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x0x Turkish News for the week ending 20 March 2021

[This is a transcript of the news broadcast on 20 March 2021]

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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★ According to Reuters, on March 20, 2021, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pulled Turkey out of Istanbul Convention. The Istanbul Convention is an international accord designed to protect women. European countries signed the convention in 2011 in Istanbul.

  His decree on the issue came despite calls from campaigners, who see the pact as key to combating rising domestic violence.

  Mr. Erdoğan's decree did not cite any reasons. However, Islamists in Turkey, who make a significant portion of Erdoğan's electoral base, have been advocating withdrawal from the convention.

  Family, Labor, and Social Policies Minister Ms. Zehra Zümrüt tweeted that the current laws and regulations protect women's rights.


  Lighting the Nevruz bonfire
★ It is the spring holiday, Nevruz. Many parts of the world, including Turkey and Central Asia, along with Iran, celebrate this holiday.

  Ethnic Kurds in Turkey claim the holiday to be their own, but Turks say that they have also celebrated it for centuries.

  According to the Turkish daily Duvar, Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu from the main opposition Republican Peoples Party has called pro-Kurdish Peoples Democratic Party co-chair Pervin Buldan on the occasion.

  According to a statement released by the Peoples Democratic Party, Mr. İmamoğlu told Buldan that the closure case launched against her party and expulsion of a party member from the parliament go against democracy.

  The United States and Europe criticized the move to open a court case, saying it undermined democracy.

  Mr. Erdoğan and his coalition partner, the extreme-right Nationalist Action Party, are alleging that the Peoples Democratic Party is the front for the rebel Kurdistan Workers Party. The United States, the European Union, and Turkey consider the Kurdistan Workers Party to be a terrorist organization.

  Mr. İmamoğlu also reportedly said that the two sides would continue to lay the cornerstones of democracy together.

  In related news, Turkish police early on March 19 staged simultaneous raids in Istanbul and Ankara as the government's crackdown on the Peoples Democratic Party intensified.

  Among those detained were the party co-chairs of Istanbul's Beşiktaş and Kağıthane districts and Öztürk Türkdoğan, the co-chairman of Human Rights Association.

  Read more >> here <<

★ Also in the news: Abdullah Gül has criticized Turkish authorities for attempting to close the Peoples' Democratic Party and stripping its parliamentarian Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu of his parliamentary status.

  Mr. Gül said that he finds these moves very wrong and it will bring Turkey damage.

  Mr. Gül was a founding member of the ruling Justice and Development Party and the president before Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He resigned from the Justice and Development Party last year and established his party.


  Serap Şimşek Yavuz
★ Istanbul has entered the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Prof. Serap Şimşek Yavuz, a member of the Health Ministry's Science Committee, the daily Duvar reported.

  The positive results among the tests conducted in Istanbul have already exceeded 10%, Yavuz noted. She also said that the search hasn't even peaked yet.

  Dr. Yavuz attributed the increase in COVID-19 infections to the easing of measures against the pandemic on March 1 by the central government.

  Patients who were vaccinated have been experiencing a significantly lower death rate, but there's still a majority in Istanbul who hasn't received the treatment, Yavuz said.

  Nationwide, around 9% of Turkey's population received the first shot of the Chinese-made coronavirus vaccine. Approximately 4% received a second dose.

  The data from the Ministry of Health shows that on March 18, there were over 20,000 cases. This is the highest daily level this year. The total number of government-reported deaths so far in Turkey is approaching 30,000. However, independent experts claim that the actual number is higher and accuse the government of deliberately underreporting.

  In related news, President Erdoğan said that his administration is not considering new measures against the pandemic despite the increase in the number of cases.

★ If authorities do not take precautions, Turkey can turn into a hub where COVID-19 mutant viruses spread if precautions, warned Prof. Dr. Mehmet Ceyhan. Dr. Ceyhan is the head of the Infectious Diseases Association.

  The inadequate control of travelers from abroad, non-restriction of intercity travels, relative slow vaccine rollout, use of ineffective viral medicine, and lifting of measures are some of the factors that contribute to the spread of the mutant viruses, Dr. Ceyhan said.



★ German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on March 19 awarded scientists Özlem Türeci and Uğur Şahin with the country's Order of Merit for contributing to the "containment of the coronavirus pandemic."

  "Many people wanted to attribute your invention to a nationality, but a vaccine does not have a nationality. It is neither German nor Turkish, it is also not American," Deutsche Welle's Turkish service cited the German president as saying.

  BioNTech, which developed the world's first effective COVID-19 vaccine together with its American partner Pfizer, was founded in 2008 by married scientists Türeci and Şahin, both the children of Turkish immigrants.


