Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Globalisation in the balance

A recent report released but the Pew Research Center on Global Attitudes has revealed waning support for economic globalisation in Europe and the USA, contrasted to Asia where support for globalisation is on the rise in the emerging economic giants of China and India. For some people this is easily explained, everything was fine when we locate manufacturing plants in Turkey or China, but not ok when the tables turn and Chinese and Middle Eastern interests buy into 'Western Interests'. The 'West' should be mature enough to realise that everything has costs and benefits. Check out John Ralston Saul , or Joseph Stiglitz for some meaningful insight into globalisation.

But perhaps the most interesting fact revealed by the report (for this blog at least) is the declining support for separation between church and state and an increased skepticism of democracy working in Turkey. The report indicates that this may just be a reflection of 'anti-western sentiment'. Both of these are causes for concern for Europe as well as Turkey, and if it is a reflection of anti-western sentiment, even more so. All too often Western countries just treat anti-western sentiment as an immutable fact of life as the air we breath. What Europe should be considering is what is causing this sentiment in the first place and what, if anything, could be done to resolve this perception. Turkey too, has to undergo some introspection and seriously decide how its future is going to look like.

Also, now is not the time for Europe to act like a spoilt schoolchild who takes his ball home just because he isn't winning the 'globalisation game', and instead it should take a more pro-active role in defining and shaping Globalisation without waiting for the US to take the lead. In so doing it can address both the concerns of its Member states, future and neighbouring states. In this way it can peel away that false divide that is West and East, in the same way it successfully peeled away the false divide between European Member states. A unique achievement. Hopefully, in this manner it can discover a unifying constant with Turkey that is in both regions interest. Of course in so doing, both sides have to understand that there are costs and benefits involved. But i believe the benefits of closer relations far outweigh the costs involved.

Lack of humor?

A man from the Aegean resort town of Bodrum is facing charges of “insulting the spirit of Turkishness” after being taken into custody by the police Monday for dressing his dog in a t-shirt that said “Turk.” Read this exiting news here..))

Day Opening - October 31

Miami Beach, Florida, USA

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

French fries, patates, and frites

If you are an American, reading this, when you think French fries, you think McDonald's.
Oh you poor, deprived people. I don't say this because I spent a lot of time in France—mais non, I have never tasted a fry a la Francaise.
I say this because I spent my childhood in Holland, where fries are a national treasure.
Known as "patat," Dutch fries are prepared fresh—not frozen!—at a variety of fries stands that, much like hot-dog stands in the Yankee New York, appear on street corners, in shopping malls, and anywhere else the fry urge could strike.
Perhaps it is not surprising that in Holland, where the potato is given almost as much reverence as the Dutch royal family, the number-one snack food would be crafted from the sleepy spud, while you there in the New World, who prefer to worship red meat, have made hot-dogs and hamburgers your fast food staples.
Whatever the case, you can be certain that if you are traveling to the Netherlands (or Holland, it's the same..) you will come upon the tantalizing scent of frying potatoes wafting around a corner and forcing you to follow your nose to its source. The fries you order there will be the thick, steak fry variety, and they'll be served to you in a paper cone and topped with a dollop of creamy mayonnaise (a distant relative of your Yankee globby mayo).

Fries are so commonly served this way that to order them one simply asks for patat "met", or "with." The fry stand will also have a menu of other toppings, including sate sauce, a chunky peanut sauce that we the Dutch discovered during our colonization of Indonesia and promptly incorporated into their fry culture.
French fries? Called frites in Northern Belgium (part of the Netherlands until 1873), the homeland of all this confusion.
And the British named it barbarians...a culture which they exported to your USA so easily....))

My little driver licence

Getting a driver licence is much easier to obtain in the USA than in the Netherlands, where you have take endless lessons to even get the 'right' to ask for an examination. Average time in the Netherlands from day 1 (you first lesson) and your first examination (don't think they let pass you the first time) is 9 months...ufff.
So, I got my driver licence, now in a cute credit card form, last time in Florida.
The problem now, I don't live in the USA anymore, nor in the Netherlands or any other EU country. And my driver licence is expired. And I as a Dutch with an Americam driver licence resides in Turkey, can not renew my American driver licence in a Dutch or American one.
I need a Turkish one! First task is to get my cute little driver licence credit card formmat translated into Turkish...
And I think I have to do a test as well: curious how the instructor drives..))

Day Opening - October 30

Praque, the Castle.

Monday, October 29, 2007


Mind your step at Penn station, NYC.

What happens now in...

...Argentina, where the wife of the current president, Nestor Kirchner, will succeed by his wife Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, will maybe happen... 2008 when the former First Lady Hillary Clinton will become the first female president of the USA. For her fans, here here MySpace and blog...

