By Patricia Treble - Friday, March 15, 2013 - 0 Comments
Royalty have a lot of fussy rules governing etiquette—for example they should start a conversation, not the person being introduced to them—but there are times when having those traditions makes sense. One is that royal families always travel with black clothes in their luggage, just in case someone dies and they have to show respect by wearing the colour of mourning.
When Diana’s father died while the Waleses were on a skiing trip to the Alps, they hastily dug out their black clothes and then got on a plane back for England. And when the Queen’s father died while she and Philip were looking at wild animals in Kenya–far away from their base and their luggage–the accompanying cameramen stood on the road, with their cameras down at their sides, to show they were respecting her privacy and wouldn’t take a picture until the royals were wearing black. Even Downton Abbey has an episode of mourning this season.
And it isn’t just royals who observe such rituals, it’s part of diplomatic life for every head of state. You either pack mourning wear or be prepared to quickly buy something suitable.
Yet the Turkish president and his wife clearly didn’t get a briefing on the topic. That’s really the only explanation for what happened this week in Sweden. On Sunday, March 10, Princess Lilian, 97, died and the nation went into mourning. So it wasn’t a surprise that the king, queen and rest of the family wore black when they greeted the president of Turkey, Abdullah Gül and his wife, Hayrünnisa, at the start of their state visit on Monday.
What is surprising is that Hayrünnisa Gul, a religiously conservative (and ultra fashionable) woman wore such a bright blue outfit. But perhaps she was travelling when word of the death reached her. Then, that evening at a glittering royal dinner, she again wore a dramatic dress—a shiny silver number complete with crystals—while the royals were all in black, though with glittery diamonds and tiaras since anything “white” is also acceptable. Crown Princess Victoria wore a broach given by Lilian. Even if she didn’t have black clothes, she could have pulled out her most subdued outfit from her luggage.
It must have taken a while for word to reach them that they should, perhaps, be a bit more respectful. On day 2 she wore a black outfit but a red head scarf. On day 3, as they left, the Turkish couple were finally in head-to-toe dark clothes.
Princess Lilian’s funeral is on Saturday. Don’t expect to see any bright colours.
By Emily Senger - Monday, February 25, 2013 at 11:51 AM - 0 Comments
‘They should reflect Turkey and Turkey is not this.’
Images of proposed new Turkish Airlines uniforms are stirring up a debate for being too conservative.
Images of the uniforms, which are being designed by Turkish designer Dilek Hanifi, were leaked online. The uniforms — with knee-length, or longer, skirts and long-sleeved shirts for women — were called too modest and old-fashioned by some. The hats have been compared to costumes in a popular Ottoman-era Turkish television program, reports Hurriyet Daily News.
Social media users weren’t the only ones speaking against the new look. Continue…
By macleans.ca - Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 6:20 AM - 0 Comments
Hunters want to import hundreds of wild turkeys to shoot. Farmers aren’t nearly as keen.
With extraordinary eyesight, strength beyond their size and uncanny survival skills, wild turkeys are a favourite target for sportsmen. In New Brunswick, where the birds are increasingly showing up in fields and at backyard bird feeders, hunters have been lobbying the provincial government for decades to institute a legal wild-turkey hunt, and allow more birds to be brought in to boost the population. Now, despite trepidation from some farmers and naturalists who fear what could happen if the birds’ numbers explode, it appears the government is ready to act.
Rob Wilson, president of the local chapter of the Canadian Wild Turkey Federation, says his group hopes for an announcement within weeks. As a hunter who usually heads to the U.S. to bag his yearly bird, he’s excited at the prospect of finally being able to hunt at home. “They’re very challenging: not as easy as a white-tailed deer or moose,” says Wilson, who helped lead a volunteer-funded environmental assessment that was delivered to the government earlier this year.
Hunting the bird is currently legal in six provinces and 49 states. Bruce Northrup, New Brunswick’s natural resources minister, tagged along on a spring hunt in Maine to see what it entailed. “I’m not a hunter,” he says, describing a chilly morning wake-up for a dawn hunt. “We’re really trying to do our homework on this.”
By Paul Wells - Friday, October 12, 2012 at 5:30 AM - 0 Comments
John Baird makes the rounds of the global middle powers
In the panoply of tools available to a cabinet minister, public remarks are always a sign that a written statement wasn’t thought to be enough. So Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird was sending a clear signal on Oct. 3 when he convened Ottawa reporters on short notice to condemn Syrian shelling of Turkish targets that left five Turkish civilians dead.
