Struggling to cope, Turkey stops refugees on Syrian border – August 27th 2012

Turkey has begun temporarily holding thousands of Syrians on the Syrian side of the border as it struggles to cope with a growing wave of refugees. At least 2,000 people fleeing violence in Syria were prevented from entering Turkey overnight at one of several unofficial border crossings in the southern province of Hatay, a Turkish official and witnesses said. “We have run out of space to house these people. We are working to make shelters and when these are completed we will allow these people across,” the official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. He said the refugees were being handed food and humanitarian aid through the barbed-wire fence that marks much of Turkey’s 900-km (560-mile) border with Syria, and through which tens of thousands of Syrians have scrambled over the past 17 months. The official said he hoped the refugees would be allowed to cross later on Sunday. The number of Syrian refugees in Turkey has nearly doubled over the past two months to more than 80,000 and Ankara has already said it is struggling to cope. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said this week Turkey could run out of space if the number went above 100,000 and suggested the United Nations may need to create a “safe zone” inside Syria. In total, more than 200,000 Syrians have poured into neighboring countries since the start of the conflict, already surpassing a UN year-end estimate of 185,000, and Turkey, which has seen the highest refugee influx, is growing frustrated at what it sees as a slow international response. “The United Nations and others are commending Turkey and neighboring countries for doing a good job housing the refugees but all these comments are actually covering up a crisis,” a second Turkish official told Reuters. “Our capabilities as a host country are being strained … we are now struggling to cope,” said the official, who declined to be named so he could speak freely on the subject. He said while several countries had provided some humanitarian aid such as blankets and tents, the overall response had been slow. He said despite pledges being made, Turkey had so far not received any financial assistance. Many of the latest arrivals have been housed in schools and sports centers but, with the academic term due to begin in a matter of weeks, this is not a permanent solution. Turkey is rushing to build several new camps but refugees are arriving faster than they can be constructed. This has led to overcrowding, causing disturbances in some camps as tempers, exacerbated by blazing summer temperatures, flare over shortages of food and water. Officials also say the real number of Syrians that have fled their homes over the past 17 months is higher than the official figures as thousands of wealthier refugees have arrived across official borders and are renting accommodation in cities. Ankara fears a mass influx on the scale seen during the 1991 Gulf War when 500,000 people poured into Turkey, and says that would be one factor that could drive Turkey to establish a “buffer zone” inside Syria. But Ankara is reluctant to act unilaterally on what would essentially amount to a military intervention. The idea of a buffer zone has also gained little traction elsewhere and Ankara has been increasingly vocal in its frustration at the UN Security Council and its failure to come to a united stance over Syria. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said the Security Council’s failure was indirectly supporting oppression in Syria, and criticized vetoes by China and Russia of UN resolutions as a “fiasco”.

Armenian-Turkish youth symphony orchestra gives concert in Istanbul – August 3rd 2012

The Armenian-Turkish Youth Symphony Orchestra’s one-night performance took place at Boğaziçi University on Wednesday night in Istanbul. The orchestra which was established in 2010 with initiatives by two orchestra conductors, namely, Cem Mansur and Nvart Andreassian, was brought together again by an influential organization named Anadolu Kültür.

Stevie Wonder for first time in Istanbul – August 14th 2012

American popular music icon Stevie Wonder will perform at Santralistanbul in Istanbul on Friday September 14, 2012

The Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts will host Wonder among world stars in honor of its 40th anniversary celebrations in Istanbul.

The artist who has released a range of popular albums like Music of My Mind, Talking Book, Fulfillingness’ First Finale and Innervisions is also the composer of dozens of memorable songs such as “For Once in My Life”, “You Are the Sunshine of My Life,” “Superstition,” “Sir Duke”, “Happy Birthday”, “I Just Called to Say I Love You,” “Isn’t She Lovely?”

Stevie Wonder, who can play drums and percussion instruments in addition to the piano and keyboard, has played also a huge role in popularizing the synthesizer in popular music. Apart from winning 25 Grammies including the lifetime Achievement Award, he has also won the Golden Globe for his famous movie song “I just called to say I love you.”

The artist continues to be a source of inspiration for numerous contemporary musicians from a variety of genres including jazz, pop and many more.

Turkey’s youth volleyball team ranks top in women’s junior European Volleyball Championship – August 27th 2012

Turkey’s women’s youth volleyball team became the European champion, as a result of defeating Serbia 3-0 in the European Volleyball Confederation (CEV) Youth Volleyball European Championship final in Ankara. The championship was played in Ankara from August 18 to 26. Serbia won the silver medal and Italy placed third in the tournament, consisting of 12 teams.

