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x0x Turkish news for week ending 28 July 2007
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Ahmet Toprak edited today's news. Your host is Fuad Tokad.
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Edited by Fuad Tokad
* Turkey entered a new era after the last Sunday's
general election as the Parliament will host three
main parties alongside with the mainly pro-Kurdish
group of 26 independent candidates. The ruling
Justice and Development Party won the elections by
a landslide margin, its capture of 46.6 percent of
the votes, a share unseen since the 1950's. Five
years ago it got 34.4% of the votes.
The Republican People's Party retained its
position as the main opposition, receiving 21
percent of votes, despite a merger with the
Democrat Left Party many had thought would boost
its fortunes. The Nationalist Movement Party,
meanwhile, received 14.3 percent of votes. The two
parties received 111 and 71 seats in Parliament
The pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party will be
able to form a group in the parliament as their 25
candidates were elected individually. Aysel Tugluk
and Ahmet Türk, co-leaders of the party, also
secured their seats in Parliament.
The Democrat and the Young parties both failed
to enter the parliament because of the 10 percent
national threshold. They got 5.4 percent and 3.0
percent respectively the chairman of the Democrat
Party Mehmet Agar and his aides announced their
resignations right after the first results were
* Turkey's foreign affairs minister Mr. Abdullah
Gül hinted on Wednesday that he will run for the
presidency, ending expectations that he will
prefer to step back and allow Prime Minister Recep
Tayyip Erdogan's a stronger hand against the
opposition parties in Parliament.
Noting that Turkey went to the polls in
mid-summer because of the failed presidential
elections, he stated that all arguments of the
opposition were rendered invalid after the
Turkish Parliament failed to elect the president
in April following a harsh military warning to the
government, in a move to block Abdullah Gül's
presidency. Mr. Gül's wife wears a headscarf and
this created additional worry amid secular groups.
Meanwhile the Republican People's Party
officials said they still oppose Gül's presidency.
On the other hand, Devlet Bahceli the leader of
the Nationalist Action Party said that they will
be in the parliament and participate in the
election of the president.
Mr. Bahçeli's words are a clear message that the
Nationalist Action will pursue more affirmative
policies in Parliament compared to the Republican
But things will be more clear when Parliament
restarts its legislative activities in the near
future for further harmonization with the European
The Nationalist Action Party's two
parliamentarians, former diplomats Deniz Bölükbasi
and Gündüz Aktan are known to be very skeptical
toward European Union membership and are expected
to be very efficient in their efforts to block
Parliament's work on these issues.
* Agence France Press reported that a best-selling
author of books attacking Turkey's ruling party
was detained on Friday over suspected ties to a
shadowy ultranationalist group, sources close to
the investigation said.
Mr. Ergun Poyraz was detained at his home in
Ankara and flown to Istanbul for questioning by
Mr. Poyraz is suspected of having links to an
ultra-nationalist group which came to light with a
police raid last month on a house in Istanbul in
which 27 hand grenades and several detonators were
* Turkey's prime minister Mr. Erdogan held a
telephone conversation with President George W.
Bush three days ago, and the two agreed to hold a
face-to-face meeting. After the election victory
of the Justice and Development Party in the July
22 elections, Mr. Bush called Mr. Erdogan to
congratulate his landslide victory.
Turkey is uneasy about the U.S. inaction against
the presence of the outlawed rebel Kurdistan
Workers' Party in Kurdish-controlled northern
Iraq. Turkey's repeated calls on US and Iraq to
put an end to the rebel presence have so far
produced no visible result, prompting the Turkish
officials and military to warn that it might carry
out a cross-border offensive to fight the rebels
in northern Iraq.
* Turkey will take 15 percent of the natural gas
passing through a pipeline from Azerbaijan's Shakh
Deniz field to Italy, or 1.74 billion cubic metres
annually, Turkish Energy Minister Hilmi Güler said
Mr. Güler said Turkey will become a gas trader
for the first time, rather than just a transit
country, under the latest pipeline deal between
Turkey, Greece and Italy.
On Thursday, ministers from Turkey, Greece and
Italy signed an agreement in Rome on construction
of the pipeline that will connect Azerbaijan's
Shakh Deniz gas to Italy and is expected to cost
The South European gas pipeline deal, under
which Turkey will sell gas, is the second major
agreement the country has signed recently to
secure its role as a regional energy hub and
natural gas trader, reported the Turkish Daily
ARTS AND CULTURE
* Internationally renowned folk singer Cesaria
Evora, dubbed "barefoot diva," will perform on
July 31 in an open air concert in Istanbul as part
of her world tour.
Born in 1941, Ms. Evora is probably the best
internationally known practitioner of morna - a
local genre related to Portuguese fado and
Brazilian modinha, with a sensibility often
compared to the blues.
