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x0x Turkish News for the week ending 31 July 2021

[This is a transcript of the news broadcast on 31 July 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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★ Over 70 major forest fires have started in Turkey's Marmara, Aegean, and Mediterranean regions. According to scientists, lack of moisture due to drought and global warming is causing fires.

  However, there are also rumors that arsonists are in action. Some claim that developers are starting the fires to have the government rezone the forest areas for residential or commercial construction.

  In related news, the inadequate resources of the Turkish government to fight forest fires came to the forefront, both among the people and politicians.

  Turkish President Mr. Tayyip Erdoğan has addressed the ongoing efforts to extinguish to force fires and admitted that the country has not even a single firefighting plane in its inventory, reports the Turkish daily Duvar.

  Reporting from the scene of a forest fire in the Mersin province, Main opposition Republican People's Party parliamentarian Alpay Antmen said that Mr. Erdoğan has 13 planes for his personal use. However, no firefighting plane was available in Mersin.

  The Turkish government has leased three airplanes from other countries recently, but critics find the number inadequate. The Turkish Aeronautical Association used to contribute its planes for firefighting. However, critics point out that the Erdoğan administration has sidelined the association in recent years. It laid off many of its pilots and cut the funds.

  In a tweet, journalist Murat Ağırel pointed out that nearby much smaller Greece has 20 firefighting airplanes, France has 26, Spain 17, Italy 19, and Turkey has only three rented ones.

★ According to the daily Duvar, the United States on July 28 imposed sanctions on a Syrian armed group that killed a Kurdish politician amid Turkey's 2019 military operation into the war-ravaged country.

  The Treasury Department said it was blocking any assets and banning any U. S. transactions with Ahrar Al-Sharqiya. The Treasury said that the armed group has also committed multiple crimes against civilians in Syria.

  In a separate statement, the Treasury said it had imposed sanctions on Hasan al-Shaban, an alleged Al-Qaeda fund-raiser based in Turkey, and Farrukh Furkatovitch Fayzimatov from Tajikistan, accused of funding the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham alliance.

  Beyond blocking their assets and barring U.S. persons from dealing with them, these sanctions threaten non-U.S. persons with losing access to the U.S. market if they deal with the two.


  Meral Akşener addressing people in Bitlis

★ Turkey hosts over 5 million Syrian refugees. According to the Turkish daily BirGün, the refugees are concerned about the increase in hate speech targeting them. The daily based its reports on interviews with Syrians living in the Turkish capital Ankara.

  Residents of Önder Neighborhood, occupied by Syrian refugees, have expressed fear that they will be victims of racist attacks.

  Some refugees also said that employers discriminate against them at work.

  In related news, Turkey's Junior opposition Good Party leader Ms. Meral Akşener criticized the Austrian Prime Minister Sebastian Kurtz for saying that Turkey is a more suitable place for Afghan refugees than Germany, Austria, or Sweden.

  "This impertinent Austrian prime minister said, 'Let all refugees, Afghans stay in Turkey, and let us give money.' I tell the Austrian prime minister, let us give you 3 billion euros, and you take in all [refugees] we have," Akşener said on July 27, as she visited shopkeepers in the eastern province of Bitlis.

  In an interview with German daily BILD on July 25, the Austrian minister warned that the European Union would be seeing a higher number of Afghan refugees heading to Europe.

  Thousands of Afghans have been reported to cross into eastern Turkey from Iran in recent days, after a rise in violence in their own country as the United States and its NATO allies withdraw and Taliban fighters seize territory.

  In related news, Turkish Minister of Interior Süleyman Soylu addressed the rising anti-refugee sentiment in Turkey, saying Pakistanis and Afghans sent money to Turkey during the Turkish War Independence when the nation was going through a difficult time.

  Soylu said that it was through this money that Turkey established its first national bank İşbank.

★ Speaking of Austria, it has rejected a formal request by Turkey to join one of the European Union's flagship defense and security policies, known as PESCO, the Permanent Structured Cooperation Framework, Arab News reported on July 28.

  In its decision, Austria pointed to deteriorating democratic values in Turkey and relations with the European Union, according to the report.

  PESCO covers 46 joint defense projects in partnership with 24 European Union member states.

  Marc Pierini, a former European Union ambassador to Turkey and now an analyst at Carnegie Europe told Arab News:

  "Austria's position may be expressed in stark terms, but it probably reflects the overall European Union stand on the matter of Turkey's participation in PESCO."

  Analysts say rising tensions between Turkey and European Union member countries Greece and Cyprus also pose obstacles to Turkey's participation in PESCO.


