x0x Turkish news for week ending 05 July 2008
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x0x Turkish news for week ending 05 July 2008
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A service of the TURKISH RADIO HOUR, producer of:
TURKISH CULTURAL PROGRAM
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Ahmet Toprak edited today's news. Your hosts are Murat and Senem Bozkurt.
Anita Donohoe provided the web links for Arts and Culture section.
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Edited by Gokce Gokalp
* As we have been reporting to you in the past
month, a prosecutor in Turkey wants the ruling
Justice and Development Party closed and its
leaders banished from politics for mixing politics
In the latest development, on Thursday, Turkey's
Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek delivered a
six-hour oral defense for his Party.
Bekir Bozdag, the party's parliamentary group
deputy head, was also present at Turkey's
Constitutional Court hearing.
"We argued that the charges against the Justice
and Development Party were not credible, accurate
or legal and should never have been filed in the
first place, " Mr. Cemil Cicek said.
Saying that the defense rested on Constitutional
Court precedent, human rights law, and Turkish
law, he added that now everyone must wait for the
"The Justice and Development is the ruling
party," he said. "Explaining the problems a delay
in the ruling would cause, we asked that the case
be concluded as soon as possible" reported the
Turkish daily Star.
* In related news, according to the Turkish daily
Hurriyet, the closure case against the ruling
Justice and Development Party may conclude within
three to six weeks, stated Constitutional Court
Deputy Chief Justice Osman Paksut on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters, Mr. Paksut said that
after preparation of the rapporteur's report on
the Justice and Development Party's oral defense,
the top court's members will begin reviewing the
Despite the case's complexity, the court will
try to complete its work as soon as possible, he
* Turkish security forces detained 23 more people
as part of a continuing probe on Tuesday,
officials from the prosecutor's office stated.
Police carried out operations in several
provinces, including Ankara and Istanbul.
The prosecutor is alleging that the group was
planning a coup.
Retired Gen. Hursit Tolon, Cumhuriyet daily
Ankara representative Mustafa Balbay, Ankara
Chamber of Commerce head Sinan Aygun, and the head
of Kemalist Thought Association, retired Gen.
Sener Eruygur, were among those taken into
The alleged criminal network was unearthed after
police seized hand grenades, TNT, and detonators
in a shanty house in Istanbul over a year ago, and
the Istanbul Chief Prosecutor's Office launched an
Since then, many people have been detained and
interrogated by security forces. A retired colonel
and Ufuk Buyukcelebi, the editor in chief of Halka
ve Olaylara Tercuman daily, were also apprehended
in Antalya and Istanbul.
Police searched Buyukcelebi's office and seized
a number of documents, according to the Turkish
* Commenting on the ongoing probe and
controversial detentions made this week, main
opposition Republican People's Party leader Deniz
Baykal stated Thursday that the probe was not a
normal investigative process but rather a
"political showdown" which is sowing division and
tension in Turkish politics, judicial system and
Speaking at a Republican People's Party meeting
in the Turkish capital Ankara, he said the public
has suspicions about the operation's true purpose,
adding that it has political aims.
"One after the other, distinguished people from
various walks of society known to oppose the
government have been detained," he observed.
The opposition leader said he hoped the courts
would reject all the probe's allegations.
"Turkey will face a very important test," he
* Also speaking about this week's Socialist
International meeting, which the Republican
People's Party decided not to attend, Mr. Baykal
said his party would decide whether or not to stay
in the group.
The Republican People's Party had faced
criticisms from some Socialist International
members over the independence of the judiciary and
the rule of law in Turkey according to the Turkish
daily newspaper Sabah.
* In related news, "the failure to mount a defense
to counter a psychological smear campaign against
the Turkish Armed Forces demonstrates an
administrative weakness," stated Nationalist
Movement Party leader Devlet Bahceli on Thursday.
In a written statement, Mr. Bahceli said that
the Turkish Armed Forces is already busy fighting
terrorism under difficult conditions, and called
on President Abdullah Gul to "do his duty."
Touching on this week's controversial detentions
as part of a probe, Mr. Bahceli said they have had
wide societal repercussions, and that everyone
deserves justice under the law.
"This way of detaining people whose places and
positions are clearly known is controversial,
along with the way it is being depicted in the
press in the absence of any indictments," he
added, according to the Turkish daily Aksam.
* There was also a reaction to the detentions from
Europe: Jan Marinus Wiersma and Hannes Swoboda,
vice chairs of the European Parliament's
second-biggest group, the Socialists, stated that
they were deeply concerned about the recent
detention of journalists in Turkey under the
ongoing probe, urging Turkish authorities to abide
by the principles of freedom of speech on
They added that they expected prosecutors and
the judiciary to treat the matter impartially
based on concrete evidence.
