, according to a 2019 report by the Istanbul Freedom of Expression Association.
Also, the number of arrests for criticizing the government and officials has increased dramatically, analysts indicate.
Reporters without Borders indicate that most of the media is under government control through ownership by pro-government businesses.
★ Turkey's central bank attributed an acceleration in inflation last month to an increase in food prices.
The cost of processed and unprocessed foods rose during the month, pressuring the headline consumer price inflation rate, the central bank said in a statement on Wednesday.
Inflation in Turkey accelerated to 12.4 percent in February from 12.2 percent
in January, straying away from the central bank's year-end forecast of 8.2 percent. Monetary policymakers say they expect prices to remain sticky before increases ease in the second half of the year towards the goal.
Food prices rose by 0.39 percent compared with January, gaining at a faster pace than overall prices in the economy, which increased by 0.35 percent, the central bank said.
Greek prime minister Mr. Mitsotakis and Turkish president Mr. Erdogan
★ Competition over natural gas in the Eastern Mediterranean
is re-igniting old rivalries in the region, reports Alexander Gale in the International Policy Digest.
He says that Greece is shifting its foreign policy to counter Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Turkey is seeking to disrupt the €7 billion EastMed agreement between Greece, Cyprus, and Israel, which would enable the transportation of natural gas to Europe via a pipeline from the Israeli Leviathan and Cypriot Aphrodite gas fields.
The pipeline is especially important for Greece for
rejuvenating its long-suffering economy.
In November last year, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan signed a memorandum of understanding with the Libyan Government of National Accord in Tripoli, outlining maritime boundaries between Turkey and Libya.
Turkish strategists are betting that the new boundaries will prevent Greece, Cyprus, and Israel from constructing the pipeline without Turkish consent.
Alexander Gale is a UK-based freelance writer and analyst specializing in security, defense, and foreign affairs.
Read more >> here <<
★ The price of a boat has increased dramatically in Turkey after the government said it would allow refugees free passage to Europe, Hürriyet newspaper said on Tuesday.
The price of a 30-person boat was $2,000 before the decision last Thursday, but now costs up to $5,000, Hürriyet said.
★ Turkey's imports rose by an annual 9.9 percent in February, growing at almost half the pace of the previous month as the lira weakened and consumer confidence dipped.
Turkey imported $17.7 billion of goods in February, Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan said on Tuesday, citing preliminary figures. Imports had expanded by 19 percent to $19.2 billion in January.
★ Sales of cars and light commercial vehicles jumped on an annual basis in February as an economic recovery gathered pace and interest rates spiraled downwards.
Car sales surged by an annual 96 percent to 37,727 units in the month, the
Turkish Automotive Distributors Association said in a statement on Tuesday. Sales of light commercial vehicles climbed by 66 percent to 9,395 units, the association reported.
★ The corridors of Istanbul's iconic Grand Bazaar, usually crammed with haggling tradesmen and shoppers, are emptying fast as fears mount for the spread of the coronavirus.
Turkey may have reported no cases of the epidemic, but tourists and locals are not taking any chances. The number of people visiting the vast covered market, located in Istanbul's historic heart, have slumped by more than half, presenting the worst crisis in its 500-year history, according to Hasan Fırat, head of its tradesmen's association.
Tourist buses have stopped arriving at the bazaar's gates and visitors have declined by 60 percent in the past 10 days alone, Fırat said in an interview with the Dünya newspaper. Consequently, tradesmen, who usually work until 7 p.m., are shutting up shop in the late afternoon.
★ According to the Anatolia News Agency, Turkey's government fined $155,000 nine of thirteen firms producing medical masks for raising their prices without good reason, Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan said.
Turkey has also instructed firms to seek special government certification before exporting masks as fears mount that the coronavirus will appear in Turkey.
★ Singapore's Ministry of Transport has grounded passengers on a Turkish Airlines flight that was scheduled to depart from Changi Airport on Wednesday, March 4.
The Ministry of Transport said in a statement last night: "The Ministry of Health confirmed late Wednesday night that one of the passengers on TK54 which had arrived in Singapore from Turkey on March 3 was tested positive for the Covid-19.
