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x0x Turkish News for the week ending 27 November 2021

[This is a transcript of the news broadcast on 27 November 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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★ Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is facing the longest odds for the political survival of his career due to a collapsing economy, flagging poll numbers, and international isolation, Steven Cook wrote in the Foreign Policy magazine on Wednesday. Cook is a senior fellow for the Middle East and Africa Studies at the Council of Foreign Relations.

  Cook added that Gross economic mismanagement, a slump in the lira's value, and surging inflation mean the financial situation of the average Turk looks grim. Meanwhile, the political opposition is calling for snap elections, questions surround Erdoğan's health, and it is unclear how any improvement in Turkey's standing abroad will help rectify the situation at home ahead of elections planned for 2023.

  Read more >> here <<

★ Turkey is not moving away, but is being pushed away from the European Union by the actions of some European countries, Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Faruk Kaymakçı said.

  "Putting Turkey's membership process on hold, especially for political reasons, was a practice that reduced our motivation," the official said in the opening ceremony of the 40th European Union Joint Consultative Committee on Monday, Turkish publication Haber Türk reported. The committee met the Izmir province in western Turkey.

  "If Turkey is desired to proceed on a reformist path and is expected to act within the Copenhagen criteria, then halting the full membership process is a source of demotivation for us," Kaymakçı said.

  The Copenhagen criteria are the rules that define whether a country is eligible to join the European Union. The criteria require that a state has the institutions to preserve democratic governance and human rights, has a functioning market economy, and accepts the obligations and intent of the European Union.

  Turkey opened accession talks with the European Union in 2005, pledging to bring its laws and practices in line with the Copenhagen criteria. However, the European Union froze talks with Turkey after the 2016 coup attempt, claiming Turkey has strayed further away from democracy.

  Last year tensions between Turkey and the European Union intensified when the union sided with Greece and Cyprus in disputes over territorial waters and oil and gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean. The European Union almost imposed sanctions on Turkey but gave up when Turkish President Erdoğan ordered de-escalation on the conflict with Greece and Cyprus.

  In March, the European Union Council said that if the de-escalation holds, the European Union is eager to talk to Turkey again and cooperate.

  Possible areas of cooperation may cover: including services, farm products, and public procurement in the customs union between the European Union and Turkey, and more financial aid to Turkey for the 4 million Syrian refugees.

★ According to BBC's Orla Guerin, the imprisonment and trial of Turkish businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala on trumped-up charges are setting Turkey on a collision course with its Western allies and the Council of Europe.

  She adds that Turkey's combative leader does not appear to mind.

  Here is a summary of what Orla Guerin wrote:

  The Council has threatened to begin rare infringement proceedings if the Justice and Development Party administration does not free him by the end of this month. Ultimately, this could lead to the expulsion of Turkey from the 47-nation human rights body.

  Two years have passed since the European Court of Human Rights issued a binding ruling calling for Mr. Kavala's release. Ten Western ambassadors to Turkey recently echoed that call and were briefly threatened with expulsion.

  President Erdoğan has been on the offensive, attacking the court and deriding him for his links to billionaire philanthropist George Soros.

  "The European Court of Human Rights gave a decision," he said. "They want to convict Turkey regarding this Soros leftover. Do you release bandits, killers, or terrorists in your country?" he asked.

  In related news, on Friday, an Istanbul court ruled to keep Osman Kavala behind bars. Amnesty International has called on heads of state of the Council of Europe countries to launch infringement proceedings against Turkey.

  Read more >> here <<

★ Marc Pierin, is a former European Union ambassador to Turkey, now a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe. He is researching developments in the Middle East and Turkey from a European perspective.

  He wrote in the Carnegie Europe on Tuesday that the European Union should stop Turkey's compartmentalizing relations.

  He wrote that erosion of rule-of-law architecture is clearly at odds with Turkey's professed intention to join the European Union. While it regularly issues statements about its ambition to become a member, most of its decisions run counter to the principles and values of the bloc.

  Mr. Pierin says that although Turkey engages in various European Union programs, it rejects the involvement of the union in law and order and human rights issues in Turkey.

  He argues that the European Union should not allow Turkey to compartmentalize the accession process by being selective on topics and advocates that the union should consider everything together in negotiating with Turkey.

  The link to Mr. Pierin's article is on our transcript of the news available on our website.

  Read more >> here <<

★ Israel urged Turkey to shut down Hamas's offices after announcing the busting of a cell in the West Bank and arresting its 50 operatives. It said they were receiving directions from Istanbul.

  "Hamas' offices in Istanbul will be shut down. We must prevent these heinous acts of terrorism against Israeli citizens everywhere and under any conditions," Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said, the Times of Israel reported on Tuesday.

★ According to the Deutsche weather, a few thousand people, mainly women, faced riot police in Istanbul on Thursday while marching to draw attention to gender-based violence.

  The protesters walked along Istiklal Avenue, a popular pedestrian corridor near Taksim Square. Marchers blew whistles and chanted slogans, including "Government, resign!"

