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x0x Turkish News for the week ending 19 March 2022

[This is a transcript of the news broadcast on 19 March 2022]

Courtesy of Turkish Radio Hour, producer of the

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★ German Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited the Turkish capital Ankara on March 14 and held talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

  The office of the Turkish president said the talks involved a review of bilateral ties, regional and international issues, mainly the Ukraine-Russia conflict, and European Union-Turkey relations.


★ Another visitor to Turkey last week was the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. He also met with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

  Both countries are NATO members. However, there are ongoing disputes between the two on maritime borders, continental shelf issues, air space borders, and exploration for hydrocarbon in the Aegean and Mediterranean.

  After the meeting, the office of the Turkish president said that the two leaders decided to keep communication channels open and improve relations.

  Mitsotakis also met with the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I, who resides in Istanbul and is a Turkish citizen.

  After getting back to Athens on March 15, Mr. Mitsotakis announced on Twitter that he tested positive for COVID-19 and would be isolating at home.

★ On March 14, Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan said it was too early to comment on Turkey's possible purchase of more arms from Russia, given Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

  Speaking in Ankara alongside German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Mr. Erdoğan said Turkey had provided support for Ukraine in a manner NATO allies had not been able to despite its ties with Russia. Ankara was continuing to send humanitarian aid to Kyiv, he said.

  Turkey is currently under U. S. sanctions due to its purchase of Russian S-400 missile defense systems. The U. S. removed it from the F-35 advanced fighter jet purchases. Turkey was planning to purchase 100 of the new fighters.

★ According to the Turkish daily Duvar, Turkey ranked 112th out of 146 countries in the World Happiness Report 2022, regressing eight rows compared to last year. It was 59th place in the 2020 report.

  The report is based on a survey conducted by Gallup.

  Turkey experienced its worst inflation rate in the last two decades, as its annual inflation jumped to a record-high of 54.4 percent. Independent researchers say it is more than 100%, in February this year, which followed a year marked by a currency crash.

  The report analyzes per capita income, freedom, health, social support, corruption, education, and purchasing power to arrive at the index.

  Finland was in the first place and was the happiest country on earth, while Afghanistan was in the last place. The U. S. was 16th and Russia 80th.

  Read more >> here <<

★ According to Hacı Bişkin of daily Duvar, former civil servants who have been sacked in waves of purges after the 2016 coup attempt find it impossible to land jobs. They are in government records as having been dismissed by a state of emergency decrees, making employers reluctant to hire them, although no legal obstacles prevent their employment.

  A recruiter told one individual when he did not hire him: "The boss told me, 'If we hire you, we would get into trouble; we will be on bad terms with the government'."

  According to records, at least 125,000 people are in this category. They include teachers, police officers, prosecutors, judges, academics. The government accuses all of them of having links to the coup attempt. However, analysts point out that many opposing the Justice and Development Party administration put into this category to silence and punish them.

★ The Turkish medical Association condemned a bill proposed by the Justice and Development Party administration to combat violence in health. The Association said that the bill did not meet their expectations and urged the government to implement their recommendations.

  In recent years, Turkish doctors and other medical staff have been subjected to violence by patients and their relatives. Some were even killed.

  The bill came as Turkish physicians went on a two-day strike earlier this week to protest the work conditions.

  The Association said that the bill is disappointing.

  As we reported to you in the previous weeks, Turkey's physicians are moving abroad in large numbers. President Erdoğan said, "they can leave if they want to." Many criticized him for his indifference. However, on March 14, Medical Day, he praised the physicians.

  According to the daily Duvar, this is what he said: "This country both owes and needs its doctors. The most select children of this nation are being raised in medical schools and training and research hospitals and are mostly in public service."

★ According to Müzeyyen Yüce of daily Duvar, the Justice and Development Party administration also introduced a bill to combat violence against women. Women's groups criticized a provision in the draft law that says a display of remorse during the trial process for a crime against the woman could result in a reduction of sentence.

  The bill calls for increased sentences for stalking and femicide. However, women's groups say the reforms are not satisfactory, and women's situation in Turkey will not change.

  There was an international convention on crime against women in 2011 in Istanbul. Turkey agreed to implement the recommendations. However, last year the Justice and Development Party administration withdrew from the convention claiming that the laws in Turkey are adequate to protect women. It is the only country that has done so.

  You can read about the Istanbul convention  >> here <<

★ According to the Voice of America, Turkish authorities have rejected the citizenship applications of some Uyghur refugees, telling them they were suspected risks to Turkey's "national security" or "social order."