Erasmus - humanisme...and anti-semitisme

Most people know the name Erasmus of the European student network.
This network is named after the Dutch humanist, Desiderius Erasmus.
Erasmus was born at Rotterdam, October 28, 1466. He attended the school of the "Brothers of the Common Life" at Deventer. On his parents' death his guardians insisted on his entering a monastery and in the Augustinian college of Stein near Gouda he spent six years -- it was certainly this personal experience of the ways of the monks that made Erasmus their relentless enemy.
After taking priest's orders Erasmus went to Paris, where he studied at the Collège Montaigu. He resided in Paris until 1498, gaining a livelihood by teaching. Among his pupils was Lord Mountjoy, on whose invitation probably Erasmus made his first visit to England in 1498. He lived chiefly at Oxford.
In 1500 he was again in France, and for the next six years lived chiefly at Paris. To this period belong his Adagia and Enchiridion Militis Christiani. In 1506 he carried out a long-desired journey to Italy. His visit closed with a short stay in Rome, whence he carried away a far more friendly impression than did Luther when he made his visit.
The accession of Henry VIII, and the invitation of Lord Mountjoy, induced Erasmus once more to make England his home. In his satire, Encomium Moriae (1509), we have him in his happiest vein, as the man of letters and the critic of kings and churchmen.

Erasmus resided chiefly at Cambridge professor of Greek. After 1514 he lived alternatively in Basel and England, and from 1517 to 1521 at Louvain. In 1519 appeared the first edition of his Colloquia, usually regarded as his masterpiece. The audacity and incisiveness with which it handles the abuses of the Church prepared men's minds for the subsequent work of Martin Luther.
In 1516 was published his annotated New Testament, virtually the first Greek text, and in 1519 his edition on St. Jerome in nine folio volumes wherein he introduced a more rational conception of Christian doctrine. But when the Lutheran revolution came he found himself in the most embarrassing position. Those of the old order fell upon him as the author of all the new troubles. The Lutherans assailed him for his cowardice and inconsistency in refusing to follow up his opinions to their legitimate conclusions. In 1521 he left Louvain, and spent the rest of his life at Basel.
He edited a long succession of classical and patristic writers, and was engaged in continual controversies. With Luther himself Erasmus, after long hesitation, crossed swords in his De Libero Arbitrio (1523). Yet during his last years Erasmus enjoyed great fame and consideration. He died July 12, 1536.

More controversial was his anti-semitisme: He advocated setting synagogues on fire, destroying Jewish prayerbooks, forbidding rabbis from preaching, seizing Jews' property and money, smashing up their homes, and ensuring that these "poisonous envenomed worms" be forced into labor or expelled "for all time." He also seemed to sanction their murder, writing "We are at fault in not slaying them."

Erasmus stands as the supreme type of cultivated common sense applied to human affairs. He rescued theology from the pedantries of the Schoolmen, exposed the abuses of the Church, and did more than any other single person to advance the Revival of Learning.

Day Opening - October 29

Ataturk, Turkey, the founder of the Republic of Turkey (October 29, 1923) and its first President.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A new approach

Gülen movement forms supranational new elite.

On the second day of a conference titled "Muslim World in Transition: Contributions of the Gülen Movement," inaugurated at the British House of Lords on Thursday, academics from around the world focused on Gülen's ideas and the impact of the Gülen movement on the Islamic world.

The conference titled about the Gülen Movement, inaugurated in the British House of Lords on Thursday, attracted hundreds of academicians and scholars.

In the morning session held Friday, titled "The Gülen Movement in Redefining Turkey and Anatolian Muslimness," Marie-Elisabeth Maigre, a researcher at the London School of Economics who presented a paper titled "The Influence of the Gülen Movement in the Emergence of a Turkish Cultural Third Way," said the Gülen movement had built a bridge between opposite poles in Turkey through its activities.

Maigre indicated that Gülen has undertaken a significant role as a "man of compromise and synthesis" to mediate between "local and global concepts" and the "Kemalists and Islamists." Maigre also stressed that the Gülen movement attached great importance to the multicultural tissue of Turkey by backing freedom of faith and expression, democracy and Turkey's EU bid. Urging the audience to question themselves by asking them whether the Gülen movement had an impact on the moderation of political Islam in Turkey, Maigre underlined that the greatest achievement of the movement has been to drag the Islamist movements and their supporters in Turkey to a moderate "third path."

William Park, a lecturer in the Defense and War Studies Group at London University, who presented a paper titled “The Fethullah Gülen Movement as a Transnational Phenomenon,” argued that the Gülen movement had created a new supranational elite through its education and dialogue activities. Park stated that this elite group assumed important responsibility to have a positive impact on relations between states. He also contended that the movement reflected “Turkish values” more successfully than any other groups, saying, “The Gülen movement presents different aspects of Turkey to the whole world successfully.”

Professor Marcia Hermansen from Chicago’s Loyola University presented her extensive ethnographic study that she conducted over the symbols of the Gülen movement in a presentation titled “The Cultivation of Memory in the Gülen Community.” She pointed out that words relating to space and water were selected as names for the companies and institutions that are linked to the Gülen movement, stressing that words connoting inactivity such as a name of a lake were not selected, which she showed as the dynamic character of the Gülen movement.