Afghan special forces officers and soldiers at a graduation ceremony at the
Military Academy in Kabul on May 31

★ NATO has flown Afghan soldiers to the Turkish capital Ankara for training as part of a program. It comes shortly after the end of the organization's mission in Afghanistan, Deutsche Welle reported.

  It will be the first time that NATO is holding a training program outside Afghanistan.

  In related news: Although Turkey announced its intentions to protect the Kabul airport in Afghanistan, the Turkish Defense Ministry said on July 29 that Turkish troops would not take part in any combat operations there except for self-defense purposes.

★ Violence against women journalists in Turkey has sharply increased by nearly 160 percent this year compared to the cases recorded last year, the Coalition For Women In Journalism (CFWIJ) said on July 28.

  "We demand an end to the systematic police violence that deliberately targets journalists in Turkey. In a country that claims to respect and protect democracy and the free press, journalists must be able to do their job without feeling threatened," it said.

  Since the beginning of 2021, the CFWIJ recorded at least 44 women journalists subjected to police violence in Turkey.

  "Three women journalists' had their houses raided and detained for their journalistic activities. At least 13 female reporters were detained while following events in the field. Many of them were exposed to verbal harassment by the police at the same time as those cases," it said.

  Speaking of journalists, the German government has warned Turkey's exiled media of an apparent hit list, Ezel Sahinkaya of the VOA reported.

  Experts say Turkish nationalist groups with links to violent crimes operate in Germany and elsewhere in Europe, and the Turkish government may use them to get at its critics.

★ Voice of America correspondent Dorian Jones also penned an article about the legislation we covered last week.

  The new legislation will be putting controls on the foreign funding of social media in Turkey. Many Turkish news portals have been launched on social media in recent years, offering independent journalism, and the government wants to silence them.

  This month, Fahrettin Altun, the head of the Turkish President's Directorate of Communications, accused foreign-funded media organizations of acting as a fifth column in Turkey, undermining the government, he claimed, at the bidding of foreign powers.

  The Paris-based group Reporters Without Borders ranked Turkey 143 out of 180 countries in media freedoms this year.

  Atilla Yeşilada, a political analyst for Global Source Partners, said:

  "The main motivation is Erdoğan's approval ratings dropping as we speak. Erdoğan understands one of the main pillars of his long reign is that he can control the news flow to the public. But social media, YouTube, and these alternative media have become the number one news source. And he is getting desperate; we have another COVID wave - I think it has started - and the economy is in a miserable condition."

★ Turkey's budget posted a $3 billion deficit in June, about 30 percent of the government revenue.

  Main opposition People's Republican Party Istanbul Deputy Erdoğan Toprak told the daily Duvar that government saving measures are only lip services.

  He said that the discretionary expenditures of the presidency alone increase fourfold to $55 million in local currency in June.

★ According to Bianet, Veli Ağbaba, the vice-chair of the opposition People's Republican Party, told nearly 50,000 shopkeepers went back up in the first six months of 2021 in Turkey.

  The bankruptcies were around 3900 in May but increased by 95% and reached nearly 7600 in June.

  The number of companies that closed down in May was 556, whereas it marked an increase of 116 percent in June, reaching 1,226, Ağbaba said.

★ According to the "Real Rates of Return on Financial Investment Instruments-June 2021" released by the Turkish Statistical Institute, those who invested in Turkish Lira investment instruments suffered heavy losses in the first half of this year.

  While the Turkish government advocated exchanging gold and foreign currency savings to Turkish liras, foreign currency investments provided the best returns to savers.

  Euro investors had the highest earnings against the effects of inflation in the one year compared to June of last year. The lira and stocks in Borsa Istanbul, securities investors, on the other hand, were the biggest losers.

  President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has constantly urged citizens to invest in the lira and keep their savings in liras rather than foreign currencies. Furthermore, the president claims that foreigners have attacked the Turkish economy with exchange rates for the past eight years.


Edited by Büşra Ekmekçi, Deniz  Cakmakci, and Selin Taylak


★ The 18th International Gümüşlük Music Festival, managed by Nisan Ak, met with classical music lovers after one year off due to the pandemic.

  The concert brought together pianist Gülsin Onay and the Ancyra Ensemble, consisting of 15 female artists from different orchestras. The repertoire included two works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and by Edward Elgar.

  The first part of the concert took place in a historical 2500-year-old quarry.

  After the concert, the musicians received a standing ovation and returned three times for encores.

  The encores included music by Beethoven, Mozart, and Chopin.

  The main sponsor of the festival is Bosporus Tourism. Dutch embassy and Istanbul consulate, Izmir branch of the Institut Français, Liba Laboratories, Aktur Public Company, Barbaros Yachting, Sistem Public Company, and Bodrum Municipality also contributed.