  "Phone communication" was why Turkey rejected one Uyghur family for citizenship last year. While the family doesn't know what that means, rights organizations say the term could mean that the person applying for citizenship has communicated with someone connected to an extremist organization in another country such as Syria.

  About 8,000 Uyghurs did become Turkish citizens last year, according to a rights group that wished to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal.

  In recent years, an estimated 50,000 Uyghurs fled to Turkey from western China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, where rights groups say the Chinese government is committing human rights abuses on local Turkic populations such as Uyghurs and Kazakhs.

★ Nihat Zeybekci, a member of the presidency's economic policies team and former economy minister, has said the government could adjust the national minimum wage again this year as wages melt due to soaring consumer prices.

★ As expected, Turkey's Central Bank kept its key rate steady at 14% for the third straight month on March 17, sticking to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's unorthodox policy plan despite the fallout from the war that has increased energy costs.

★ According to the Turkish daily Dünya, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russian citizens are flocking to Turkey and depositing large sums in Turkish banks. Turkey allows residency to foreigners if they deposit a certain amount in a Turkish bank.

  Another news article said that Turkish banks are turning away some Russians who want to make deposits for fear of breaking Western sanctions on Russia.

  Turkey currently is not implementing sanctions on Russia, saying that it won't resolve the war in Ukraine.

  A Voice of America reporter wrote on March 17 that Turkey's Opposition to Russian Sanctions Stokes Suspicions of Sanctions-Busting, quoting shutdown Timothy Ash, an emerging-market analyst in London. Ash said that there are concerns that Turkey is helping Russians to circumvent the sanctions.

★ Leaders of Turkey's tourism sector say that as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, tourism to Turkey this summer will drop significantly, leading the industry in dire straits.

  According to data from the Ministry of Tourism, Russia is Turkey's top source of tourists, with 4.7 million Russians comprising 19% of the country's total tourists in 2021. Ukraine comes in third place, with 2.3 million visitors (an 8.3% share).

  Last year Turkey earned $24.5 billion from tourism. In 2019 before the pandemic started, this was 34 1/2 billion dollars.

  Read more >> here <<

★ President Erdoğan opened the world's longest suspension bridge in his latest megaprojects. It crosses over the Dardanelles. Connecting the European and Asian parts of Turkey, it spans 6637 feet.

  Economists say some of the previous megaprojects of Mr. Erdoğan are not profitable and are a burden on the taxpayers. It is not unclear if this bridge is going to be any different.


Edited by Saadet Ejder


★ The sixth Heritage Istanbul fair will be on again this year, Faruk Şüyün of the daily Dünya reports. The local and foreign participants will come together at the Lütfi Kırdar International Convention and Exhibition Center between May 11-13 and attend discussions and talks on conservation, restoration, archeology, museum, and technology.

  Osman Murat Akan, the founder of the Heritage Projects, said that Turkey and particularly Istanbul rank at the top among the world's cultural heritage sites. He added that as the heritage team, they are honored to see that the fair is the meeting place of all professionals interested.

  The Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Turkey, the ministry's Directorate of Foundations, and the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality support Heritage Istanbul 2022.


★ The Gastronomy Guide with Pearls just published its fourth edition for the Turkish eateries, Faruk Şüyün of the daily Dünya reports. The 2022 guide retains the core locations of Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Bodrum, Antalya, and Bursa. It also added the southeastern city of Gaziantep.

  Gaziantep is the first city to join the UNESCO Creative Cities Network with its gastronomy. The 2022 edition includes 594 restaurants and 453 flavor spots.

  The categories include restaurants, fish restaurants, kebab eateries, street food restaurants, taverns, flavor stops, and newly opened venues. The guide also has shopping venues that sell online due to pandemic conditions.

  The Turkish daily Hürriyet writer Müge Akgün, coordinator of the project, draws attention to the fact that the Gastronomy Guide with Pearls has evaluated the restaurants with transparency and impartiality.

  Ms. Akgün said, "The Gastronomy Guide with Pearls came out with a real team effort this time. Very renowned names supported us as honorary board members. Working with great dedication, they re-visited the restaurants they had visited in the past 18 months. All believed in and supported the project."


★ March 18, Turks commemorate their martyrs that sacrificed their lives at Gallipoli against the invaders at the beginning of the First World War. The Turkish army was able to stop the world's mightiest armada made up of British, French, and Italian naval forces at the Dardanelles straight.

