Rutte tafelt vanavond met Turkse collega Erdogan

Vandaag is premier Rutte op bezoek in Turkije. De voorbereiding op hun gesprek van premier Erdogan heeft waarschijnlijk nooit plaatsgevonden zoals hieronder beschreven.   (Beent heen en weer.) ‘Er lijdt niemand honger in de Turkse gevangenissen.’ ‘Dat heeft u mooi gezegd, baas.’ ‘En iedereen die beweert dat er bijna 700 lieden in hongerstaking zijn, is…

Open Letter from Young Academicians to Prime Minister Erdogan

The letter below speaks for itself. It was signed by over 3.000 people. Dear Mr. Prime Minister, We, as the youth and academics of this country, of Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Zoroastrian, Alawite, Shafi’i, religious and nonreligious, atheist and agnostic backgrounds, all joined with a firm belief in secularism, find your recent remarks about raising a…

Hrant Dink, in memoriam

After five years finally some people have been convicted for the murder on Hrant Dink. Yet, liberal newspaper columns are filled with outrage at the verdict, which rules out that any organisation –let alone with links to the state- has planned the murder. Like yesterday I remember being in a different court, trying to fend…

Voor Hrant Dink, in memoriam

Na vijf jaar zijn er eindelijk een aantal lieden veroordeeld voor de moord op Hrant Dink. Toch zijn veel mensen diep teleurgesteld omdat de vermeende organisatie die de moord gepland en banden met de overheid zou hebben, buiten schot blijft. Nog als de dag van gisteren staat op mijn netvlies hoe ik, in een andere…

Great Start of the New Year!

First this email: Then, an envelope of Harper Collins on my doorstep, in it THE book. I can assure you that it’s a fascinating collection of life changing stories. You can check it out on its facebook page. Listening to editor Larry Smith on NPR will make your mouth water. So if you want to…

Welcome Harry!

Many years ago I lived in a lovely, small apartment overlooking the Bosporus. One day when I came home from a reporting trip to Turkey’s troubled Kurdish regions, I noticed a round hole in the wooden floor, the size of a tangerine, right in front of the kitchen door. Puzzled, but tired I dropped my…

The Sultan’s Gardner

In ancient times the hyacinth was a straggly, insignificant flower, which pales in comparison to the hyacinth of today. Yet, in 1579 Sultan Murat I ordered half a million of its bulbs to be uprooted from the mountains between Maraş and Aleppo. A caravan of charts, pulled by donkeys, I imagine, brought them all the…

Between a rock and a hard place

In front of my butcher’s shop the other day, I bumped into an old Armenian friend. I hadn’t seen him for several years. “Don’t you want to buy my apartment?” was the first thing he asked me. I laughed. “As long as I know you, you have been asking me that question, but you never…

Dirty Dog

My cleaning lady recoiled in horror when our new little puppy greeted her with endearing enthousiasm. In my Dutch society a dog becomes part of the family, but her Muslim religion tells her that dogs are dirty animals. The dog’s mouth is considered to be particularly unclean, so she also refused to touch its bowls….

Saving the Cedars

Down here in Olympos on the Mediterranean shore of Turkey the plateau of Elmali is always described as a cool heaven in summer. Going by the stories I’d heard I had a mental picture of forests full of tall, ancient trees, their canopies forming a dense roof which the sweltering sun could not penetrate. So…

The paradox of protection

A big part of the Lycian coast –of which Olympos was a major city some 2000 years ago- is a well-protected area. The Turkish military regime of 1980-83 made the first (and only) development plan for tourism and determined that this region should be preserved. Apart from the many archeological sites, the whole mountain range…

Hello world!

Dragons Surrounded by forests and fields, our summer house stands in one of the last stretches of Turkey’s Mediterranean coast that has not been conquered and laid waste by mass tourism. Still mainly inhabited by farmers who harvest a little from back-pack tourists on the side, Olympos often attracts slightly eccentric people. Perhaps I’m one…