Wiersma and Swobada also stressed the importance
of Turkey strengthening its democracy, secular
state and continuing its reform process to fulfill
the Copenhagen political criteria.
"There's no place for either the army or
religion in politics", Mr. Wiersma added, reported
the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet.
* 4th of July was celebrated with a reception at
US Ambassador to Turkey Ross Wilson's residence on
Thursday with the attendance of many Turkish
statesmen, foreign diplomats, high-level Turkish
officials and other guests, reports the Turkish
dailies Sabah and Turkiye.
Turkey's Foreign Affairs Minister Ali Babacan
represented the Turkish government at the
Addressing the gathering, Mr. Babacan said,
"Turkey and the U.S. enjoy a long-lasting
friendship and alliance. The friendly relationship
between our two countries has successfully passed
some key tests, and is based on shared values such
as democracy, the rule of law, and human rights."
He stated that both Turkey and the U.S. are
working to spread those values.
Mr. Babacan also stressed that cooperation
between the two countries is important for
establishing peace and stability both worldwide
and in Turkey's region.
He added that Turkey and the U.S. are
cooperating to fight the threats of the 21st
For his part, Ambassador Wilson also stressed
the deep-rooted and strong relations between the
two countries, saying, "Sharing common ideals, the
U.S. and Turkey are looking to the future with
In one of the surprises of the evening, asked by
reporters why he was attending the reception for
the first time in many years, main opposition
Republican People's Party leader Deniz Baykal
stated, "the U.S. government took a clear stance
against the terrorist Kurdish Workers Party and
gave strong support to Turkey's ground operation
into northern Iraq".
* Victims of a deliberately-set hotel fire in the
central Anatolian city of Sivas were commemorated
on the 15th anniversary of the tragic incident on
Demonstrators in front of the Madimak Hotel
called for the hotel to be turned into a museum
and urged a full-scale investigation of the
On July 2, 1993, during the Alevi Pir Sultan
Abdal Cultural and Literature Festival, many
participants who were staying at the hotel in
downtown Sivas found themselves besieged by an
angry mob who set the venue ablaze.
When the fire was finally extinguished, 37
people were found dead, including two hotel
Among those lucky enough to have escaped the
blaze was prominent writer Aziz Nesin, who is
thought to have been the mob's main target
reported the Turkish daily newspaper Today's
ARTS AND CULTURE
Edited by Hilal Koc
* World-renowned member of the Mersin State Opera
and Ballet and Grammy award-winning Turkish tenor
Bulent Bezduz was praised by the French for his
recent successful performance in the opera "La
Favorita" in Paris.
Mr. Bezduz, who went to France nearly two months
ago at the invitation of the French State Opera
and Ballet General Manager Rengim Gokmen,
performed in three performances last month of "La
Favorita" opera at Orchester National de
Playing the leading role of Fernando in "La
Favorita," a grand opera in four acts by the
Gaetano Opera, Mr. Bezduz was a hit with the
audience. The critics of many French dailies also
noted his success. In fact, many described him as
one of the best voices in the World.
Mr. Bezduz returned to Turkey, to the
Mediterranean city of Mersin, after finishing his
tour. Expressing his pleasure over the fact that
Europe has recognized a Turkish artist, Bezduz
said, "It made me very happy to be on stage in
France. It revealed the success of Turkish artists
that the French applauded and congratulated me."
Mr. Bezduz has also been invited by operas in
many countries, including England and Belgium, as
well as France. He will perform the character
Alfredo in Verdi's "La Traviata" in Vienna's
Volksoper Wien opera house in September. The other
performances he will present are "La boheme" in
the role of Rodolfo at Sweden's Goteborg Opera in
November, and Ermione Pilade at the English Opera
Rara in March 2009. He will also perform in
"Falstaff" as Fenton at the Glyndebourne Festival
Opera, again in 2009, and in "Maria Stuarda" as
Leicester at the Minnesota Opera in 2010.
Bezduz, who is seen as an heir to the famous
tenor Luciano Pavarotti who died last year,
graduated from Gazi University's Department of
Music and started his vocal studies with Polish
tenor Roman Werlinski. He made his debut there as
Alfredo in Verdi's "La Traviata." In 1997 he
attended the European Opera Center in Manchester
and made his European debut in Mozart´s "Lucio
Silla," which went on tour in England, Ireland and
Since then, Bezduz has performed in London,
Dublin, Amsterdam, Cologne, Marseille, Rennes,
Nancy, Lausanne, at the Teatro Regio di Parma and
Teatro Regio di Torino, in Portland, Oregon, at
the Teatro Colón de Buenos Aires, with the
Canadian Opera Company in Toronto, with the
Istanbul State Opera, and in several other cities
* Turkish director Inan Temelkuran's debut feature
film, "Made in Europe," might be the best answer
to those who still believe in a single, united
Europe in the face of the changing world.
