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x0x Turkish News for the week ending 07 August 2021

[This is a transcript of the news broadcast on 07 August 2021]

Courtesy of Turkish Radio Hour, producer of the

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★ Aykan Erdemir and Sude Akgündoğdu write in The National Interest that Turkish president Mr. Tayyip Erdoğan has escalated his campaign to disenfranchise six million pro-Kurdish voters and push 40,000 pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party members out of the democratic channels.

  They argue that this will hammer the final nail in the coffin of Turkey's struggling democracy.

  They explain that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is caught in a steep economic downturn and souring ties with the United States. There is even a Turkish mob boss-turned-whistleblower on the loose, threatening to expose the links of Erdoğan's inner circle to the mafia and illicit financial transactions. Recent polls show voter support for Erdoğan's ruling Justice and Development Party dwindling to as little as 27 percent, an all-time low since the party's rise to power in 2002

  In the 2015 elections, the Peoples' Democratic Party votes prevented Erdoğan's party from getting the majority in the parliament. Then in the 2019 local elections, the Peoples' Democratic Party supported the other opposition candidates instead of fielding their candidates, enabling Erdoğan's party to lose grip of the long-held mayoralties in many of the largest metropolitan areas.

  The disruption of Mr. Erdoğan's attempt to consolidate power by the People's Democratic Party put it in the bull's eye, the authors add.

  Recently, Turkey's Constitutional Court on June 21 accepted an indictment aiming to shutter the People's Democratic Party, which remains the second-largest opposition party in the country.

  Aykan Erdemir is a former member of the Turkish parliament and senior director of the Turkey Program at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

  Sude Akgündoğdu, a student at Williams College, is an intern at the Turkey Program of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

★ According to the VOA correspondent Dorian Jones, fires are raging in Turkey, and people are angry over grounded firefighting aircraft.

  Turkey is seeing one of its worst wildfires in decades, with at least nine people killed as of Wednesday. The Turkish government is coming under growing criticism because its fleet of firefighting planes is out of action.

  Tourists and locals use buckets to fill a tank on a pickup truck with seawater to douse a nearby advancing fire. Lemis Seper, a volunteer, said it is a desperate struggle, especially in parts unreachable by land.

  President Erdoğan said that there were 208 wildfires since July 28. He claimed that firefighters extinguished all but 12 fires.

  Turkey's fleet of about 12 firefighting planes is unfit to fly. The aircraft belongs to the Turkish Aeronautical Association set up by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who founded the Turkish secular state nearly a century ago.

  Critics accuse Turkey's Islamist rooted government of deliberately running down the association, a charge the leadership denies.

  A professor who wrote a book on religious affairs in Turkey says that the Islamist base of the ruling Justice and Development Party was hostile to the association because the regulations made people give the hides of sheep killed during the Muslim Festival of Sacrifice to it.

  Turkish president Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan claims that there are nearly 50 helicopters adequate for firefighting. There were also firefighting airplanes from Russia, Iran, Ukraine, and Azerbaijan. Two planes from Spain also arrived recently.

  However, the Justice and Development Party government has apparently not yet accepted the help offers from Israel and Greece.

  Another article by the VOA writes that the wildfires will scorch the recovery in Turkey's hobbled tourism sector. Most fires are in Turkey's most popular destinations. Associated Press reported on July 31 that Turkish Coast Guard units evacuated tourists from hotels and the Aegean resort of Bodrum because of approaching wildfires.

★ In related news, Turkish organizations in the U.S. are sending aid to Turkey for the forest fires. Turkish Philanthropy Funds has raised nearly $100,000 in just six days and is working with the Disaster Platform in Turkey. The funds will provide food, fuel, clean water, medicine, and shelter to individuals and animals. As needs emerge, Turkish Philanthropy Funds say that it will support longer-term recovery efforts run by local, vetted partner organizations in the impacted areas.

  The American-Turkish Society also donated $10,000 to the Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion for reforestation efforts. The members of the society are matching the donation amount.

  Turkish Philanthropy Funds is a U.S. community foundation for high-impact social investments dedicated to Turkish and Turkish-American communities.

  Founded in 1949, The American-Turkish Society has a mission to enhance business, economic, and cultural ties between Turkey and the United States.


★ The priority of the ruling Justice and Development Party administration has been to have the Turkish youth get their education at Cleric and Preacher schools. The party officials said that the government is aiming to raise a pious generation. The mission of the schools is to raise staff for the mosques.

  The religious base of the Justice and Development Party liked this initially. However, new data shows that 47% of the alumni from the middle schools of cleric and preacher schools preferred not to continue to the high school levels of these schools, according to a report by the Turkish daily Birgün on July 27.

  Seven percent of Cleric and Preacher school middle school graduates listed Anatolian high schools as their first choice, nine percent science schools, 16 percent vocational high schools, and eight social science schools.