  Naci Ağbal
★ Turkeys president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has sacked Naci Ağbal on March 20, 2021, as the head of the Central Bank two days after an unexpected increase in interest rates to 19% from 17%.

  He appointed Şahap Kavcıoğlu to the post. Mr. Kavcıoğlu is a former ruling Justice and Development Party deputy and a columnist at the Islamist pro-government daily Yeni Şafak.

  Last year, Mr. Erdoğan appointed Naci Ağbal as Turkey's top banker after weeks of declines in the lira. Mr. Ağbal raised the benchmark one-week repo rate by a cumulative 875 basis points afterward, boosting the central bank's damaged credibility among investors. Erdoğan backs an unconventional theory that high-interest rates cause inflation. He has for years frequently chastised the central bank when he thought it was setting borrowing costs too high.


  Ali Babacan
★ The ruling Justice and Development Party created so much financial liability that even the Central Bank is in debt, Democracy and Progress Party leader and former deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan said.

  The Central Bank owes banks, markets, and other countries a total of $140 billion in foreign currency and swap lines, Babacan noted

  Mr. Babacan was formerly with the ruling justice and development party and a close ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

★ According to a study by the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects, the Turkish government is ignoring the poor to protect big enterprises and energy companies.

  Nearly 20 percent of Turkish households have no electricity as utility costs have skyrocketed in recent years. With the lack of substantive government support, opposition lawmakers from metropolitan municipalities try to help residents with their utility bills.

  For some families, monthly utility bills equal one-quarter of their income.

  According to the main opposition People's Republican Party lawmakers, more than 3 million subscribers had their services terminated due to unpaid bills. Government officials and President Erdoğan promised that utility companies would not shut off services during these difficult times, but this seems not to be the case.



★ There are two new museums in Istanbul, Cem Erciyes of the daily Duvar reports.

  One of them is the National Palaces Painting Museum in Dolmabahçe. The building of the museum served as the palace of the Crown Prince during the Ottoman era.

  Later it became the Mimar Sinan Fine Art University Art and Sculpture Museum and served in that capacity for 70 years.

  Finally, Turkey's Directorate of National Palaces took over this building to exhibit its collection, and they opened it as a museum in January 2021.

  The paintings fill up 36 halls of the museum. All ethnicities of the Ottoman Empire are among the painters. There were also a significant number of foreign painters who visited the Ottoman Empire and painted there. The museum exhibits some of their paintings, also.

  The last resident of the palace was the last Caliph of the Ottoman Dynasty, Abdülmecid II. He was also an artist. His paintings, painting tools, and a replica of his workshop are also on display.

  The second new museum in Istanbul is dedicated to the movies. The old Atlas Movie Theater in the Beyoğlu district of Istanbul is the host to the new Istanbul Film Museum.

  In addition to functioning as a museum, the film industry will use the venue to premiere new movies.

  The Ministry of Culture now owns the museum building. Before turning it into a museum, the ministry has conducted a meticulous restoration, preserving the original decorations.

  The wax figures of two legendary comedy actors of Turkish movies, Adile Naşit and Kemal Sunal, greet the visitors at the museum entrance.

★ Speaking of movies, the Istanbul Film Festival will take place for the 40th time between April 1st and June 29th this year. Belkıs Özener, Çetin İnanç, Salih Güney and Suna Selen will receive the Festival awards.

  Gülin Üstün this year is The manager of the festival program dubbed Meetings on the Bridge. For the 16th time, the program will bring together producers, directors, screenwriters, and national film professionals.

  The consulates of the United States and the Netherlands in Istanbul will be supporting a series of events dubbed The Meetings on the Bridge.

  Gülin Üstün will be giving the public information on the workshop on creating strong female characters in films and serialized dramas.

  Selman Hoşgör, who lives in London, designed this year's festival posters. The interesting posters feature Agnes Varda and Cüneyt Arkın, Alfred Hitchcock and Türkan Şoray and Claire Denis and Şener Şen, where Hoşgör mounted the local actors on the faces of foreign directors.

  The special retrospective section of the Istanbul Film Festival is devoted to Alfred Hitchcock this year. The Festival will be showing the 15 color films of the genius filmmaker in movie theaters in June. Due to the pandemic, last year the Festival did not screen these films.

★ Another film Festival will be taking place soon. The 17th Akbank Short Film Festival will start on March 22 online due to the pandemic.

  A total of 2048 short films from 71 countries applied to the festival.

  This year, categories will be


  Ninety short and three feature-length movies from 37 countries, some movies from world festivals, and some new ones will premier at the festival.


★ Turkish poet Erdal Alova received the PEN Poetry Award for his original poetry, translations, language, and editorial skills. PEN gives the award annually as part of the March 21 World Poetry Day.

