Minister Tüzmen: A Passion for Trade
Kürşad Tüzmen, the minister of state responsible for the Undersecretariat of Foreign Trade, will be no stranger to many of our readers. The minister’s passions are swimming, scuba diving and, above all free trade. In his patriotic efforts to sweep away barriers to the circulation of goods, he spent 486 hours on international flights last year – “more”, he points out, “than the pilots”. When Bernard Kennedy caught up with Tüzmen in Ankara last month, he had just returned from Bulgaria and was about to leave for Istanbul, Bursa and the OECD in Paris. “I don’t have the opportunity to see the growth of my children,” he admitted with characteristic frankness, “But as long as the economy shows this growth rate and exports boom, I think they can forgive me as a father.” The minister answered questions both about his own career and about a wide range of current trade issues…
Q How did you get involved in the foreign trade business to begin with?
A I was in the private sector between 1981 and 1984, and I felt that something was wrong. We were always having to import, there were no supporting industries, and the export figure was very low. And then they came along and said, “We need some talented guys. You know all about customs and that kind of thing. We’ll give you a job with the government on a contract basis.” So although the money wasn’t very good that’s how I started working with people like Yalçın Alaybeyoğlu [former Director-General of Free Zones] and Adnan Kahveci [a former Motherland Party – ANAP – theorist, deputy and government minister]. In 1984 along with five other people I became the founder of the Turkish free zones.
Q You were closely associated with the free zones for a long time…
A Yes, after that I became an expert of the Free Zones General Directorate within the State Planning Organisation. I got a British Council scholarship to visit free zones and study at East Anglia. I also went to the United States. I did a master’s degree. I visited the Shannon Free Zone in Ireland. After being a head of department and deputy director general, I worked as director-general of free zones from 1994 to 1997. During that time the exports of the free zones boomed. We became a member of the World Economic Processing Zones Association (WEPZA). I am now in my second term as WEPZA president after 44 countries unanimously voted me in again.
Q The free zones recently lost some of their tax advantages…
A The IMF wanted the changes. I said that they were doing the wrong thing. On the one hand the IMF would like to have more investments and more foreign capital but on the other we had to change the free zones law, and remove the tax benefits we had offered. I agreed there were problems but I said the free zones were not responsible – it was the inefficient way of doing things in the Finance Ministry and so on. I think it was the wrong decision. I argued about this a lot, but in the end the Prime Minister said we had to do it. The other ministers complained about me a lot on that occasion. I created clusters in the free zones. To have a real competitive advantage you have to have these input and output relationships. The government put only $10m into Antalya and $12m into Mersin. This was the total investment. And we got a volume of trade of $22bn. The free zones are still contributing a lot to the Turkish economy.
Q How did you come to enter politics?
A Next I became deputy undersecretary of free trade and finally undersecretary. During this time I was chosen “bureaucrat of the year” three times in the media. But in spite of this I was kicked out in 2002. At that time I got a lot of offers for CEO positions in the private sector. But I felt it wouldn’t give me enough satisfaction. I had learned from an early age that money wasn’t important, and I believed that this country deserved to fly higher. I wanted to see this happen, because I am a Turk – it’s in my DNA. Five months later I came back to the job as an elected member of parliament and government minister.
Q In these days of free trade, how much can a minister or a government do to increase the growth of exports?
A If you are in a developing country then there is a lot that you can do. Between 1999 and 2002, while I was undersecretary, I tried to implement a certain strategy. But as a bureaucrat you can’t turn your ideas into state policies. It was only when I became minister that I had the opportunity to make my strategy official. We call it the “neighbouring and surrounding countries strategy”. In 2002, the volume of trade was about $87bn; last year it was $164bn. Exports have risen from US$36bn to US$63bn in the same period. While exports to neighbouring and surrounding countries amounted to only $2bn in 1999, last year they reached $18.5bn. If you use your whole potential – bilateral talks and visits, joint economic committees, fairs, agreements and so on – then there is a lot you can achieve.
Q How long can the trade figures go on rising at this pace?
A This year I think we can increase exports from $71bn to $75bn. It’s not easy with the appreciation of the Turkish lira but I will do my best. I think we can reach $80-85bn in 2006, $90bn in 2007 and $100bn in 2008. Back in 2002 I said that we would reach $100bn worth of exports in 2010, but if we continue at this speed it looks as if we can get there sooner. Of course, it depends on a lot of domestic and international factors. There are a lot of changes going on especially in our region. But I will do my best to achieve it. Our imports are also quite high so I expect we can reach a volume of trade of US$230-240bn in 2008. For 2023, the 100th year of our Republic, I am targeting a volume of trade of $500bn.
Q How does the EU fit in to this?
A The EU is a love affair. I used to admire this lady when I was a child. She was young and beautiful. My family was poor but I was hard-working and handsome. When I was six we were a potential member of the EU, and now I am 47 years old we are still potential members of the EU. Of course she is not so charming now. But at least we have an engagement date. And I am still optimistic that we will have a wedding date. In trade the EU is our number one partner, accounting for more than half of our foreign trade. Of course this will continue. The expansion of the EU to 25 countries gives us more opportunities to sell our goods and presents us with more exporters to buy from.
Q There are a number of trade issues currently affecting relations with the EU. Under the customs union, for example, the EU wants to export meat and used cars to Turkey, and there is a dispute concerning pharmaceuticals. Are we likely to see any progress on these issues soon?
A The relevant ministers are working hard on these issues. I can’t give you definite dates but we are working towards solutions. We have some problems concerning both exports and imports. In exports there is a lot of certification. There are no certification offices in Turkey yet and our exporters have to pay a lot to obtain their CE labels and so on. We also face problems exporting various foodstuffs. I must add that these are small issues; only 2-3% of our total trade is affected.
Q Arranging free trade agreements has also been a large part of your work…
A Without EU derogations, we can’t sign a free trade agreement with any country. However, the EU can freely make free trade agreements without giving us any notice. This creates a lot of unfair competition. For example, the EU has reached a free trade accord with Mexico. As a result, Mexican shoes can freely enter our market but when we want to sell our products to Mexico, high tariffs are imposed on us. I said to Pascal Lamy, “Come on; we have to find a way.” This is why we are making all these free trade agreements. I have devoted a lot of energy to this. I would like to change the whole Mediterranean into a free trade area as I said when the Euromed ministers met in Istanbul in 2004.
Q What are the prospects for further free trade agreements?
