No irregularities in Turkish election that would have affected the outcome – CHP opposition

CHP presidential candidate İnce blasts election night ‘hoaxes’

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) presidential candidate Muharrem İnce has blasted “hoaxes” that circulated on social media after the June 24 election in a series of tweets before his three-hour meeting with CHP chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. 

CHP leaders

If they can get their act together, they may have a chance next time.

“They, everything told, written or shared on the election night, were all lies, claiming I was silenced, threatened, kidnapped or was put in a position where I could not make a statement. I did not send a tweet saying ‘there were things that you do not know.’ That screenshot was fake, a hoax,” İnce said in a series of tweets on July 2.

He reiterated that the CHP could not detect an irregularity in the election that would have affected the outcome.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was re-elected by receiving the majority of votes in the first round of elections on June 24.

İnce, who vowed to “keep up with the struggle until Turkey would become a country for us all,” said he would start to tour the country on July 4.

Kılıçdaroğlu and İnce met for a dinner at a hotel in Ankara late July 2 to evaluate the election results and determine the party strategy ahead of the local elections, which could be moved from March 2019 to late 2018.

The two figures did not release a press statement after their dinner, which took three hours.

It was the first time that they met face-to-face after the elections.

“I will not run against [Kılıçdaroğlu] and be his competitor. I will not commit such disloyalty to a person who has presented me as a presidential candidate,” İnce said on July 1, as inner-party debates were the center of attention within the CHP following the election results.

Source: Hürriyet Daily News

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City of gastronomy to share its cuisine with world

Cuisine hailing from the southern province of Hatay, included in UNESCO’s “Creative Cities Network” in the field of gastronomy, is now set to be branded and introduced to the world. 

With over 600 dishes, Hatay cuisine is famous for its unique features and rich variety across Turkey. 

Hatay cuisineThe Hatay Metropolitan Municipality now plans to share the province’s tastes with the rest of the world through promotional projects that will help Hatay cuisine become a global brand. 

Speaking to state-run Anadolu Agency, Hatay Mayor Lütfü Savaş said the province has been at the center of trade for centuries at the junction of Anatolia and the Middle East. 

“We live in a very important region located on ancient pilgrimage routes. Thirteen of the 23 world civilizations have lived here. We have a historical past, cultural values and civilization accumulation. Here, many food cultures have lived in peace with each other, not conflicted but inspired by each other. And today we are talking about a region that has over 600 dishes. It is unthinkable to not share them with the rest of the world,” Savaş said. 

He added that they have been working since 2010 to make Hatay “the world’s gastronomic city” and noted that the province was included in the Creative Cities Network by UNESCO last year. 

Savaş said they promoted the tastes of the city by organizing “Hatay Days” across Turkey, which they will now take elsewhere in Europe and the Middle East. 

“We organized promotional events during the ‘Hatay Days’ in Ankara, Istanbul and İzmir. We will now share this with the world too. We want to glorify the Hatay brand,” he added. 

Sedat İnanç, the Chairman of the Association of Hatay Cooks, said the region’s cuisine took inspiration from the Arab world, Anatolia, Central Asia and Europe. 

“Turkish cuisine is something separate from Hatay cuisine. Here we have over 250 types of breakfast … We want to gather them all in a book, including forgotten dishes. As fast food has become more popular, these traditional dishes have been forgotten,” İnanç said, adding that people across the world are now seeking new tastes.” 

“There is great interest in Hatay dishes but we still don’t have skillful cooks or facilities to serve them. But if we manage to overcome this problem, I believe that Hatay cuisine will reach the renown that it deserves,” he added.

Source: Hürriyet Daily News

Note: Hatay is also known as Antakya, in ancient times, the city of Antioch

Turkish historian Fuat Sezgin dies at age 95

I wrote a piece on Fuat Sezgin four years ago after discovering the museum in Istanbul he was responsible for establishing. If you want to check it out you’ll find the introduction and link at the end of this brief obituary I’m quoting from Hürriyet Daily News.

