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x0x Turkish News for the week ending 22 May 2021

[This is a transcript of the news broadcast on 22 May 2021]

Courtesy of Turkish Radio Hour, producer of the

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★ An Istanbul court reopened the controversial Gezi Park protests trial, reports Deutsche Welle.

  Here is a summary of what more Deutsche Welle said about the trial:

  The opening came nearly eight years after the protests took place.

  The court proceedings will question 16 defendants on charges of attempting to overthrow the government. In the previous two trials, the courts already acquitted some of the defendants.

  The most prominent defendant is Osman Kavala, who is a philanthropist and businessman. He has been in prison for more than three and a half years without being convicted. A court also cleared him of charges in an earlier trial.

  The Justice and Development Party administration accused Kavala, 63, of involvement in the failed coup against President Erdoğan in 2016. It also accused him of espionage and his participation in the Gezi protests.

  At the end of the Friday session, with the Chief Justice dissenting, the rest of the judges agreed to keep Osman Kavala behind bars.

  Human rights organizations see the legal action against Kavala as an attempt to silence a defender of freedom of expression in Turkey. The European Court of Human Rights called for his immediate release in 2019, citing a lack of evidence.

  The largely peaceful Gezi protests started as opposition to the development of Gezi Park in central Istanbul in the summer of 2013.

  They turned into nationwide demonstrations against the authoritarian policies of the then-prime minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The protests resulted in brutal government suppression.

  Read more >> here <<

★ A Turkish mafia leader is saying the government is in cahoots with the criminal underworld, reports Deutsche Welle. President Erdoğan and Minister of Interior Süleyman Soylu are finding themselves in hot water, Deutsche Welle adds.

  Mafia boss Sedat Peker so far has published six videos. In the videos, he claimed that high-profile politicians from Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party are involved in serious crimes such as drug trafficking, murders, rapes, and other illicit practices.

  The clips have gone viral in Turkey and around the world, making headlines.

  Peker claims that he got a tipoff from the minister of interior and escaped abroad. He says he is currently in Dubai, which has no extradition treaty with Turkey.

  Turkish opposition lawmakers are demanding the resignation of the minister of interior and early elections.

  Polls show that Peker's claims are affecting the government's public standing. According to a public opinion poll, the Justice and Development Party approval ratings have dipped to a mere 27%, a 33% drop compared with June 2018.

  Another poll shows that president Erdoğan has lost considerable public support. His approval rating is now only 40%, putting him behind the opposition mayors of Ankara and Istanbul.

  Ankara is the capital of Turkey and the second-largest metropolitan area after Istanbul.

  Read the DW article  >> here <<   and a New York Times article  >> here <<

★ Bloomberg reporter Selcan Hacaoğlu wrote about the recent spat between Turkey and the U.S.

  The spat began by the U.S. accusing Turkey of anti-Semitism when Turkish officials started criticizing Israel and the Biden administration for its military campaign against Gaza Strip militants.

  In turn, Turkish officials accused the U.S. of attempting to divert international attention from the Israeli military campaign.

  President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's communication director Fahrettin Altun tweeted: "Enabling an apartheid regime in its repression of innocent people in occupied territories and then turning around and blaming others who call it out is the height of hypocrisy."

  Selcan Hacaoğlu adds that Mr. Erdoğan has previously compared Israel's campaign in Gaza to atrocities against Jews.

  In related news: According to the Middle East Eye, Turkey's Minister of Interior Süleyman Soylu has gradually ended all cooperation between Turkish security forces and the U.S. government since he was appointed minister in 2016. 
  Read more >> here <<

★ According to the daily Duvar, the European Parliament said on May 19 that if Turkey does not improve its rule of law and human rights record, the union should formally suspend the accession negotiations.

  Criticizing the regressive institutional reforms of Turkey, members of the European Parliament said they were alarmed by the authoritarian interpretation of the presidential system.

  They pointed to the lack of independence of the judiciary and continued hyper-centralization of power in the presidency. The parliamentarians also called on Turkish authorities to release all imprisoned human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, academics, and others in jail on unsubstantiated charges.

