Chancellor Merkel comes to Ankara
05 February 2017
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was in Ankara on Thursday. This was her first visit after the July 15, 2016 failed coup attempt. Like all other visitors, she was shown the section of the Turkish Parliament that was bombed by Turkey’s own fighter jets on that dreadful night. In the past, foreign dignitaries would visit Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s Mausoleum when they visited Ankara. Now we have a more authentic experience to offer, like war tourism. Why are Turks keeping that part of the building in shambles? It’s strange. For example, when businessmen are played, they often try to cover it up out of fear of looking weak. Why do we enjoy showing what is clearly our weak spot to everybody visiting the country? It only shows that Turkey still has not recovered.
The politician true to his lies
29 January 2017
We are a week into the Donald Trump presidency, and there isn’t much I wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall of the Oval Office. The Washington Post’s account of how Trump pressured the acting National Park Service director to back up the size of his inaugural crowd, for example, is riveting. It starts like this, “On the morning after Donald Trump’s inauguration, acting National Park Service Director Michael J. Reynolds received an extraordinary summons: The new president would like to talk to him.” Why? Because the president needed new pictures to support his claim that more people participated in his inauguration ceremony than that of his predecessor, Barack Obama. That’s awkward, to say the least.
From Star Trek to Star Wars
15 January 2017
Earlier this week, venture capitalist Peter Thiel categorized Star Trek as “communist” and Star Wars as “capitalist” to Maureen Dowd of the New York Times. Why? Think about it. There is no money in the Star Trek universe. But in Star Wars, Han Solo has a debt to pay to Jabba the Hutt, which leads to the movie’s first action scene. There is order in Star Trek with the Federation of United Planets, while there is total chaos in Star Wars. There is more collaboration than competition in Star Trek, while it is quite the opposite for Star Wars.
Turkey’s new IPR legislation
08 January 2017
“The times, they are a changing,’” sang the bard and a recent Nobel laureate, and of course they are. Check the headlines of newspapers published on Jan. 1 if you want to see what I mean. Here is one from Iceland; “First child of 1980 gave birth to the first child of 2017.” This is the kind of pleasant news you’d like to read about over your morning coffee. And here is a headline from Istanbul; “Istanbul new year nightclub attack leaves 39 dead.” It is shocking, terrifying and out of place. Yet it is not out of the ordinary any longer. It is becoming normal.
A year of unknowns
01 January 2017
People made fun of it at the time, and long afterwards, but it’s a nice way of expressing a very important distinction. “As we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”
Turkey under siege?
25 December 2016
All of us in Turkey are remnants of an empire that crumbled at the turn of the last century. I was born in Bursa, in western Turkey. My mother’s Tatar ancestors came to Bursa from Romania during the Balkan Wars. My father’s Circassian ancestors came to Elazığ from the Caucasus just before the turn of the century. Both had been driven from their homes by the advances of the Russian Empire. They knew what it was like for their country to be under siege. They had felt it all their lives.
Welcome to the age of global reckless driving
18 December 2016
Donald Trump will become U.S. president in a few weeks. The silence is deafening. I feel a deep anxiety around the globe, twisting and turning under the surface. Trump has already made more than a few blunders just during the transition period. Portfolio managers and investment officers are now half-jokingly talking about the new phenomenon of “presidential tweet risk.” “Just wait until he gets his hands on executive authority,” people say. The talk in the global village is about a new age of uncertainty.
At the gates of Europe
11 December 2016
Last I checked, on Dec. 8, it had dwindled down to 0. Just 14 months ago, on Oct. 20, 2015, it was more than 10,000, mind you. Prefer long-term averages? The daily average was around 5,000 for November 2015 and 66 for November 2016.
Europe needs a Turkey strategy
27 November 2016
The European Parliament has recommended to the European Commission a temporary freeze of accession negotiations with Turkey. The resolution was approved overwhelmingly with 479 “yes” votes. Some say that the resolution is all bark and no bite, and that the EP is just trying to be important. I don’t think so. I think it’s indicative of long-standing strategic blindness in Brussels, and it will have serious consequences.
‘You shall not buy’: Syrians and real estate ownership in Turkey
21 November 2016
In September, 1,276 homes were sold to foreigners in Turkey. Among the top five foreign buyers were three Arab nationalities: Iraqis, Saudis and Kuwaitis. The non-Arabs were the Russians and the British. Together, these five nationalities bought half of the real estate sold to foreigners, according to official data. Similarly, in 2015, Arabs bought 45.9 percent of all real estate sold to foreigners in Turkey, dominating the top three once again. At first glance, all appears to be in order, and Turkey seems to be attracting a satisfactory amount of Arab capital. But why do Syrians have no presence among foreign buyers? Syrians represent about 3.5 percent of the Turkish population now. More importantly, according to the Directorate General of Migration Management statistics, some 90 percent