  Demonstrators urged President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to return Turkey to an international treaty to protect women, known as the Istanbul Convention.

  Turkey left the convention in March, with Erdoğan saying that authorities would use local laws to safeguard women's rights.

  According to the We Will Stop Femicide Platform, an organization that seeks to combat violence against women in Turkey, 345 women have been killed since the beginning of 2021. While in 2020 there were 409 deaths.

  The group says in October alone, 18 women were killed by men, while 19 others were found dead.

  Read more >> here <<

★ Turkey's lira weakened to a new record low against the US dollar and the Euro this week.

  The Turkish lira is by far the worst-performing emerging market currency this year. It has lost 40% of its value this year, including shedding17% just since the beginning of last week.

  Most analysts point their fingers at monetary easing and low-interest rates of the sort championed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. One after another, he has replaced three governors of the central bank. And he recently put a man seen as his crony in charge of the bank, taking away its independence in monetary decisions.

  With the fall of the lira came high inflation. Independent experts say that it is nearly 40%.

  In defending the cut in interest rates, Mr. Erdoğan says he has started an economic war of independence. However, economists disagree with his methods.

  While the lira fell, Turkey's main share index went up 1.5%, as international investors sought to capitalize on cheaper exchange rates.

★ In related news, Turkish daily Cumhuriyet columnist Erdal Sağlam claimed that President Erdoğan is turning to Professor Servet Bayındır, an Islamic theologian sitting on his presidential economic board when deciding on monetary policy.

  Sağlam said President Erdoğan also sought the advice of former defense minister Nurettin Canikli.

  Sağlam claimed president Erdoğan ordered the central bank governors to review their proposed decisions with Bayındır and Canikli.

  Bayındır's 2005 doctoral thesis was on the role of interest-free banking in Islamic jurisprudence, Sağlam said. He also works as a member of Istanbul University's School of Theology, becoming a professor in 2014.

  Canikli is a founding member of Erdoğan's governing Justice and Development Party and holds a master's degree in finance from Sheffield University. He is a graduate of an Islamic high school.

★ A few more headlines on the Turkish currencies decline:

  - The Turkish lira's meltdown on Tuesday was a "train crash" long in the making caused by the Islamist economic views of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said Aykan Erdemir, senior program director for Turkey at the Foundation for Defence of Democracies. He is a former opposition member of the Turkish parliament.

  - A severe bout of financial turmoil two decades ago helped Erdoğan's Justice and Development Party win elections with a parliamentary majority in November 2002.

  Now Erdoğan, who gained vast new executive powers at elections in 2018, is faced with the possibility of following his predecessors out of office.

  - Senior officials of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's governing Justice and Development Party said negative pressure on the Turkish lira was a temporary phenomenon, BBC Turkish service reported on Wednesday.

  The fluctuation in foreign exchange rates is a short-term reaction of the markets to a "new economic model" announced by Erdoğan, the official added.

  - Steep declines for the Turkish lira against major currencies are destabilizing domestic production and trade and prompting suppliers to demand cash upfront for orders or to insist on contracts in foreign currency, Dünya newspaper reported on Tuesday.

  - On Saturday, pro-government daily Sabah reported that president Erdoğan ordered an investigation into currency manipulation following the crash of the Turkish currency.

★ On Monday, the U. S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control black-listed Ismatullah Khalozai, an alleged Turkey-based international financial facilitator of the ISIS Khorasan Province, for providing financial support to the group.

  The Islamic State continues to rely on "logistical hubs" inside Turkey for its finances, the U. S. Treasury said in January.

  The United States Treasury Department has announced several batches of sanctions against Turkey-based financial facilitators for Al-Qaeda, ISIS, and other extremist organizations in 2020 and 2021.

★ Turkey and the United Arab Emirates have signed several agreements following Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan's meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday.

  The two leaders signed ten memoranda of understanding to cooperate in anti-terrorism, investments and development, trade and customs management, energy, and environmentalism, state-run Anatolia news agency reported.

  The governor of Turkey's central bank Şahap Kavcıoğlu and the UAE Minister of Energy and Infrastructure Sohail bin Mohamed Al Mazroui signed a memorandum of understanding.

  According to the Anatolia News Agency, Abu Dhabi Developmental Holding Co. CEO Mohamed Hassan al Suwaidi said the UAE had set aside a $10 billion fund to invest in Turkey.

  The crown prince's visit, while coinciding with a sharp decline in the value of the Turkish lira, had been in the works for some time, Al Arab wrote.

  Relations between Turkey and the UAE have been strained for nearly a decade over Turkey's support for the Muslim Brotherhood, its close ties with UAE rival Qatar, and differing policies in Syria, Libya, and the Mediterranean.

  UAE funds "may buoy Turkey's floundering economy at a time when its years-long currency crisis has picked up speed," analyst Tamara Qiblawi wrote for CNN. The repaired relationship could be a "much-needed lifeline" for Erdoğan, she added.

