Turkey in the news

Old Feb 25th, 2010, 03:19 AM
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Turkey in the news

Could someone who lives in Turkey please comment-and give a local perspective-on the BBC report about the fear of a military coup? (I am attaching excerpt from BBC news):

Thursday's meeting was called amid escalating tension between the government and the military

Turkey's leaders are meeting the head of the armed forces, Gen Ilker Basbug, about an alleged plot to stir up chaos and justify a military coup.

The talks between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President Abdullah Gul and Gen Basbug come after 20 military officers were charged over the case.

They were called amid rising tension between the government and military.

Former heads of the navy and air force were due to be questioned on Thursday and could yet be charged.

The military has denied any coup plot and has held its own officers' summit to discuss the "serious situation" in the wake of the latest arrests.

The generals believe the AK Party has a hidden agenda to subvert the country's secular system
Roger Hardy
BBC regional analyst
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Old Feb 25th, 2010, 05:44 AM
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I will comment as an advisor to travelers and as a political scientist:

- There seems to be no increased risk of any problem for travelers to Turkey.

- there seems to be no increased risk of a military coup since 2002.

- the current uneasy situation has pushed the Turkish Lira and the stock market down, so there is about a 5-7% advantage to the foreign travelers when exchanging money, and in terms of items paid in TL (unfortunately flights and most hotels are Euro or USD denominated)

- there is no increased security for any type of traveling or related delays.

- On the other hand, 49 current and retired military officers have been detained, 20 questioned and 11 charges as of last night. The higher ranking former heads of Navy and Army are waiting to be questioned because the law requires a Chief Special public Prosecutor to conduct the questioning, and the three such people on location were not available for personal health reasons (!)

- The investigation is based on a wargame scenario played by 168 officers in 2003, which envisaged a religious takeover of the government and involved the planning against the new fundamentalist scenario government.
- all the game notes and plans should have been destroyed within a short period after the workshop, but somehow was served to a fundamentalist newspaper owned by the Fethullah Gulen group, which operates from Pennsylvania and owns almost 1000 highschools and many more student dorms, in over 100 countries, in addition to running examination preparation centers, providing thousands of scholarships and owning other newspapers, radios and TV channels in Turkey.

- The Gulen group seems to be the basis of the "Moderate Islam" policy of the Bush administration.

- Schools belonging to the group were closed in Russia and Ozbekistan by the governments of those countries.

- There has been an ongoing investigation of potential coup fomentors, military and otherwise, which somehow included some too outspoken opponents of the present government based on letters of unnamed informers, possibly planted evidence, and the fact that some of these people were too secular.

- many of the suspects on this huge legal case have been detained for two years also, and some have yet to be charged. yesterday, the internet editor of a major daily newspaper was released at the first session of the court after spending ten months in prison.

- Another major event of the last two weeks is the prosecution of a special public prosecutor because he had conducted an investigation against some religious sects which were operating illegal Koranic schools for under-age children in a City called Erzincan. Unknown informants first wrote letters aboyut his sex life and when that did not work he was accused of being a part of a terrorist organization working against the government and was arrested against accepted legal procedure. When the Council of judges and public prosecutors ruled the detention unlawful and removed the authority of the public prosecutor who had ordered his arrest, the file was secretly sent to istanbul....

- It is also common knowledge that some years ago the investigation of the islamic sects (including the activities of Gulen schools) was taken from whom by a trick and before that he received a telephone call from the Minister of Interior of the time to release the suspects. (that Minister has admitted that he had called the public prosecutor, but only in regard to the children of the Koranic schools !!)

- It seems that the government is losing a great deal of support for the above reasons and also for some other smaller events like not accepting to give the former workers of the privatized national monopolies their originally awarded rights.

