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x0x Turkish News for the week ending 12 December 2020

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

Courtesy of Turkish Radio Hour, producer of the

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★ The U.S. sanctions on Turkey is now all but certain. Congress sent a veto-proof bill to President Trump with a rider that calls for CAATSA, Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, on Turkey for purchasing Russian missiles that could endanger its NATO allies, including the U.S., and destabilizing actions in the eastern Mediterranean.

  President Trump has so far been protective of Turkey and deflected requests from Congress to impose sanctions on the country. However, he has no choice now.

  According to the Turkish daily Duvar, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that it would be a sign of disrespect if the U.S. ended up imposing sanctions on Turkey.

  Upon the news of impending sanctions, the Turkish currency lira lost its value against the dollar.

  Speaking of sanctions, the European Union is also considering sanctions on Turkey, possibly in its summit in March 2021. On December 8, 2020, the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote that Germany has been struggling to prevent sanctions against Turkey. However, the paper pointed out that Turkey has done nothing to reduce tensions in the eastern Mediterranean or introduce reforms in the judiciary.

  On Friday, December 11, 2020, the Deutsche Welle wrote that the European Union leaders agreed on the first steps towards more comprehensive sanctions on Turkey. The sanctions are over unauthorized gas drilling by Turkey off the coast of Greece and Cyprus, according to a decision released early Friday morning on the sidelines of the summit in Brussels. Read more >> here <<

  Here is the summary of what the Deutsche Welle wrote:

  "The decision paves the way for penalizing individuals and companies involved in planning and carrying out the gas exploration with travel bans into the European Union and asset freezes.

  "The vice-president of the Turkish Petroleum Corporation and the deputy director of its exploration department are currently on an European Union sanctions list. The new sanctions would add as yet unspecified people and organizations to that list.

  "However, Friday's proposal steps back from an arms embargo or wider sanctions that would target larger sectors of the Turkish economy, both of which had been under consideration.

  "The Turkish Foreign affairs Ministry issued a statement Friday saying the approach by the European Union is biased and illegal."


  Turkey's new ambassador to the U.S. Hasan Murat Mercan

★ Turkish Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on December 7, 2020, appointed several new ambassadors at Turkey's missions abroad as well as representatives.

  Turkey's current ambassador in Tokyo, Hasan Murat Mercan, will take up the post as ambassador to Washington.

  A founding member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Mercan served as a deputy for the province of Eskişehir during the 22nd and 23rd terms of Parliament. He also served as the head of the Turkish delegation at the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Elections and Deputy Energy Minister between February 2012 - September 2014.


★ Turkey is involved in the Libyan war between the officially recognized government and the opposing rebel Libyan National Army, the Deutsche Welle reported on December 8, 2020.

  On Tuesday, the Libyan National Army seized a Turkish cargo ship in the Mediterranean.

  Rebel general Khalifa Haftar's Libyan National Army has accused Turkey of continuing to supply the officially recognized Government of National Accord with arms and fighters.

  Haftar's forces led a year-long attempt to take over Tripoli but were thwarted in June when Turkish support helped Tripoli-allied militias to gain the upper hand.

  On December 11, 2020, Turkey's Anatolia News Agency reported that the opposition forces released the cargo ship. The opposition sources said that upon inspection, they found the ship to be carrying medicine.

  Read more >> here <<

★ The Turkish daily Duvar reported November 30, 2020, that Kemal Albayrak, a founding member of the ruling Justice and Development Party, announced his resignation from the party. Mr. Albayrak said the party is run by a culture of enslavement.

  Albayrak noted the Justice and Development Party came onto the political scene with a message of unity but instead led to division within the society. Albayrak, who is a former deputy, slammed the party's use of the judiciary and state as a tool of revenge. Read more >> here <<


★ The Information and Communications Technologies Authority of Turkey, BTK, on December 11 imposed fines of $3.8 million on digital media giants including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Periscope, and TikTok, following the first $1.27 million fine a month ago. If companies still fail to appoint official representatives to the country within the following 30 days, they will face an advertising ban.

  Three months after the advertising ban, authorities will be able to reduce the internet bandwidth of these platforms by 50 percent first and then 90 percent after another month of non-compliance.

  The British daily The Times wrote that Turkey's president Erdoğan is risking backlash in the showdown with social media. "The Turkish president is determined to regulate tech, but his country's Twitter addicts will present interference with what they see as the last bastion of free speech," The Times added.

  Also, Bloomberg reported that both domestic and foreign companies based in Turkey are worried about a looming advertising ban on social media. A draft law is calling for a ban from doing business with the largest five social media platforms active in Turkey. Turkish companies spent $450 million on online advertising in the first half of 2020. Turkish government collected 22.5% of the advertising spending as tax.

  Read more >> here <<

★ More than four million students lack the resources to access remote classes, Turkish education union Eğitim-Sen's chairwoman warned as Turkey closed schools until the end of the year, reported the Turkish daily Duvar last month.

  Some 60 percent of those who have access reportedly resort to using their parents' phones only.

  The union asked the Ministry of Education to distribute the necessary devices and provide Internet access swiftly.