  A study last year found that Cleric and Preacher school high school graduates fail in the college entrance exams, with only 16% of them scoring well enough to enter a bachelor's program.

★ The Turkish Statistical Institute released the July inflation figures. The inflation rate increased to 18.95% from the previous 17.53%. The annualized inflation rate has had its highest level in 18 years.

  The highest increase was in food and nonalcoholic beverages with almost 25%. Transportation increased by 24.6%.

  However, independent experts say that the Turkish Statistical Institute data is not convincing. A team of economists who calculate the inflation rate independent of the government claim that it is as high as 35%.

★ A recent Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development report found that Turkey is in the top three among the 25 member countries in job loss due to the COVID-19 related disruptions.

  The research revealed that three out of four young people in Turkey are concerned about the economy, while 65 percent of youth said they had a job loss at their household during the pandemic.

  Moreover, in Turkey, 30 percent of young people said they suffered mental health problems as a result of the pandemic. The report also noted that during the pandemic in Turkey and the OECD, the mental health of young women deteriorated significantly more than that of men.

★ The Export-Import Bank of the United States last week signed off on a pair of guarantees worth a combined total of more than US$830mn backing the export of Boeing aircraft to Turkish Airlines in Istanbul.

  U.S. Exim will provide 85% cover to the two separate loans, expected to support over 4,000 jobs at the Boeing manufacturing facilities in Washington State and South Carolina, as well as other suppliers across the country.


Edited by Büşra Ekmekçi, Deniz Çakmakçı, and Selin Taylak


★ Preparations continue for the 2021 concerts of the Turkish Youth Philharmonic Orchestra. The Sabancı Foundation has led to the establishment of the orchestra and has been the main supporter.

  The orchestra will give five concerts, three in Istanbul and one each in Bursa, and Ayvalık between August 5 and 10 under the direction of Conductor Cem Mansur.

  Rossini's Silken Ladder, Ravel's "Le Tombeau de Couperin - Pavane for a Dead Princess", and Mendelssohn's "Italian Symphony" are in the repertoire of the Turkish Youth Philharmonic Orchestra this year.


★ Istanbul's ENKA ART aims to pave the way for young talents in classical music on national and international platforms.

  ENKA will host the performances of eight young artists this year within the scope of the project ENKA stage. The project artistic director is renowned Turkish violinist and music professor Cihat Aşkın. The YouTube channel for the ENKA Art is hosting the performances of the talents.

  This year is young talents are: Ali Aras Özcan, cello; Arya Su Gülenç, piano; Beren Gürcüoğlu, piano; Buğra Çankır, piano; Çetin Özen, vibraphone and trumpet; Damla Ece Karataş, piano; Doruk Deniz Aksu, violin; Duru Önhon, violin.


★ The dance performance "Obticeo," broadcast on Akbank Sanat YouTube channel, consists of interactive digital performance with three parts: Chaos, Journey, and Obticeo (I am silent).

  Akbank Sanat is an art center founded by the Turkish bank Akbank in 1993. The art center is located in Beyoğlu, İstanbul, and organizes over 700 events every year.

  The first stage of the performance includes musicians, a dancer, productive visuals, and a sound system with interactive sensors. The dancer presents the crowd of noise in minds as an impromptu performance.

  In the second part, the dancer experiences that the sounds of chaos begin to subside with the removal of the electrode from the body and that she can silence the voices in her head.

  In the last part, the dancer, all electrodes removed from her body, improvises a serene performance.

  The performance concept is explained as follows:

  "Are there times when you want to silence the inner voice that prevents you from being in the moment? Do you find yourself looking for ways to clean up the mess created by this sound? Other people's thoughts about you, your self-examinations, your judgments. Now, as you read this sentence, put all your thoughts aside for a moment and focus on enjoying what you are about to see."


★ Istanbul's Baba Sahne's production of "I'm Don Quixote" brought Don Quixote to the stage with an unusual interpretation.

  In the play, Ozan Güven gave life to the crazy nobleman Don Quixote, and Günay Karacaoğlu to the crazier gunman Sancho Panza.

  Spanish writer Cervantes' immortal work "Don Quixote" hit the road once again, based on Russian writer Mihail Bulgakov's adaptation that captures the period. The director of the performance was Emrah Eren.

  The two-act "I Am Don Quixote" is on the stage at Kadıköy Municipality Selamiçeşme Freedom Park Amphitheater on Friday, August 6, 2021.


★ In 2020 and 2021, the proportion of movie theater audiences worldwide has decreased by about 50 percent.

  Turkey is one of the countries where the crisis hit the sector hardest. The public is worried that many movie theaters will close if the pandemic continues into the fall.

  In Turkey, on July 2, movie theaters began accepting viewers again. But they did not receive the expected attendance. According to box office data, audience numbers are down 71 percent in 2020, while revenue is down about 70 percent.

