Project Description

19. Sayı



19. Sayı


Mayıs 2006

Diplomatic activity was as intense as ever in the Turkish capital in April. After going to Georgia at the end of March, President Ahmet Necdet Sezer paid a visit to Azerbaijan on April 4-5, and just a week later, he paid another two-day visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina. In the second naif of the month, Sezer received ‘n Ankara President Vaclav Klaus of the Czech Republic, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Australian Governor-General Michael Jeffery. Bangladeshi Prime Minister Khaleda Zia and many ministers from various countries were also among Turkey’s guests in April. In the meantime, the respected Ambassador Amin Rianom of Indonesia completed his tour of duty in Ankara, while new distinguished ambassadors from Mexico, Ethiopia and Germany joined the diplomatic community.

DIPLOMAT‘s interview guest in this issue is Mr. Tamer Gazioglu, ambassador of the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus. The conversation focused on developments which have taken place in the two years since the Annan Plan Process and the referanda of 2004. What has changed in Cyprus? What are the expectations of the Turkish Cypriots now? Nobody is better placed to answer questions such as these than the only official ambassador of the TRNC.

DIPLOMAT also opens its pages to Sadettin Ergec, president of the Iraq Turcoman Front, the organisation which represents the Turcoman community of Iraq. The Turcoman community lives in North Iraq and numbers around three million. Sadettin Ergec informs us about this hidden people who hope to be more widely known and better understood.

Our arts pages this month portray one of Turkey’s most highly-regarded painters, Nevzat Akoral. This now-retired teacher of painting is known particularly for his rural landscapes, winter scenes and popular spaces. His works are to be found in various museums abroad, as well as in Turkey.

DIPLOMAT‘s travel pages transport the reader to Granada. This important touristic region of Spain is a place where Maghrib and Catholic arts can be seen side by side. Perhaps, in our day and age, it is one of the best places to witness the possibility of the “Alliance of Civilisations”.

Coming back to Turkey, we also take you to Manisa, a historic city of the Aegean region. Many Ottoman sultans were educated in this ancient feudal capital. Situated less than an hour’s journey from Izmir, Manisa is a province which deserves to be visited more often.

Kaya Dorsan
Publisher and editor-in-chief

Current opinion:

Turkey’s EU bid and the Armenian problem

by Erhan AKDEMİR

The foreign policy of every state is formed within the framework of three basic parameters. These are: sensitivity on national security and territorial integrity, the maximum usage of the country’s resources and the most beneficial use of its position in its region. Sensitivity on national security and territorial integrity comes one step ahead of the other two parameters. In this area, every state expects the highest respect from other states in the international arena.

There may well be EU members who wish to hold onto a card that can be used against Turkey, or to keep alive an issue which gives them leverage. Furthermore some may turn this into a regular discourse, and make statements that disturb Turkey, and encourage separatism and divisiveness. All these are possibilities. This is a fact of the foreign policy game. Nevertheless, neither the Turkish public nor persons within decision-making bodies in Turkey can possibly accept the use of such discourses and statements as a political tool within the EU, let alone their expression by official sources, their inclusion in official documents or attempts by the Union to impose them.

Besides, for the EU to act in such a manner as an institution is contrary to its own understanding and laws. No such condition or imposition mechanism exists in the Amsterdam Convention or in the EU’s Copenhagen Criteria. Turkey will adapt itself to the EU legal system anyhow, if it is to become a member. The point which Turkey must oppose here is any attempt to make additions to these criteria and to impose stricter rules that were not applied to other candidate countries. In actual practice, the EU policy vis-a-vis Turkey on the Armenian issue is of this nature, and if the EU continues to follow it, it is obvious that it will cosntitue an obstacle to the accession process.

Two decades of resolutions

The resolution taken by the European Parliament (EP), one of the bodies of EU, dated 18th June 1987, concerning the Armenian genocide has been recorded historically as the first important decision regarding the issue.

The resolution, entitled “The Political Resolution to the Armenian Issue”, was adopted three months after Turkey’s application for full membership to the EU (as it called today) by the European Economic Community (EEC) (as it was called in those days), on the grounds of the EEC Agreement Article 237 and 205 and ECSC Agreement Article 98, 14 April 1987. The advisory resolution defines the events which took place between the years 1915 and 1917 as genocide according to the United Nations Convention of 1948 and states that Turkey’s refusal to recognize the genocide will be an obstacle on its way to membership to EU.

In the resolution in question, the European Parliament demands that the Council of the European Union should alert the Turkish Government’s attention to the fact that genocide had been conducted towards the Armenians between 1915 and 1917, and to form a dialogue with the Armenian representatives.

The European Parliament took more such resolutions following the end of the Cold War. After the Armenian declaration of independence of September 23rd, 1991, the recognition of independence by the EU on December 31st, 1991, and the commencement of diplomatic relations on August 10th, 1992, the dimension of Turkey-Armenia relations also came into play.


At a meeting of the EU-Armenia Parliamentary Cooperation Commission held in Brussels on November 19th-21st, 2001, the Armenian delegation mentioned the impact of the blockade applied by Turkey to Armenia, and consequently the EU members called on Turkey to revoke this blockade. The EU members stated that Turkey would face new difficulties in terms of its admission to EU unless this blockage was removed. Also the European delegates stressed that if the EP continued to be committed to the resolution it approved in 1987 with respect to the recognition of the Armenian genocide then further problems would emerge.

