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x0x Turkish News for the week ending 02 July 2022
[This is a transcript of the news broadcast on 02 July 2022]
Courtesy of Turkish Radio Hour, producer of the
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★ Turkey removed its objection to the NATO membership of Finland and Sweden after the two countries signed a memorandum with Turkey to address Turkey's concerns, Agence France-Presse reports.
President Joe Biden thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday for dropping his objections to the bids of the two Nordic countries.
In response, speaking through an interpreter, Erdoğan said that Biden's "pioneering in this regard is going to be crucial in terms of strengthening NATO for the future, and it's going to have a very positive contribution to the process between Ukraine and Russia."
Turkish officials are saying that the two countries are supporting terrorist groups in Turkey and giving refuge to their members. Swedish arms embargo on Turkey is also one of the concerns.
The three countries signed the memorandum on the sidelines of the NATO meeting in Spain.
Turkish Parliament has to ratify the memorandum. On Thursday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told Sweden and Finland that he could still block their drives to join NATO if they failed to implement the deal.
After Russia invaded Ukraine, Finland and Sweden, the two nonaligned Nordic countries, decided to join NATO.
Read more >> here <<
★ RTUK, Turkey's radio and television supreme Council blocked the Voice of America's Turkish language content and Germany's Deutsche Welle's news sites Thursday after both public broadcasters declined to apply for licenses as requested by Turkish regulators.
In February, RTUK asked three international broadcasters, including VOA and DW, to obtain licenses or to have their content blocked. At the time, VOA issued a statement that said its charter prevents VOA from agreeing to or allowing censorship of its coverage.
İlhan Taşcı, an RTUK board member from the main opposition Republican People's Party and vocal critic of the licensing demand, announced Thursday on Twitter that a Turkish court blocked access to VOA's Turkish Service and DW.
"Here is your freedom of the press and advanced democracy!" Taşcı added to his tweet sarcastically.
Peter Limbourg, the director-general of DW, said the broadcaster would take legal action over the block.
VOA Acting Director Yolanda López said the network "firmly objects" to RTUK's decision, which she described as "a thinly veiled effort to censor unfavorable press coverage."
With this decision, the courts used the authority of RTUK over news websites for the first time, said Can Güleryüzlü, president of the Progressive Journalists Association.
Yaman Akdeniz, a cyberlaw professor at Istanbul Bilgi University, told VOA Turkish that "complete access blocking to these news websites can only be described as censorship."
"This access ban expands government control over freedom of expression and press freedom in Turkey and clearly exposes the websites of these outlets to being censored or banned. As such, we do not see it as a simple, technical requirement," the spokesperson added.
Turkey has a poor record for press freedom, ranking 149 out of 180 countries on the World Press Freedom Index, for which 1 is the freest.
Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders, which compiles the annual index, says that discriminatory practices against media in Turkey are commonplace and that the RTUK "helps to weaken critical TV channels economically, by giving them heavy fines."
On Friday, New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists called Turkey to reverse its decision.
★ DW reports that Putin's decision to invade Ukraine has prompted thousands of people critical of the war to leave Russia. Istanbul proved a popular choice, either for transit or a new home.
Eva Rapoport, photographer and cultural anthropologist, is one of the coordinators of the "The Ark." They have helped hundreds of Russians since March, providing temporary shelter and psychological support in the Armenian capital Yerevan and Istanbul.
Rapoport, who has been living in Istanbul since 2020, left Russia when she decided not to pursue her career in a country that she says has "no future." She estimates that around 3,000 Russians moved to Turkey after the war. Read more >> here <<
★ DW reports that Turkey, with a currency crisis in recent months, is getting closer to more serious capital controls. The latest move in a series of recent unorthodox attempts to bolster the weakening lira without raising interest rates has come from the country's banking regulator, BRSA.
The Turkish authority announced a new directive on June 24, banning lira-based commercial loans to some firms. Accordingly, a company with foreign currency cash assets of more than $895,000 and exceeding 10% of total assets or annual sales will not be able to obtain a new local- currency loan. This decision means that Turkish companies may have to sell their foreign currency holdings.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's attitude toward interest is quite clear. Heeding the president's stance, Turkey's central bank (CBRT) and the BRSA continue to make regulations that upsets the system.
Claiming that high-interest rates cause higher inflation even though most economists say the opposite, Mr. Erdoğan frequently reiterates his calls for interest rate cuts. After a cabinet meeting in Ankara earlier this month, he said: "This government will not hike interest rates, no one should expect this from us. On the contrary, it will continue cutting the rates."
Turkey has struggled with a weak lira and high inflation for months as Mr. Erdoğan has refused to allow interest rate hikes despite soaring inflation. The official inflation rate was 74% in May. However, independent economists calculate it to be over 160%.
DW adds that high inflation is fueling the brain drain in Turkey.
★ According to DW, large quantities of cyanide solution have spilled into the Karasu River in Turkey after a pipe carrying cyanide exploded in a gold mine. But experts say the mine has always caused heavy environmental damage.