Immigrants and their search for more affluent
lives have always been a favorite topic of film,
and the large migrant Turkish population living in
Germany has been a favorite focus point for
continuing cultural tensions.
One of the sources of pride for Turkey, however,
is the inspiring blend of Turkish and German, and
director Fatih Akin has brought Turkish immigrants
in Germany to the fore internationally with his
modern classics "Head On" and "The Edge of
Heaven", among others. But it was director and
writer Tevfik Baser's "40 Square Meters of
Germany" whicht really showed the claustrophobic
existence of Turks in Germany on the big screen
back in the 1980s.
Though it deals with a familiar topic of
cultural significance to the Turkish audience,
Temelkuran's "Made in Europe" brings a totally
fresh perspective to the lives of Turkish
immigrants in Europe. But the movie addresses not
only the Turkish audience; it is, at its best, a
slap to all those celebrating cultural diversity
in a Europe, fluttering in the shadow of the clash
"Made in Europe" takes place in a single night
in three different metropolises of Europe --
Madrid, Paris and Berlin. The film can be watched
as three short films or one feature with three
parts. There are not any predominant plots or
stories, but rather a group of characters (mostly
men) in each city, talking as they do with one
another. The film focuses on the sad existences of
these men, rather than on their stories, conveying
this through sharp, realistic and surprisingly
"Made in Europe" is shocking not because the
audience is exposed to the men's superficial,
obscene and meaningless dialogue, but because it
immediately gives the audience a sense of pity and
For those who have been in the gutters of the
immigrant residences in otherwise wealthy and
beautiful cities in Europe, the dialogue and
situations resonate so true to reality one cannot
help feeling a sense of voyeurism.
* Swedish design, world-famous thanks to
manufacturers and retailers such as Ikea, may be
known for its minimalist simple lines, but when
one takes a designer from the North and throws
them into the land of Ottoman color, style and
kitsch, the outcome may be a little different.
At least this is the case for Christina
Lundberg, a professional clothes designer who now
calls Turkey her home. Lundberg, in her early 20s,
has already made a career in the clothes industry,
having worked in the industry in London for seven
years, including a stint at world-famous Marks and
Spencer. But when a local Turkish design company
scouted her, the offer, she said, was
"I think your roots always follow you, in my
case the minimalist style," said the Swede. "But
here it has been great to work with color." She
explained that some of the Turkish elements
include glitter and brighter colors, which have
pushed her outside of her box, so to speak.
When the Turkish Daily News met Lundberg in
Istanbul's industrial Ikitelli district, the
designer's own attire resembled part of her own
transformation as a designer. A stylish big bright
green shirt tied with a ribbon offset her plain
black shorts. She smiled and graciously thanked
the Turkish Daily News for the compliment. But
when asked what it is like to be a fashion
designer, and how Turkey has influenced her, she
was quick to correct. She explained that her line
of work is much more functional. Really, it could
almost be described as an anthropological exercise
in dressing a people."
Her enthusiasm for the country continues, "I
wanted a new experience that was down-to-earth,
and Turkey is very developed in terms of its
textiles- it is eighth in the world textiles
league and fourth in the ready-to-wear industry."
* Speaking of the fashion industry, supermodel
Kate Moss was in Turkey last week as the muse for
a new photo exhibit by the fashion world's
fearless young duo Mert Alas, from Turkey, and
Sponsored by Beymen, "Tales from the
Subconscious" investigates that dirty little
highway between good and bad, touching on elements
of darkness and mystery, signature trademarks of
the photo duo's work over the years.
* Now, getting back to global matters, the Dogan
news agency reported that seven members of an
Izmir cycling association arrived in Bodrum on a
700-kilometer trip to draw attention to global
warming. Starting in Izmir, members of the Izmir
Bicycle Association, consisting of teachers,
students and pensioners, have followed the
Kusadasi - Milas road for three days, and will
soon cross the Bodrum-Datca-Fetiye-Marmaris road
route and end their journey in Kas, Antalya.
Tour leader Mehmet Savascioglu said members of
the group have been telling locals in the villages
they pass through the reasons and consequences of
global warming, and the cautions people can take
individually against the growing environmental
problem. They advocate for the use of bicycles
instead of motorcycles, and suggest turning off
unused electronic equipment in houses.
