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x0x Turkish News for the week ending 29 May 2021

[This is a transcript of the news broadcast on 29 May 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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★ One of the friction points between Turkey and its NATO allies in the past few years has been Turkey's purchase of Russian-made missiles.

  The NATO countries led by the U.S. claim that Russia can use the S-400 missiles to spy on a fighter jet that they are jointly producing.

  The U.S. removed Turkey from the joint fighter jet program because of the purchase. Additional sanctions banned all U.S. export licenses to the Turkish Defense Industries and put an asset freeze and visa restrictions on its president Ismail Demir and other top officers.

  However, behind the scenes, the two countries have been trying to solve the crisis. There may be one in the offing: U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said in an interview with CNN Turk that the U.S. has presented an alternative to Turkey, reports the Middle East Eye.

  Wendy Sherman was visiting Turkey.

  However, a Turkish official told Middle East Eye that Sherman had not brought forward any new proposals.

  Sherman also said that the U.S. is also concerned about the trajectory of democracy and human rights in Turkey. She said it was very saddening to see Turkey withdraw from the Istanbul Convention on violence against women. She met with civil society and business leaders while in the Turkish capital Ankara.

★ One other source of friction between the U.S. and Turkey is the U.S. support of a Kurdish militia in Syria. Turkey claims that the Syrian Kurdish militia that fights against the Islamic State insurgents is an extension of the Turkish rebel Kurdistan Workers Party.

  In the latest defense budget disclosed this week, President Biden is reducing the support to the Syrian Kurds from $710 million to $522 million.

★ Writing in the Foreign Policy, Jonathan Gorevett reports that Greece is making a comeback in the eastern Mediterranean after sensing the tide is turning against Turkey.

  For this, Greece is reviving itself as a diplomatic force. Greek officials are visiting Eastern Mediterranean countries, including Egypt and Israel, to strengthen Greek ties with them.

  Heightened tensions with Turkey on a range of different issues made last year "a wake-up call for Greek diplomacy," said Dimitrios Triantaphyllou, director of the Center for International and European Studies at Kadir Has University in Istanbul. "On both the diplomatic and security fronts, Greece realized it was time for a major strategic rethink."

★ The ruling Justice and Development Party administration's fight with the opposition is continuing.

  One of the targets of the administration is the popular Istanbul mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu. In the 2019 local elections, Mr. İmamoğlu wrested the mayoralty from the Justice and Development Party. The Justice and Development and other parties from the Islamic camp had ruled the largest metropolitan area Istanbul, the largest metropolitan area in Turkey, for decades.

  Prosecutors indicted Mr. İmamoğlu on May 28 for insulting the members of the Turkish election board.

  The election board annulled the initial victory of Mr. İmamoğlu in 2019. He won in the second round with a landslide.

  İmamoğlu reportedly said during a November 4, 2019 press meeting that the cancellation affected the international standing of Turkey and the officials who took the decision were foolish.

  He is facing four years and one month in prison for the allegations.

  Recent opinion polls suggest the popularity of Mayor İmamoğlu has overtaken President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, as the president battles the global COVID-19 pandemic and economic challenges ahead of presidential elections scheduled for 2023.

  In related news, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has filed a lawsuit against the opposition Republican People's Party Istanbul chair Canan Kaftancıoğlu over her description of him as "the person occupying the Presidential post." He seeking a penalty of about $60,000 in the local currency.

  Ms. Kaftancıoğlu had used the remarks in January after president Erdoğan targeted her as a DHKP-C-militant for throwing support behind student and academic protests at the Boğaziçi University.

  The outlawed DHKP-C is an extreme-left group that has committed numerous murders in Turkey. Journalists say that Ms. Kaftancıoğlu is not a member of this group.

  Election observers credit Kaftancıoğlu as the person behind the municipal election victory of the Republican People's party in Istanbul in 2019.


★ Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on May 29, that the government would lay the first stone for the inauguration of the works for the controversial Kanal Istanbul project at the end of June, the daily Duvar reports.

  The Kanal Istanbul project will connect the Black Sea north of Istanbul to the Marmara Sea to the south and cost approximately $9.2 billion. However, analysts say that it may cost as much as twice the amount.

