Saturday, October 11, 2008

The linguist and public intellectual Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky is along with Isabel Allende, one of the few people I follow closely. His sharp mind is amazing, like Isabel her books - all - are worth reading, in my opinion. Love for languages, love humanity and mankind are superior, not religion!

His unconventional way of thinking left him with many enemies.

Wall street 10.10.08

Advice or Wish...

Cover girl or cover up Girl: Sarah Palin

While Sarah Palin supposed to be the Cover Girl of the McCain campaign she suddenly find herself on the frontpages for different reason; an Alaska state investigator's report concluded Friday that she abushed her power.
In the meanwhile she going ahead stirring up the public.
Scary! Covering things?

Netherlands takes 'fair approach' to Turkey's EU wishes

Dutch Foreign minister Maxime Verhagen said in Ankara on Friday that he does not want to alter the conditions under which Turkey can join the European Union. At talks with his Turkish counterpart Ali Babacan in the Turkish capital, Verhagen said the Netherlands was adopting a "fair approach" towards Turkish membership.

Verhagen, a Christian Democrat, distanced himself from the Dutch right-wing liberal party VVD and Labour party PvdA. Both parties recently published their draft manifestos for the European elections next June. And both manifestos said that Turkish nationals should be exempt from the basic European right to freedom of movement if the country joins the EU. The parties fear a flood of foreign workers will come to the Netherlands if the borders are opened.

"It is either yes or no,” Verhagen said. "I am not going to fiddle with the criteria. If Turkey meets them, you shouldn't have to make exceptions." The minister did say he could envisage a transitional period.

Verhagen said it was more important that Turkey meets EU criteria on human rights, the reform of the legal system and on freedom of religion. Turkey also has to change its policy on Cyprus to be allowed to join the 27-member organisation.
Turkey first applied for membership of the-then European Economic Community in 1987. Formal talks on its membership of the European Union began in October 2005.

Driving through Balkans

Ten countries, nine languages, eight currencies, two time zones and 5,600 kilometers by car from the Netherlands to Turkey and back. Too long, too weird and too insane, we decided, so I flew, comfortably with KLM and it took only three hours. After spending seven months in Istanbul this crazy idea was still in our minds and this time we decided to push through with it.

There is morrreee

Turkey’s Image – part 2a, an intermezzo

Its silent, still, after 1 1/2 year. Nobody is convicted for the murder of Hrank Dink!
Still the court case; a shame, a shame.
Below my article written just days after his death.

Turkey’s Image – part 2a, an intermezzo

or Turkish Reputation is at Stake not its honor.

The killing of Hrank Dink shows the fragility of Turkey's image. Certain internal and international nationalistic groups “hijacked” his death while other opportunists misused “his friendship” for their own purposes. The Turkish newspapers were full of condemnation, and the foreign press saw an opportunity to show the difficult lives of independent Turkish journalists and writers, exploring how some even have bodyguards and use police protection…

The common man on the street in Istanbul, Izmir, Ankara and Mersin might curse me for saying that Dink's death has to do with the ugly face of state propaganda, bad education and systematic massive misinformation. So, the tragic death of this fine journalist deserves more than just to offer an opportunity for a fleeting discussion. The doves that were released during his funeral instead of sacrificing another living being can be symbolic: peace for him and relieve the Turkish soul in mourning. And no more sensational news please, just let him rest in peace.

Enough with fatalism:

But ... can you blame the nationalist? Isn't it human nature to take a reactive stance towards anything that sounds, smells and looks different than what we are accustomed to? Yes, but by rejecting “foreign influences” you not only close the borders of your country but you close your heart and soul as well. What can be more tragic than the black burned soul of a youngster…

Turkey, which has been using the propaganda tool for a long time now in place of professional public relations and lobbying, has to finally stand up for its own citizens. It has to stand up not only in dull ceremonies but in everyday life, to protect the ordinary peaceful citizens all over Turkey. Mankind must know by now that nationalists are always using symbols and tragic events to get their points across and chasing rainbows over their country as if the sun only rises and sets in their own nation. What they practice is like voodoo and creates people whose eyes are wide shut and whose perception is triggered by blindness and hate.

Unfortunately, the Turkish rhetoric of fatalism is popular these days. The word inshallah was often used by Turkish people on the street, after Dink's killing, ashamed to give a fair answer. But is inshallah the message to the outside world that Turkey wants to convey? This is a murdered person who didn't believe in fatalism but who showed a pro-active attitude in faith and reconciliation.

Get over the conspiracy theories:

Could fatalism be the reason that the Turkish scene of filmmakers, artists, philosophers, writers, musicians are famous in Turkey but marginalized abroad due to their inferiority complex and bad reputation management? Could this be what keeps the Turkish image fragile? An image that will be fragile as long as Turks consider themselves as victims of imaginary conspiracy theories and until their leaders start to act responsibly towards their European counterparts.

Until it is shown that we have more in common than coffee, that the Siege of Vienna happened more than 20 generations ago and that blood shed then, turned into blood shared now, we can't fight intolerance. Some Europeans tend to have selective memories regarding their friends (Europe and Turkey together is called the Occident) as Turks tend to forget that they are Eurasians and member of the G20.

Again, Turkey's reputation is at stake, not its pride, blood and honor…

The international perception of Turkey is still unfavorable. The Turkish media at large is collectively responsible for this. So are the former governments of the Turkish Republic who failed to anticipate the economical boom of Turkey, which suddenly brought Turkey into the spotlight of the international media. The current government therefore became experienced in damage control!

Turkey' foreign policy should be more effective and have a solid communication strategy by now. It's still losing all kinds of PR wars since it merely neglected their reputation abroad. It must do more these days than pre-active verbal strikes. But, well, inshallah….

*Hans A.H.C. de Wit is an international communication manager based in Istanbul. (

Day Opening - October 11