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x0x Turkish News for the week ending 17 October 2020

[This is a transcript of the news broadcast on 17 October 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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★ In the Eurasia Review, Andrew Leonard wrote that "Current Turkish foreign policy may be best illustrated by former US President Theodore Roosevelt's big stick diplomacy proverb, only in reverse.

  "That is, walk loudly and carry a small stick. Under the ultra-nationalist leadership of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey's geopolitical ambitions have become increasingly confrontational, reckless, and overambitious.

  "Its insistence on challenging territorial boundaries, disavowal of international norms and laws, unchecked unilateralism, and courtship of unsavory non-state actors have earned it the alienation of its neighbors, unprecedented diplomatic isolation, and the rebuke of erstwhile allies.

  "These ill-advised initiatives have left it with fewer strategic partners and a growing number of geopolitical adversaries.

  Andrew Leonard concluded his op-ed with the following:

  "The steady stream of provocative, bellicose rhetoric from Turkey's leaders is likely a diversion from the struggling economy and erosion of democratic institutions. But the international community's patience has worn thin of this tactic. In order for the Turkish state to salvage its legitimacy, it must scale back the polarizing policies and cavalier attitudes that are ostracizing it at a rapidly increasing rate. The sooner Ankara realizes the scope of its foreign policies are not sustainable, the sooner it can forego its ill-advised adventurism and mend regional and global ties."

  Read more >> here <<

  In related news, in the Euro News Alice Tidey wrote: "Turkey is growing more assertive on the world stage but also more isolated."

  She quoted Sinan Ülgen, a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Europe think tank, who said "What we have witnessed over the past decade really is a transformation of Turkish foreign policy with the vision, the understanding, that Turkey should carve out a degree of strategic autonomy from its traditional partners in the West, particularly the U.S.

  "More recently, the government has been motivated by a desire to boost support and deflect attention from a worsening economic situation in Turkey," Ülgen added.

  Read more >> here <<

★ Senior Director of the Center on Military and Political Power at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Bradley Bowman, and Major Shane Praiswater, a visiting military analyst at the foundation, wrote about the recent test Turkey conducted on its Russian-made S-400 surface to air missile system.

  Since it purchased the S-400 missile system, Turkey's relationship with its NATO allies including the U.S. has soured considerably. The U.S. has removed Turkey from the F-35 advanced fighter jet program including refusing to sell 100 of these planes. The NATO countries say that the Russian system can be spying on NATO communications and jet fighters like F-35s.

  Bradley Bowman and Shane Praisewater say that the test represents a troubling milestone in the steady deterioration of Turkey's relationship with the U.S. and NATO – potentially increasing the chances that the U.S. will impose sanctions on Turkey under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.

  Read more >> here <<

★ Following the European Council's conclusions on October 16, 2020, spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, Mr. Hami Aksoy, released a statement.

  In his statement Mr. Aksoy said:

  "It is not surprising that the European Union, ignoring once more Turkey's theses with its usual judgmental and prejudiced posture, identifies Turkey's determination to defend both its rights and those of the Turkish Cypriots as 'provocation' in today's meeting.

  "The European Union's continuation of the discourse of sanctions, instead of encouraging dialogue, reconciliation, and an unconditional positive agenda, reveals also that the extent of its aim and the language it uses is distant from sincerity and constructiveness."

  According to Agence France-Presse, at the end of the European Council session, the 27 leaders issued a communique and wrote the following:

  "The European Union deplores renewed unilateral and provocative actions by Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean, including recent exploratory activities.

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


  Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı

★ The Turkish Medical Association has been critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

  The Association also claims that the death and infection statistics of the Ministry of Health are deliberately underreporting the effects of the pandemic, so much so that the death rate per one million people is much lower than countries with robust public health systems such as Germany and Japan.

  This week President Erdoğan lashed out at the Turkish Medical Association and called its newly-elected chairwoman Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı a terrorist. He was basing his characterization on a verdict a Turkish court handed to Dr. Fincancı, sentencing her to a two-year-and-six-month prison sentence on terrorism charges for signing a petition in 2016 condemning the practices of Turkish security forces in the predominantly Kurdish southeastern Turkey. In a subsequent retrial in 2020 the charges against her were dropped.

