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x0x Turkish news for week ending 05 July 2008

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  • Turkish Culture List
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    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 8, 2008
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      x0x Turkish news for week ending 05 July 2008

      [Best when viewed with the courier font.]


      A service of the TURKISH RADIO HOUR, producer of:

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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
      and religion.
      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
      court's decision.
      "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


      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
      in Europe.

      * 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
      of civilizations.
      "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
      shocking dialogue.
      "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
      Marcus Piggot.
      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
      of society."
      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,"
      she said.
      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

      Seawater temperatures

      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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