Emphasizing that the group's goal is "to leave a
livable world", Savciogu said: "The antagonists of
global warming are the nations that don't sign the
Kyoto contract. The wastes of multinational
corporations, gases that are released without
being filtered, the pollution of seas, lakes and
rivers are causing global warming. When the
temperature rises, precipitation decreases and
drought happens. Summers get longer and winters
shorten. The derangement in seasons and
precipitation rate causes harm to agricultural
products." "Global warming is polluting our air
and water and threatening humanity with hunger,"
said Savcipoglu, adding the members of the
association will pedal for 10 days to draw
attention to the threat.
* As part of daily Hurriyet's 60th anniversary
celebrations, a special train called "Hurriyet,"
which in English means "freedom," set off Tuesday,
July 1 for a trans-Anatolian tour, in an effort to
convey the need for democratic consolidation and
to spread a message of respect for human rights in
Turkey. The project, whose motto is "Right to
Hurriyet, Train is Freedom," is a part of daily
Hurriyet's broader mission to raise consciousness
about human rights among Turkish youth and women.
The theme of human rights for this year's
celebrations was chosen by Hurriyet to coincide
with the 60th anniversary of the U.N. Universal
Declaration of Human Rights. The train took off
from Kars, a province located in the far
northeastern corner of Turkey, after a ceremony
held at the station, attended by Vuslat Dogan
Sabanci; Hurriyet Executive Board Chairwoman
Ertugrul Ozkok; Hurriyet Editor in Chief Suleyman
Karaman; the head of Turkish State Railways, or
TCDD; the mayor of Kars and some other citizens.
The train will weave in and out of 43 provinces
and host nearly 100 activities on its 45-day
voyage, covering 11,500 kilometers.
"With this campaign, we, members of daily
Hurriyet, would like to contribute in making the
children, young people and women of Turkey better
understand the very notion of human rights," said
Dogan Sabanci. "We believe we shall have a part in
increasing the number of individuals who demand
their rights. This will pave the way for a
stronger democracy fully enjoyed by all segments
The 12-carriage "Hurriyet train," specially
designated for the project jointly undertaken by
daily Hurriyet and Turkish Republic State
Railways, will stop in all provinces through which
a railroad passes. At each station where it stops,
activities and events will be held. "The theme of
human rights is everyone's concern," said Dogan
Sabanci, who also made a speech before the
Hurriyet train took off on its countrywide voyage.
"Our main goal is to teach all citizens their
rights. Our agenda is made up of four main topics
related to human rights in Turkey. First, the
right to not be subjected to violence, which is
very common against children and women in Turkey,"
One of the other three rights Dogan Sabanci
pointed to was girls' right to education on an
equal basis with boys in Turkey.
"The number of girls who do not attend primary
school is very high in Turkey," she added.
Two other issues the Hurriyet train project
hopes to draw attention to are forced marriages
that victimize girls and discrimination.
"The theme of human rights in Turkey has always
been manipulated and used as a tool for political
propaganda, said Dogan Sabanci, adding, "But this
is a matter that must interest everyone in this
country. If we want to internalize democracy,
then, we have to internalize human rights first."
* Turkey's first sea park is ready to open in the
Aegean resort town of Kusadasi. 2,000 tropical
fish will inhabit the park, which took two years
to construct. The sea park only has one similar
one, which is in the United States.
Visitors to the park can dive in with the ocean
fish, swim with dolphins, see alligators at close
range and swim in the same pool with a shark while
inside a cage. Using on the slogan "We fit the
ocean to pools," the Adaland Sea Park is expecting
visitors who are interested in sea creatures and
The most eagerly anticipated part of Adaland Sea
Park, besides sharks, dolphins and multi-colored
fish, is the section that includes Nemo, the hero
of the award winning animated movie "Finding
EXCHANGE RATE for the U.S. dollar in Turkish Liras: 1.23
High and Low Temperatures in Degrees F, Weather
Ankara, in central Turkey----------: 93/57 Partly cloudy
Antalya, on the Mediterranean------: 91/61 Decreasing Cloudiness
Erzurum in eastern Turkey----------: 88/52 Decreasing Cloudiness
Istanbul, in northwestern Turkey---: 88/63 Mostly Cloudy
Izmir, on the Aegean---------------: 88/72 Partly cloudy
Trabzon, on the Black Sea----------: 90/54 Partly cloudy
Black Sea measured at Trabzon 75
Marmara Sea measured at Tekirdag 75
Aegean Sea measured at Bodrum 73
Mediterranean Sea measured at Alanya 79
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