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x0x Turkish News for the week ending 09 January 2021

[This is a transcript of the news broadcast on 09 January 2021]

Courtesy of Turkish Radio Hour, producer of the

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★ According to Deutsche Welle, hundreds of students at Istanbul's Boğaziçi University took to the streets again on Wednesday to march against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's appointment of a new university director.

  The new director has close ties with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's ruling Justice and Development Party.

  Turkish police arrested 14 protesters in the second demonstration in three days, raising the detained to 36.

  Security forces on Tuesday began arresting protesters and carrying out raids on students' homes.

  Protesters described the appointment of Melih Bulu as undemocratic, accusing Erdoğan of seeking to crack down on academic freedom.

  Head of the ultranationalist National Action Party and Erdoğan's ruling coalition partner, Devlet Bahçeli, called for a crackdown, saying the demonstrations "need to be crushed" before they grow larger.

  "Those who are trying to strangle Turkey by taking this rector's nomination as an excuse are terrorists' pawns and separatists dressed as students," he said.

  According to the Turkish daily Duvar, President Erdoğan has for the first time commented on the Boğaziçi University protests, claiming that "terrorists" have been involved in them. Erdoğan has also referred to the Republican People's Party Istanbul chair Canan Kaftancıoğlu as a "DHKP-C militant," after she threw her support behind the students.

  DHKP-C or the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front is a Marxist-Leninist underground organization known for its violent acts in Turkey. Turkey, the European Union, and the United States have banned the DHKP-C. Canan Kaftancıoğlu is not a member of this organization.

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

★ After a decade of unadulterated hostility over the past few weeks, Turkey's Islamist president Recep Erdoğan and his advisors have been waging a charm offensive on Israel, wrote Caroline Glick in Newsweek.

  In the 1990s, aside from the U.S., Turkey was Israel's closest strategic ally. The alliance between the two countries was in everything from tourism to weapons sales, from business ties to joint training exercises. During Mr. Erdoğan's rule, first as Prime Minister and then as president, things gradually shifted.

  "Fashioning himself a new Ottoman sultan on a mission to rebuild the lost Ottoman Empire, Erdoğan began warming up to the Muslim Brotherhood, and particularly to its Palestinian branch—the Hamas terror organization." Caroline Glick writes.

  Since the beginning of December, Turkey has been filling the media with reports of "secret talks" between Turkish and Israeli officials regarding the prospect of normalizing ties.

  Caroline Glick thinks that Mr. Erdoğan now thinks that normalizing ties with Israel will enrich Turkey, provide it with access to Israel's advanced military industries and undermine Israel's bargaining strategic alliance with Greece, Cyprus, and Egypt. Turkey is hoping to win points with the incoming Biden administration.

  However, Glick writes that Israel has no profound interest in helping Turkey break out of the isolation it suffers due to its aggressive behavior.

  Caroline Glick(born 1969) is an American-born Israeli conservative columnist, journalist, and author. She writes for Israel Hayom, Breitbart News, The Jerusalem Post, and Maariv. She is adjunct senior fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Security Policy, and directs the Israeli Security Project at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.

  Read more >> here <<


★ According to Natasha Turak of CNBC, Under outgoing President Donald Trump, many of the potential flashpoints between the NATO allies were smoothed over thanks to a friendly relationship between Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

  Looking ahead to a Joe Biden administration, there's a chance that some of those tensions could blow up -- but there is also the chance for reconciliation.

  According to Turak, the conflict points between the U.S. and Turkey are:

  Human rights in Turkey, which Democrats, in particular, have spoken out against;

  Turkey's purchase of Russia's S-400 missile system which angered its NATO allies and nearly triggered U.S. sanctions; and

  Its military action against America's Kurdish allies in northern Syria and support for Islamic extremist groups, which Turkey argues are not terrorists and are necessary to protect its interests in the region.