  In related news, the Turkish Medical Association Central Council has released a statement and reiterated that the Association would continue speaking up despite being targeted.

  "Unlike the government, the Turkish Medical Association is one of the institutions that have been telling the public the truth during COVID-19 pandemic; revealing the deficiencies of the program of transformation in healthcare; telling the truth about city hospitals and the Court of Accounts' reports has confirmed what it has been saying; expressing the problems of their colleagues; and the public and physicians have been trusting it the most.

  "The Turkish Medical Association has been on the side of the rightful, not that of the ones who see themselves as powerful, and it will continue to do so. Though the ones who see themselves as powerful, try to self-justify their positions everywhere, they are faced with serious public backlash, let alone supported."

  Read more >> here <<

★ According to Reuters, on Tuesday Turkish police detained dozens of people in a search for 167 supporters of Fethullah Gülen. It is widely accepted that Fethullah Gülen and his followers orchestrated the 2016 failed coup to wrest power from President Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party.

  Since the failed coup Erdoğan administration put nearly 100,000 people behind bars. Some are not necessarily Gülen followers but people opposed to Erdoğan. It also terminated nearly 150,000 civil servants and military personnel. Rights groups around the world criticized the Erdoğan regime for using the coup as a pretext to suppress dissent.

  Fethullah Gülen has been living in self-exile in Pennsylvania since 1999.

★ Speaking of suppression of dissent, the news site Bianet reported Saturday that trials of 24 journalists for "terrorism" and other charges continued in the past week.

  While four journalists from daily BirGün have been acquitted of charges, the sentences of seven employees of Sözcü newspaper have been upheld by an appeals court. One other journalist has also been acquitted of "managing a terrorist organization."

  Read more >> here <<

★ American scholar, vocal social critic, and political activist Noam Chomsky has called for the immediate release of Osman Kavala. Mr. Kavala is a Turkish businessman and human rights activist. He has been in jail for 1000 days, first without then with trumped-up charges. Both the European Court of Human Rights and the Turkish Constitutional Court asked for his release. However, the Justice and Development Party administration has pressured the courts to keep in jail with more trumped-up charges, analysts say.

  In the latest set of charges, the prosecutors claimed that he has collaborated with a former U.S. State Department official and now a professor Henry Barkey to organize the Gezi protests that shook up Turkey in 2013 and threatened the then Prime Minister Mr. Erdoğan's regime.

  Read more >> here <<



  President Erdoğan and King Salman in a 2017 meeting

★ Unofficial but effective Saudi boycott strikes blow at Turkey, the Arab Weekly headline said on October 15, 2020.

  Here is a summary of the article:

  Ajlan al-Ajlan, chairman of the board of directors of the Saudi Chamber of Commerce in Riyadh, launched a boycott campaign based on three No's: "No investment, no imports, and no tourism."

  Without making it official, Saudi Arabia has succeeded in dealing a tough, direct blow to Turkey through a wide boycott of its products, in response to the many disparaging statements made by Turkish officials towards the kingdom, whether in the context of the Jamal Khashoggi case or in political campaigns directed against Riyadh's role in regional issues. That role seems to be resented by the Turks, who have sought to undermine it but failed.

  The call for the boycott started on social media networks and quickly became the trending issue for Saudis on online platforms. The call then became a reality when local officials in the trade and industry sectors urged citizens to boycott products coming from Turkey or bearing a mark showing that they were made in Turkey. The move predictably irked Turkish businessmen at home and turned into a pressure card on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

  "Our contractors in the Middle East suffered a loss estimated at $3 billion at the least in the past year, as a result of the anti-Turkish sentiments that emerged there," Mithat Yenigün, head of the Turkish Contractors Association, told the Turkish opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet.

  The Arab Weekly is a pan-Arab publication based in London.

  Full article is available Read more >> here <<

★ According to Bloomberg, two Turkish construction firms are seeking to restructure $1.1 billion of debt owed to banks, including the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

  The two firms -- Gama Holding and Türkerler İnşaat -- used the loans, acquired from several foreign banks, to build hospitals in partnership with General Electric Co. of the United States, which has a 10 percent stake in the venture.

  The Turkish lira has slumped by 25 percent against the dollar this year to an all-time low, rendering foreign debt more expensive to repay.