  The festival will continue until September 6, 2021, with more concerts and exhibitions.


★ İş Sanat is bringing its new project titled Tragedy in Teos to its audience in the summer term.

  İş Sanat is the art and culture organization of Turkey's İşbank.

  Elektra is the first trilogy in which parts of Sophocles' Electra, Euripides' Medea, and Andromache tragedies are on stage.

  Filming of the tragedies took place in the parliament building of the ancient city of Teos. İş bank has been contributing to the excavations there since 2018.

  Teos is where artists established a union for the first time in history in the 3rd century BC. Poets, actors, and musicians were members of the Dionysus Artists Union.

  The poets Anacreon, Antimachus, Epicurus, Nausiphanes, Apellikon, and the historian Hekataios are among the significant philosophers and artists of the ancient era who lived in Teos.

  Actors Gizem Erdem, Güliz Gençoğlu, Elif Ürse Erenkuş and İpek Türktan Kaynak took part in the plays under the direction of Mehmet Ergen. The films are available online free of charge on İş Sanat's YouTube channel and website.


★ The open-air sculpture park Loft Art Sculptville, organized in cooperation with Bodrum Loft - Sevil Dolmacı Art Gallery, opened with an event hosted by Akfen Holding Chairman of the Board Hamdi Akın in Turkey's southwestern Bodrum district on the Aegean Sea.

  Loft Art Sculptville exhibition features 21 different installations, sculptures, and neon works by 11 Turkish and international artists. Here are two of the works in the exhibition:

  Ant installations titled "House Taken" by Colombian artist Rafael Gomezbarros containing social messages and made with alternative materials are on view for the first time in Turkey.

  One of the three works by South Korean sculptor Seo Yang Deok's Meditation series is also in Loft Art Scuptville. The other two are in Mayfair Sculpture Trail, London and Capri, Italy.

  You can visit the Loft Art Sculptville exhibition until the end of September.


★ Applications for the 2021 Short Film Competition have started. The Sabancı Foundation has been organizing the competition since 2016 to draw attention to social problems through art.

  The slogan of the Sabancı Foundation Short Film Competition is "The Subject is Long, Film is Short." The theme is "New Professions in the New World."

  Sabancı Foundation General Manager Nevgül Bilsel Safkan said, "The pandemic, whose effects we have felt for a long time in all aspects of our lives, has also seriously affected our work life. It has increased the digitalization rate in the world far above predictions, making almost every age group more familiar with the digital world. "

  Pointing out that the research shows that 47 percent of the existing professions will disappear in the next 25 years, Safkan said, "With the pandemic, we may have experienced a rehearsal of the rapid digitalization expected to take place in the coming years. In the future, there will be significant changes in some professions with artificial intelligence and mechanization.

  "We can only address the concerns that may arise in individuals due to the lack of digital skills through the education system. We, as Sabancı Foundation, have determined the theme of our Short Film Competition this year as "New Professions in the New World" to understand the changing new world.

  "We invite young filmmakers to bring to the silver screen the changing professions and the opportunities and challenges that the new working order may bring in the upcoming period. With the transformative power of art and the creative perspective of the directors, we want to bring up the changing professions of the new world and its effects on our lives."

  The application deadline for the Short Film Competition is November 19, 2021


Mustafa Eser, Deputy General Manager of Corporate Sales at Türk Telekom

★ There is a new project to upgrade the Internet infrastructure for Turkey's Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Turkish telecommunications company Türk Telecom is leading the project dubbed the Hittite Culture and Tourism project. The work will continue until the end of Dec 2024.

  With the project, all applications used in all the ministry departments will reside on a single system. The ministry headquarters, state theaters, manuscript libraries, museums, and provincial and district directorates will have high-speed Internet with fiberoptic networks.

  Türk Telekom will provide an uninterrupted and secure Internet connection between units and digitize 1085 libraries in 81 provinces of Turkey.

  Türk Telekom will then offer free Wi-fi service in libraries and even at mobile libraries throughout Turkey.


Ilknur Şanal

★ There is a commune for artists in Turkey's central Anatolian province of Konya named Eternal Gratitude Village. The artists live in houses made the traditional way from adobe.

  Two events are taking place in the village:

  The Voice of Eternity Art House opened an exhibition with the same name.

  Ilknur Şanal, the owner of the Millennium Art Gallery, is a resident of the village. She recently turned her house into an art gallery as well and opened her first exhibition there.