Journalist Mustafa Akyol, who stressed that Turkish history, experiences and sprit all differed from those of other Islamic countries, said it was possible to talk about a Turkish Islam, which he thought was represented by the Gülen movement. Akyol said the Gülen movement was one with roots that were established in a tradition dating back to Ottoman times and added that it showed how the Islamic world can be modernized in the real sense.
Meanwhile, Gülen sent a message to the participants of the conference thanking them for their contributions to an academic investigation of the problems of humanity and what Islam proposes as solutions. He also expressed his sadness at not being able to attend the conference due to health problems.

In his message Gülen said: “Through the endeavors of worthy people like yourselves, I hope that in the end we will be able to discover common values on which to establish a better world and to bring about peace and cooperation between peoples in the future. I hope that this altruistic movement, whatever it is called, will spread and will carry us to the desired horizon where cultures and civilizations can meet and reach a consensus. It is my perception that these activities, which have been put in action so far under the rubric of ‘understanding,’ ‘tolerance,’ and ‘dialogue,’ would be better if pursued from now on within the framework of emphasizing and gathering around universal human values and a framework of reciprocal respect for the position of those with different perceptions, beliefs and thoughts.”

Day Opening - October 27

Children, Peru

Friday, October 26, 2007

I Was Sure I Would Die

BBC journalist Alan Johnston has told of his fear of having his throat cut in a Jihadi-style video execution, in a revealing account of his nearly four months held by an extremist group in Gaza. I can't explain How happy I am that Alan Johnston is free finally. Journalist that trying to do his job and captured. Journalists who are working in Middle East and Africa really works under hard circumstances.

Johnston, who was the only Western journalist still based permanently in Gaza, was taken captive by Palestinian extremists, the Army of Islam, on March 12 as he returned to his flat. He was released on July 4. The 45-year-old told how he was kept in a room with “a narrow, sagging bed and two plastic chairs” and said that he had been stripped of his watch, and could only tell the time by the sun’s movements and sound of calls to prayer.

Nevertheless, it set his mind racing. “I was sure that if I was to be put to death, the act would be video-taped in the style of Jihadi executions in Iraq ... I imagined being put into that red suit that they would make me wear for any video work. I imagined perhaps one of them in a hood, imagined one of them stepping up, imagined having a knee in my back or the back of my neck and then my throat being cut.”Johnston said that one of the few bright spots was the fact that his guards allowed him a radio, with which he became aware of the BBC’s campaign to win his freedom, which he described as “an enormous psychological boost.”

Eventually, the politics of Gaza worked in Johnston’s favour, as the hard line Palestinian group Hamas seized control of the territory and negotiated his release. Since returning to Britain, Johnston said he dreams “sometimes that I’m in captivity again, and I cannot tell you how good it is to wake, and gradually realise that, actually, I’m free.

“The kidnap’s legacy is not all bad ... it was a kind of dark education,” he said. “I lived through things which before I would have struggled to imagine ... I’ve gained too a deeper sense of the value of freedom ... it can still seem faintly magical to do the simplest things - like walk down a street in the sunshine or sit in a cafe with a newspaper.”

Day Opening - October 26

Halloween in the USA.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Turks Riots in Brussels and Amsterdam; Attack Armenians & Kurds

Update from Brussels Journal: the list of "sensitive urban areas"--a polite term for entire sections of cities where even police dare not go because of Islamic violence--is growing.

In Amsterdam, an Islamic extremist linked to terrorists via both family ties and friends, walked into a police station and began stabbing a policewoman and a colleague.

Barely saving her life, the policewoman shot Bilal Bijacka. The result? Massive Islamic riots because not only an infidel, but an infidel woman, killed an Islamic male.

His attack came two years after his brother was arrested in a terrorist plot to blow up a passenger airliner. And, Bijacka's friends included Mohammed Bouyeri. Bouyeri, one of the Jihadists in the interlinked web of violence and hatred, ritually murdered a Dutch film maker, Theo van Gogh, in 2004.

As both Brussels and Amsterdam grapple with violent immigrants who literally have taken over portions of their cities and sack, loot and plunder them at will, the rest of the western world may want to reconsider immigration. When police simply dare not enforce laws in entire districts, there is no law except that of blood, violence, hatred, and mob rule.

Here's a classic case of how not to get sympathy for your cause. Turks in both Brussels and Amsterdam have been on a rampage as tensions mount on Turkey's borders.
The current riots follow September's Ramadan riots. Brussels was also engulfed in Ramadan riots in 2006.

