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x0x Turkish News for the week ending 04 April 2020

[This is a transcript of the news broadcast on 04 April 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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★ On Friday evening Turkey's president Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced new measures against the coronavirus pandemic.

  The measures include:

  Turkish authorities claim that there were only 21,000 confirmed infections as of Friday with 425 total deaths. Experts claim that the government is deliberately underreporting the infections and deaths.

  In related news, while the World Health Organization is saying that an infected person transmits the virus on the average to 2.6 people, Turkey's Minister of Health Dr. Fahrettin Koca says that the infection rate in Istanbul is on the average 16.

  Also, Istanbul Metropolitan Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu has been repeatedly asking the government to impose a strict lockdown on Istanbul. Istanbul has 60% of the coronavirus cases.

★ According to the Anatolia news agency, the Turkish government stopped financial aid distribution through the Turkish post offices due to the appearance of large crowds.

  From now on the $150 payments to low-income people will be delivered to their homes.

★ Speaking of the Istanbul Metropolitan Mayor, in an article that he wrote in the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet, mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu said that the Justice and Development Party administration is not cooperating with the Metropolitan administration.

  Mr. İmamoğlu is from the opposition Republican People's Party. He wrested the mayorship from the Justice and Development Party in March 2019 after a contentious election process and a repeat of the elections. In the repeat elections he widened his margin against the Justice and Development Party candidate significantly, from 0.2% to 9.2%.

  The Justice and Development Party administration also blocked aid campaigns by the municipalities, and instead launched its own upon the orders of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

★ In an interview with the New Yorker, Emrah Altındiş, a professor at Boston College's biology department and an adjunct faculty member at Joslin Diabetes Center affiliated with Harvard Medical School, said that the authoritarian rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is harming the countries fight against the coronavirus.

  He pointed out that Mr. Erdoğan's Justice and development party administration is refusing to cooperate with the local administrations, especially if they are held by the opposition.

  The Justice and Development Party administration also refused to cooperate with the Turkish Medical Association which represents 84% of the Turkish physicians.

  He also says that there is no transparency in the fight.

  Read more >> here <<

★ Turkish Parliament's Justice Commission has started discussions on a bill to reduce the number of prisoners in Turkish jails.

  After the 2016 attempted coup, many prisons are filled with people labeled as collaborators in the coup. Later, with trumped-up charges many journalists and ordinary citizens were also put into jail for opposing the rule of the Justice and Development Party.

  However, the bill will exclude "political prisoners", reports Bianet.

★ According to the Spanish daily El Mundo, Spain is accusing Turkey of seizing hundreds of ventilators and sanitary equipment destined for Spain amid the escalating coronavirus pandemic, despite local governments in Spain having already paid millions for them.

  Spain's foreign affairs minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya said in a press conference on Friday that she was not able to convince the Turkish foreign affairs minister to release the ventilators.

  A Turkish firm is manufacturing the ventilators in Turkey for a Spanish firm with components from China. Read more >> here <<


★ According to Bloomberg news, Hakan Aygün, former editor in chief of the left-wing opposition Halk TV, was arrested.

  The charges for Hakan Aygün contain inciting hatred with social media posts that belittle President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's campaign to raise funds for victims of the coronavirus outbreak.

  Mr. Erdoğan gave out a bank account number to collect donations from the people in a televised speech instead of direct government aid.

  Aygün re-tweeted a Koranic verse, which substituted the word "believers" with IBAN, the name of the number for a bank account. Aygün exercised at the court that he did not write the tweet. Read more >> here <<

  In related news, Turkish authorities arrested three influential twitter users. The three users had hundreds of thousands of followers, and the tweets were in general critical of the government.

★ Analysts at Japan's MUFG Bank, point out that COVID-19 disruption reinforces downside risks for the Turkish lira. They forecast U.S. dollar to Turkish lira at 7.00 by the second quarter and at 8.00 in a year.

★ According to the British daily Guardian, the world's hazelnut supplies could be threatened by East Asian stink bug that has recently invaded Turkey. The brown stinkbug, which is native to north-east Asia, has been spreading across the world in shipping containers, breeding freely thanks to warmer temperatures and a lack of natural predators.

  Turkey produces 70% of the hazelnuts in the world, and exports most of it to earn precious foreign currency.

★ According to the new site Diken, Turks are spending less especially on their bank and credit cards. This contradicts what the Turkish central bank officials claim that the economic activity remains robust.

  Spending fell by 31% in the week ending March 27, Diken wrote.

★ In an interview with the Turkish business daily Dünya, economist Ali Ağaoğlu said that the Turkish government's economic package against the coronavirus pandemic is not adequate. He said the $15 billion package should be increased. He said that the Turkish central bank took the right measures, but that the effort to boost lending by banks was not the right measure.

  In related news, The Economist said that Turkey may not be able to afford to give an adequate fiscal response to boost the economy due to the coronavirus pandemic. Like many emerging economies, Turkey lacks the funds, especially foreign exchange reserves, to meet its needs. The Economist article shows that Turkey has the lowest ratio of foreign exchange reserves among several major emerging economies. Read more >> here <<

  In related news, Turkey's central bank's foreign currency reserves dropped by $1.1 billion last week due to the government's efforts to prop up the weakening Turkish currency. The currency reserves now stand at $64.1 billion.

★ Turkeys exports dropped by $13.4 billion according to the Turkish trade ministry while the imports climbed by 3.1% to $18.8 billion. The export of motor vehicles alone dropped by 31% in March.


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