Turkish artillery had already fired back. Baird sided unequivocally with the Turks. “Canada strongly condemns, in no uncertain terms, this attack by the Assad regime across Syria’s border,” Baird told the cameras. It was an indication of support for Turkey that went above and beyond Canada’s minimum obligations.
It was not the first. In the 17 months since he became Foreign Affairs Minister after the 2011 election, Baird has been working to improve Canada’s relationship with a handful of countries around the world. The list includes Turkey, Indonesia, Nigeria and Vietnam. What the countries have in common is that they are big regional players with bright economic futures that at least balance their woes. In the 1980s, one might have called them “middle powers,” a list that has almost always included Canada.
Baird’s studied pursuit of these global middleweights marks an evolution in the Conservative government’s foreign policy. Support for Israel has been pretty much the only constant since 2006. The Prime Minister’s early enthusiasm for the so-called Anglosphere countries—the United States, Australia and Britain—vanished after conservative governments were defeated in the first two countries and Britain’s Labour government was replaced by a Conservative-led coalition that has little in common with Stephen Harper’s. Harper’s next big idea—this year’s pivot on energy exports from the United States to China—is turning out to be difficult to execute.
Suddenly a bunch of countries that function like so many far-flung Canadas are getting a lot of attention. “Minister Baird has made engaging with . . . emerging powers (‘next economies,’ as some call them) a definite priority,” Rick Roth, Baird’s press secretary, told me. “That’s one reason he is visiting Nigeria this week, for instance.
“To paraphrase Wayne Gretzky: you have to go to where the puck is going to be, not where it is.”
For most of a decade, the puck sure hasn’t been in Turkey. Successive Canadian governments have been frank about using the term “Armenian genocide” in relation to events in 1915. The Harper government has maintained that position since it came to power in 2006. As the Turkish embassy’s website notes, this “creates difficulties in Turkish-Canadian relations.”
But lately, it actually doesn’t. Gulcan Akoguz, the chargé d’affaires at the Turkish embassy in Ottawa, told me Baird’s personal involvement has accelerated a reassertion of normal relations, and more, between the two countries. “Canadian international relations is changing under Minister Baird,” Akoguz said.
There are now direct ﬂights between Ankara and Toronto; flights to Montreal may soon be added. There have been preliminary discussions toward Canada-Turkey free trade, a Turkish consulate in Toronto has opened, and in August Ahmet Davutoglu became the first Turkish foreign minister to visit Ottawa in 14 years.
It was the same month that Baird welcomed Indonesia’s visiting foreign minister. Turkey’s population is 75 million, Indonesia’s 240 million; both populations are overwhelmingly Muslim. Nigeria, which Baird visited this month has 170 million people, half Muslim. Not every country on Baird’s list has a large Muslim population: Vietnam’s 88 million people include almost no Muslims, but its robust economy makes it, with Indonesia, a handy Asian counterweight to China. But it’s striking that so many countries on Baird’s list are largely Islamic. This reflects both the unsurprising news that about 1.6 billion people in the world are Muslim, and the slightly more surprising news that the Harper government has decided it cannot forever work around them.
Is there an electoral or immigration-related angle to the list of countries Baird is concentrating on? Not really. Canada’s Turkish and Indonesian minorities, combined, amount to fewer than 60,000 people. This emerging middle-power strategy seems pretty clearly to be about Canada trying to exert influence in the world, not about Conservatives seeking to improve their performance among Canadian voters.
In a sense it reflects lessons learned, often belatedly, after nearly a decade in power. And in the end, it is still a complex world with a lot of moving parts. Canada can’t prosper if it withdraws from the world, and it can’t have any influence unless it deepens its relationships with the countries that function as big regional players. The isolationism of the Harper government’s early years was a luxury Canada can no longer afford. In international relations as in so many things, this government has learned, and adjusted.
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 10:43 AM - 0 Comments
Forty-four Kurdish journalists appeared in a Turkish court yesterday, after being charged with terrorism,…
Forty-four Kurdish journalists appeared in a Turkish court yesterday, after being charged with terrorism, the Guardian reports. The journalists are facing accusations that they have supported various Kurdish movements including the PKK, the armed Kurdistan Workers’ party. It is the largest media trial in Turkey’s history and human rights groups say it’s an attempt by the government to silence pro-Kurdish activists and intimidate the press.
