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x0x Turkish News for the week ending 24 June 2023

[This is a transcript of the news broadcast on 24 June 2023]

Courtesy of Turkish Radio Hour, producer of the

TURKISH CULTURAL PROGRAM, every Saturday from 2 P.M. to 4 P.M.

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★ Reports are circulating today that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called Russian President Vladimir Putin to extend his support in an alleged uprising by the Russian mercenary group Wagner.

  Yevgeny Prigozhin, the boss of the mercenary group, had been complaining about the Russian military not supporting his forces. He accuses the defense minister and the top army general are holding back ammunition and attacking his forces.

  Up to a few days ago, Prigozhin was not criticizing Putin. However, he changed his tune and started criticizing Putin openly.

  Mr. Putin delivered his speech and referred to Prigozhin's actions as "betrayal" and "treason."

  Mr. Erdoğan expressed full support for the steps taken by the Russian leadership, the Kremlin said.

  The latest we hear is that the crisis seems to be over. Mr. Prigozhin stopped his forces marching towards Moscow.

★ According to Channel News Asia, Mr. Blinken encouraged Turkey to support Sweden in its bid to join NATO in a London meeting with new Turkish Foreign Affairs Minister Hakan Fidan on June 21, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said.

  Mr. Blinken stressed the importance of NATO unity at a critical time.

  The meeting took place on the sidelines of the Ukraine Recovery Summit.

  Turkey objects to Sweden's bid to join the Western military alliance, citing security concerns and alleging that Swedes support terrorist entities against Turkey. However, members of NATO have expressed hope that it will become a member in time for a mid-July summit in Vilnius.

  >> here <<

★ According to The Cradle, an online news magazine covering the geopolitics of West Asia, the conclusion of the four-way meeting between Syria, Turkey, Russia, and Iran in Astana on June 20 featured a statement by the head of the Syrian delegation reiterating Syria's condition of the withdrawal of the Turkish army from the Syrian territory.

  Syrian Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Ayman Sousan said that "normalized relations cannot thrive between two countries when one of them occupies another's lands."

  Turkish troops and proxy militia aligned with Turkey control a small enclave in northwestern Syria.

  The Syrian army has sent massive military reinforcements, including tanks and armed personnel carriers, to areas in northern rural Aleppo controlled by the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group, as talks are underway in a new round of Russian-sponsored peace negotiations in Astana, Kazakhstan.

  >> here <<

★ According to the online publication Greek city times, if Turkey wishes to come closer to Europe and open itself to the West, Greek-Turkish dialog must resume, New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in an interview with ANT1 on Wednesday.

  One of the disputes between the two NATO member neighbor countries is on the oil and gas exploration rights. Mr. Mitsotakis ruled out the possibility of joint Greek-Turkish exploitation of energy resources in the Aegean.

  The dialog will concern "a single and only difference [between us], that is the delimitation of the Exclusive Economic Zone and the continental shelf in the Aegean and the East Mediterranean," he told journalist Nikos Chatzinikolaou.

  Turkey does not accept the proposed expanded economic zone around the Greek Aegean islands and the flight information region used as national airspace by the Greeks.

  >> here <<

★ According to the British daily Guardian, Turkey's central bank has raised interest rates for the first time in more than two years, from 8.5% to 15%. However, most economists say that the move is insufficient to fight inflation and one of the worst economic crises in Turkey.

  Contrary to economic theory, Mr. Erdoğan believes that low-interest rates will decrease inflation. The central bank's decision is a U-turn that he allowed.

  Mr. Erdoğan's low-interest rate policy, in effect since 2021, resulted in constant devaluations of the Turkish currency against the dollar and other major currencies.

  In trying to defend the currency, his administration spent almost $200 billion, depleting the foreign exchange reserves of the central bank.

  The 15% interest rate, perceived by markets as inadequate, the Turkish currency hit record lows, and stocks rose, reports Bloomberg and The Economist.

  The Economist also reported that Turkish property prices were soaring.

  >> here <<

  >> here <<

★ Turkey's new interior minister, Ali Yerlikaya, announced on Twitter Tuesday that authorities have detained 120 individuals allegedly involved in cryptocurrency trading. This extensive crackdown is a part of the government's campaign against cybercrimes and covers 37 provinces.

  Yerlikaya stated that the police had examined more than 4,000 bank accounts. The investigation revealed 1.2 billion Turkish liras (approximately $51 million) transferred among these accounts. Authorities believe that the money is from illicit activities.

★ In the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Inequality Index for 2023, Turkey is 129th out of 146 countries.

  The index gives countries a score between 0 and 1, Turkey's score is 0.638. This score means that the gender gap in Turkey is 63.8 percent.