  The statement of the PEN Writers Association is as follows:

  "We present the PEN Poetry Award to Erdal Alova with love, respect, and gratitude for his poetry that reflects the multi-dimensional adventure of humanity from ancient times to the future."

★ Coffee has gained more respect in recent years in Turkey. Turks have been traditionally tea drinkers.

  Turkish filmmaker Okan Bayülgen has a new documentary on coffee titled "In the Blink of an Eye." It is a comprehensive film, almost like a love letter.

  One can summarize the film with "The story of a man lost in the dizzying world of coffee and coffee smells…" Bayülgen bases the film on a scenario that deals with almost every aspect of coffee.

  In other words, there is a side that associates coffee with our five senses. Afterward, it looks into different aspects such as the history of coffee, drinking and cooking habits, and its place in social life.

  According to what Salah Birsel reports in his Coffee Book that renowned 17th-century Ottoman scholar Katip Çelebi said, "It increases the pleasure of the connoisseur of joy, it adds life to life."

  Birsel writes that merchants first brought the coffee to Turkey by ship in 1543, during the reign of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.

  No matter where you look, it means that people have been drinking coffee in this land for about 500 years.

  This 75-minute movie will awaken your desire to drink coffee more than once. The 'love letter written on coffee' is a documentary that will make you saturated with coffee without boring you, especially with its dynamic fiction with a fantastic atmosphere and dramatic attractions.

  Okan Bayülgen's movie is available on YouTube.


★ After releasing many songs last year, Turkish singer Efza introduced her single "Gene" and its clip.

  "Gene" is the story of existence and the song of all humanity. She questions the genetic transmission of the division of humans under the adjectives of good or bad.

  In the song, electronic sounds are together with live instruments. The lyric-music, arrangement, and mix are Efza's. Pieter Snapper has performed the mastering, and Meltem Şentürk has directed the music video.

EXCHANGE RATE for the U.S. dollar in Turkish Liras: 7.22


High and Low Temperatures in Degrees F, Weather
Ankara, in central Turkey        : 55/41 Light Rain
Antalya, on the Mediterranean    : 68/54 Partly Cloudy
Erzurum, in Eastern Turkey       : 43/25 Snow
Istanbul, in northwestern Turkey : 48/43 Thunderstorms
Izmir, on the Aegean             : 72/50 Showers
Trabzon, on the Black Sea        : 46/45 Showers
Snow depths at skiing locations:
Erciyes in Kayseri, Central Turkey      : 45 inches
Ilgaz in Kastamonu, North Central Turkey: 25 inches
Kartalkaya in Bolu, Western Turkey      : 60 inches
Palandöken in Erzurum, Eastern Turkey   : 53 inches
Saklıkent in Antalya, Southern Turkey   : No snow report
Uludağ in Bursa, Western Turkey         : 57 inches
Sarıkamış in Kars, Eastern Turkey       : 42 inches


Edited by Ertuğrul Korkmaz


Premier League

* Results for week: 28
Başakşehir      -      Beşiktaş       2 - 3
Kayseri         -      G. Saray       0 - 3
Alanya          -      Antalya        4 - 0
Rize            -      Hatay          1 - 0
Sivas           -      Karagümrük     1 - 0
Fenerbahçe      -      G. Birliği     1 - 2
Ankaragücü      -      Göztepe        3 - 0
G. Antep        -      Denizli        2 - 0
Erzurum         -      Trabzon        0 - 0
Kasımpaşa       -      Konya          1 - 1
* In games played so far this weekend:
Karagümrük      -      Kayseri        3 - 0
G. Saray        -      Rize           3 - 4
G. Birliği      -      Kasımpaşa      2 - 1
Göztepe         -      Sivas          3 - 5
Trabzon         -      Ankaragücü     4 - 1
Malatya         -      G. Antep       2 - 2
Antalya         -      Erzurum        -
Denizli         -      Başakşehir     -
Beşiktaş        -      Fenerbahçe     -
Konya           -      Alanya         -

* Standing in the league as of week ending 28
 1 - Beşiktaş        63
 2 - G. Saray        61
 3 - Fenerbahçe      58
 4 - Trabzon         55
 5 - Alanya          49
 6 - G. Antep        47
 7 - Hatay           46
 8 - Karagümrük      44
 9 - Sivas           40
10 - Göztepe         39
11 - Antalya         36
12 - Rize            34
13 - Konya           33
14 - Malatya         32
15 - Kasımpaşa       31
16 - Kayseri         31
17 - Ankaragücü      29
18 - Başakşehir      29
19 - Erzurum         27
20 - G. Birliği      27
21 - Denizli         24


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