A We completed four free trade agreements last year, with Morocco, Palestine, Syria and Tunisia. We already had an agreement with Israel, as well as many European countries. I think if Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri had lived we would have been signing with Lebanon around this time. He was a good friend of mine. I have been in this business ever since I became deputy undersecretary of foreign trade. So our counterparts have known me for seven or eight years. They trust me. They know that I would like to increase trade in both directions. I know all the heads of state of the neighbouring and surrounding countries personally. The important thing was to clinch a free trade agreement with at least one Arab country, and then the others would follow, since they understand our sincere approach to them. One of the countries we are still talking to is Egypt. In May we expect to complete negotiations on all the issues and I think we will have the free trade agreement in June.
Q Are you worried about the large trade deficit and in particular the tougher world market for textiles and clothing this year following the abolition of quotas?
A Turkey has always imported more than it exported. The ratio of the trade deficit to the total volume of trade is about 20% at the moment. This is a reasonable level. Meanwhile, a huge transformation is taking place in Turkish exports. For example we can now export $11bn in the automotive sector, $9bn in iron and steel, and $6bn in electronics and electrical equipment. One out of every two TV sets in Europe is made by us. As a result the share of textiles and clothing in our exports is coming down from 35% previously towards 25%. This diversification is good for the country. Garment exports will go on increasing substantially but their share in the total will be lower than before. Tunisia and Morocco are complaining that their textiles exports to the EU are running 40% lower than this time last year. But our textiles exports are up by 11%.
Q Turkey has particularly large trade deficits with certain countries including Russia and China. What can be done about this?
A I think we can do something about this that over time. In 1999 our deficit with the United Kingdom was $1.5-2bn. But now we have a surplus of $500m, because we have acquired some competitive advantages and increased our exports. I think this can be repeated with Russia, France and so on. But for Far East countries which are constantly reducing their exchange rates it’s very difficult. Our NGOs are taking up these issues and I try my best within the bounds of customs union and WTO regulations. There is no easy answer.
Q What is the latest situation concerning importers’ unions? Are they intended as a kind of barrier to imports?
A We are going to convert the importers’ unions to foreign trade unions. This may take a little time because it requires a change in the law. At first some people thought that the importers’ unions would create a barrier to trade but that’s not our aim. I have always had a very liberal attitude. I believe you should abolish all barriers. We have just a 3.4% barrier to third countries. The reason for creating these unions is that I want to have the right figures as soon as possible for imports, just like we have for exports. We will have more information and better organisation. It will help us to know what is happening and to set up more institutions, for example in fashion. There may be more high level study centres.
Q Is there any other message you would like to give to our readers?
A This is the right time to invest in Turkey. I think we have enough political stability and our macroeconomic indicators are very good. I am proud and honoured to be able to say that we are a country with a volume of trade of more than $160bn. Definitely we are on the road to success, and there are still some empty seats in our wagon. So join us and be a part of our success.
Our foreign service
by Prof. Dr. Türkkaya ATAÖV
In the opinion of many, the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, founded some eight-and-a-half decades ago, has been professionally responsible for the guardianship of the nation’s interests abroad, instantly reactive to the vicissitudes in international affairs, and dedicatedly firm in the face of hardships. Many high-principled obligations and commensurate authorities have been thrust on its shoulders at several moments of crisis. Oftentimes, these were not moments at all, but years passed under diplomatic stress or during which blood was being shed near to or far away from our borders. There have been occasions when the Ministry’s policies influenced international relations well beyond our national frontiers. Its timely warnings of approaching storms and its leadership in initiatives designed to prevent them are now among the proud annals of history. For instance, Turkey’s courageous pursuits in the former League of Nations and in some European capitals, principally of the Balkan states, are chronicles of much-needed rationality and peace.
Spirit of Lausanne
This skilled journey of dedication started at the beginning of our unforgettable War of National Liberation in the early 1920s. It climbed to its first peak of success with the legendary Lausanne Convention, where the nation’s brilliant foreign minister, İsmet İnönü, shook the traditionalist European diplomats and statesmen with his resolute spirit and devotion to the rights of all states medium-sized or small – and not only the great powers. At first, some former Ottoman officials, then hovering around the leading European cities, ventured to offer their expertise to the Turkish Delegation in Lausanne but, upon observing İnönü’s straightforward and able stance, they admitted that the “old guard” now had nothing to contribute to this new unequivocal approach. Like the other Europeans, they also witnessed that although Britain’s Lord Curzon deployed all his eloquent English against Turkey’s İsmet Paşa, the latter was totally unmoved.
Under the able direction of the great Atatürk himself and his new foreign minister Dr. Tevfik Rüştü Aras, Turkey became the leading spirit in regional organisations, such as the Balkan Entente of 1934, which Ankara’s diplomacy sought to create bulwarks against rising fascism in Europe and its expansionist policies. The Balkan Conference, which met in Istanbul in 1931, was addressed by President Atatürk and Prime Minister İnönü, but Foreign Minister Aras and his able staff also laboured in all meetings to conciliate conflicting opinions. Likewise, Turkey went out of its way to discourage aggression in Ethiopia and minimise its devastating consequences. The Balkan Pact was a regional arrangement like the Little Entente and the Baltic Pact, all of which aroused resentment in Bulgaria and Hungary, then revisionist states. Had these two European countries joined hands with Turkish diplomacy in time, the unprecedented horrors of the Second World War and their own sad experiences in it could have been avoided.
The gathering storm of those days added urgency to the need to militarise the Turkish Straits, a wound left over from Lausanne. In view of Germany’s unilateral remilitarization of the Rhineland and other similar acts, Turkey could have also pursued the fait accompli option, which would have met with understanding under the circumstances of the day. But Turkish diplomacy preferred to secure an agreement through an international conference, and certainly scored a moral success by becoming the first state to utilise legal means for the revision of a post-war treaty. Turkey had advocated collective security and consistently practised peaceful change for the settlement of disputes. It was a member of the League of Nations, and did not wish to undermine its system. The Lausanne signatories met in Montreux and altered the Straits regime to the satisfaction of the Turks.
