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x0x Turkish News for the week ending 18 June 2022

[This is a transcript of the news broadcast on 18 June 2022]

Courtesy of Turkish Radio Hour, producer of the

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★ Turkey and Greece have long-standing issues on territorial waters, airspace, and oil and gas exploration rights in the Mediterranean and Aegean seas.

  In the past few years, the tensions have gone up considerably. Here is what happened this week between the two countries:

  According to the Turkish news site T24, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday reiterated his policy on Greece, saying he would refuse to talk to the Greek politicians until an honest one emerges.

  The Turkish leader made his remarks to journalists after Friday prayers at a mosque in Ankara.

  Mr. Erdoğan announced some weeks ago that he would not talk to the Greek politicians after the Greek Prime Minister went to the U. S. and held a series of meetings, including one at the Congress, and discussed the issues from the Greek perspective. Mr. Erdoğan says that the two sides agreed not to get third parties involved in their disputes and resolve them themselves.

  Although Mr. Erdoğan is not talking to the Greek politicians, his defense minister Hulusi Akar is. Mr. Akar met with his Greek counterpart on the sidelines of a NATO meeting on Thursday, Turkey's state-run Anatolia news agency reported.

  According to a statement from the Turkish Ministry of Defense, Mr. Akar and Greece's Nikos Panagiotopoulos emphasized the importance of continuing the dialogue to reduce tensions.

  According to Reuters, Turkey has adopted an "absurd" position regarding Greece's sovereignty over its Aegean islands, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Tuesday.

  The stance of the Turkish government makes talks between the two countries to resolve their differences difficult, Mitsotakis said in an interview with state-run television channel ERT.

  In related news, DW reported that German Chancellor Olaf Scholtz visited Greece. Among the issues discussed with Greek officials was the tension between Turkey and Greece. Chancellor Scholtz says his goal is to resolve the dispute. Read more >> here <<

★ According to the daily Duvar, on Thursday, Istanbul police detained 10 district officials and members of the opposition pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party in raids across the megacity.

  Duvar wrote that the Peoples Democratic Party İstanbul provincial chairman Ferhat Encü has said the move was part of an effort to dissolve the party. The party is Turkey's third-largest party in the parliament.

  Also, Turkey's Media and Law Studies Association said that on Thursday, authorities formally arrested 16 Kurdish journalists detained the previous week.

  Among the journalist arrested are Tigris-Euphrates Journalists' Association co-chair Serdar Altan, JinNews Director Safiye Alagaş, and Mesopotamia news agency editor Aziz Oruç.

  Police detained twenty journalists in dawn raids in their homes and workplaces on June 8 in Turkey's southeastern Diyarbakır province and held them in custody without formally charging them.

  Police released four of them under judicial control on Thursday.

★ According to the Anatolia News Agency, Turkey is holding talks with Russia and Iran on Syria within the scope of the Astana peace process in the Kazakh capital of Nur Sultan.

  Turkey, a NATO member, is cooperating with Russia on regional issues despite the latter's invasion of Ukraine. Last week, Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Turkey for talks with top Turkish officials on bilateral and regional issues and the war in Ukraine.

  Turkey has condemned the invasion. However, it has not imposed sanctions on Russia and allows Russian oligarchs into the country as tourists and investors.

  Diplomats and policymakers from the three countries will discuss the conditions for the safe return of Syrian refugees and the humanitarian and socioeconomic situation in Syria during the 18th Astana meeting.

  The meeting ended on Thursday.

★ Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is now mad at the Turkish Business and Industrialists Association, Turkey's top business organization, for questioning Mr. Erdoğan's handling of the bids of Finland and Sweden for NATO membership and advocating that Turkey resolve the issue through negotiations and mutual understanding, with the spirit of the alliance.

  Mr. Erdoğan opposes the two Nordic countries' membership, saying that the two countries are harboring terrorists, and Sweden has an arms embargo on Turkey.

  Mr. Erdoğan spoke on Wednesday after the association chairman Orhan Turan expressed warnings about the state of the country's economy. Another association leader urged the government to seek the advice of experts on economic policy.

  Mr. Erdoğan said: "Hey, you, the new head of the Turkish Business and Industrialists Association, you cannot teach us foreign policy lessons!" Mr. Erdoğan added that unless the association changed its mind, he would not allow them to maintain contact with the government."

★ In related news, according to Deutsche Welle , NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday that the Swedish government was ready "to address Turkey's concerns" as part of its bid for NATO membership. Secretary-General's announcement came after he had talks with Mr. Erdoğan. He also met with Finland's Prime Minister.

★ Dissent is getting even more dangerous in Turkey, where President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has assumed complete control over all of Turkey's institutions and turned the country into a populist-authoritarian regime, Henri Barkey wrote in the World Politics Review.

