x0x Turkish news for week ending 29 March 2008
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x0x Turkish news for week ending 29 March 2008
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A service of the TURKISH RADIO HOUR, producer of:
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Ahmet Toprak edited today's news. Your host is Murat Temeltas
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Edited by Murat Temeltas
* The private Turkish Channel NTV reports that over the past year, the
battle between and democratically elected government government led by
devout Muslims and its opposition, loosely defined as the secular elite,
has shifted from Parliament, to the ballot box, to the courts. Turkey's
military, an instigator of coups in past decades, has warned that secular
ideals are in peril, though an armed intervention seems unlikely for now.
As reported to you in the past two weeks in March Turkey's chief
prosecutor of the high Court of Appeals filed a petition and asked for 71
people, including Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President
Abdullah Gul, should be banned from politics for five years.
The latest on this is as follows:
The court's rapporteur, Osman Can, sent his assessment of the 162-page
document to the judges on Thursday night, a court official who has seen
Can's report said on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized
to talk to the media.
Mr. Can suggested that the court hear the case but ask the prosecutor's
office to provide more evidence, the official said. Hurriyet newspaper
reported in its Friday edition that the rapporteur also said "closing down
parties is not compatible with democratic systems."
The rapporteur's conclusion is not binding for the court, which needs a
majority of at least 6-5 to accept the case. However, any decision to
close the party requires a 7-4 vote. In 1998 and 2001, the court closed
parties deemed to be anti-secular.
The ruling party has a majority in the 550-member parliament, and its
members could likely regroup in a new party in order to lead the
government despite the disruption of any closure.
The government says the case is a desperate act by opponents in the
judiciary and other state sectors who resent the erosion of their
traditional power, as well as a blow to Turkey's efforts to model its
democratic institutions on Western standards as a condition of EU
membership. Turkey's European campaign has already been damaged by French
and German misgivings, a dispute over the divided island of Cyprus and
divisions within the predominantly Muslim nation that have sapped domestic
support for the project.
The conflict in Turkey, a NATO member with more than 70 million people,
intensified last year when the military-backed opposition in Parliament
tried in vain to derail Gul's presidential candidacy. Also in 2007, the
ruling party surged to re-election with 47 percent of the popular vote,
and national attention shifted temporarily to an escalation in the fight
against Kurdish Workers Party based in Iraq.
The roots of the conflict lie in the era of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the
national founder and early 20th century war hero who viewed Islam as an
impediment to modern development and a symbol of the ills of the decrepit
Ataturk imposed a secular system with an authoritarian streak,
restricting religious dress, education and practices. Today, his
ideological heirs spar with a government led by an emboldened class of
Muslims who don't view Ataturk with the same reverence, though they cite a
reformist record as proof that they won't dismantle secularism.
Leading business groups in Turkey have urged political parties to reduce
tension and focus on economic development at a time when global markets
have been shaken by the sharp economic slowdown in the United States. The
Turkish stock market plunged on March 17, partly in response to the
prosecutor's announcement of the case against the ruling party.
* Speaking of groups urging for political parties to reduce tension,
Meeting in Istanbul Wednesday, the heads of the Turkish Industrialists and
Businessmen Association, Turkish Public Worker's Labor Union,
Confederation of Turkish Labor Unions, Tradesmen's and Artisan's
Confederation, Confederation of Employers Associations, and Turkish
Agricultural Chambers' Union issued a joint call for "Common Sense in
Turkey," reported the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet.
The statement was read out to the press by Turkish Industrialists and
Businessmen Association head Rifat Hisarciklioglu as well as all across
Turkey. "Today is a historic day," said the statement, one in which common
sense and cool-headedness are needed.
"Turkish democracy and law are undergoing a difficult test," it said.
"We all hope we can get through this period without suffering any harm."
The statement also stressed that Turkey should swiftly focus on
addressing its economic and social problems.
* NTV reports that Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party may table
a bill with the parliament to change the constitution in order to make it
more difficult to ban political parties, a senior party official said late
The bill could make changes to Article 69 of the constitution, which
sets out the principles to be observed by political parties and Article 83
covering parliamentary immunity
* The Turkish daily Cumhuriyet reports that speaking at his party's group
meeting on Tuesday, opposition Nationalist Movement Party leader Devlet
Bahceli urged everyone to unite in democratic solidarity to end the
tension currently rocking Turkey.
Commenting on the closure case against the ruling Justice and
Development Party, Mr. Bahceli said, "The most important task ahead of us
is keeping the crisis from deepening. The place for a solution is
* The Turkish daily Hurriyet reports that the Turkish President Abdullah
Gul held separate talks with main opposition Republican People's Party
leader Deniz Baykal, opposition Nationalist Movement Party leader Devlet
Bahceli, and Great Union Party Muhsin Yazicioglu.