- Under these circumstances and in view of the relationships with the European Union and the United States a military coup is very unlikely.
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Old Feb 25th, 2010, 03:44 PM
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Thank you otherchelebi.
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Old Mar 4th, 2010, 02:40 PM
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OK, otherchelebi, help me out please!
Today I am driving home from work and hear on the news that the US has condemned Turkey for something that happened about 100 years ago-despite President Obama's opposition to this condemnation, I must add.
(I'm sorry, but these guys must not have anything to do that they can come up with something like this).
So, then I hear that in response, Turkey has called their ambassador home from the US.
What is the reaction, if any, in Turkey to all of this?
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Old Mar 4th, 2010, 03:08 PM
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The House Foreign Affairs Committee today passed (by one vote) a resolution declaring Turkey's killing of Armenians during WWI to be "genocide." It's no secret that Turkey did exterminate a gazillion Armenians, but the point is the USA needs Turkish cooperation now in dealing with primarily Iran and Afghanistan, not to mention that the most likely/easiest way of getting troops out of Iraq in the future would likely be through Turkey. So NOT insulting the nation of Turkey right now, which is what the White House's position is, is a good thing that has now gone wrong. And yes, the Turkish ambassador has left Washington, and it remains to be seen what the fallout will be. I don't know why the House Foreign Affairs Committee decided now was the time to pass this resolution.
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Old Mar 4th, 2010, 09:35 PM
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"I don't know why the House Foreign Affairs Committee decided now was the time to pass..."

Maybe because of the posturing ninny the US elected as its monarch?

"“I believe that the Armenian Genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion, or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence . . . As President, I will recognise the Armenian Genocide.”

Barack Obama. January 2008.

He's behaving less absurdly now. But in 2008, this was a nice cheap gesture to attack Bush, who was commiting the crime of being a statesman.
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Old Mar 4th, 2010, 11:42 PM
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Hi Ignutah et.al.,

here is an itemized list of some facts:

- April 24 is the anniversary of the atrocities (whatever they may be called) against a certain population within the Ottoman empire, as declared by the Armenian Diaspora, who have settled in the USA, and after almost 100 years prefer to call themselves Armenian rather than American.
- Almost every year, or every few years for the last 15 years or so, the foreign affairs committee of the congress votes on the motion of taking the subject of the recognition of tha historic event to the general assembly.
- during election years this becomes an important issue, especially in regions where there is a sizeable Armenian constituency, like parts of California.
- Every time this motion is presented to the Foreign Affairs Committe, it has passes, but was not included in the agenda of the Congress because of government lobbying on the basis that it would be against the national interest.
- The general Turkish policy is that, "this is a matter of history and not politics. Whether it was genocide, or the result of religious action, or a standard use of force against a rebelling population in an empire should be discussed and agreed upon by historians and not politicians, on the basis of documentary evidence as available in the turkish, European, American, and Russian archives."
- However, the Armenians (about 1.5 million in the US, 3 million in Russia, another 1 million in Europe, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt) have been hoping to get reparations from the current Turkish government and life insurance indemnity from the remnants of the insurance companies of the time and possibly some vengeance. (An Armenian terrorist group assasinated, i forgot how many, Turkish diplomats in Paris, Los Angeles and, i think Austria, including a bombing of the Turkish Airlines desk at Orly airport, in the seventies and the eighties)
- Although I am not versed in international law, i find it difficult to believe that the current Turkish nation which was established by fighting against the Ottoman Empire itself, on part of the lands of the empire (some of which were the areas from which the Armenians were forcefully exiled during WWI, because they had joined the Russians in fighting against the Ottomans) can be held responsible and subjected to reparations.
- There is also another issue, Armenia has been claiming nationally and internationally that parts of Eastern Turkey, including their national symbol Mount Ararat belong to Armenia. If this resolution is accepted in the US congress, Armenia may feel more justified to advance this claim, causing major unrest in the region, in view of the US pressurized protocols to open the Turkish-Armenian border and open economic relations with each other.
- This is an incredible hornets' nest. Armenia is currently occupying what used to be a part of the oil-rich nation of Azerbaijan, from which Turkey buys natural gas at below world prices. Armenia also forcefully banished close to two million Azerbaijanis from the area, while killing some, with the help of the Russians who still keep armed forces in Armenia, not very long ago. Turkey is the major proponent of Armenia giving back the Azerbaijanis their land. However, the protocols between Armenia and Turkey have upset the Azerbaijan government which immediately increased the price of natural gas to Turkey 50%.
- As an esoteric bi-line, the lands that Armenia clams within Turkey are mostly inhabited by Kurds, who may also advance claims for a Kurdish nation, as sometimes encouraged by US Northern Iraq policy. So Armenian and Northern Iraq maps include the same areas as part of their heritage.