  The exhibition features works of village artists Emrah Ateşli, Hülya Avunduk, Kamer Batıoğlu, Sevgi Erdaha, Hicran Fırat, Vedat Berk Fırat, Meltem Gikas, İbrahim Göksungur, Serap Gümüşoğlu, Meral Aran Kayısı, Merve Şahin, İlknur Şanal, and Fatoş Yalçınkaya.

  The exhibition will be on through August 22.

  See a PDF document that describes the village:

  Read more >> here <<


★ Another cultural asset from Turkey has become a World Heritage Site. Arslantepe mound entered the UNESCO World Heritage List with the decision taken at the 44th World Heritage Committee meeting. The committee had included the site in the tentative list in 2014.

  Tens of thousands of people visit the mound dating back to 5000 BC. Archaeologists have uncovered numerous artifacts in excavations at the site so far.

  Historians think that aristocracy was born in Arslantepe mound.


★ Director Derviş Zaim and Turkish Radio and Television Corporation co-production "Flash Drive" returned with an award from an Arizona festival.

  The film participated in the 27th International Sedona Film Festival. It won the "Best International Film" award in the "Directors' Choice" category.

  The festival, held in Arizona, is among the prestigious film festivals in the world.

  "Flash Drive" was shot in the southeastern Anatolian city of Gaziantep and central Anatolian city Konya in 2019.

  The plot of the movie is as follows:

  Ahmet, who lost his ability to speak after an attack in Syria, changes his life when he records what he sees. The young man wants the whole world to see what he has. He has to decide between his family and his ideals.

  "Flash memory" will be in movie theaters in 2022 after completing the festival tours.

  Read more >> here <<


★ The ballet "Pandemic," prepared by transforming the coronavirus epidemic process into an artistic structure and dedicated to healthcare workers, will meet the audience with its world premiere to be broadcast live.

  The ballet features digital effects and specially designed images. The decor and costume design is by Çağda Çitkaya, and the lighting design is by Mustafa Eski.

  The world premiere of the ballet will be at Istanbul's Haşim İşcan Cultural Center on August 1. It will also be broadcast live on the YouTube channel of the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism to all art lovers in Turkey and around the world.


★ Ata Ice Museum is located within the Faculty of Fine Arts of Atatürk University in Turkey's North Eastern city of Erzurum. It is welcoming visitors with new works of art for children on July 15 with a special show.

  An exhibition themed "Maan Child" opened at the Ata Ice Museum, held for the fifth anniversary of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization July 15 treacherous coup attempt.

  The special exhibit displays sculptures such as winged horses, sheep, rams, and turtles. The faculty members of the Atatürk University School of Sculptor have made the sculptures.


★ The office of the governor of Turkey's Black Sea province of Trabzon defiled the birth home of Ottoman Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent by installing an electronic roll-up garage door incoherent with the ancient structure, the daily Sözcü reported on July 29.

  Located in the Ortahisar district of the province, the home is where Süleyman was born on April 27, 1495, and his residence until age 15.

  Ali Baki, Honorary Chair of the Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent Foundation, said that the door was disrespecting the history, urging its immediate removal.

  Baki also said that the foundation was not aware of the installation of the door.

  Meanwhile, eyewitnesses said the garage door had been present for about 18 months and put in to prevent squatters from occupying the structure.


★ Turkish social media users on July 27 slammed Turkey's Tourism and Culture Ministry over a promotional video which created an unrealistic image of how residents in Istanbul live. Istanbulites expressed their wish to live in the city depicted in the video, reports the daily Duvar.

  The video showcased nightlife, entertainment venues, and alcoholic beverages, all of which the ruling Justice and Development Party government has been openly attacking in recent years.

  "What is this, a parallel universe without the Justice and Development Party?" wrote renowned Turkish musician Gaye Su Akyol.

EXCHANGE RATE for the U.S. dollar in Turkish Liras: 8.44


Edited by Ertuğrul Korkmaz

  Turkey has sent 108 athletes in 18 branches of sports to the Olympics.

  Here are the latest results:

★ In tae kwon do, Hakan Reçber received a bronze medal in the men's 68 kg category.

  Hatice Kübra İlgün received a bronze medal also in the women's 57 kg category

★ Mete Gazoz received gold in the individual archery category.

★ Busenaz Surmeneli in semi finals in women boxing and Buse Naz Çakıroğlu is in the quarterfinals. Esra Yıldız is also fighting to get in metal.

  Bayram Malkan also rose to the quarterfinals in men's boxing.

★ In volleyball, the Turkish women's team is waiting to have a game with Russia. It defeated China in the first game. Then the Italian and US teams defeated the Turkish team. The Turkish team defeated the Argentinian team on Saturday.


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