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x0x Turkish News for the week ending 26 December 2020

[This is a transcript of the news broadcast on 26 December 2020]

Courtesy of Turkish Radio Hour, producer of the

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President Erdoğan

★ According to an article on the WION website, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wanted a neo-Ottoman Empire, but he is now fighting for survival.

  Erdoğan's dreams to lead the Muslim world could end prematurely, as he is paying the price for his adventurism for picking unnecessary fights with world leaders and for waging costly wars, the article claims.

  Turkey's president's allies have been deserting him, and his party is breaking up. Erdoğan's voters are losing faith in him, and his critics have been ending up in jail in thousands, the article adds.

  In August 2018, the Justice and Development Party had almost 11 million members. In one year, the numbers dropped to less than 10 million, and now even Erdoğan couldn't ignore the defections. So, he tried to spin it. In a speech, he claimed that 95 percent of the members who left have actually died. Read more >> here <<

★ After years of acrimony, Turkish president Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that he would like better ties with Israel, the Turkish daily Duvar reported.

  "Our relations with Israel on intelligence have not ceased anyway. They are continuing," Mr. Erdoğan said on December 25, 2020.

  Mr. Erdoğan's remarks came amid reports that Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev has offered his services as an intermediary between Turkey and Israel.

  Despite strong commercial ties, The two countries have had a bitter falling out in recent years, expelling ambassadors in 2018. Turkey has repeatedly condemned Israeli occupation in the West Bank and its treatment of Palestinians. Read more >> here <<

★ According to VOA, a Turkish court in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir sentenced Leyla Güven, a former member of parliament Monday, to more than 22 years in prison on terror-related charges.

  The court also issued an arrest warrant against Leyla Güven. Güven, 55, is a former lawmaker from the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party.

  She went on a hunger strike in November 2018 while in pretrial detention. The hunger strike lasted 11 weeks, and it was for protesting the prison conditions of Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan.

  In January 2019, a Turkish court ordered her supervised release after her health seriously deteriorated.

★ According to DW, a court in Istanbul on Wednesday, December 23, 2020, sentenced Turkish journalist Can Dündar to 18 years in prison for allegedly supporting terrorism and military or political espionage.

  The court also sentenced him to an additional eight years and nine months for supporting an armed terrorist organization without being a member.

  The court tried Can Dündar in absentia since he has been in exile in Germany. Mr. Dündar is the former editor in chief of the Turkish opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet.

  Speaking with DW, Dundar said he wasn't surprised by the verdict: "They wanted to punish me because of a true story and at the same time try to intimidate other journalists in Turkey who dare touch that kind of sensitive issue."

  In related news, the German Foreign Affairs Ministry has said that Germany won't extradite Can Dündar to Turkey. "Germany doesn't extradite individuals convicted on political grounds as a principle," a statement from the ministry read. Read more >> here <<

★ Turkish government officials cannot deliver on their promised legal reforms since they do not believe in their necessity, newly-established Democracy and Progress Party leader Ali Babacan said, the daily Duvar reported.

  The government selects someone new to antagonize each week and points them as the "enemy of the week," Mr. Babacan said.

  Mr. Babacan noted that people's real enemies are poverty, unemployment, and COVID-19 pandemic. However, the ruling Justice and Development Party and its alliance partner carry out divisive rhetoric that creates societal conflict.

  The daily Duvar wrote that Mr. Erdoğan and his allies call anyone who criticized them, terrorists. For example, President Erdoğan accused the Turkish medical Association members of being terrorists at one point for disputing the official COVID-19 infection and death numbers of the Justice and Development Party administration. The numbers later revealed to be, in fact, faulty.

  Mr. Babacan used to be a member of the ruling Justice and Development Party and a one-time deputy Prime Minister under Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

★ Human Rights Watch has slammed on December 24, 2020, a bill Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party drafted for NGOs, saying it is a dangerous tool to limit freedom of association, reports the Turkish daily Duvar.

  The bill came in in response to a 2019 report by the Financial Action Task Force. The task force is an intergovernmental money-laundering and terrorism financing watchdog. However, the bill includes provisions targeting the legitimate and lawful activities of the NGOs. It also violates the right to association of the NGO members.