Magic Turkish squad claims third consecutive gold medal – August 26th 2012

In front of 6’500 electrified spectators at Başkent Hall in Ankara, Turkey outclassed Serbia in straight sets (25-21, 25-22, 25-18) to win their third consecutive gold medal within two years in CEV and FIVB youth and junior competitions

Only one year after their magical coups at 2011 CEV Girls Youth Volleyball European Championship as well as at 2011 FIVB Volleyball Girls’ Youth World Championship, Turkish captain and Most Valuable Player Damla Çakıroğlu led her team to an undisputed straight-set win versus 2010 runner-up Serbia (25-21, 25-22, 25-18) in today’s gold medal clash in Ankara. Best scorer of the match was Serbia’s captain Bianka Busa with 15 kills, whilst Kübra Akman scored twelve times for Turkey. The home squad booked ten aces, Serbia had only four.

Minister names location for 3rd Istanbul Airport – August 3rd 2012

The Turkish government has begun procedures to nationalize a plot of land ahead of the construction of a third Istanbul airport, according to Transport Minister Binali Yıldırım. If the process runs according to schedule, the tender announcement will take place this month while the tender itself will take place this year, he said. Speaking to reporters after a fast-breaking meal on Aug. 1, Yıldırım said the airport would be built on the build-operate-transfer model, and that the High Planning Commission (YPK) was in the final stages of making its decision. According to Yıldırım, the first stage of the airport’s construction will be completed by 2015, and the airport will be able to accommodate 90 million passengers in its first stage. The location that has been chosen for the airport is 80 percent public land, while the remaining 20 percent will be obtained through nationalization. “The location of the airport has been determined. It will be on the European side in the northern part of the city near the Black Sea,” the minister said. Yıldırım also addressed concerns about Istanbul Atatürk Airport’s rental contract, saying it was valid until 2021 and that the third airport would not impact former’s deal. He said the Atatürk Airport’s function would change to become an inner-city boutique airport, but added that with the expected increase in air traffic, both airports would be necessary. When asked by reporters about potential names for both the third airport and the third bridge, Yıldırım joked that finding a name was easy. “Which is more important: the construction or the name?” he said, adding that they were considering the possibility of conducting a survey and asking the Turkish people for their views on the matter.

Kadıköy-Kartal line opens – August 17th 2012

Kadıköy-Kartal subway line opened for Istanbul residents on Friday

“According to our calculation, we will have saved 1 billion 153 million TL for Turkey, and residents of Istanbul,” Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said at the inauguration ceremony of the new line at Kadıköy Square.

Stressing that the line would make a huge contribution to Turkish economy, Erdoğan said “if Kadıköy-Kartal line was not constructed, 32 additional buses and 67 minibuses would have to run every year between Kadıköy and Kartal. However, the other way around, we are expecting withdrawal of 572 buses and 1,227 minibuses from the traffic that allow a huge relief.”

The new line will be the first subway line in the Asian side of the city.

The distance between Kadıköy and Kartal will be taken in 32 minutes with the new subway line, and it will have 16 stops.

Its capacity is daily 700,000 passengers.

In 2005, PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had given a start for digging of the tunnel for Kadıköy-Kartal subway line. Istanbul’s Mayor Kadir Topbaş had stated on Thursday in an advertisement on several newspapers that in 2014, they projected to carry 5 million passengers with a 230 kilometers line, expecting the number of passengers to increase to 7 million in 2016. According to census in 2011, Istanbul had a population of 13,624,000.

Yıldız hopeful for drilling activities in Hakkari – August 27th 2012

Energy Minister Taner Yıldız said over the weekend that exploratory oil drilling may begin as early as next year in the southeastern province of Hakkari, where they have been unable to bring oil, copper and zinc beds into economy due to terrorist activities. “I have set up a special team for the southeast Anatolian region. We won’t allow this. We will carry out drilling activities in Hakkari along with security units just to spite terrorism,” Yıldız said. Yıldız reiterated that domestic and foreign companies had approximately 30 licenses for oil drilling in the Hakkari and Şırnak region, and those companies were willing to carry out drilling activities there and thus they would initiate their activities in spring.

Blackseafor ships in northeastern Turkey – August 14th 2012

Black Sea Naval Cooperation Task Group (Blackseafor) ships docked at the northeastern province of Trabzon

Blackseafor top commander Colonel Ahmet Hakan Güneş and other commanders visited Trabzon Governor Recep Kızılcık on Tuesday and informed him about activities of Blackseafor.

Kızılcık said that the Black Sea was a sea of friendship, stating that the group would contribute to world peace.

Güneş said that Blackseafor has been exerting efforts for friendship and cooperation.

Blackseafor ships will be open to public visit till August 17.

Turkey assumed last Thursday command of the Blackseafor from Russia for a period of one year.

The Black Sea Naval Cooperation Task Group was created in early 2001 under the leadership of Turkey, with the participation of all other Black Sea littoral states, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Russia and Georgia.

The Blackseafor founding agreement was signed in Istanbul on April 2nd, 2001.

The original purpose of Blackseafor was to promote security and stability in the Black Sea and beyond, strengthen friendship and good neighbourly relations among regional States, and increase tolerance among those states’ naval forces.

Yours sincerely,


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