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x0x Turkish News for the week ending 17 April 2021

[This is a transcript of the news broadcast on 17 April 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 The Times reporter Hannah Lucinda Smith, the Turkish government has banned Ramadan gatherings due to a significant increase in COVID-19 infections.

  Ramadan, the holy month of Islam, started on May 13.

  In related news, leading scientist Dr. Ihsan Gürsel of the prestigious Bilkent University in the Turkish capital Ankara says that the recent surge in infections suggests a new variant specific to Turkey.

  The total death toll from the pandemic stands at over 35,000 in Turkey. Independent experts claim that the numbers are actually much higher and that the government is underreporting deliberately.

  New cases reported on Saturday were over 60,000, one of the highest in the world when normalized per 1 million people.

★ Starting April 15, Turkish Airlines suspended flight services to Russia until June 1, mirroring a decision by Moscow. Russia announced earlier that it would restrict flights to Turkey due to the coronavirus infections rise to an all-time high there.

  Due to flight restrictions, the minister of culture and tourism and the tourism sector representatives say Turkey will get up to 500,000 fewer tourists.

★ According to Reuters, The foreign affairs ministers of Turkey and Greece clashed openly on April 15 at a joint news conference in the Turkish capital Ankara that began with hopes of improved relations but quickly descended into acrimonious accusations from both sides.

  The two sides met to ease the tensions over territorial disputes and oil and gas exploration rights in the eastern Mediterranean.

  The press conference turned sour when the Greek foreign affairs minister said violations of Greek sovereignty would result in sanctions. His Turkish counterpart rejected his comments as unacceptable.

  Both Greece and Turkey are members of NATO.

★ Central Bank of Turkey decided to hold the benchmark interest rate unchanged during its April 15 meeting. According to the daily Duvar, the main opposition Republican peoples party said this proves that president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan fired the previous governor Naci Ağbal in March for ordering a review into the costly policy undertaken during the tenure of Berat Albayrak. Some claimed that the president let him go for an interest rate hike.

  Berat Albayrak is the son-in-law of the president. He served as the finance minister between July 10, 2018 - November 10, 2020. During his term, the central bank coffers got reduced by $128 billion in operations to defend the Turkish lira against major currencies.

  The opposition parties say that the ruling Justice and Development Party Administration is no longer able to manage Turkey and its policies, further impoverishing the country.

  Speaking of Albayraks, a Turkish court banned access to stories about the older brother Serhat Albayrak of Berat Albayrak and sister-in-law following their applications, the daily Evrensel reported on April 16. Among numerous news articles banned included a column written by Dr. Hafize Şule Albayrak. Dr. Hafize Şule Albayrak is the wife of the older brother. The article Dr. Hafize Şule Albayrak wrote was titled

  "On similarities between secular missionaries and ISIS preachers."

★ According to the Turkish Statistical Institute, the number of unemployed in Turkey increased by 250,000 to 4.23 million in February. The struggling service industry still employs the majority of the labor force.

  The unemployment rate is now 14.1% without seasonal adjustments.

★ The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on April 13 ruled that Turkey violated prominent novelist Ahmet Altan's several rights, including his right to liberty and security.

  The court, however, found by six to one votes no violation of rights concerning Article 18 of the European Convention of Human Rights. Article 18 is about a limitation on the use of restrictions of rights.

  In his dissenting opinion, Lithuanian judge Egidius Kūris referred to the Bob Dylan song Blowin' in the Wind.

  Kūris shared in his dissent the following lyrics from the song: "How many times can a man turn his head and pretend that he just doesn't see?"

★ After getting Turkey out of the Istanbul Convention for protecting women against violence, Islamists in Turkey are now demanding that the government annul Law No 6284. The law is for Protecting Families and Preventing Violence Against Women. The Islamists claim that the women are using the law to "slander men" and "push away their husbands from home."

  The Islamists are using Twitter to promote their claim. The hashtag "6284KanunIptalEdilmeli" (The Law No 6284 needs canceling) was trending No. 2 in Turkey late on April 11 as part of this mass movement.

