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x0x Turkish News for the week ending 30 July 2022
[This is a transcript of the news broadcast on 30 July 2022]
Courtesy of Turkish Radio Hour, producer of the
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★ According to the Turkish daily Duvar, Turkey's Directorate General of Religious Affairs refuted President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's accusation that Gezi Park protesters burned down mosques during the nationwide demonstrations in 2013.
Mr. Erdoğan made the accusations on June 4. People asked why Erdoğan did not bring charges against the protesters for all these years if this was the case, the daily Duvar reports.
Main opposition Republican People's Party parliamentarian Tacettin Bayır asked the Presidential Communications Center which mosques Erdoğan was referring to and where these mosques were.
The Presidential Communication Center forwarded the request for information to the Director General of
Religious Affairs. Mr. Tacettin Bayır announced that he heard from the directorate, which said that "there are no documents and reports regarding the incidents in question."
Mr. Bayır said that Mr. Erdoğan does not hesitate to slander and lie to protect his seat.
Mr. Erdoğan has been very vocal about the Gezi Park protesters recently. Analysts say this is due to the upcoming elections in 2023.
Mr. Erdoğan previously alleged that Gezi Park protesters drank alcoholic beverages inside the mosque. However, the cleric of the mosque refuted this claim also years ago. Mr. Erdoğan's administration later appointed the cleric to a rural area as a punishment.
Gezi Park protests initially began in Istanbul in May 2013 as a reaction to building attempts on a piece of land by the ruling Justice and Development Party. The plans included removing one of the few remaining green spots in Istanbul and constructing a replica of barracks from the Ottoman times.
The protests later spread nationwide to other cities, turning against Mr. Erdoğan's rule
★ On July 26, Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu said that Turkey's Interior Ministry ignored his applications for the threats he was getting.
"For example, Ufuk Akçekaya threatened me. I reported it to the Ministry. They were not even interested," İmamoğlu told anchor Fatih Altaylı during a live program on Habertürk TV.
Turkish police recently arrested Ufuk Akçekaya for the murder of Nazmi Arıkan, a founder of a private educational institution and a physics teacher.
On July 13, authorities found Arıkan and his driver killed in Turkey's northwestern province of Çanakkale.
The police arrested Akçekaya, the alleged main suspect, the day after the murder.
Akçekaya is the head of a local soccer club Tokatspor and has close affiliations with the ruling Justice and Development Party officials.
Read more >> here <<
★ Writing in the English edition of the German newspaper
The Algemeiner, Dr. Alon Ben-Meir, a retired professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU, notes that in a speech, Turkey's President Mr. Erdoğan characterized the 2016 coup attempt as a "gift from God."
Dr. Alon Ben-Meir writes that the coup provided Mr. Erdoğan with:
- The justification for declaring a national emergency.
- Less than a year after the attempted coup, he held a referendum to transform Turkey's parliamentary democracy into an executive presidency, which he was after for two decades.
- He mercilessly used his newly-acquired, near-absolute power to cleanse the country of its domestic enemies.
- To rule largely by decree, with little or no opposition to stop him.
The link to the full article is available on our transcript of the news.
Read more >> here <<
★ According to the Turkish pollster Metropoll, in July, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's approval rating went down further to 41.5% from June's 44.2.
His approval rating was 57.2 percent in January.
★ According to Reuters, Ankapark, a failed Ankara theme park as large as 120 football pitches, is touted as a testament to government waste.
The Ankara Metropolitan Area Municipality, led by the ruling Justice and Development Party at the time, spent over $800 million constructing the park.
Giant dinosaurs and robot models abandoned among decrepit fair rides create a dystopian atmosphere in a defunct amusement park in the Turkish capital Ankara. Mansur Yavaş, the new party mayor from the opposition, highlights it as a testament to past government waste.
Without $800 million, Yavaş says 15,000 social housing units or 300 student dormitories could have been built and met the needs of the Ankara people.
Mr. Erdoğan was present in opening the park three years ago before local elections in Turkey, in which his Justice Ruling Party lost the mayoralties of Turkey's three most populous metropolitan areas of Ankara, Istanbul, and Izmir, Reuters points out.
Since the park received very few visitors, it closed. However, Mr. Erdoğan's administration tried to hang on to the land. After two years of legal battle, the municipality
got back the land.
★ According to Bloomberg, Russian state-run nuclear power giant Rosatom is transferring money to its subsidiary in Turkey. The subsidiary is building Turkey's first nuclear plant.
The transfers are for countering any sanctions that may prevent funding of the project, Bloomberg writes. Rosatom transferred $5 billion last week. Further fund transfers will occur in the coming weeks.
The total project cost is $20 billion. Rosatom started building the power plant in 2018 and will be operational in 2023.
Turkey is reliant on natural gas from Russia. In 2021 Russia supplied almost 45% of Turkish gas imports.
The nuclear power plant will also rely on Russia, and critics say it will increase Turkey's reliance on Russia.
★ According to the Turkish Statistical Institute, in the second quarter of this year, Turkish earnings from tourism reached $8.72 billion.
