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x0x Turkish News for the week ending 16 December 2023

[This is a transcript of the news broadcast on 16 December 2023]

Courtesy of Turkish Radio Hour, producer of the

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★ On December 14, the main opposition Republican People's Party declared that Ekrem İmamoğlu of Istanbul and Mansur Yavaş of Ankara would rerun for a second term in the March 2024 local elections, reports the Turkish daily Duvar.

  The party council unanimously ratified the candidacy of 226 names and will continue to announce candidates weekly in groups of 200.

  The list also includes familiar figures such as xenophobic mayor Tanju Özcan, who is seeking reelection in the Bolu province.

  Additionally, former district mayor Mustafa Bozbey is running for the Bursa Metropolitan Municipality, and former Republican People's Party deputy Ahmet Akın is running for the Balıkesir Metropolitan Municipality, currently held by the ruling Justice and Development Party.

  On the same day of the announcement of his candidacy, an Istanbul court sentenced Istanbul Mayor İmamoğlu to two years and seven months in prison, along with a political ban, for the alleged charge of "insulting" the members of the Supreme Election Council.

  If the appeals court confirms this verdict, his candidacy could be in jeopardy.

★ On November 27, the Republican People's Party pardoned the Bolu mayor, Tanju Özcan, whom it expelled in July for alleged sexist remarks to a female municipality board member, reports the daily Duvar.

  However, a lawsuit cleared the mayor.

  Özcan also drew criticism in 2021 with his xenophobic remarks and policy proposals against the Syrian refugees residing in Bolu. On December 12, he removed the nameplate of the "Social, Cultural, and Cooperation Foundation of Bolu's Afghan Youth" from a building and said he was against "these people" gathering.

★ According to the Republican Peoples Party lawmaker Sevda Erdan Kılıç's report on the performance criteria imposed upon judges and prosecutors by the Justice Ministry, in 2023, Turkish prosecutors had an average of 1,580 files, allowing them to spend only one hour per file. The number of cases per judge was 835, which led a judge to spend only two hours on one case.

  Ms. Kılıç underscored that the Justice Ministry explained the workload on judges and prosecutors as "enabling the right to trial within a reasonable period" and added, "However, they could not meet this target either. The Constitutional Court says so as well."

  The Constitutional Court ruled that there were rights violations in 55,000 applications because the trials were not within a reasonable time.

★ The Constitutional Court of Turkey found that the Istanbul Governor's decision to ban Labor Day celebrations on Taksim Square in 2014 and 2015 violated the "right to assembly and demonstration."

  Only select trade unions, often those close to the ruling Justice and Development Party, are allowed in the Taksim Square to leave commemorative wreaths.

★ According to Deutsche Welle, Germany will stop accepting imams sent from Turkey and instead train clerics on home soil to boost integration. The issue of Turkish-trained imams has been a source of tension between Berlin and Ankara.

  Under a new agreement between the ministry, Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate, and a Turkish-Islamic umbrella group based in Germany, about 100 imams will receive training each year in the western town of Dahlem.

  "We need religious leaders who speak our language, know our country, and stand up for our values," German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said in a statement.

  In 2017, German officials called on the Turkish-Islamic umbrella group to undertake fundamental reforms following allegations that imams sent by the Religious Affairs Directorate had spied on behalf of Turkey in the wake of the failed coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's government.

  About 5.5 million Moslems live in Germany, roughly 6.6% of the population.

  Germany has about 2,500 mosque communities, and the Turkish-Islamic umbrella group manages 900. A branch of the Religious Affairs directorate in Ankara, Turkey, the group is the largest Islamic association in Germany. In the past, Germans accused it of acting as an extended arm of the Turkish government.

★ On February 22, a Turkish court blocked access to the alternative website of the popular social network Ekşi Sözlük on the grounds of national security and protection of public order.

  The Information and Communication Technologies Authority petitioned the court. The court based its decision on posts criticizing the government's response to the deadly February earthquakes.

  On May 13, a court blocked Ekşi Sözlük. The network then started using "eksisozluk2023.com" as its new domain.

  December 14-blockage is for the "http://eksisozluk1923.com" domain of the network.

  Journalist İsmail Saymaz previously reported that the Turkish presidency requested the decision to block access to Ekşi Sözlük.

★ Turkish opposition Felicity Party deputy Hasan Bitmez has died at the age of 53, two days after suffering a heart attack during his speech in the parliament. A ceremony was held on the same day to commemorate Bitmez at the parliament.