  Turkey adopted law number 6284 after it signed the Istanbul convention in 2002.


Edited by Büşra Ekmekçi and Selin Taylak


★ Largest medieval ship collection in the world is located in Istanbul, TRT reports.

  Archaeologists found, what we may call, a ship cemetery belonging to the Byzantine period 16 years ago, during the excavations of the Yenikapı section of the Marmaray commuter railway project. They removed 37 shipwrecks from the area. Istanbul University received the responsibility for the conservation of the 34 wrecks. The shipwrecks have been shedding light on the history of the region.

  Researchers at the Istanbul University have been examining and documenting the parts one by one, then photographing them and transferring them to digital media. Researchers replace the liquid in water-saturated wood with chemical materials and wait, then begin the freeze-drying process.

  The first freeze-dryer used in conservation science in Turkey is also here. After the researchers completely dry out a shipwreck with this equipent, the ship is ready for exhibit in a museum.

  So far, the conservation team has completed work on 3 of the 34 shipwrecks found in the lab. Documentation and conservation work on others is ongoing.

  "We can say that these studies can offer unique information to world archaeology, Istanbul archaeology, and provide information that can change the history of Istanbul.'' Associate Professor of Archaeology Dr. Namık Kılıç said.


★ The ancient city of Troy is one of the most famous ancient cities in the world. Troy is located in unique geography and bears the traces of all civilizations. Now, mounted troops are protecting the city, TRT reports.

  Director of the Troy Museum Ridvan Gölcük said:

  "The figure of the horse has several important aspects in Troy. For example, the people of Troy were good horse riders and good horse breeders. We know that from the legends. And there is the story of a wooden Trojan horse."

  According to mythology, the people of Troy, never defeated in a 10-year-long war, lost the city by the wooden horse trick of the Achaeans. The giant wooden horse has been the symbol of Troy ever since.

  For the first time in Turkey, mounted rural police teams are working in an ancient city. The general command of the rural police, at the request of the Troy Museum, created a mounted rural police troop in the region.


★ The visitor capacity of Harem in Topkapı Palace will increase to three times, TRT reports.

  The construction of Topkapi Palace dates back to the second half of the 1400s. Harem refers to the domestic spaces of the palace that hosted the women.

  The restorers came to the final stage in the restoration of the structures. They removed concrete patches, thought to be from previous restoration work in the 1940s. Instead of concrete, they applied original brick joint techniques, completing the restoration of the walls, tiles, and paintings.

  Harem Hospital in the palace will be open to visitors for the first time also. The Ottomans made use of this hospital in the cholera epidemics. It is located at the farthest point of Harem to protect the rest of the palace people from an epidemic. The hospital has a pharmacy, a room for patients, a kitchen, a bath, a woodshed, and a laundry.

  The storehouses and the Kadın Efendi sections will also be open to visitors.

  Kadın Efendi sections, 17th-century structures, contain the best examples of Ottoman tiles.

  The head of the National Palace Administration said that they are also planning to use modern technologies such as animation and virtual reality to enhance the experience of the museum visitors.


★ The renovated giant carpet of Yıldız Chalet is waiting to take its place in the historical hall of the palace complex.

  The carpet is the biggest monolithic weaving in Turkey and dates back to the reign of Sultan Abdulhamit II in Hereke, Turkey. It measures just over 5000 sq. ft.

  A team of 10 restorers had initially undertaken the restoration of the carpet. Then this number dropped to 6. After completing the work, the restoration team said the restoration increased the carpet life by 50-60 years, and they were happy to transfer this carpet on to future generations.

  The giant carpet will continue to be displayed in the Yıldız Chalet ceremony hall in Yıldız Palace after restoration.


★ Turkeys Ministry of Culture and Tourism revealed that two of the 500-year-old 223 Iznik tiles stolen from the Grand Mosque in Turkey's southern Mediterranean city of Adana 19 years ago were in the catalog of Sotheby's Auction in the U. K., TRT reports. The Ministry contacted the British police and halted the sale.