Total for the first half reached $14.2 billion, breaking the pre-pandemic record revenues of $12.6 billion for the same period in 2019.
Analysts say the earnings trajectory indicates Turkey will break a record this year.
The number of visitors increased from 4 million in 2021 two 12 million.
According to Bloomberg, President Erdoğan's administration is trying to close the gap in the current account deficit with tourism revenues.
ARTS AND CULTURE
Edited by Saadet Ejder
★ Borusan Sanat has prepared a comprehensive program for the new season. The program includes various activities such as classical, jazz, world, and experimental music. Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra and Borusan Quartet will share the same stage with renowned names in concerts that will take place throughout the season.
Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra will start the season with an opening concert on October 13, 2022, at Zorlu PSM Turkcell Stage. In the opening concert, the orchestra will accompany Austrian drummer Martin Grubinger, known as the "man who makes the drums sing."
In addition, Borusan Classic's radio, broadcasting on karnaval.com throughout the season, continues to bring the classical music repertoire to music lovers.
Borusan Quartet is a cultural arm of Turkey's pipeline and pipe manufacturing company Borusan Holding.
★ Located in Turkey's southwestern resort town of Bodrum's Göltürkbük region, Flamm Bodrum is hosting Yusuf Taktak's exhibition "yaTime" at Binyıl Gallery.
While describing his work, Yusuf Taktak says:
"Based on the idea of returning to nature, I left behind my motorcycle imagery, turned off the engine, and chose the bicycle because it was a memory of my childhood and early youth.
"I started to create solutions for life with a bicycle. Before the coup, I made labor strike tents while doing social realist paintings.
"The three triangles on the bicycle and the triangular or pyramidal composition also denote the labor strike tents. In short, I emphasize the theme of 'people and space'."
He said that he has given importance to target stones in Istanbul for the last fifteen years, that every civilization has created obelisks in different forms, and that he noticed target stones.
Target stones are throughout Istanbul, left from the Ottoman times, erected to mark the records of Ottoman archers including sultans.
They were shaped like small obelisks with Ottoman Turkish inscriptions on them. Ancient archers used
some of these stones for target practice with their bows and arrows.
Taktak's exhibition will be on through August 10.
★ Established to contribute to world peace through the unifying power of music, Tekfen Philharmonic has contributed to the development and love of classical music in Turkey for 30 years.
The orchestra now emphasizes the importance of being together with pleasure with the album "Dance," recorded during the pandemic period when cut off from its audience.
Celebrating its 30th anniversary with rich programs, Tekfen Philharmonic meets classical music lovers on a different platform with its four-piece dance album. The works in the album are from Beethoven, Bela Bartok, Ahmed Adnan Saygun, and Ferit Tüzün.
The program is diversified with Romanian dances and Anatolian music.
Tekfen Philharmonic is a cultural arm of the Tekfen Holding, a Turkey-based company involved in engineering and construction, textile, food processing and other industrial sectors.
★ The event series "Starry Nights," to take place in Istanbul's Turkcell Vadi, began on July 29 with a concert by Candan Erçetin.
Vadistanbul, SM Production, and Atlantis Production are collaborating in bringing the event.
As part the event, 10 concerts will take place in a row, featuring Turkish bands and musicians MaNga, Fatma Turgut, Haluk Levent, Berkay, We Talk When We Face, Öykü Gürman, Oğuzhan Koç and Kenan Doğulu.
The event will end with the Sertab Erener concert on August 7.
★ More than twice the population of the Kulu district of Turkey's central province of Konya, known as "Kulufornia," lives abroad.
When back for a vacation every summer, expatriates contribute to the district economy.
The district sends the most people to Scandinavian countries, especially Sweden.
Kulu Mayor Murat Ünver stated that the number of ex-pats who could not come last year due to the pandemic was around 60-70 thousand. However, this year they are back, and the numbers are up to 100,000.
The artisans in Kulu are also busy and active due to ex-pats coming with foreign exchange. Emre Ugan, a barber, says his business increases by 200% during the summer. Other small businesses indicate that their revenues increase three to four times.
The district stores feature major world brands, unseen in other parts of rural districts throughout Turkey.
The ex-pats also come to their hometown for their weddings.
Swedish politicians also visit the town for elections. Even Fredrik Reinfeldt, a one-time Swedish Prime Minister, was there for political work. Among the ex-pats, there are also candidates for the Swedish Parliament, mayors of Swedish towns, and founders of new Swedish political parties.
★ According to the Anatolia agency, happy to be back in Turkey after a long absence, acclaimed Israeli short story writer and filmmaker Etgar Keret hailed the common ground he finds with his Turkish fans. He adds that Turkey's cultural capital Istanbul is one of his "favorite places in the world to speak."
Keret could not come to Istanbul because of the COVID-19 pandemic for the past two years.
Keret was at a packed book signing event at a bookstore on Istanbul's Asian side.
In May, he was at Istanbul's Pera Museum film screenings.
Keret says the following about his Turkish fans:
"They are both sophisticated and generous but not pretentious. So, I really love having events here. It's really one of my favorite places in the world to speak," said Keret, who is also known for his dark and funny short stories, graphic novels, scriptwriting for film and television, and directing.