★ Turkish police arrested scores of people as crowds congregated in major cities to protest the economic policies of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan after a slump in the value of the lira, Deutsche Welle reported.

  Police in riot gear fought with demonstrators in the Istanbul neighborhood of Kadikoy late on Wednesday and took 55 people into custody, local media reported, citing a statement by the Progressive Lawyers Association. Journalist Emre Orman published video footage of the scuffles between police officers and protestors on Twitter.

  Demonstrations also occurred in the Istanbul districts of Şişli and Beylükdüzü, where the police sought to break crowds forcefully and made several arrests.

★ Turkey's Ministry of Health Dr. Fahrettin Koca announced that Turkey closed its borders to travelers from Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zimbabwe to prevent the spread of the South African COVID-19 variation virus.


Edited by Büşra Ekmekçi, Deniz Çakmakçı, and Selin Aydınlı


★ This year, an online series of speeches encouraging thinking and discussion on climate and the ecological crisis has accompanied SALT Istanbul screenings. The program continued November 22 with a speech by Prof. Karen O'Brien titled "Climate Change: We Matter More Than We Think." It was part of the "Frontiers of Knowledge Awards" organized by the BBVA Foundation. Based in Spain, the foundation supports social responsibility and wide-ranging research.

  Dr. Karen O'Brien received an award for climate change.

  The program continued until November 27 with the support of Garanti BBVA. In addition to O'Brien, scientists Dr. Burcu Özsoy, Dr. Abdullah Kahraman, and Dr. Derya Akkaynak had presentations.

  SALT is a Turkish contemporary art institution. Vasif Kortun and Garanti Bank established it in 2011 and has exhibition and workshop spaces in Istanbul and Ankara, Turkey.


★ Celebrating its 45th anniversary, Akfen Holding is implementing a new venture it has developed as a social responsibility project in the field of art.

  Akfen had previously carried out Sculptville exhibitions with Art in Bodrum Loft in the modern village project Bodrum Loft. The project was completed in 2020 with collaboration with others and is opening an art space called Loft Art at Nisbetiye On in Levent, Istanbul.

  Loft Art provides space for independent artists to produce works and supports young artists in getting exposure and publicity.

  Loft Art's first exhibition, "Humano: Man and Discovery," opened its doors with a preview on November 23.

  Humano will be available through January 2, 2022.


★ The "Sakıp Sabancı Art Awards" met with the winners for the 28th time. Businessman Sakıp Sabancı started the awards in 1994 to support young artists at the beginning of their careers. The Sabancı Foundation is now administering the awards.

  At the award ceremony held at The SEED at the Sakıp Sabancı Museum, Young artists who graduated from Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University Painting, Sculpture, and Traditional Turkish Arts departments, received the first three. Sabancı Foundation General Manager Nevgül Bilsel Safkan gave them the awards.

  In addition, the foundation gave 240 Republic Gold awards to nine students.

  Since its inception 28 years ago, the foundation gave more than 250 young artists 6720 Republic Gold coins as awards.


★ The popular band Gündoğarken, with many popular songs, met with their fans at the Trump Stage in Istanbul on November 22.

  The fans of Gündoğarken have shared pleasant stories from their 40-year musical journey.


★ The 75th State Painting and Sculpture Competition organized by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism ended.

  The competition has been on since 1939.

  It took place this year with the theme "The 100th anniversary of the adoption of the National Anthem."

  Artists participated in the competition with works in four categories: "Painting," "Sculpture," "Originality," and "Ceramics."

  The prize money for the competition this year was 298,750 Turkish liras. Competitors also received a certificate of participation.

  The Ministry will announce the award ceremony and the exhibition dates on the Ministry's web pages due to pandemic conditions. The exhibition will consist of 59 works determined by the jury.

★ Other headlines in arts and culture:

★ The American Turkish Society's signature cultural event, New York Turkish Film Festival, will be between December 9-12 at the SVA Theater in New York.

  Search online for 18th NYTFF or New York Turkish Film Festival for details and ticket sales, or click >> here <<

★ The French Institute in Istanbul commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Ankara agreement between the Turkish independence forces and France with an exhibition, reported the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet.

  In 1921, the French agreed to end their occupation of areas of what became part of Turkey. The French forces were there after the defeat of the Ottomans in the First World War.

★ Turkish archaeologists uncovered four shops in the ruins of the ancient city of Aizanoi. The shops are in a shopping area called Agora and date back to 1800 years ago. One of the shops produced items from bone and sold them. Another sold oil lamps.

  Aizanoi is in Turkey's Western province of Kütahya.

EXCHANGE RATE for the U.S. dollar in Turkish Liras: 12.42


High and Low Temperatures in Degrees F, Weather
Ankara, in central Turkey        : 61/48 Showers
Antalya, on the Mediterranean    : 72/63 Thunderstorms
Erzurum, in Eastern Turkey       : 45/28 Snow
Istanbul, in northwestern Turkey : 64/55 Showers
Izmir, on the Aegean             : 73/66 Thunderstorms
Trabzon, on the Black Sea        : 70/61 Showers


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