The “Report on the progress of Turkey towards Accession” was prepared by the European Parliament Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, Common Security and Defence Policy Committee by reporter Philippe Morillo in 1999, and was adopted by the EP in plenary session on November 15th, 2000. This report included the statement that, “The European Parliament calls, therefore, on the Turkish Government and the Turkish Grand National Assembly to give fresh support to the Armenian minority, as an important part of Turkish society, in particular by public recognition of the genocide which the minority suffered before the establishment of the modern state of Turkey”.

Another controversial report accepted by the European Parliament on this issue is the report prepared by Per Garhton, a member of the Swedish Greens Group. The report named “The European Union’s Relations with the South Caucasus under the Partnership and Cooperation Agreements” was accepted on February 28th, 2002. The report referred to and confirmed the resolution taken by EP in 1987.

December 2004

These resolutions were referred to in the EP’s Turkey Report of December 15th, 2004, under the clauses mentioned below:

  • Calls on Turkey to promote the process of reconciliation with the Armenian people by acknowledging the genocide perpetrated against the Armenians as expressed in the European Parliament’s earlier resolutions with regard to Turkey’s candidate status (from 18 June 1987 to 1 April 2004); (Article 39)
  • Believes that the Governments of Turkey and Armenia have to continue their process of reconciliation, possibly with the assistance of a bilateral committee of independent experts, in order to overcome explicitly the tragic experience of the past, and requests the Turkish Government to re-open the borders with Armenia as soon as possible; (Article 40)
  • Calls on the Commission and the Council to demand that the Turkish authorities formally acknowledge the historic reality of the genocide perpetrated against the Armenians in 1915 and open the border between Turkey and Armenia at an early date, in accordance with the resolutions adopted by the European Parliament between 1987 and 2004; (Article 41)

As can be seen from this resolution, it is considered that Turkey has failed to fulfil the requirement of the 1987 resolution of the European Parliament and that the issue constitutes an obstacle to Turkish membership of the EU.

Armenian claims and Turkey-Armenia relations have also found reflection in European Commission reports. Statements on the issue were included in the memorandum of the EU Brussels Summit on December 17th, 2004. Paragraph 21 of this document refers to the December 15th EP resolution.

Diaspora effect

In addition to the EU institutions, the parliaments of many EU member states – Italy, Belgium, Greece, Slovakia, the Netherlands, France, Greek Cyprus – have taken decisions on Armenian claims. All these EU and national decisions appear to reflect the opinions of the public – particularly the French public, influenced by the Armenian diaspora. The arguments used are generally decisions, reports and publications which, while reflecting the known Armenian thesis, are not in accordance with the historical facts and incorrect in legal terms.

How these decisions, reports and publications emerge or make their appearance in the EU institutions is a point that should be seriously assessed. The starting point must be the Armenian diaspora organisations in Europe. The European-Armenia Cooperation Forum that aims to provide coordination and facilitate cooperation among Armenian diaspora organisations in Europe heads the list of these organisations. The European-Armenia Cooperation Forum works actively on the issues of genocide claims and Turkey-Armenia relations. The Forum has an office in Brussels to assist the Armenian organisations working with EU institutions and to obtain and present information in the EU on subjects regarding the Armenians. Also the European Committee of Armenian Cause is another effective organisation which has an influence on the decisions made on Armenian issues within the EU. This is also the area in which Turkey is most faulty and weakest: it is unable to express itself on this problem.

Caucasia policies

Another significant issue is the policies of the European Union towards the whole South Caucasus region and the bilateral relations of EU member states with the countries of this region.

The most important link between the EU and South Caucasian countries passes through economic relations. The European Union’s desire to move its relations within the region through an economic ground from the very beginning is the most concrete expression of this. The region’s energy resources and its position as a bridge between Europe and Asia has been a determining factor for European Union’s policies toward the area. Besides the European Union’s policies towards the whole region, EU member states also have bilateral relations with the countries in the area.

Britain, Germany and France lead the list of countries interested in the region. There are close relationships between Britain and Azerbaijan, Germany and Georgia, France and Armenia. The presence of a considerable number of Armenians in France certainly increases France’s interest in Armenia. But France also considers the decline of Russia’s control over Caucasus and Central Asia important and wants these regional countries to develop economically and politically as soon as possible. Besides political initiatives, France also has economic expectations, targets and policies towards this region. The region’s dependence on foreign aid in terms of infrastructure, its desire to join Europe and the urgent necessity of technology transfer all attract the attention of the French. Germany has historical ties with the area. The presence of Germany in the area during the First and Second World Wars is very well known.

Not being frank?

Despite the fact that the EU has started full membership negotiations with Turkey, it appears that some European countries are opposing Turkey’s membership, and that the leaders of these countries are putting different problems forward instead of frankly saying, “We don’t want Turkey”. The Armenian issue comes first among these problems. If Turkey becomes a member of the EU, it will need to reconcile its legal system with that of the EU. Turkey only expects others to be objective and honest. The Armenians appear to feel that this is an appropriate time to implement the thesis which they have previously had little hope of putting into practice. But to assume that a Turkey on the verge of EU membership, could retreat on the Armenian issue in the face of such deceit on the part of EU countries is a fantasy.


Ambassador Tamer Gazioğlu: The Turkish Cypriots’ rights

By Bernard KENNEDY

For the last year-and-a-half, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus has been represented in Ankara by Ambassador Tamer Gazioğlu. During this period, hopes for a solution of the Cyprus problem have remained at a low ebb in the aftermath of the inconclusive Annan Plan process. We asked Ambassador Gazioğlu to comment on developments which have taken place both in the international sphere and on the island itself. At the same time, we took the opportunity to enquire about the history of his Embassy and the attractions and drawbacks of his unique post.