Fuat Sezgin 2The writer notes that Professor Sezgin “continued his studies at Germany’s Frankfurt University in 1960 following a military coup in Turkey.” Those were the good old days of democracy in Turkey when left wing academics were imprisoned, tortured and disappeared. Fortunately, the learned professor managed to get away – unlike the Prime Minister of the day, who was executed by the soldiers along with two of his ministers. Professor Sezgin lived to see his reputation restored, and survived to a ripe old age.

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Turkish historian Fuat Sezgin died on June 30 at the age of 95. Macit Çetinkaya, chair of the board of Research Foundation for the History of Science in Islam, told Anadolu Agency that Sezgin died in the hospital where he was treated for an unspecified illness.

“I am very saddened by the death of such a valued scientist, regardless of his age. He was a very distinguished scientist,” Çetinkaya said “He donated a priceless library and museum to Turkey,” he added.

Fuat SezginPresident Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also extended his condolences over the demise of the historian.

“I wish Allah’s mercy upon the great scholar Prof. Dr. Fuat Sezgin, who led the reawakening of our civilization and history with the work he has done in the field of Islamic science history, and offer my condolences to the nation, his relatives and the world of science,” Erdoğan said on Twitter.

Sezgin was born in eastern Bitlis province in 1924. He studied at Istanbul University’s Faculty of Letters, where he also earned his PhD in Arabic language and literature. He continued his studies at Germany’s Frankfurt University in 1960 following a military coup in Turkey.

He devoted a considerable amount of time to studying and listing scientific contributions made by Muslim/Arabic scholars throughout history. He wrote numerous books and articles.

Sezgin established the Research Foundation for the History of Science in Islam in 2010 to support activities of the Istanbul Museum of the History of Science and Technology in Islam.

In 2013, he also founded the History of Science in Islam Institute at Fatih Sultan Mehmet Vakif University in Istanbul.

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It gives you some idea of the wealth of the Ottoman sultans that the stables of the old Topkapı Palace have been converted into a moderately large museum; not actually dedicated to equestrian pursuits, but housing Istanbul’s Museum of Science and Technology in Islam.

Well, you might think it’s a long name for a museum that won’t contain very much – but you’d be wrong. The MSTI (or in Turkish, İBTTM) features displays and models in fifteen scientific fields from a thousand years of high Islamic culture, beginning in the 7th century and ending at the start of the 17th when Western Europe took over as the centre of scientific research and discovery. Somewhat unusually for a museum in this country, the displays are fully and clearly explained by text in four languages, German, French and English as well as Turkish.

The linguistic competence, and in fact the foundation of the museum itself, are attributable to Professor Fuat Sezgin, professor emeritus at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany. Professor Sezgin taught at Istanbul University until 1960 when he, along with many other intellectuals, was removed from office after the military coup in May of that year. Escaping the fate of the unfortunate prime minister at the time, Prof. Sezgin made his way to Germany where he embarked on a successful academic career specialising in the history of Arab-Islamic science, helping to found a museum in Frankfurt with replicas of historical scientific instruments, tools and maps.

https://turkeyfile.com/2014/11/28/cultural-amnesia-islamic-contributions-to-modern-science-and-technology/

 

US demand to stop oil trade with Iran not binding for Turkey: Minister

The United States’ demand to stop trading oil with Iran is not binding for Turkey, a top Turkish official has said, adding that Turkey would only follow a United Nations decision regarding this issue.

Turkey economyDuring a press meeting in Ankara on June 27, Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci noted Turkey would pay attention so that its friend Iran will not face any unfair treatment due to such actions.

The U.S. has told countries to cut all imports of Iranian oil by November and is unlikely to offer any exemptions, a senior U.S. Department of State official said on June 26 as the Trump administration ramps up pressure on allies to cut off funding to Iran.

“The decisions taken by the United States on this issue are not binding for us. Of course, we will follow the United Nations on its decision. Other than this, we will only follow our own national interests. In addition, we will pay attention so our friend Iran will not face any unfair actions,” Zeybekci said.

U.S. President Donald Trump in May said his administration was withdrawing from the “defective” nuclear deal agreed between Iran and six world powers in July 2015, aimed at curbing Tehran’s nuclear capabilities in exchange for the lifting of some sanctions, and ordered the re-imposition of U.S. sanctions against Tehran that were suspended under the accord.

