x0x Turkish News for the week ending 13 August 2011
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x0x Turkish News for the week ending 13 August 2011
[This is a transcript of the news broadcast on 13 August 2011]
Courtesy of Turkish Radio Hour, producer of the
TURKISH CULTURAL PROGRAM, every Saturday from 6 P.M. to 8 P.M.
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Edited by Bilgin Atalay
* The New York Times reports that President Bashar al-Assad of Syria
rebuffed an appeal from Turkey on Tuesday after a six-hour meeting with
Turkey's Foreign Affairs Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu.
According to the Hurriyet Daily News, Ahmet Davutoglu was in Damascus on
Tuesday to deliver this warning following the harshest reaction yet from
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the deadly unrest sweeping Syria.
Mr. Erdogan said Saturday that Turkey's patience with the situation was
running out and that Davutoglu would convey "a resolute message" to Syrian
President Bashar al-Assad that he risks losing Turkey's support. The
crackdown has killed, by the count of some Syrian opposition groups, more
than 2,000 people.
Damascus hit back Sunday, adding to the bilateral chill ahead of the
visit, but a Turkish Foreign Affairs Ministry official said Davutoglu's
visit would go ahead barring a last-minute change.
If Davutoglu "is to deliver a firm message to Syria, he will hear a
firmer reply regarding the Turkish stance, which didn't condemn the brutal
killings and crimes committed by armed terrorist groups against civilians,
the military and police members till now," Syrian presidential advisor
Bouthina Shaaban said, according to the official Sana news agency.
Thus far, Turkey has stopped short of calling for al-Assad's departure,
arguing that a democratic transition should take place under his
By turning against al-Assad, Turkey faces deterioration in ties with its
southern neighbor, which had flourished in recent years. The turmoil has
already hit trade links between the two countries and led to an exodus to
Turkey of thousands of Syrians fleeing bloodshed in their country. Turkey,
Syria's neighbor to the north, was an emerging ally before relations
stumbled over Mr. Assad's crackdown, and its officials are still thought
to retain leverage with Mr. Assad, who took power in 2000. By his own
count, Mr. Davutoglu has visited Syria more than 60 times over the past
* Later in the week, the Turks started claiming that the Turkish pressure
was starting to bear fruit. Turkey on Wednesday welcomed the pull-out of
Syrian tanks from Hama as a direct outcome of its pressure on Damascus,
but remained cautious and urged more steps within "10 to 15 days" to ease
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey's ambassador to Syria
confirmed that tanks and security forces were leaving the revolt hub of
Hama after the envoy visited the city Wednesday following seven-hour talks
between Turkish Foreign Affairs Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Syrian
President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus the previous day.
"We will continue to closely monitor the developments in Syria and watch
for the issues that we discussed" with al-Assad, Mr. Erdogan said, adding
that Turkey's pressure was motivated by its commitment to promoting
democracy in the region. The immediate measures Turkey expects from
al-Assad's government include the announcement of a timetable for
elections and the release of all political prisoners, a senior Turkish
Erdogan said the use of force against civilians must stop "as soon as
possible" and stressed that al-Assad's pledges for reform "would convince
neither the Syrian people nor the international community as long as
people are being killed every day." Ambassador Omer Onhon toured Hama, and
reported that the city was free from tanks and heavy weaponry but "lacked
activity and vivacity."
"The second important step we expect [from Damascus] is media access" to
Syria, Davutoglu said, adding that Turkey would organize within a few days
a press tour to Hama and Deir Ezzor, another flashpoint in the uprising.
Following his talks with Mr. Davutoglu, a defiant al-Assad pledged to
pursue a relentless battle against "terrorist groups" whom the regime has
blamed for the violence.
Mr. Davutoglu said Wednesday that he had spoken over the phone with U.S.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as well as his counterparts from
Brazil, Germany and Jordan after he returned from Damascus. "If Syria
begins to take steps in line with the demands of its people and ends the
bloodshed, and if the international community unites to speak in one voice
on the issue, the process may advance in a way that would ease everybody's
concerns," he said.
* Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party has failed in both of its
top foreign policy priorities -- "zero problems with neighbors" and
membership talks with the European Union, main opposition leader Kemal
Kilicdaroglu said Thursday.