Last night (Wednesday evening) heavy rioting erupted in Turkish quarters of Brussels, the capital of Belgium. Buses and trams were attacked. Several cars were torched and shops destroyed. Police forces were unable to restore law and order in the boroughs of Sint-Joost-ten-Node and Schaarbeek where since last Sunday the animosity among Turks is running high. Turkish flags are omnipresent. In some streets the Turkish crescent and star adorns almost every house.
The Turks’ anger was provoked by rising tension with Kurds along the Iraqi-Turkish border and by the debate in the American Congress about the Turkish genocide of the Armenians in 1915. On Sunday night Turkish youths in Sint-Joost destroyed the pub of Peter Petrossian, an ethnic Armenian who had to flee for his life.


The streets in many Turkish cities turned red. Protesting the attacks of the PKK against the Turkish military and their presence in Northern Iraq. Fed by the Turkish media, the Turkish public became angrier than it already was. Yusuf Kanli wrote today about the censorship which is placed upon the Turkish media. Read it here.

Psychiatrist Professor Sunar Birsöz from Akdeniz University in Antalya clearly stated today that rallies could transform into individual and mass violence, and, added, “this pressure needs to be relieved”. He calls it anger management, a common term for decades not to steer up the the public. Especially teenagers, as you can see below. Read his comments here.

And what if notorious groups in Iraq are going to join the PKK? A warning has already been given. Also, many people in Iraq fled from the south to northern Iraq since it's relatively stable. Turkey, by its first real confrontation, lost 12 soldiers and 8 were captured.

Until now the Turkish government restrains from a mass cross border action, which would be a tactical blunder. Mustafa Akyol, an expert in Kurdish issues was clear here. Attacks of innocent Kurdish citizens already started in Bursa and Mersin.

Fortunately, the Turkish General of Staff Gen. Büyükanıt asked for caution: 'The reactions of citizens to terrorism must not spiral out of control'. Read it here.

If Turkey is not using its common sense, the streets in Turkey will not be filled by red flags but by blood. Communication seems to be a new word in Turkey. Both the government and media need to learn what 'crisis management' means.

A talk show about Turkey on Italian TV

Last night on one of the Italian TV channels, La7, in the program called L'infedele, conducted by Gad Lerner, they talked about Turkey, Iraq, PKK and the Armenian issue. During the whole day in our mailing lists for Turks living in Italy we received mails asking for Turkish people (around 5 people were asked for) living in Milan who would like to participate in the program as part of the audience to represent the Turkish side. The program was supposed to be on air at 21.30 and the audience was called for 20.30. The problem is, if they were really sincerely willing to have some people representing the Turkish side they would have made this call days before so that people would get ready/cancel appointments etc. to be able to attend the show. When you receive a call just hours before a live talk show it is not easy to say immediately 'OK, I am available'.

I wasn't willing to watch the show, in fact, since I get usually very angry seeing these one-sided discussions that go nowhere. But my husband while zapping had found the program and called me saying 'They are talking about Turkey again'. After finishing whatever it was I doing, I joined him. From the Turkish side there was only Yasemin Taskin, correspondent of the Turkish newspaper Sabah in Rome. Otherwise, there was someone from the Catholic University in Milan, some expert on Pakistan, a guy, whose name I don't remember, born in Turkey but of which origin he is I have no idea, an Armenian woman with the surname Arslan, an Italian economist (she seemed really well informed, and talked quite reasonably) and audience which was just watching... They had a live connection to Murat Belge of Bilgi University, Istanbul. Everything said in the program in Italian was translated to English for him, he gave his answers in Turkish and his words were translated back to Italian. The first sentence, the first translation to Italian and it was not correct, so I lost my interest and belief in the program immediately.

Once again, I am no politician or politics enthusiast, so all I can report is how everything looked to 'a Turkish man on the street'. The 'Turkish side' did not exist. Whoever was chosen to represent the Turkish side was, in fact, on 'the other side', thus it was quite a 'one-sided' discussion, again. Nothing seemed to be resolved, nothing seemed to be clearer, they tried to draw a parallel between the Turkish army and Pakistani army (!!!!), which was opposed by, if I am not mistaken, the guy from the Catholic University in Milan, Murat Belge was himself as usual, Yasemin Taskin was left alone there to give the Turkish view (the cameraman was fixing the camera on her most of the time; she is quite attractive, to tell the truth), and before I fell asleep on the sofa nobody from the audience said a word.. I don't think they said any words at all afterwards either.

Hence, another pointless discussion on TV that caused only a discussion between me and my husband. Yes, me and my husband always have some kind of fiery discussion when we watch these things because he being from the west, although quite ignorant on our issues, thinks to know everything and has the right solution to all the problems, and me being Turkish and quite a nationalist (in his eyes) have to defend myself, my people, my history. I am so fed up being on the defensive side! It is not easy being a Turk outside of Turkey. We are like fish out of the fish bowl....

Day Opening - October 25

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Explored facebook today. It's fun, addictive, but it didn't challenge my intellect...)
Looks like everybody who is blogging is on facebook as well.
For people interested in the Netherlands the following is a nice group: If you ain't Dutch, you aren't!


