08 nov Postcard from Istanbul
Istanbul has 25 million people to feed, house, transport and keep happy. Imagine being the mayor of this great city on the Bosphorus. You are more powerful than, say, the prime ministers of The Netherlands, Norway and Belgium combined! 25 million people will, all together flush their toilets over 100 million times a day, will use around 20 million loaves of bread, 5 million liters of olive oil, 1 million kilo of onions, half a million kilo of red pepper etc. every day. No wonder the streets are permanently constipated. It will take you at least an hour to get anywhere in town, unless you use the brilliant tramway system. I visited a few mosques but the Modern Art Museum was the big surprise. There are great artists in Turkey, but only a few have a reputation outside the country. What is it with Turkey that so many still underestimate its potential its wealth and its cleverness? Part of the answer is that we focus on the strange way the Turks digest their history (Armenian & Kurdish question among others). Or that we focus on the 60 million or so uneducated farmers instead of the 20 million or so entrepreneurs, scientists, innovators and artists. Reasons to postpone the membership of Turkey of the EU. After three days in Istanbul I changed my mind about this challenge: initially I wanted Turley to become a EU-member in order to be the bridge between East and West, and in order to keep it away from an alliance with its natural partner Iran. Now I believe that this would be a mistake. Turkey should not assimilate with Europe but stay the ‘double faced’ nation it is. The European oriented Muslim nation, with its great history and culture, its rituals and tempo, its food and way of life. A great country to do business with, but not the solution for the huge problems the EU is already facing today. Turkey, don’t bother any longer. It will all turn out much better if you keep the relation on the money making side of life. Forget more bureaucracy, more adaptation and more irritation. Spend your energy on dealing and wheeling, your passion. Just stay who you are – but with a little more realism in your approach to history.