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x0x Turkish News for the week ending 11 November 2020

[This is a transcript of the news broadcast on 11 November 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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★ We are going to start our news today with an update on the earthquake that hit the Izmir province of Turkey.

  Earlier in the week, there was some good news: a toddler was pulled from under the rubble live after 65 hours.

  Rescue workers also pulled a four-year-old girl from under the rubble after 91 hours.

  However, on November 4, 2020, the death toll rose to 114.

  Earthquake sensors have recorded 1621 aftershocks, 44 of them with a magnitude higher than four since the earthquake.

  Read more >> here <<

★ A 2009 Construction Engineers Chamber report hinted at the mass destruction experienced in the October 30, 2020 earthquake in Aegean İzmir, including the Bayraklı district that observed the most ruin. The study revealed that 1,490 buildings in the surveyed areas were structurally unsound, the Turkish daily Milliyet reported on November 6, 2020.

  The report found that the builders constructed only 15 out of 696 buildings in the Bayraklı district properly.

  The report urged the government to subsidize re-enforcement work and to create awareness among residents against the risk of unsafe construction, as well as earthquake preparedness.

★ In related news, Istanbul, the most populous urban area in Turkey, will face mass destruction in a potential tsunami, a recent municipal report revealed.

  The report focused on the 17 coastal districts of Istanbul, highly populated by both residences and businesses.

  The report says that the Princes' Islands are the area under the highest risk as waves that top 40 feet would damage more than a thousand structures.

  Meanwhile, the suburban district of Bakırköy risks flooding along a riverbed. The flood would inundate 4000-ft of land on both sides under as much as 21 feet of water.

  Named after a small lake located in the area, experts project the suburban district of Büyükçekmece to experience flooding of 28 feet in depth, damaging 1,400 structures.

  Turkey is among the most seismically active zones in the world and has suffered devastating earthquakes, including the 1999 Marmara quake that killed around 40,000 people.

★ Three Syrian migrants who rescued four survivors after the earthquake said that they were able to work through the destruction as it reminded them of the war in Syria, the Turkish daily Duvar reported.

  Speaking to online news portal Sendika.org, Hani, Şervan, and Yazan said that they immediately laid down on the ground when they felt the tremble.

  Yazan saw nearby Rızabey Apartment Building collapse immediately after the quake, and climbed up on the rubble to call out for anyone who may be trapped inside, he said.

  "We have not slept in four days," Şervan said. "We visit all the tents early in the morning."

  The three Syrian men hand out food to all the earthquake survivors and do everything they can, they said.

  Read more >> here <<

★ Cafes and restaurants are among businesses that will be closing at 10 P. M. as part of the new COVID-19 measures in Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said, the daily Duvar reports. Hairdressers, movie theaters, and performance halls will also close early.

  The government is also encouraging flexible working hours in private and public sectors across Turkey.

  The Turkish Ministry of Health reported 2,343 new patients diagnosed with COVID-19 and 79 fatalities on November 3, although the president said the pandemic was manageable in the country.

  Experts, however, doubt the accuracy of the government numbers. Some of them say that the actual infection and death figures are as much as ten times higher.

  Currently, the pandemic death rates in Turkey look much better than that of Germany and Japan, both with much better health care systems.

★ In 2014, 301 miners in a coal mine in Manisa province of Turkey died after an explosion, making it the worst work-related accident in the history of the Turkish Republic, the daily Duvar reports.

  The government promised the miners compensation, which never materialized.

  The surviving miners have started a walk towards the Turkish capital this week. However, the Manisa governor ordered the police to stop the March. The miners continue that protests in their town, instead, the daily Duvar reports.

  There are currently 3500 miners left without jobs and are unable to receive severance or retirement benefits, despite winning a court case granting them these payments.

  Read more >> here <<

★ The water levels in reservoirs around Istanbul have dropped almost to 30% of the capacity, the lowest recorded level of the past decade, the Turkish daily Birgun reported on November 2, 2020.

