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x0x Turkish News for the week ending 11 September 2021

[This is a transcript of the news broadcast on 11 September 2021]

Courtesy of Turkish Radio Hour, producer of the

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★ VOA correspondent Dorian Jones reports that Turkey is voicing caution over Afghanistan's interim government as it continues talks with the Taliban on restarting air traffic at the Kabul airport.

  Turkey was among the first countries calling for talks and engagement with the Taliban after it swept to power last month. But the Taliban's announcement of an interim government this week saw Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan calling for a cautious approach.

  Erdoğan said talks between the Taliban and Qatar on restarting operations at the Kabul airport were making progress. Although, he warned key issues remained unresolved. On Monday, Turkish foreign affairs minister Mr. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said the Taliban's insistence on being the one to provide the airport's security remains a key obstacle.

  "The Taliban or Afghan forces could ensure security outside the airport. But inside there should be a security company trusted by the international community," Mr. Çavuşoğlu said.

  "Otherwise, even if airlines, including Turkish Airlines, are keen to fly there, insurance companies would not allow it," he added.

  Despite Turkey's participation in NATO's twenty-year-long military presence in Afghanistan, the Taliban reached out to Ankara with calls to put the airport back into operation.

  On September 10, at the United Nations Security Council special session on Afghanistan, Turkish representative Feridun Sinirlioğlu said that the international community needed to engage with the Taliban.

  Sinirlioğlu said "we need to communicate with them to see if they will deliver on their promises. They need to gain our trust by putting their words into action."

  Read more >> here <<

★ In related news: More than half a million Afghans live illegally in Turkey, reports Deutsche Welle.

  Even before the Taliban retook control of Afghanistan, up to 1,000 refugees crossed the Turkish border every day.

  As the situation in their homeland continues to deteriorate, Afghans in Turkey are in a state of limbo: Unable to leave and unwilling to return.


★ Deutsche Welle writes that the Turkish government is increasing pressure on social media.

  Turkish opposition politicians and activists have made great use of the internet to circumvent state control of the mainstream media. They are alarmed by government plans to crack down even more on online platforms.

  In the almost 20 years that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been in power, he had succeeded in bringing newspapers and television stations largely under his government's control. In reaction, opposition politicians, activists, and critics have resorted to social networks to create an alternative media landscape and public realm.

  Activists use Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other such platforms to draw attention to problems. Opposition politicians use them to mobilize their supporters, and smaller, alternative media outlets use them to disseminate their content.

  But Erdoğan and his government are now tightening their grip on the internet. Though they have clamped down heavily on social media in recent years, the next blow will be even harsher, Deutsche Welle writes.

  The government plans to establish a social media directorate. The directorate will be combating "fake news, disinformation, provocation, and lynch justice in social networks."

  Violations will be punishable by fines and detention. According to government sources, the coalition partners are currently drafting the law proposal.

  Read more >> here <<


★ The local branch of the ruling Justice and Development Party in Turkey's eastern province of Tunceli's Pülümür district has announced that it is giving a copy of President Erdoğan's book to residents who receive their COVID-19 shots, reports the Turkish daily Duvar.

  Mr. Erdoğan recently published his first book titled "A More Just World is Possible." It includes details about Turkey's reforms to join the European Union, presumably furthering human rights in Turkey.

  The president encourages readers to be defenders of justice and human conscience, even though Turkey is often said to have suffered from a severe decline in human rights and freedoms under the Justice and Development Party rule. It now ranks near the bottom of most critical freedom indexes, the daily Duvar adds.


★ According to the daily Duvar, some 10,000 bus drivers in Istanbul have refused to return to work for schools. They fear that a COVID-19 surge will lead to closures again, putting them out of a job, Istanbul Public Service Vehicles Managements Chamber Chair Hamza Öztürk said on September 9.

  There are 25,000 registered service vehicles in Istanbul, Öztürk said, adding that almost half of them are out of service at the moment because the drivers feel that they would not have job security.

★ Turkeys southeastern province of Malatya is renowned for its apricots. Malatya alone produces 85% of the world's dried apricots.

  According to the Anatolia News Agency, Malatya has one more product on its export list: strawberries. Entrepreneur Ömer Memur and his family have been exporting frozen strawberries to Europe and U.S. for the past 20 years.

  The exports amount to 20,000 tons a year.