The charges come amid an escalation in clashes between Kurdish insurgents and Turkish security forces. While the government has preached peace, they have cracked down on thousands of non-violent Kurdish politicians and activists. Most have been arrested and charged with terrorism offences.
More than 100 journalists are currently in jail in Turkey, 800 more face charges and many journalists have been fired or have quit their jobs because of direct or indirect pressure from the Turkish government.
By Emma Teitel - Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at 5:42 AM - 0 Comments
Turkey’s prime minister has proposed a bill that would limit the right to abortion
Abortion has long been legal in Turkey, but the country’s prime minister would like to change that.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan of the Justice and Development Party—the AKP, as it is known by its Turkish initials—launched a culture war with women’s rights activists when he raised a government proposal that would prohibit all abortions after four weeks from conception (down from the 10 weeks currently allowed).
“Every abortion,” he said, “is murder.” A mother is “not really the owner of the baby in her belly,” added his religious affairs directorate chair. “She is a trustee with a duty to look after it.”
The roughly 3,000 women who flooded downtown Istanbul to protest last week disagree. Some see Erdogan’s new position on abortion as more evidence of closer ties to Turkey’s Islamist factions, from which the AKP draws its support; party authorities recently floated a ban on public alcohol consumption and proposed pink, women-only buses.
At least one commentator, however, sees in the debate a sign of progress: “Turkey is finally having a ‘normal’ culture war, one like in the U.S.,” says Mustafa Akyol, author of Islam Without Extremes. “The older culture war—over whether a woman [can] wear a head scarf and go to university—was abnormal.”
By Michael Petrou - Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 4:27 PM - 0 Comments
Taner Akçam is a Turkish historian and authority on the Armenian genocide. A 2009 raid against the ultranationalist terror organization Ergenekon, whose members were linked to Turkey’s military and security forces, uncovered a list of “Traitors to National Security,” which named Akçam, as well as Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink. Dink was murdered in 2007. Akçam’s latest book is The Young Turks’ Crime Against Humanity: The Armenian Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing in the Ottoman Empire.
Q: Almost one third of the 17.5 million inhabitants of Anatolia in 1913 were displaced, expelled, or annihilated over the subsequent six years. What happened?
A: The main reason was the continuous decline of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans wanted to solve this decline, and one of the ways that they thought of was to change the population structure of the entire empire. The major problem for them was the Christian population. After they lost the Balkan War of 1912, they decided to get rid of the Christians. Continue…
By Alex Ballingall - Tuesday, March 27, 2012 at 12:09 PM - 0 Comments
The soap opera is drawing viewers—and criticism from the religious conservatives as well as nationalists
“The past is always an invented land,” Nobel winning novelist Orhan Pamuk once said. “The revision of the past is always held to the political struggles of the country.”
This insight rings particularly true in his native Turkey, where a massively popular soap opera depicting the most revered sultan of the Ottoman Empire is sparking controversy and tension between liberals, diehard nationalists and religious conservatives. The show, which at US$500,000 an episode is the most expensive ever for Turkish television, is called Muhtesym Yuzil (The Magnificent Century). It depicts the personal life of Suleiman the Magnificent, who ruled during the 16th century.
Nationalists have been critical of the show’s focus on the sultan’s personal life, which they say diminishes the glories of the empire during his rule, when Ottoman territory spanned west to modern-day Austria and east into what is now Iran. Religious conservatives, meanwhile, are outraged at how Suleiman is shown drinking wine and cavorting with women (there are kissing scenes and nudity), arguing that this is historically inaccurate and offensively un-Islamic.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, December 15, 2011 at 12:35 PM - 0 Comments
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation wants the Defence Minister to explain his choice of accommodations in Europe.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay charged taxpayers $2,904 for a two-night stay at the luxurious Bayerischer Hof when he went to a security conference in Munich, Germany in February of 2010. MacKay arrived in Munich after attending an informal meeting of NATO defence ministers in Turkey, where he billed taxpayers $2,310 for a three-night stay at Istanbul’s Ceylon Intercontinental Hotel. At $1,452 and $770 a night respectively, these room tabs go far beyond what most taxpayers would consider reasonable.
In Munich, MacKay’s staff stayed at the Munich Park Hilton, an eight-minute cab ride away, for $239 a night. In Istanbul, MacKay’s staff stayed in the same hotel, but paid $276 per night.