★ Turkey's Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Adil Karaismailoğlu filed a criminal complaint demanding an access ban to 297 news reports on alleged corruption in the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality during the ruling Justice and Development Party administration period.

  The current Metropolitan mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu filed a criminal complaint naming 23 people for corruption. Mr. İmamoğlu is from the opposition Republican Peoples Party, who wrested the mayoralty in 2018 from the Justice and Development Party.

  The Republican Peoples Party has also announced that while under the leadership of the ruling Justice and Development Party, the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality purchased several fire trucks converted from missile launcher vehicles. The municipality says that these fire trucks are nonfunctional.

  Read more >> here <<

★ Speaking of mayors, Transparency International has awarded Turkish capital Ankara's Metropolitan mayor Mansur Yavaş "transparency award, "Turkish newspaper Karar reported on December 9, 2020.

  Transparency International is a Berlin-based NGO working to end corruption around the world.

  Mr. Yavaş is another mayor from the opposition Republican Peoples Party that wrested the mayoralty from the ruling Justice and Development Party hands. The Justice and Development Party mayors ruled the capital for nearly 25 years.

  He started broadcasting tenders live to the public. Turkish polling company PIAR found him with the highest approval rating among the ten largest metropolitan area mayors.


  Politico captioned this painting of President Erdoğan as "The Bad Neighbor"

★ The publication Politico chose Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as the sixth most influential of the most powerful people in Europe.

  Politico wrote:

  "If you can't join 'em, beat 'em: With the carrot of EU membership shriveled beyond salvaging, Brussels has no clear strategy for countering Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's embrace of the big stick.

  "The Turkish president has NATO's second-largest military at his disposal, and he's putting it to work. This year, Turkey played a decisive role in wars across Europe's neighborhood, from North Africa and the Middle East to the Caucasus, while the European Union stood and watched on the sidelines.

  "And no one — not French President Emmanuel Macron, not Russian President Vladimir Putin, not U.S. President Donald Trump — has figured out how to rein him in."

  Read more >> here <<


★ Writing in The Atlantic, Zeynep Tüfekçi, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina originally from Turkey, found parallels between what President Trump is doing to reverse the results of the 2020 elections in the U.S. to the various coups experienced in Turkey.

  She said:

  "Acting as if Trump is trying to stage a coup is the best way to ensure he won't." Read more >> here <<

★ Most of Turkey is in a severe drought. The reservoirs are at historical lows. Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate asked clerics throughout Turkey to urge their congregations to have special prayer sessions for rain following the Friday prayers.

  All clerics throughout Turkey work for the directorate and it dictates their Friday sermons. The title of this Friday's sermon was "Water: Source of Life and Healing."

  Turgay Yıldız, an online actor-comedian, mocked the request and said that the prayers will take place when the weather forecast is predicting rain. He also asked for the directorate to request prayers for things like a better environment, keeping the cities clean, and being nice to each other.

★ Turkey rose up to eighth place in global COVID-19 cases recently. The rise came about after Turkey's Ministry of health started reporting more realistic figures in anticipation of vaccine distribution based on the number of cases.

  Previously, critics and the World Health Organization was blaming Turkey for underreporting for many months.

  Experts say that Turkey is still underreporting COVID-19 deaths.

  Read more >> here <<


★ Turkey's unemployment rate allegedly dropped to 12.7%, its lowest level in 22 months, in September, the Turkish Statistical Institute reported through data that once again raised eyebrows, the Turkish daily Duvar reported on December 10, 2020. The data is internally conflicting, as it shows a drop in both unemployment and employment.

  Independent experts say that the real unemployment rate is over 30%.

  Read more >> here <<

★ Turkey will be granting $5 million in aid to Tunisia to help in their fight against COVID-19, the Turkish government's Official Gazette reported on December 10, 2020.

  The aid comes at the end of a dire year for Turkey economically, when the Turkish Lira has plummeted to record lows, and the country's foreign trade deficit has grown to alarming rates.

★ "Turks skeptical of [President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan's reform promise, continue to invest in foreign currencies," was the headline of an article in the Turkish daily Duvar on December 8, 2020.

  The article further said:

  "Over the two weeks following the reform promises, Turks were net buyers of $3.9 billion of foreign currency, according to Turkish Central Bank data.

  "Meanwhile foreign investors responded in a more positive fashion as they were net buyers of stocks worth $614 million and bonds worth $294 million during the third week of November alone.

  "' Turkey has to act like a democratic state of law to convince foreign investors and its citizens," former Economy Minister Ufuk Söylemez told the Turkish daily Duvar's English edition.'"

★ Turkey's central bank released the current account figures this week. According to the bank's website, the current account deficit in October was down to $273 million. In 2009 there was a surplus of $2.7 billion.

  The rolling 12-month deficit is almost $34 billion.

  Read more >> here <<

★ Speaking of the Turkish central bank, according to Reuters, the depleted foreign-currency reserves of the bank rose to $15.6 billion at the end of last week from $5 billion. The increase came about after the Turkish treasury sold euro bonds.

  However, according to the rating agency Fitch, the central bank's net foreign exchange reserves are negative $46.5 billion due to the currency swaps that the bank undertook earlier in the year.