Hot and cold wars
During the Second World War, Turkish diplomacy consistently preferred the Allies to the Axis. Beginning with Turkey’s treaty with Britain and France in 1939, and throughout the entire war period, there was no question where Turkey’s sympathies lay. The question had always been how far the country’s diplomacy could express its sympathies without involving the country in disaster. The Turkish government of the time and its foreign service did not commit a single miscalculation that might have embroiled Turkey in the world conflict and turned it into a battlefield. Aside from Turkey’s interests, such a chain reaction would have benefited nobody. Turkish diplomacy rendered great services to the Allies even during their darkest days. Adequate evidence is to be found in the published memoirs of Ankara’s leading foreign ambassadors of the war years – Sir Hughe Knatchbull-Hugessen, Franz von Papen and René Massigli.
Having eventually declared war on the Axis, Turkey became one of the original founders of the United Nations and served on its leading organs, including the Security Council. Turkey’s role during the turbulent Cold War decades and its stature in the decade following the dissolution of the Eastern Bloc and the Soviet Union are episodes that are still hot off the fire, and must cool before a reliable evaluation can be made. The issues under discussion include the exact description of the Turkish identity. Although this current topic deserves a separate and exclusive treatment, one may safely state that the Turks are Asian by virtue of their origin and the bulk of their territory, but also Middle Eastern, Eastern Mediterranean and predominantly Muslim. At the same time, they are also a Black Sea and a Balkan power on the basis of their long coast and territory. Last but not least, they unmistakably belong to Europe as well given their considerable territory on that continent, their long heritage of amalgamation into Europe’s history and diplomacy, their social and political institutions derived from common principles and legal framework, and finally through their millions of citizens living and working for generations in various European countries.
Names to remember
Leaving some of these challenging topics for discussion in future articles, it seems appropriate to recall that foreign associates agree on the high quality of our diplomats. The names of Ambassadors Numan Menemencioğlu, Cevat Açıkalın and Hasan Esat Işık glittered like stars in the diplomatic life of a former era. In a sense, these were not exceptions. Academic preparedness, seriousness of purpose and hard work have been the trademark of our diplomatic personnel.
For more than four decades, I personally taught, along with other colleagues, various aspects of international relations at the Faculty of Political Science of Ankara University, the faculty which traditionally trained our future diplomatic representatives. For more than three decades, almost all of these representatives were our former students. Starting as third secretaries, they gradually moved up the ranks, in many cases putting in brilliant service as chiefs of mission.
There are many outstanding examples. Filiz Dinçmen, the first lady ambassador, for example, distinguished herself as a diplomat who always made the right decisions on her own. İnal Batu, our one-time representative at the U.N. and now a significant figure in domestic politics, was also an excellent public relations man whose frequent and lengthy commentaries appeared in the pages of The New York Times and other widely-read foreign ’papers. I remember with nostalgia his support of my two press conferences in the U.N. building.
Some personal recollections
I had the pleasure of working closely with many of these diplomats in various places. When I stopped in New Delhi, my favourite city, on the way back from a Kurt Waldheim mission in Sri Lanka, our Ambassador in the Indian capital A. H. Alp detained me there for eleven days for a series of talks. This is how he surprised me with the news: “Your first talk is at the J. Nehru University tomorrow morning; you may cross over to my library immediately to write the text.” When I was attending the European Security and Cooperation sessions in Moscow, our Ambassador in Bern, Onur Öymen, sent me a message asking me to come to Germany to attend an international conference in which PKK militants were apparently the moving spirit. I made my speech and left, and only found out later that the militants had brought (this time, not bullets but) rotten tomatoes to launch at me. When a Paris court twice called me, in 1884 and 1985, to make statements in the trials of the Armenian terrorists, it was our Embassy in the French capital that provided the bullet-proof cars…
These are only a very small fraction of the memories which I have amassed in conjunction with the work of our illustrious foreign service – some casual sprinklings; the tip of the iceberg. A complete account would make a whole book of memoirs. Nevertheless, I must recognise here my long association with two outstanding patriots, Ambassadors Erhan Tunçel and Erhan Yiğitbaşıoğlu. They were modest and unpretentious, but self-sacrificing, creative and hard-working.
Let us hope that the Ministry continues to live up to its proud traditions, and that its members go on achieving the standards set by their luminary predecessors.
Selva Marsili: Diplomacy in style
By Sibel DORSAN
Architecture and décor, history, social and environmental problems and the similarities between Turkish and Italian society – these were just some of the topics mentioned during a visit to Ankara’s historic Italian Embassy as guest of the current “first lady” Turkish citizen Selva Marsili.
Ankara’s diplomatic buildings are as varied as their occupants in age, size, appearance and – no doubt – efficiency. Surrounded by grounds, a dozen or so stand out distinctly from the texture of the city, bearing stylish witness to its early days as capital. None are more elegant than Ataturk Boulevard No.118 – seat of the Ambassador of Italy.
Designed by Paolo Caccia, a well-known architect of the period, the Embassy fully reflects the Italian style of the 1920s and 1930s. The ornate ceiling of the Reception Hall, with its gold leaf reliefs illustrating each sign of the Zodiac twice, confers on it a grandeur which requires no further adornment. The remaining surfaces and objects are appropriately simple and tasteful.
Some of the furniture was brought to Ankara from Istanbul’s oldest diplomatic representation, the “Venetian Palace” at Tophane. Each of these pieces is a genuine antique. Other items came from the Ambassador’s erstwhile summer residence the Bosphorus-side Villa Tarabya. Finally, the 1930s atmosphere is reinforced by Murano chandeliers and sconces and a few other period additions. The Venetian style consoles and mirrors are particularly prominent.
The expansive Ball Room too is straight out of Italy, with its mezzanine orchestra gallery and the light streaming in from the adjacent courtyard. The eyes are drawn towards the splendid Venetian mirror, delicately decorated entirely in glass. The ambience is augmented with paintings, pendulums and other accessories, and complemented by Turkish and Persian carpets.
Enter the Marsilis
It is in these impressive surroundings that I engage in conversation with Selva Marsili, the Turkish wife of Ambassador Carlo Marsili. Mrs Marsili informs me that Italy was the second country after the Soviet Union to recognise the Turkish Republic, and one of the first to move its embassy to the new capital. The Embassy staff initially settled in a rented 4-5-room residence in Kızılay. The current building, completed in 1938, occupies a site that was presented as a gift by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
Ambassador Marsili first became acquainted both with the building and with Selva after he was posted to Ankara in 1979. Delighted to be in Ankara again after all these years, the ambassador’s wife admits that the posting was not entirely a surprise. Before being appointed to Ankara, her husband was Director General of the Personnel Department at the Italian Foreign Ministry, and had the opportunity to reserve Ankara for himself. Did a desire to please his partner play a role? She smiles and answers: “Perhaps. But he wanted to work here too.”