The spill occurred in Turkey's Eastern Erzincan province earlier in June. It failed to attract widespread media attention. Yet, 706 cubic feet of toxic solution spilling into the Karasu River is an environmental disaster.
The 280-mile-long Karasu is one of the two sources of the Euphrates, the longest river in western Asia.
The mine is a joint venture corporation between Canada-based SSRI Mining and Lidya Madencilik, a subsidiary of the Çalık Group known for its close relationship with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The Ministry of Environment, Urbanization, and Climate Change responded to the leak by first fining the operators $987,654 in local currency. Then, on Monday, the ministry stated via Twitter that it suspended its operations. Unions representing the miners, however, reported that they are continuing to work.
★ On Monday, Turkish police brutally dispersed the pride march in Istanbul's central Taksim Square and detained 370 people, including an Agence France-Presse photojournalist, Reuters reported.
The district governor's offices of Kadıköy and Beyoğlu in Istanbul previously banned all events planned as part of LGBTI+ Pride Week for seven days.
Riot police on June 26 prevented access to Taksim Square and blockaded many streets in the nearby Cihangir neighborhood, where people tried to convene. Authorities also shut down public transportation in the area.
Small groups of people carrying rainbow and transgender flags gathered briefly where they could and chanted slogans before police dispersed and chased them through the streets, forcibly detaining some.
"Discrimination is a crime, rainbow is not," one group chanted, while others read statements to mark Pride week.
Turkish police also attacked a Pride march in the western province of İzmir. They detained eight people and battered journalists, including Berkcan Zengin.
Zengin told Gazete Duvar that the police said to him, "We know you. You are not a normal citizen." Afterward, Zengin was battered by a police officer while taking a photo.
Turkish authorities have banned the Pride day events since 2014. Before then, thousands of people took part in the parade in Taksim.
Homosexuality is not a crime in Turkey, but hostility to it is widespread, and the police crackdown on the parades has been increasingly harsher over the years.
ARTS AND CULTURE
Edited by Saadet Ejder
★ According to the website Archeologic News, the National and Museums Directorate reports that in 2022 various palaces, mansions, and summer palaces have been getting increased visitors. Number of visitors this year is up by 288% compared to last year.
During the earlier months of the COVID 19 pandemic, the number of visitors dropped significantly.
Among the palaces, the Topkapi Palace, the Ottoman dynasty's home until the early 1800s, received the most, almost 1 1/2 million visitors. Dolmabahçe Palace, where the dynasty's lived after the mid-1800s, is in second place with nearly 650,000 visitors.
Another development is that foreign tourists make the palaces their first stop. Among the foreign visitors, Spanish and Greeks are at the top.
(Click phot to see a larger view)
★ The Archeologic News website also reports that the municipality of Ahlat town in Eastern Turkey is offering a 60,000 Turkish lira (about $3500) award for a copy of a 12th-century book titled "The History of Ahlat."
Other authors refer to the book, but no one so far found a copy.
Ahlat is a historically significant place. Historians writer that Seljuk Turks planned the 1071 Manzikert battle with the Byzantines here. The battle saw the defeat of the Byzantines and opened up the Byzantine territories to the Seljuk Turks.
Edited by Ertuğrul Korkmaz
Boxer Hatice Akbaş
★ 19th Mediterranean games are continuing in the Algerian city of Oran.
Here is how the Turkish athletes are doing:
- Hammer thrower Özkan Baltacı received a gold medal with a 74.34 m throw.
- Boxers Hatice Akbaş and Busenaz Sürmeneli, national judokas Mihael Zgank and Kayra Sayit claimed gold.
- Weightlifter Ferdi Hardal clinched two golds in both snatch and clean and jerk categories.
- Swimmer Berkay Öğretir secured gold in the men's 200m breaststroke, while Yaşmani Copello Escobar claimed gold in the men's 400 meters
- Female boxer Ayşe Çağırır in 48kg and Olympic gold medalist archer Mete Gazoz claimed silver medals.
- Athlete Jak Ali Harvey won gold in the 100-meter race.
The multi-sport event will end on July 6.
Turkey, with 321 athletes, has the third-largest group in the games after Italy and the host country Algeria.
Turkey is leaving the medal count with 35 gold, 21 silver, and 25 bronze totaling 81. Italy is in second place with 31 gold medals and Algeria in third place with 15.
★ The 2022 Arkas Optimist World Championship continued Thursday in the Turkish Aegean tourist hub of Bodrum in Muğla province.
It is of the most prestigious sailing tournaments organized by the International Optimist Dinghy Association (IODA).
The Cortege walk for the games Sailing Races in Bodrum will take place until July 7.
Hosted by the Bodrumspor Sailing Club of Bodrum Municipality, with support of the Bodrum Municipality and in cooperation with IODA International Optimist Dinghy Association and Turkish Sailing Federation, the 2022 tournament started with the participation of 283 athletes from 62 countries.
[Saat 14:30 and 15:30 'da iki kez okuyun]
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