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x0x Turkish News for the week ending 12 September 2020

[This is a transcript of the news broadcast on 12 September 2020]

Courtesy of Turkish Radio Hour, producer of the

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★ Confrontation in the eastern Mediterranean between Turkey, immediate neighbors Greece and Greek Cyprus, and distant neighbors Egypt, and far away United Arab Emirates, and France is continuing.

  The root cause of the problem is who owns the continental shelf in the eastern Mediterranean and therefore has the right to extract oil and gas.

  On Friday Turkey's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Mr. Hami Aksoy condemned the joint declaration adopted following the seventh Summit of the Southern European Union Member States. These states are France, Italy, Spain, Malta, Portugal, Greece and Greek Cypriot administration.

  The southern European countries back Greece on the continental shelf issue, which the Turkish spokesperson said is "maximalist maritime boundary claims".

  "For de-escalation, it is imperative for Greece to withdraw her military vessels deployed nearby our seismic survey vessel Oruç Reis, to support NATO's de-confliction initiative, to quit militarizing the Eastern Aegean Islands and Kastellorizo, and to put an end to the increasing pressure on the Turkish Minority in the Western Thrace" Aksoy said.

  Greece says that any talks with Turkey would start only after Turkey withdraws its exploration vessel and its navy.

  On Friday Turkey announced live-fire naval exercises to the north of Cyprus from September 12-14.

  Read more >> here <<

  In the European Union, France is leading the confrontation with Turkey. However French president Emmanuel Macron said that Europe wants to renew dialogue with Turkey, Reuters reports.

  "It is genuinely by restoring normal relations with Turkey, and obtaining the end of unilateral actions, which will allow stability in the region" he said.

  Macron, however, also warned that Turkey is "no longer a partner in the region" of the Eastern Mediterranean due to its behavior.

  On December 10, Deutsche Welle reported that the European Union is preparing possible sanctions against Turkey.

  Greece and Greek Cypriot administration is pushing the European countries for the sanctions, the two countries are saying that they will not agree to any sanctions against Belarus until sanctions against Turkey are implemented.

  The European Union's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell hinted that measures will not only target individuals but also companies involved in the Turkish gas exploration projects.

  For example, Turkish research vessels could be prohibited from entering European Union ports and would be no longer able to get replacement parts. Also banks financing those companies could be targeted. Next could be entire business sectors "in which the Turkish and European economies are closely tied."

  That also means targeting of the European Union Customs Union, which allows for the customs-free exchange of goods between Turkey and the European Union. Turkey has long wanted to expand the union, the European Union could now limit it.

  Read more >> here <<

★ In related news, Germany is doing its best to protect Turkey, however, as the pressure grows within the European Union its strength is fading, Ayşegül Karakülhancı writes from Cologne, Germany in the Turkish daily Duvar.

  Ms. Karakülhancı adds "The only party that is still able to mediate between the two countries is Angela Merkel as she is the only head of government in the European Union who maintains good relations with both Turkish president Erdoğan and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis."

  Until an international court solves the issue permanently, Germany is attempting to persuade Turkey and Greece to use the disputed waters collectively, Ms. Karakülhancı writes.

  Read more >> here <<

Greece is considering Rafale fighters from France

★ In another news, according to Forbes, Greece is about to purchase billions dollars of new weapons and fighter jets from France and the US.

  Analysts say that with these new armements, Greeks could establish air superiority over Turkey. Currently Turkey has the superiority.

  All of this comes as Turkey is facing problems with procuring new aircraft and upgrading its existing fleet, Forbes writes.

  The United States suspended Turkey from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program for its acquisition of advanced Russian S-400 air defense missile systems in 2019. Turkey likely won't receive the jet unless it completely removes the S-400s from its territory, which it's not likely to do, Forbes adds.

  Read more >> here <<

★ Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's "disturbing" foreign policy has spurred U.S. officials to intensify preparations to withdraw from Incirlik Air Force base, according to senior Republican Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson and American analysts, reports the Washington Examiner.