The changes Turkey has witnessed since Mrs Marsili last lived here have not all been for the better. She is upset by the deterioration of the environment and the disappearance of the historical fabric. She suspects that behaviour is less refined, that the individual has lost out to a mediocre mass culture, and that the tendency to view women as objects has increased. She calls for family planning and above all education. A cultured and educated woman can make the greatest contribution to a high-level society, she adds, by educating her children, her family and those around her.
But Turkish membership of the European Union is on the agenda, and Italy is strongly supporting Turkey’s case. Selva Marsili believes Turkish membership will give the country a brand new look.
Similar or different?
Asked to comment on the similarities between Italian society and Turkish, Selva Marsili highlights the importance of family ties and the family as an institution. Yet she sees a lot of differences in terms of “individual rights”. For her, Italian society is the most individualist society in Europe. Men and women alike defend their own personal rights first, then those of the family and finally those of the wider group.
Children are spoilt in both countries, Mrs Marsili says, and the behaviour of young people is affected. In both countries, young people who graduate from university cannot find jobs, and they remain, like children, under the protective umbrella of their parents. This prevents them from developing their own personalities and thinking and deciding for themselves. And yet educated young people should be able to take responsibility for the futures of their countries.
The resemblance between Turkish cuisine and the cuisine of Italy, particularly southern Italy, with its dependence on pastry and vegetables, does not go unmentioned. I wonder if being Turkish is an advantage for an ambassador’s wife: “Sometimes it makes relations easier and strengthens friendships,” says Selva Marsili. “The fact that I am Turkish and speak Turkish is also useful for my husband in some cases.”
Nguyen Sy Xung
The publication of this edition of Diplomat coincides almost exactly with the anniversary of the birth of Vietnam’s legendary leader Ho Chi Minh. Although diplomatic relations between Turkey and Vietnam are by no means new, Ambassador Nguyen Sy Xung, who arrived in Ankara in March, is his country’s first ambassador to this country. We asked him to reflect on the history and development of Vietnam, its place in international relations and the prospects for its relations with Turkey.
Turkey and Vietnam formally established relations in 1978 but the exchange of diplomats has been much more recent. A Turkish Embassy was established in Hanoi in 1997 and a Vietnamese commercial office in Istanbul in October 1999. The following year brought the opening of a Vietnamese consulate general in Istanbul. The consulate general was upgraded to the status of an embassy and moved to Ankara in 2003. The commercial office remains in Istanbul.
I have come to Turkey in an important year for Vietnam. On May 19, we will celebrate the 115th anniversary of the birth of our national leader Ho Chi Minh. On April 30, we marked the 30th anniversary of the liberation of South Vietnam and the reunification of Vietnam. On September 2 this year we will also celebrate the 60th anniversary of independence won by Ho Chi Minh in 1945.
Ho Chi Minh was a great leader who had to fight first against colonialism and then against imperialism. He was also a poet and writer who wrote a prison diary in the form of poems. In remembering him now, we are focusing not just on his life but on the message which he left us when he passed away in 1969.
In his testament, Ho Chi Minh wrote: “My ultimate wish is that our entire Party and people, closely joining their efforts, will build a peaceful, reunified, independent, democratic and prosperous Vietnam, and make a worthy contribution to the world revolution.” Today, we are happy to be witnessing some of what he desired. The whole of the country has been liberated. Perhaps Vietnam is still not a prosperous country, but there has been a degree of prosperity. When we were at war we had to import rice and other food items; now we are one of the world’s 3-4 largest producers of rice and we export the commodity. We are also exporting coffee, pepper, tea, crude oil, textiles, garments, footwear, seafood and most recently furniture and electronics.
Vietnam embarked on the Doi moi reforms in 1986. Market institutions are operating. For the past decade-and-a-half, Vietnam has enjoyed an average GDP growth rate of over 7%. The share of industry in GDP has risen to over 40% and the share of services to 38%. Exports were US$26bn in 2004. There are 5,000 foreign direct investment (FDI) projects. FDI was over US$4.1bn in 2004 alone. Foreign invested enterprises contribute nearly 15% of GDP, more than 30% of export value and 4.9% of state budget revenues while generating tens of thousands of jobs. As you travel from North to South or from the mountains to the delta, you see construction sites everywhere.
Great attention is paid to social issues. More than one third of total investment capital is spent on poverty reduction, human resource development, education, training, science, technology, health and culture. 1.5 million jobs were generated annually from 1995 to 2003, and by international standards about 25m people escaped poverty between 1993 and 2002. Vietnam has been recognised by the United Nations as one of the world’s most successful countries in poverty reduction.
Citizens’ rights are guaranteed by the Constitution. Religious institutions, for example, are increasing. The legal system has been improved to enhance the rule of law. The right of the people to mastery is recognised in the principle “people know, people discuss, people do, people monitor and people benefit.”
In line with our consistent policy of peace, friendship, cooperation and development, Vietnam has now established diplomatic relations with 168 countries and trade relations with 165. These countries include all the major powers. Vietnam’s position in its region and in the world has been strengthened. We have been active members of regional organisations like ASEAN and from a wider perspective APEC. In October 2004, Hanoi hosted the fifth summit of ASEM, which brings together the ASEAN members and other East Asian countries with the European Union member countries. The APEC summit will be held in Vietnam in 2006. All this shows that Vietnam’s position ahs been acknowledged in the region and in the world.
We have been active members of the non-aligned group and the UN organisations. We have applied to be a non-permanent member of the Security Council, for the first time ever, for the period 2008-9. In this we have received great support from many friendly countries and we are hopeful of the outcome.
We are now in the final stage of our accession negotiations with the WTO. Hopefully this will take place by the end of this year, but the procedures have to be followed and the various multilateral and bilateral negotiations have to be concluded. We realise that there we face some challenges – there are a lot of standards and rules. But we regard this as an opportunity, and opportunities are not there permanently if you don’t make the effort to take them. In the modern world of interdependence no country can develop with a policy of shutting itself off from the outside.
Vietnam and Turkey
The growth of our relations with Turkey can be seen as a part of this process of developing stronger relations with the outside world. I have already noticed that there are many similarities between the two countries. The two countries have populations of comparable size. We have both been through wars of liberalisation led by national heroes Atatürk and Ho Chı Minh. Both countries have seen rapid economic growth in the past few years. The people of both countries are open-minded and friendly. Both countries have their own very specific tea cultures as well.
