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Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, Felicity Party leader Temel Karamollaoğlu, Good Party leader Meral Akşener, Future Party leader Ahmet Davutoğlu, Democracy and Progress Party leader Ali Babacan and Democrat Party leader Gültekin Uysal
★ According to the Associated Press, the leaders of six opposition parties in Turkey met last Saturday to strategize about the future of the country's governing system.
Their strategy involves unseating president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has ruled Turkey for 20 years.
The second leg of the strategy promises a return to parliamentary democracy. In 2018, Mr. Erdoğan received enough votes to start a new regime that made him the president with all powers and sidelines the parliament.
The pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party, Turkey's second-largest opposition party, was not at the meeting. Analysts think that although the other parties excluded it, the party may support the opposition.
★ At least 21 migrants have died on the land border between Turkey and Greece so far this year, according to the International Organization for Migration's Missing Migrants Project.
As we reported to you last week, Turkey claims that Greece is pushing the migrants to Turkish territory, which the Greeks deny.
Associated Press reported this week that a French woman is accusing Greek authorities of forcing her and other migrants back across the border into Turkey, violating her rights as a person fleeing persecution and as a European citizen.
In court documents seen by The Associated Press, the 32-year-old woman, who has Turkish and French citizenship, claims she and her husband were trying to flee Turkey to escape politically-motivated prison sentences.
They crossed the Evros River by boat into Greece to reach France, where the woman was born and raised. But she says Greek officials mistreated her and turned her back. She is now in prison in Turkey. From her cell, the woman, who asked to remain anonymous for her safety, filed a lawsuit against Greece on Friday at the European Court of Human Rights.
Born in France to Turkish parents, the woman left France in 2013 to pursue undergraduate studies in Turkey. In April 2018, she and her now-husband were among dozens of students rounded up and accused of belonging to the "Fethullahist Terror Organization," a term used to denote followers of cleric Fethullah Gülen.
★ Speaking of borders, according to Fox News, the number of Turkish migrants encountered at the southern border so far in FY 2022 already outpaces the FY 2021 number.
There have been 1,523 encounters of Turkish nationals so far in FY 2022, which started in October. That's already more than the 1,409 migrants encountered in the entirety of FY 2021.
In FY 20020, there were only 109 encounters with migrants from Turkey.
★ Jonathan Spicer and Nevzat Devranoğlu of Reuters report that President Tayyip Erdoğan's government is hoping that Turks will endure soaring living costs for just a few more months before inflation begins easing and tourists arrive, helping the economy leave a winter currency crisis behind.
The plan is risky given some small protests have already emerged in the face of annual inflation nearing 50%, and with many economists expecting price and wage pressures to persist throughout the year.
The stakes are high for Turkey's leader of 19 years, facing an election in mid-2023 that current polls suggest he might lose.
Turkish and UAE officials in a meeting during Pres. Erdoğan's visit
★ Turkey's president visited the United Arab Emirates, showing relations between the nations are further thawing. The trip marked his first trip to the oil-rich Gulf country in nearly a decade.
Relations strained over Turkey's support for the Muslim Brotherhood in the region. UAE sees the Brotherhood as a top national security threat that could upend its hereditary rule in the federation of seven sheikdoms. On the other hand, Turkey suspects that UAE backed a network led by Fethullah Gülen, a U.S.-based cleric. Turkey accuses Gülen of orchestrating a failed coup targeting Erdoğan in 2016.
★ President Erdoğan called on business leaders in the wealthy United Arab Emirates to invest in his country, which is in the grips of an economic crisis.
"As the leading representatives of the private sector in the United Arab Emirates, I am sure you fully comprehend the benefits of establishing commercial and investment partnerships with Turkey," he told investors at a business conference in Abu Dhabi.
Erdoğan and Sheikh Mohammed on Monday oversaw the signing of 13 cooperation agreements and memoranda of understanding, including a letter of intent on cooperation in the defense industries, according to the UAE's official WAM news agency.
★ According to Reuters, production in Turkey's automotive
sector fell 14.7% year-on-year in January to 90,520 vehicles, with exports
falling 12.6% to 67,799, the Automotive Manufacturers Association said on Monday.
★ Turkish consumer confidence weakened in February, survey results from the Turkish Statistical Institute showed on Friday.
