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x0x Turkish News for the week ending 18 February 2023
[This is a transcript of the news broadcast on 18 February 2023]
Courtesy of Turkish Radio Hour, producer of the
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★ In "The Politics of Turkey's Earthquake," an article by Sinan Ülgen published on the Carnegie Europe website, he recommended that Turks examine and overhaul the rules and institutions that failed to mitigate the human cost of the earthquake. The next wave of earthquakes could hit Istanbul with even more disastrous consequences.
Ülgen pointed out that many other countries like Japan or Taiwan, living on top of fault lines and therefore disaster-prone, have been able to mitigate these risks through better governance.
He mentioned in his article the following points:
- Nobody seems to know what happened to the earthquake relief fund established after the 1999 Marmara earthquake.
- Excessive centralization of power impeded disaster relief efforts.
- The Disaster and Energy Management Authority, lacking decentralized decision-making, could not leverage the capabilities of civil society organizations.
- Lack of checks and balances for the president nurtured a climate of non-accountability.
- Licensing for political gain substandard construction increased the stock of unsafe buildings.
- Also, the Turkish electorate is to blame: they supported the licensing of substandard buildings and traded safety for short-term economic advantage. Seven bills authorized this licensing during the Justice and Development Party rule in the past two decades, and 20 since 1946.
Sinan Ülgen concluded his article by saying that Turkey needs to have a
critical domestic debate on governance reform and disaster management. Read
Sinan Ülgen's article
>> here <<
★ Speaking of licensing of substandard buildings,
the Turkish daily Duvar also reported two incidences that exemplified how the government actively encouraged shoddy construction.
In 2022, President Erdoğan abolished a decision by the Council of ministers designating some areas of six neighborhoods in Iskenderun city as risky areas due to the ground characteristics and shoddy construction. Iskenderun is one of the cities that saw thousands of buildings collapse after the February 6th earthquake.
In another instance, in 2016, a prosecutor rejected a complaint regarding columns getting removed at a housing development where 104 people died in Antakya.
The owners of the housing development cut the structural columns in the basement to open space for a kindergarten.
The lawyer hired by families living in the building said they first applied to the Antakya Municipality in 2016 to deny a license for the kindergarten. However, authorities did not even check the place for suitability.
They also applied to the Hatay Directorate of Education and the Hatay Governor's Office, but nothing happened.
Then the lawyer filed a criminal complaint with the prosecutor
that did not go anywhere.
★ BNE Intellinews wrote on February 14 about Tavşancıl, a town in Turkey that went through the 7.6-magnitude Marmara earthquake in 1999 without any damage.
Although the town was close to the epicenter, no one had even a nosebleed from the quake. BBC's Turkish service went there and found that the locals heeded the scientists' recommendations and built earthquake-resistant structures. Read more >> here <<
★ Bianet, a Turkish Internet news site, said :
"In the aftermath of the disastrous February 6th earthquakes in Kahramanmaraş, concerns are running high about the "big one," a devastating earthquake that could strike İstanbul any time."
According to Bianet, the İstanbul planning agency revealed that 500,000 buildings would sustain damage, with 86,000 buildings collapsing or suffering severe devastation. Istanbul's European side will bear the brunt of the destruction.
Additionally, floods, landslides, and a tsunami will occur.
★ On February 3, USS Nitze, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer ship, arrived in Istanbul, Turkey, and then at the
Gölcük Naval Base on February 5. The stripes.com website said it brought the vessel closer to the black sea than any other U.S. warship since Russia invaded Ukraine.
After Gölcük, the U.S. destroyer headed back to the Mediterranean.
In Turkey, There were conspiracy theories related to the ship's visit. One conspiracy theory claimed that the U. S. triggered the recent earthquake in Turkey, and the USS Nitze was there to monitor it.
★ On February 14, National Public Radio broadcast an article that said that Turks were angry at the government and explained why. It wrote that the government was trying to shrug off responsibility by blaming builders and saying also it was a strong earthquake.
However, when President Erdoğan's videos surfaced boasting about amnesties given to hundreds of thousands of buildings throughout Turkey to be approved, many people blamed him for the destruction.
The amnesties legalized large numbers of shoddy construction that could not withstand the tremors in the earthquake zone.
In one of the videos, Mr. Erdoğan was boasting about making nearly 150,000 people happy in Kahramanmaraş by legalizing their buildings. The city is at the epicenter of the February 6 earthquake, and thousands died in some of these structures.
The National Public Radio correspondent David Estrin said that Mr. Erdoğan was motivated by economic growth, which he thought would get him more power.
Read the rest of the article
>> here <<
Another news on the same day by Peter Kenyon, the National Public Radio correspondent stationed in Istanbul, added that Mr. Erdoğan acknowledged the government's response was slow and insufficient in the first few days of the earthquake. Most people criticized the emergency management agency of the Turkish government.
[Saat 14:30 and 15:30 'da iki kez okuyun]
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