  Erdoğan has threatened American access to the base, which reportedly houses dozens of U.S. nuclear weapons, multiple times since he squashed a failed coup attempt in 2016.

  A withdrawal would signal a major shift in the balance of trust between the United States and the country that boasts the second-largest military in NATO, but Erdoğan's increasing affinity for Russian President Vladimir Putin and truculence with other NATO allies has angered American officials and raised the specter of other crises in the transatlantic alliance, adds the Examiner.

  U. S. eyes a Greek island as alternative to Turkish base due to "disturbing" Erdoğan actions, senior senator claimed.

  Read more >> here <<

People demonstrating against the incarceration of journalists

★ An Istanbul court on Wednesday handed multiple prison sentences to five reporters convicted of violating the law on coverage of Turkey's spy agency but ordered their release pending appeals, reports the VOA.

  Six journalists faced up to 20 years in prison on charges of exposing state secrets and violating the Turkish Intelligence Agency law.

  The closely watched trial concerned a news report alleging that a Turkish intelligence officer was killed in Libya in February.

  All six journalists were acquitted of the state secrets charge.

  But the court sentenced Aydın Keser, Ferhat Çelik and Murat Ağırel, who work for the pro-Kurdish Yeni Yaşam daily, to four years and eight months in jail on the Turkish Intelligence Agency law charges.

  It sentenced OdaTV editor-in-chief Barış Pehlivan and reporter Hülya Kılınç to three years and nine months on the same charges, while acquitting OdaTV news director Barış Terkoğlu.

Robert Spano with President Erdoğan

★ An article penned by the Istanbul correspondent of the French newspaper Le Monde has criticized European Court of Human Rights chief Robert Spano's visit to Turkey, pointing out that the Turkish government has been severely violating its obligations under the European Court of Human Rights, reports the Turkish daily Duvar.

  Journalist Marie Jégo said that Spano was expected to show "courage" during his visit, but instead "stormed into sycophancy."

  Spano has come under fire for his visit to Turkey between Sept. 3-5. Critics have pointed out that the visit gave an air of legitimacy to Turkey's crackdown on media and other freedoms.

  Read more >> here <<

★ According to daily Duvar, Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said that Selahattain Demirtaş, the jailed former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party, and renowned civil activist Osman Kavala are behind bars in an unlawful way.

  "Those who are kept imprisoned in an unjust way will always wear their served prison time as a badge of honor on their chest. They will say 'We have shown the biggest struggle against injustice by paying its price'," Kılıçdaroğlu said on Sept. 8.

  Kılıçdaroğlu said Demirtaş was kept imprisoned because he pledged during a speech in 2015 that the Peoples' Democratic Party would not let President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan be elected as president.

  Kılıçdaroğlu said that Kavala is still kept behind bars despite the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights because "Erdoğan wants it so."


★ The wealthiest 20 percent of Turkey's population controls 46.3 percent of the country's wealth, according to official figures from the Turkish Statistics Institute, reports the daily Duvar.

  Meanwhile, the poorest 20 percent of people in Turkey only held 6.2 percent of the nation's wealth, according to the Institute figures.

  Those who have college degrees earned an average of $6940 a year, while those who are illiterate earned only $1890 a year.

  Business owners made on the average $12,770 a year, while salaried employees made $4585 a year.

  Read more >> here <<

★ The Turkish statistical Institute also released the unemployment figures. Although there is a layoff ban, unemployment rose.

  While youth unemployment climbed to 26.1 percent from June 2019, national unadjusted unemployment rose to 13.4 percent in the same time.

  Experts usually disagree with the institutes figures on unemployment, and say that the real unemployment rate is around 25 percent. The opposition Republican Peoples Party say that it may be as high as 30.6 percent, and the total number of unemployed people is higher than the population of 109 countries.

  Read more >> here <<

★ A group of miners in Turkey's central province of Karaman's Ermenek town have been on strike for over a week after not receiving their salaries for 13 moths.

  The long period without pay has caused serious financial and emotional strain on the miners. "Our children are miserable, and they have gone hungry.