- If all these people and government do not become rational, i am afraid that we are going to have all the politicians of the world busy in discussing and voting on the claims of Celts, Gauls, Hittites, Babilonians, Assyrians, Huns, Prussians, Tartars, Apaches, Eskimos, Laplanders, and on and on. instead of doing what they should be doing in doing things for their own countries.
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Old Mar 4th, 2010, 11:50 PM
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I forgot to add that under similar circumstances Turkey in 2000 and 2007, Turkey had also called back its ambassador "for consultation". In fact the voting on this issue had much bigger margins in those years (39 to 7, one time)

In view of the feeling that the present "moderate Islamic" government's dependence on US support, i doubt that much will happen.

However, we have an election coming up next year and the Turkish primeminister is well known to act emotionally and aggresively, so you never know.

Some years ago France passed a similar law, there was a call for boycott of French goods (also of french kissing ) but it hardly made a dent in the imports from France.
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Old Mar 12th, 2010, 09:27 AM
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otherchelebi,

your report or, so called, fact sheet is extremeley biased and full of inaccuracies. Not impressive for someone who claims to be a political scientist. I suggest that you consult more reliable sources before making strong statements regarding Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan and their claims to each other.
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Old Mar 12th, 2010, 09:38 AM
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I agree with Gina - this is a serious and longstanding issue for the Armenians and not as Ignuta indicates that "these guys must not have anything to do that they can come up with something like this."
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Old Mar 12th, 2010, 12:19 PM
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Sorry Gina and Lila, I am not a historian.

The historic part of things are based on what i've remembered from what i have read and may not be very accurate. So i never claim that i know the truth, the absolute truth and nothing but the truth. Also i do not usually believe historians and their analyses, because most of them are very biased and formatted, preferring to profile themselves as "for" or "against" some things.

however, my analysis of the current situation has nothing to do about what has happened. it is related to what's going on today, and why i find it all very stupid.

-i find it absurd that legislatures of countries are passing resolutions about historic events, and as also a drama minor would love to be able to write a play where the last native of a Pacific Island starts a campaign to get all major countries to pass legislation to commemorate the anniversary of the testing of a nuclear bomb on his island, which has by now sunk in the Pacific.

- i am living in turkey and so does one daughter and we are paying twice what we should be paying for our heating bill because of the mismanagement of international relations by the Turkish government.

- My telephone, like the telephones of many intellectuals in this country are being tapped, because the United states and American political scientists decided some years ago that Turkey should be governed by "Moderate Islam".

- My livelihood and my freedoms are in jeopardy today, and not necessarily because of what happened between the Ottoman empire and its Armenian constituencey.

- The ethnic Turks and Kurds in the Ottoman Empire were considered as the lowliest vermin until 1900. The Ottoman empire was an empire run by converted Christians with very few ethnic Turks ever in the power structure. My forefathers were also discriminated against, killed and raped and heavily taxed, and taken to war against their wishes. The area was the scene of major power struggles and interference between the french the British and the Russians with president Wilson pitching in in the early 1900s.

Do you think that much of what has happened with the Tashnaks and the Tsarist armies, leaving the Armenians to fend for themselves and the French and the Americans promising help to armenians which they never really delivered, in those days, that this has been so different from the Lydians and the Karians of 300-600BC or the persiand and the Greeks.

i do not believe in vengeance. There has been sufficient inhumanity in the world, why should a legislature hark on past atrocities and bring the evil that ran amok at that time to the minds of the people? Why do Armenians enjoy making sure that their offspring never forget what happened a hundred years ago? Who benefits from all this?

So, yes, i am biased, i am biased in favour of peace, in favour of the pursuit of happiness for every living being on earth today. And i detest blood feuds and consider those leading them as the worst of the worst God has created.