  Mr. Erdoğan, "the sole decision-maker who sets the country's agenda," "has sought to polarize Turkish society by constantly denigrating his opponents, calling them enemies of Turkey, questioning their legitimate right to engage in politics, and making ample use of conspiracy theories to shift the blame for any challenges the country faces," said Barkey.

  Barkey adds that Mr. Erdoğan tolerates no dissent within his ruling Justice and Development Party, having purged anyone who questioned his judgment, even those who helped him come to power.

  Now the question is whether Mr. Erdoğan would even let the opposition win a free and fair election in next year's polls or whether he will attempt to hold onto power by any means possible, Barkey said.

  Henri Barkey is an Adjunct Senior Fellow for Middle East studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and the Cohen Professor of International Relations at Lehigh University.

★ Turkey is deporting thousands of Afghans despite an international outcry about the dire humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, where the international community accuses the Taliban of human rights violations.

  In January 2022, Turkey was the second country, following Pakistan, to resume direct flights to Afghanistan months after all international flights to the landlocked country stopped once the former Afghan government crumbled on August 15.

  According to Turkish officials and the International Organization for Migration, Turkey sent back an estimated 18,000 Afghans In the past six months.

  In the four months following the Taliban's return to power, nearly 840,000 Afghans crossed international borders without travel documents, almost twice as many as during January-August 2021, according to figures compiled by the International Organization for Migration.

  Turkey is a major transit destination for Afghans on their way to seek refugee status in Europe. At least 23,000 Afghans sought asylum in Germany last year. Turkey also hosts the largest refugee population in the world, 3.8 million, most from Syria, the U. N. refugee agency wrote in a report Thursday.

  Most Afghans have to cross neighboring Iran to enter Turkey. In 2021, Iran deported 760,000 Afghans.


★ The Turkish government is considering another hike to the minimum wage amid an over two-decade high surge in inflation, which far exceeds wages, Bloomberg reported Friday.

★ Turkish firms have registered a 260 percent increase in closures compared to May last year, according to a report by the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey, the Diken news site reported on Friday.

★ According to daily Duvar, on June 16, Ergün Atalay, the head of Turkey's largest labor union Türk-İş, held a meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Following the meeting, Atalay said Mr. Erdoğan told him that the government was "conducting work" to improve the minimum wage and that the government would announce the plan to the public in the upcoming days.

★ A recent report by the rating agency S&P Global said that Turkey and Tunisia are among the most exposed to changing global liquidity conditions among the emerging markets.

  Banks in Turkey appear to have sufficient foreign currency to deal with severe financial stress. However, a large proportion of the amount is with the central bank or the government, reducing the usability of the foreign currency in a worst-case scenario.

  S&P said that the "broad liquid assets" of Turkish banks in foreign currency amounted to around $154.8 billion at the end of March, including mandatory reserves of $49.9 billion. Furthermore, $75.9 billion of those foreign assets were with Turkey's central bank. Read more >> here <<

★ "I guess we can kind of say that in recent years, under Erdoğan's crazy interest rate policies, the lira is in a state of constant crisis," said Tim Ash, senior emerging markets strategist at BlueBay Asset Management in London.

★ On June 15, Deutsche Welle's Elmas Topçu wrote that inflation is a problem everywhere, but in Turkey, it is currently a staggering 73.5% with no insight. This figure is the official inflation rate. The independent economists say that it is more like 160%.

  Still, President Erdoğan insists on maintaining low-interest rates. Elmas Topçu added that Mr. Erdoğan's fiscal policies are fueling skyrocketing inflation. Read more >> here <<

  Elmas Topçu writes that Mr. Erdoğan hopes his low-interest-rate policy will attract foreign investors, giving the economy a much-needed boost. Erdoğan understands full well what effect inflation can have on election results scheduled for next year. Voters may punish him and his party.

★ According to the T24 news, speaking at his party's headquarters in the Turkish capital Ankara, Turkey's opposition DEVA Party Chairman Ali Babacan said on Wednesday that the country was on the verge of total bankruptcy.

  He said that backdrops the means that the Republic of Turkey cannot pay for the natural gas and oil it imports. "Bankruptcy means people will not be able to meet basic needs such as gas and diesel even with money. You have money [but] you can't get more than half a gas tank. Or you wait in a queue for 3 hours. That is bankruptcy," Babacan added.

★ Turkish sales of new and existing homes more than doubled in May from a year earlier, helped by a tenfold increase in Russian purchases and an annual jump in mortgage lending.

  According to the Turkish Statistical Institute, Sales increased to 123,000 units last month from 59,000 in May last year.

  Sales of homes to foreigners jumped by an annual 236 percent to 6000 units. Russians bought 1,275 units, the largest among foreigners. Russian citizens purchased 119 homes in May 2011.