Erdogan blasts Germany’s Merkel for her government’s immigration policies
Turkey’s prime minister wasn’t in the mood to make nice. Hours before he would be flashing a thin smile at a photo op with German Chancellor Angela Merkel last Wednesday, Recep Tayyip Erdogan dropped by the offices of Germany’s Bild newspaper to boldly criticize her in an interview. Erdogan blasted Merkel for her government’s immigration policies in a well-timed attack: the pair met at a ceremony marking 50 years since 650,000 Turkish “guest workers” arrived in Germany as part of a labour pact. Today, 2.5 million people in Germany have Turkish roots, though barely a third are citizens.
“German politicians do not give enough recognition to the integration” of these Turks, Erdogan told Bild, pointing to Germany’s resistance to dual citizenship, and saying it is failing to recognize Turks’ contributions. “The guest workers of yesterday are slowly becoming employers, academics, artists,” he said. This despite the fact that Turks, who make up the largest German minority, come last in measures of literacy, education and employment.
Erdogan also criticized Germany for giving only lukewarm support to Turkey’s bid to join the EU. With Turkey’s surging economy and Erdogan’s own growing influence, he can perhaps afford to ruffle a few feathers.
By Adnan R. Khan - Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 8:20 AM - 5 Comments
Abroad, he’s drawn comparisons to the legendary Sultan Saladin. But back home, many Turks are uneasy.
It was one coup among many. On Sept. 25, after passionately arguing in favour of the Palestinians’ right to a unilateral declaration of statehood at the UN General Assembly in New York, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan left with a hero in his back pocket. On board his government jet was a 1,900-year-old statue of Hercules, procured from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, where it had sat, an object of ownership controversy, for nearly 30 years. Reclaiming the relic for Turkey was a symbolic act, but the 57-year-old prime minister had done what so many of his predecessors had failed to do. He brought Hercules—his head and torso at least—home to be reunited with the Greek hero’s less attractive but arguably more manly lower half, sitting forlorn and incomplete at the archaeological museum in Antalya, a city steeped in history situated on Turkey’s stunning Mediterranean coast.
In Turkey, Erdogan’s government was hailed for the statue’s return. It was not the only praise the PM had recently received. Only days earlier, during a trip to Egypt, he’d been compared to another, less mythic but equally meaningful hero, this time from Islamic history. In Cairo, frenzied crowds showered the Turkish leader with praise, calling him the “new Saladin”—a reference to the 12th-century Kurdish conqueror who wrested Jerusalem away from Christian Crusaders in 1187. Heady times—and not without reason.
By all accounts, Turkey stands at a crossroads—and Erdogan is the one finding a new direction. After pursuing a policy of “zero problems” with its neighbours, Turkey has been forced to deal with hard geopolitical realities, breaking ties with a tyrannical Syrian regime, abandoning former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak at the height of the Egyptian uprising, and freezing its historically warm relations with Israel in the aftermath of a 2010 attempt by an international aid flotilla to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza, during which Israeli commandos killed nine activists, eight of them Turkish nationals.
By macleans.ca - Monday, October 24, 2011 at 12:36 PM - 0 Comments
Israel, among others, offers assistance
A powerful earthquake near Turkey’s eastern border killed 272 people and injured possibly thousands more on Sunday, the Associated Press reports. The magnitude 7.2 quake toppled buildings in and around the city of Van. Rescue workers used flashlights to search through the rubble for survivors. Neighbouring countries, including rival Israel, have offered aid, but Turkish authorities so far say they have rescue efforts under control.
By Michael Petrou - Friday, September 23, 2011 at 9:15 AM - 43 Comments
With key regional allies now hostile, the Jewish state appears isolated as never before
Israel has never had a surplus of friends in its neighbourhood. But almost since its founding it could count on an alliance with Turkey, one of the strongest nations in the Middle East. And for more than three decades its southern border has been protected by a solid peace treaty with Arab powerhouse Egypt. Now these two pillars of Israeli security may be crumbling.
Turkish-Israeli relations frayed last year when Israeli commandos stormed a flotilla of ships from Turkey trying to reach the Gaza Strip in defiance of an Israeli naval blockade, killing nine. Turkey demanded an apology; Israel refused. Bonds between the two countries have ruptured further since. This month, Turkey expelled Israel’s ambassador and froze military co-operation with it. Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, says his country is committed to ending Israel’s blockade of Gaza and has pledged that Turkish warships would protect convoys of aid to the Palestinian territory. The “Turkish navy is prepared for every scenario—even the worst one,” he told an Egyptian newspaper.