  "The bill introduces annual inspections of NGOs, which will severely affect their activities since the inspections frequently last months, reducing their capacity to operate. It introduces severe fines if the Interior Ministry deems online fundraising of an NGO unlawful," Human Rights Watch said.

  In related news, the Council of Europe's Commissioner for human rights Dunja Mijatović urged the Turkish Parliament on December 22, 2020, to block the draft law.

  Read more >> here <<


★ Writing in the Al-Monitor, Mustafa Sönmez said that the Turkish government's monetary expansion policies, used as a quick fix to prevent economic contractions, have resulted in very high consumer and corporate debt that poses further dilemmas for Turkey down the road.

  Over the past year, the loan volume grew 40% as Ankara facilitated access to credit in a bid to contain the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which hit atop economic turmoil since 2018. The loan bonanza did stimulate the economy, but how lasting that impact will be remains open to question — not to mention its side effects that have already forced Turkey to change course.

  In March, however, the COVID-19 pandemic reached Turkey, causing the economy to shrink by nearly 10% in the second quarter. The unemployment rate surged to 40%, according to alternative calculation methods deemed more realistic than the official one, which has turned up decreases in the jobless rate during the pandemic.

  Mustafa Sonmez is a Turkish economist and writer. He has worked as an economic commentator and editor for more than 30 years and authored some 30 books.

★ Turkey has raised its benchmark interest rates for the second time following the departure of much-criticized President Erdoğan's son-in-law and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak and the appointment of Naci Ağbal as the Governor of the Central Bank.

  Departing from the unorthodox theories of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the decision of the Central Bank to raise the main interest rate from 15 percent to 17 percent, the highest in one year, was more or less widely expected by experts. Mr. Erdoğan has been claiming that higher interest rates cause higher inflation rates, despite all economists say it is the other way around.

  According to prominent economist Mahfi Eğilmez, the Central Bank did the right thing. Mr. Eğilmez, however, warned that this decision is only a temporary solution that only gains some time to deal with the real issues at hand.

★ Turkeys president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Friday that Turkey would bring in structural reforms to break the triangle of evil made up of interest rates, inflation, and exchange rates, Reuters reported.

  Mr. Erdoğan promised a slate of judicial and economic reforms last month. The reforms proposed led to expectations that politicians, including Kurdish ones, and human rights advocates released from jail. But recent comments on court rulings and criticism by Mr. Erdoğan aimed at his government have fuelled skepticism about his pledge, Reuters added. Read more >> here <<

★ In related news, lawyer and economy expert Hakan Yazıcı says that unorthodox amendments to the laws and regulations relating to the financial sector and scientifically implausible data regarding the pandemic are deterring foreign investors.

  "It is difficult to make a meaningful assumption as to when foreign investors will again start to make strategic investments in Turkey. It is, however, less difficult to predict that foreign investors will not start investing in Turkey at levels anywhere close to that which we saw between 2005-2015 soon," Hakan Yazıcı said.

  Yazıcı cites the following as reasons while foreign investors are staying away:

  - Lack of a credible replacement for the much-respected former finance minister Mehmet Şimşek

  - Negative impact of the attempted coup in 2016

  - Doubts about the rule of law in Turkey

  - Significant and unexpected tax increases in recently privatized sectors

  - The unexpected creation of government-owned competitors to recently privatized companies

  - The introduction of legislation favoring government-owned companies

  - Pressure from the government to the private sector

  - Unchecked and unpunished corruption among the top levels of government and their immediate family members


  COVID 19 medical supplies at a Royal Air Force Base in UK as a gift of Turkey

★ The Turkish government has provided over $13.4 million in cash assistance to foreign countries during the COVID-19 pandemic period amid criticism that it has not offered sufficient support to its citizens, daily Sözcü reported on December 25, 2020.

  Turkish politicians have been boasting about Turkey being a very charitable country. "We may not be the richest country in the world in the world in the world in the world, but we are proud to be the most generous country," Parliament Speaker Mustafa Şentop recently said.


Edited by Fuad Tokad

Istanbul's Church of St. Anthony of Padua
★ The Christian community of Turkey marked Christmas Eve amid pandemic

  The community held a Christmas Eve at Church of St. Anthony of Padua on İstiklal Avenue in Istanbul on December 24, 2020. While the congregation was allowed to attend the event, the administration enforced the COVID-19 measures.