Like Turkey, Vietnam has a long coastline with plenty of beaches. Turkey has a very strong tourism sector and I think this is something we can learn from. We also have a lot of potential in this area.
My priority is naturally to consolidate and strengthen the already good political relations between Vietnam and Turkey. I also look forward to intensified ties in the areas of economy, business, education and tourism. I really hope that during my assignment relations will be brought to the highest level with concrete improvements in all fields. All being well, I will also still be here to celebrate the 30th anniversary of our diplomatic relations in 2008.
Ho Chi Minh at 115
Ho Chi Minh was born in central Vietnam in 1890. His given name was Nguyen Sinh Cung. His father was a teacher and civil servant dismissed from office for refusing to serve at court. His mother died when he was 11. Ho Chi Minh studied in Vinh and Hue, taught in a fishing village and worked as a kitchen hand on passenger liners and in hotels in Paris, London and the Eastern USA. An avid reader, he became a founder of the French communist party. At the age of 33, he travelled to Russia, where he joined the Southeast Asia bureau of Comintern. He went on to carry out clandestine political activities in China, Europe and Thailand. In 1931 he founded the Vietnamese Communist Party in Hong Kong. He was sentenced to death by the French in 1930, detained by the British in 1931-33 and jailed in China in 1941-2, where he wrote his Prison Diary, the most famous of his various political and literary works. In common with Mao Tse Tung he always emphasise the revolutionary role of the peasantry. Upon the departure of the Japanese in 1945, Ho Chi Minh’s Viet Minh independence movement took over Hanoi and he read a Declaration of Independence proclaiming the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. There followed a guerilla struggle against the original French colonial power, culminating in the defeat of the French at Dien Bin Phu in 1954 and the division of Vietnam into socialist North and US-backed South. The North was the scene of a major redistribution of land, a radical move during which the West alleged
that tens of thousands died and were imprisoned. All-out war set in between North Vietnam and the Saigon government and its US allies. While the US bombed Hanoi, arms and men trickled south via the thousands of kilometres of roads and paths that formed the so-called Ho Chi Minh trail. Ho Chi Minh’s health deteriorated and the war was conducted by a collective leadership. “Uncle Ho” nevertheless remained a powerful symbol for his countryfolk and for many in the anti-war movement in the West. Known for his personal modesty and asceticism, he died in 1969, six years before Vietnam was reunited at the expense of three million lives.
Venice: tranquil and tragic
Story by Zeynep Tanıtkan. Photos by Recep Peker Tanıtkan
The grand dame of Italy, the princess of the Adriatic, the finest drawing room in Europe, an Eastern jewel, a city of glimpses… Venice has many names and many faces – and masks – to match. With such a long history, there is much to remember and much to forget.
No traffic jams; no noise, no exhaust fumes – only the rule-abiding gondolas bobbing and floating on more than 150 canals. Everybody has heard of Venice: la Serenissima, the city of tranquillity, built on 118 islets linked to one another by 400 bridges. The gondoliers, humming arias in their original sailor tops and ribboned straw hats, need no introduction. It is a fairy story that has been told over and over again – and which will lose none of its magic for one more telling.
Grand and Grander
Once upon a time – between the 9th and 13th centuries – Venice became a wealthy merchant empire and a treasure house of architecture and art. It was not until the 16th century that it started to succumb to major powers, and even then it remained a centre of artistic and musical achievement. The main street is 30-70 metres wide – and 3-5 metres deep. It is called the Grand Canal. On either side, the waters lap the walls of decorous houses beneath flower-decked windows. From time to time the houses make way for the gates of subsidiary waterways, or demur to impressive palaces like the Palazzo Corner, Palazzo Pesaro and Ca d’Oro. A serpentine four-kilometre vaporetto (water bus) trip finally brings you to San Marco Square, a riot of the Gothic and the Byzantine, site of the Doges’ Palace, St Mark’s Basilica and the Sansoviane Library.
The Palazzo Ducale, some-time residence and headquarters of the doges or elected chief magistrates, is known for its façade of white Istrian and pink Verona marbles, and for its innumerable sculptures and paintings including Tintoretto’s huge Paradiso in the hall of the Grand Assembly. The Basilica – constructed between 1063 and 1073 to preserve the supposed bones of the apostle Mark, “rescued” from Alexandria – has nearly 4,000 square metres of golden mosaics.
The bronze horses on display are only replicas of the ones which the Crusaders who sacked Constantinople in 1204 brought back to Venice among their plunder. The originals, briefly transported to Paris by Napoleon in 1797, are now kept in a nearby museum to prevent decay. Outside is the contrastingly plain yet dominant tenth century bell tower, 99 metres in height, rebuilt after its collapse in 1902. On the nearby clock tower, two male statues continue to hammer at the large bronze bell as they have done for 500 years. Columns to left and right of the square uphold sculptures of Theodora, the Byzantine queen, and of the bronze Venetian lion, the city’s emblem.
All this is just the beginning of the Venetian legend. Headed by the Accademia, there are some 450 museums and other buildings of historical, architectural or artistic interest. The canals are complemented by a maze of medieval streets full of surprises and – thankfully – signposts.
Revelling to forget
But why are the gondolas black? Tradition has it that they were once bright and colourful, but were painted black during the Plague, when they were used to carry off the bodies of the dead. The end of the plague in 1576 is commemorated on the third Sunday of July every year with a religious festival. Festivals dot the calendar. At Carnival time, citizens of all stations are free to celebrate, and revellers still wear masks which hide their identities, relieve them of their status and enable them to enjoy themselves away from the pressures of daily life.
The masks are indispensable souvenirs. Leather shoes and handbags and Murano glasswork – named after the holiday resort of the aristocrats – are equally ubiquitous. The charming Rialto Bridge – the oldest conduit over the Grand Canal, and one of the two most famous bridges of the city – is at the same time a lively shopping centre. The fare here includes puppets, fruit and vegetables, sweets, pastries and much more.
No European wishes to die, they say, without seeing Venice. As you listen to the jazz and classical music in the cafes around the Piazza San Marco on a summer evening, it is not difficult to understand why. Yet the darker side of life is never far away. Hundreds of years ago, the Ducale was a place of torture and the adjoining piazza the scene of public executions. In the 17th century, the Ducale, where suspects were tried, was connected to a new prison by a covered bridge of Baroque style. This is Venice’s other most famous bridge. From here, prisoners would obtain a last glimpse of the beauty of Venice, causing them to sigh regretfully as they crossed.