So Gina and Lily, i am not impressed at all with your empty accusations and insults. Neither do i understand what made you post here, since your posts have nothing to do with the seffects of what is going on, on travelers to Turkey.

After all, this is not a History forum.
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Old Mar 12th, 2010, 01:02 PM
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otherchelebi,

there is only a 25 year gap between what happened to the Jews in Europe and what happened to the Armenians in Turkey--just a blip in historical time. France did not officially admit its role in the deportation of Jews until fairly recently. Governments tend to do that. That is why those who have suffered under similar policies tend to be vocal about it if they can, and wherever they can. As someone who is born of parents from two different countries and cultures, born in a third country and culture, and living in a fourth country and culture, I tend to see any defense of any government with a jaundiced eye. Until Turkey is willing to open its archives (currently closed, I believe) to researchers, we will not know how much the military who overthrew the Ottomans but ran the army under the Ottomans may have been the instigators of this ethnic cleansing for nationalistic purposes--or were they just following orders? The population transfers of the early 1920s seemed to be a desire for a pure Turkish nation and Orhan Pamuk, in his book on Istanbul, seems to indicate--if I read the book correctly-- that for 20 years after W.W.II there was a regrettable de-cosmopolitinanization of the city.

Legislators and politicians in general tend to do what they think will please their constituency. China feels that the U.S. is interfering in its internal affairs when the Dalai Lama is greeted by the U.S. president, and I think that China is interfering in American politics to the same degree. Who's right according to whom?
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Old Mar 12th, 2010, 02:24 PM
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Dear michael,

Empires conduct atrocities. Countries conduct atrocities. Goernments and armies conduct atrocities and people alone and in groups conduct atrocities. some of those atrocities are supposedly conducted for the "National Good". Some are based on total misperception and misinformation. Some because a ruler or an executor was crazy.

Some information that reaches the poor mortals like us is also very biased, or wrong or specially constructed for a purpose, or limited, or full of gaps, and so on and so forth.
For example, as far as i know, the Turkish and the Ottoman archives have been open for the last ten years or more. But it is also possible that i have been fed wrong info by the media in Turkey.

The Ottoman empire or its army had no reason or desire to please its constituency, but it had to appease some groups.
It is very probable that the army officers (almost all from Macedonia, Serbia, Greece, Bosnia, etc.) decided that since the empire was being lost, they may be able to save a piece through the ideas and ideals of nationalism which were successful for the Greeks and the Bulgarians, and other Balkan countries who managed to break away from the empire.
How they thought that religious cleansing in Asia Minor would help is not clear to me, because their foremost idea was to keep a strong toe hold on the more developed Balkan areas. The only educated population in Anatolia were the religious minorities. They were also the craftsmen and the traders and the industrialists. The moslems were serfs and poor peasants, usually with no land because there was no private property ownership axcept in areas where the empire had no power and the feudal lords owned the land.

You also have to realize that what the officers of 1908 tried to do was not 'ethnic cleansing' as such. It was directed to Christians (but not Jews), of Armenian, Greek, Arabic and even turkish origin. Even after the modern Turkish Republic was established in the truely terrible exchange of population between the Balkan states/Greece and Turkey, a large number of Greek Orthodox Turks had to go to Greece where they were not welcomed at all. (Some of the Black Sea Pontus Greeks managed to convince the authorities that they were actually moslem, took Turkish names and stayed) Is it possible that the reason the Christians were exiled or killed or exchanged because there were the major Christian countries continuusly agitating in the empire and also using religion and large numbers of missionaries to foment rebellions? Could it be that, since the Jews in the empire had no international backers, they were not seen as athreat and welcomed with open arms at all times by the ottomans, and later by Turkey?

In hindsite, if you have no compassion or empathy, or any desire to provide human and citizenship rights, what was done with the exchange of populations was a wise move from a "real politik" perspective. If those populations had not moved, i doubt that Turkey would have been able to stay out of the Second World War. The result would probably have been very chaotic in this part of the world.

Coming to Orhan Pamuk, if Gina and Lilly think i know little about history and political science, my dear school mate Orhan knows less. I knew his father quite well and used to play bridge against him in tournaments when i was in college and he was CEO of a large company and about to marry again and have a daughter at the time when i had mine.