Bayraktar TB2
★ According to Reuters, Poland will purchase 24 armed drones from Turkey, the Polish defense minister said Saturday. With the purchase, Poland will be the first NATO member to buy Turkish-made UAVs.

  Polish defense minister Mariusz Blaszczak announced the news on state radio. He said that the Bayraktar TB2 drones would have antitank projectiles, and the Turkish firm will deliver the first one next year.

  More about the drone  >> here << and read the Reuters article >> here <<

★ In a tweet, Turkey's Directorate of Fight against Narcotic Crimes wrote that there is now a new route to Europe and Asia through Turkey for transporting cocaine from South America.

  Read more >> here <<

★ According to the Turkish daily Duvar, Turkey's Competition Authority on May 21 said that WhatsApp would not implement its data privacy update for Turkish users after the messaging platform faced an investigation in the country.

  In January, WhatsApp updated its terms of service, allowing Facebook and its subsidiaries to collect user data such as phone numbers and locations, triggering a backlash in Turkey.

  When WhatsApp announced that it would pass on user data to Facebook, many users in Turkey said that they would no longer use the app.


★ Writing in the bne IntelliNews, Akin Nazli reports that Wells Fargo is predicting an external debt crisis for Turkey.

  Wells Fargo made its predictions in a note to investors titled Which Economies Are Most Vulnerable?

  As part of its note, Wells Fargo examined 25 vulnerable economies against a set of criteria. Turkey got the worst ranking among the 25.

  The most serious challenger to Turkey's rock bottom status was essentially bankrupt Argentina. However, two better-scoring criteria saved Argentina's blushes, suggesting moderate vulnerability for external debt stock and debt service, with longer maturities on servicing its external debt when compared to Turkey.

★ Producing denim is a heavily polluting operation that also uses large amounts of water.

  According to the Sourcing Journal, Strom, a fully vertical factory and laundry in Istanbul, is focusing on sustainability, innovation, and flexibility, while using new technologies such as lasers to save on water and chemicals.

  CEO of Strom Barış İzcimen explains that one such initiative is a new patented production solution called Blue Drop. The solution uses only sustainable fibers and fabrics dyed in sustainable methods, plus sustainable wash processes. Another recent endeavor is a new brand established in partnership with Bossa named ECO3.

  The company has sales offices in London and New York.

  Read more >> here <<

★ According to the Travel Daily News, Sheraton Hotels and Resorts unveiled Sheraton Istanbul Levent. The hotel has 248 guestrooms.

  The Levent neighborhood of Istanbul, previously a formidable navy base during the Ottoman period, is now the primary financial district, where skyscrapers rise along with famous shopping malls and popular restaurants. Art and culture, gourmet dining, shopping, and entertainment venues fill the vibrant area.

  Read more >> here <<

★ According to the Turkish Statistical Institute, Turkish consumer confidence is at its lowest in two years. In May, the level is 77.3 points from 80.2 in April. In March, it was 86.7 points.


Edited by Büşra Ekmekçi and Selin Taylak

  Turkish Youth and Sports Minister Mehmet Muharrem Kasapoğlu visiting the resting place of the republic's founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk on May 19, leaving a wreath and writing in the visitor book to mark the national Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day.

★ Turks celebrated the May 19th Youth and Sports Day in Turkey and around the world. In the U.S., the Turkish Embassy in Washington D. C. also held a ceremony.

  Embassy and military officials laid a wreath on the bust of Atatürk in the garden of the embassy.

  Later the event continued inside the embassy Hall with a minute of silence in memory of the Turkish martyrs and the singing of the Turkish national anthem.

  Afterward, a screening of a video prepared by the Yunus Emre Institute on the significance of May 19th Youth and Sports Day took place.

  After short speeches, attendees watched the video messages of Furkan Korkmaz and Cedi Osman, two Turkish NBA players.

  In Istanbul, the largest metropolitan area in Turkey, 102 cyclists, including national athletes, met at the historic Sultan Ahmet square for a tour donning Turkish flags on their bicycles.