Of the last 10 workdays, 6 days I had no connection to internet.
Since I am completely dependent on my internet connection it became irritating...
It's not a matter of addiction, everything is digital these days. I can simply not do without.
Let's see how long it takes before it goes down again.

Turkey-Iraq Crisis

Turkish troops head towards the Iraqi border in Silopi, southeast Turkey, yesterday. The Turkish government said it would 'pay whatever price is needed' to crush Kurdish rebels.

Baghdad announced to shut offices of Kurdish terrorists: Is it going to be enough? I think it's late now, Turkish army has to do something about it and they have to do it with professional troops, not with soldiers that are trained only for 6 months. Otherwise we will lose more of our own young lives.
Just to mention: most of the newspapers and TV stations pronounce PKK as rebels or freedom fighters which isn't true, because anybody who kills innocent people over night in the villages and do human shield bombs in middle of the civilized cities are called terrorist groups.
Turkish government’s aim isn’t invading Kurdistan region and they have no eye within Iraq at all, for many centuries they always had great relations with Iraqi people, they want to put an end to PKK terrorists.

Sirnak, Turkey: Dozens of Turkish military vehicles loaded with soldiers and heavy weapons rumbled towards the Iraqi border yesterday after an ambush by rebel Kurds that left eight soldiers missing and 12 dead.

Turkey's foreign minister said his country will pursue diplomacy before it sends troops across the rugged frontier. The military said it had had no contact with the eight soldiers after Sunday's clash. A pro-Kurdish news agency said the eight were captured.

Day Opening - October 24

Emirates Palace Hotel, Abu Dhabi,UAE.
One of the 7 Star hotels after Burj Arab where my husband used to work.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

California under fire

San Diego: Firefighters hoped for high winds to abate on Tuesday, enabling them to start containing the fast-moving fires that have engulfed a massive swath of Southern California, claimed some 700 homes and sent thousands fleeing.

At least 13 fires, whipped by hot, gale-force Santa Ana winds have swept unchecked over the lower half of the state over the past two days, overwhelming fire crews and state emergency services. Some 200,000 acres were torched, one person killed and more than three dozen injured. To continue.

Day Opening - October 23

The Koppies — an Afrikaans word for small hills — offer some of the best views of downtown Johannesburg. For more info.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Social media: being lonely rules the world...

After so many invitations to become a member of Facebook, I bowed and humbly accepted these invitations.
But, checking the site, and after one day, I get incredibly frustrated: the software is sooooo slow.
Anyway: I am there under the name Hans A. de Wit. They don't accept my full name.
Have fun there, it's like an Open Internet Theater...good for some 'statistic' drama...
And it keeps you busy..))

An Iraqi child, asking why...

Can we help him?

The Levi-Prodi law and the end of the Internet in Italy

It looks like that soon we will miss our friend Yasemin.
Ricardo Franco Levi, Prodi’s right hand man, undersecretary to the President of the Council (Prodi is Italian PM), has written the text to put a stopper on the mouth of the Internet. The draft law was approved by the Council of Ministers on 12th of October. No minister dissociated themselves from it. On gagging information, very quietly, these are all in agreement. The Levi-Prodi law lays out that anyone with a blog or a website has to a) register it with the ROC, b) a register of the Communications Authority, c) produce certificates, d) pay a tax, even if they provide information without any intention to make money. Read more here.

This insane plan is of Ricardo Levi: "Ricardo Franco Levi, sottosegretario alla Presidenza del Consiglio e padre della riforma, sdrammatizza: "Lo spirito del nostro progetto non è certo questo. Non abbiamo interesse a toccare i siti amatoriali o i blog personali, non sarebbe praticabile".

Last of the Iraqis - 6 - Struggle of Powers

I think this is a very crucial time and will decide many things. And from another aspect the Kurdistan Issue, I can't believe my eyes when I see the news and what they are saying in it, Turkey wants to use the army and enter Kurdistan borders, the Kurds are shaking and they are asking for help!!!

They want the Iraqi government to do something, the demonstrations are asking for that too while none of them is carrying an Iraqi flag!!!

They carry the Kurdistan flag only, no Iraqi civilian can enter Kurdistan without something like a visa and they have residency laws for the Iraqis, they consider there selves another country and depending on that they behave, why do they want the Iraqi government to do something ? Aren't they another country with a flag and a complete government?

If they can't manage things by them selves and they want the rest of Iraq to be with them, they should carry and use the Iraqi flag with their flag, at least they shouldn't put the ones who carries or wears the Iraqi flag behind bars!!!The Iraqi flag is forbidden in the north!!
Read the complete post.

Day opening - October 21

By day... night.

Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

I want a a Hummer!