  The authorities have been pumping water into the reservoirs from nearby streams to lessen the shortage.

  Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality raised water prices by 12.6% in July. The mayor, currently from the opposition, wanted to increase it by 35%. However, the ruling coalition parties controlling the municipal council lowered it to 12.6 %.


★ According to Deutsche Welle, France has banned a far-right group seen as a militant wing of the Nationalist Movement Party of Turkey.

  The ban on the Grey Wolves comes amid significant tensions between Turkey and France over handling extremism.

  German opposition lawmakers are also are urging the group banned in Germany.

★ On November, 5, an Istanbul court sentenced Onur Emre Yağan, the former editor-in-chief of İleri Haber news website, to 14 months and 17 days in prison on charges of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, online news portal Bianet reported.

  In the final hearing of the trial, Yağan rejected all charges and stated that he did not work at the İleri Haber website at the time of the posts that are the subject of the accusation. He said that he started working for İleri Haber in 2017 and resigned in 2018.

  "The posts that are the subject of the accusation were not shared during the time that I worked at İleri Haberi. They were shared in 2014 and 2015. I was not even in Turkey when those posts were made," Yağan said.

★ According to the Turkish daily Duvar, Turkish authorities have fined social media giants, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Periscope, and TikTok, $1.2 million in local currency for not appointing representatives to the country in line with a controversial law that came into force recently.

  Turkish authorities will fine the social media giants an additional $3.5 million in local currency if they do not abide by the law in 30 days.

  The government has control of 90% of the print and broadcast media in Turkey. In recent years, Turks have been flocking to social media for getting uncensored news and expressing their criticism freely. Analysts see the law as a way of increasing censorship on social media.

★ The daily Duvar reports that Germany has reintroduced its travel warning for the four coastal provinces of Turkey -- Antalya, İzmir, Aydın, and Muğla --- as part of new measures against the novel coronavirus.

  The German warning is not good news for the Turkish travel industry. As we reported to you last week, the number of tourists arriving in Turkey this summer had already plunged by 70%.



★ The Turkish vessel Fatih has begun its drilling activities in the Black Sea, Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Dönmez said on November 5, 2020, the Turkish daily Duvar reported.

  The drilling follows on from the announcement on Aug. 21 of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of the "biggest gas discovery" in Turkey's history of 320 billion cubic meters in the Tuna-1 gas field also located in the Sakarya gas field.

  Turkish officials had said the gas from the Tuna-1 well would be ready for public use in 2023 while also sharing their optimism that they could soon find more reserves.

  On Oct. 17, Turkey discovered an additional 85 billion cubic meters of natural gas reserves in the Black Sea. Erdoğan confirmed on Oct. 21 that the vessel was to start operations on the Türkali-1 well in November.

  Experts doubt that the amounts announced are accurate. They also point out that it is difficult to extract oil and gas economically from the Black Sea.


★ Turkish president Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan fired the Central Bank governor Murat Uysal early Saturday. In his place, he appointed the former finance minister Naci Ağbal. The presidential decree did not give any reasons for the change of leadership at the bank. However, the Turkish daily Duvar writes that the move came after the Turkish lira plunge to record lows against the U.S. dollar.

  Ağbal is the third governor in 16 months. Mr. Erdoğan fired Uysal's predecessor Murat Çetinkay in July 2019 for not supporting lower interest rates. Contrary to what experts say, Mr. Erdoğan thinks that higher interest rates cause higher inflation.

  Turkey analyst at credit rating agency Finch Douglas Winslow said in an interview with Reuters on Friday that the Turkish central bank has a track record of being slow to respond to events, which raises the risk of market instability. He said that the central bank has limited independence from political pressure for lower interest rates.

  Observers also cite the concerns that the new governor has no central bank experience.

  Read more >> here <<


★ According to the Turkish daily Duvar, Turkish Finance Minister Berat Albayrak has said it was possible to curb the rise of foreign currencies through interest rates, but the government did not prefer this method because of "concern that a rate hike will decrease production and employment.