Erdogan’s boast came as he toured the newly liberated Arab countries of Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. Erdogan received a hero’s welcome. Turkey is a rising power, and for aspirant democrats in the region it is a model. The Turkish prime minister repeatedly denounced Israel during his tour, comparing it to a spoiled child, while urging the Arab League to support a Palestinian bid for full membership in the United Nations.
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, September 20, 2011 at 11:04 AM - 0 Comments
Kurdish rebels suspected in Ankara blast
Three people were killed and at least 15 others injured in a bomb attack in the Turkish capital of Ankara Tuesday. Turkish officials blamed “terrorists” for the attack; Kurdish rebels affiliated with the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) are the most likely culprits. The Turkish military has stepped up aerial attacks against the PKK in Northern Iraq in recent months. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday the government is prepared to send in ground troops to clear out PKK bases in the region.
By macleans.ca - Friday, September 16, 2011 at 10:30 AM - 0 Comments
Canada reopens its embassy in Libya, the Taliban attacks the U.S. embassy and NATO headquarters in Kabul
On the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11 last weekend, Americans grieved and nerves were frayed over warnings of potential repeat attacks, but the occasion passed peacefully. And with ceremonies, remembrances and rousing displays of patriotism at packed football and baseball stadiums, it perhaps even drew Americans closer at a time when the nation is badly divided politically and its economic future looks bleak. The event offered a reminder that there’s hope even in the darkest periods.
A step forward
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced this week that Canada will reopen its embassy in Libya. Diplomatic officials are already on the ground in Tripoli. Baird also said Ottawa will release $2.2 billion in Libyan assets that had been frozen during the uprising against Moammar Gadhafi. While isolated fighting continues with remaining Gadhafi loyalists, the hunt continues to capture the former strongman. Last week Interpol issued arrest warrants for Gadhafi, one of his sons and his intelligence chief for alleged crimes against humanity.
By Adnan R. Khan - Friday, June 17, 2011 at 11:05 AM - 1 Comment
Refugees at the Turkish border tell of horror and brutality as Bashar al-Assad tries to crush the uprising
From Guvecci, there is nothing that gives an impression of the brutal civil war playing out in Syria. In this predominantly Arab village in Turkey—the Syrian border a mere kilometre away—olive groves and pomegranate orchards on terraced hillsides blend together in an almost perfect picture of harmony and peace. But over the hills to the east, a massacre is playing out. According to the thousands of people fleeing for safety across Turkey’s border with its troubled neighbour, the Syrian regime has escalated its siege against pro-democracy demonstrators to an unprecedented level.
As of June 14, more than 8,000 people were being sheltered in refugee camps, while an estimated 10,000 more have massed along Syria’s border with Turkey, fleeing what they describe as an all-out assault on unarmed civilian protesters in cities and towns like Latakia, Hamah, Baniyas, and most recently, Jisr ash Shughur, only 15 km from Turkey. Near Guvecci, the displaced are taking shelter in olive groves as near to the Turkish border as they can reach, placing their trust in the Turkish army and the hope that the Syrian military will not dare attack them under the watchful eyes of the Turks and international journalists who have set up their cameras on rooftops in the village.
“They are safe here,” says Nadir Guzmen, a farmer living in Guvecci. “Many of us have family in Syria so these are our own people. We will help them in any way we can; they are welcome to cross the border. I have already helped 20 refugees from Jisr ash Shughur reach the refugee camps here in Turkey. The injuries I’ve seen have been terrible—gunshot wounds, broken faces—it’s really terrible what the Syrian regime is doing to its people. So many of the people I helped take to the hospital have died. This is a genocide.”
By Stephanie Findlay - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 at 12:00 PM - 1 Comment
The PM looks set for re-election. But will Turks stomach his alleged attacks on media freedom?
Can Recep Tayyip Erdogˇan win Turkey’s upcoming parliamentary elections this June? Just months before the election, Erdogˇan , the leader of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) party, a moderate Islamist faction, is campaigning hard. And though it’s his eighth year in power, it’s likely the incumbent prime minister will be victorious yet again.