Just back from shopping. As you know, I live in Maçka, and next to that area is Nisantasi. And from there you go to Fulya. Maybe if you walk it, it will take 15 minutes. But by car 45 minutes, for 1 mile! The problem: too many cars and too many people who think that they can drive. And too many people who think the bigger their lousy German car is the more rights they have..)
Now, I can tell you that I am patient..)) And always tell my Turkish friends that in the Netherlands only pimps and taxi drivers have a Mercedes and the 'nouveau riche' drive BMW.
But people like me, Scandinavian cars! But now I need a Hummer, I want to make my way through Istanbul traffic. I prefer a black one, armored!

The academic side of the issue

Earlier this week an excellent article appeared on Inside Higher Ed. It focuses on the area where the Turkish side would like to see the debate about whether there actually was an Armenian genocide move to, namely that of historians and academic scholars, not that of parliaments and politicians. The "problem" is, that among scholars there is no longer really a discussion about whether it actually was a genocide:

So many experts in the field say that the debate over genocide is settled, and that credible arguments against the idea of a genocide just don't much exist. The problem, many say, is that the evidence the Turks say doesn't exist does exist, so people have moved on.[...]What's happening now [Andras Riedlmayer, a librarian of Ottoman history at Harvard University] said, outside of those trying to deny what took place, "isn't that the discussion has diminished, but that the discussion is more mature." He said that there is more research going on about how and why the killings took place, and the historical context of the time. He also said that he thought there would be more research in the works on one of "the great undiscussed issues of why successive Turkish governments over recent decades have found it worthwhile to invest so much political capital and energy into promoting that historical narrative," in which it had been "fudging" what really happened."

The full article can be found here.

Turkish-Syrian Ties Get a Fillip

By Marwan Kabalan, Special to Gulf News Published: October 18, 2007, 23:33
Last Tuesday, Syrian President Bashar Al Assad paid his second visit to the capital of Turkey in less than four years. The visit signals mutual interests to further improve relations between two neighbours facing serious regional challenges and bad relations with the US. It came after the mysterious Israeli raid inside Syria; during which Israeli warplanes, many believe, may have used Turkish aerospace to reach deep inside the Syrian desert. The visit was also planed amidst rising tension between Damascus and Washington. Syria, under pressure from the US concerning Lebanon, Iraq and the Arab-Israeli conflict and calls for domestic reform, is looking for allies beyond the Arab world to alleviate its security dilemma and improve its economic ties with increasingly prosperous Turkey. To continue.

Day opening - October 20

Somewhere in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam by night.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Turkish Delight

One of the most multi-talented Dutch artists, Jan Wolkers, died tonight at the age of 81.
He was a writer, painter, and made sculptures. His Auschwitz monuments were several times vandalized.
Probably his most famous novel, which was made into a highly successful movie, was: 'Turkish Delight' which shocked the Dutch society in 1973.
The director of this movie was Paul Verhoeven who became later world famous with movies such as Basic Instinct, Robocob and Showgirls, and camera man Jan de Bont, well known by the movies: Speed, Twister, and Die Hard, and Ruther Hauer, the lead actor in Turkish Delight and later in movies such as Blade Runner, Blind Fury etc.

Bathroom talk: Antalya Turkey.

As some of you know, last weekend was a long weekend for me in Antalya, southern Turkey.
I am not into this fabulous concept which the Turks introduced in 1999: a 5 star hotel/resort, with full pension: unlimited eating and drinking, which attracts a lot of people. Lucky that this was a decent hotel in Kemer. And it was fun to drive a car for one day in the area. Antalya as a city depressed me. Looks like Praha 4, 5, 6 etc. for people who ever went to Prague.
But it was fun driving on a non-pavement road into the mountains which are named after me...)
15 kms up, on a narrow path...Ozlem was scared to death...))

Anyway, the first day I had an interesting encounter in the bathroom of the hotel. Just finished lunch, and since my metabolism works very fast, had to rush to the bathroom (in Europe called WC or toilet, in Turkey, tuvalet, but in the USA 'the bathroom').
Anyway, I was sitting down, and since the Turks have 'the cowboy bathroom doors' like in the USA, you can hear everybody. But it was quiet. Until 2 girls, with a huge 'upper class' Dutch accent entered the bathroom. I thought: 'girls, this is a bathroom for men only'. But no way. They started talking, and talking while one was using the toilet, and the other talked about men in the hotel. I must say, they were happy with some French, Israelis and Dutch men, but were not pleased by the Turkish men. Both were blonds (discovered that later).
Anyway. I heard every detail about their plans for the next week..)) And I was still thinking: 'Hello, this is the men's bathroom'. Then a French girl came in and she talked in the same way as these two Dutch girls. Were they in the wrong place or was I? Finally, when it was silent, I sneaked out of the bathroom and saw that I was in the bathroom for Women Only...)
But I know now at least how Dutch women think while they are on an autumn break...

Common sense prevails...

The EU emerged from a 2-year institutional crisis. In the end, everybody got what it wanted: Bulgaria, Italy, the UK and Poland were battling for extra demands.