  On the Asian side of the metropolis in Kadıköy, a convoy of classic vehicles had a parade. Also, the Kadıköy Theaters Platform celebrated the Youth and Sports Day with six Zoom workshops and three Instagram and YouTube live broadcasts that started May 17.

  In Beyoğlu on the European side, young people took to the field. The plate basketball in a minute court that just opened.

  In the Turkish capital Ankara, youth and officials converged at the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the Independence War hero in the first president of Turkey. Leading the crowds was Minister of Sports Mehmet Muharrem Kasapoğlu. Along with a delegation, he later laid a wreath at the resting place of Atatürk in the mausoleum.

★ In in addition to the celebrations, the Bandırma Ferry Virtual Museum opened on the Internet. The opening of the virtual museum coincided with the 102nd anniversary of the arrival of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and his comrades in Samsun.

  Bandırma Ferry was a rickety vessel that took Mustafa Kemal from the occupied Istanbul to the Black Sea city of Samsun. They arrived in Samsun on May 19, 1919.

  The Samsun Metropolitan Municipality and Sabancı Foundation have cooperated for the project.

  In the written statement made, the municipality said it had the replica of the Bandırma Ferry made in 2001.

  The museum is at http://my.treedis.com/tour/bandirmavapuru.

★ May 18 was International Museum Day. Turkish Radio Television wrote that museums play a significant role in preserving cultural values ​​and carrying them into the future. The number of public and private museums in Turkey is increasing every year. Achievements are also taking place in having smuggled artifacts returned to Turkey. There also numerous excavation and restoration projects are taking place.

  There are 204 museums, 142 archaeological sites, and 296 private museums in Turkey.

  Between 2002 and 2020, 43 museums that made international impressions opened to visitors for the first time, 16 museums started to serve in their newly constructed buildings, and 161 museums renewed their exhibitions. Just in the last three years, six archaeological sites opened to visitors.

  Museums added to their collections an average of 40 thousand works annually. Restoration and conservation teams completed the conservation of nearly 12,000 movable cultural assets last year. Thanks to archaeological excavations, more than 6 thousand artifacts entered the museum inventory in 2020.

  The Ministry of Culture and Tourism took action to return artifacts smuggled abroad to their homeland. Between 2004 and 2020, it repatriated approximately 4500 cultural assets to the country. It brought to Turkey 413 works from Hungary alone in February 2021.

  In related news, there are now also numerous virtual Turkish museums online. 13 million visitors from around the globe visited just the ones started by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

★ According to the Turkish Radio and Television, the State Theaters of Turkey will start the new season on June 3 with open-air performances.

  The State Theaters General Manager Mustafa Kurt made a statement about the Summer Performances at the Open Air Theater at the İrfan Şahinbaş Stage Macunköy Campus in the Turkish capital Ankara.

  Kurt said, "If the epidemic decreases in a controlled manner, it will be an enjoyable season if the number of cases decreases. Last year, we provided all kinds of controls from the beginning to the end of the Open Air Summer performances."

  Emphasizing that the Truck Theater will visit all provinces and districts in the Central Anatolia Region this year, Kurt completed his words as follows:

  "Since it is the year of Yunus Emre, we will take our Yunus Emre adult play and Yunus Emre children's play on a tour with the Truck Theater. Our children will have the chance to watch plays for children from Istanbul, Izmir, Ankara, and Trabzon State Theaters. Both the Truck Theater and the Outdoor Summer Performances will begin."

★ According to the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet, renowned actor Erol Keskin passed away. He was 89. In addition to being an actor, Erol Keskin was also a director, scriptwriter, and educator. Keskin has appeared in many plays and movies.

  Erol Keskin was born in Istanbul in 1931. Keskin worked as the general artistic director of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality City Theaters.

  He won the Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival best screenplay awards in 1966 and 1967, the 20th Istanbul Film Festival in 2001, the 12th Orhan Arıburnu Awards, and the 23rd SİYAD Turkish Cinema Awards. He is also the recipient of the best male actor awards.

  In addition, he was named the most successful male actor of the year at the 8th Afife Theater Awards in 2004. In 2013, the jury deemed he was worthy of Muhsin Ertuğrul Special Award within the scope of the 17th Afife Theater Awards.