  As we reported to you two weeks ago, the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality bought several pages of manuscripts at the Sotheby's Art of the Islamic world and India auction. There was also a portrait of the Ottoman Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent for sale.

  The operation started with experts from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism examining the catalog and noticing the two tiles. Then they looked at the size of the tiles. The dimensions turned out to be almost the same as the stolen tiles reported to Interpol years ago.

  The Turkish embassy in London contacted British police. Using what the Turkish experts have gathered, the embassy said the artifacts were stolen from Turkey, presenting documents, photographs, and scientific reports.

  The Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs continue to work repatriating the artifacts to Turkey through Interpol. If Sotheby's auction house does not return the work, Turkey will resort to legal means, the ministry officials say.


★ In related news, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism has brought 2,712 cultural assets abroad back to Turkey in the past ten years, TRT reports.

  According to the Ministry, a team monitors all auctions around the world.

  The Ministry said they brought a group of 413 pieces of artifacts from Hungary to Turkey in March 2021. Also, numerous Turkish historical artifacts found in the United States will be returned to Turkey by an agreement for the restitution of artifacts that Turkey recently signed with the United States.

  According to the Ministry, an agreement with the European countries on the return of cultural assets currently does not exist. However, Turkey continues to cooperate with all countries that are parties to the already valid UNESCO Convention of 1970 and can ensure the return of artifacts by improving bilateral relations, the statement adds.


★ One more news from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. According to TRT, the officials have submitted three traditional heritage art of Turkey to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage lists.

  These are:    Also, the ministry revised the files on the candidate list elements of:    The ministry had submitted these to UNESCO in 2020, but UNESCO could not evaluate them due to quotas. This year it reported them to UNESCO again.

  UNESCO has listed 20 cultural assets of Turkey so far. Turkey is among the top five countries that have registered the most number of elements on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage lists.


★ Landscape workers have discovered an important archaeological find in their underground research at Topkapi Palace. Archaeologists estimate that the gallery, which belongs to the Roman period and consists of 3 parts, was a cistern built underground to accumulate rainwater.

  Topkapı Palace and its surroundings are home to many Roman period monasteries, churches, cisterns, and similar works. The gallery, which archaeologists believe belongs to the Roman period, consists of three parts. They estimate that the gallery is a cistern built underground to accumulate rainwater.

  These finds are in areas in the lower parts that are not yet open to visitors.


When I'm done dying, the second feature film written and directed by Turkish director Nisan Dağ, received the Best Foreign Film award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in the U.S.

  When I'm done dying tells the story of young rapper Fehmi, who lives in a poor Istanbul neighborhood, on his way to his musical dreams and his battle with Bonzai addiction.

★ Many online events are taking place in the coming weeks in Turkey. Among them are:

  On April 15, Çankaya municipality in the greater Ankara metropolitan area organized a piano recital for World Art Day. Pianist Gülce Sevgen performed works by Sevgen, Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, and Fazıl Say.

  On April 23, the National Sovereignty and Children's Day, the Yorglass Peace Children's Symphony Orchestra will perform, among others, the 10th Year March, and Eine Kleine Nachtmusik by Mozart. The concert will be broadcast through Zoom and YouTube simultaneously. The orchestra gives underprivileged children the opportunity to learn music.

  The Zorlu PSM will continue broadcasting free concerts throughout April through its digital platform.

  On Saturday, April 17, jazz musician Selen Beytekin will have a concert.

  Aysun and Ali Kocatepe will have a concert on April 28 titled Spring Songs.

  Ayhan Sicimoğlu and Latin All-Star Orchestra will have a concert on April 30.

  Go to online.zorlupsm.com to watch any of these concerts.


★ The daily Cumhuriyet reports that Yapı Kredi Bomontiada has a new mixed exhibition titled To Hold On To. 13 artists from Turkey and abroad will display their works from different times until May 8.

  The artists will intersect their contacts with the outside world with that of to themselves.


[Saat 14:30 and 15:30 'da iki kez okuyun]

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