Since her debut album Barefoot Diva" in 1988,
she has become the diva of love songs all around
* Some 23 historical artifacts smuggled from
Turkey to the United Arab Emirates have been
brought back to Turkey through the efforts of the
Turkish Ministry of Tourism and Culture.
Among the artifacts are sculptures, steles and
sarcophagus parts. They were found during the
search of a plane to the Emirate of Sharjah on
The Magnus Company registered in the Sharjah
Free Zone was listed on the documents as the
importer of the artifacts, the investigation by
Turkish authorities has revealed.
Turkey's Ministry of Justice will be contacted
to issue a crime report concerning the company and
people that took the artifacts out of Turkey,
while the Interior Ministry will be contacted for
the investigation of the companies and examination
of entrance and exit records in Turkey.
It has been confirmed that the artifacts were
not stolen from a museum. They might have been
found during illegal excavations, said Orhan
Duzgun, the director general of Cultural
Properties and Museums.
The artifacts are being kept at Anatolian
Civilizations Museum in the Turkish capital Ankara
and will be exhibited there or in an affiliated
museum following the expert examination, said Mr.
* The French music duo Air played in Istanbul on
Tuesday. This was their first performance in
The band consists of Nicolas Godin and
Jean-Benoit Dunckel, who are described as
electronic music's modernists. The concert took
place in Turkcell Kurucheshme Arena, a new concert
platform in Istanbul.
Although the concert was announced on short
notice, it was almost sold out.
The name of the band is derived from the acronym
for the French words love, imagination, and dream.
* According to a survey conducted by Travel and
Leisure, a New York-based publication, Istanbul is
the third best city in Europe.
The magazine asked its readers to rate their
favorite hotels, islands, cities, airlines, spas,
and rental car agencies in the World and Europe.
Istanbul received 85 points out of a possible
100, surpassing Europe's most popular destinations
including Paris, Barcelona, Venice, and Prague.
Istanbul ranked eighth in the favorite world
cities category, leaving New York, Sydney, Bangkok
behind. It is also deemed the "most exotic city"
among the World's 10 best cities.
The Four Seasons Hotel in Istanbul's Sultanahmet
district was chosen as Europe's best hotel,
receiving almost 94 points. The Milestone hotel
in London was second.
* Research in Turkey's presidential archives has
unveiled documents on the Ottoman Empire's first
corporation, "Shirket-i Hayriyye," a maritime
Murat Koralturk at the Marmara University school
of Economics has published the findings in
Shirket-i Hayriye 1851-1945.
Ahmet Paksoy, the General Manager of Istanbul
Seabus, supported the project. There was no
previous research conducted on the vehicle
ferries, the only transportation between the Asian
and European sides of Istanbul during the Ottoman
An exhibition in Karakoy, Istanbul is now
displaying the historical documents, as well as
models of the paddle steamers, steam vessels and
After July, the exhibit will travel throughout
the rest of the ports of Istanbul.
As soon as Shirket-i Hayriye was formed the
company was commissioned for six years to two
Armenian merchants, Antuan KalaycIyan and Hagop
Bilezikciyan. By the end of the sixth year the
company held a monopoly over sea transportation.
The ferries were imported from Britain and made
their first trips in 1854.
Turkey's State Maritime Lines purchased the
company 94 years later in 1944.
* Old historical houses in Ankara's BeypazarI
Township will be restored and utilized for tourism
thanks to a restoration project by the BeypazarI
BeypazarI, located on the ancient Silk Road, is
most attractive for its authentic historical
Speaking to the Anatolia news agency, BeypazarI
Mayor Mansur Yavash said the restoration of 550
mansions out of 3,500 was completed and ready for
tourism, thanks to the project launched by their
municipality and the donations of generous
In addition to the restored mansions, there are
30 streets which were restored in line with their
original form in our Township. We also plan to
include the 200-year-old BeypazarI Bazaar with a
600-shop capacity in our project, he said.
Mayor Yavash admitted that their eventual goal
of restoring nearly 3,000 historic mansions was
However the Mayor said that the project will pay
off. Already the number of tourists coming to his
town increased by 1000% in the last six years. He
says that target is to attract one million
visitors within the next five-year period.
* This year Turkey's Black Sea city of Samsun
hosts the 27th International Folk Dance Festival.
The festival is organized by the Metropolitan
On Wednesday, the scenes on the streets of
Samsun were no different than a Rio Carnaval.
Dancers from 17 countries filled them with joy.
Besides Turkey, there were dancers from the
Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Mexico,
Georgia, Poland, Macedonia, Slovenia, Croatia,
Senegal, Lithuania, Ukraine, Egypt and Belarus.
The dancers first gathered in the city's Republic
Square and started the parade in their traditional
clothes and music.
