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x0x Turkish News for the week ending 16 October 2021
[This is a transcript of the news broadcast on 16 October 2021]
Courtesy of Turkish Radio Hour, producer of the
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★ A Stratfor analysis evaluated the political situation in Turkey on October 14. According to the article, to survive the next national election, Turkey's flailing ruling party risks resorting to more authoritarian and nationalist measures. In turn, this could increase the country's exposure to U.S. and European Union sanctions in the coming years.
Stratfor adds that after more than two decades in power, the popularity of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's Justice and Development Party has slid to the point where its victory in the 2023 national election is not assured.
The Justice and Development Party and its junior coalition partner Nationalists Action Party are also planning to reduce the threshold for parties to enter the parliament from 10% to 7%. The Nationalist Action Party currently gets less than 10% approval in the public opinion surveys, and the coalition designed the new threshold to get it into the parliament.
Stratford adds that this constitutional change won't fix the greater economic, political, and foreign policy issues weakening the Justice and Development Party.
The article also writes that the Justice and Development Party is resorting to other means to win the elections at any cost. Among them are undermining the independence of electoral institutions, censoring media, indulging in rising Turkish nativism, and exploiting international crises for political gain.
★ According to Deutsche Welle, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on a farewell visit to Istanbul.
In a joint press conference held after talks between the leaders, Mr. Erdoğan said he hoped there would be a good working relationship with the future German government.
The key talking points between Merkel and Erdoğan included Ankara's refugee agreement with the European Union.
Turkey plays a key role in accepting refugees and managing migratory flows to the European Union. The country has already taken in around 3.7 million people from Syria and hundreds of thousands from other countries, such as Afghanistan.
Merkel also called on the Turkish president to cooperate in dealing with the Taliban in Afghanistan to help prevent another refugee crisis.
The European Union wants to pay Turkey another $3.5 billion to support Afghans escaping the Taliban. However, Mr. Erdoğan has repeatedly emphasized that his country would not accept any more refugees.
The Turkish public has recently started to complain about the refugee policy of the Turkish government. Mr. Erdoğan does not want to risk losing votes in the 2023 elections.
★ Deutsche Welle also had an editorial by Alexander Görlach titled "Germany must not be blackmailed by Turkey."
Here are some excerpts from the editorial:
During her 17 years in office, Angela Merkel has been able to follow Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's transformation from a repentant Islamist recently released from prison, to a fully-fledged autocrat who ignores human rights, aims to abolish the independence of the judiciary--and arrests hordes of journalists, opposition politicians, and critics.
While the Turkish people have had little choice but to accompany him on this dreadful journey, Merkel and the entire conservative bloc have been forced to abandon the idea that Erdoğan's ruling Justice and Development Party is a kind of Islamic reincarnation of the conservative Christian parties in Europe. Included in these abandoned ideas are Turkey's prospects of joining the European Union.
Erdoğan, therefore, started turning his attention towards Russia some time ago. Ankara now buys weapons systems from Moscow, without any regard for the bloc rivalry that exists between NATO--of which Turkish is a member--and authoritarian world powers.
Alexander Görlach concludes his editorial with the following:
Her successor, as chancellor, will have their work cut out for them when it comes to walking the tightrope of this delicate relationship with Germany's NATO partner and autocratic rival. Germany's next government must do everything it can to stop Ankara from being in a position to blackmail Berlin.
Read more >> here <<
★ A delegation of Taliban from Afghanistan visited Turkey this week. Turkey's foreign affairs minister Mr. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu had talks with them on October 14.
Following the meeting, Mr. Çavuşoğlu said that Turkey had given advice to the Taliban delegation, one of which was on the need for girls' education and women's presence in professions.
"We told them that they should not see it as a pre-condition of western countries, but an expectation of also the other Muslim countries," Çavuşoğlu said.
Çavuşoğlu said they asked the Taliban delegation to open the schools established in Afghanistan by a Turkish foundation for girls right away.
Çavuşoğlu also said that the Taliban delegation asked Turkey for the continuation of humanitarian aid and investment in Afghanistan.
Homeless students on a park bench
★ According to La Prensa Latina, there is a housing crisis for college students returning to Istanbul.