  In the 7 months of 2021, the first three-day attendance compared to the previous year, the number of viewers fell by 91 percent and the total revenue by 88 percent.

  As of July 2, when the COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, there was an almost 11 percent increase in viewers. But these movie theater operators say that is not enough.


★ For the opening of the season, Turkey's West Central metropolis of Eskisehir's City Theatres and Symphony Orchestra prepared a play called "Cybele," adapted from Güngör Dilmen's work "Me Anatolia." The play tells about women living in Anatolia from the early ages to the present.

  For the first time, the play was staged at the Yazilikaya-Rock with an Inscription- Open-Air Temple. The Phrygians built the Temple of Midas 6000 years ago, in the Han district of Eskisehir. The temple is on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List.

  The orchestra transformed the temple and its surroundings into a theater stage with special lighting, a first in Turkey.


★ The workshops are continuing this year at the House with Cartoons in the Karaburun district of Turkey.

  Under the leadership of the renowned Turkish cartoonist Kamil Masaracı, the House with Cartoons was founded in 2008 and became the first of its kind in Turkey.

  Instructor Ali Karayel is chaining the aspiring young cartoonists in groups of five under the pandemic conditions.

  Karaburun Mayor İlkay Girgin Erdoğan said that the House with Cartoons aims to provide children with the opportunity to both have fun and develop themselves. The House with Cartoons workshops are during the summer and they are free.

  Stating that cartoon is basically a critical art and that it can often be equivalent to pages of text, Erdoğan said that they care about children's acquaintance with the expressive power of humor at a young age.

★ According to the TRT, a 3700-year-old tablet sitting in an Istanbul museum revealed that Babylonians predated Pythagoras by over 1000 years.

  Scholars identified the tablet as the earliest known example of applied geometry, which means Pythagorean triples were practiced 1,000 years before its known inventor, Pythagoras.

  A Sydney mathematician, Dr. Daniel Mansfield at the University of South Wales was behind the discovery. In a research published in Foundations of Science on Wednesday, the mathematician said the 3700-year-old artifact was used to measure land boundaries. The tablet details legal and geometric details about a field that has been split after some of it were sold off.


★ Turkish Archaeologists found a 2,400-year-old pithos tomb in the ancient city of Antandros in the Northwestern Balıkesir province. A pithos is a large ceramic container. Archaeologists also found another 2200-year-old tomb dug directly into the ground.

  The ancient city is on the outskirts of the Kaz Mountains. This is the 21st year of the excavations, continuing with the support of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

  Prof. Dr. Gürcan Polat, Ege University Department of the archaeology faculty member and the head of the excavation team, said that despite the new type of coronavirus, intensive work is continuing at the site.

  In addition to the graveyard of the ancient city, the team is also working on a Roman villa on the slopes of the mountain.


★ As we had is our main news, Turkey's West and South have surrendered to the flames. Many homes and agricultural areas succumbed to the fire.

  For this reason, the Presidential Symphony Orchestra has also postponed concerts that it will hold over the weekend.

  "Latin winds" concert of the orchestra in the Turkish capital Ankara and "Duets, Trios and Quartets from Baroque to Romantic Period" concert by the State Multi-Orchestra Choir will take place on another date.

★ Artists of Turkey reacted to the ongoing wildfires in Turkey in many different ways.

  "We want a plane, we are on fire! Send a plane!" cries of "Help Turkey!" in all languages ​​on social media. When it turned into a campaign, others shared their calls widely on the Internet. While Some of the artists shared the calls, others just reacted. Some artists did not want to share this campaign because they found it insulting, adding that Turkey is a strong country.

  World-renowned pianist and composer Fazil Say reacted to the failure to extinguish the forest fires that have been going on for days.

  Fazıl Say commented on to the government's inability to put out the forest fires. Say said that "there should be early elections, the government should change immediately."

  Renown comedian Şahan Gökbakar has been informing the public with live broadcasts from the region, almost like television since the fire started,

  Emre Kınay; is an actor in his revolt. He shared his video, which translated the reaction of the people of the region.

  Aside from being the beloved voice of Anatolian rock, Haluk Levent is taking aid everywhere with his aid team AHBAP. He also founded the Angels Farm Sanctuary Turkey, where animals get shelter.

  Levent demanded that people and organizations give no unsystematic aid or even send no money for replanting trees.

  Sertab Erener gave a concert in Vadi Istanbul. The artist said that he was very sorry for the fires and lost lives, and donated all the income of the concert to reforestation efforts.

  Singer Emel Sayin stated that she felt very sorry about the fires in the last days and that it was time to do something for all the creatures living in the forest, and said: "Forests are our breathing space, we have to protect them, it hurts me, it hurts."

  Sayın said she wanted to share the song "Forest" she sang many years ago with all those who suffer.


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