Afterwards, Mr. Baykal said that he and Gul had spoken about Turkey's
recent cross-border operation into northern Iraq and visits to Ankara by
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Vice President Dick Cheney. Saying that
neither had brought up the probe into a right-wing gang, the headscarf
issue, or proposed constitutional changes on closing political parties, he
added, 'We focused on subjects such as foreign policy and security
Later, Mr. Gul met with Bahceli and Yazicioglu at the Cankaya Palace.
Following the meeting, Mr. Yazicioglu said that the northern Iraq
operation and foreign policy had dominated the discussion, along with
recent domestic political tension.
* Neither reports say that Turkish military announced that at least 15
Kurdistan Workers Party members died in cross-border shelling on Thursday
as they prepared to attack targets in Turkey. Air strikes were carried out
on Friday, but it was unclear how many casualties had been caused by the
In a week-long offensive last month, Turkey targeted bases it said were
used by the Kurdistan Workers Party for cross-border attacks. Up to 3,000
people attached to the Kurdistan Workers' Party, used the bases, it said.
Both the U.S. and the European Union list Kurdistan Workers Party as a
terrorist organization because of its indiscriminate attacks on civilian
targets in addition to the military ones.
* Turkey's prime minister Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan tour the Balkans last
week. His first stop was Bosnia-Herzegovina. Later he was at Albania and
The Turkish prime minister tried to drum up more trade between Turkey
and these nations. Currently Turkey's trade with Bulgaria stands at $4
billion, and Mr. Erdogan said that this will top $10 billion soon. The
construction boom in Bulgaria accounted for the bulk of Turkish business
in the country.
Annual trade with Bosnia last year was $272 million and with Albania
stood at $318 million.
Apart from trade ties, Turkish military has been training the military
officers of Albania and Bosnia.
* On a trip to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Turkish armed
forces chief of general staff Gen. Yasar Buyukanit decried the suffering
the Republican's international isolation causes Turkish Cypriots, adding
that that isolation should be brought to a swift end and the Turkish
Republic of Northern Cyprus should be integrated to the international
community, reports the Turkish daily Milliyet.
Underlining that Turkish Armed Forces troops on the island are not an
occupying force but instead ensure the security of the Turkish Cypriots,
Mr. Buyukanit said, "Turkish troops will stay on the island until a just
and lasting settlement is reached."
* Speaking of Cyprus, British Minister for European Affairs Jim Murphy
said that his country favored not the division of Cyprus, but its unity.
Mr. Murphy was staging and London before and impending visit to Turkey.
* Two weeks ago Turkey shut down access to YouTube after a Turkish
prosecutor deemed some videos insulting to the country's revered founding
father Mr. Kemal Ataturk.
YouTube removed the videos and announced this in a statement last week.
YouTube said that the videos violate its content policy.
* Turkey's Competition Board on Friday ratified the sale of state tobacco
producer TEKEL cigarette to international cigarette corporation British
British American Tobacco won control of TEKEL Cigarette after offering
1.7 billion dollars at a privatization auction held in February.
British American Tobacco beat out three other bidders in the auction.
* Although we reported to last week that the Turkish government and the
labor unions have reached an agreement on certain aspects of a Social
Security reform, the news coming to us this week indicates that Turkish
wage earners still disagree with the government.
Members of many of Turkey's leading trade union organizations will
conduct a half day strike on April 1 to protest against planned government
reforms to the country's social security system labour groups claim will
undermine workers rights.
ARTS AND CULTURE
* In Turkey there are more than 12 million people aged between 15 and 24,
or 17.6 percent of the entire population, and this demographic window of
opportunity can turn upside down if Turkey fails to invest in its youth,
says the UN's 2008 development report.
"If this opportunity is mismanaged, unemployment, poverty and social
unrest may lie ahead", the report warns.
The United Nations development program report offers guidance on how
employment, education and health policies for youth need to be reshaped to
ensure these policies are people-oriented and better prepare the country
for the upcoming the demographic challenges.
The report warns that the situation will change. By 2040 the only
growing segment of the population will be the senior citizens above age
See the UN Development Program for Turkey
* According to the Dogan News Agency, the three-million-year-old Karagol
Crater Lake, located in the Beyagac Township of the Aegean city of
Denizli, is set to become a tourist spot.
Authorities will start a new project to develop fishing and caravan
tourism around the lake.