★ On Monday, Abu Dhabi-based investment and holding company ADQ announced that it has agreed to acquire Birgi Mefar Group (BMG), one of Turkey's leading producers of sterile injectable products. ADQ did not disclose the worth of the deal.

  BMG, which exports to more than 30 countries, including markets across Europe and Asia, also produces primary packaging ampoules for other sterile injectables and specializes in the growing demand for drug lyophilization.

  In January, the central banks of Turkey and the United Arab Emirates signed a currency swap agreement worth almost $5 billion as part of an effort by Turkish authorities to bolster the Turkish currency, which lost 44 percent of its value against the dollar last year.

  According to the UAE officials, trade volume between the two countries has increased to 13.6 billion, after many years of feuding between the two countries, started by Mr. Erdoğan.


Edited by Saadet Ejder


★ Turkey's İşbank campaign dubbed "Show Your Report Card, Buy Your Book" is entering its 15th year. This year, it features Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" and Frances Hodgson Burnett's "The Secret Garden."

  İşbank started this project years ago to develop the habit of reading books in children. More than 14 million books have been brought together with children in 14 years.

  In addition, it is possible to read both books digitally through the Kumbara Magazine portal and on mobile devices by downloading the Kumbara Magazine application.

  The campaign will also send books to children in boarding schools and prisons and deliver books printed in braille alphabet to schools for visually impaired children.

  Hakan Aran, General Manager of İşbank, said: "Reading books mean to read and understand yesterday, today and tomorrow."

  He said they would continue to develop the campaign in the coming years.


★ Nuri İyem Painting Awards winners received their awards on Thursday. Nearly 300 participants from 42 provinces of Turkey participated in the award with 449 photographs.

  İbrahim Özsözgün won the Nuri İyem Painting Award and received a sculpture representing the Nuri İyem Painting Awards and 15 thousand Turkish liras.

  Elif Akçay won the Evin İyem Special Award and received a reproduction of the Nasip İyem sculpture representing the award and 7500 Turkish liras.

  Zeynep Can won the Special Jury Award.

  Award-winning paintings and works selected for exhibition by the selection committee are at Evin Art Gallery until July 7.



★ Istanbul State Opera and Ballet staged Giuseppe Verdi's latest masterpiece "Falstaff" on June 15. The event took place at Atatürk Cultural Center's Türk Telekom Opera Hall.

  Verdi adapted the work from William Shakespeare's plays "The Happy Women of Windsor" and "Henry IV." One of the reasons why Verdi wanted to compose an opera based on Shakespeare's plays was the composer's admiration for Shakespeare. The plot is the complex private life of one of Shakespeare's funniest characters, the fat, disgraced Falstaff.

  In a plot full of love, money, and intrigue, he emphasizes that everything in this world is a joke.

★ To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the publication of James Joyce's masterpiece "Ulysses", various events will be held in 18 cities mentioned in the novel.

  One of these cities is Istanbul.

  The work, first published in 1922, is considered the beginning of the modern novel. It contains, according to some, the first traces of post-modernism.

  Each city participating in the project will send two artists to other cities. One of the activities will involve a writer or journalist from each city writing the process. At the end of the project, a book will feature the articles from the 18 cities.

  The celebrations will conclude with a grand symposium in Dublin in 2024, where each city will pose 15 questions questioning their theme and making proposals.

  Istanbul events take place in June 2023.


★ Turkey's North Western city of Bursa's first private art venue, İmalat-Hane, continues to feature exhibitions one after the other.

  The second exhibition hosted guests from both Bursa and Istanbul. Nilüfer Municipality presented to the art lovers "Look at Starry Horizons in a Limited Geography". The "From Time to Time" series was also on simultaneously.

  The exhibition consists of videos of Ali Kazma. Videos focus on time and rhythm. The artist emphasizes human perception, shaping, changing, and recreating the world.

  Murat Alat, art director of İmalat-Hane, says the following about both the space and the "From Time to Time" exhibition:

  "We are trying to establish a dialectical relationship between the local and the universal. We aim for work that has not been done before with an innovative attitude."

  The exhibition will continue until August 14.


Edited by Ertuğrul Korkmaz

★ In the archery championship held in Germany, Turkey's Mete Gazoz received a Bronze medal

★ In the Challenge Artistic Gymnastics Championships, Turkey's Adem Asil received gold, silver, and bronze medals in different categories.

  In Women's, Göksu Üçtaş Şanlı received a bronze medal.

★ At the 17th FIG Aerobic World Championships in Portugal, Turkey's Ayşe Begüm Onbaşı received a silver medal.

★ In the women's volleyball championships, the Turkish team lost to Brazil 3-1 and 3-2 to Serbia.


[Saat 14:30 and 15:30 'da iki kez okuyun]

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