The istanbul Orhan lived and wrote about reflected his misery in childhood and youth. My Istanbul was airy and bright with very little rain. Nisantasi whhere he lived and found depressing was one of the best places for me because of its pastry shops and all the kids from the many schools in the area and well-dressed, upscale people, and the first straight fron buses ran from taksim to Nisantas and if lucky i could sit at the single front seat and watch the driver.

The de-cosmopolitization of istanbul was mainly and economic and political process. The Armenian mostly stayed themselves but many managed to send the luckier and brighter kids to USA, Canada and Australia. Unfortunately most of the Greeks were urged to sell their property or leave it and go to Greece. Ans many Jews also left, some because of political reasons and the strengthening of Islamic feelings in the governments after 1950, and some because they figured that joining their friends and kin in the promised land was a good thing.

But, the real downturn for the city was as a result of an ever increasing influx of the rural work force, to set up squatter settlements all over the outskirts of the city, aided by the Land Mafia which pacelled and sold treasry land to the new comers, who would build immediately and then request the municipality to provide electricity and water, which was usually not denied because of the voting potential.

I really think that "everybody is his own worst enemy", whether it is political figures, or fundamentalists, or bloody revengists, or Orhan Pamuk who could not get over being ignored by his father.

If The USA did not interfere in turkish or Chinese or Columbian or even Icelandic politics, they would be fools. The same is true for all major players at any time in history and possibly for a long time in the future. It is the ones who try and cannot handle it and make a fool of themselves, those who play on the lame horse, or the bloodthirsty lunatic with a baby face who cause so much problem for themselves and others.

people, even very educated people, even people with high IQs do not always optimize. Many think that most decisions are fifty-fifty propositions, and are very wrong. (check the story of Marlyn Vos, i think) or read the book,"Why Flip a Coin" or play the board game, "Executive Decision" You can understand how the huge and well trained intelligence services of US could support the Taliban, and conduct the Bay of Pigs landing, and now support moderate islam in Turkey.
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Old Mar 12th, 2010, 02:31 PM
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"and after almost 100 years prefer to call themselves Armenian rather than American" - people of every nationality in the US do not call themselves only American, it's something-American, like "Turkish-American" or "Armenian-American"

Would you call youself American only, forgetting or denying your ethnic background? I doubt it!
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Old Mar 12th, 2010, 02:40 PM
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Well personally, i have no idea what my ethnic background is. I think people who really care, and obviously you are one, should have genetic testing, and also pay a hefty fee for a company which specializes in researching ancestory. just to make sure.
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Old Mar 12th, 2010, 04:10 PM
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otherchelebi,

I agree that this is not a history forum. It is not political either. People asked you simple questions regarding travel to Turkey and you took the opportunity to go on and on with your personal thoughts on Armenians, painting them in pretty unpleasant colors, I would say.

Your comments regarding April 24th and all the rest were all very political and had very little to do with travel to Turkey. But you decided to pour it out.

You don't want me to interfere—don't start it yourself.

If Armenians are proud of their heritage, they have all the right in the world to be, as the rest of us (Irish, Italian, Turkish, Jewsih, African etc.). At the same time, we are all American and very proud of it. One does not exclude the other. For example, I know that Stephen Mugar, well known for his philanthropy (for America) in the Boston area (Mugar Omni Theater, Libraries and so on), Andre Agassi, known for his philanthropy in his community in Las Vegas, are Armenian Americans. You don't have to forget about your ethnic background in order to be a good American.

Secondly, the reason I had to respond to you is that you seemed to be very sure of your "facts" when they were against Armenians. Otherwise, you preferred to say that Armenians claimed or declared so.

"Armenia also forcefully banished close to two million Azerbaijanis from the area, while killing some, with the help of the Russians who still keep armed forces in Armenia, not very long ago."