Covering an area of 30 hectares, Karagol is nourished by melting snow
flowing from the Cicekbaba and Armutcik mountains and the Tokatli plateau,
said Beyagac Governor Omer Dagdeviren.
"Karag?s like a natural laboratory. It receives interest due to its
hundreds of types of birds, flora and natural life, " says the Governor.
See more at:
* The Anatolia News Agency reports that the ancient city of Zeugma will be
protected from bad weather conditions with glass. The protection for the
works of art will be like a glass bell. After the project is complete some
works in the Gaziantep Museum will be moved to their original place.
The ancient city of Zeugma is located near Turkey's southeastern city of
Zeugma was founded in 300 B.C. by Alexander the Great under the name of
Selevkaya Euphrates. In 64 B.C., Zeugma was conquered and ruled by the
Roman Empire and renamed Zeugma, meaning "bridge-passage" or "bridge of
During Roman rule, the city became one of the commercial hubs in the
region, due to its strategic location on the Silk Road.
King Shapur I of Sassanid invaded and totally destroyed Zeugma in A.D.
256. In addition to the invasion, a violent earthquake later hit the city
and buried it beneath rubble. The city never gained the prosperity once
achieved during the Roman rule.
The Gaziantep Archaeology Museum carried out the first excavations in
1987 in Zeugma while the second excavations were conducted by the museum's
director Rifat Ergec in 1992, when some mosaics and villas were unearthed.
A number of Turkish and foreign scientists have been conducting
excavation works at the site since 1993 before a major part of the ancient
city gets inundated by the waters of the newly constructed Birecik Dam.
The Zuegma mosaics, considered to be the most important finds, as well
as the collection of seals and wall paintings uncovered during excavations
in the ancient city are on display at the Gaziantep Archaeology Museum.
See more at:
* Renowned Italian - Tunisian born - actress Claudia Cardinale will come
to Istanbul as a guest of the 27th International Istanbul Film Festival.
Cardinale will be presented a "Lifetime Achievement Award" at the
opening ceremony of the festival on April 4 in Lutfi Kirdar International
Congress and Exhibition Center.
The film "Leopar / Il Gattopardo," which stars Cardinale, Burt Lancaster
and Alain Delon, will be screened during the film festival. It is a
masterpiece of Luchino Visconti, who won the best director award in Palme
d'Or, and was first screened in 1963. The film will be on screen at
Beyoglu's Emek Theater Hall on April 5 and Ms. Cardinale will attend the
screening with the audience.
The web page is of the Istanbul Film Festival are at:
* Speaking of films, the giant Indian film industry, Bollywood, with more
than 1,000 films shot each year and 2 billion viewers around the world, is
preparing to promote Turkey globally.
Producers in Bollywood took their first step toward Turkey through the
Indian movie 'Mission Istanbul', reports Ceyhun Kuburlu of the Turkish
The film is expected to hit the theaters in July in 50 countries around
the world. The producer expects 500 million viewers.
See more about the movie at:
* The Turkish daily News reports that a Turkish film festival has started
in Boston this week with the screening of director Fatih Ak?n's film "The
Edge of Heaven".
The 7th Boston Turkish Film and Music Festival will run through May 11.
Director Ferzan Öºpetek's "Saturno Contro", Tayfun Pirselimoglu's
"Riza," Dervis Zaim's "Waiting for Heaven", Baris Pirhasan's "Adam and the
Devil" and Turgut Yasalar's "Fog and Night" will make their U.S. debuts,
said a press release from the festival committee.
Also, within the festival program, the theater play "The Cry of the
Reed," written by Sinan Onel, will take the stage at Wimberley Theater
from April 9 to May 3, and internationally known kanun virtuoso Tahir
Aydogdu will have a concert.
For more information go to:
* The establishment of a cement plant in the ancient city of Kastabala in
the Mediterranean Osmaniye province will damage the environment of the
Experts say the plant should move to another place for the protection of
the environment and people living in the region.
The ancient city of Kastabala is home to Turkey's first open air museum,
Karatepe, which the internationally renowned archaeologist Halet Ç¡mbel
unearthed after a 62-year-long effort, and KIrmItlI Bird Paradise, home to
131 bird species, most of which are on the verge of becoming extinct.
However, the locals want the plant to be built, since it will bring 800
jobs to the region. Experts counter and say the promotion of the region
and bringing tourists would bring more jobs.
The ancient city of Kastabala is situated within the borders of
Kesmeburun and Bahce villages in Osmaniye's Kadirli district.
