064 MATRA-program: social transformation in Turkey

MATRA: for the average citizen a completely unknown abbreviation, but for insiders the MATRA-program is one of the most successful and effective instruments of Dutch foreign policy. We in Ankara and Istanbul very much like our MATRA-program with its small scale interventions, that often have a substantial policy impact. MATRA-projects never stand on their own; they are […]


063 Sinterklaas: liefdadigheid (anoniem)

De zomervakantie van 2016 brachten mijn vrouw Kim en ik door aan de zuidkust van Turkije. Voor een week verbleven we in Patara, een plaats die op de kandidaatslijst van UNESCO werelderfgoed staat. 2500 jaar geleden was het een grote havenstad; het was een centrum van de Luwische beschaving en de plaats van de eerste […]


063 Sint Nicolaas/Sinterklaas: “charity anonymous”

2016 summer holidays: off to the magnificent south coast of Turkey. My wife Kim and I stayed a week in Patara, a candidate UNESCO world heritage site, a major port city 2,500 years ago, a center of the Luwian civilisation and home to the first representational assembly in the world. Today, what remains of Patara […]


062 Iftar diplomacy summer 2016

The always vibrant city of Istanbul calms around sunset during Ramadan. A golden glow covers the city, pleasantly few cars on the road, the ferries are out of sight, and the Bosporus has become unruffled. Traditional Sufi or Turkish music plays, and the city is waiting for the firing of the Ramadan cannon. And then […]

Blog World Heritage

061 World Heritage

It is thanks to Turkey and Asian tourists that I started to better appreciate the UNESCO World Heritage Sites’ concept. Asian tourists often let these sites inspire them for holiday itineraries, an example that I now fully embrace myself. World Heritage Sites gloriously reflect world history and universal beauty, described in UN language as being […]


060 Terror and emotions

Post-July 15 coup. Apart from lively ‘marches for democracy’ ending very late every night over the past two and a half weeks, Istanbul remains subdued. Superficially one has the impression that regular life returns after each terror incident. Below the surface however there is anger, embarrassment, concern and great weariness, especially after the failed military coup […]


059 Erosion of emotions

17th February: the staff of the Consulate was preparing a farewell dinner for the CFO of Unilever Turkey. As usual they smiled, but their minds were clearly somewhere else. An hour earlier a bomb had exploded, in Ankara. 28 deaths and many injured. In my broken Turkish we talked about terror attacks, children and their […]

Karagoz and Hacivat

058 Humor (and politics)

Jokes, humor and satire: essential in order to cope with life. How would Soviet citizens for example have survived their darkest years without great satire? Humor relieves tension, jokes can contain harsh messages, but in a more pleasant wrapping and therefore more acceptable (as many managers know). Turkey has a long tradition of cartoons and […]


057 Contributing to a just world/elimination of extreme poverty

Sustainable Development Goals, the post 2015 development agenda, involvement of companies, John Ruggie, UN and where Turkey and The Netherlands team up.   Why does a person have a job, why do we want/need to earn money? Paying one’s mortgage, taking care of one’s loved ones and/or self-development, all worthwhile reasons. One could also use […]


056 Kapalıçarşı/The Grand Bazaar of Istanbul

Almost 100 mln visitors per year and a rent of 3,500 usd per month per m2: this truly is Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, in Turkey known as Kapalıçarşı, the oldest shopping centre in the world and world’s most visited tourist destination. Its construction was ordered by Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror in 1455, two years after his conquest […]