  During his speech, Bitmez criticized the ruling Justice and Development Party and accused its members of collaborating with Israel.

  He concluded his speech by saying: "If you get rid of the torment of conscience, you will not be able to get rid of the torment of history. If you get rid of the torment of history, you will not be able to get rid of the wrath of God."

  After saying these words, according to the parliamentary minutes, Bitmez fainted and fell on the floor.

  The ruling Justice and Development Party parliamentarians, who had interrupted him with catcalls throughout his speech, immediately started shouting, "This is the wrath of God! This is the wrath of God!"

★ On December 12, the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality introduced the "Istanbul Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan," aimed to combat the city's infamous traffic congestion and air pollution.

  Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, European Union Ambassador to Turkey Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut, and a Turkish Transportation and Infrastructure Ministry representative were present at the launch meeting.

  Since 2013, many cities in Europe implemented the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan. However, it is a first in Turkey, as Mayor İmamoğlu stated during the meeting.

  The plan introduced measures such as "low emission zones," improvements in ferry usage, and bus-priority lanes in Istanbul to reduce traffic in the city by 10% by 2030.

  The "low emission zones" are part of the transition to the low carbon goal outlined in the plan. To reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Istanbul, non-compliant vehicles in these zones will be subject to charges in line with the "polluter pays" principle or not allowed within the area.

  "Congestion pricing," another measure, will be applied to private vehicles in certain areas. It will implement the first trial in a six-kilometer square area, the Eminönü district, in Istanbul's historic peninsula. The second area of pilot application is in the touristic Moda neighborhood in Kadıköy, on the Asian side of the metropolis.

  Read more >> here <<

★ An assailant opened fire on a Starbucks store in Turkey's Adana province over alleged support to Israel. No one was killed or injured.

  The incident became the latest in a string of attacks against the coffee chain over its alleged support to Israel. Alshaya Group of Kuwait owns Starbucks' Middle Eastern operations, including the one in Turkey.

★ According to the daily Cumhuriyet, on December 13, Turkey's Education Workers and Teachers' Union criticized the high school-level elective courses on "family values" introduced by the Education Ministry in late August for seeking to promote uniform family units.

  Union head Nejla Kurul said the classes are a darker turn by the ruling Justice and Development Party to inject religion into education.

  "The government continues to abuse society's religious sensitivities to push its agenda on education," said Ms. Kurul and added that the government's vision for the "ideal family" was apparent from its withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention on Violence against Women.

  The courses seek to promote a patriarchal family that frames domestic violence as a mere dispute, according to union head Ms. Kurul.

★ Turkey's Violence Prevention Centers received applications from 1.3 million women reporting incidents of violence between 2013 and 2023, according to data from the Family and Social Services Ministry.

  The figure indicated that 15 women per hour faced violence.


★ According to the daily Duvar, Borsa Istanbul became the 11th stock exchange in the world in terms of the number of public offerings, with 52 in 2023, and the 10th in terms of the size of public offerings, according to Ernst & Young Global IPO Trends 2023 report.

  Turkey's IPOs reached three billion dollars in 2023.


  >> here <<

★ A presidential decree has excluded land and field acquisitions from the regulation that allows foreign nationals to obtain Turkish citizenship by buying property in Turkey.

  The amended regulation only allows building and flat acquisitions for foreigners to earn Turkish citizenship.

  Analysts think widespread criticism of the ruling Justice and Development Party administration for giving away citizenships may have prompted the amendment.

  Foreign nationals bought 30,599 properties in Turkey during the first ten months of 2023.


★ Gault & Millau Guide has determined its 2024 awards and recently held the gala night of the selection it prepared for Turkey at Çırağan Palace.

  Gault & Millau Guide, first published in Paris in 1969 by journalists and food critics Henri Gault and Christian Millau, is today one of the two most prestigious gastronomy guides.

  The guide, which included Turkey as the 17th country, started field studies in the country's leading tourism destinations in 2023.

  Gault&Millau Turkey guide aims to offer a rich and detailed gastronomy tour of Turkey rather than highlighting specific cities.

  The Turkish version of the guide covers Istanbul, Izmir, Çanakkale, Ayvalık district of the Balıkesir province, Kuşadası district of the Aydın province, Bodrum province of the Muğla province, Fethiye, Marmaris, Antalya, Gaziantep, and Nevşehir city in the Cappadocia region as the leading gastronomy destinations.