  From environmentalists to economists, there has been significant criticism of the project. Also, public opinion surveys indicate that most Turks oppose it is as extravagant spending when there is a deep economic crisis. Analysts say that contrary to what the Erdoğan government is claiming, the canal will not be profitable since the passage of ships through the natural waterway Bosporus a few miles away is free.

★ The Turkish Petroleum Refineries Corporation ranked as the largest company in Turkey once again in 2020, data from the Istanbul Trade Chamber revealed. It grossed a total of $8.4 billion in production and sales in 2020.

★ World-renowned economist Daron Acemoğlu has highlighted the importance of monetary-policy independence, saying the Turkish Central Bank should not be at the mercy of instructions received from the prime minister or president.

  Acemoğlu also expressed his concern that the current economic crisis in Turkey could deepen.

  The renowned economist, currently a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), made the remarks during an interview with the Turkish online newspaper T24 journalist Murat Sabuncu on May 26.

  Speaking of the central bank, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan replaced the fourth policymaker of the central bank in the last two months, naming a respected labor market economist to its ranks as the country strains to get back to work after the pandemic.

  Four of the seven members of the monetary policy committee have been ousted since March 20 when Erdoğan replaced Naci Ağbal, a market-friendly governor, with new chief Şahap Kavcıoğlu.

★ More than 4,000 foreigners purchased homes in Turkey in April 2021, according to the data released by the Turkish Statistical Institute.

  This is a 400% increase compared to last year.

  The purchasers were primarily from Iran, Iraq, Russia, and Afghanistan,

★ The Turkish Association of Victimized Bankrupt Business Owners has grown more than double in size since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. It now risks bankruptcy itself as its resources fall short of the demand for aid, chairman Tuncer Yıldız said.

  The association helps bankrupt business owners.

★ Despite encouraging figures for the first quarter of the year, the Turkish automotive industry fears another currency shock. The global semiconductor chip shortage, weak lira, and pandemic uncertainties have cast a shadow over those signs of recovery reported by the Heavy Commercial Vehicles Association and Automotive Industry Association.


Edited by Büşra Ekmekçi and Selin Taylak


★ The oldest known painting of Alevi philosopher Haji Bektash Veli will be auctioned off on June 8 in the Netherlands. Mehmet Tütüncü, head of the Netherlands-based Research Center for the Turkish and Arab World, had purchased the 1651 painting in an auction in 2020.

  Haji Bektash Veli is the great Turkish philosopher of the 13th century, the practitioner of Hoca Ahmed Yesevi's doctrines in Anatolia, and the eponym of Bektashism, a religious order of Alevism. The base of his philosophy lies in humanity, human rights, and social equality.

  UNESCO proclaimed 2021 the year Haji Bektash Veli.

★ Netflix will open a film studio in Turkey and expand its presence in the country with local offices, according to a press release issued May 27.

  Netflix did not disclose the locations of the offices yet.

  Multiple Netflix Turkey productions quickly entered the list top 10 most viewed shows on the platform, which Netflix representatives noted increased interest in the country.


★ NASA shared an aerial photo of Istanbul at night on May 26. The social media account of NASA announced the photo with the caption "You're glowing!"


★ The State Theaters Sabancı International Adana Theater Festival has started. At the festival, 18 plays will meet with the audience for one month.

Trees Die Standing was the opening play for the festival.

Nine state, seven private, and one city theater from many provinces of Turkey are participating in the festival.


★ Turkey's Eastern city of Ağrı hosted the National Photo Safari Competition. The 45 photographers from different provinces of Turkey, including famous names, photographed the historical and cultural sites of the city.

The photographers visited the outskirts of Ishak Pasha Palace, Diyadin Murat Canyon, Kudret Bridge, and Mount Ararat. They also visited the village of Telçeker in Doğubayazıt district, where explorers allegedly found traces of Noah's Ark.

Another trip for the photographers was to the region known as the Meteor Pit, a 180-foot deep depression on the Turkish-Iranian border, and then to Lake Balık.

A jury will evaluate the photographs taken by the 45 contestants participating in the 3-day event and announce the awards soon.

★ Turkey's Ministry of Culture and Tourism announced that it would create warehouse museums at Istanbul Airport on the European side of Istanbul and Maltepe on the Asian side.

In addition to the fact that the expansion of the collection is a welcome development, warehouse museums will help alleviate the problem of preserving the artifacts in the existing warehouses.