That, at least, is the world-famous explanation for the name given to the Ponte dei Sospiri – the Bridge of Sighs. A sense of tragedy lingers on. Venice’s buildings are suffering from damp and sinking into the underlying Lagoon. Here are the two masks of the drama side by side: a thriving, splendid setting rich in history and life – or a relic of a bygone age, lonely and unhappy?
Nevbahar’s forms of life
by Sibel DORSAN
Her life and works reflect the times and cultures in which she has lived. She has crossed paths with the most famous names of Turkish painting. And yet she has trusted in her powers of observation and persisted along her own chosen route: an urban artist, a virtuoso of geometrical form. As a child prodigy she became known by her first name only, and that is the way it has remained. This is the biography of Nevbahar.
The gouache and dry pastel paintings exhibited at Galatasaray High School in August 1960 could easily have been mistaken for the works of a talented and experienced painter. In fact they had all been produced during the previous few months by a primary schoolgirl known only as Nevbahar.
Nevbahar’s teacher Beşir Alp had not failed to notice the talents of the seven-year old Nevbahar in 1959. After taking a close interest for some time, he decided that more expertise was needed, and contacted his friend Ergun Peker, a graduate of the painting department of Ankara’s Gazi Education Institute. Nevbahar had worked with gouache until then- her very first painting was a still-life in gouache – but under Ergun Peker, she began to use pastels as well. She enjoyed the dry pastel medium which enabled her to work quickly on natural themes.
While most small children paint from imagination, Nevbahar’s paintings were mostly based on observation. The location of the figures, the balance of colour and even her use of perspectives were excellent. Teacher Peker recommended to the family that they should apply for one of the scholarships for talented children which were available at the time.
The development of Nevbahar’s paintings was followed closely for a year and in the summer of 1960 her works were shown to the famous Turkish painters Bedri Rahmi Eyüboğlu and Cemal Tollu. It was this that led to the Galatasary exhibition.
In 1960, Nevbahar won a painting competition organized by the popular children’s magazine Doğan Kardeş .In 1961 and 1962 she won again. Meanwhile, she received a silver star in the Daily Worker children’s painting competition in London and a silver cup from the Shankar competition in New Delhi, where she ranked first among 100,000 children from 78 countries.
In 1962, Nevbahar painted in front of the scholarship commission and showed them her previous paintings. The commission consisted of Zeki Faik İzer, Cemal Tollu, Bedri Rahmi Eyüpoğlu and the Assistant Director of the Academy Hüseyin Gezer. It was decided that she should receive special training. Initially, Zeki Faik İzer took responsibility. Nevbahar abandoned gouache and began to use oil paints, but in her landscapes she continued to use dry pastel.
When İzer left for Paris in 1965, Nevbahar came under the wing of Cevat Dereli. According to Nevbahar, Dereli sought to imbue his own approach, imposed limitations on her use of colour. The influence of Dereli and of the noted French painters Braque and Dufy can be identified in her paintings of this era. Early traces of what would become her unique personal form of expression are visible not only in the geometrical structure – which can also be observed in her childhood paintings – and the architectural elements – which were now becoming more evident – but also in her whole way of working, with its strong emphasis on composition.
Paris and Istanbul
Upon graduating from high school in 1969, Nevbahar went to Paris, where she followed the advice of Zeki Faik İzer and entered the Fine Arts department of the Chaplain Midy workshop. She received her diploma two years later. She then went on to receive a year’s training at the Prof. Rohner wall painting workshop” of the Paris State Decorative Arts College, reflecting her inclination towards geometrical superficiality and order, and her consequent interest in the relations between painting and architecture.
Who could be a student in Paris and fail to take notice of the rhythms of urban life? She would sit at cafes and watch the events going on around her, observing the city and drawing it. Perhaps the main contribution of her training in Paris was that it taught her which sides of life to portray, at what level and with what degree of essentiality. During this time, she also had the opportunity to visit museums in London, Munich, Rome and Florence. She then moved back to Istanbul and dedicated herself entirely to painting.
No longer a scholarship student, Nevbahar was free to paint without academic pressure, to participate in joint exhibitions and to hold exhibitions of her own. Her investigations of geometrical order continued, amply nourished by Istanbul’s mosques and other architectural structures, depicted in simple colours and purified forms. In time, the city’s side- streets and squares also made their way onto her canvases.
As of 1975, a more humanist approach emerges, and Nevbahar’s streets fill up with activity – the pigeons and birdseed sellers of Eminönü in particular. She goes on to turn her attention to Turkey’s bazaars and Istanbul’s street markets, observing their everyday routines and their relations with the environment in a setting. The varying geometrical forms of the awnings and the contrasts between the personalities of townsfolk and villagers do not escape her eye.
Nevbahar had graduated in decorative art from the Applied Fine Arts in 1975, having started from class three. In 1978 she returned to Paris to research the relations between painting and photography. She was to present a master thesis on this issue at the Sorbonne in 1981. She admits to a resemblance between her paintings and the works of the new realists, who are characterised by their use of photography in exploring urban life and culture. But while she sometimes uses photographs, she says, it is mostly as an aid for drawing and memory. Her aesthetics and philosophy are different: she has never adopted a style based on photography.
In 1987, Nevbahar’s 410-page PhD thesis “Research on streets as a plastic-theme” was approved with high marks by a jury made up of Jean Rudel, Pierre Bague, Laueri and Abidin Dino.
What interests the urban artist is moments – not any given moment in particular but certainly not the whole history of the street. Rather, the artist’s images constitute sections from daily life. People are not important by themselves, Nevbahar explains, but they are important in relation to their environments.
These paintings cannot be attributed to any school. They are the fruit of the synthesis of many contrasts – West and East, new and old, traditional and universal. Above all, they are produced through the three processes of viewing, photographing and portrayal. Geometrical abstraction and composition are important, but so too is colour. Nevbahar is particularly accomplished at creating warm atmospheres with cold colours such as blue and purple. In an unusual approach to perspective, she also creates depth through the use of colour. Her smooth acrylics and oils, bearing no trace of the brush, are so distinctive that even if she were to forget her signature, we would still recognise the artist at once.
