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x0x Turkish News for the week ending 16 May 2020

[This is a transcript of the news broadcast on 16 May 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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★ As of Friday Turkey's death toll from the new coronavirus pandemic has climbed to 4,055 with a total of 146,457 cases, the Ministry of Health has announced on its website.

  However, medical professionals' organizations often dispute the official government numbers, citing the increase in the average fatality figures in the past few months as compared to recent years.

  Minister of Health Dr. Fahrettin Koca shared the figures on Twitter and said, "Our new lifestyle is controlled social life, which means taking measures together. The requisite is masks and a social distance of 1.5 meters."

  Read more >> here <<

★ A healer in Turkey's central Kayseri province infected over 100 people in her neighborhood. The people sought her help in getting protection against COVID-19. The healer was infected with the virus, she then ended up transmitting it to the people that saw her.

★ There are reports that Turkish president Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is trying to take control of the country's bar associations.

  Most bar associations in Turkey are opposed to Mr. Erdoğan's rule, his disregard to laws, and use of legal means to suppress opposition on trumped-up charges.

  Among the means that Mr. Erdoğan is trying to use is to allow the formation of rival bar associations and ask for a change in the electoral system in choosing the bar associations officials.

  Read more >> here << and  >> here <<

★ A recent poll by Turkey's MetroPOLL found that the ruling Justice and Development Party is still leading in the polls, but with a lesser percentage.

  People who were asked if there were parliamentary elections this Sunday which political party they would vote for resulted in the Justice and Development Party getting 32.8%, slipping about one percentage points from the February 2020 poll.

  The remaining parties received the following percentages:

  See latest polls by MetroPOLL >> here <<


★ Deutsche Welle wrote on Friday that Turkey-United Arab Emirates rivalry has turned rancorous. Rhetoric between Turkey and the United Arab Emirates has become increasingly bitter. While their proxies clash in Libya, the United Arab Emirates has waded into a dispute in the Mediterranean over gas.

  Turkish officials were angered when the United Arab Emirates weighed into the tussle for rights to gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean earlier this week. A joint statement from the Emirates, France, Greece, Cyprus, and Egypt had accused Turkey of violating Cypriot waters and Greek airspace.

  "If you are asking who is destabilizing this region, who is bringing chaos, then we would say Abu Dhabi without any hesitation," Turkish Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Tuesday. "They are the force that unsettled Libya and destroyed Yemen."

  Backing up that strong rhetoric, Turkey's energy minister said that Turkey had applied for gas exploration permits from Libya and would begin drilling soon.

  A deeper difference in ideology has also driven the animosity between Turkey and the Emirates.

  Whereas Erdoğan's ruling Justice and Development Party is ideologically related to the political Islamist movement of the Muslim Brotherhood, the United Arab Emirates and its allies such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt fear the Brotherhood's social-revolutionary orientation.

  Read more >> here <<

★ Speaking of Libya, Turkey is backing up the official recognize government against the forces of General Khalifa Haftar from the eastern part of the country.

  This week the Turkish government said it would consider forces loyal to General Haftar "legitimate targets" if they didn't stop attacks on diplomatic missions. Earlier in the week Haftar forces hit targets near Turkish and Italian missions in the Libyan capital Tripoli, reports the Deutsche Welle.

  The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) called on Haftar's so-called Libyan National Army to end "indiscriminate attacks" after they attacked the airport and killed five civilians including a five-year-old girl.

  The UN has warned that Haftar may have committed war crimes.

  Read more >> here <<



★ According to the Defense News, President Donald Trump has criticized the F 35's fighter jet global supply chain.

  "Look, we make F-35s ‒ very important, the greatest jet in the world ‒ where the main body of the jet is made in Turkey and then sent here," Trump said.

  President Trump said that Turkey could refuse to give the United States crucial F 35 parts if the relationship breaks down.

  However, the Defense News pointed out that Trump's assertions on Turkey are not accurate.