In Erdogˇan’s favour, the Turkish economy—dubbed the “Anatolian Tiger”—remains strong. The IMF predicts that it will grow between four and five per cent in the next year. But there are trouble signs, A March 7 report by Moody’s said that the Turkish economy has “substantial external vulnerabilities, including a large current account deficit.” Earlier this February, the IMF said Turkey has become dangerously vulnerable to “excessive domestic demand and volatile short-term capital flows.” Still, given the turmoil in Arab states, Turkey and its thriving free-market economy have emerged as a poster child in the tumultuous Muslim world.
But while Erdogˇan may be popular at home, he’s been angering others abroad. Last month, in a bid to stir up nationalist sentiment among voting Turks in Germany, he soured his relationship with Berlin when he told a 10,000-strong crowd in Düsseldorf, “Nobody will be able to tear us away from our culture. Our children must learn German, but they must learn Turkish first.” (Germany is effectively the fourth largest Turkish electoral district, behind Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir; between 1.1 million and 1.3 million Turks live there but are eligible to vote in the elections.) It was not the first time Erdogˇan has ruffled foreign feathers: three years ago, in Cologne, he declared that assimilation was a “crime against humanity”—irking Germans who say that his words work against integration efforts in Germany and are counter-productive.
By Adnan R. Khan - Thursday, December 23, 2010 at 11:40 AM - 2 Comments
Money is rapidly transforming this megalopolis, but change is creating dangerous tensions between the old and the new, and bringing radicals out onto the streets
There are many telling details in the way the mafia don sits: the stiffness of his spine, his legs planted on the ground like two monstrous sledgehammers, eyes angrily darting around the tiny teahouse. His tension is palpable. “There are half a dozen small wars going on in Istanbul right now,” he says, dumping two cubes of sugar into his tea. “Everything is changing in this city, too quickly. There is chaos.”
On Oct. 31, a suicide bomber brought that chaos onto the streets of Turkey’s roiling megalopolis, blowing himself up in a crowd of police officers in Taksim Square and injuring 32 people, including 17 civilians. The choice of venue was no accident: Taksim is Istanbul’s symbol of modernity and pluralism, where immigrants come in search of a new life and foreigners throng to experience Turkey’s oft-cited convergence of East and West. Near the site of the blast, the Independence Monument replays the struggle of Turkey’s founding father, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, in a permanently frozen tableau, as if the country’s future was set in stone decades ago.
By Julia Belluz - Thursday, November 18, 2010 at 12:00 PM - 0 Comments
Illegal migrants crossing into the European Union through Greece’s land border with Turkey
While the world watched Greece burn in response to austerity measures for a failing economy, the country was also quietly trying to quell another crisis: a dramatic increase in the number of illegal migrants crossing into the European Union through Greece’s land border with Turkey.
Though the overall number of undocumented migrants entering Europe has decreased of late, the trend in Greece has gone the other way; it currently accounts for 90 per cent of detected illegal border crossings into the EU. This influx has so overwhelmed Greece that it called on Brussels for help. In response, the EU sent over its Rapid Border Intervention Teams, a multinational armed force set up in 2007 but deployed for the first time to guard Greece’s external borders.
Of the illegal migrants showing up in Greece, about half are Albanians looking for seasonal work. Others claim to be Afghan and Iraqi, seeking asylum. Many will end up in overcrowded detention facilities. And few have papers, so repatriating them can be difficult. So much so that, as of August, the backlog of people seeking asylum in Greece numbered 52,000 cases.
By Michael Petrou - Tuesday, November 2, 2010 at 4:40 PM - 0 Comments
In Turkey, Iranians who have escaped their regime dream of the day their homeland changes
“Everybody in the square was angry, but there was also some sort of energy coming from the group. It seemed like an uprising. We felt free to do what we wanted, like a revolution. Everyone was united over the same thing, which was opposition to Ahmadinejad and the election results. Then we saw the Basij coming.”
Makan Akhavan is recalling the night after last year’s disputed June 12 election in Iran, when large crowds gathered in Tehran’s Kaj Square to protest results they believed had been rigged to give victory to hardline incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
For Ahmadinejad’s opponents, the previous morning—voting day—had begun with such promise. “There was this bursting of freedom,” says Akhavan, 23. “We knew we were winning.”
Supporters of Ahmadinejad’s main rival, Mir Hossein Mousavi, had seen their numbers swell in the weeks leading up to the election and believed they had momentum on their side. Many did not necessarily agree with Mousavi’s moderately reformist agenda, but they backed him anyway out of a desire to protest Ahmadinejad or even the Islamic regime itself.