The consumer confidence index fell to 71.2 in February from 73.2 in January.
★ With Turkish buyers pausing investment in houses due to surging inflation, NEF, a major builder, is offering buyers land instead of homes as a novel way for Turks to invest in real estate at a time of declining purchasing power, reports Reuters.
★ İlker Aycı, a former adviser to the Turkish president and the former chairman of Turkish Airlines, is now the CEO and managing director of Air India.
Tata Sons appointed him to the helm of the airline on February 14.
★ UPI reports that Muzaffer Kayasan, a 56-year-old Turkish man with leukemia, has tested positive for COVID-19 continuously over 14 months. He had been in isolation from the outside world and his family during this period.
Doctors thank the virus is no longer active in Mr. Kayasan's body, but the genetic sequence from the virus has integrated into the host cell genome, causing positive test results.
★ Turkey's central bank held the key interest rate at 14%. The announcement caused the Turkish lira to lose value slightly, reports MSNBC. Considering that the inflation rate is officially 50%, the real interest rate is negative.
The Turkish currency lost nearly 50% of its value last year due to President Erdoğan's unorthodox economic policies.
Rate cuts last year triggered a currency crisis, and prices skyrocketed. When recent surveys indicated that Mr. Erdoğan is losing popularity among the people, he announced that he would introduce measures that would bring relief to households and businesses from surging power bills. He also said that the value-added tax on staple foods will now be 1% instead of 8%.
★ A survey by Turkey's Statistical Institute showed 16.6% of Turks were unhappy in 2021.
That figure was 9.3% in 2003 when the ruling Justice and Development Party came to power.
★ The Washington-based Heritage Foundation's 2022 Index of Economic Freedom ranks Turkey 107th among 177 nations in terms of economic freedom.
From 76th last year, the country dropped 31 notches in the 2022 index, which measures economic freedom based on 12 factors grouped into four broad categories.
The rule of law (property rights, government integrity, judicial effectiveness)
Government size (government spending, tax burden, fiscal health)
Regulatory efficiency (business freedom, labor freedom, monetary freedom) and
Open markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom
Turkey's overall score is 56.9 out of 100 in the index, classifying it as a mostly-unfree country, below Europe (69.5) and the world average (60). Rwanda and Cambodia are before Turkey in the ranking. At the very bottom are Cuba, Venezuela, and North Korea.
Singapore is up at the top with 84.4 points, followed by Switzerland and Ireland. The U.S. is in 25th place after the United Kingdom.
★ In a press release on February 17, Bitget, a leading global cryptocurrency exchange, announced a partnership with Galatasaray, Turkey's leading and long-standing football club, for the rest of the 2021-22 season.
★ Microsoft announced that Skype can now translate conversations to Turkish on iOS and iPadOS platforms, the website windowscentral.com reports.
Edited by Büşra Ekmekçi, Deniz Çakmakçı, and Selin Aydınlı
★ A new documentary on Turkey's North-Western Aegean town of Ayvalık is out on YouTube. The documentary aims to preserve olive oil and its culture to survive. The motto is " Let It Live For Generations."
Turkey's major olive oil company Komili contributed to the preparation of the documentary titled "In the Light of Knowledge: Ayvalık with Sunay Akın."
The gala screening of the documentary took place in Istanbul's Fişekhane cultural center.
Ayvalık is one of the olive oil centers in Turkey, producing one of the best. The Ayvalık Chamber of Commerce has registered a symbol for the labels of the bottles of olive oil produced there. It has come to mean quality olive oil.
Ayvalık also has a harvest festival at the end of October every year.
The farmers in Ayvalık do everything in line with the yield of the trees: A good harvest can be a harbinger of marriage or divorce!
★ Istanbul's Rahmi M. Koç Museum has added another very special object to its collection: a 1923 Dodge.
The original 1923 Dodge has objects in and around it representing the belongings of farmer families. Among them are suitcases with clothes, hundreds of antiques, and reproductions, from food containers to guitars and chicken coops. These provide a glimpse into the lives of farmers migrating from rural areas to the cities as a result of the 1930s extreme drought in the Midwest.
The collector Frank Kleptz's automobile museum in Indiana previously exhibited the car, preserved without being restored.
