Friday, October 10, 2008

USA elections predictions

Gallup Poll shows that Obama is leading. shows that Obama gain more electoral votes: plus 4.
Is McCain 'palling' with the wrong people?
Read Rolling Stone! Jenny White put it straight down there in her post: who is John McCain.
But be aware of the Thom Bradley effect.

Turkish image - Part 1

Turkey’s Image – Part 1

Below an article - here above the link - which was run in both Turkish Weekly and Turkish Daily. Still up-to-date!

Saturday , 13 January 2007

Branding of a country has become an important issue in the world of today. Whether we like it or not the globalization trend enforces countries to compete with each other.
Self supporting economies, which Turkey was until the beginning of the 1980’s, are an anachronism today. For those who still believe in that, look at Zimbabwe or North Korea and what it became.

Branding a country is not only for the attention, respect and trust of
investors, or for the hard valuation of the tourists, it must tell the story about a country which respects and gains developments throughout its social, political and economical decisions.

The image of a country is also made by the products which they sell abroad.
Do we care about what these consumers think? Are they essential for our image? Yes. And are Turkish Vestel, Beko or Arcelik brand names in West Europe? No.
In Poland? Maybe.

And finally, what are we expecting from the media and governments of other countries: our neighbors and those friends and allies on the other side of the oceans. Sure, Turkey has allies, hostile partners and they see some countries as scrupulous traitors, but it doesn’t matter how Turkey sees them, it matters how they see Turkey.
All their opinions go in one basket: in this case the basket of Turkey’s Image.
How to handle this is called ‘perception management’.

Let me take you to the Famous Six; The Criteria: “How the others perceive Turkey”.

The Criteria.

These criteria are not random but general indicators for every one of us to understand when we talk about what ‘brands’ a country:
1) Export products; 2) Tourism; 3) Governance/liability; 4) Investment climate; 5) Culture and Heritage, and last but not least: 6) the People.
Let’s start.

Export Products:

During the infamous “Cartoon crisis”, some groups in Muslim nations decided to boycott Danish products. When the Armenian genocide bill passed the French lower house, a boycott of French product was announced unofficially in Turkey. Did the first boycott hurt Denmark? Of course. Does it hurt Danish image in the world in general, no. The countries which boycotted Danish products already had a biased negative attitude towards the Danes. And the boycott of French products didn’t hurt France at all. It is still one of the leaders in the world regarding the finesses of life: food, life style fashion, language, literature, culture etc. Although you don’t find these aspects in the French ban lieu’s anymore. France’s image got a bump but it’s still the number one destination in the world where tourists are going. Turkey cannot change that.

But what about Turkey, which aims to boost it exports up to 100 billion USD in 2007. How many people abroad know that they buy Turkish products? I know that companies such as Vestel and Beko produce more than 80% of the Televisions sold in Europe, not under their own brand names. I know that Turkey is making the most beautiful yachts (especially wooden and retro yachts) and are often displayed in brochures as Made in the Netherlands or Sweden.
We know that Turkey has plenty of skilled ICT labor. But is Turkey considered as a nearby out-source country? No.
We know that Sabanci holding, Koc Holding, Zorlu holding etc. are powerful conglomerates which do a lot of investments, R and D, have their own universities and produce a lot through Joint Ventures or on their own. But does anyone know outside Turkey all these names and facts? No.

Is it not time for Turkish companies to grow up and to look at their own strength, instead of looking what is Made in the World of Peter Stuyvesant and Martini, the USA.
Produce and brand your own products abroad under the name Made in Turkey. Yes, everybody knows Turkish coffee and their Belly dancers, but ‘Made in Turkey’ is still rare and seldom used.


Turkey’s tourism industry was booming the last years but dropped in 2006. According to the Turkish ministry for Tourism the main reasons are the Cartoon crisis (strange, I thought this only hurt Denmark), the bird flu (which is everywhere) and the World Championship Football in Germany. All external factors.
But is it not a fact that Turkey lacks a way to promote itself? You can enjoy for years the beautiful and original commercials on international channels such as BBC world and CNN, the most watched international channels.
Unfortunately, no “Turkey” there. Yes, Egypt, a much poorer country campaigns with commercials worth watching. Emerging and developing countries such as: India, Romania, Croatia, Poland, Montenegro, China, Thailand, Malaysia, South Africa, all with timed, original and imaged spots. And don’t forget Greece’s hot commercials. And Cyprus’s commercial: an Island For all Seasons – if there is no Northern ‘Turkish’ Part.