  Turkey decreased by 0.1 percentage points compared to 2022 and dropped five places in the ranking. Included in the "Eurasia and Central Asia" category, Turkey ranked last among the countries in this region.

  The index measures the status of women in four main areas, and the country ranked 133rd in "economic participation and opportunity," 99th in "educational attainment," 100th in "health and survival," and 118th in "political empowerment."


  - Duvar: The Turkish Education Ministry has dismissed a teacher and principal from duty after former Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek targeted them due to a rainbow decoration used at one of the classrooms at the report card ceremony on June 16.

  - Turkey's Directorate General of Security on June 19 announced that it filed a criminal complaint against Green Left Party Istanbul MP Özgül Saki after she likened the police blockade in the entire Beyoğlu district to an "occupation" during Istanbul Trans Pride March.

  - Can Atalay, the imprisoned parliamentarian from the Workers' Party of Turkey, was elected to the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights Investigation. In the May 14 elections, voters in the Hatay province elected Atalay to the parliament. However, despite the laws dictating that he should be released to serve his office, President Erdoğan's administration won't release him from jail.


★ Turkey's southeastern city of Gaziantep is the first city in Turkey that UNESCO accepted into the Creative Cities Network, writes Faruk Şüyün of the Turkish daily Ekonomim.

  Turks refer to Gaziantep as the gastronomy capital of Turkey. Metropolitan mayor Fatma Şahin and the people wholeheartedly believe in keeping it that way, Şüyün adds. Udma Cheese Museum and Rayiha Spice Museum are the results of this belief. There is also a Culinary Arts Center in the city.

  Mayor Şahin says they do not have any copper and iron mines in the province, but they have a vast cultural heritage.

  She adds: "If I cannot take the smells of my mother's kitchen to the future, it will disappear. In addition to our spices and delights of our kitchen, we will also carry our history and culture into the future."

★ International pasta company Barilla Foods in Turkey's southeastern Mardin city is marketing the bulgur made from the local special wheat under its brand "Filiz." Bulgur is parboiled and cracked wheat and can be a substitute for rice.

  Barilla's marketing director Selcen Tokgöz joined others in Mardin to celebrate the first harvest of the wheat, known by its cultivators and consumers as the yellow gold, with a special event.

  The participants in the event observed the first harvest in a field. Afterward, social gastronomy Chef Ebru Baybara Demir gave a banquet to the guests featuring the following dishes:

★ There is a new project to record the heirloom recipes of Turkey.

  Undertaken by Selin Atasoy with the support of Göçmen Artisan Bakery, the project will collect recipes from different groups living in Turkey, carried to present from generation to generation.

  Atasoy emphasizes the importance of preventing the loss of this heritage featuring unique tastes and recipes.

★ On June 18, Hannah Lucinda Smith, the Turkey correspondent of the British daily The Times, wrote that ancient micro-wineries face extinction under Mr. Erdoğan's government.

  A century on, President Erdoğan is trying to stamp out the booze culture in Turkey. He declared the national drink the yogurt-based ayran, not raki, and banned alcohol advertising and sponsorship. He raised taxes on alcohol three times last year, and drinkers now pay 80 percent of the revenue when they buy a bottle of wine.

  The cost of a bottle of wine shot up to $30 when the minimum wage is $450.

  Smith adds that despite Erdoğan's best efforts, Turks still enjoy drinking: bars in Istanbul are busy every night.

★ On June 17, World Day for Combating Desertification and Drought, TEMA Foundation underlined that desertification threatens 73.4 percent of Turkey.

  Emphasizing the importance of combating desertification to ensure food safety, be resistant to climate change, and be less affected by drought, Deniz Ataç, Chairman of the TEMA Foundation, said:

  "The annual cost of desertification is estimated to be 4-8% of the gross national product of a country. Researchers predict that this rate will reach 40 percent by 2050."

★ Pera Museum's new exhibition invites exploration of the mysterious geography of human history.

  Pera Museum is hosting works by Isabel Munoz, who explores the nature, aesthetics, and lifestyles of different cultures and reflects them in her photographs on Göbeklitepe, an important archaeological site in Turkey, and the Stone Hills in the region.

  Spanish artist Isabel Munoz, who participates in important exhibitions such as the Venice Biennale and the New York International Center of Photography, is among the 12 best living contemporary photographers by the Prado Museum:

  Her new exhibition titled A New Story - Photographs from Göbeklitepe and nearby Taş Tepeler meets with art lovers until September 17.

  Göbeklitepe is an 11,500-year-old site in southeastern Turkey. It has monumental round-oval and rectangular megalithic structures erected by hunter-gatherers in the pre-pottery Neolithic age. Among them are T-shaped pillars carved with images of wild animals, providing insights into the way of life and beliefs of the ancients.

  Archaeologists think the people who erected the monuments used them in connection with rituals.