“Yes, we are asking them to go to zero,” the official said on June 26 when asked if the U.S. was pushing allies, including China and India, to cut oil imports to zero by November.

“We’re going to isolate streams of Iranian funding and looking to highlight the totality of Iran’s malign behavior across the region,” the official told reporters speaking on condition of anonymity, as reported by Reuters.

Turkey strives for the development of free trade around the world, Zeybekci also said.

“Turkey acts in a more responsible way for the improvement of global trade and we have shown an effort for the development of free trade among countries,” he said.

Read the whole article

Strolling around old Istanbul – and not thinking about the election

We had a three-day holiday to celebrate the end of the Ramadan month of fasting. Left alone, I did some wandering around less frequented parts of the old city.

Mahmut II tomb2

Monumental cemetery  – tombs of late Ottoman luminaries including three 19th century Sultans: Mahmut II, Abdülaziz and Abdülhamid II

Cerrah Mehmed Paşa Cami3

Cerrah Mehmed Pasha Mosque, 1583. The architect, Davut Ağa was a pupil of the great Sinan

Arkadios Column2

Only the base remains of the 5th century Arkadios column, centre of a flourishing slave market in former times

Koca Mustafa Paşa Complex2

Koca Mustafa Pasha mosque complex – built in 1489 on the site of a former Byzantine monastery. The tomb contains the remains of a royal princess, daughter of the Emperor Constantine XI, who is said to have converted to Islam.

Hekim Ali Paşa Complex2

Interior of Hekimoğlu Ali Pasha mosque, built by an 18th century Grand Vizier.

Haseki complex3

Haseki mosque complex – the third largest in Istanbul, built by the architect Sinan on the orders of Hürrem Sultan, wife of Süleiman the Magnificent. The complex contained schools, a hospital and a soup kitchen to feed the poor.

Giant walnut

Ancient walnut tree, dating from who knows when?

Çinili Cami

Recently restored mosque (in Üsküdar) of Kösem Sultan, one of the greatest Ottoman women – built in 1640, and known as Çinili, or the Tiled Mosque, because of the beauty of its decorative ceramic tiles.

Çinili Cami5

Mihrab (altar) and mimber (pulpit) in Çinili Mosque – afer a four-year restoration.

Istanbul: Of new friends and felines

It’s bit shallow – but the guy was only here for a week. Anyway, it’s nice to read something positive about Turkey for a change. This was published in the NZ Herald travel section (I’ve abridged it a little). Surprisingly, the guy didn’t see any Arab tourists!

DSCF1962Michael Lamb makes friends with hospitable locals and countless cats while exploring Istanbul’s deep, rich history.

It’s after midnight and we’re wandering the tangled lanes, heading back to our hotel.

We’d had dinner at 360 Istanbul, a rooftop restaurant up near Taksim Square, which, as the name suggests, offers spectacular sunset views of this amazing city. Dinner rapidly turned into a social affair, joining tables of boisterous travellers to drink and talk global politics.

Then we came across a cool hole-in-the-wall cafe/bar and stopped in for a nightcap. They’d closed the cash register for the night so offered us a round of beers — for free. More travellers stopped, more beers were offered and another session of discussing the wonders of Istanbul and the state of the planet unfolded.

And so typical of a night out in Istanbul, where you make friends faster and easier than any other city I’ve been to in the world; where the desire to interact with visitors is genuine and limitless.

If the hospitality isn’t enough, then there are the cats. The movie Kedi, a meditation on the wondrous lives of the cats of Istanbul, is one of the sleeper hits of 2017, having gained traction on the festival circuit last year. Shot on a low budget, it’s already taken more than US$4 million and counting.

Some people say the cats are merely a cute distraction from the deep truths of Istanbul and wider Turkey. This is a city that’s taken its fair share of hits in the new era of extremist terrorism. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s determination to stamp out activism and political opposition is casting a dark shadow across the Turkish soul. People talk about it, but quite rightly it makes them unhappy and uncomfortable [On this last point, it depends who you talk with, in fact].