  "We are living on my 65-year-old mother's pension," miner Salim Dingil told the daily Duvar.

★ Turkey's central bank wrote on its website on Friday that the current account deficit for Turkey was $1.82 billion in July. In July 2019 there was a surplus of $1.99 billion.

  Turkey chronically suffers current account deficits each month.  income from tourism revenues and internal investments finance these deficits.

  The economists say that the July deficit was the result of government stimulus.

  The current account deficit is the difference between imports and exports.

  Read more >> here <<

  Declining investment in mechanical equipment

★ Writing in the Turkish paper Karar columnist Ibrahim Kahveci says that Turkey's "v-shaped" economic recovery is a dream.

  He says the state of the manufacturing and lack of investment makes a v-shaped recovery impossible. He points out that capacity utilization has declined in the manufacturing sector for the past three years from 80 percent to 70 percent.

  Read more >> here <<


★ In an article in Foreign Policy, Fatima Bhutto wrote that neo-Ottoman fantasies are finding an enthusiastic audience in Pakistan that struggles with Saudi and Western influence through the Turkish TV drama "Resurrection: Ertugrul". When its finale aired on TRT, Turkey's national public broadcast channel--serendipitously on the anniversary of the Ottoman capture of Constantinople and the fall of the Byzantine Empire--more people searched YouTube for Ertugrul than for the Game of Thrones character Jon Snow, whose own show had ended 10 days earlier. The series is set in 13th-century Anatolia as Ertugrul Ghazi, a warrior leading the Kayi tribe, battles Byzantines, Crusaders, and Mongols. It is a superbly shot, emotive drama that plays out all of Turkey's-- the Muslim world's--fantasies and anxieties.'

  Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has celebrated the show for "entering the nation's heart" and is an enthusiastic supporter. Its producer, Kemal Tekden, is a member of Erdoğan's Justice and Development Party, and the show's creator, Mehmet Bozdag, is, if not a member, an open admirer.

  The blistering and bombastic Erdoğan may be divisive at home, but abroad, whether one likes him or hates him, he possesses a charisma that has been absent in the Muslim world for decades. And he is making a play to restore Turkey to its historic role as the leader of Sunni Muslims, displacing Saudi Arabia. After all, it was only after Mehmed VI was deposed that the House of Saud took custodianship of the two holy mosques in Mecca and Medina. The Ottoman Empire was once the custodian of the two mosques and thus the de facto leader of the Islamic ummah for 400 years--and it is this position to which Erdoğan seeks to return.

  Nelson Mandela's grandson, a member of South Africa's parliament, visited the set and posed for photos decked out in Ertugrul's Kayi tribal kit as did Venezuela's head of state, Nicolás Maduro. Maduro was so moved, Bozdag claimed, that he even considered converting to Islam after his visit.


★ According to the daily Duvar, three treasure hunters in Turkey's western province of Kırklareli were fined a total of approximately $1250 in local currency on Sept. 9 for violating safe distancing regulations implemented amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

  Local rural police officers caught the three suspects conducting an illegal excavation, during which they were reportedly standing in a tight group.

  Each person was fined 3,150 liras, and were released from rural police's custody after processing.

  The officers confiscated the excavation materials as well.

EXCHANGE RATE for the U.S. dollar in Turkish Liras: 7.47


High and Low Temperatures in Degrees F, Weather
Ankara, in central Turkey        : 88/66 Thunderstorms
Antalya, on the Mediterranean    : 88/77 Mostly Sunny
Erzurum, in Eastern Turkey       : 86/52 Partly Cloudy
Istanbul, in northwestern Turkey : 81/73 Thunderstorms
Izmir, on the Aegean             : 88/73 Mostly Sunny
Trabzon, on the Black Sea        : 81/72 Partly Cloudy
Seawater temperatures:
Black Sea measured at Trabzon         : 77
Marmara Sea measured at Tekirdağ      : 78
Aegean Sea measured at İzmir          : 76
Mediterranean Sea measured at Antalya : 82


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