Monday, October 01, 2007

Cover millennia in Kyrenia

By Daniel Bardsley,
You could travel to every town on earth but I doubt you would find any place more beautiful than Kyrenia in northern Cyprus. With an imposing castle, a picturesque harbor lined with street cafes and a sweeping mountainous backdrop, it will take your breath away.

While the Greek-controlled Republic of Cyprus — which covers the southern two-thirds of this Mediterranean island — has become over-developed in its quest for the tourist dollar, northern Cyprus retains a quaint charm
. For more.

Not many people know that much about northern Cyprus; it's politically isolated, traveling there is only possible through Istanbul (or through Larnaca, taking the bus to the Green Line and walking all the way to a bus or a cab) and it's recognized by Turkey only.

The beaches and everything else in the northern part of the divided island are untouched, although a boom of real estate developments have been seen over the past 3 years.

It's really a pity how the people are left alone, even though they wanted to be re-united with the rest of the island, through the Annan plan in 2004, but that didn't happen.

Is Turkey to blame?

EU, Schengen, and some idiots in Cyprus

Turkish Foreign ministry makes it also clear: visa is still required.
That especially Turkey has to deal with suspicious immigration- and custom officers is also related to the following.
Last week, a former high ranked official (2000-2006) of the Dutch Immigration Office published a book. Turkish people were allowed under a special law to get their spouses, husbands etc. over. After three years this person got a permanent residency and work permit. But what happened, after three years the couples divorced and announced that they planned to marry again with an other. So one person was able to get 8 people a residency etc. Clearly misusing the system.

Now last week, the State Secretary of Justice, announced a general pardon for 30.000 asylum seekers and illegal 'stranded' people. Only those with a criminal past or those who repeatedly lied about their identity will be sent back. There were so many cases pending which was a burden for all the courts in the Netherlands.

That Turkish doctors and dentists can not practice their profession in the Netherlands is normal; there is a well regulated health system, and contact between patient and caretaker must be in Dutch. If they learn Dutch, they still have to go through all kinds of tests.

For journalists the restrictions are tough, too. Just 10 days ago a Turkish friend, who happens to be a journalist and writer as well, asked me to help her/him with a Schengen visa. Since he/she travels at least once a month on invitation to different EU countries, she/he became so tired to get all the time a new visa. But I could not help. Next to that, a Schengen visa is not always, but in general, valid for all the EU member states.
Let me give you an example: Cyprus, the Southern part didn't sign the Schengen Acquis until last year. I was in the northern part with my wife, and wanted to go to the southern part. What happened on the Green Zone, is the most disturbing cross border experience for me, and I crossed a lot of borders. First, I have a Dutch/European passport. But since it was issued in Istanbul they started questioning me where I lived etc. I said: 'in Amsterdam and Istanbul, and none of your business' - my blood was already boiling. Anyway, they could not deny me access. Then, my wife showed her passport with her Schengen visa. They didn't allow her in. I started to make a scene and 'their boss' came over. He saw the fire in my eyes! Okay, he went into his office and started talking for 15 minutes. Came back, took me apart and said: 'I am sorry, you are right'. I told him to off, and we walked over the border, drank a cola and walked back and made pictures of the guys (not allowed..) but I was very quickly northern Cyprus: safe.

A Saudi way to say 'I am sorry' married the wrong guy...

According to the Saudi Arabian newspaper, Al Shams, of last Saturday a man divorced from his wife since she was watching TV programs which are presented by men only. That was for him 'inappropriate behavior' - especially when she was with the television 'alone'.
I don't know if there are female TV talents, looks like a bit difficult since they have to cover themselves completely. Since men don't need to go to a court to get divorced in Saudi Arabia, it's simple: you dump her near the trash...
Women are also (still) not allowed to drive there,
so they have to hire a male(!) driver, which costs them half of their salary.
The picture above shows two Saudi journalists during a press conference of UN Commission on Human Rights in Riyadh. What a country...

Day opening - October 1

Whirling Dervishes of Konya.