  Read more >> here <<



★ Istanbul's ancient Basilica Cistern is in such a state of disrepair that its restoration "can't wait another minute," Istanbul Municipality Assistant Secretary-General Mahir Polat said on December 10, 2020.

  The municipality presented a restoration project to the Culture and Tourism Ministry's Protection Board as an urgent matter some 47 days ago. However, the board failed to issue a ruling as of December 10, 2020, Polat said.

  Located next to the Hagia Sophia, the Byzantine Empire had the Basilica cistern built in the sixth century.

★ According to the daily Duvar, archaeologists recovered a 2,000-year-old bust of a clergyman in the excavation of Laodicea Ancient City in the Aegean province of Denizli, excavation leader Prof. Celal Şimşek said.

  "Considering the age of the artifact, the occupation of the clergyman, and the liveliness of the depiction, this is one of the most beautiful recoveries of 2020," Şimşek noted.

  Work in the ancient city is ongoing to restore the theater, as Laodicea is a tentative UNESCO World Heritage site, Dr. Şimşek noted.

EXCHANGE RATE for the U.S. dollar in Turkish Liras: 7.86


High and Low Temperatures in Degrees F, Weather
Ankara, in central Turkey        : 54/45 Rainy
Antalya, on the Mediterranean    : 63/57 Thunderstorms
Erzurum, in Eastern Turkey       : 39/23 Mostly Cloudy
Istanbul, in northwestern Turkey : 57/54 Showers
Izmir, on the Aegean             : 61/55 Thunderstorms
Trabzon, on the Black Sea        : 64/55 Mostly Cloudy
Snow depths at skiing locations:
Erciyes in Kayseri, Central Turkey      : 4 inches
Ilgaz in Kastamonu, North Central Turkey: No snow report
Kartalkaya in Bolu, Western Turkey      : No snow report
Palandöken in Erzurum, Eastern Turkey   : 7 inches
Saklıkent in Antalya, Southern Turkey   : No snow report
Uludağ in Bursa, Western Turkey         : No snow report
Sarıkamış in Kars, Eastern Turkey       : 9 inches


Edited by Ertuğrul Korkmaz


Premier League

* Results for week: 11
Beşiktaş        -      Kasımpaşa      3 - 0
G. Birliği      -      Alanya         2 - 1
Göztepe         -      Kayseri        1 - 1
G. Saray        -      Hatay          3 - 0
Malatya         -      Başakşehir     1 - 1
Konya           -      Erzurum        2 - 0
Karagümrük      -      Rize           2 - 1
Denizli         -      Fenerbahçe     0 - 2
Antalya         -      Ankaragücü     1 - 0
Trabzon         -      Sivas          1 - 1
* In games played so far this weekend:
Kasımpaşa       -      Denizli        3 - 2
Kayseri         -      Trabzon        0 - 0
Fenerbahçe      -      Malatya        0 - 3
Rize            -      Göztepe        3 - 2
Hatay           -      Karagümrük     3 - 1
Ankaragücü      -      Konya          4 - 3
Erzurum         -      G. Birliği     -
Alanya          -      Beşiktaş       -
Başakşehir      -      G. Antep       -
Sivas           -      Karagümrük     -

* Standing in the league as of week ending 11
 1 - Alanya          23
 2 - G. Saray        23
 3 - Fenerbahçe      23
 4 - Beşiktaş        19
 5 - Göztepe         18
 6 - Karagümrük      17
 7 - Konya           15
 8 - G. Antep        15
 9 - Başakşehir      15
10 - Kasımpaşa       15
11 - Hatay           15
12 - Malatya         13
13 - Trabzon         13
14 - Antalya         13
15 - Rize            12
16 - Sivas           10
17 - Kayseri          9
18 - Erzurum          9
19 - G. Birliği       8
20 - Denizli          6
21 - Ankaragücü       2
★ In the European champions league, Paris Saint Germain and Istanbul Başakşehir abandoned a match Tuesday after players left the pitch over alleged racist slurs by a match official, the Deutsche Welle reported on December 8, 2020.

  The score was 0-0 after 14 minutes when the game stopped. Başakşehir assistant coach Pierre Webo accused the fourth official, Sebastian Coltescu of Romania, of using a racial term to describe him.

  Speaking in Romanian, the official said: "The black one over there, go and check who he is. The black one over there, it's not possible to act like that."

  Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Twitter: "I strongly condemn the racist remarks made to Pierre Webo, member of the Başakşehir technical staff, and sure that UEFA will take the necessary measures."

  Read more >> here <<

  The match took place next day. Paris Saint Germain beat the Turkish team Başakşehir 5-1

★ Turkeys men's gymnastics team got the second place in the 2020 Men's European Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Mersin, Turkey. Ukraine took the top spot.

  Several nations including Russia, Great Britain and France, which took the last European team medals in 2018, withdrew from the competition which is no longer a Tokyo 2020 qualifier. Ukraine, Turkey, Hungary, Israel, Bulgaria, Austria, Lithuania, Latvia Slovenia, Czech Republic, Finland took part in the competitions.


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