Q It is now more than two years since referenda were held in Northern and Southern Cyprus on the Annan Plan for a final settlement on the island. Would it be true to say that the referenda have led to nothing?

A We can’t say that nothing has changed. Until April 24, 2004, the Turkish side – including the Republic of Turkey as well as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus – was regularly portrayed as the side which did not want a settlement. But through the referendum, the Turkish Cypriots demonstrated to the World that they were actually in favour of a solution, and that they wanted to live in their own zone with their own equal rights and their own federal state under the main roof of a united Cyprus. Meanwhile, the Greek Cypriot party, which had always appeared to be on the side of peace, made clear that, when it came to the crunch, they were against uniting the island.

I must stress that what we are seeking is not a part in the existing Greek Cypriot state – the so-called “Republic of Cyprus”. Rather, we want the rights which were taken from us in 1963, when we were thrown out of the real Republic of Cyprus. At that time, we had an international communal identity and the right to be partners in the administration of the state. These were our rights as the Turkish Cypriot people. We had members of parliament, ministers, a deputy president, public servants and undersecretaries. We were not secessionists; we were excluded.

In regaining our rights, we are in favour of a bizonal, bicommunal, united Cyprus, which takes account of the bizonal geographical situation that has existed since 1974. However, the Greek Cypriots do not want to give us these rights back. In 1963, their whole aim was to join Greek Cyprus with Greece. Today the situation is rather different. While they are not saying so openly they are aiming to give the Turks individual citizenship rights under their own state, making them a mere minority and so doing away with their rights as a community.

Q But has there been any indication of a change in the position of the international community?

A Our acceptance of the Annan Plan was received very positively by both the UN and the EU. Indeed, the European Council called on the European Commission to draw up a regulation with a view to ending the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots. The Commission worked on this but since the Greek Cypriots had quite unfairly been made members of the EU, they were able to prevent the adoption of a Free Trade Regulation which would have ended our isolation. Meanwhile, the Financial Assistance Regulation appeared with the amount reduced from €259m to €139m, and in such a way that it will be very difficult to implement in practice.

Separately, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference has agreed to our participation as the “Turkish Cypriot state” instead of the “Muslim Turkish community” as we were formerly called. Most recently, this usage, which follows the language of the Annan Plan, was also adopted by the OIC’s Inter-Parliamentary Union.

Q Do you think there is any possibility of the Annan Plan being revived or revised?

A The attitude of the World is very important here. If the UN and the EU really want a settlement, they should put pressure on the Greek Cypriots. Instead, they recognise only the “Republic of Cyprus”, and do not accord any international identity to the Turkish Cypriot community. For as long as this remains the case, the Greeks will never agree to a settlement. They are the state; they are the EU member with veto rights. So why should they give the Turkish Cypriot community its rights back?

The Greek Cypriots argue that since we accepted the Annan Plan and they refused it, the Plan must have favoured the Turks. In fact, the opposite is true. The implementation of the plan would have displaced many Turkish Cypriots, and we would have had many difficulties. Nevertheless, we demonstrated that we were ready to adapt ourselves to a new structure; the Greek Cypriots did not.

The Annan Plan was the culmination of years of UN talks. The Turkish Cypriots saw their future in this Plan. It took account of the rights of the three guarantor powers, Turkey, Greece and the United Kingdom. It also took account of the EU acquis and of the decisions of the UN Security Council. It is not a document which can easily be altered. On the other hand, any new process of talks could last for many years, and the Greek Cypriots would have nothing to lose during that period. The uncertainty could go on for ever. In such circumstances, the Turkish Cypriots could start to think again about where their future lies.

Q Do you see any progress towards ending the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots – for example, during US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice’s recent visit to Ankara?

A The UN, the EU and other states should help in this respect. If the Greek Cypriots are not warned, they will never come round to restoring our rights. They will go on manipulating the issue of Turkish EU membership for their own ends. Yet a settlement on the island would have a positive impact on the whole region, including Turkey-EU relations.

The visit of Secretary of State Rice was openly reported in the press. We would like the USA to take further steps to end our isolation and to encourage other countries to do likewise. Such measures could help to draw the Greek Cypriots back to the negotiating table. Moreover, lifting the isolation will make a settlement easier, since it will help to reduce economic differences, and it will be easier for two thriving economies and two developed administrations to adjust to one another.

Q How do you evaluate the Greek Cypriot government’s intentions at this point?

A The Greek Cypriots did not need EU membership for economic reasons. Their aim in seeking membership, and making use of Greece to achieve it, was to create a new environment for a solution to the Cyprus problem in line with their own interests… This is what they call the “European solution”. It involves spreading the authority of the existing “Republic of Cyprus” to the North. Tassos Papadopoulos, the Greek Cypriot leader, described it as a policy of “osmosis”. According to this, the Turkish Cypriots would over time be melted down and become simply individuals in their Republic of Cyprus.

The World should not listen to this. If the Greek Cypriot state represents the whole island, then why were talks carried out for years under the auspices of the United Nations with a view to setting up a bizonal state structure on Cyprus based on two equal communities? If the Greek Cypriot state has entered the EU as the representative of the whole island, why do official EU documents speak of a “Cyprus issue” which needs to be solved at the UN? Why did the EU get involved with the Annan Plan and seek to make it conform to the ‘acquis communautaire’? Why were two separate referenda held, one among the Turkish Cypriots in the North and one among the Greek Cypriots in the South?