Pleasing Europe and Japan
Nevbahar has held 39 personal exhibitions and 14 joint exhibitions. The cities where she has exhibited include Paris, Luxembourg, Geneva, Rotterdam, Metz and London as well as seven different cities in Japan. In Japan, an exhibition of her works and those of her sister Neveser Aksoy – another talented child who was educated with a similar special scholarship, toured for three months – went on tour for three months. Paintings by Nevbahar are included in many private paintings both inside and outside Turkey. In addition to the prizes which Nevbahar received while she was a child, she received a mention of honour from the Salon des Artistes Français exhibition in Paris in 1972 and a diploma of honour from the Tenth Cote d’Azur Exhibition in Cannes in 1973.
Kaunos: The stones of Dalyan
by Recep Peker Tanıtkan
Visitors to the Mediterranean paradise of Dalyan also have the opportunity to visit an ancient city state with a continuous history of 2,000 years or more. In ancient times, Kaunos was a major trading centre. Besides, its famous rock tombs, it boasts many classical remains, an early church and a panoramic view. More secrets are waiting to be discovered.
Dalyan is not desperately in need of additional attractions. While other holiday destinations may be larger or have grown faster, more and more people are visiting Turkey’s Mediterranean coast for holidays each year. More importantly, the town enjoys a unique riverside location at the centre of the delta zone east of the resort and yachting hub of Marmaris. This is a world of lagoons, reedbeds and sandbars, crowned by an untouched beach synonymous with giant sea turtles. At the same time, it forms part of the Muğla recreation zone, where seaside holidays are increasingly combining with a growing range of sports and other activities.
Nevertheless, if any further reason were needed for visiting Dalyan, its archaeological remains would suffice. The Lykian-style rock tombs on the far bank of the stream – the most impressive among many in the region – have captivated visitors for many years. For millennia, they have weathered the cruelty of time, carrying into the 21st century the secrets of the past. Sculpted out of huge perpendicular rocks, they are the fruit of enormous labour and astounding delicate workmanship. If they were to begin to speak to you in booming voices of all they have seen and heard, it would not surprise you in the slightest.
The tombs are signs of the wealth and strength of the ancient city of Kaunos (or Caunos), of which they formed the necropolis. The more elaborate are carved in a manner reminiscent of an Ionian temple, and contain three stone rows for the dead to be placed in. The columns enriching the fronts of the cenotaphs have been damaged in the course of time, and false walls have failed to deter treasure-hunters. But the lion reliefs continue to stare fiercely at one another.
Today the ruins of Kaunos itself, on the peninsula which rises beyond the graves, are attracting more attention. Excavations are currently being carried out under the guidance of Professor Cengiz Işık. The ancient city is thought to have been founded in the tenth century B.C.. Relics of the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods have been identified.
In its early days, the city was an important port for ships sailing to and from the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean: “Kaunos is on the coast and the [River] Calbis flows next to it,” wrote geographer Strabon, almost exactly 2,000 years ago. Later the formation of the delta was to separate Kaunos from the coast. Indeed, the original port to the south was probably already becoming unusable in the late Hellenistic period.
The internal port to the northwest apparently remained in operation much longer. Once very deep and guaraded by a chain, it is now a marshy area known as Sülüklü Lake.
Who were the people of Kaunos? Were they neither Lycians nor Carians but a separate culture, perhaps originating in Crete? There is a confusing legend according to which the Calbis – today’s Dalyan stream or canal – was formed by the tears of Byblis, who was attracted to her twin brother Caunos. Embarrassed by these improper affections, Caunos went off to found Kaunos. After searching for him without success, Byblis threw herself off a high rock, but was turned into a spring by sympathetic nymphs. The twins were the children of King Miletus, founder of another ancient city, Milet, near Didim, and reputedly the son of Apollo and a Cretan princess.
Whatever its origins, the city is known to have enjoyed considerable autonomy in the Persian era, to have passed in and out of the political orbit of Rhodes in the wake of the conquests of Alexander the Great, and then to have enjoyed further prosperity as a Roman and Eastern Roman city linked to the Lycian church.
The acropolis – the inner citadel where the most important religious and civic buildings once clustered – is situated as one would expect on the highest and best protected part of the peninsula. This 152-metre peak offers a spectacular view of the entire ancient city, the town of Dalyan, the course of the canal between town and coast, the famous İztuzu Beach and the surrounding farms, orchards and forests. To the southeast, there is a sheer drop towards the stream. The inner and outer ramparts were built in the fifth century B.C., but substantially repaired in a much later era. They continue down to the west and southwest, where there is also a small fortress.
Into the western slope of the peninsula below the Acropolis, facing Southwest, nestles a typical Hellenistic-Roman theatre. The spectator section is 75 metres in diameter and is divided by eight staircases into nine seating areas, each of 33 rows. The whole section is also divided horizontally by a corridor. The stage building was once two storeys high, although never as high as the spectator section. The theatre remains in reasonably good condition.
Worship and trade
In the time of Herodotes, the pioneering Greek historian of the fifth century B.C., the people of Kaunos believed in their own gods rather than the alien gods. At least two Hellenistic and four Roman temples were subsequently built, and have been unearthed, and a tablet has been discovered mentioning the names of Apollo, Poseidon, Artemis and Aphrodite. In perhaps the fifth century A.D., the so-called Domed Church was built in a central location between the theatre and the rather well-preserved Roman baths. One of the oldest and best-preserved churches of its kind in Anatolia, it has a square plan (14×14.5 metres) and three naves, of which the central one is covered with a dome. Each nave has a separate entrance door. Small chapels were later added on either side.
Other remains range from an agora with stoa, a palaestra for sports practice, at least one store house and some Byzantine housing. At the site of the internal port, the remains of a breakwater are discernible, and there is a monumental fountain whcih bears an inscription mentioning the first century Roman emperor Vespasian and containing information about customs regulations.
Bolu: Secrets of the hills
by Recep Peker Tanıtkan
Adjacent to Ankara on the road to Istanbul, the province of Bolu is one of the capital’s nearest getaway destinations. Our travel correspondent took his notebook and camera to some of the less well-known sights of a province with lakes, hills and a ski centre which have earned it a reputation as “the Switzerland of Turkey”
A fleeting glance of snowbound peaks below the plane to Istanbul? A steep and misty stretch of the E5 motorway? These are perhaps the most familiar images of the province of Bolu. Yet on closer inspection Ankara’s northwestern neighbour provides many reasons to Take the slow road from mountain retreats, beauty spots and wildlife to sporting facilities and picturesque old towns.
