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    Why Turkey still looks xenophobic to me
    Güven Sak, PhD 21 September 2013
    The Transatlantic Survey 2013 results were announced last week. I was reading the text prepared for the Turkish ceremony. Some 38 percent of Turks surveyed said Turkey should act alone on international matters. The text prepared by the German Marshall Fund of the United States cites this as an indication that there is support for the foreign policy position of the Turkish government. I disagree. I do not think that the result is directly related to current developments. It is more likely to be a continuing trend from our past; it is a reflection of an old habit back from the days of “the Turk’s best friend is a Turk.” It was formulated with the memories of a crumbling empire long gone at the beginning of the last century. But old habits die hard. Turkey still looks xenophobic to [More]
    Would you invest in a nice house or education for your children?
    Güven Sak, PhD 20 September 2013
    If having personal qualifications actually has returns, education becomes important. The other day a South Korean friend of mine said, “If you ask me what the most important factor that enabled Korea to become a high-income from an upper-middle-income country was, my answer definitely would be education.” “The education of their children is not just important for Korean parents: they are obsessed with education,” he added. [More]
    Turkey struggles and Korea advances in construction
    Güven Sak, PhD 17 September 2013
    Turkey’s share on the list of world's top construction companies decreased from 3.8 percent to 3.3 percent. Recently, when I was in Palestine, I pondered the problems of Palestinian constructors. A local businessman told me that Palestine’s contractors cannot afford to undertake a project worth more than $5 billion. Back then I noted that Palestine’s construction companies were small-scale and lacked bank support. During our conversation, I told him that Turkey ranked second after China on the list of the world’s largest construction companies. I bragged that Turkey outperformed the US. If was later when I checked the figures that I found out the picture was not as bright. Let me tell you why. [More]
    Ankara beats Istanbul in creativity
    Güven Sak, PhD 14 September 2013
    I have been following Turkey’s creative class with more interest ever since the Gezi Park events. The Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto published two surveys lately. One is on creative countries and the other on creative cities around the globe. The creative country list is based on a survey of 82 countries, among which Turkey ranks a lousy 61st. I knew this before the creative cities list results were announced, so I braced myself when I finally saw it, looking for Istanbul at the bottom. And surely enough, both Istanbul and Ankara were there. What was strange however, was that Ankara beat Istanbul. Among the 61 most creative cities of the globe, Ankara is number 55 and Istanbul 57. How is that possible? Let me start with my preoccupation with Turkey’s crea [More]
    Why Obama's policy on Syria is rational
    Güven Sak, PhD 13 September 2013
    The core principle of Obama’s new immigration policy is to bring skilled, well-educated, English-speaking young people from all around the world to the US, regardless of their home countries. I sense a tendency to assess Obama’s policy on Syria as weak and unresolved. I beg to differ. I think that Obama’s policy belongs to the present, not the past. I do not see any weakness on the US side. On the contrary, I believe that the decision makers of countries like Turkey have to put their thinking caps on if they seek to become a more prosperous country. Let me tell you what I think. [More]
    Believe it or not, good things also happen in Turkey
    Güven Sak, PhD 10 September 2013
    I think the BALO becoming operable was the best piece of news I have read in the last four months. The people of Turkey swing from one extreme to the other. We either overdo or understate. Our mood is either great or terrible. We don’t like the middle courses. So we are again. If I had to describe the image in my head of the last four months in Turkey, I liken it to a ship adrift. It is impossible to set a positive agenda in this country. Just listen to the statements made by our administrators to get depressed. No matter what happens, it’s either someone tripped Turkey up or pulled its hair. Trouble is always at our door. No one tells a happy-going, happy-ending story. But believe it or not, good things also happen in Turkey. Starting with last weekend, all of Anatolia is now in the Custo [More]
    It’s time to construct Palestine brick by brick
    Güven Sak, PhD 07 September 2013
    I was in Rawabi last week, located in the ancient Palestinian hills between Ramallah and Nablus. Five years ago, there was nothing but rocks there. Now, the scene is changing for the first time since Jesus walked in those parts. Rawabi is the first large-scale Palestinian land development project in Palestine. Palestinians had large construction companies operating in other countries, but this is the first time the cranes have come to their own country. That should be good for peace. Rawabi is the first Palestinian settlement project in the West Bank. It looks very much like Modiin, on their cousins’ side. The project involves around 16,000 housing units, schools, theatres, and shopping centers, together with a mosque and a church. It is expected to cost around one billion dolla [More]
    It’s not about green areas, but children
    Güven Sak, PhD 06 September 2013
    I ask for child-friendly cities. I want walkable cities, not cities where you can only drive around. [More]
    The changing view at Rawabi was promising
    Güven Sak, PhD 03 September 2013
    I was pleased by what I saw in Rawabi. The Palestinians are driving a nail in their very old Palestine and building a new city. A new Palestinian city is rising between Ramallah and Nablus. Rawabi is the name of this new project. I was there last week. I spent three hours there and returned to Turkey. What I saw did not disturb me as much as the towers of Turkey’s Housing Development Administration (TOKİ). Rawabi is in a sense a mass housing construction project, but it did not bother me at all. In fact, what I saw raised my hopes for the future of Palestine. Let me share with you what I thought while I toured Rawabi with Bashar, the owner and the mastermind of the project. [More]
    Time to readjust the focus of the G-20 once more
    Güven Sak, PhD 31 August 2013
    There is now less than a week left until the G-20 Summit in St. Petersburg. This is the eighth time that 20 heads of state have come together. I was in Moscow the other day, attending a pre-summit conference organized by the Higher School of Economics and the University of Toronto’s Munsk Center for G-20 Research. Everyone seems to agree that the agenda next week cannot but touch upon the developments in Syria. The summit is happening at a time when the Syrian crisis is further escalating, and its host has rather strong and contrarian views about Syria. Does that mean that the G-20 summit is doomed for political reasons? I beg to differ. There is an opportunity here.The G-20 is a forum for the leaders of the biggest economies around the globe to come together and discuss global [More]