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x0x Turkish News for the week ending 18 December 2021

[This is a transcript of the news broadcast on 18 December 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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★ Jared Malsin of The Wall Street Journal visited Rize, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's hometown on Turkey's Black Sea coast.

  He wrote about his observations on December 13. He said that once a staunch backer of Mr. Erdoğan, some are now questioning the leadership of the city's favorite son with an economic crisis that is driving up the cost of food, gasoline, and medicine.

  Malsin points out that Turkey's currency has lost as much as 45% of its value this year, largely triggered by Mr. Erdoğan's economic policies, economists and former Turkish officials say. The crisis has sparked outrage among poor- and middle-class Turks who have made up Mr. Erdoğan's power base for nearly two decades but are now turning against him in record numbers, opinion polls show.

  The currency collapse has hit especially hard in Rize, with rising costs of fertilizer and raw materials undercutting the farming of tea, the main product of the region and the lifeblood of its economy. Residents and political observers here say the president's Justice and Development Party is losing support even in a city that has long prided itself on its connection with Mr. Erdoğan, who spent his early childhood here.

  Read more >> here <<

★ Matthew Bryza wrote in a blog on the Atlantic Council's webpage that Turkish drones could help Ukraine fend off a possible Russian invasion.

  Turkey has been selling dozens of Bayraktar TB2 unmanned aerial vehicles, much to Russia's ire, Bryza writes. He thinks this has persuaded Russia to sue for peace twice in recent years.

  Turkey has also signed a defense cooperation pact with Ukraine, which may come as a surprise to anyone who has watched Turkey seemingly drift towards Russia and away from NATO in recent years, Bryza adds.

  He notes that Russia has also been careful not to alienate Turkey, perhaps because of mutual economic interests or because it simply wants to deepen the wedge between Turkey and its NATO allies. He writes the United States and NATO would be wise to use the assets the alliance's second-largest military, namely the Turkish military forces, brings to the table.

  Matthew Bryza is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council's Global Energy Center, Eurasia Center, and Atlantic Council IN TURKEY program. He served as a U.S. diplomat for more than two decades, including U. S. ambassador to Azerbaijan, deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, and director for Europe and Eurasia on the National Security Council staff. He is also the CEO of Lamor Turkey, a Finnish-Turkish joint venture providing environmental solutions, and a board member of Turcas Petrol, a publicly-traded Turkish energy company.

  Read more >> here <<

★ The trial of Turkey's state-owned Halkbank continues in a U.S. court. The U.S. is accusing Halkbank of laundering $20 billion of Iranian oil money to help circumvent sanctions.

  This week, the court denied Halkbank's petition to rehear an appeal against prosecution, the Inner City Press reported. The denial will pave the way for the prosecution to proceed in full.

  In 2017, the U.S. authorities had arrested Mehmet Hakan Atilla, the deputy general manager of the bank. A U.S. court later sentenced him to jail for conspiring to violate U.S. sanctions on Iran. After serving his sentence, he went back to Turkey.

  Reza Zarrab, an Iranian Turkish businessman, was also sentenced for facilitating the laundering of Iranian money in cooperation with Halkbank. He later cooperated with the U.S. authorities and now is free and living in the U.S. under an assumed name.

★ According to the Turkish pollster Aksoy Research, over half of Turks distrust government institutions, including the directorate of religious affairs.

  According to a recent Aksoy Research opinion survey:

★ Borsa Istanbul, Turkey's largest stock exchange, announced a temporary halting of trade at 1324 GMT on Friday, the website investing.com reported. The move followed a rapid decline of the index by 5 percent, starting at 1200 GMT and losing 220 base points within the hour. The stock exchange triggered the second level of the marketwide circuit breaker at 1654.

  Turkish business leaders called for urgent measures and said that the government should stabilize the markets. They added that the exchange rates for the dollar and euro and the market fluctuations affect their companies negatively.