Of course, tourist boards must spend money on ‘selling’ the country around the
world. But not only through brochures with beautiful sea sides, sexy beaches and nice nightclubs.

Turkey’s image as a holiday country is unfortunately still one of a cheap holiday country.
And to show Turkey as a modern Western country which Mrs. Boyner of TUSIAD tries to sell in Europe, will hurt Turkey’s real image: its unfolded mysterious image, a mosaic of colors, smells and atmospheres. Which must stay as it is!
And TUSIAS previous attempt to create a modern image though an ad, several years ago, didn’t help either. It was more a campaign for Prada, BMW, Mercedes: foreign brand names!


Is Turkey acting responsibly in the international scene, was the first question which came up in my mind. Beside the hot issues like the alleged Armenian genocide, Cyprus and the ongoing hostility with some of Turkey’s neighbors, Turkey must withhold its Turkish-egotistic stance and rhetoric to become a serious and rational sparring partner.

Is Turkey reliable for peace and security in the region? For sure most of the Turks will say that they protected Europe from communism. They are right, but the international arena changed dramatically. And the current situation in the Middle East is in fact a perfect chance for Turkey to show its negotiating skills since its has good relations with all countries. But somewhat, its image as a former conqueror doesn’t help.

And do Turks trust their own government? Sad to say, in general: no. Too many conspiracy theories are doing well in the national media. Turks still tend to rely on their military. And that’s exactly what gives Turkey the image of a non-democratic state. A country must be governed by its institutions, not be a mighty military presence. Take a look at Israel and you understand what I mean. A country which is continually at war, surrounded by rocky regimes. But the country is ruled by elected politicians, not by the army.

Regarding the EU: is Turkey ready to adjust to trends set out by the EU? Otherwise leave the negotiating table. You can not change the EU which is still in progress. You as a candidate member can only listen to what has to be done and act accordingly. No need for nationalistic rhetoric. It’s only harming Turkey’s image. Some “Turkey fatigue” is already rising within he EU on all levels.

And last but not least, in my opinion, the several coupes d’etat in Turkey harmed Turkey’s image more than the movie Midnight Express, which dehumanized the Turkish population at large. It’s time for Turkey to go out from its own strength. Its half-time and a golden goal is not yet scored.

Next week more fun stuff and Turkey’s ranking as a bonus.

End of Part 1

Hans A.H.C. de Wit – International Communication Manager

Turkish culture and arts in the Netherlands

The second installment of a Turkish Festival began in the Netherlands on Wednesday with a concert by pop singer Sertab Erener.

The festival, “Turkey Now,” (site in TR and NL) was organized to promote Turkey's contemporary art and cultural values in the Netherlands.

Erener was accompanied by the famous Dutch Metropol Orchestra with 60 members. Among the audience were Dutch Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin, state minister responsible for immigration, Nebahat Albayrak, officials from the Rotterdam Municipality and many Turkish and Dutch guests.

More herrree

Study shows (Muslim) extremists should be included in society

Muslims who are actively involved in the democratic process in the Netherlands are unlikely to become radical Islamists, according to a report by the Amsterdam University that was commissioned by the Dutch counter-terrorism centre NCTb. The report is handed to Dutch parliament Wednesday.

The researchers investigated three generations of activists in the Netherlands. The first group were the Moluccans from the former Dutch colony of Indonesia who wanted to force the Dutch government to acknowledge their islands as an independent state in the 1970s. The second were the squatters of the 1980s and the third group were extreme right-wing activists in the 80s and 90s.
Comparisons with these groups and interviews with former activists and Muslims who were once radical Islamists, form the foundation of the researchers’ conclusions.

Researcher Marieke Slootman says Muslims should become involved in the wider Dutch society. "They can still have orthodox beliefs, but they won't use violence to force these on others if they see the Netherlands as their country," according to Slootman.
"Some of their ideas might clash with our democratic life-style, but listening to them takes the wind out of the sails of those who say the government is the enemy of every Muslim," she says.
Slootman says it is important to avoid evoking 'us versus them' emotions and politicians must play a role in this. Un-nuanced comments by politicians make Muslims feel more isolated in the community, the researchers say.

On an individual level, the best way to make sure Muslims do not become extremists is to give potential high risk individuals the opportunity to talk to an imam or former extremist. These people are the most likely to convince them that radicalism is not the answer, according to the study. This approach has been tested in Saudi Arabia and Indonesia.

USA national debt

This is the national debt clock at Times Square in New York.
Average debt for each American family 86.017,- USD.
We are not talking here about the enormous trade and budget deficits of the USA.

Day Opening - October 10