Students are reporting that they are not able to find rooms or apartments to rent.
There are roughly 8 million students in Turkey, but there are only about 700,000 dormitory rooms available. To make matters worse, the pandemic and the government mismanagement of the economy has caused a very high inflation rate, and the rents increased significantly.
Some students have pitched tents on university campuses, and some stay at parks to publicize their predicament.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's first reaction to the protest was to accuse young people of exaggerating. He went on to say his government had built more student halls and increased monthly scholarships by $69.
★ According to VOA, Greece is lauding a renewed defense pact with the United States as a "resounding vote of confidence" from Washington to Athens.
VOA adds that Greece sees the deal as an added swipe against its age-old foe -- but NATO ally -- Turkey. The two countries are in a long-running dispute over sea and air rights in the Aegean, eastern Mediterranean, and beyond.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Greek counterpart, Nikos Dendias signed the deal earlier this week in Washington. It extends an existing defense pact between the two countries, enabling U.S. forces to train and operate in at least three more locations in Greece.
Read more >> here <<
★ According to Reuters, Turkey has signed an additional natural gas trade agreement of 11 billion cubic meters with Azerbaijan, Turkish Minister of Energy Fatih Dönmez said on October 15, 2021.
The agreement will be valid until the end of 2024 amid Turkey's record demand for natural gas.
★ According to the daily Duvar, Turkey ranked 21st of 156 countries on World Misery Index for 2020, calculated based on economic indicators such as unemployment, inflation, interest rate, and national income.
According to the index, Turkey also ranks first among European nations in terms of poverty.
Economist Steve H. Hanke of Johns Hopkins University compiles the index.
★ Turkish lira kept losing against the U.S. dollar over the week. The dollar reached an all-time high of 9.29 Turkish liras.
The demise of the Turkish lira came after Mr. Erdoğan forced the Central Bank to lower the interest rate and his subsequent firing of three top names from the Central Bank monetary policy committee.
Despite the advice against it by economists, analysts are expecting more interest rate cuts.
According to the daily Duvar, in just over two years, Erdoğan has abruptly fired three bank governors over policy differences, a dizzying display of political interference that badly hit the credibility and predictability of the bank.
★ According to the Turkish Employment Agency data, some 518,000 people filed applications to receive unemployment pays in the past three months.
Analysts are attributing the number to the lifting of the ban on layoffs by the government. The ban was part of the COVID-19 pandemic measures.
Speaking of unemployment data, according to the daily Duvar, experts raised the unreliability of the unemployment data one more time. The August data showed a significant discrepancy between the figures of the Turkish Statistical Authority and the Turkish Unemployment Agency.
A trade union says the Statistical Authority does not consider the unemployed applying to the Unemployment Agency.
The daily Duvar writes there is widespread consensus that the ruling government is manipulating data on key statistics. It adds that this has become much more spread since the introduction of the executive presidential system in 2018.
Future site of the third Apple Store in Istanbul
★ Apple is opening its third store in Istanbul, 9 to 5 Mac website announced. It will be on the Asian side of the metropolis on fashionable Baghdad Avenue.
Apple has commissioned renowned Turkish artist Murat Palta to decorate the exterior of the store.
Read more >> here <<
ARTS AND CULTURE
Edited by Büşra Ekmekçi, Deniz Çakmakçı, and Selin Aydınlı
★ Turkish director Sevgi Hirschhauser's film Toprak received its 39th award. Among 160 films from 30 countries, Toprak won the best foreign film award in the 6th Imagine This Women's International Film Festival.
Toprak is the dramatic story of a simple family in rural Turkey dealing with poverty, family traditions, and religious heritage. There is a clash of traditions and problems between the generations. The elder wants to keep the heritage and the status quote, however, the younger want to leave and do something new.
Sevgi Hirschhauser is originally from Turkey's Mediterranean province of Antalya. She is now based in Munich Germany. In addition to being a director, she writes scripts and edits films.
★ Yapı Kredi Culture and Art's joint exhibition with the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality "Here" just started. It is an exhibition where you will discover the tradition of life throughout the ages in Istanbul.