★ According to a pro-government columnist, Turkish businessman should reduce their prices by 50%. Necmettin Batırel, writing for the daily Türkiye, said they would become martyrs and economic heroes.

★ Turkish government will be raising the minimum wage in the new year by more than 50% to 4253 Turkish liras per month. That is roughly $260 a month.

★ Turkey's central bank the interest rates further this week to 14% from 15%, CNBC reported.

  The official rate for inflation is 21% – independent economists calculated it to be more like 40% – and Turkish president Mr. Erdoğan thinks that reducing interest rates will reduce inflation. However, economists say it is the other way around. To lower inflation, you have to increase the interest rates.

  Investors and economists have been desperately calling for President Erdoğan to reverse course, but he had so far stuck to his unusual conviction.

  Read more >> here <<

★ Turkish currency lira kept declining against the dollar and euro throughout the week, reaching an all-time low of 17 liras per dollar. To stabilize the lira, Turkey's central bank sold dollars. It is the fifth time it sold dollars in December.

  The chairman of the Istanbul Chamber of Industry Erdal Bahçıvan tweeted that they are following in disbelief the selling of precious foreign currency by the central bank, while it has just reduced the interest rates further the previous day.

★ According to Deutsche Welle, along with the Turkish lira hitting all-time lows against the U.S. dollar and the euro in recent months and inflation soaring, poverty and discontent deepen in Turkey.

  However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is unfazed.

★ According to Deutsche Welle, Turkish president Mr. Erdoğan is scoring points in Africa. Turkey has staged its third Turkey-Africa Summit on Friday, a sign of growing economic partnership. Military cooperation is also a hot topic.

  The bilateral trade between African nations and Turkey has reached $70 billion, economist Güven Sak of the Turkish Institute for Economic Policy told Deutsche Welle. In 2020, Turkish exports to Africa valued at $15 billion.

  Read more >> here <<


Edited by Büşra Ekmekçi, Deniz Çakmakçı, and Selin Aydınlı


★ Akbank Art's exhibition "Chosen Ignorance: On Knowledge and Things We Don't Want to Know" has started on December 7, reports the daily Dünya. Fifteen artists from Turkey and abroad are taking part in the exhibition.

  Built on knowledge and the things we do not want to know, the exhibition consists of seven artworks and eight video talks.

  Ekmel Ertan is curating the exhibition. He says the following about the exhibition:

  "We know that we cannot know everything. A part of what we know is composed of those things we learn unconsciously, inextricably. A part of what we do not know is composed of the ones we prefer not to know. In that case, what we do not know, just as much as what we know is about our choices. Our knowledge universe is composed of those things which we choose to know and those which we do not know. We also form our ignorance through our choices. What do we not wish to know and why?"

  The exhibition will be on through February 12, 2022. Akbank is the cultural arm of the Akbank of Turkey, a company in banking and finance.


★ Sakıp Sabancı Museum re-opened the "Yesterday Today Istanbul" Exhibition as a virtual tour. The physical exhibition took place between September 3 and November 28.

  The "Yesterday Today Istanbul" exhibition features 23 artists who met with the call of Sabancı University lecturer and artist Murat Germen.

  Site-specific works exhibited in the show involve interpretations of city dynamics in light of themes such as animal population, urban gentrification, social life, historical sites, water resources, transportation, and utopia/dystopia. Artists made the exhibited works using a variety of mediums such as oil, drawing, installation, photography, video, and serigraphy.

  Go to  >> here <<  to see the virtual exhibition


★ Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality's new book "Tastes of Istanbul from Past to Present" aims to shed light on the ancient cuisine of Istanbul with articles, interviews, and photographs on the history of the city's taste.

  Due to its cosmopolitan structure, Istanbul hosts the cuisines of many parts of the world. In addition to Greek, Jewish, Armenian cuisines, Black Sea, Antep, Aegean, Bosnian, Balkan, Caucasian, Thrace, Mardin, Antioch, Diyarbakır cuisines are also cultural values that have taken their place on the ancient taste map of Istanbul.

  Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality has also added a new dimension, the culinary history of the metropolis, to the book. The history starts with ancient Greece and Byzantium to the Ottoman palace cuisine. It also covers the traditional dishes of the city to the new tastes.

  The recently published 520-page book "Tastes of Istanbul from Past to Present," consisting of 18 articles and 12 interviews, aims to shed light on the cuisine of Istanbul with articles and photos on this subject.


★ Turkey's Ministry of Environment and Urbanization will protect endangered species in Turkey with a €2.5-million project.

  The ministry will create a prioritization guide for endangered plant and animal species. It will then prepare model action plans for selected pilot species.

  The European Union approved the project and will be funding part of it.

  The European Union agency funding the project and the Turkish Ministry of Environment and Urbanization signed an agreement on June 2, 2020. The project started on August 31, 2020, and will last for 36 months.

  The ministry also will prepare 11 action plans throughout the country. It will make a joint plan and a habitat action plan for Caracou, Little kestrel, Nile turtle, five bird species: common pochard, ferruginous pochard, white-headed duck, velvet duck, summer duck.

  The project goal will be to prepare the action plans, implement them, and monitor them with discipline.


★ After one year of hiatus, The Black Week Istanbul Festival returned to Istanbul's Pera Palace Hotel, reported the daily Dünya correspondent Faruk Şüyün.

  It took place on December 17 and 18 with a theme of John le Carré. During the event, writers of espionage and intrigue novels met with their fans.

  All the sessions were free of charge.


Emine Çubukçu

★ The Turkish affiliate of Make-A-Wish International Network has accelerated its projects, writes Merve Yiğitcan of the Turkish daily Dünya.

  During the past 20 years, the Turkish organization has met the wishes of 4900 children. It is also continuing to come up with new projects. One of the successful projects that it started and exported to the rest of the Make-A-Wish organizations was dubbed "I am sharing my birthday."

  The organization also has an online marketplace called "Wish Store." A portion of the purchases made from the store goes as donations to the organization.

  Emine Çubukçu, the new head of the Make-A-Wish Turkey affiliate, told daily Dünya that it fulfills the wishes of children with a critical illness between the ages of 3 to 18.


 Lina Nasif 
★ Known in the literary world for her poetry, short stories, and novels, Lina Nasif was found dead in her home in Turkey's southern Mediterranean city of Mersin.

  In addition to her literary works, Ms. Nasif was a painter that contributed to the depiction of Mersin streets and scenery.

  Ms. Nasif's funeral took place on December 13 at the Latin Catholic Church in Mersin.

  Mersin Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Vahap Seçer, Mezitli Mayor Neşet Tarhan, and many people attended the funeral.

  At the end of the ceremony, the Turkish Flag was placed on Lina Nasif's coffin by the Mayor of Mersin.

  Ms. Nasif's parents were Maronite Christians whose roots go back to Jerusalem. The family lived in the ancient city of Tarsus north of Mersin.

★ Here is a summary of performing arts events:

  - Latvian-born 74-year-old Gidon Kremer gave a concert in Istanbul on December 13. The Cemal Reşit Rey Symphony Orchestra, directed by Cem Mansur, accompanied him. Kremer is the oldest internationally renowned violinist. He performed the Fourth Concerto of Alfred Schnittke, which he composed for him.

  - Istanbul State Opera and Ballet staged Vincenzo Bellini's Norma Opera on December 16 in Kadıköy city, on the Asiatic part of the metropolis. The conductor was Roberto Gianola. The conductor of the chorus was Paolo Villa.

  - Istanbul's French high school Lycée Notre Dame de Sion hosted young Korean pianist Kisuk Kwon on December 16. Kwon, born in 1991, won the high school's international piano competition last year. He performed works by Albeniz, Chopin, Ali Darmar, Schumann and Liszt. The concert was free of charge.