"[..] today we have problems with all of our neighbors and relations
with the European Union have frozen," Kilicdaroglu told the Hurriyet Daily
News in an interview.
The leader of the Republican People's Party fired broadside at the
government's policy on Syria, charging that Turkey has become
"over-engaged" and a "tool" of Western powers while seeking to improve
ties with the United States over concerns that Turkey is sliding away from
* A third Turkish Airlines cargo plane took off for Somalia on Thursday as
part of Turkey's aid campaign to drought-stricken country, reports the
Anatolia News Agency.
The plane is carrying 40 tons of food and medical supplies.
The aid includes baby formula and milk powder as well as medication to
cure most common diseases in Somalia. It will be distributed by Red
Crescent representatives in Mogadishu.
First two planes carrying aid to Somalia had departed Monday with 50
tons of food and medical supplies on board.
Turkey has launched a massive aid campaign to help efforts to fight
hunger in east Africa where the World Food Program estimates that 10
million people are already in need of humanitarian aid.
The U.N. Children's Fund estimates that more than 2 million children are
malnourished and in need of life-saving action in the region.
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, "our people feel this
pain in their conscience during each fast-breaking dinner in this holy
Ramadan month. We cannot remain silent", and he added that he, his family
and Foreign Affairs Minister Ahmet Davutoglu would visit Somalia which is
suffering from hunger.
Mr. Erdogan will also voice the situation in Somalia in the United
* Iranian gas flow to Turkey has been halted due to an explosion on the
pipeline in Turkey overnight and repairs have been started which will take
one week, a Turkish Energy Ministry official told Reuters on Friday.
He said Turkey was buying additional gas from Azerbaijan and Russia to
cover the shortfall caused by the explosion, which according to state-run
Anatolian news agency occurred in the eastern Turkish province of Agri.
Iran is Turkey's second-biggest supplier of natural gas after Russia,
sending 10 billion cubic metres of gas each year. Turkey uses gas to fire
half of its power plants.
It was not immediately clear what had caused Friday's blast but sabotage
is common on pipelines leading into Turkey from Iran and Iraq.
Late last month, gas exports from Iran to Turkey were briefly halted due
to a blast. The pipeline was swiftly repaired and gas flows were resumed a
* On Thursday the Wall Street Journal reported that Turkey's
current-account deficit more than doubled on the year in June to $7.55
billion. This was broadly in line with economists' expectations, but
underlined market concerns that Turkey's fast-growing economy is
Economists said that despite the number being in line with expectations,
the data confirmed that the deficit is deteriorating at a rapid pace,
along with the quality of assets covering the financing gap.
Along the same lines: Turkey is withdrawing from an aggressive economic
growth strategy amid global recession concerns, according to statements
made Thursday by Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan. He said that stability
is the priority.
His statements came a day after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
called for less spending amid a week-old shift in monetary policy.
Economists speaking to the Hurriyet Daily News also agreed that the ruling
Justice and Development Party is signaling stabilization in the economy
instead of robust growth, which stood at 11 percent in the first quarter
of the year.
* A group of environmental activists in Turkey protested on Sunday the
government's decision to build the country's first ever nuclear power
plant in Akkuyu town of the southern province of Mersin.
A spokesperson for the group said the nuclear plans were underway "in
spite of the will of the people," adding that the nuclear disaster in
Fukishima, Japan, forced the Japanese government to withdraw future plans
to construct more nuclear plants in its own country as well as another in
Turkey's Black Sea province of Sinop.
* Foreign Affairs Minister Hina Rabbani Khar (34), known as the new
Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan, is paying an official visit to Turkey. Khar is
the youngest and the first woman Foreign Affairs Minister of Pakistan. She
is the daughter of a tribal leader.
In her two day visit to Ankara, Rabbani is scheduled to meet President
Abdullah Gul, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Affairs
Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
During her visit to India, Rabbani drew attention with her Roberto
Cavalli glasses and $100,000 Hermes handbag.
Rabbani is a graduate of from University of Massachusetts, Amherst with
a degree in hospitality management, and her hobby is mountaineering.
* A group of female volleyball players are set to board a public bus
wearing shorts on Saturday to protest an assault on their colleague, daily
Hurriyet reported on its website.