Armenia never invaded Azerbaijan. Let me make it clear for you that the piece of territory that you are talking about was the Armenian Autonomous Republic of Karabagh (Artsach), annexed to Azerbaijan by Stalin (the devil's representative on Earth), precisely, with the purpose of keeping the two nations in permanent tension. The population of Artsach exercised their constitutional right and voted to be independent, since they were fed up with all the discrimination under the ruling of Soviet Azerbaijan. That made Azerbaijan very unhappy, which STARTED the persecutions and killings of people, because they were Armenian. It all started in the Azeri city of Sumgait where Armenians were hunted and killed (burning some of them live). This is very well documented.

Gary Kasparov, the world chess champion, was kicked out of Baku because he was Armenian. He barely made it out of the country and was telling about it in an interview, if you can find it.

The Armenian community in Azerbaijan was several times larger than the Azeri community in Armenia but none of them was 2 million. So please either tell me where you got that number or don't talk about it if you are not sure. Yes, Armenians followed the Azeris' example by kicking them out of Armenia, which I have always condemnded.

I understand Azeris. It is hard to let it go, when you have gotten used to the idea that it belongs to you. But people everywhere have a right to freedom. I think we had no problem with Kosovo becoming independent. Did we?
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Old Mar 12th, 2010, 09:56 PM
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Sorry again Gina_07. There is a very big difference between us which cannot be resolved by your accusations:

you are proud of your ethnic background. I am proud of being human. You think they do not preclude each other. I do.

if a person is a philanthropist, i do not think it has anything to do with his ethnicity but with his good upbringing and compassion and empathy.

And, please do not twist my words, i never said anything about Armenians or Turks. What i said was about people who conduct blood feuds and governments and rulers, whichever ethnic group they think they belong to, including the Turkish and Ottoman governments.

And finally, in this hodge podge of a land where over 20 different civilizations have lived in a history of 10,000 years, and where hundreds of small and large migrations took place, i doubt that any peoples of pure ethnic background could have survived.

So, if you think you need to depend on your ethnicity to be proud of yourself, you will do it. If you can be proud of yourself for your humanity and your life and thoughts and your compassion and intellect, and your humor and and the enjoyment you bring to the life of others, you do not need a crutch or a chip on your shoulder. (Have you read Erich Frohm's "Escape from Freedom" ?)
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Old Mar 18th, 2010, 07:16 AM
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I think that I understand the point of this thread. Everyone committs atrocities, given the chance. So when you do, just wait a few years, and show who enlightened you are by saying that you are a proud of being a human being, and then you can act morally superior.

Ok, works for me! Kumbaya, bro.
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Old Mar 18th, 2010, 07:43 AM
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Hi guys. I totally don't want to touch upon the historic and/or political ramifications and consequences of past atrocities here. I have no dog in this fight.

But we'll be going to Turkey in about a week or so, and I just want to confirm that things are OK for U.S. travelers there right now. The OP and first responses are nearly a month old, so I just wanted to make sure it's still cool. Yes?

Thanks.
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Old Mar 18th, 2010, 08:06 AM
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Still cool. Two nights ago we invited to dinner an interesting American Solo Female traveler who had been touring Turkey on the cheapest busses and visiting almost everywhere i said was interesting on Trip Advisor despite the time of the year. she also has a blog and i will post her blog address. I guess it is not something i should not do??

We also drove her around and walked together on istiklal under some light rain, thus changing her mind to staying in taksim/Beyoglu area the next time she comes to istanbul.

she spoke no turkish at all, seemed to have a terrible sense of direction, , went further Southeast in turkey than i would advise anyone, seemed to have done the whole 6 weeks in a daze but apparently loved it. She made many friends, people offered her food and tea and free rides and so on.

Money is tight, jobs are scarce, consumers are in hiding, noone except the fervent "ists" are concerned with international politics or history.

If you walk around the bazaars and markets of the old city and the side streets of beyoglu, you will be invited in by touts, sometimes face a bit of a hassle but not enough to upset you. In fact, last Saturday i ended up buying three t-shirts and a reversible golf jacket all fake brand for the offered price of 50TL as we were walking near the Spice bazaar, despite my wife's admonishments regarding my being too soft-hearted. Those two vendors were so happy, that i felt good the whole weekend.

Here's her the solo travelers blog:

http://the-housesitter.com/blog/
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