As tourists here for just seven days, we decide to stick to our tourist knitting. And in that game, Istanbul rolls out the red Turkish carpet every time — though everywhere you go it’s noticeable the numbers are down. The city is on the hot destination lists but the reality is, mainstream tourists are spooked and staying away.

On the ground, this fear factor feels ridiculous: in a city of 15 million people (officially, the locals reckon it’s more like 20 million) your odds of running into trouble are, I’d wager, microscopic.

We tour the famous and fabulous Grand Bazaar, the Spice Bazaar. The other tourists we encounter are an unexpected mix: a lot of Russians, Chinese and Eastern Europeans.

We hit the tourist-book standards like the vast Blue Mosque, the Galata Tower and the Istanbul Modern Art Museum. We gape at the magnificence of the soaring Hagia Sophia cathedral and the subterranean Basilica Cistern, a beautifully ornate underground water reservoir. Both the Hagia Sophia and the Cistern were built by Emperor Justinian I in the 6th century. Justinian and his wife, Theodora, are the coolest couple you could hope to find and their legacies are worth a trip to Istanbul alone.

A week in Istanbul is a mere heartbeat in the long, timeless story of this city, a place with such a deep, rich history. You could spend aeons here and still find something new. And while tourism fatigue is hitting places like Barcelona and Paris, in Istanbul you can guarantee you’ll be welcomed with open arms. So there’s never been a better time to go — especially if you’re a cat person.

So who invaded Cyprus first?

It’s not the main topic of the news item, but it does make an interesting point about Turkey’s “invasion” of Cyprus back in 1974 . . .

Spooky pics of abandoned Cyprus airport frozen in time

nicosiaTHIS once bustling transport hub was suddenly abandoned 40 years ago, leaving jet planes and empty terminals as eerie signs of the past.

THIS airport was once a bustling, state-of-the-art transport hub on a popular holiday island. 

But for more than 40 years, time has stood still at Nicosia International Airport on Cyprus, which is now an eerie scene of decaying check-in desks and terminal equipment, and stripped-back jets stuck on the abandoned tarmac.

The airport became deserted after 1974, when it became a flashpoint for civil conflict on the Mediterranean island.

Cyprus had seen years of tensions between the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots after it became independent from Britain.

In 1974, Greek nationalists overthrew the elected president of Cyprus and in the days that followed, Nicosia airport was briefly used to bring in troops from Greece.

The airport was also a scene of chaos during that time, as holiday-makers and other foreigners sought to flee the conflict.

Within days of the coup d’etat, Turkey invaded Cyprus, and the airport was severely damaged in a bombing campaign.

nicosia jetA demilitarised zone was created and Nicosia airport wound up right in the middle of it, which led to it being suddenly abandoned. The last commercial flight departed Nicosia in 1977.

After Nicosia airport was abandoned, authorities opened a new international airport at Larnaca, which is the island’s main airport that most Australians now fly into or pass through.

But intrepid travellers who venture to neglected Nicosia airport can see how its has become frozen in time, with derelict rows of seats in the terminals, stained carpets on now-empty corridors, and decrepit jet planes stuck where they last came to rest all those years ago.

Source

And another related snippet from the BBC . . .

Varosha – The abandoned tourist resort

famagustabeach

Famagusta before the Greek military coup – and subsequent Turkish invasion

Miles of sand where it’s just you and nature. Dozens of grand hotels where you’ll have the pick of the rooms.

Just remember to pack your bolt cutters to make a hole in the fence – and watch out for the army patrols with orders to shoot on sight. 

Before the division of Cyprus in 1974, Varosha – a resort in Famagusta – was booming. The rich and famous were drawn by some of the best beaches on the island. Richard Burton and Brigitte Bardot all dropped by – the Argo Hotel on JFK Avenue was said to be Elizabeth Taylor’s favourite.

But 40 years ago, after years of inter-ethnic violence culminating in a coup inspired by Greece’s ruling military junta, Turkey invaded Cyprus and occupied the northern third of the island.

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Incidentally, before taking matters into their owns hands, the government of Turkey had asked the UK government, as guarantors of Cyprus’s independence, to intervene  – which they declined to do.