  There are also Erdoğan's aggressive moves against Greece and Cyprus over gas resources in the Eastern Mediterranean;

  Turkey's alleged role in helping Iran skirt U.S. sanctions; and

  The shared Incirlik Airbase, hosting a large number of American troops, aircraft, and some 50 of its nuclear warheads. Erdoğan has threatened to cut off if hit with U.S. sanctions.

  If the Biden administration goes too tough on Turkey, some experts say it may harm U.S. interests.

  "The U.S. would be shooting itself in the foot... if placed under stringent U.S. sanctions, Turkey would double down on its attempts to deepen its relations with Russia and Iran," Agathe Demarais, global forecasting director at the Economist Intelligence Unit said.

  Read more >> here <<

★ According to the Anatolia News Agency, during the reign of the ruling Justice and Development Party, Turkish president's communication director Fahrettin Altun claimed that freedom of press and expression in Turkey had expanded incomparably.

  However, The 2020 World Press Freedom Index lists Turkey in 154th place among 180 countries and notes that Turkey is more authoritarian than ever.

  Crackdown on the media and journalists is more than ever, most say. The justice and development party has closed 175 news outlets and jailed over 100 journalists.


★ SpaceX launched its first rocket of the year on January 7, 2021, sending a Turkish broadcasting satellite into orbit from Cape Canaveral in Florida, the daily Duvar reported.

  The satellite carried into orbit is the first of two expected to provide broadcast service and improved internet service for Turkey and the Middle East, parts of Africa, and Southern Europe.

  It will take four months for the satellite to get into its designated orbit, and its services will start in the second half of 2021, Turkey's transport infrastructure ministry announced.

  The second satellite, Turksat 5B, is scheduled for launch later this year, also aboard a SpaceX rocket.

  Read more >> here <<

★ Some 936 private schools have closed down in Turkey during the COVID-19 pandemic, Turkish Private Schools Association Chair Zafer Öztürk told the daily Sözcü.

  Analysts think the closures have cost the industry a whopping $1.36 billion in local currency.


★ The Turkish State Railways has accumulated over $2 billion in local currency in losses over the past decade due to their history of issuing tenders inefficiently, the daily Duvar reported.

  Most recently, the state issued a tender to two companies that failed to complete the same job for a 2018 tender, allocating twice the funds and twice the length to the project.

★ The European Union imposed tariffs on January 8 on hot-rolled iron and steel products from Turkey, after an ongoing investigation into dumping.

  The duties will apply for six months, by which point the investigation should have concluded.

  The duties will range from 4.8 percent to 7.6 percent and affect Turkish companies Erdemir, İşdemir, Çolakoğlu Metalurji and Borçelik Habas.

  The investigation revealed that the European Union still consumption was 4% lower in 2019 than in 2016. However, Turkish exporters increased their market share to 8.1 percent from 2.8 percent, partly due to European Union measures against other steel exporters such as China and Brazil.

  Turkey's Steel Exporters Association said Turkey exported some $3 billion of hot-rolled steel to the European Union in 2020.

  Read more >> here <<

★ The Turkish Statistical Institute announced on January 4, 2021, that the December consumer price inflation was 14.6%, higher than expected, the daily Duvar reported.

  However, non-governmental experts and the public say that real inflation is much higher than the official rate. One of the non-governmental experts is the Inflation Research Group. The group says that the actual inflation rate is almost 37 percent.

  Also, polling agency Metropoll found in December that 51.3% of those surveyed stated that their cost of living has increased over 30 percent, and 16.5% said it's between 20 to 30 %. Only 14.1% said that the cost of living increased by 14%.

  In the meantime, Turkey's Central Bank has forecasted 9.4 percent inflation by the end of 2021 and 5 percent in the medium term.

  Experts point out that to achieve these medium and long-term inflation goals in 2021, the government must stick to its promises of reform and strict monetary policies.

★ In related news, Turks woke up in 2021 to price hikes on electricity, gas, and tolls.

  The tolls will increase by an average of 25% for the country's turnpikes and bridges.