★ Lower-than-ever pistachio harvest volumes in Turkey's southeastern region have pushed consumer prices up to nearly double the average, said the head of a district agricultural chamber in the southeastern province of Gaziantep.

  The farmers are blaming the extreme drought Turkey is suffering.


★ Retirees in Turkey are among the poorest in the world, according to data from the International Labor Organization (ILO), the daily Sözcü reported on September 6.

  Measured by the ratio of retirees' pensions to the poverty line in the country, the ILO retiree wealth index considers any ratio below 50 percent to constitute poverty for retired persons.

  Turkey's ratio fell below half of this ratio, with retirees' pensions measuring up to only 21.7 percent of the poverty line, a number that is 91.2 percent in Egypt and 32.7 percent in Mozambique.


Edited by Büşra Ekmekçi, Deniz Çakmakçı, and Selin Aydınlı

★ The American Turkish Society announced that the 18th New York Turkish Film Festival would take place December 9 through 12.

  The festival screens the latest films from Turkey every year. In addition, after each screening, there are question-and-answer sessions with actors, directors, producers, industry professionals, and special guests.

  Founded in 1949, the American-Turkish Society is the organizer of the event. It is the oldest nonprofit, apolitical organization based in New York. Its goal is to build bridges between the United States and Turkey.

  The American-Turkish Society provides several scholarships, grants, and awards to students, educators, and artists, in the United States and Turkey. Scholarships include The Ahmet Ertegün Memorial Scholarship at The Juilliard School, The Arif Mardin Music Fellowship at Berklee College of Music, Summer Residency at the School of Visual Arts, and the Young Photographers Award.

★ The daily Duvar correspondent Nazlan Ertan wrote that Turkey has numerous small events combining music or gastronomy with historical settings.

  As new trends in tourism emerge in the post-pandemic era, they can be the balm to the country's tourism woes if they can combine authenticity, creativity, sustainability, and bipartisan support, Ertan adds.

  Among the festivals she cites are: 


★ Ramazan Şahin, a 100-year-old man in Turkey's central Anatolian province of Kırşehir who overcame his COVID-19 infection at the beginning of the year, got his two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine recently, reports the Anatolia news agency. He also says that he made sure that all his children got the vaccine.

  He just celebrated his birthday with his children, grandchildren, and relatives from Turkey and abroad.

  Having been drafted for four years during the Second World War, he continued his life as a farmer after getting discharged. He has 12 children, 20 grandchildren, and 20 great-grandchildren.

  He attributes his good health to going to bed early and getting up early and eating lots of sheep yogurt, rice pilaf, lentils, butter, and honey.


★ Once again this year, Turkish academicians and volunteers are protecting the nests of the Caretta turtles for four months on the beaches of Turkey's southern town of Belek, reports the Anatolia News Agency.

  The endangered Caretta turtles lay their eggs in the sand. When the hatchlings emerge, they rush to the sea in September.

  Read more >> here <<

  See more photographs here: Read more >> here <<


★ Esin Varan, who has dreamed of acting in the U.S. since her childhood, moved to New York after graduating from the Department of Political Science and International Relations at Marmara University in Istanbul, reports the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet.

  Varan had the chance to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts with a scholarship.

  Afterward, Esin Varan starred in Law and Order, which broke American rating records.

  Varan shared the stage with famous actors Christopher Meloni and Dylan McDermott in the series directed by John David Coles. Coles has directed other successful TV series such as "House of Cards," "Sex and the City," and "Homeland."

  "Law and Order" draw attention as a 20-season series starring famous names such as Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Garner, Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg. Esin Varan played Atul Sharma, an American doctor who is cold and restrained and does her job very well. She said that she went through seven stages to take a role in the series.

  Esin Varan said, "It made me incredibly happy to be a part of this series. I was incredibly proud to be on the same stage with such great actors, to chat between shootings, and to be chosen by a channel like NBC among thousands of candidates."


★ The 58th Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival will be held on October 2-9, reports the daily Cumhuriyet.

  Ten films will compete for $91,000 of awards in 14 categories.

  A selection committee consisting of Mehmet Açar, Muammer Brav, and Sevin Okyay has determined the ten films for the National Feature Film Competition from many that applied.

  The ten films are:

★ 4th Ayvalik Film Festival just finished. The festival had been on in October in previous years. This year it took place in September due to weather conditions, reports the daily Cumhuriyet.