The notable attractions of Kastabala include the remarkable avenue with
pillars along with its amphitheater with a capacity to accommodate an
audience of 5,000. The important ruins of the ancient city are two
churches, the castle, the Roman bath, the stadium, the necropolis'
surrounding all around the city and the ruins of the aqueduct constructed
over the Ceyhan river located approximately five kilometers northeast of
You can photographs of the area at:
* A new book is out on Hattusha. Hattusha was the capital of the Hittite
Empire. Its remains are located in Turkey's Corum province in the
northeastern part of Central Anatolia.
It was added to UNESCO's World Heritage List in 1986.
Excavations there started at the beginning of the 1900s.
Recent Hattusha excavation chairman, Dr. J?Seeher, has prepared a
book called "Hattusha - Mud Brick City Wall".
The book covers the reconstruction of the city wall. The Hittite wall,
which used to be 4 miles long, was rebuilt between 2003-2005.
Now there stands a 65-meter long wall, which consists of three walls and
The Hittites were an ancient people who spoke an Indo-European language,
and established a kingdom centered at Hattusha in north-central Anatolia,
the Asiatic part of modern-day Turkey, from the 18th century BC. In the
14th century BC, the Hittite empire was at its height, encompassing
Anatolia, north-western Syria, and eastward into upper Mesopotamia.
After 1180 BC, the empire disintegrated into several independent
"Neo-Hittite" city-states, some surviving until as late as the 8th century
Many of the modern city names in Turkey are derived from their original
Hittite names, such as Sinop and Adana, showing the impact of Hittite
culture in Anatolia.
Learn more about the Hittite capital at:
* The Anatolia news agency reports that Turkish Poet Naz?m Hikmet Ran, who
put his feelings and longing on paper, will be remembered once again in
Russia, where he spent his last years, with the "Naz?m Oratorio," composed
by the renowned Turkish pianist Faz?l Say.
This will be the first performance of the composition outside of Turkey.
Turkey's culture and tourism ministry organize the concert. Maestro
Ibrahim Yazici will conduct the Ministry National Polyphonic Chorus.
Mr.Say will be playing the piano.
Young Turkish musicians will be a part of the concert.
Mr. Say's work was performed 15 times in Turkey.
During the performance renowned Turkish actor Genco Erkal will read
Mr.Hikmet's poems and the translation will run on an electronic billboard.
The composition's DVD went on sale five month ago. "The sales are
successful and many people watch the oratorio through 'youtube,'" said
See more about Nazim Hikmet at:
* Istanbul has started hosting a shiny and dazzling fair this week. The
26th International Jewelry, Silver, Watch and Equipment Fair, that opened
its doors to visitors at the Istanbul Expo Center, reports that Turkish
The fair, that has been organized for the past 22 years, created a
unique business environment in one of the fastest developing regions of
The fair is attracting jewelers from all over the world to either
purchase jewelery or exhibit their products, and provides opportunities to
build business and sales contacts with Turkey, the European Union, the
Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe, the Balkans and Mediterranean
There are 642 local and 524 foreign companies attending the fair.
Turkey is considered the third largest manufacturer of gold jewelry in
Turkey serves 55 neighboring countries in its region as a distribution
hub and jewelry superstore. It is the second largest exporter of jewelry
in the world.
More about the fair is at:
* Gaziantep's historic Gogush Mansion, which has been restored, will serve
as a museum and promote traditional culinary culture. Gaziantep is located
in southeastern Turkey.
Gogush Mansion was built in 1905 and is located in the historical part
of the city, to the south of Gaziantep Fort.
The museum will be named the "Emine Gogus Culinary Museum." In addition
to promoting Gaziantep's traditional cuisine, the exhibits will display
the traditional kitchen utensils and appliances of the region.
See the following article for more about Gaziantep and its cuisine:
* The Anatolia News Agency reports that Mustafa Kemal University has
launched a project dubbed "The River Asi Delta Archaeological Research
The project aims at drawing a map of cultural heritage, both excavated
and still underground in Asi delta, located within the borders of Turkey's
Mediterranean province of Hatay--the Biblical Antioch.
"Hatay, a city in southeastern Anatolia, has an outstandingly rich
cultural heritage that has not been fully grasped and evaluated," said
Assistant Professor Hatice Pamir of the Mustafa Kemal University
Department of Archaeology at Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Within the project that Mustafa Kemal University lends its full support
to, archaeological research was conducted on the surface of a mound in
Sutashi town of Samandag district in 2002, she added.
"We found the remains of three different ports that are situated on top
of each other and that belonged to three different historical periods,"
"We discovered that this place was among the most popular ports from the
Bronze Age to the Islamic era.
"Surface examination also revealed that the ports engaged in trade with
Greece, Egypt and Cyprus.