  "We are not interested in the [rise of the] dollar, we would have it fall in value if we wanted to. You would increase the interest rates and it would fall, but this is not our concern," Albayrak reportedly told the ruling Justice and Development Party lawmakers.

  Mr. Berat Albayrak is also the son-in-law of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

  Read more >> here <<


★ The foreign trade deficit for Turkey soared by 189.6% in September year-on-year, according to official figures from the Turkish Statistics Institute (TÜİK) on October 30, 2020, reports the Turkish daily Duvar.

  The deficit shot up from $1.667 billion in September of 2019 to $4.828 billion last month.

  There was an export-import imbalance last month as exports increased by 4.8 %, while imports jumped up 23%.

  Germany accounted for the largest export partner for Turkey, while China was at the top of the list of countries Turkey imported goods.

  The troubling figures come amid a deep recession where the Turkish lira has been plummeting to record lows day after day. Unemployment and inflation figures remain in the double digits, while economists have warned that the economic situation is even worse than what the official statistics reflect.

EXCHANGE RATE for the U.S. dollar in Turkish Liras: 8.52


High and Low Temperatures in Degrees F, Weather
Ankara, in central Turkey        : 61/41 Partly Cloudy
Antalya, on the Mediterranean    : 82/63 Mostly Sunny
Erzurum, in Eastern Turkey       : 50/32 Mostly Cloudy
Istanbul, in northwestern Turkey : 64/54 Showers
Izmir, on the Aegean             : 73/55 Mostly Sunny
Trabzon, on the Black Sea        : 61/55 Showers


Edited by Ertuğrul Korkmaz


Premier League

* Results for week: 7
Trabzon         -      Kasımpaşa      3 - 4
Karagümrük      -      Erzurum        5 - 1
G. Birliği      -      G. Antep       1 - 1
G. Saray        -      Ankaragücü     1 - 0
Göztepe         -      Alanya         -
Rize            -      Kayseri        1 - 0
Beşiktaş        -      Malatya        1 - 0
Konya           -      Başakşehir     1 - 2
Hatay           -      Sivas          1 - 1
Antalya         -      Fenerbahçe     1 - 2
* In games played so far this weekend:
G. Antep        -      Beşiktaş       3 - 1
Alanya          -      Trabzon        1 - 1
Fenerbahçe      -      Konya          0 - 2
Kasımpaşa       -      Antalya        2 - 2
Erzurum         -      Göztepe        1 - 1
Ankaragücü      -      Karagümrük     -
Kayseri         -      Hatay          -
Malatya         -      Denizli        -
Başakşehir      -      G. Birliği     -
Sivas           -      G. Saray       -

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

★ On October 26, the 22-year-old Turkish swimmer Emre Sakci International Swimming League European championships, breaking the European record and almost breaking the world record in the breaststroke in 50 m.

  In the 100 m race, he came in third.

★ In the Balkan boxing tournament held in Bulgaria between October 19 and 25, the Turkish team received one gold, one silver, and one bronze in the women's competitions.

★ In Budapest, Hungry, grand-slam Judo competitions Kayra Sait of Turkey won the gold medal in women's +78 kg category. The competitions took place between October 23 and 25.

★ In the handball qualifiers for European championships, the Turkish team lost to Holland 27 to 26 in the fifth group. The Turkish team was supposed to play in Turkey against the Slovenian team. However, since one of the Slovenian players diagnosed positive for COVID-19, organizers postponed the game.

★ In the Euroleague basketball games, Anadolu Efes of Turkey defeated the Israeli Maccabi 91 to 89 on November 5. The games took place in Tel Aviv, Israel.

  The previous week, Anadolu Efes also beat Olympiacos of Greece 79-84 in Pireaus, Greece.

  Fenerbahçe beat Khimki of Russia 83-71 on November 6 in Istanbul.


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