It's obvious that when a small country, like now Portugal, holds the EU presidency, there is more chance that progress can be made. We saw that in the past, especially during EU presidency of the Netherlands and Luxembourg. The new reform treaty is significantly different than the Constitutional Treaty of 2004 which was rejected through referendums held in France and the Netherlands.

Here you can read the differences.

Day opening - October 19

Chinelo dancers, Mexico

Thursday, October 18, 2007

An open letter to the Armenian Diaspora

Last weekend I had some time to read some books about Armenia, its Diaspora, genocide claims and so on. And interviews and articles by Halil Berktay and Fethiye Cetin. And started to read My Grandmother by the latter. Both persons have refreshing ideas about the Armenian and Turkish history. Totally different than the empty rhetoric which dominates mainstream Turkish newspapers.
But today, my good friend Mustafa Akyol, wrote an excellent column which you can read below:

An open letter to the Armenian Diaspora

Thursday, October 18, 2007

An open letter to the Armenian Diaspora (Mustafa AKYOL )

If we will start listening to your narrative, that will not be because we are pushed into a corner by the politics of a powerful lobby, but because our hearts are touched by the memoirs of a terrible tragedy.

Mustafa AKYOL

Dear all,

A few days ago a new friend of mine who happens to be an American Armenian played some beautiful songs for me that come from the deepest roots of her ethnic tradition. While I enjoyed the numinous rhythms of that magnetic Armenian music, I realized how similar they were to the tunes of the Turkish classical music that I have grown up hearing. “Despite all the political warfare,” I said to myself, “alas, look how similar we are.” I actually have a similar feeling when I drive along the magnificent mosques and palaces of Istanbul, some of which were built by Armenian architects – men in fez who devoutly worshipped Christ and proudly served the Sultan.

Well, we were the children of the same empire, weren't we? We actually lived side by side as good neighbors for centuries until the modern virus called “nationalism” descended upon us. And then hell broke loose.
Continue reading here.

Day opening - October 18

View of Garni Village, Armenia.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

What's in a name

So who am I? I mean deep down... My first name (or Christian name as we would say in Australia) is Vassili, which is Greek and derives from the word King. (Did you know that the herb Basil is the King of herbs?) But then we come to my surname, Hatzidakis. What many might not know is that it is a Turkish derivative. My grandfather was actually a refugee from Asia Minor, and was born and raised in a little village outside Smyrna (Izmir) called Sevdiki. When he arrived his surname was in some dispute but among the survivors it was agreed that he was a Hatzidakis.

So why is it Turkish? Well it's not Greek... some have told me that the Hatz is a sort of bastardisation of the word Hadji - a title given to pilgrims who have visited Mecca and the -akis is a diminutive, in other words it means 'little pilgrim'. Others have told me that Hatzis is the Greek form for the Ghazi - who were the warriors of Islam. Who knows for sure, records and memories are a blank as to this history.

But in part it epitomises some of the problems with Greek-Turkish relations. Greece won its independence from a largely Turkish controlled Ottoman empire. Following this Greece tried to instill a 'Greek Idea' into its citizens to try to unify this new nation. Despite this however, there are still signs around to remind us that once our destiny was not ours to decide. These signs are in the land registry laws, Ottoman title deeds put forward by the church to claim land, the power structures whereby certain politicians and rich land owners can trace their wealth to Pasha's and tax collectors, and then in our very surnames. Even Greece's Prime Minister, Karamanlis, has Turkish sounding name. Karamanlides is the name given to the Turkish speaking Greek Orthodox people of Cappadocia.

While such similarities could be reason for close relations, in an excessively nationalistic environment, they are also the reason for tense relations. And for this reason perhaps Greek-Turkish relations need to be slow and steady, giving both sides time to adjust as they dispel myths and come to terms with a history which is still raw.

Holy smokes

Yes, I admit that I am addicted, and that the last 6 days I am tortured...
But Yasimen, or is it Yasmin, or Jasmin - a nice shop for candies in the Netherlands, a Valhalla for good smoking men.)) - I told you what to write, not to make a fool out of me..))
But anyway, thanks dear, you will get a surprise visit this year.))

Day opening - October 17

Aboriginals Australia

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

News from Hans

I was on the phone with Hans just a few minutes ago. He has no internet connection at home and he is going crazy, literally :-) He said that he has read some books about Turkey and Istanbul these last days (good for him) and has learned a lot. He also said that he decided to learn Turkish (very good for him). He is very worried because he cannot answer any e-mails, nor can write on his blog. When I suggested him to go to an internet cafe he refused it, showing his age (?) as an excuse. And he asked me to write a few lines. Since I have been at home with a sick baby on and off these last three weeks I told him that all I could write right now was a recipe, and guess what: he doesn't want to see any recipes on his blog...

Well friends, I think we should all pray that he gets his internet connection back fast enough.. Otherwise both you and I will suffer.. You, because there won't be anything interesting here to read about, and I, because he will be calling me everyday and begging me to write something, anything!