Q Could the policy of osmosis be bearing fruit? After all, Turkish Cypriots are obtaining “Republic of Cyprus” passports and working and engaging in other activities on the Greek Cypriot side…

A In 1963 and 1964, the Turkish Cypriots were dispersed in small cantons comprising just 3% of the land area of the island. They all had Republic of Cyprus passports, Republic of Cyprus ID cards and Republic of Cyprus birth certificates. They had no economy of their own. By day they worked for the Greek Cypriots as workers and by night they kept guard over their homes. Even in those circumstances, the Turkish Cypriots did not submit, but fought against Greek Cypriot domination.

Today, we are in a much better position. We live together in the North, with our own parliament, our own laws, our own courts, our own state, our own administration, our own economy. Incidentally, we also have a model democracy which even some developed countries can only envy. This was quite clear during the referendum when everybody voted freely without any pressure. We are capable of running our own affairs. The fact that we approved the Annan Plan in the referendum does not mean that we are going to dismantle the structure which we have built with our own hands.

Some of our people are obtaining passports in order to benefit from certain rights, such as cheaper education in the EU. This is not what Papadopoulos has in mind by osmosis. If there is any irregularity here, then the EU must bear the responsibility. The Turkish Cypriots have more right than anyone to benefit from the EU, since they said Yes to the Annan Plan whereas the Greek Cypriots said No. In spite of this, the Greek Cypriots were admitted to the EU. Apart from this, there are Turkish Cypriot workers who come and go. None of this means that the Turkish Cypriots have accepted the authority of the Greek Cypriot administration.

Such day-to-day details should not distract us from the central issue. The Greek Cypriots are wasting time by even thinking about osmosis. They must understand that they need to restore our rights within the existing geographical context. They cannot achieve the settlement which they desire simply by putting pressure on Turkey via the EU.

Q Tell us something about the performance of the Turkish Cypriot economy

A As you know we have an open economy and encourage foreign investment. At the moment the economy is going very well. GNP grew by 11.4% in 2003, 15.4% in 2004 and 10.6% in 2005. Per capita national income has doubled in the last three years. It was US$5,949 in 2003, US$8,095 in 2004 and US$10,248 in 2005. This growth has been due to tourism and tourism investment, to higher education – we have about 30,000 foreign students, mostly from Turkey – and to the construction and real estate sector, especially the purchase of summer houses and permanent residences by Britons and other foreigners.

In addition, the opening of borders in April 2003 resulted in an increase in the number of Turkish Cypriot workers employed in the South of the island. Our foreign trade volume, whcih is mostly imports, was US$530.8m in 2003, US$915.0m in 2004 and US$1,247.4m in 2005. Inflation came down to 2.4% last year.

Q How long has the TRNC had an Embassy in Ankara? How did it come about?

A In 1960, the newly-independent Republic of Cyprus opened an Embassy in Ankara. This Embassy was to remain open until 1974. However, after the incidents of 1963, the Turkish Cypriots started to feel the need to be represented by an office of their own. From time to time, use was made of the Turkish Cypriot Cultural Association. As of 1968, a large number of students started to come to Turkey from Cyprus for higher education. For this reason, a representation was opened. This representation developed over the years, and in 1983, when the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was established, the representation was restructured and continued to perform its duties as an embassy.

Q The Embassy in Ankara must play an important role in TRNC foreign policy. Do you get any free time?

A We have representations in other countries, but not embassies. Having an embassy here enables us to make contact with the embassies of other countries and gives us opportunities to pass on our views. Personally, I have no fixed working hours. I am ready to work at all hours of the day and night and at weekends. Recently, I paid a brief visit to Beypazarı, an attractive town near Ankara. That made quite a change for me. I come and go between Ankara and Cyprus, but mostly on business. Since I took up this post, I haven’t taken any long holidays.

Q Do you enjoy life in Ankara or do you feel more relaxed in Cyprus?

A As you know, we have a very full social life here in Ankara. But if I get the chance, there are still moments when I miss the Cyprus way of life. My great hobby is sea angling. We have a small house by the sea, far from Lefkoşa, and when the weather is suitable, I love to go down to the shore with my fishing tackle before the sun comes up. If enough fish are biting, then family and friends get together and we grill them fresh in the evening.

When you are fishing, you think only about the fish. You are on your feet for hours but you hardly notice the time go by. Similarly, in Cyprus, when you leave work, you can be picnicking in the countryside or strolling along the seashore within half an hour. In Ankara it is a bit more difficult to get away from your work – especially if you are the Ambassador of the TRNC, with the developments in the Cyprus question going round and round inside your head.

Of course, you can never really get away from it all. I first encountered the Cyprus question when I was four years old. I remember it as if it were yesterday. We lived in Larnaka. I remember hearing groups of men and women saying things like “EOKA is going to kill the Turks” and “The Greek Cypriots are going to attack us”. When I was older, I learned that the foundation of the EOKA organization in 1955 had caused great concern among the Turkish Cypriots. Incidentally, one of its leading figures was Papadopoulos, the current president of the Greek Cypriots. Now I am 55 and the Cyprus question continues to occupy an important place on our agenda. There are even times when the European Union has to put everything else to one side and concentrate on the Cyprus question.