A scene from "Two-Person Quarrel"
★ Istanbul's Enka Sanat is staging two plays in the new theater season at Enka Auditorium.
"Picture of Sound" and "Two-Person Quarrel"
The DOT theater troupe will be on stage to present the Picture of Sound. Kieran Hurley wrote the play, and Mert Öner directed it.
The main characters are a woman playwright and a male artist. The woman loses her faith in playwriting, but the man feels good while painting. The two meet on the hills of the city. The play was on stage on February 15.
ELF Productions has produced the play "Two-Person Quarrel" by Romanian-French playwright Eugene Ionesco, a leading representative of the "theater of the absurd." Işıl Kasapoğlu translated and directed the play.
The play tells about the social life after the Second World War. It will meet theater lovers on February 22.
& Enka Sanat is the cultural arm of Turkey's largest construction and engineering company Enka.
At the Sephardic banquet
★ Turkish authorities restored the Great Synagogue in Turkey's northwestern border city of Edirne and reopened it in 2015 as a museum. There are no Jewish people in Edirne now, but a century earlier 20 thousand lived there.
On January 23, there was a Sephardic Jewish dinner banquet in memory of the Jewish citizens in the endowment building behind the synagogue.
Aydemir Ay talked about old Jewish houses and shops. Ay is the co-author of the book "Edirne Jewish Food."
Edirne Mayor Recep Gürkan talked about the contribution of Jewish people to city life. He added that Edirne is a multicultural place.
Many prominent people came together at this event. The guests ate Sephardic food and listened to Ladino music.
Ladino is the language of the Sephardic Jewish people derived from medieval Spanish. "Sepharad" means "Spain" in Hebrew, and Sephardic Jewish people are descendants of people exiled by the Spanish king in 1492 and brought to Ottoman territories by Sultan Beyazıt II.
★ According to Agence France-Presse, a lake in eastern Turkey has been turned into a winter recreation area.
Located between the eastern provinces of Kars and Ardahan, Lake Çıldır freezes over during the winter months. When the ice thickness reaches 20 inches, locals and tourists take advantage of its frozen surface and ride across the icy landscape in horse-drawn sleighs.
The lake covers 47.4 sq mi and reaches 49 feet in depth. The elevation there is 6,400 feet.
★ Turkish Philanthropy Funds announced that it is giving Hamdi Ulukaya, the founder and CEO of Chobani, the Philanthropist of the Year Award.
The award ceremony will take place on May 9 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Raised in eastern Turkey, Hamdi Ulukaya founded Chobani in 2005 with the mission of making better food more accessible and providing good food for all while also improving local communities. Selling the first cup of yogurt in 2007, Chobani became the No. 1-selling Greek Yogurt brand in the U.S. less than five years later. A devoted philanthropist, Ulukaya signed the Giving Pledge and founded the Tent Partnership for Refugees in 2016 to help end the global refugee crisis.
Turkish Philanthropy Funds is a leading U.S. community foundation for high-impact social investments dedicated to Turkish and Turkish-American communities.
★ During the excavations in the ancient city of Germanikea in Turkey's southeastern province of Kahramanmaraş, archaeologists found a 500-square-foot mosaic from 1500 years ago, reports the daily Duvar. The mosaic features an open-air feast where three women are dancing to music.
Safinaz Acıpayam, the director of the Kahramanmaraş Museum, gave information about the excavations and said that the mosaic was a continuation of a previously found mosaic depicting hunting scenes.
She said they are planning to open the area to visitation at the end of 2022 and that the excavations will continue where the mosaic is.
An illegal excavation in August 2007 by treasure hunters uncovered the ancient city of Germanikea.
★ In the indoor archery competitions in Slovenia, Turkish archers garnered ten medals, five of them as individuals and five as teams.
★ Euroleague basketball: Turkish teams are not in a more up at the top this year. Fenerbahçe is in eighth place, and Anadolu Efes is in ninth.
★ Gymnastics: The International Gymnastics Federation World Cup 2022 AGF Trophy took place in Azerbaijan. Turkey's Sıla Karakuş and Livanur Yalçın came in first in the trampoline women synchro event. - In the men's trampoline synchro event, Turkey's Gürkan Mutlu and Hüseyin Engin Yontucu came in the fourth.
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