  Some congregation members took communion, the Catholic worship of eating consecrated bread and wine, which was allowed as a religious practice despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

  The Greek Orthodox Church in the Mediterranean city of Mersin held mass without an audience as part of COVID-19 restrictions.

  Meanwhile, congregation members wore masks during the mass at the St. Anthony Latin Catholic Church of Mersin, where the church administration asked them to provide the unique codes given by the Health Ministry as part of nationwide COVID-19 precautions.

  Read more >> here <<

★ A new exhibition titled Crystal Clear at the Pera Museum in Istanbul opened to visitors.

  Crystal Clarity deals with the concept of transparency evoked by the crystal image in different meanings. The exhibition brings together works of 20 artists from different geographies, focusing on the ethical and ecological issues related to the extraction of minerals that form a large economy.

  Elena Sorokina is the curator of the exhibition that said goodbye to the year 2020. The year saw the pandemic shaping the events and life, and the works displayed make references to it. Sorokina states that crystals have different properties ranging from full opacity to flawless transparency, and people use them in many fields, from art to magic, technology to healing. The curator expresses the starting point of the project: Scientists have described that crystals often "grow", even if they are not alive. Many living organisms can produce crystals. And it has been an excellent metaphor for the permeable boundaries between inorganic matter.

  The exhibition brings together artists from different countries and generations; Sammy Baloji, Minia Biabiany, Katinka Bock, Bianca Bondi, Gaëlle Choisne, Kıymet Daştan, Elmas Deniz, Sinem Gear, Gluklya (Natalia Pershina-Yakimanskaya), Deniz Gül, Ilana Halperin, Gülsün Karamustafa, Written by Khalili, Paul Maheke, Şener Özmen, Works by İz Öztat, Hale Tenger, Güneş Terkol, Berkay Tuncay and Adrien Vescovi.

  The exhibition will be open to visitors until March 7, 2021.

★ There is a toy for everyone in the magical world of the 70s created by Ogan Akıncı in tiny spaces at the Whispering Boxes exhibition at the Piramit Art Gallery, Yazgülü Aldoğan of the daily Cumhuriyet reports.

  The curator of the exhibition is the renowned Turkish painter Bedri Baykam. Bedri Baykam is not only a good but a divergent curator. He always finds artists with interesting art to exhibit at the Piramit Art Gallery located in the Tarlabaşı neighborhood of Istanbul. After Şevval Başalan exhibition titled Katarsis, Baykam has come across Ogan Akıncı, with a day job at a government institution in the Turkish capital Ankara, but in the evenings he turns into an artist. Not being content with painting only, he also creates magical worlds.

  When he was a student at TED Ankara High School, Ogan Akıncı was painting and designing toys. But the artist turned towards aviation, not art, under the guidance of his family. For many years, the art fire and the spark in Ogan Akıncı did not extinguish, but it continued to smolder and finally glowed with dozens of works! In his exhibition, there are miniaturized homes, businesses, and streets. These places are full of daily objects made with the tiniest detail in place.

  While navigating the nostalgic world of the 70s in the exhibition, one more detail draws attention: There are no people in this world except one. Could it be because we are the missing person?

  Ogan Akıncı would come back from work and shut himself up in his workshop until sunrise. He gave the name Oganaki to works he produced.

  The whispering boxes will be on until the end of January.

★ There is a new international platform for Turkish films.

  The Professional Union of Film Producers of Turkey launched The New Turkish Films website, with support from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the General Directorate of Cinema. The URL of the site is:


  The New Turkish Films website, which aims to represent all the colors and diversity of Turkish cinema, is open to all producers and directors who want to participate in the Festivals in Istanbul program.

  The program tells the Turkish filmmakers' narratives in all their incredible diversity, originality, and color via prominent film festivals and programs worldwide.

  The New Turkish Film Program supports both established and emerging directors and producers, providing information and guidance to facilitate Turkish filmmakers' access to international events, showcases, and opportunities.

Google's Aliye Berger doodle
★ Google is celebrating the 117th birthday of the engraver and painter Aliye Berger with a logo.

  The home page of Google welcomed the users with a "doodle" prepared for Aliye Berger. The doodle showed Aliye Berger in front of her paintings, and Google had a link to the pages providing information about the famous painter.