Nineteen-year-old volleyball player Nurcan Ibrahimoglu said she was
insulted and hit by a man on a public bus in July for wearing shorts.
The protesters organized on social media and were scheduled to meet at
Kadikoy docks in Istanbul at 2 p.m. on Saturday to cross to Besiktas on
the European side of the ferry route and board the 42M public bus, the
same route on which Ibrahimoglu was assaulted.
ARTS AND CULTURE
* According to the Anatolia News Agency Photographs from excavation work
conducted on Turkey's Mount Nemrut in 1965 have been found in a flea
market in Berlin.
Tuncay Demirtas, a Turkish collector, said he found the photographs,
taken by Lothar Carlowitz, and 16-millimeter film rolls, which have Turkey
written on them, in Berlin.
Noting that he bought the film and the photographs, Demirtas said he
later printed them and discovered that the photographs showcase the
excavation work on Nemrut Mountain.
The photographs reveal the local people who were working in the
excavation area on Nemrut during 1965.
The excavations in Nemrut Mountain started in 1950 with a Turkish-German
archaeologist's team under the leadership of Professor Karl Dorner. The
excavation works continued until the 1980s and in 1989 Sencer Sahin, a
Turkish archaeologist took over the leadership of the archaeology team.
Mt. Nemrut is a 7,001 ft high mountain in southeastern Turkey, notable
for the summit where a number of large statues is erected around what is
assumed to be a royal tomb from the 1st century BCE.
See more at http://www.nemrud.nl/
* "Immigration Reality", a documentary detailing the 50-year-old story of
Turkish immigrants to Germany, will be shown for the first time on the
sidelines of the 63rd Frankfurt Book Fair, reports the Anatolia News
In 1961, a total of 7,116 Turks immigrated to Germany as guest workers.
The recruitment treaty in 1961 made Germany the prime host country for
Turkish guest workers and by 1973, some 80 percent of the Turks in Western
Europe lived in Germany. Although this share had decreased to 70 percent
by 1990, Germany has long been home to the largest number of Turks in
* The BBC is planning to shoot footage in the Central Anatolian province
of Eskisehir as part of a documentary titled "The Crusades", reports the
Anatolia News Agency.
"The shooting will start in September," said Taciser Sivas, a professor
at Eskisehir's Anadolu University who has been carrying out excavations in
the Sarhoyuk (formerly Dorylaion) for the past 30 years.
"Eskisehir has importance in that the Selcuks, which lost [the
northwestern town of] Iznik during the Crusades, came to Dorylaion in
Eskisehir," she said. "The Crusaders got their first victory here.
Dorylaion is the Byzantine door opening to the east."
In addition to Eskisehir, BBC will also shoot some parts of the
three-episode documentary in Iznik, Antalya, Israel and Egypt.
Thomas Asbridge, the writer of the book "The Crusades," will also come
to the city for the shootings, Savas said. "They will look at the walls of
the castle and the artifacts that we unearthed during the excavations in
Sarhoyuk. Since the stones were used in the construction of the
Istanbul-Baghdad railway and Odunpazari houses, only basic parts of the
castle have survived until the present day."
* According to the Hurriyet Daily News, preparations have started for the
Istanbul International 1001 Documentary Film Festival that will be
organized from Sept. 29 to Oct. 3 in the northwestern province of Bursa's
Iznik district. This year's festival theme has been announced as "Dar
Alanlar" (Confined Souls).
Documentary makers from all around Turkey will come together in Iznik on
Friday to choose films for the festival during a three-day camp. The films
that pass the pre-selection round will be evaluated by professionals,
academics and directors at the camp.
Organized by the Association of Documentary Filmmakers, or BSB, for 14
years, the festival has so far hosted hundreds of Turkish and foreign
films. More than 530 films have applied to this year's festival, during
which 65 films will be shown under seven sections, which are Black, Red,
Orange, Yellow, Blue, Purple and Green.
For the first time this year, the 1001 Documentary Film Festival will
have a special section for children under the title "Documentaries for
Children." Films based on real stories by world-known directors will be
shown for children between the ages of 7 and 15.