Human angle :

Democracy education for World peace

by Prof. Dr. Özer OZANKAYA

Natural sciences and their implementation as a technology has reached an advanced stage, as is clear from current developments in areas like genetic engineering, automation, electronic communication, hypersonic planes and nuclear energy. The world has become a “global village”. But instead of being used for freedom, peace and the prosperity of humanity, these technologies are being used towards the destruction of these values in the hands of fascist, theocratic and communist oppressive regimes.

This destructive situation facing humanity is accompanied by world wars, regional wars and ethnic conflicts. How ought it to be prevented?

American musician Bob Dylan questions this situation in one of his songs:

“How many times must the cannon balls fly

Before they’re forever banned? …

How many deaths will it take till we know

that too many people have died?

…How many times can a man turn his head

And pretend that he just doesn’t see?”

And with the sadness of not knowing the answer, he says,

“The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind;

the answer is blowing in the wind.”

Moral character of science

However a hundred years ago, one of the founding fathers of sociology, Emile Durkheim, argued that we should use natural sciences and technology for the freedom, equality and happiness of the whole humanity, and that sociology could contribute to this. I would like to bring this important view, which I referred to in the June 2005 issue of DİPLOMAT, to your attention once again:

“Of all the elements of civilization, science is the only one which, under certain conditions, presents a moral character. That is, societies are tending more and more to look upon it as a duty for the individual to develop his intelligence by learning the scientific truths, which have been established. Science is nothing else than conscience carried to its highest point of clarity. Thus in order for societies to live under existing conditions, the fields of conscience, individual as well as social, must be extended and clarified. The more obscure conscience is, the more refractory to change it is. That is why intelligence guided by science must take a larger part in the course of collective life.” “To justify this chaotic state, we vainly praise its encouragement of individual liberty. Nothing is falser than this antagonism too often presented between legal authority and individual liberty. Quite on the contrary, liberty (we mean genuine liberty, which it is society’s duty to have respected) is itself the product of regulation… It is impossible for the State not to be interested in a form of activity which, by its very nature, can always affect all society…”

For example, after the foundation of the Republic, anti-republican forces’ continuous attempts to frustrate the principle, expressing the essence of democracy in Turkey and saying “Sovereignty Unconditionally Belongs to the Nation”, by accusing it as being “impiety” or “bourgeoisie deception” proves how important and current the subject is in terms of Turkish democracy. Moreover, a group recently came to power and saying “We have changed… Now we are not rejecting and considering national sovereignty as contrary to religion; on the contrary, actually we want the national sovereignty principle” has begun to clearly display that they understand the national sovereignty principle as freedom to be able to do whatever they want thorough majority (for example removing women from the position of being equal and free individuals, grounding judicial and educational order on religious dogmas). On this course the support they obtained from the Greater Middle East Project and USA and its collaborator EU proves that the democracy ideal is passing through a big depression period not only in Turkey but also in the world.

This means that democratic order in both intranational and international relations can only be achieved by the light of sociology, systematically and through consciousness.

Education and democracy culture

The aim of this article is to discuss how democratic order universally yearned for can be made efficiently and decisively effective through the institution of education.

Society functions thorough fundamental institutions such as state, family, education, economy and organised public. The essence of every institution is formed by ideas, principles, value standards that shapes the function it undertakes.

Each of these institutions mainly regulates a certain realm, however it is also necessary for them to be in harmony with each other and to be based on not hampering but supporting ideas, principles, value standards for each other.

For example for the democratic state institution to function efficiently and decisively, it is indispensable for education institution to adopt legitimacy standards, authority symbols, fundamental values and codes of conduct which democratic state is based on and to aim imposing these principles to the new generations and members of society that couldn’t be able to learn them yet.

Though it is obvious that, for political institution to have democratic quality, it is also necessary for family, economy and public forming institutions to have democratic quality like education institution. However for the success and security of democratic state institution, it is a necessity to expect the requirement of including particularly new generations to democracy culture essentially from the education institution.

Because, efficient imposition of principles, ethic, knowledge and forms of behaviour of democracy to individuals can only be achieved in the institutions named “school” specialised in education and training and by experts called “teacher” trained for this aim.

Neither family nor economic institutions such as companies and corporations, employee and employer unions, trade associations and even political parties which are indispensable elements of democracy or media considered as the forth power can have the necessary objectivity, knowledge, education methods and techniques.

For these reasons, it is vital for education institution that “shapes” all the members of the nation to equip new generations with values, legitimacy standards, authority symbols, codes of conduct, knowledge and skills of democracy for the efficient functioning and secure future of a democratic state order. Although it is true that education institution is established and formed within the general social structure, its special importance for the constituting, establishing and efficient functioning of democracy culture should not be ignored.

Democratic ethic of science

Since the legitimacy standards of democratic order and validity criteria of scientific method have the same quality, the basis of democracy education is the adaptation of validity principles of scientific method. We can list these criteria, which should be explained and taught justifiably and experienced practically with pedagogical methods and procedures compatible with the age of the students in the education institutions as follows:

a) It is necessary both for science and democratic order to take into account the facts as they are without diverting and hiding and without prejudices, beliefs, ideological obsessions and interests; namely to be objective.

b) Since reality constantly changes and no theory can be continuously valid, research should be permanent in science. Similarly, there cannot be constantly valid standards for public order. Free examination, criticism and new propositions of citizens should not be prevented by neither religion, sect nor on behalf of a class or an ideology.

c) Since science is not infallible, even the propositions thought to be based on most reliable researches should always be open to inspection and criticism of everybody and under the light of reviews necessary changes should be made. Similarly in democracy, governments are under the continuous supervision of parliaments, mass media reflecting the public and democratic organisations. The sanction of any serious mistake and failure should be resignation and/or removal of the government.

d) As science should define keywords and concepts reflecting the essence of the subject under examination clearly without uncertainty, similarly the propositions about the public life should be transparent and certain enough for society not to face with fait accompli in democratic regimes.

e) It is necessary to take into account that society functions through the interaction between the units forming it (family, city or village, trade groups, voluntary associations, political parties, unions etc.) and the order of the society in general. It is also necessary to make both diachronical and synchronical analysis to duly understand the present and securely prepare for the future.