★ According to the pro-government daily Sabah, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has announced the discovery of an additional 85 billion cubic meters of natural gas reserves in the Black Sea.

  The discovery brings the total amount that Mr. Erdoğan claims Turkey found in the black sea to 405 billion cubic meters.

  However, gas and oil analysts doubt the amount and the potential benefits to Turkey of the finds. They say that the amounts found in the black sea are usually small and difficult to extract.

★ According to the research arm of the Turkish labor union DISK, the unemployment rate in Turkey is around 10 million, almost double that of the official data reports.


★ The American Turkish Society has announce that it is accepting applications for its Moon and Stars Project Grants. The grants support emerging and established artists in the development of arts and culture projects related to Turkey.

  Moon and Stars Project Grants are dedicated to highlighting Turkey's arts and culture scene and establishing a two-way cultural interaction between the United States and Turkey. The grants are aimed at supporting emerging and established artists in an effort to promote this cross-cultural dialogue.

  The deadline for applications is January 31, 2021.

  Read more >> here <<

View of Hagia Sophia (top left) and Sultan Ahmet Square drawn in 1500s
(Click on picture to see a larger view)
★ Alterations on Istanbul's iconic Hagia Sophia reportedly violated guidelines mandated under the site's "UNESCO World Heritage" status, the Turkish daily Duvar reported.

  Converted within two weeks of the legal ruling that allowed Muslim worship, the six-century structure's mosaics were unlawfully covered up, and any work on it was deemed practically impossible, architectural publication Mimarlık Magazine reported.

  Read more >> here <<


★ Award-winning and world-renowned Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan is receiving funding from Euro Images to the tune of $550,000 for his film titled "About the Dry Weeds," the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet reported.

  Ceylan is planning to finish the film by 2022.

  Read more >> here <<

EXCHANGE RATE for the U.S. dollar in Turkish Liras: 7.93


High and Low Temperatures in Degrees F, Weather
Ankara, in central Turkey        : 73/55 Thunderstorms
Antalya, on the Mediterranean    : 81/70 Thunderstorms
Erzurum, in Eastern Turkey       : 72/37 Partly Cloudy
Istanbul, in northwestern Turkey : 72/59 Thunderstorms
Izmir, on the Aegean             : 81/66 Thunderstorms
Trabzon, on the Black Sea        : 77/64 Partly Cloudy
Seawater temperatures:
Black Sea measured at Trabzon         : 70
Marmara Sea measured at Tekirdağ      : 72
Aegean Sea measured at İzmir          : 73
Mediterranean Sea measured at Antalya : 80


Edited by Ertuğrul Korkmaz


UEFA, the European soccer Federation National League

* Russia- Turkey 1-1 in Moscow on Sunday
* Turkey = Serbia 2- 2 in Istanbul on Wednesday

Premier League

* Results for week: 4
Ankaragücü -      Kayseri     0 - 1
G. Antep   -      Trabzon     1 - 1
Malatya    -      Antalya     1 - 0
Başakşehir -      Göztepe     0 - 0
Erzurum    -      Rize        0 - 0
Fenerbahçe -      Karagümrük  2 - 1
Beşiktaş   -      G. Birliği  0 - 1
Alanya     -      Hatay       6 - 0
Denizli    -      Konya       0 - 0
Kasımpaşa  -      G. Saray    1 - 0
* In games played so far this weekend:
Rize              -      Ankaragücü  5 - 3
Kayseri           -      Sivas       1 - 3
Trabzon           -      Başakşehir  0 - 2
Konya             -      Malatya     1 - 1
* Standing in the league as of week ending 4
1 - Alanya       10
2 - Fenerbahçe    8
3 - Karagümrük    7
4 - G. Saray      7
5 - Erzurum       7
6 - Antalya       7
7 - Hatay         7
8 - Göztepe       6
9 - Kasımpaşa     6
10 - Kayseri      6
11 - Konya        5
12 - Trabzon      5
13 - Sivas        4
14 - G. Birliği   4
15 - Beşiktaş     4
16 - Malatya      4
17 - G. Antep     3
18 - Rize         2
19 - Denizli      2
20 - Ankaragücü   1
21 - Başakşehir   1


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