By Jane Switzer - Thursday, October 14, 2010 at 9:20 AM - 0 Comments
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s memory suffered another blow when Turkish officials seized his former yacht as part of a human trafficking sting
Just as the legacy of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the secular Turkish state, is slowly being eroded by the current Islamist government in Ankara, his memory suffered another blow when Turkish officials seized his former yacht as part of a human trafficking sting on Sept. 28.
The state-run Anatolian news agency reported the MV Savarona had been leased to a Kazakh businessman, who used the state-owned luxury vessel to throw sex parties. Two underage girls and eight women, all said to be prostitutes, were removed after authorities in the city of Antalya confiscated the yacht. The sex ring had been under observation by police for seven months, and reportedly charged between $3,000 and $10,000 for a night with the prostitutes. Eight people were arrested for human trafﬁcking and detaining the women, who were said to have originated from Russia and Ukraine.
The Turkish government bought the yacht in 1938, and Atatürk spent a few weeks aboard the Savarona before dying later that year. He remains highly exalted among many Turks because of the economic, social and cultural reforms he introduced to transform the former Ottoman Empire. Insults to his memory can be punished with a jail sentence.
Iran jails wife of lawyer who defended woman sentenced to death by stoning; Turkey locks up the lawyer
By Michael Petrou - Thursday, August 5, 2010 at 10:41 AM - 0 Comments
Iran is holding hostage the wife of prominent human rights lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei in an effort to get him to return from Turkey, where he fled after interrogation in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison — where his wife is now detained. Mostafaei’s crime was to defend Sakineh Mohammadei Ashtiani, who had been sentenced to death by stoning after being convicted of adultery. Continue…
By Michael Petrou - Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 1:00 PM - 0 Comments
Turkey is a country for which I’ve long had much affection, and, until recently, hope. I’ve traveled from one end of the country to the other, which was always a pleasure. Politically, I’ve admired it as a Muslim democracy and a bridge between East and West.
A few months ago, before Israel’s raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla, I wrote about Turkey’s apparent drift away from the West, and especially Israel. I think there were valid reasons for concern at the time. On the other hand, Israel’s 2008-2009 war in Gaza was responsible for much of the chill in Turkey’s relationship with Israel, and Turkey’s anger was justified given the hundreds of Palestinian civilians who died in the conflict.
As for Turkey’s fraying ties with Europe, I blame much of this on Europe itself and its refusal to grant Turkey membership in the European Union. I personally feel the idea that there is some sort of unified European culture is absurd. What, exactly, do Bulgaria and Ireland have in common? Finland and Greece? But even if one were to judge Turkey’s ‘Europeanness’, its long ties to the region should have guaranteed its membership. Instead, some powerful member states, principally Germany, balked. Turkey got tired of begging and went to look for new friends. It’s hard to blame them.
But every once in a while, there are events that force even cynically realist political leaders to decide what they stand for. Continue…
By macleans.ca - Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 4:00 PM - 0 Comments
Plus, why soccer didn’t catch on here, a plan for the U.S. to buddy up with Iran, David Mitchell’s new novel, cold cases, and more over-sharing from Tori Spelling
The Hoover Dam was the Three Gorges of its pre-environmental day. What Hiltzik calls the Colorado River’s “violent personality”—as witnessed by the scars it’s left in the landscape (the Grand Canyon for one)—did inspire a degree of respect in western settlers, but mostly it fired their desire to tame it. In 1912, U.S. interior secretary Franklin Lane set out policy toward wilderness in terms as moral as any ever used by an ecologist, even if from a very different perspective: “The mountains are our enemies. The sinful rivers we must curb.” (The river was sinful? Doesn’t the dam supply power to Las Vegas?)
By Patricia Treble - Thursday, May 6, 2010 at 2:20 PM - 0 Comments
The first nudist resort in this Muslim nation is set to open soon
Turkey will get its first nudist hotel when the Adaburnu Gölmar opens its doors to tourists on May 1. And, in a Muslim country led by an Islamic-oriented political party, the resort’s clientele hasn’t been an issue. Indeed, there is widespread support for the family-owned facility among local residents of the Mediterranean town of Datça, located near the Greek island of Rhodes. Selma Ünal, a member of the local chamber of commerce, echoes many by saying she sees the hotel’s nudist strategy as a way of diversifying their region’s tourist industry into a niche market.