Turkey is Typing….

Hrant Dink is still very much present in the Turkish blogosphere this week, and while I don't wish to present a case of Hrant Dink overload, part of today's post will feature a short follow-up and then we can have some fun.

Turkish Torque summarizes the future situation of Turkey by commenting on its present:

As the first month of the year is over, the road ahead looks like a tough one for Turkey. This is the year in which many Turkish leaders and decision makers may end up aging prematurely.
Domestically, the economy seems to be doing fine and actually, from an employer's point of view, it is one of the brightest stars over the Turkish landscape….
Politically, though, it's a whole different ball of wax.
Almost every foreign policy issue presents tough challenges to cope with, even further complicated by the two important elections ahead (Presidential in May, and General in November). The assassination of the Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink threw another monkey wrench into the equation that Turkey did not need at all. When it rains, it pours, as the saying goes.
Turkish-Armenian relations are obviously at an all-time low with the strong resurgence of the “Armenian genocide” issue in the aftermath of the Dink murder. Many observers expect the U.S. Congress to pass an “Armenian genocide resolution” this year.
Cyprus continues to bleed with no relief in sight….

Erkan, from Erkan's Field Diary reports on the scandal that is being caused in Turkey with the posing of pictures with the police and the gentleman accused of killing Armenian journalist Hrant Dink. The implications of these photos (does this mean that the police were supporting this man's actions? what does this mean for Turkey's public face?) are still in discussion in Turkish and International circles. For excellent commentaries on this, I refer you to The White Path for multiple articles on the current political situation. And Mavi Boncuk helps to continue the coverage by giving historical information posts on the Turkish-Armenian situation, including links to US documents on the subject.

Next week we will look more into the politics of Turkey, including information on the passing away of Ismail Cem and recent interviews with the man behind the movie Midnight Express.

And now to a bit of fun: In a recent post on Amerikan Turk, Murat awarded Phanja who blogs at The Need to Know, the Most Waste of Bandwidth Award:

Phanja is one who could not possibly have lived only in Turkey. Such excellent command of the English language normally requires one to be born and raised in the US. What's quite deficient though is the frequency of posts in her blog. I'd love to discuss her latest contribution, but you'd be more entertained by watching paint dry.. I think we're averaging one post every two to three months. Gets to be quite a disappointment every time I visit and search for life.. which consists primarily of occasional comments left by myself and others. I am selecting Phanja as January's recipient of the coveted “Waste of Bandwidth Award”.. A distinction which underscores the position of blogging within her list of priorities, and which is intended to get her off her tookus and typing..something..anything!. Hopefully this reaches her and we get to read an acceptance speech in a few weeks.

And her reply:

Oh oh, I got an award! I never got an award in my life! I didn't even make a list! I don't know whom to thank! Oh yeah actually, I do. So I dedicate this quarter's blog entry to Mr. AmerikanTurk, whose blog just has everything you can ask for, informing us of everything from skating championships to his family reunions. Okay, maybe a few things you wouldn't ask for too. That's the beauty of most blogs, I say, viva la too much information!

* For those who don't like clicking links, the abovementioned “award” is for “Waste of Bandwidth”. Wouldn't want to give a false impression like I actually did win some honor or something.

Once again, thanks for the interest, people (which there are apparently three of you, by the latest count). I'm alive and well enough. I kinda felt like writing about something a few days ago, now if I only could remember what it was.. Yeah, that's the way it usually happens. I just cannot sit and write stuff day after day, I first have to have something interesting -interesting to me at least- to say. And you know, life is always the same old, same old.

So, maybe, for some insane reason, you do want my take on things?

Top links for this week:
1. The Turkish Invasion- what happens when a Turk goes to Russia? Read to find out.
2. Interested in the latest fashion on the streets of Istanbul, Istanbul Street Style will fill you in.
3. New York Muhtari has a fabulous photoblog for you to visit.
4. And boy am I glad that the Carpetblogger has moved to Istanbul, because now I can cover her wit here. Today we will close with her telling us a little bit about learning Turkish:

Turkish is hard because its grammar has no relation to Latin languages. But at least I am not starting from scratch. When faced with the insurmountable grammatical obstacles presented by Russian, I lamented the year I spent studying Azeri in Baku. That Azeri is going to come in quite handy now. As we are fond of saying, Azeri is basically Turkish with half as many words. “Cracker Turkish,” if you will.

It's hilarious to see the look on Turks’ faces when you tell them you lived in Azerbaijan. Sometimes, they simply cannot contain their amusement at the thought. It's like telling an American you spent a year learning English in Harlan County, Kentucky.

Last night at a party, an actual Turk confirmed the veracity of a Turkish/Azeri language anecdote I have used as cocktail chatter for years, always prefaced with the caveat that it's “probably apocryphal.” It's always satisfying to find out a rumor you spread turns out to be true.

Here goes: The pilot of Turkish Airlines plane full of Azeris announces he is preparing to land the plane. The passengers panic. Why? Because the verb in Azeri for “to land” is the same as “to crash.” I crack up every time I tell this. I'm not sure if it's funnier or not now that I know it's true.


  • I was reading Pamuk’s novels this year, and visited the West coast of Turkey, Asia Minor and Istanbul. In the past I always favored Turkey’s entrance to the EU, stressing the common history and Turkey as the cradle of Christian traditions, and mostly encountering European Turks in European capitals, having lived in Amsterdam’s Turkish neighborhood during my student years, and in Berlin’s Neukoelln, based on the random and scarce impressions of Turks.

    But after my visit to Turkey, I have become more reluctant about Turkey’s entrance. I encountered a Turkey with few modernized Turks (those who have embraced the Open Society concept of post-industrial civilization), and those that did struggling to emerge against the traditionalists’ influence on one hand and a corrupt and latent military/police apparatus on the other, while a personal debate easily over-heating pride nationalist sentiments.

    The fact that someone as moderate as Pamuk and Dink have to face the constant threat of radical elements that find cover in a broader layer of social approval on both sides of the spectrum, is worrysome to many Europeans, although I tend to be less worried in general.

    Sure, maybe Turkey will be ready in 10 years to meet minimal West-European requirements, but then again, they might very well not be.

  • Bea

    Keeping up with the Turkish political scene is challenging enough, but when politicians continue to jump ship or dream up ingenious ways to get the limelight, entertainment is the only word of the day. I understand why Caprio has doubt about its EU entrance. I, too, weighed in on the future of Turkey tying it to the events of late and where Nihat commented on my blog about his predictions for success. I think Caprio has company. Oddly enough, though, no one has mentioned Turkey’s bid to patrol the internet for insulting Turkishness. http://remarkablesolutions.typepad.com/foreign/2007/02/stirring_the_po.html

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