Tens and thousands of Samsun residents gathered
to watch the parade with interest. Some joined in
Public found the Mexican and Egyptian troupes
the most interesting.
The Samsun International Folk Dance Festival
festival will end on July 30.
* Another Black Sea locality in Turkey is having
an event: The Third International Macka Sumela
Culture and Arts Festival kicked off on Friday in
Trabzon's Macka Township.
The festival will host folk dancers from
Bulgaria, Georgia, Russia, and Cyprus.
There will also be popular Turkish singers, such
as Huseyin Turan, Nesat Ertas and Deniz Seki.
A chess competition and a local cartoon
competition are also among the activities at the
festival. Azerbaijani chess grandmaster Cemil
Ahgamaliyev will play chess with 50 people.
* Turkey will be the guest country at the Third
Political Films Festival to be held in Barcelona,
Spain, between September 27 and October 2.
During the festival sponsored by the French
Institute and FNC Firm, 11 films shot by Turkish
directors between the years 1962 and 2006 will be
Some of those films are "Revenge of the Snakes"
by Metin Erksan, "The Bus" by Tunch Okan, "The
Road" by Sherif Goren and YIlmaz Guney, "How to
Save Asiye?" by AtIf YIlmaz, "Don't Let Them Shoot
the Kite" by Tunc Basharan, "Journey to the Sun"
by Yeshim Ustaoglu, "Nowhere Land" by Tayfun
Pirselimoglu, and "My Father and My Son" by Chagan
* According to the Anatolia news agency, the
Istanbul Greater Municipality in collaboration
with UNESCO will restore Istanbul's historic city
walls. The walls are on UNESCO's World Heritage
list but now in danger of being deleted from it.
The restoration work on the historical city
walls were stopped two years ago on the grounds
that it was not carried out properly.
This time around the city has invited UNESCO to
Istanbul to collaborate in the restoration work.
Specifically the city officials asked for expert
opinion from UNESCO.
Istanbul officials are saying they will abide by
the recommendations of the report that they just
The Mayor also formed a committee, made up of
relevant public bodies, trade associations and
NGOs, to oversee the work.
Istanbul's Sultanahmet Square, Fener Balat,
Suleymaniye Zeyrek are also on the UNESCO's World
Heritage Site list.
The Byzantine Emperor Thedosius II built the
first city walls of Istanbul during 413-477. They
extend 11 miles, starting from the Marble Tower on
the shores of the Marmara Sea up to the Golden
Horn. The Yedikule walls were built by Sultan
Mehmet the Conqueror in 1457-1458.
The walls contain 16 gates. They have a
three-stage defense structure consisting of inner
and outer walls, and a trench.
The inner walls are 9 to 12 feet thick and 40
feet high. The outer walls are 6 feet thick and 30
feet high. In front of the outer walls, there is a
* Rhythm, blues and soul hit Istanbul on Friday,
says the Turkish Daily News. The Blues Brothers
Band , with Black suits, narrow ties, Ray-ban
sunglasses, and white shirts, performed in
The band, formed in 1978 by comedians Dan
Aykroyd and John Belushi, has become a true
phenomenon, complete with hit records, a sold-out
concert tour, and even a feature film.
EXCHANGE RATE for the U.S. dollar in Turkish Liras: 1.29
High and Low Temperatures in Degrees F, Weather
Ankara, in central Turkey----------: 97/68 Fair
Antalya, on the Mediterranean------: 99/81 Fair
Istanbul, in northwestern Turkey---: 88/77 Fair
Izmir, on the Aegean---------------: 99/72 Fair
Trabzon, on the Black Sea----------: 81/72 Mostly Cloudy
Black Sea measured at Trabzon 77
Marmara Sea measured at Tekirdag 79
Aegean Sea measured at Bodrum 77
Mediterranean Sea measured at Alanya 84
*** Turkish American Association of California is a non-profit
charitable organization established to promote better
understanding between Americans and Turks.
If you have any questions about Turks and Turkey,
e-mail them at taac@...
*** Turkish American Association of California
Monterey Bay Chapter and
Horon Turkish Folk Ensemble presents:
MONTEREY TURKISH ARTS AND CULTURE FESTIVAL
MARK YOUR CALENDARS:
August 4th and 5th
Monterey Custom House Plaza
[Next to the Fisherman's Wharf]
Live Music Entertainment, Folk Dancing, Belly Dancing
Turkish art and crafts exhibits and vendor booths,
Food (Doner kebap, Adana Kebap, etc.) and
Drinks (Turkish Coffee/tea, Soft drinks, Turkish Raki, beer, wine) and
many special activities for children.
Authentic Turkish food will be prepared and sold by
NEW KAPADOKIA and SAKO's Mediterranean restaurants.
*** Planning to go to Turkey? Take a look at our Web pages
that are full of articles and information furnished by
travelers like yourselves:
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