The Ministry of Health has started contact tracing for flight passengers who may have had contact with the case while the case was infectious."
Read more >> here <<
★ Turkish officials are claiming that there are no cases of Covid-19 in the country. However, people are suspecting a cover-up, reports Bianet.
Country's health minister Dr. Fahrettin Koca announced on Friday that all 1363 people suspected of possible infection had tested negative, including the crew of the airline manning the plane that returned from Singapore.
The Turkish medical Association chair Dr. Sinan Adıyaman says that it is saddening but there is mistrust among the citizens against the health ministry.
Read more >> here <<
★ The U.S. Postal Service will be purchasing 180,000 new generation mail distribution vehicles at a cost of $6.3 billion.
The Postal Service has invited several vehicle manufacturers from around the world to participate in a bid.
Among them is Turkey's Karsan. Karsan will be competing in the bid against India's Mahindra, U.S. Workhorse and Oshkosh manufacturers.
★ Archeological excavations around a train station in Istanbul have unearthed a wealth of historical ruins, including tombs, artifacts, and a bath, all hinting of the rich past of the ancient city of Khalkedon (Kadikoy), also called "the Land of the Blind," reports the Anatolia News Agency.
A team of 430 people, including archeologists and museum experts, found the remains in an area of 3.5 million square feet, including the area surrounding subway stations. These remains give significant hints about Khalkedon, the ancient Land of the Blind from some 2,500 years ago.
The area reportedly got its name around 667 B.C. when Byzas from Megara established a colony on the European peninsula of the Golden Horn, opposite Khalkedon on the Asian side. The people of Khalkedon must have been blind not to have settled on the perfect spot, the peninsula just across the water, he reasoned.
★ Painting her sets with the colors of early 90's acid, techno and EBM, Volvox is coming to Istanbul's %100 Studio on March 13th.
A dominant force on the Brooklyn underground scene, Volvox is known for tough, stripped-back techno and groovy, acid-flavored sets. She has been a busy DJ and event producer since 2006 and in that time has shared the decks with many international stars including Marcel Dettmann, DVS1, The Hacker, Legowelt and Marcel Fengler.
Raised in Buffalo, New York, her early experiences in the industrial and rave scenes of rust-belt America shaped her outlook on dance culture. An ardent supporter of the underground, she was a key figure in developing the electronic music scene in Boston, Massachusetts from 2007-2010. Since the last half of 2015 Volvox has enjoyed a growing tour schedule.
★ The next day, % 100 studio will be hosting singer and
songwriter Patrick Watson as part of his new album's world tour. Watson has
proven himself in every field of music.
Born in California, raised in Montreal, Patrick Watson first began singing in a church choir. After singing and playing keyboards in the ska band Gangster Politics, he left the band to explore different areas of music such as ambient and electronica, studying Jazz and Classical Piano, Composition and Arranging at Vanier College in Montreal.
He released his first album in 2001, and in 2002 he formed a chamber pop band carrying his name with musicians Mishka Stein, Robbie Kuster and Simon Angell. The band, which shook all over Canada and Europe with their Close to Paradise album, won the Polaris Award. Patrick, who also composed music for short films, got nominated for the Polaris Music Award with the album Wooden Arms released with his band.
★ Cevdet Erek's solo exhibition Bergama Stereotip consists of a sounding architecture conceived for the gallery space at Arter. Curated by Selen Ansen, the exhibition takes the architecture and odyssey of the historical Great Altar of Pergamon as point of reference and reinterprets it.
A continuation and a variation of the work Bergama Stereo, which was first presented in Germany at Turbinenhalle as part of the Ruhrtriennale in Bochum and then in the historical hall of Hamburger Bahnhof Museum in Berlin in 2019.
The exhibition will be on until August 9.
Cevdet Erek, born in 1974, is a Turkish artist and musician. Cevdet Erek was the recipient of the Nam Jun Paik Award in 2012. Erek studied architecture at Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts, while working at various architectural practices as well as in the music band Nekropsi.