  -Samsun state Opera and ballet had a premiere performance of the "Yunus Emre" ballet by dancer and chief choreographer Görkem Cengiz. Yunus Emre was a Turkish folk poet and Sufi mystic who lived between 1238-1328. Samsun State Classical Turkish Music Chorus accompanied the performance.

  - A special concert took place in the Turkish capital Ankara for the Year of Yunus Emre. The Eskişehir Metropolitan municipality Symphony Orchestra and city theaters cooperated with the Ankara Metropolitan municipality for the concert. At the Presidential Symphony Hall opposition Republican People's Party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and his wife, the 10th president of Turkey Ahmet Necdet Sezer, Metropolitan mayors of Ankara and Eskişehir Mansur Yavaş and Dr. Yılmaz Büyükerşen were in attendance.

  - Samsun state Opera and ballet performed Mozart's 1782 Opera "The Abduction from the Seraglio" on December 18. The plot concerns the attempt of the hero Spanish nobleman Belmonte, assisted by his servant Pedrillo, to rescue his beloved Constanze from the Mediterranean palace of Selim Pasha.

★ Turkey's third-largest metropolitan area, the Pearl of Aegean, Izmir, had the following activities:

  - The Fifth Izmir International Humor Festival has started on December 17. The Festival will include visual arts to performances, music to films. There will be artists participating from Bulgaria, Ukraine, and Romania. The Festival will end on December 23.

  - The Izmir City Theater will perform French writer Coline Serrau's drama "Rabbit Rabbit."

  The play criticizes free-market economics and neoliberal politics.

★ The 2020 Turkish film "Silenced Tree" returned from the London city film Festival with the best foreign film award, the daily Cumhuriyet reports.

  The film also received the Best Film and the Best Actor awards in the seventh Balkan Panorama Film Festival.

  In the Sixth Festival of Moving Image in New York, the film received the Best Film and Best Actor awards. It will be competing in the Antakya Film Festival in Turkey and the 2022 March Moscow Leonid Khromov International Film Festival.

The plot of the film is as follows:

  Hayati is an inhibited writer who has been deeply obsessed with reviving a dried tree from which his father hanged himself. He finds out his wife is having an affair and leaving him. And his devastated life worsens. While struggling to get rid of his hell-like life, he meets his best friend's fiancé. She looks so much like his own ex-girlfriend. Surprisingly the dried tree starts budding as well. A couple of days later police discover a burnt body of a woman. Hayati gets arrested and accused of murder.

EXCHANGE RATE for the U.S. dollar in Turkish Liras: 16.42


Edited by Ertuğrul Korkmaz


Premier League

* Standing in the league as of week ending 17
 1 - Trabzon         42
 2 - Konya           33
 3 - Başakşehir      29
 4 - Hatay           29
 5 - Fenerbahçe      28
 6 - Alanya          27
 7 - Adana           26
 8 - Sivas           25
 9 - Beşiktaş        25
10 - K.gümrük        25
11 - G. Saray        24
12 - Giresun         22
13 - G. Antep        22
14 - Antalya         21
15 - Kayseri         20
16 - Altay           18
17 - Rize            16
18 - Göztepe         14
19 - Malatya         14
20 - Kasımpaşa       11

★ In the international Ski Federation competitions held in Jahorina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Turkish skier Sıla Kara received a bronze medal in slalom. There were 35 competing skiers. The Competitions Took Pl., December 12-14.


★ The 2021 Youth Sailing World Championships took place in Mussanah, Oman this year. Turkey's Ozan Türker came in third in the Male Windsurfer category.

  In the country ranking, France came in first. U.S. was in the third-place and Turkey took the sixth place.

★ Basketball:

★ Euroleague:

  In the Euroleague basketball championships the to Turkish teams had the following results last week:

  Maccabi TelAviv (Israel)-Anadolu Efes (Turkey) 78-92

  Fenerbahce (Turkey) - Basconia (Spain) 75-53


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