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068 A Syrian refugee family (that went to The Netherlands)

When I arrived in Turkey almost four years ago, the Arab Spring was over and new conflicts had emerged, especially in Syria. The tragedy of Syria is chilling, figures sadly speak for themselves: almost 9 mln internally displaced people, over 13 mln people in need, 4,8 mln refugees of which 2,7 mln that went to […]

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067 Istanbul–Ambassadeurs-conferentie 2017–Istanbul

Deze zaterdag vertrek ik naar Nederland: jaarlijkse ambassadeursconferentie en werkbezoeken. Ik kijk er zoals altijd naar uit, juist met de veelheid aan media, de videoconferenties en de overvolle inbakken is het essentieel om de klokken gelijk te zetten en waar nodig de temperatuur van de Nederlandse politiek en samenleving aan den lijve te voelen. We […]

066 What will the economy bring Turkey in 2017 (and 2018)?

“A predicted economic crisis always comes later than expected, but when it finally arrives it will happen much faster than anticipated” Introduction Predicting the direction of the Turkish economy in the coming few years is not an easy task. Turkey is a multi-layered country on the crossroads of three continents, finding itself not only in […]

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065 Resilience index 2016: Turkey ranking #1

Turkey is unlike stock exchanges. Results of the past are no guarantee for the future, as any broker will always warn you. This seems not to apply to Turkey, a country that has been through many difficult periods, situated in a region with endless conflicts. Standing in the shoes of Turkey one has to acknowledge […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]