Read more >> here <<
★ Several Turkish artist will have a joint exhibition that will start on March 10 at Istanbul's Maltepe Türkan Saylan
The artists collectively call themselves Tatbiki'liler, which translates as "The Ones from the Applied", referring to their common roots from
the Applied Fine Arts School. The Applied Fine Arts School was established in 1955. In 1982 it was integrated into the Marmara University.
The 23 artists have been practicing art within the Bauhaus school.
★ In the Turkish capital Ankara, the following events will be taking place starting tomorrow:
- A children's concert with Ezo Sunal, on March 8 at the Nazim Hikmet culture center
- March 8, Plandy watercolor workshop at the Federal Coffee Company
- March 8, a play titled "Skirts and Pants" at the Panora Art Center
- March 9, The Time of the Gypsies musical on stage at MEB Şura Salonu
- March 10, another "The Night of the Dance Danzonn" at Club Kaybedenler. The event repeats every Tuesday evening through the end of the month.
- March 11, a performance by Nefeszen, a collective of artists that include ney player Bilgin Canaz, poetrey reciter Pinar Gurer and instructors at the "Breathing and Life Academy" Burcu Hatipoglu and Gaia Rahşan.
- March 11, a performance of Shakespeare's King Lear at MEB Şura Salonu
- March 11, saxophonist Korhan Futacı performance at the Shelter Stage.
- March 11, stand up comic İlker Gümüşoluk on stage at the Route.
- March 11, Murat musicians Şanışer ft. and Sokrat performance St at IF Tunus.
EXCHANGE RATE for the U.S. dollar in Turkish Liras: 6.09
High and Low Temperatures in Degrees F, Weather
Ankara, in central Turkey : 70/37 Mostly Sunny
Antalya, on the Mediterranean : 68/54 Mostly Sunny
Erzurum, in Eastern Turkey : 50/27 Mostly Sunny
Istanbul, in northwestern Turkey : 70/50 Mostly Sunny
Izmir, on the Aegean : 73/55 Mostly Sunny
Trabzon, on the Black Sea : 63/48 Mostly Sunny
Snow depths at skiing locations:
Erciyes in Kayseri, Central Turkey : 51 inches
Ilgaz in Kastamonu, North Central Turkey: 48 inches
Kartalkaya in Bolu, Western Turkey : 83 inches
Palandöken in Erzurum, Eastern Turkey : 30 inches
Saklıkent in Antalya, Southern Turkey : No snow report
Uludağ in Bursa, Western Turkey : 37 inches
Edited by Ertuğrul Korkmaz
* Results for week: 25
Beşiktaş - Ankaragücü 2 - 1
G. Antep Sp - Trabzon Sp 1 - 1
Göztepe - Başakşehir 0 - 3
Malatya Sp - Konya Sp 1 - 1
Fenerbahçe - Denizli Sp 2 - 2
Sivas Sp - G. Saray 2 - 2
Rize Sp - Alanya Sp 1 - 1
Kasımpaşa - Kayseri Sp 5 - 1
G. Birliği - Antalya Sp 1 - 1
* Standing in the league as of week ending 25
1 - Başakşehir 52
2 - Trabzon Sp 49
3 - G. Saray 49
4 - Sivas Sp 49
5 - Beşiktaş 43
6 - Alanya Sp 40
7 - Fenerbahçe 40
8 - Göztepe 34
9 - G. Antep Sp 32
10 - Denizli Sp 28
11 - G. Birliği 28
12 - Antalya Sp 27
13 - Malatya Sp 25
14 - Rize Sp 25
15 - Konya Sp 23
16 - Kasımpaşa 23
17 - Ankaragücü 20
18 - Kayseri Sp 19
★ The first race of the "I'm running Istanbul" events will be taken place on March 8 with a "Women's Day Tour" in Kadıköy, on the Asian side of Istanbul.
The Istanbul Metropolitan municipality has organized the event.
The races of the event have a course that runs through landmarks of Istanbul.
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