It is an opportunity to see the works exhibited for the first time from the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality City Museum Collection and Atatürk Library Archives, kept in Yıldız Palace until 2017.
Kevser Güler is the curator of the exhibition. It begins with the Yarımburgaz Cave unearthed by Prof. Mehmet Özdoğan. The cave takes us back a million years. It is on the Canal Istanbul route, in a region that connects Asia to Europe and the Black Sea to the Aegean, on the crossroads of civilizations.
However, in the words of Prof. Özdoğan, because of the treasure hunters, it continues to exist as a "Museum of Cultural Destruction."
Contemporary artist Sinem Dişli, known for her exhibition "A Look at Göbeklitepe," has produced a striking work that shows the destruction, as well as the sedimentation in the cave.
Taking Istanbul back a million years, Sinem Dişli's current work also features beads made of a seashell, natural stone, and glass, talismans made of seeds and plants from the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality City Museum Collection.
The exhibition will be on through February.
★ Grammy Award-winning jazz trumpet player Chris Botti will take the stage for the first time in the Turkish capital Ankara with his ensemble.
The concert will take place at the Presidential Symphony Orchestra concert hall on October 31, 2021.
Chris Botti released his first solo album "First Wish" in 1995. Since then, he has released nine more albums.
Botti's three albums debuted at #1 on the Billboard Jazz Albums chart. Chris Botti has recorded and performed live with artists such as Frank Sinatra, Sting, Josh Groban, Andrea Bocelli, Paul Simon, Joshua Bell, Joni Mitchell, John Mayer, Michael Buble, and Aerosmith vocalist Steven Tyler.
★ Director Erdem Tepegöz has a place in the memory of moviegoers with his first movie "Zerre" (2013). Eight years after this, his second film "In the Shadows" met with the audience.
Last year the film "In the Shadows" returned from the Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival with five awards. Among them are Best Director and SİYAD Best Film awards.
In addition, it won the Special Jury "Silver George" award at the 42nd Moscow Film Festival in 2020, where it made its world premiere.
Finally, the film received the Bomnea Award, the grand prize at the Chuncheon Sci-Fi Film Festival, the largest science fiction festival in South Korea.
The film describes a dystopian world at a mine, managed with primitive technology. The workers are unaware of the world, they keep working under the surveillance of cameras.
The character played by Numan Acar in the leading role goes to the mine mechanic when the machine he works with breaks down.
As the mechanic cannot find a solution and speaks mysteriously, a doubt falls into the mind of the character. Sounds coming from a pipe in the place where he stays at night raise his suspicions.
The questioning of the system by the worker starts to affect the lives of all workers.
The film, produced by Contact Film Works and the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation, was released on September 24. Director Erdem Tepegöz said that they are negotiating with digital platforms for a release on them.
★ The national news correspondent Melissa Gronlund reports that Istanbul is ushering in a new chapter for the arts with the contemporary art fair coming to a close, but as new institutions gear up for opening.
She writes that Istanbul's investment in arts and culture is part of a larger municipal development and gentrification drive across the city.
However, she points out that foreign artists are not coming to the city as much as they used to do because of political instability.
EXCHANGE RATE for the U.S. dollar in Turkish Liras: 9.27
Edited by Ertuğrul Korkmaz
★ Toprak Razgatlıoğlu came in first in the 12th leg
of the Argentine World Superbike competitions and is getting close to being a champion.
★ In Serbia, Comen Cup Swimming Competitions, Talya Erdoğan came in first in the 400 m freestyle. Göksu Gümüs came in third in the 200m backstroke category. The Turkish team came in third in the freestyle category.
★ In 2021 Youth World Weightlifting Championships in
Jeddah, S. Arabia, Turkish weightlifters received:
7 silver, and
9 bronze medals.
The Turkish team came in second as a team with 22 medals.
&★ In the 2021–22 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Basketball Championships, Anadolu Efes of Turkey lost to Milano of Italy 75-71 in Milan.
Turkey's Fenerbahçe defeated UNICS Kazan of Russia in Istanbul 80 - 41.
Fenerbahçe is in the eighth place and Anadolu Efes is in 17th.
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