"In addition to these, a total of 55 different settlement spots were
discovered on the delta.
"We are now awaiting approval of Culture and Tourism Ministry to hold
excavations to unveil Sabuniye, Al Mina and Seleukeia Pieria, famous ports
of the time," said Pamir.
Ms. Pamir noted Hatay is known solely for a small number of historic
spots and tourists only visit those spots, but once the map is completed,
a myriad of ancient spots, will attract a more diverse groups of visitors
See the following paper for more on the project:
* According to the Anatolia News Agency, Sakip Sabanci Museum will display
its collection of Ottoman calligraphy art in the Spanish city of Seville
after the exhibition in Madrid ends.
The exhibition will take place in Real Alcazar Palace from April 4 -
June 15. There will be 96 pieces of art from the museum's collection,
which belongs to the period starting from the late 15th to the 20th
Apart from displaying calligraphy art works by Sheyh Hamdullah, Shehzade
Korkut, Ahmed Karahisari, Dervish Ali, Hafiz Osman, Yedikuleli Seyyid
Abdullah, Mustafa Rakim, Kazasker Mustafa Izzet and Sami Efendi, the tools
they used for calligraphy art will also be in the exhibit.
* The International Ankara Music Festival, which is marking its 25th year,
will treat Ankara music enthusiasts to a memorable month in April.
Organized by the Sevda-Cenap and Music Foundation, the festival will be
held from April 4-26 and will bring together a number of widely acclaimed
singers, orchestras, and choirs from 18 countries and Turkey in the
See more about the festival that:
* As Istanbul prepares to be the European Capital of Culture in 2010,
various historic quarters and buildings are being renovated, new art
centers are opening every day, while some buildings are being redesigned.
Garanti Bank, one of Turkey's largest, has begun redesigning art centers
at three of their buildings as part of the changes.
Renovations have recently begun at the Platform Garanti Contemporary Art
Center and the Garanti Gallery, host to the International Istanbul
Biennial and a myriad of art exhibitions throughout the year.
Located on historic Voyvoda Street, the 116-year old building currently
home to Garanti Bank's headquarters and the Ottoman Bank Museum will be
converted into a multi-functional culture center.
Garanti's headquarters will be transferred to another building in the
See more about Istanbul as the European capital culture at:
EXCHANGE RATE for the U.S. dollar in Turkish Liras: 1.28
High and Low Temperatures in Degrees F, Weather
Ankara, in central Turkey----------: 55/45 Rainy
Antalya, on the Mediterranean------: 64/52 Heavy Showers
Erzurum in eastern Turkey----------: 59/30 Rainy
Istanbul, in northwestern Turkey---: 52/45 Rainy
Izmir, on the Aegean---------------: 63/50 Mostly Cloudy
Trabzon, on the Black Sea----------: 52/46 Rainy
Snow depths at skiing locations:
Erciyes, in Kayseri, Central Turkey 3 inches
Ilgaz, in Kastamonu, North Central Turkey 28 inches
Kartalkaya, in Bolu, Western Turkey 45 inches
Palandoken, in Erzurum, Eastern Turkey 10 inches
Sarikamis, in Kars, Eastern Turkey 31 inches
Uludag, in Bursa, Western Turkey 53 inches
1. Be$ikta$ Cola Turka 45
2. Efes Pilsen 44
3. Fenerbahce Ulker 42
4. Galatasaray Cafe Crown 41
5. TURK Telekom 41
6. Antalya B$b. 40
7. Pinar Kar$iyaka 39
8. Kepez Belediye 36
9. Casa TED A. Kolejliler 36
10. Mersin Buyuk$ehir Bld. 36
11. Banvit 35
12. Mutlu Aku Selcuk Univ. 34
13. Oyak Renault 34
14. Alpella 33
15. Daru$$afaka 32
16. TTNet Beykoz 32
1. Fenerbahce 40
2. Galatasaray 38
3. Be$ikta$ Cola Turka 37
4. Pankup TED Kayseri Koleji 35
5. Bota$ Spor Kulubu 35
6. Mersin Buyuk$ehir Bld. 33
7. Ceyhan Belediye 32
8. Bahce$ehir Burhaniye Belediye 28
9. Cankaya Universitesi 27
10. Migros Spor Kulubu 27
11. Istanbul Universitesi 25
12. Edremit Basketbol 12
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The performance is on Wednesday, April 16, 2008
folk-inspired Turkish classical guitarist
Door 7:30 P.M., Music 8:00 P.M.
Freight & Salvage Coffee House
1111 Addison Street
Berkeley, CA 94702
Telephone: (510) 548-1761