★ According to the Turkish daily Duvar, the Turkish economy is still cool since 2018 halted the strong growth streak under President Erdoğan's rule.

  Statistics showed that the Turkish foreign trade deficit was over $45 billion last year. The sharp trade imbalance, including a jump of $5 billion in November alone, approached the $55 billion deficit logged in 2018.

  Before that, steady annual growth of around 5% propelled Erdoğan to five straight election wins, the last one in 2018. But since then, the lira has halved in value against the dollar, and it was down 0.5% on Dec. 31.

★ Writing in the National Interest, Aykan Erdemir and John Lechner say that Turkey's frantic gold rush points to a financial crisis ahead.

  Here are some excerpts from the article:

  "Turkish firms and retail investors almost tripled their gold holdings to $36 billion. This is in addition to the 3,000 to 5,000 metric tons of the metal they keep at home, worth between $186 billion to $310 billion at current market prices. The rush to import gold to meet skyrocketing demand has wreaked havoc on Turkey's trade deficit, with the January-November shortfall widening to $45 billion, nearly doubling compared to last year.

  "Seasoned by prior episodes of hyperinflation, currency devaluation, and bank failures, which together destroyed fortunes overnight, Turkish citizens have developed an uncanny sense for risks ahead. In fact, the Turkish public's turn to gold may offer a better indicator of stress in the financial system than the usual macroeconomic indicators, which can predict the system's trajectory, but not exact timing.

  "For Turks, keeping gold at home is the best countermeasure to the government's unorthodox policies. But it also exacerbates the problem. Importing gold hurts Turkey's current account deficit; low savings at banks dampen lending to businesses. Yet until Turks have a financial system they can trust, conventional investments will retain their secondary status. Erdoğan's hyper-authoritarianism can dictate much, but it cannot enforce the trust."

  Aykan Erdemir is a former member of the Turkish parliament and senior director of the Turkey Program at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

  John Lechner is a former financial analyst and is now a graduate student at Georgetown University, School of Foreign Service. He writes on the politics and languages of the former Soviet Union, Turkey, and Africa.



★ Zilberman-Istanbul is presenting "Home Game", the pop-up exhibition of Manaf Halbouni, at Tomtom Gardens, reports Timeout Istanbul.

  Manaf Halbouni's artistic practice is informed by a participatory approach that spans a wide range of media often incorporating objects and materials sourced from every day. Largely motivated by his Syrian and German roots as well as his experience of currently living in Dresden, Halbouni's works stand as a critique of the global political system, migration politics, mainstream media and the constructed notions of nationality and borders with a comic touch.

  Halbouni's first solo exhibition in Istanbul will be on view through January 31st.

  Read more >> here <<


★ At the Pera Museum there are two interesting exhibitions:

  Crystal Clear: Exhibition devises methods and tools for sustainable curating, going beyond just thinking about ecology or sustainability, but rather inventing and enacting principles allowing the reduction of the carbon footprint of exhibition-making: radical limits on the shipping of objects, local collaborative production of exhibited work, creative recycling strategies, and reduced travel for all the participants.

  The exhibition is through March 7, 2021.

  Miniature in Contemporary Art: The exhibition focuses on contemporary approaches to miniature painting. It brings together 14 artists' works from different countries such as Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Azerbaijan.

  The exhibition is through January 24, 2021.

★ The Sakıp Sabancı Museum has the following exhibitions:

  Şeyh Hamdullah on the 500th Anniversary of His Death: Şeyh Hamdullah was the founder of Ottoman calligraphy and the great calligrapher of Fatih Sultan Mehmed and Bayezid II's times.

  Arts of the Book and Calligraphy Collection of the Museum includes rare works of Şeyh Hamdullah and his contemporaries. These calligraphers were on the path of Şeyh and master illuminators of the 16th century. The exhibition organized by SSM with the selected works from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts in Istanbul, Sadberk Hanım Museum and Kubbealtı Academy Culture and Art Foundation, and Ekrem Hakkı Ayverdi Collection

  Some of the works from other institutions were not present at the exhibit physically due to the pandemic conditions. These works from Topkapı Palace Museum of the Department of National Palaces, the Süleymaniye Library of the Department of Turkish Manuscripts, Istanbul University Rare Books Library, Dallas Museum of Art, and the Kestner Museum in Hannover, are presented in a digital installation. A book accompanies the exhibition.