  The UNESCO included the sight in the World Heritage List.

  The Taş Tepeler, meaning Stone Hills in Turkish, is an upland area in the southeastern Anatolia region of Turkey, near Şanlıurfa city. The area has several significant prehistoric archaeological sites, including twelve sites with the characteristic T-shaped obelisks well known from Göbekli Tepe.

★ Perrotin Gallery, a world-renowned art outlet based in France, will bring the "French Delights" exhibition with art lovers this summer in collaboration with Bodrum Loft.

  Bodrum is a Turkish resort city on the Aegean. Millions of Turks and foreign tourists visit the area year-round.

  The opening of the exhibition will take place on Saturday, July 1.

  Artsa Consulting will be the curator of the exhibition. Eighteen works of twelve artists will enable art lovers to explore the different perspectives, creative approaches, and techniques of international artists.

★ Turkey's İş bank awards young students a book when they bring their report cards.

  The bank has been offering a book to the students for the past 16 years under the banner "Show Your Report Card and Take Your Book."

  This year the bank has a book commemorating the one-hundredth anniversary of the establishment of the Republic of Turkey. The book is "Children Are Asking, Grandpa History is Telling."

  In the book, Dr. Selim Erdoğan answers the questions of Darüşşafaka students on the Republic, Turkey's independence war, and its hero and the first president Atatürk.

  Darüşşafaka is a school established in 1863 to educate children without a father or mother. It is one of the best schools in Turkey.

★ Turkish authorities lifted the midnight music ban, which started in 2021 as part of Covid-19 restrictions. This ban faced significant criticism for its continued enforcement, particularly from those in the performing arts industry, while other COVID-related measures ended.

  Turkey's Musicians' Union expressed their joy in an announcement stating, "We are thrilled to announce that the government repealed the pandemic-related restrictions in the music industry nationwide. We extend our gratitude to the ministries and individuals involved in making this important decision. We hope that music will never fall silent."

★ Sixth International Ephesus Opera and ballet festival will start July 7 this year at the antique Ephesus City.

  According to the Izmir State Opera and Ballet, the directorate of State Opera and ballet troupes will stage five works during the two-week festival.

  The festival will open with Russian composer Chaikovski's sleeping beauty ballet. Samsun State Opera and Ballet, participating in the festival for the first time, will stage the Carmen ballet on July 10.

  On July 13, German composer Carl Orff's Carmina Burana will be on the stage.

  The festival will end on July 21 with Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor opera.

★ Now news on archaeology:


★ A citizen in Turkey's Mustafakemalpaşa district informed the authorities through his posts on social media that an antique column head was by a creek, saving it from destruction or falling into the hands of the smugglers.

  The authorities moved the column to the providential seat of Bursa's Archaeological Museum.

  The authorities say similar columns and column heads exist elsewhere in the province.

Dr. Kimiyoshi Matsumura

★ Archaeologists continue excavations in Turkey's central province of Kırıkkale's Karakeçili.

  The head of the excavations is Dr. Kimiyoshi Matsumura, originally from Japan. He is a professor at the Ahi Evran University Archaeology Department in Turkey's central province of Kırşehir.

  The excavations revealed an earthquake 3500 years ago during the Hittite era destroyed the area.

  This year, the goal of the archaeologists is to find the remaining parts of the defensive walls thought to be built by the Cimmerians.

  The Cimmerians were an ancient Eastern Iranian nomadic people originating in the Caspian steppe, part of whom subsequently migrated into West Asia. They were culturally related to Scythians.

  Dr. Matsumura says that they identified four strata at the site. The one up at the top dates back to the recent Ottoman era, the second is from the Iron Age, the third is from the Late Bronze Age, and the fourth is from the Old Bronze Age.

  In the previous years, the third stratum revealed a glass bottle, a tablet with cuneiform inscriptions dating back to the Hittite Empire, and a head of a panther. There was also a large building, maybe a palace, occupied from the Assyrian colonies period to the beginning of the Hittite period.

EXCHANGE RATE for the U.S. dollar in Turkish Liras: 25.34


High and Low Temperatures in Degrees F, Weather
Ankara, in central Turkey        : 86/61 Mostly Sunny
Antalya, on the Mediterranean    : 95/75 Mostly Sunny
Erzurum, in Eastern Turkey       : 81/50 Mostly Sunny
Istanbul, in northwestern Turkey : 86/68 Mostly Sunny
Izmir, on the Aegean             : 91/75 Mostly Sunny
Trabzon, on the Black Sea        : 77/68 Mostly Sunny

Sea Water Temperatures
Black Sea measured at Trabzon         : 68
Marmara Sea measured at Tekirdağ      : 75
Aegean Sea measured at İzmir          : 79
Mediterranean Sea measured at Antalya : 78


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


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