  As part of the 107th-anniversary commemorations, Istanbul State Symphony Orchestra had a concert at the AKM Theater Hall. Burak Tüzün, General Music Director of Hacettepe University Symphony Orchestra, conducted the orchestra, Faruk Şüyün of the daily Dünya reports.

  The soloist was the soprano Hülya Kazan of the Ankara State Opera and Ballet. Bilkent Symphony Orchestra cellist Serdar Rasul accompanied her.

  The musicians performed Turkish composer Can Atilla's "57th Regiment Gallipoli Symphony" that he composed for the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli Victory. The symphony takes its name from the 57th Regiment, its soldiers all martyred in the war.


★ Starting March 31, Yapı Kredi Culture and Art Publishing will host the exhibition "Momento Istanbul: Hristoff Family Archive." It features photographs, paintings, personal belongings, and objects a family of three generations of artists has accumulated over the years. "Momento Istanbul" also highlights a city's history, Faruk Şüyün of the daily Dünya reports.

  Hristoff family was artists of Bulgarian origin. The family members were painters, printers, and photographers.

  Peter Hristoff, one of their descendants, is an artist in New York. He also teaches at the School of Visual Arts there. He is working with the Yapı Kredi Culture and loaned some of the family objects.

  Hristoff family also participated in Turkish broadcasts in New York on the "Turkish Voice" radio program. The exhibition will have voice recordings from these programs.

  You can visit the "Momento Istanbul: Hristoff Family Archive" at Yapı Kredi Culture through August 7, 2022.


★ Garanti BBVA Concerts, interrupted due to the pandemic, started again as of March 19 to say hello to spring. Renowned names of pop music will meet with music lovers in three different concerts, Faruk Şüyün of the daily Dünya reports.

  The Büyük Ev Ablukada band performed today at the IF Performance Hall Beşiktaş. The band's name translates as "The Big House is under Siege."

  Yüzyüzeyken Konuşuruz band will be performing their favorite songs together with fans on March 23, at IF Performance Hall Beşiktaş. The band's name translates as "We Speak When We Are Face-To-Face."

  Known worldwide for their indie pop and electropop style, Kid Francescoli will meet with the audience on April 7 at Zorlu PSM Turkcell Stage.


★ According to the Turkish daily Duvar, Turkish singer Yasemin Göksu has said she refused a request by a company to use one of her songs for a promotional video for Limak Holding, a company with close links to the government.

  The company wanted to use her song "Mendilimin Yeşili" (Green in my handkerchief) for a video to mark Çanakkale Victory and Martyrs' Day.

  "A company that will prepare a March 18 Çanakkale Victory video for Limak Holding said it wants to use my 'Mendilimin Yeşili' folk song. I thought I had a nail stuck in my backbone. If I ever earn a penny from them, it will be dirty money. I would rather stay hungry!" Göksü tweeted on March 14.

  Limak is one of the five construction companies regarded as [President] Erdoğan's oligarchs.

  Turkey's private-public partnership model has been used to fund megaprojects that include bridges, ports, roads, and airports.

  Observers accuse the Turkish government of favorably handing out tenders to these five companies close to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's ruling Justice and Development Party through this system.


★ A documentary about the life of the phenomenal Turkish chef Nusret Gökçe, more widely known as "Salt Bae," will be out soon.

  An American director will shoot the docudrama-style film, which will air on Disney Plus, TV100 reported.

  Reports say that the platform wants to enter the Turkish market quickly and will make similar films for legendary names like singer Barış Manço and actor Kemal Sunal.

  Nusret, known for his signature salt-sprinkling pose, currently has 43 million followers on Instagram.

  Salt Bae, who made Nusr-Et a major global brand, has recently opened his 32nd restaurant in Las Vegas.

  He has five other restaurants in the U. S.

★ Hundreds of Russians lined up outside an Istanbul club on March 15, to get a glimpse of Oxxxymiron, a rapper who rattled the Russian celebrity world with bold statements against his country's invasion of Ukraine. The show sold out quickly.

  The 37-year-old, whose real name is Miron Fyodorov, postponed concerts in Moscow and St. Petersburg because of the Russian invasion, which he called a "catastrophe and a crime."

  He has since announced a series of charity concerts, entitled "Russians Against War", the proceeds of which will be donated to help Ukrainian refugees fleeing.

  His high-octane performance also streamed live on his social media accounts and YouTube, and around 40,000 people watched it.


★ Aleksandr Melnykov, a Ukrainian artist of Russian origin, has sought safety in Turkey after staying in a shelter for about a week in Ukraine.