★ You Know Him, the directorial debut of Ercan Kesal, returned with the Best Debut Film award from the 49th Belgrade International Film Festival, reports the daily Cumhuriyet. The film, screened in the main competition category of the festival, had its world premiere at the Rotterdam Film Festival last year.

  Compiled by Ercan Kesal from his own life, You Know Him was adapted to the big screen from the book of the same name written by Kesal. Ercan Kesal, Selin Yeninci, İnanç Konukçu, and Muttalip Müjdeci are in the cast of the film. It explains that Kesal was a candidate for the mayor of Beyoğlu during his physician years as a hospital manager, while Nazan Kesal and Valeriu Andriuta accompany them as guests.

  The film received awards in five categories: the Best Film, Best Screenplay, and Best Director of the Film Directors Association, in the National Feature Film competition of the 27th International Adana Golden Boll Film Festival in Turkey. Lastly, the film won five more awards, especially Best Film and Best Director at the 53rd Script Writers Association Awards.

★ Clinical Psychologist Sare Uçar, once a vocalist for the renowned Turkish singer Sertab Erener, has integrated music into her therapy sessions.

  Uçar said that she achieved positive results in combining music and therapy. Uçar said, "I could not express my feelings, loves, and fears without musical notes," and said that she had very positive results in the therapies he did with children.

  Uçar said, "I sing a different song for different people. Songs are the messages of feelings that people do not dare to express. Being a clinical psychologist did not change my feelings much. On the contrary, it contributed a lot to my interpretation of people." Explaining that she will be making podcasts on Spotify at the end of her music career of 16 years, Uçar stated that she would have different contents that will make her listeners feel good and fun.


  A statue depicting Mehmet I with his edict declaring Turkish as the official language
★ According to the publication Karamandan (From Karaman), the province officials commemorated the Turkish Language Day on the anniversary of the declaration of Turkish as the official language of the area.

  The celebrations involved a visit to the mausoleum of Mehmet I of Karaman, who signed the declaration. Mehmet I ruled the area after the death of his father in 1261. A Mongolian Army executed him and his two sons in August 1277.

  On May 13, 1277, he issued the following imperial edict:

  "From now on, nobody in the palace, in the divan, at the council, and on walks will speak no language other than Turkish."


★ Archaeologists found a fourth-century monument in the excavations at the historic Haydarpaşa Railway Station site on the Asian side of Istanbul.

  The project director says they think that the monument is the oldest among more than 35,000 crates of artifacts unearthed in the excavation.

  Read more >> here <<

★ Treasure hunters have been destroying cave paintings in Turkey's Black Sea province of Zonguldak, reports the daily Cumhuriyet. The daily writes that treasure hunters have been looting the numerous caves located in a forest for years.

  Read more >> here <<

★ According to TRT, Turkish Radio and Television Corporation, Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism announced that a copy of the Göbeklitepe Stella P18 would be on exhibit at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

  Göbeklitepe is a Neolithic archaeological site near the city of Urfa in southeastern Anatolia, Turkey.

  The name Göbeklitepe translates as Hill with a Belly. It is a mound that the ancients used as a ritual site starting 11,000 years ago. It features circles of massive T-shaped stone pillars classified as the oldest known megaliths. It predates Stonehenge in Britain by 6000 years.

  Read more >> here <<

★ The excavations have been continuing around a 2400-year-old sarcophagus found in Bodrum district in southwestern Turkey on the Aegean coast. Workers discovered the artifact while digging for construction.

  Archaeologists have found 15 more undisturbed burials at the site. They think that the graves date back to the Carians.

  The Carians said they were Anatolian mainlanders intensely engaged in seafaring and were like the Mysians and the Lydians. They spoke an Anatolian language. They built the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Halicarnassus was the name of Bodrum in antiquity.

★ Izmir High Technology Institute will be restoring a Roman-era bath located in the Urla district of the province, reports TRT. The locals know the structure as Cleopatra's Bath.

  Archaeologists say that the bath goes back to the early Roman period.


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