Pedagogy of democracy education

In accordance with these principles, providing equal opportunity for every member of the nation, in other words without making discrimination on the basis of religion, sect, gender, race or wealth, education institutions should do the following:

a) allow every individual to freely develop his own judgement by research and comparisons; not to consider something true because it is written in the books, told by the teacher, reported on TV or radio or prescribed by an important person.

b) Students should be gained emotional strength for not being influenced by provocative, bright discourses and for this end it should be provided that they comprehend that the most dangerous misleading done through gilded discourses. They should be gained the habit of examining every subject in libraries and laboratories.

c) The education should be secular in every aspect without religious or ideological indoctrination.

d) The morality that would be gained in educational institutions should not be based on fear, but rather free thinking and internalisation.

e) Education institutions should teach students respect for humanity, love for the nation and the country, honour and independence. It should train them to be “honest experts” and “scientists” in their occupations.

f) The fundamental institutions and concepts of democratic order should be presented, including the meaning of basic rights and freedoms, the various lkinds of positive and negative rights, and the nature and significance of basic concepts like elections, voting rights and election systems, the separation of powers, the supremacy of the constitution, constituional justice, political parties, trades unions and the right to strike and lockout. İt should also be understood that social institutions and rules are not sacred: that while they are the arrangements made by prior generations based on their experience and reason, every generation has the right to establish its own institutions and rules as required by the conditions. It needs to be explained that the“principle of national sovereignty” does not mean that a haphazard majority can lead to “majority dictatorship”; that even to put any proposition violating inherent, indispensable, unassignable, equal rights and freedoms to the vote is illegitimate, and that the secular state order is imperative for democracy.

All these are necessary if individuals are to be “thinking persons” and if social life is to be influenced by intelligence guided by science. Unless individuals are thinking beings, anybody can lead masses towards good or bad at any time – and so they frequently do.


“Anatolian” Stamps

by Kaya DORSAN

The Turkish Grand National Assembly last month celebrated its 86th anniversary. When it held its first meeting on April the 23rd, 1920, Ottoman Empire stamps were being used in Ankara and all around the country.

The revolutionary Ankara Assembly had revolted against the Sultan in Istanbul and broken off all its ties with the Empire Government. At its first meeting, it started to make its own laws, declaring its own sovereignty in the regions of Anatolia that were not yet occupied. In this regard, naturally, it would have to prepare its own stamps. In any case, the Ottoman Postal Administration in Istanbul had also stopped sending stamps to the post offices in Anatolia.

At that time, there were no printing houses in Ankara that could print stamps. The decision was made to make “overprints”, which involved printing over the old stamps available in stock. The post offices of Eskişehir and Kütahya, had a considerable stock of three different types of stamp which had been printed in London in 1914. In addition, all the stamps printed in Vienna in 1917 were brought to Ankara from Ereğli Post Office. The overprints were made at the Directorate of Press using lettering and materials collected from various printing houses in Ankara. The overprints bore the words “Ankara” and “3 kuruş”.

Rare varieties

Naturally, each kind of stamp was available in stock in a different quantity, and the numbers of the overprinted stamps also varied. For example, only 2,600 copies had been printed of one stamp with an original value of six para. Thus, the number of such stamps surviving to this day is very few. Moreover, since the printing materials were not of a good quality, many printing errors and different versions occurred.

The documents show that the lilac-coloured stamps, which had been badly printed, were sent to post offices in Anatolia, whereas the brown stamps were used in the regions near Ankara, and the blue stamps sold mostly in Ankara.

While these stamps are very attractive for collectors, they have also become very valuable in terms of Turkish history. Philatelists call these stamps “Anatolia Stamps” and they remained on sale until the end of The Turkish War of Independence. It requires considerable effort to bring together enough of these stamps to make a collection.

World view

1956: Turning point for Russia – and the World

by Prof. Dr. Türkkaya Ataöv

This year – or to be more accurate, the 25th of February 2006 – is the 50th anniversary of a very important event in Russian and world history. It was on this very significant and important day in 1956, exactly half a century ago, that the process of de-Stalinization was officially announced during the 20th Soviet Communist Party Congress. This event helped to remove that semi-god Georgian from the Communist pantheon, thereby changing the course of world history.

At the time, the man and woman in the street – not only in the Soviet Union, but also all over the world – failed to realise the significance of this milestone. Those born on that decisive day are now fifty years old, too young to remember the official announcement and acknowledge its significance. I was then a doctorate student in international relations at the Maxwell Graduate School of Syracuse University in New York, USA. My professor (W.W. Kulski) was of Polish descent and happened to have headed the official Polish Delegation negotiating his country’s treaty with Britain just before the Nazi German attack on September 1st, 1939. He was the choicest diplomat of his native land and had informed me (and some others) of this de-Stalinization speech, which had been delivered in a closed session and which was only to be made public officially as late as 1989.