  His friends in Turkey invited him to continue his work there.

  Melnykov called for peace between Russia and Ukraine at an art fair in the Turkish capital Ankara.

  "We hope that these attacks will end immediately and not last for long. We want these aggressive movements to end immediately," Melnykov said.

  Melnykov was born in Russia but got his education in Ukraine's capital Kyiv, Ukraine. He later set up a studio in the Ukrainian capital, but after the Russian bombings started, he and his wife did not feel safe.

  They arrived in Turkey with their three cats after a seven-day journey.

★ The Music Interpreters Professional Union, a copyright collective for musicians in Turkey, has called on the government to lift the ban on music past midnight.

  As part of coronavirus restrictions, in July 2021, Turkey imposed a ban on music, live or broadcast, after midnight. President Erdoğan announced the ban saying, "Take no offense, but no one has the right to disturb others at night."

  In a statement on March 17, the union said that musicians and workers of the entertainment industry were in a difficult economic situation. The union said that although the government lifted all of the bans of the pandemic measures, the ban on music is still in effect. It emphasized that this ban will also deal a blow to the tourism sector in the upcoming months.

  The statement was signed by renowned musicians who make up the MÜYORBİR Board of Directors -- Burhan Şeşen, Belkıs Akkale, Edip Akbayram, Fettah Can, Hüseyin Turan, Mehmet Gümüş, Mustafa Özarslan and Onur Akın.

★ The municipality of Haliliye district in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa, run by the ruling Justice and Development Party, will spend 1 million liras to turn the house where famous Turkish singer İbrahim Tatlıses was born into a museum, the daily BirGün reported.

  On February 21, The municipality held a tender with the title "İbrahim Tatlıses Museum Construction." Only four companies were able to bid, and a firm owned by Ömer Ferhat Tavaş, a businessman with close ties to the ruling party, won.

  The Haliliye Municipality and Tavaş's firm signed a contract worth one million liras on March 14. The project will turn the house where Tatlıses was born into a museum in 90 days.

  Tatlıses had previously said that the house he was born in would be restored and then opened to tourism. "I want people to see the cave where I was born and grew up because they don't know. God let me, and I became famous and rich," he had said.

  Meanwhile, Justice and Development Party-run Şanlıurfa Municipality's Press and Public Relations Directorate released a promotional video on YouTube about the project. It said that the museum aims to "honor" Tatlıses' memory and "pass it on to the future generations."


★ Dr. Engin Beksaç, director of the art history division at the Trakya University, says that treasure hunters are destroying the Thracian dolmens dating back to 3500 years ago.

  Dolmens are Neolithic tombs consisting of two or more upright stones with a capstone.

  Dr. Beksaç is warning that the dolmens may completely disappear. About 60 of them exist in Turkey's European part.

  The treasure hunters think that there are valuable objects buried under the stones. He says there is none. The Thracian people at that time did not think of putting anything of value in the graves. Even no skeletal remains exist in some since ancients used these for rituals only.

  He says the only value in dolmens is in tourism. They provide significant income in France, Spain, and England.
★ Recent research indicates that Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun's meteoric iron dagger may have originated in what is now modern Turkey.

  Archaeologists discovered the dagger in 1925 in the 14th century BC pharaohs tomb in the Kings Valley excavations in Egypt.

  Researchers think that the dagger was probably a gift to the ancestors of the pharaohs by the Mitannis, a Hurrian-speaking state in northern Syria and southeast Anatolia.


★ Turkish rural police in the black sea district of Amasra court for people who were getting ready to blow up a monument dating back to the Romans.

  Two of the suspects turned out to be military personnel.

  The suspects were after treasures supposedly behind the façade of the monument carved into the rocks.

  Romans built the monument during the reign of Emperor Tiberius Germanicus Claudius.


Edited by Ertuğrul Korkmaz

★ Turkish businessman Muhsin Bayrak on March 16 told Reuters that his company was preparing to submit a bid to buy English soccer club Chelsea but that he seeks Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich's approval. Britain froze Abramovich's assets and disqualified him as a director of Chelsea soccer Club after the sanctions on Russia.


★ in a Euroleague basketball championships game played in Lithuania, Turkey's Anadolu Efes beat the host team Zalgiris 85 -72.

★ In the 2022 International Federation of Gymnasts apparatus World Cup in Cairo Egypt, Turkish gymnast Ibrahim Çolak won a silver medal. The goal went to Paul Juda of the U.S.


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