  The main body of the jet is mainly made in the U.S. by Northrop Grumman and the Turkish company supplying some of it as a secondary supplier.

  Also since Turkey has been expelled from the program, the Pentagon is set to stop awarding F-35 related contracts to Turkish firms this year.

  For a detailed critique of President Trump's assertions refer to the Defense News website.

  Read more >> here <<

★ At the beginning of the year, Turkey's economy was on the recovery path after a deep two-year recession. Then the novel coronavirus struck. The Turkish government is now struggling to explain the second downturn and currency crisis in as many years reports Deutsche Welle.

  Turkish media controlled by the ruling Justice and Development Party proxies blamed "foreign powers" for seeking to harm Turkey.

  Critics say they are parroting the same conspiracy theories that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has espoused for much of his 17-year rule.

  "This goes back to the loss of the Ottoman Empire, which was blamed on Western powers without really recognizing its own troubles and problems," political scientist Ihsan Yilmaz from Melbourne's Deakin University, told Deutsche Welle.

  "A decade ago, these 'imperialists' backed [Turkish president] Erdoğan," Yilmaz told Deutsche Welle. "But if you don't respect the rule of law, recognize the judgments of international courts, and then play 'cat and mouse' with foreign banks, investors will not trust you."

  Turkey's president Erdoğan's economic interference has also alarmed investors. Last year, he fired the central bank chief for failing to cut interest rates fast enough. Orkun Saka, a visiting fellow at the London School of Economics' European Institute, described the Turkish leader as having "unorthodox" economic theories.

  Read more >> here <<

★ Bloomberg reported that the Turkish budget has taken a hit as spending surges on the pandemic measures.

  The central government ran a monthly fiscal gap of $6.3 billion in April, just shy of a record deficit of $6.4 billion in March.

  These are the widest budget deficits on record for Turkey.

  Read more >> here <<

★ In related news, Reuters reported on May 14 that Turkey is seeking global funding help to gird against lira shock.

  The Turkish government has appealed to foreign allies in an urgent search for funding, three senior Turkish officials said, as it prepares defenses against what analysts fear could be a second currency crisis in as many years.

  Turkey is reportedly seeking currency swap lines, and contacted Japan, the United Kingdom, Qatar, and China. Turkish officials have been talking with officials from these countries.

  One of the [Turkish] officials told Reuters Turkey was feeling confident after the talks. But it was unclear how close it may be to securing any deals as the coronavirus pandemic stretches governments and central banks like never before.

  Read more >> here <<

★ In a statement published on Thursday, rating agency Fitch downgraded Turkish appliance maker Arçelik for loan refinance and risks.

  Arçelik is part of Turkey's largest industrial group Koç Holding.

  Read more >> here <<


Edited by Yağız Süllü

★ During Ramadan, one of the most popular Turkish cultural shows, "Karagöz-Hacivat" has been staged in theaters for many years.

  Unlike other years, due to the coronavirus pandemic and its negative effects, such shows are unable to be staged in person.

  Some Turkish actors and actresses recently took an initiative to host such shows virtually and introduce Turkish shows online to viewers from different backgrounds.

  Another development is how Istanbul has been preparing for its annual Film Festival. With the support of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and IKSV (Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts), the 39th annual film festival will be online between May 15th to May 29th.

  15 movies chosen from Berlin, Cannes and Venice film festivals will be premiered at the event to make it available for view.

  Such initiatives are excellent ways to continue arts and cultural events domestically since most people quarantined at their homes are looking for ways to spend quality time with their friends, families, and other loved ones.

  Although whether virtual shows could replace the in-person ones or not are still debatable, for now, this alternative is the best way to reach out to many people and fans.


Edited by Ertuğrul Korkmaz

★ Turkey's government and the soccer Federation are planning to resume the soccer league games. Critiques are accusing that the restart of the game in the face of the pandemic is irresponsible and it is motivated by financial interests.

  The Turkish Football Federation announced that the games will resume in June.


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