The person who had delivered this speech was none other than Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev (1894-1971), the (first) General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party. He was born in a village, the son of a miner, and worked as a shepherd, locksmith and mechanic, without having the opportunity to learn how to read and write, until he was 25 years of age. He joined the party a year after the Bolshevik Revolution, but in 1939 became a full member of the Politburo, which actually ruled the whole country. He was promoted to first secretary only six months after the death of Stalin on March 5, 1953. The liberalization that he expressed in his secret speech to the Party Congress, a striking six-hour marathon, came three years later.

Dramatic ”fabrication”

I was startled by the fury and impulsive reaction of the person at the Four Continent Bookstore in New York, the only shop selling Soviet material, when I asked him for the full text of the “secret speech.” He replied that no such speech had been made and that the whole thing was a fabrication built on news that appeared in a Bulgarian paper. But we knew then that Khrushchev had denounced the Stalin-era atrocities and mistakes, and removed him from the pedestal which he had occupied during his lifetime, when he was venerated alongside the three founding fathers of the movement (Marx, Engels, Lenin), and regarded as equally important.

It was indeed a turning point in Soviet history. The Gulags, the Soviet labour camps, and prisons that housed many political prisoners (and criminals), were emptied out and the monolithic Communist block began to break down. The country gradually allowed foreign visitors to enter, and the dissident movement began. During the years of 1948 and 1953 we had already begun to witness certain developments which portended new challenges to the unity of the movement. The Yugoslavs under Tito proved that Moscow could be unable to reduce a party to obedience. Stalin’s prediction, made during the war-time Allied conference at Yalta, that if he “moved his little finger, there would be no Tito” never materialized. Moreover, the year 1949 brought Mao’s Communist Party, which had been outside the direct influence of the USSR since the early 1930s, to power in such a potentially great country as China.

Khrushchev had arrived at the de-Stalinization decision without first consulting the foreign party leaders, who were taken aback by his choice. Party leaders, who had established their authority mainly on the claim of being Stalin’s disciples were now informed by the number one ruler in Moscow that their leader was a semi-failure and a total monster. The Congress speech divided the Communist movement everywhere.

The speech had important repercussions at home and abroad. Internally, a cultural “thaw” laid the groundwork first for artistic, and then for political dissent. Ilya G. Ehrenburg (1891-1967), perhaps then best known to Western readers as a Soviet war correspondent and novelist, reflected the discontent of the new generation in his controversial book entitled “The Thaw”. This move toward a Soviet humanism came from a novelist previously known for his zealous conformity to the official policy of the hour. The children of those who had been purged during Stalin’s life-time learned from Khrushchev that their fathers had not been agents or spies of foreign bourgeois imperialists after all. Stalin had committed mass murders, in addition to blunders during the war. His agricultural policy had also been a failure.

Brezhnev, Luxemburg, Hungary

I was the first Turkish scholar to officially spend my two sabbatical years (1970-72) doing research in the Ruıssian/Soviet archives and libraries. It was around the period when Soviet rule was at its best. I enjoyed considerable freedom, which even extended to mockery of L. I. Brezhnev’s speech at the 24th Party Congress in front of friends at the Academy of Sciences. But some colleagues related stories about the appalling episodes that had occured in the Stalin period.

Although Khrushchev denounced the former atrocities, he attributed them exclusively to the man himself. In fact, such a grandiose misadventure could hardly stem merely from the whims of a single individual. There had to be something wrong with the whole official attitude. This was persuasively analyzed by the leading Marxist thinker and activist, Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919) in her little known, but important book in German: ‘The Russian Revolution’. The book appeared only a year after the Bolshevik seizure of power. In it, she prophetically wrote: “Freedom only for the supporters of the government, only for the members of the party – however numerous they may be – is no freedom at all. Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently…” This small book represents Luxemburg’s most comprehensive evaluation of the accomplishments and limitations of the regime and her most elaborate defence of the need for revolutionary democracy immediately after the seizure of power and in the ensuing periods.

Khrushchev had sought to save Communism, not to destroy it. But when some native Georgians sprang to Stalin’s defence, some demonstrators were killed in clashes with the police. Stalin’s remains, placed next to Lenin’s mummy, could only be removed from the monumental mausoleum five years later. A strike in the Polish city of Poznan was forcefully repressed, leaving some dead, their bodies laying on the ground. The slogan that prompted the Hungarian, and later the Czechoslovak, uprising was “Freedom from fear” – these too would be crushed. Khrushchev provoked a pro-Stalinist coup attempt that nearly ousted him in 1957. In the event, his power was taken away seven years later. His exit, nevertheless, proved bloodless, and the transfer of power was peaceful.

Guilt – and the present

Kruschev’s speech might have been motivated, in part, by a sense of guilt at his own complicity. On one occasion, when a Congress member quietly left a little note on his table asking “Why didn’t you raise your voice then?”, he repeatedly inquired as to who had written that question but received no answer, whereupon he appropriately remarked, “I was keeping quiet then, just like you are now.” He saw himself as a reformer and wanted to end the terror that he had himself witnessed to help create a better Communist system. But his radical response to the Hungarian uprising was typically Stalinist, as if he were afraid of his own ideas about freedom.