Of Bolu’s three foremost attractions, the 2,200m Kartalkaya ski resort, 28km south of the motorway, and not far from the border with Ankara, is now out of season. By contrast, Lake Abant, 22km south of the motorway west of the city of Bolu, and the extraordinary Yedigöl National Park, which spans Bolu’s northern border with Zonguldak, are summer and – above all – autumn destinations.
The picture-postcard serenity of Abant offers the luxury of hotel accommodation, the rigour of lakeside jogging or the adventure of a forest trek in search of the elusive local fauna – bear, boar and deer included. The “seven lakes” after which Yedigöl is named are mere puddles by comparison with Abant. Yet sunk hundreds of metres deep by glaciers and avalanches, they form a tiny freshwater paradise at the heart of a giant canopy of beeches, pines and other temperate species.
This remote jewel of nature is reputed to have been discovered accidentally by a trainee pilot. Still cut off from the West by snow throughout the winter, it also houses Turkey’s oldest trout farm (1969).
Nature and art
Besides these major attractions, the province where “green meets blue and they sleep and wake together” offers almost endless options for explorer, photographer and barbecuer. In all there are three nature conservation areas, four wildlife protection zones, seven forest holiday camps, 44 lakes of various sizes and 321 yayla or alps.
The built environment and human geography are worthy of attention too. Roman and Byzantine artifacts as well as some earlier local remains are exhibited in the provincial museum. Bolu city and the various district centres are home to numerous mosques, baths and mansions dating from the fourteenth century onwards.
Several of these towns, from Gerede and Dörtdivan near the motorway in the northeast to far-flung, southwest-facing Göynük and Mudurnu, are modest urban gems which can reasonably pretend to tourist attraction status after the example of Safranbolu, Kastamonu and Beypazarı. Seben in the south is known both for its cave dwellings and for its unusual pine chalets, constructed without using a single nail.
Most districts have their own summer highland festivals with wrestling contests and local produce. Menem, the northernmost district, is the birthplace of Turkey’s best cooks, and stages a Cooks and Tourism Festival on September 1 each year.
An alternative tour of central and northern Bolu might take in the following sights:
Gölcük: At the end of the windy road south from Bolu city you are treated to a Yedigölesque vision of water lilies and frogs over charming reflections of the pine forests and Forestry Ministry cabins. Just 8km away is the Karacasu thermal spring.
Beşpınarlar “Mountrain” Base Camp: Located at an altitude of 1,450m among the pine trees of the Beşpınarlar (“Five Springs”) plateau in the Aladağlar mountain range south of Bolu city and west of Kartalkaya, the Camp is Turkey’s first permanent campsite. Nature has been left untouched, making this an ideal centre for a wide range of group and individual outdoor activities.
Sırıklı Plateau: On a fine evening, the fire observation tower at Sırıklı provides a glorious view of the setting of the sun, with pine trees silhouetted against an orange and pink and purple sky – and the rising of the moon.
Wild horses: Another surprise: a herd of wild horses freely roaming Gerede’s Rumşah highland and the nearby Mount Arkut Ski Centre with their foals.
Goat Castle: The Keçi Kalesi stands on a hill near Mount Arkut rising in all its grandeur from a carpet of yellow wildflowers. During one of many sieges, the starving inhabitants tied candles to the horns of their goats and lit them and let them free. Believing a huge army was coming, the enemy ran away, and the people were saved. It is not the only Byzantine monument in the district.
Coppersmith’s bazaar: The craftsmen in the coppersmith bazaar in Gerede make minaret banners, ewers, lamps, braziers and milk buckets. They share the marketplace with makers and sellers of packsaddles, belts and leather goods.
Tradesmen’s Inn: A two-floor wooden inn in Gerede with a broad gateway and a large open courtyard. The inn features a coffee house, an area for the elderly to rest and a stable where racehorses are kept. There are small rooms on the upper floors. Since there was once a church inside the inn, it is also known as Kiliseli Han – the Inn with a Church. There can be few more pleasurable places to smoke a nargile.
Lake Yeniçağa: Just off the motorway, the lake is a bird reserve replete with cormorants, grey and white heron, wild ducks and numerous other species. There is a path along the shore of the lake for the use of fishermen and visitors alike. The lake, its sunsets and the surrounding district were also featured in the February edition of this magazine.
Wildflowers: Meadows of wildflowers are a common sight in the province at this time of year. The Dörtdivan plateau is carpeted yellow, purple and red. Heart-stealing corn poppies flutter in the breeze.
Köroğlu Falls: Reached after a trek through the Dörtdivan forest, the sudden appearance of the Falls is enough to make you forget all your exhaustion. The refreshing cascade is named after the local hero Köroğlu, a legendary rebel who made his home in these hills in the sixteenth century, championed the poor against the tyrant who had blinded his father and penned innumerable heroic poems and love lyrics.
TheTurkish Grand National Assembly
by Kaya DORSAN
Last month we celebrated the 85th anniversary of the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TGNA). Founded by the representatives of the people on April 23, 1920, after 600 years of monarchy, the first Assembly was not slow to appear on stamps. In 1922, a series consisting of six stamps went on sale.
At that time, the Turkish War of Independence was still raging. The capital Ankara resembled little more than a large village, and had no printing house capable of printing stamps. Thus the 250,000 stamps were printed at the Barabino printing house in Genoa, Italy. They depicted the first building of the Turkish Grand National Assembly in Ulus.
The stamps in question were used for two years before being declared invalid in 1924. Now that the Turkish War of Independence was over and the Republic had been declared, new definitive stamp series were produced for use in new Republican Turkey.
The first stamp series depicting the TGNA is characterised by a very poor quality of printing. This may have been due to cost calculations, or may simply reflect careless work on the part of Barabino. Be that as it may, many printing and perforation errors occurred. Some of the 3 kuruş stamps, for instance, display the price correctly in the bottom left hand corner but appear to state a different price of 13 kuruş in the bottom right hand corner. Again, some of the same stamps were printed on thin paper and some on thicker paper. For every value in the series, it is possible to find completely imperforate or partially imperforate examples.
Although these “errors” were not very rare at the time, they constitute an attractive theme for collectors today. Other interesting items are the envelope printed with the same stamp and the “letter-card” that were produced together with the TGNA stamps. Postal stationery of such kinds was commonly used in the postal service in those years
For philatelists collecting Turkish stamps or carrying out research on the history of Turkish mail, this first stamp series on the Turkish Grand National Assembly, together with its variations, is naturally of very special significance.