Seeing versus Viewing in Turkey-EU relations
28 March 2021
The Charlemagne column in last week’s The Economist magazine made a comparison between Turkey and Britain, both countries being “scrappy outsiders” to the EU. “On leaving the EU, Britain was always going to have a choice: Should it be more like Switzerland or Turkey?” wrote the columnist, suggesting that the Brits have decided to be contentious, like Turkey. Our leaders are begrudging and childish, it suggests, throwing stones and asking for comforts they are not entitled to. I disagree. It’s the wrong analogy. A better way to think about it is to reflect on the difference between seeing and viewing. Let me explain.
Why is Atatürk still so dear to Turks?
21 March 2021
The British and French naval forces launched a campaign against the Turkish positions in the Dardanelles on March 18, 1915. They failed. The date has been drilled deep inside my head since childhood. On every March 18, my grandfather Ömer Kemal, may God rest his soul, use to start the day by asking all of us the significance of the date.
Three scores of Daily News
16 March 2021
The Hürriyet Daily News (or “HDN,” as we call it) started life “three scores ago” as the Turkish Daily News on March 15, 1961. On this anniversary, I’d like to take the opportunity to reflect on how Turkey has changed in this time. Messy though it has been, I like to call this time the “grand transformation.” As this anniversary fits very nicely with my personal history, I see myself as a product of both the messiness and the grandness of it. Let me explain in five data points.
How Bangladesh proved Kissinger wrong
14 March 2021
In 1971, Henry Kissinger called Bangladesh a “bottomless basket.” Five decades after its independence, Bangladesh is proving Kissinger utterly wrong. Working on South Asia at TEPAV about nine years ago, when the idea of the Istanbul-Zahidan-Islamabad train was first on the table, I came to be fascinated by the region.
The state of women in Turkey
07 March 2021
The UNDP started issuing Human Development Reports in 1990. In the past three decades, there have been two countries that rapidly climbed the scales to reach the report’s “very high human development” category: Singapore and Turkey. Note that the populations of these countries are 5.6 million and 82 million, respectively.
Turkish convergence to the EU
28 February 2021
Here is a great Albert Einstein quote: “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.” You need to first define problems, which will hopefully separate the significant facts from the trivial ones. Our European friends sometimes don’t think about the problem of Turkey clearly and fail to distinguish the essential from the trivial.
Perspective on Turkish zones in Syria
21 February 2021
A news story featured in the New York Times about the Turkish-controlled zones in northern Syria has been in talks recently. The story quotes Jarir Sulaiman, a once-wealthy landowner in the village of Khiara in the south of Damascus and now living in one of the Turkish-controlled zones in Syria, saying “we won’t go back to our villages until Turkey gives us protection” and “we will not be able to survive without Turks.” The story reports on the relative safety of the zones and how there is still a long way to go in terms of improving the lives of their residents.
Our problem with the Green Deal
14 February 2021
The Green Deal is “Europe’s man on the moon moment” said Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, in December 2019. She presented the program as Europe’s new all-encompassing growth strategy, saying “the old growth model based on fossil fuels and pollution. It is out of date and out of touch with the planet.”
Damage control in Washington DC
07 February 2021
“Humans are pattern-seeking, story-telling animals, and we are quite adept at telling stories, whether they exist or not,” said Michael Shermer, an American science writer. That must be why I can’t help but see a pattern taking shape in Washington. Let me tell you my story.
Dr. Fauci’s eyes from across the Atlantic
24 January 2021
Trump has left the stage. Watching the day’s processions, I was looking for something to define the moment, but couldn’t find it. Then, a day later, I saw Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the American Center for Disease Control (CDC), speaking at a press briefing. I don’t think there is anything better to represent the end of Trump’s term than the joy and relief on Dr. Fauci’s face.