  Due to weather problems, the festival has been at different venues for the last two days. The shows met with the audience on the white screen, installed at The Art Factory. The audience is no stranger to The Art Factory. There have also been screenings there in previous years.

  On the fifth day of the festival, "Invisible demons," "Spider and Girl," "Crazy porn," and "The list of those who love me" met the audience.

  A selection of short films by 12 female directors screened as part of the "Look from ear to ear project."

  The most interesting film of the day was "The list of those who love me," the best film and best actor awardee at the Istanbul Film Festival.

  The festival ended on September 8.


★ A new exhibition at the Pera Museum in Istanbul proves that art production never stopped during the painful and stormy period of confrontation in the pandemic, reports the daily Cumhuriyet. With this exhibition, the museum continues the tradition of embracing the schools of Fine Arts of universities.

  Pera Museum previously hosted many universities such as Marmara, Hacettepe, Dokuz Eylül, Anadolu, Akdeniz, and The New York School of Fine Arts. This time, the museum features the work of Yeditepe University students and graduates.

  At the museum, One can visit more than 100 works by 80 artists and designers from the Yeditepe University's School of Fine Arts. An interdisciplinary exhibition that lifts boundaries in different areas of art is intriguing and fun.

  Exhibition chair Professor Dr. Marcus Graf brought together, and even talked about, different works produced in various departments of the School of Fine Arts. As Graf said, when you look at the artwork from afar, they leave question marks in the heads whether they are theater, design, or painting.

★ A stray cat appeared on stage at the Turkish pianist Gülsin Onay's concert in Istanbul on September 5.

  The concert was part of the Kadıköy Municipality's "Kalamış Summer Festival" at the Kalamış Park.

  During the concert, the cat abruptly jumped on the piano, surprising both Onay and the crowd.

  See the video here: Read more >> here <<


★ On September 8, during an antique store raid in Istanbul, Turkish police confiscated items that experts believe to belong to Şehzade Mustafa, an Ottoman prince and the son of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent, Demirören News Agency reported.

  Officers found items dating back to the late 16th century, including two framed royal orders, handwritten notes, and a silver dip pen.

  Other items confiscated from the antique store included chandeliers, ceramics, cups, and bejeweled cutlery.


★ Thought to be established by the Byzantine Emperor Alexios III in the 14th century, the Panagia Theoskepastos Monastery in Turkey's Black Sea province of Trabzon is open again after extensive renovation work, reports the Anatolia News Agency.

  The monastery will now be a museum. Visiting it will be free of charge until October 15.


  The grave of a princess

★ According to the Anatolia News Agency, the 27th year of excavation work in the ruins of the ancient city of Elaiussa Sebaste started.

  Elaiussa Sebaste is in Turkey's Mediterranean province of Mersin. Romans established the city on a tiny island in the second century BCE. The city entered a golden age when the Roman Emperor Vespasian purged Cilicia of pirates in 74 CE.

  In the third century, Sassanian King Shapur I and later Isaurians started incursions to the area. Afterward, Elaiussa Sebaste started waning in importance.

  The ruins contain a necropolis, antique theater, cistern, and aqueducts from the Byzantine and Roman eras.

  The first excavations started in 1995, headed by Italian archaeologists Eugenia Equini Schneider. In earlier excavations, a bath with a floor paved with mosaics and a small circular basilica emerged.

  Archaeologists say that the city has the most impressive necropolis in the region.

  The site has more pictures of the excavations: Read more >> here <<

 Remains of the ancient amphitheater

★ Dropping water levels at the Seyhan dam revealed the ancient city of Augusta from the first century, local news agencies reported on September 8.

  The dam is in Turkey's Mediterranean province of Adana.

  Built by Roman Emperor Tiberius Caesar Augustus, the ancient town had succumbed under the waters of Seyhan Dam in 1955.

  The construction crews discovered the ancient remains during the construction of Seyhan Dam, Osmaniye Korkut Ata University archaeologist Dr. Fatih Erhan said, adding that the ruins date back to the first century.


Edited by Ertuğrul Korkmaz

★ - 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo: With two gold, four silver, and nine bronze medals, Turkey took 42nd place.

  - Turkey beat Kazakhstan 9 - 2 in the beach soccer competitions and rose to the finals in its groups. The next game the Turkish team will have is with Estonia.


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