Asked about his favorite Turkish writers, Keret admits not dipping into contemporary Turkish literature in several years but said: "I've read and admire Orhan Pamuk," Turkey's mainstay Nobel Prize-winning novelist. He also praised award-winning German-Turkish film director Fatih Akin, perhaps best known for the bi-cultural drama "Head on" and his music documentary "Crossing the Bridge."
★ According to the website Arkeofili.com, a luxurious villa in the ancient city of Halicarnassus (modern-day southwestern district of Bodrum in Turkey), has revealed a new secret.
A recent analysis by Prof. Kaare Lund Rasmussen from the University of Southern Denmark showed that some of the mosaics used in the 1600-year-old structure were recycled glass.
The exquisite mosaics of the villa depict geometric designs and various mythological figures such as the goddess Aphrodite in a seashell, Prince Europa, and Zeus as a bull.
Prof. Rasmussen says that they can distinguish glass from Egypt and other locations in the Middle East. They also analyze the elements used in making the glass.
Read more >> here <<
★ One more news item from the website Arkeofili.com writes that illegal excavations in Turkey's Eastern province of Van revealed a new set of Urartian buildings.
Characterized as being "gorgeous" by archaeologists, the remains are near an ancient fortress named Ayanis.
The structures seem to be a part of a memorial building. Archaeologists also found fragments of lion statues, and the walls feature wall frescoes.
Turkey's rural police took the area under protection.
The Urartians lived in what is now Eastern Turkey. They had a kingdom that rose to power in the mid-ninth century BCE but went into a gradual decline, and eventually, the Iranian Medes conquered them in the early sixth century BCE.
★ On July 23, the British Daily Mail reported that archaeologists may have located a palace belonging to Genghis Khan's bloodthirsty grandson Hulagu. He is renowned for sacking Baghdad in 1258.
The Mongol warlord lived from 1217 to 1265 and conquered much of Southwest Asia, including much of modern Iran, Iraq, and Turkey.
Some historical sources mention a summer capital in the kingdom with a big palace but do not say where exactly it was.
Archaeologists now believe they have discovered the site of the Khan's palace in Van province in eastern Turkey.
The excavation team says the palace has been heavily looted and damaged. They added they had found glazed roof tiles, porcelain, and pottery from the palace ruins.
Munkhtulga Rinchinkhorol of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences said the team has also discovered "tamga" or "swastika" symbols - "power symbols" of Mongol Khans and other parts of the medieval world before being appropriated by the Nazis in the 20th century.
EXCHANGE RATE for the U.S. dollar in Turkish Liras: 17.91
High and Low Temperatures in Degrees F, Weather
Ankara, in central Turkey : 95/68 Mostly Sunny
Antalya, on the Mediterranean : 88/79 Mostly Sunny
Erzurum, in Eastern Turkey : 91/57 Thunderstorms
Istanbul, in northwestern Turkey : 91/73 Partly Cloudy
Izmir, on the Aegean : 90/73 Mostly Sunny
Trabzon, on the Black Sea : 84/73 Thunderstorms
Black Sea measured at Trabzon : 71
Marmara Sea measured at Tekirdağ : 74
Aegean Sea measured at İzmir : 76
Mediterranean Sea measured at Antalya : 84
Edited by Ertuğrul Korkmaz
★ In the European Youth Olympics (EYOF) finals hosted by Slovakia, Turkey's Under-19 Girls Volleyball National Team lost 3-1 in the match against Italy and came second. They received the silver medal.
In the same event, Turkey's under 18 volleyball team came in fourth after a defeat by Czechia 3-1.
★ 2022 European Ladies and the Men's Team Shield Championships in Hungary ended.
In the championships that lasted for four days, Turkey's Women's National Golf Team became the European Women's Team champion, while Turkey's Men's National Golf Team took third place.
★ On the third day of the championship, organized by the World Taekwondo Federation in Sofia, Bulgaria, competitions were held in five categories. Emre Talha Evin, representing Turkey in the men's 45 kg category, won the bronze medal.
Turkish Taekwondoin received three silver and two bronze medals at the end of three days.
On the fourth and last day of the championship, five Turkish national Taekwondoin players will fight for medals.
The games will end on July 31.
★ Record-holder Turkish athlete Ayça Fidanoğlu won the gold medal by running at a time of 4:21.25 at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Slovakia.
Competing at a distance of 1500 meters, Fidanoğlu not only declared her second-best time in her career but also beat Polish Zuzanna Wiernicka, the second in the race, by two seconds.
★ 21-year-old Turkish swimmer Aysu Türkoğu from Turkey's southwestern district of Bodrum became the youngest Turkish woman to swim across the English Channel.
Accompanied by her trainer and father by boat, Aysu entered the water from Dover, England, and reached the Cap Gris-Nez coast of France after 16 hours and 28 minutes of struggling with waves and currents.
Aysu, who could not control her tears at the end of the arduous swim, wanted to eat some bread first when she reached the shore.
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