  Expressing that they are very excited about Gault & Millau in the Turkish market in cooperation with Sözen Group, CEO Gökmen Sözen emphasized in his opening speech that this initiative will be a bridge between the global gastronomy sector and Turkey.

  Sözen said, "Last year, we brought a gastronomy guide to Turkey, of great importance in the 100th anniversary of our Republic.

  "We will reap the first fruits of this guide," he added.


  Read more >> here <<

★ Participants talked about the food and beverage industry for two days at the International Antalya Culinary Forum, reports Faruk Şüyün of the Turkish daily Ekonomim.

  The forum hosted more than six thousand participants and 150 academicians from different sectors, including gastronomy students from 49 universities, and 106 speakers shared their knowledge and experiences in 19 separate panels.

  The forum took place on December 4 and 5.

www.TurkRadio.us www.TurkRadio.us

See the La Boheme page >> here <<

★ Istanbul State Opera and Ballet is staging Puccini's romantic and dramatic opera "La Boheme".

  It met art lovers at Atatürk Cultural Center - Türk Telekom Opera Hall on December 14 and will be on stage again on January 4, 25, and 31, 2024.

  "La Boheme," considered one of the masterpieces of Composer Giacomo Puccini (1858 – 1924), tells a touching love story on Christmas Eve in Paris.

  A group of friends living the bohemian life earn their living by creating works of art.

  Rodolfo, a poet, falls in love with Mimi, a seamstress. Marcello, a painter, also has a turbulent relationship with singer Musetta.

  Despite difficulties, both couples try to enjoy life and love together when they are happy.

  However, when it becomes clear that Mimi's health is quite poor, Rodolfo has a hard time accepting that she will die.

  Rodolfo and Mimi separate, and months later, Musetta, realizing that Mimi's condition has worsened, brings her to the house where Rodolfo and Marcello live.

  Rodolfo immediately takes her in and tries his best to regain her health. But it is too late now.

  Immediately after declaring their love for each other, Mimi succumbs to her illness.

★ The 2023-24 Byzantine Seminar Series entitled "Becoming and Unbecoming Roman" organized by the Program of CCI and the Department of History at Bilkent University, in collaboration with IFEA, French Institute for Anatolian Studies, Hacettepe, and Koç universities.

  On December 15, the seminar started with the opening lecture by Leonora Neville, titled "Romans in the East, Roman Religion, and Unbecoming Roman at Bilkent University.

  Leonora Neville is John W. and Jeanne M. Rowe Chair of Byzantine History at the University of Madison, Wisconsin.

  She is a medieval eastern Mediterranean historian specializing in the society and culture of the eastern Roman Empire (the Byzantine Empire) in the ninth through twelfth centuries.

  Her talk delved into the debated issue of "Romaness" in Byzantium, focusing on the complex nature of Byzantine identity and its connection to the Roman legacy.

  Indeed, as the Byzantines saw themselves as heirs to the Roman Empire, they are often seen as simply emphasizing the continuity of Roman traditions.

  However, recent and more nuanced perspectives on the Byzantine understanding of "Romaness" challenged prevalent notions and emphasized the multifaceted nature of Byzantine identity deeply rooted in the Roman tradition.

★ From December 15 to 17, as part of the Human Rights Week events, the 14th Documentary Film Days of the Turkish Human Rights Foundation brought together 25 selected documentary films, 12 from Turkey, that focus on different human rights problems from different perspectives.

  Screenings were in Diyarbakır city in southeastern Turkey and Van in the east.


  Read the full article and see more photographs >> here <<

★ Bianet reports that during the ongoing restoration works at Yıldız Palace in İstanbul, Beşiktaş, restorers discovered wall paintings beneath five layers of paint and plaster in the section of the palace known as the "Çukur Saray" (Hollow Palace).

  Ottoman Palace initially commissioned Yıldız Palace for Mihrişah Sultan, the mother of Sultan Selim III, who lived between 1745 and 1805.

  In 1876, Sultan Abdulhamit II ascended to the throne and started using it as the main palace until the end of his reign in 1909.

  The palace opened its doors to the press for the first time in five years since undergoing restoration.

Relief of the goddess Kububa, holding a pomegranate in her right hand and a mirror in her left hand, orthostat relief from Herald's wall, Karkamış, 850-750 BCE, late Hittite style, under Aramaean influence.

  Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara, Turkey
Copyright by Dick Osseman, used with his permission

★ Archaeologists found the ruins of a Luwian Goddess Kubaba Temple in Çukurova.

  It is also the first temple of Kubaba found in Anatolia.

  During archaeological excavations in the historical Kastabala Ancient City, located within the borders of Osmaniye, archaeologists unearthed temple ruins estimated ancients built in the 540s BCE.

  Dr. Faris Demir, the excavation head and a lecturer of archaeology at the Osmaniye Korkut Ata University, pointed out that the ancient city was in the center of the cultural region of the Luwians and said the temple was on a colonnaded street.

  Aramaic inscriptions excavated mention the lands of Kastabala and Kubaba, indicating that the temple was for the goddess Kubaba.

  "Without feeling any pain, the priests of this ancient temple walked on hot embers with bare feet. Ruins, which provide extraordinary information to Anatolian archaeology, excited us a lot," Dr. Demir said.

  Although influenced by the name of a legendary Sumerian queen, Dr. Demir said the Goddess Kubaba was a local Anatolian one.

www.TurkRadio.us www.TurkRadio.us

★ Archaeologists found ten human and animal remains in the rock tomb discovered during excavations in the southeastern province of Mardin's Kızıltepe district.

  Experts say the animal bones belonged to an Anatolian leopard and were 1500 years old.

  Another first revealed during the excavations was the discovery of an altar in a rock tomb in front of a stone divan on which the dead rested.

★ In the Eastern Black Sea province of Giresun, Turkish authorities are restoring six Greek churches, one dating to the 13th century.

  The restoration work is part of the Project Destination Shah's Road.

  Shah's Road was a trade route between East and West in the Ancient Age, used for at least 2500 years.


★ The approximately 1800-year-old Elmalı Mosaic, dating back to the Roman period, was found in 2013 during a rescue excavation in an illegally excavated area near Yavru Village in the center of Amasya.

  The 200 sq. ft. mosaic, with an apple tree figure in the middle, is exhibited at the Amasya Archaeological Museum.

  The Amasya province of Turkey is famous for its muscadine apples. The mosaic, which has an apple tree, apple depiction, partridge, and various geometric figures, shows that the apple was important in Amasya then.

  After unearthing the mosaic, archaeologists kept it in the museum warehouse.

  After completing the restoration, the museum authorities started to exhibit it.

★ On December 6, Nuri Ersoy, the Culture and Tourism Minister of Turkey announced that the United States returned 41 stolen historical artifacts to Turkey.

  Among the returned artifacts are the three bronze statue heads, one bronze woman's bust, and body parts belonging to four bronze statues from the Boubon Ancient City in Turkey's Mediterranean Burdur Province are considered important examples of Roman sculpting in Anatolia.

  Smugglers stole The artifacts from the Boubon Ancient City in the 1960s. The Young Caracalla and Mature Caracalla heads are significant as they belonged to the statues erected in the sacred site Sebasteion of the city.

  Other historical artifacts returned from the US are an earthenware female head, one Roman Minerva-shaped bronze weight, one earthenware and one silver Cybele figurine, one bronze Satyr figurine, one silver woman figurine, and two bronze helmets dated 400 BCE.

  A set of artifacts includes the 22 individual Kilia (Gallipolli) style idol heads. The only known production site of the idol heads is the Kulaksızlar Village in Turkey's Aegean Manisa province.

  The wild-goat figurine Olpe, a black figure stylistic of the 7th and 6th century BCE Western Anatolian pottery, is significant for being one of the oldest specimens of its form. The cup form used to serve beverages in the antique age features dancing satyres.

EXCHANGE RATE for the U.S. dollar in Turkish Liras: 29.08



  Read more and see a larger version of the photograph >> here <<

★ Ankara prosecutors have sought up to 13 years in prison for Turkish Super League club Ankaragücü Chair Faruk Koca over punching referee Halil Umut Meler to the ground.

  Authorities arrested Koca the next day, and the football federation halted all matches until next week.

  Koca is facing charges of "injuring a public official with a fracture in the field of sports due to their public duty," "threatening," and violating the law regarding violence in sports.

  Faruk Koca, a wealthy businessman, was a member of parliament from the Justice and Development Party between 2002 and 2011. On December 12, the party started the process to expel him but on December 14, he resigned.

  On December 12, he resigned as the chair of Ankaragücü.


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


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