  The exhibition will be on through March 31, 2021.


★ SALT Museum of Istanbul has some exhibitions worth visiting as well:

  THE SEQUENTIAL: An outcome of studio visits and open dialogue initiated in 2019 at the invitation of SALT, The Sequential features five independent presentations by Barış Doğrusöz, Deniz Gül, Volkan Aslan, Aykan Safoğlu, and the duo Fatma Belkıs and Onur Gökmen. The six mid-career artists included in the year-long program are united by generational ties and a shared growing up experience in the 1980s and the 1990s. The novel visual and conceptual vocabulary emerging in their practices are rooted in the recollections and joint sensibilities from the last 25 years.

  The works in the exhibition look into the notion of symbolic power. For this, they explore historiography, language, public sphere, symbolic capital, and modernization.

  The exhibition will be on from January 19, 2021, through January 31, 2022.

★ The British Council has been working in Turkey continuously since 1940, bringing international opportunities to life every day. In its 80th Anniversary, the British Council shares the stories of 80 women whose paths have crossed with the British Council in the past 80 years.

  In June 2020, the council ran a crowdsourcing campaign for six weeks and gathered over 100 stories across 15 cities spanning six decades. It then selected 80 stories to represent a wide range of ages, activities, and location.

  You can access the stories on http://www.britishcouncil.org.tr/about/80years-80women website.

EXCHANGE RATE for the U.S. dollar in Turkish Liras: 7.34


High and Low Temperatures in Degrees F, Weather
Ankara, in central Turkey        : 57/46 Showers
Antalya, on the Mediterranean    : 68/57 Showers
Erzurum, in Eastern Turkey       : 37/16 Partly Cloudy
Istanbul, in northwestern Turkey : 50/46 Showers
Izmir, on the Aegean             : 70/59 Showers
Trabzon, on the Black Sea        : 61/52 Partly Cloudy
Snow depths at skiing locations:
Erciyes in Kayseri, Central Turkey      : 6 inches
Palandöken in Erzurum, Eastern Turkey   : 15 inches
Sarıkamış in Kars, Eastern Turkey       : 13 inches


Edited by Ertuğrul Korkmaz


Premier League

* Results for week: 17
G. Antep        -      Ankaragücü     2 - 0
Konya           -      G. Saray       4 - 3
Malatya         -      Sivas          2 - 2
G. Birliği      -      Hatay          3 - 1
Denizli         -      Kayseri        0 - 1
Trabzon         -      Göztepe        1 - 0
Başakşehir      -      Erzurum        1 - 0
Beşiktaş        -      Rize           6 - 0
Antalya         -      Karagümrük     3 - 1
Fenerbahçe      -      Alanya         2 - 1
* In games played so far this weekend:
Göztepe         -      Antalya        0 - 1
G. Saray        -      G. Birliği     6 - 0
Kayseri         -      Malatya        1 - 0
Sivas           -      G. Antep       2 - 1
* Standing in the league as of week ending 17
 1 - Beşiktaş        34
 2 - Fenerbahçe      32
 3 - G. Antep        31
 4 - Alanya          30
 5 - G. Saray        30
 6 - Hatay           27
 7 - Trabzon         26
 8 - Konya           22
 9 - Karagümrük      21
10 - Malatya         21
11 - Antalya         21
12 - Rize            20
13 - Göztepe         19
14 - Sivas           19
15 - Başakşehir      19
16 - G. Birliği      19
17 - Kasımpaşa       19
18 - Ankaragücü      15
19 - Denizli         13
20 - Kayseri         13
21 - Erzurum         13


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