For more information click http://www.1001belgesel.net/en/
* Speaking of children, Dogan News Agency reports that Audio books being
recorded by children in Izmir's Bergama Prison will be sent to visually
impaired children between the ages of 12 and 18 all around the country as
a result of a new project.
Imprisoned children will acquire reading habits while the visually
impaired children will have the joy of reading 10 different books, thanks
to the project organized by the Sabanci Foundation, Turkish Library for
Visually Impaired and the Izmir State Theater.
Izmir State Theater Deputy Director Yusuf Koksal said the children
received reading and diction courses for the project.
* According to the Hurriyet Daily News, Dissident Turkish poet Can Yucel's
family has carried out the last of three stipulations in his will by
opening up a seed bank in the Aegean province of Mugla in time for the
12th anniversary of his death.
"Can was a nature person, and he grasped the significance of seeds and
of protecting them in their own climate," Guler Yucel, the poet's widow,
told the Hurriyet Daily News this week. "When he told us about this will
of his, we jeered and laughed, asking how we could establish a bank ... We
used to say we had no idea about banks."
The poet's works were translated into dozens of languages but were often
banned at home on the grounds that he employed slang and explicit terms.
Yucel was a translator as well and was sentenced to 15 years in prison due
to his translation of texts written by Che Guevera and Mao Zedong during
the 1970s. He was also tried for his critical statements regarding
Suleyman Demirel, Turkey's ninth president.
See selected poems in English at Can Yucel Poetry
* Balikesir province's Ayvalik town's Kirlangic Olive Oil Factory is
preparing to become a Culture and Arts Center and Ceramic Museum.
"After transforming the Kirlangic Olive Oil Factory building, we aim to
transform other historical buildings in the area," said Mayor Bulent
Turkozen, adding that on the Gonul Road the team is also planning to open
an open-air maritime museum.
The aim of this plan is to make Ayvalik a lively tourism district that
can serve local and foreign tourists 12 months a year.
"We also aim to spread ceramic arts throughout every part of our society
and Ayvalik wants to take the first step in this plan," he said.
* According to the Anatolia News Agency, The 16th Boston Turkish Arts and
Culture Festival Documentary and Short Film Competition will take place
between October 29 and December 15, 2011.
Finalists of the competition will be screened at Museum of Fine Arts and
Boston University between December 1 and 8.
The award-winning films will be screened at the 11th Boston Turkish Film
Festival in 2012.
Boston Turkish Festival Documentary and Short Film Competition provides
a rare opportunity for filmmakers to have a platform in the US for their
films to reach an international audience as well as film critics.
The first of its kind organized in North America, the competition has
already transformed to a great tradition where Bostonians are able to
explore works of the emerging filmmakers first hand.
Each year more than hundred films are submitted from numerous countries
including Armenia, Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, Iran, S. Korea,
Nepal, Norway, Turkey, Britain and the US.
See more at http://www.bostonturkishfestival.org/
EXCHANGE RATE for the U.S. dollar in New Turkish Liras: 1.78
High and Low Temperatures in Degrees F, Weather
Ankara, in central Turkey: 79/59 Mostly Cloudy
Antalya, on the Mediterranean: 97/81 Mostly Sunny
Istanbul, in northwestern Turkey: 82/70 Mostly Cloudy
Izmir, on the Aegean: 86/70 Mostly Sunny
Van, in Eastern Turkey 82/55 Partly Cloudy
Trabzon, on the Black Sea: 86/70 Mostly Sunny
Black Sea measured at Trabzon 75
Marmara Sea measured at Tekirdag 81
Aegean Sea measured at Izmir 81
Mediterranean Sea measured at Antalya 82
[Saat 18:30 and 19:30 'da iki kez okuyun]
*** Film screening at Stanford:
ICA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, SUMMER 2011:
A World of Laughter
Lane History Corner (Building 200), Room 02 (450 Serra Mall, Stanford)
GERMANY, 2004, NOT RATED, 96 MINS.
(GERMAN/GREEK/TURKISH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES)
Sponsored by the Mediterranean Studies Forum and the Abbasi Program Islamic Studies
Introduction by BURCU KARAHAN, Lecturer, Department of Comparative Literature
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*** Mark your calendar for an evening of opera
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