The official announcement said that the decision to move the artifacts would achieve:


★ The 15th East-West Friendship and Peace Rally set off from Belgium and arrived in Istanbul. The Turkey stage of the rally started with a ceremony held in Istanbul's iconic Sultanahmet Square. Turkey is the longest stage of the rally covering more than 20 provinces.

This year's theme is, gastronomy, started the Istanbul-Ankara stage with Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Faruk Kaymakcı.

"Our aim is for people to get to know Anatolia, its people, and its cuisine. The East-West rally also pioneered the Silk Road rally. Next year, we will hold two rallies together, from the Danube to the Orkhon Monuments in Mongolia."

After the start signal, with their beautiful and colorful vehicles, the Friendship and Peace Rally drivers turned their direction to Anatolia.

One of the rally drivers attending from the German capital Berlin, said, "This is my 8th participation. It is a great contribution to tourism in Turkey. Participation is low due to the pandemic. I hope we continue on our way with 200 vehicles and 700 people next year."

Turkey is the longest stage of the rally, with more than 20 provinces. In the Turkey stage of the rally, approximately 30 vehicles participated. The competitors followed the Ankara-Cappadocia-Adana-Antalya route after Istanbul.

The event ended on May 29 in Turkey's southwestern district of Dalyan, Muğla.

★ 15. Contemporary Istanbul will take place June 1-6 with the participation of contemporary art galleries in Turkey.

The VIP Preview of the fair will take place on June 1-2, and the General Visitor program will be on June 3-6 at the Rumeli Halls of the Lütfi Kırdar Congress Center.

Contemporary Istanbul Foundation, Akbank Art, Baksı Museum, Borusan Contemporary, Odun Pazarı Modern Museum, and Otonom Art Events will also participate in this edition of Contemporary Istanbul.

At the fair, where visitors will be taken to the hall following the epidemic measures and after the necessary measures. Artist Day events will be held on June 1 with the participation of contemporary art performances, solo exhibitions, and artists whose works are exhibited by galleries.

The following galleries are participating: Anna Laudel, Art On Istanbul, Art Refinery, Artopol Art Gallery, Bozlu Art Project, C24 Gallery, CEP Gallery, De Artium, Dirimart, Fair Art Gallery, Gallery 77, Gallery Binyıl, Galeri Diani, Gallery MCRD, Gallery /Miz, Gallery Nev Istanbul, Gallery Siyah Beyaz, Gama Gallery, Öktem Aykut, Pi Artworks, Piramid Art, Sanatorium, Sevil Dolmacı Art Gallery, Vision Art Platform, x-ist, Zilberman Gallery.



★ According to Reuters, 45 mph winds and heavy rain ripped through Ayvalık on May 21, 2021. The storm damaged at least 20 boats.

  Also, water overflowing to the shoreline inundated several vehicles.

  Ayvalık is a port town on the Aegean coast of Turkey. http://www.voanews.com/episode/stormy-weather-wreaks-havoc-turkish-coastal-town-4694776


Edited by Ertuğrul Korkmaz

★ Basketball: in the Euroleague, Anadolu Efes of Turkey beat its Russian rival CSKA on Saturday and rose to the finals. The score was 89-86.

  - In the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships taking place in Baku, Azerbaijan, Turkish gymnast Ayşe Begüm Onbaşı received a gold Medal.

  - Junior World Weightlifting Championships are taking place in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

  So far in the competitions, Turkish weightlifters received two gold, three silver, and one bronze medal. They are leading the medal count as a team.

  In the men's 67 kg category, Muhammed Furkan Özbek received a gold medal.

  Dilara Uçan received a gold medal in the women's 81 kg category only in snatch.

  In the 45 kg women's category, Cansu Bektaş received a gold medal.

  - The European Karate Championships are taking place in Croatia. In the adult men Team Kata competition, the Turkish team beat Spain and received a gold medal.

  So far, Turks have received six gold, two silver, and one bronze medal and are leading in the medal count.

  - Kyiv, Ukraine International Artistic gymnastics championships, Mert Efe Kılıçer of Turkey received a gold medal in horizontal bars.

  Ahmet Burak Ekici in youth won a silver medal.

  - In the European Paralympic Championships, Sümeyye Boyacı of Turkey got a bronze medal in the 200m freestyle swimming.

  Sümeyye Boyacı does not have any arms.

  Read more >> here <<


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