Day opening - October 16

Dervishes in Konya.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Turkey turns up diplomatic heat in genocide row with US

Armenians pay their respects to victims of the 1915-17 mass killings at a memorial in Yerevan, April 2007. A diplomatic rift between Turkey and the United States deepened after Ankara recalled its ambassador to Washington over a vote in the US Congress to label the massacre of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks an act of genocide.

A diplomatic rift between Turkey and the United States deepened Friday after Ankara recalled its ambassador to Washington over a vote in the US Congress to label the massacre of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks an act of genocide.

The envoy's recall came as the White House, which opposed the vote by the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, sought to mollify its NATO partner, which is a strategic staging post for US forces fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Continue reading here.

Rice urges Turkey to refrain from military action
Reuters & AP
Moscow/Ankara: US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday she had urged Turkey to refrain from any major military operation in northern Iraq as tensions grew between the two NATO allies.

"I urged restraint," Rice, on a visit to Moscow, told reporters of her telephone conversations with Turkey's President, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.

Two senior US officials flew to Turkey yesterday to try to defuse strains after a US Congressional resolution branded as genocide massacres of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915. Continue reading here.

Day Opening - October 14

Neemrana Fort Palace is one of India's oldest heritage resorts.

Typically, most 'Golden Triangle' trips — Delhi, Jaipur and Agra — are done in a rush. For more info.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Friday, October 12, 2007

Happy Bayram

Wishing everybody a Happy Bayram.
I am in a place where I see more Dutch and Russian girls, nicely dressed, than Turkish people.
It's fun, walking around and hearing people speaking in your mother language while they are not aware that maybe other people can understand them..))
It's food, drinks, sun and the sea...and they have wireless Internet (the most important),
so I am saved.
The humidity here reminds me of my years in Miami, but I am still in a suit!

Award and nomination

Hatzidakis came today with a nice nomination: read it here...
If you think the same, vote..)) I think we need some more attention, we do what we can.

Al Gore got the Nobel Prize for Peace! Which is really great news. We neglect our environment terribly. We talk a lot about it, but he tries to do at least something!

Day opening - October 12

Sirtaki dance, Greece

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Turkey's renaissance and the need for cross cultural communication

Turkey's renaissance and the need for cross cultural communication

Published in Turkish Daily News of October 11, 2007

Hans A.H.C. de Wit

For the past five years I have been asked to help Turkish companies on their way to West Europe, and West European and American companies to get grounded in Turkey. I must say, it was a pleasure, all of these trips to mainly the Netherlands and Germany with my Turkish friends, and to see the surprised faces of West European and American companies on their counter visits when I drove them around in Istanbul. And drinks and food, with a spectacular view over the Bosporus or over the business district of Maslak, Istanbul. But I also noticed something of my West European fellow country people and Americans as well: unfairness toward Turkish business vivacity and culture.

Continue reading here.

Day Opening - October 11

Camel Racing, more info.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Sign of life

I know I have gone MIA since I last posted here (well, uh, that was also my first post here). The reason is that I have had too much on my plate in the past month or six weeks, among them moving to my very own apartment and a good friend ending up in hospital as a result of a car-accident (in Armenia lying in hospital means that your relatives are supposed to stay with you and take care of you. I was part of the care-taking brigade so I spent about three days in hospital). And those are only a few of the things I have been dealing with.

I am trying to juggle a lot of balls and that just does not include writing blog posts at the moment. I think that ball dropped to the floor already a while ago, together with following the news and looking for blog-worthy topics. I will be back, hopefully soon, as things are slowly, slowly falling into their places again and I will be able to find my energy and time back. This is not meant as an excuse, just as an explanation why I seem to have disappeared from the face of the earth.

Editor's note, Hans:
Friends of Myrthe were involved in a traffic accident: one died, two badly injured, and one escaped... This can happen to us; where we live, doesn't matter. Drive safely!

Day Opening - October 10

View near Saghmosavank, Armenia, with Mount Ararat just visible in the background in Turkey.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Talk Metin - The Starving executive..)

The exact role of the starving executive depends on the constitution of the country you are living in. And depends on who executes the instructions given by the legislature, but has no power to act on its own without instructions, because that would put the 'starving executive' in the position of a 'work slave'.
Yes, Talk Turkey, or Talk Metin, written by our good friend Metin is commuting on poor Southern Californian also called the OC. His life must be a hell with all the untouchable beauties around him...and as a starving executive...))

Last week, I had a telephone conversation with Metin and we really had a talk, talk, talk Turkey. A roller coaster of laughs...and we agreed only on one thing: time to get a Margarita in the Blue Dolphin bar in San Diego.. and it was the most pleasant encounter for ages with a person I never faced...
But still I have my doubts: is he a true Turkish patriot or an American one..and he asked me: 'are you a Dutch or a Turkish patriot?' - I ..))

Up to discuss what a 'starving executive' means...I will take my time.. Talk Turkey..)

Day opening - October 9

Italy, Opera by Antonio Capuzzi