  Aliye Berger is one of the pioneers of engraving in Turkey. She was born on December 24, 1903, in Büyükada, Istanbul. Berger is the sister of Cevat Şakir Kabaağaçlı, known as the fisherman of Halicarnassus. She won the 1954 painting contest organized by Yapı Kredi Bank and made a name for herself. The artist participated in 12 solo and 48 group exhibitions throughout the world during her life. She passed away on August 9, 1974, in Büyükada.

  Berger's four works are still on display at the Istanbul Painting and Sculpture Museum and three at the Albertina Museum, Vienna, Austria. Read more >> here <<

Mayor İmamoğlu and invitees to the Yıldız Park event

★ We just celebrated Hanukkah, Narduran, and Christmas. While Istanbulites are getting ready to celebrate the New Year at their homes, at Yıldız Park, which the people left to squirrels, Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu introduced the book titled Colors of Istanbul to the public, Yazgülü Aldoğan of the daily Cumhuriyet reported.

  The book tells the stories of citizens of Turkey from different origins. The Culture Department of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality prepared it.

  Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu emphasized the different origins of his fellow citizens during the promotion of the book.

  "Even if one person remains, he is a noble representative of his identity. I especially want this to be understood. I am from Istanbul for 40 years, Mr. Levi is 500 years old! I gratefully remember all those who enriched this city with their cultural contributions. There are not only Greeks, Armenians, Jews, but also some other people: Bulgarians, Syriacs, Latins, Poles, are all neglected!" Mayor İmamoğlu said.

★ The traditional annual New Year concerts held by Şişli Municipality will be online due to the Covid-19 outbreak this year. People will be able to watch these concerts featuring Leman Sam, Vedat Sakman, Mazlum Çimen, and Dolunay Obruk from their homes.

  The concerts will be broadcast worldwide on the Şişli Municipality YouTube channel starting December 31 for four days.

EXCHANGE RATE for the U.S. dollar in Turkish Liras: 7.58


High and Low Temperatures in Degrees F, Weather
Ankara, in central Turkey        : 55/34 Mostly Sunny
Antalya, on the Mediterranean    : 66/55 Mostly Cloudy
Erzurum, in Eastern Turkey       : 27/7 Mostly Sunny
Istanbul, in northwestern Turkey : 59/52 Mostly Cloudy
Izmir, on the Aegean             : 63/54 Showers
Trabzon, on the Black Sea        : 61/46 Partly Cloudy
Snow depths at skiing locations:
Erciyes in Kayseri, Central Turkey      : 6 inches
Ilgaz in Kastamonu, North Central Turkey: No snow report
Kartalkaya in Bolu, Western Turkey      : 2 inches
Palandöken in Erzurum, Eastern Turkey   : 21 inches
Saklıkent in Antalya, Southern Turkey   : No snow report
Uludağ in Bursa, Western Turkey         : No snow report
Sarıkamış in Kars, Eastern Turkey       : 13 inches


Edited by Ertuğrul Korkmaz


Premier League

* Results for week: 14
Hatay           -      Trabzon        0 - 1
G. Saray        -      Göztepe        3 - 1
Alanya          -      Malatya        1 - 1
Fenerbahçe      -      Başakşehir     4 - 1
Kasımpaşa       -      G. Antep       0 - 4
Erzurum         -      Denizli        1 - 2
Rize            -      Antalya        2 - 1
Kayseri         -      Konya          1 - 2
Sivas           -      G. Birliği     3 - 1
Ankaragücü      -      Antalya        0 - 0
* In games played so far this weekend:
Trabzon         -      G. Saray       0 - 2
Göztepe         -      Karagümrük     1 - 1

* Standing in the league as of week ending 14
 1 - Alanya          27
 2 - G. Saray        26
 3 - Fenerbahçe      26
 4 - Beşiktaş        25
 5 - G. Antep        24
 6 - Hatay           21
 7 - Karagümrük      20
 8 - Malatya         20
 9 - Trabzon         20
10 - Konya           18
11 - Göztepe         18
12 - Rize            18
13 - Kasımpaşa       18
14 - Sivas           17
15 - Antalya         17
16 - Başakşehir      15
17 - Denizli         12
18 - G. Birliği      12
19 - Kayseri         10
20 - Ankaragücü       9
21 - Erzurum          9


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