I was writing my Ph.D. dissertation at the New York Public Library when Khrushchev paid a visit to the United States. I saw him leaving the nearby U.N. building after having made threatening gestures in the General Assembly hall. He said that the children of the Americans would be Communists. His great grand-daughter, Nina L. Khrushcheva is now teaching international relations at the New School for Social Research in New York. She believes that a degree of authoritarian nostalgia exists amongst certain Russian people. Stalin’s photos are a prominent feature of almost every anniversary; public criticism of him is out of vogue. People in many quarters feel that the winds are blowing round again. M. S. Gorbachov, who considers himself to be Khrushchev’s successor, celebrated the 50th anniversary of the epoch-making speech in his private foundation. In any case, whatever Russia became after the 20th Party Congress, it was never Stalin’s Russia. Neither the latter’s inevitable demise, nor the disintegration of the Soviet Union four decades later signifies the bankruptcy of the socialist theory, but only the failure of the so-called “Stalinist model.” It is worth remembering that Khrushchev was the man who put an end to that era half a century ago.

Speaking out

Iraqi Turkoman Front: Understanding the Turkomans

Everyone should know that nobody wants stability, an end to the human tragedy experienced in Iraq and the territorial unity of Iraq more than the Turkoman people, argues Sadettin Ergeç, the president of the Iraqi Turkoman Front, which has its directorate in Kirkuk. Defending the ITF against criticisms, he urges the adoption of a higher Iraqi identity.

The Turkish public is very sensitive to issues pertaining to Turks living outside Turkey. This sensitivity is especially intense regarding the Iraqi Turks (Turkoman). The issue is arousing more attention in bureaucratic circles, non-governmental organizations, academic milieus and the media. This is the only source of solace for the Turkoman people.

At the same time, the Turkish public are subjected, albeit to a limited extent, to ideas and articles which portray the Turkoman people as disarrayed, and which are disparaging towards the sole legal representative of the Turkoman people, the Iraq Turkoman Front (ITF). This deeply saddens and hurts the Turkoman people.

To understand the situation the Turkoman find themselves in, one must go back to Lausanne and analyze the last 80 years, and carefully evaluate when and in what circumstances the Front was established.

It has never been easy to live in Iraq, to be a Turkoman in Iraq and to retain the Turkish identity. The Turkoman people have continuously been subjected to inhumane practices and policies of assimilation, in order to destroy their identities and end their existence in the country. The blood of the martyrs shed in this cause has yet to dry.

The national and spiritual values of the Turkoman people have been trifled with. During the Saddam regime when the Turkoman people were subjected to Arabization policies, the Turkoman people were forced to forgo their ethnic identities in favor of Arab identities to protect their lives and property. Today the Kurds are trying to reduce the Turkoman people to a minority by disturbing the demographical structures of the cities inhabited by Turkoman people.

It is an age-old policy in Iraq to use the Kurds against the Arabs, have the Arab sects at each others throats, and try to slowly dissolve the Turkoman people for fear that they might one day want to unite with Turkey.

In previous times in Iraq we did not worry whether Kirkuk was a Turkish city or a Kurdish city, or whether a Kurdish state would be established in Northern Iraq and whether Turkomans would be connected to the federation in the North or to the central authority in Baghdad. We were not asked ethnic or sectarian questions such as “Are you are a Turk or a Kurd?” or “Are you Shiite or Sunni?”

We used to have problems before as well. However, these problems were local problems for the most part related to living in the same geographical area. Now the problems are regional and have gained a national dimension.

The Turkoman have always been for social harmony and equality in Irak. They do not want to pay a price any more. The only desire the Turkoman have is to live in a democratic, free and safe Iraq. The time has come not only for Iraq to realize the truth regarding the Turkoman reality in Iraq but the world as well.

Paying the bill

Since the Turkoman are well educated they are a valuable human resource asset in Iraq. The Turkoman have a well developed and reasonable national consciousness. In spite of this they were unable to finalize their organization under the dictatorial regime. What is more they were introduced to democracy in 2003 and lived through their first political experiences in 2005. They experienced two elections and one referendum within a year. In spite of all kinds of violations the election results still reveal an ossified Turkoman presence in Iraq. Even though we are dissatisfied with the results, both of the elections registered ITF as the sole legal and political representative of the Turkoman people.

Furthermore, the Turkoman have not been mentioned during US involvement in Iraq’s politics. While scenarios regarding the future of Iraq were being written before the war and the Sunni and Shiite Arabs and Kurds were taken into consideration, the Turkoman people were not even mentioned. The situation remains unchanged after the war.

We believe that the Turkoman people are left holding the bill because Turkey did not participate in the war or collaborate with the USA in the occupation. That is why the USA does not comment upon the political and demographic changes taking place in the regions inhabited by Turkoman people.

Mistakes have been made one after the other in Iraq. These can be gathered under three headings:

1- The Turkoman people have not been accepted as a third essential component with the Arabs and the Kurds, they have been viewed as an administrative and cultural minority parallel to the Assyrians and the Keldani.

2- Arabic and Kurdish have been accepted as the official languages of Iraq although Iraq mostly consists of Arabs. In which case Arabic should remain as the official language. If the use of a single official language is abandoned, then Turkish should have the same status as Kurdish among the official languages.

3- Iraq has been officially separated into a Kurdish and an Arab federation. The regions where Turkoman people are a majority have been abandoned to the Kurdish federation. The status of Kirkuk will be determined in 2007 and it will probably be declared the capital of the Kurdish region.

We wish to explicitly stress once again that Kirkuk is the cornerstone of Iraq. Although today this issue seems to be disputable between the Turkomans and the Kurds, the result of the referendum to be held at the latest in 2007 to determine the final status of this city. The Kurds and the Arabs may be forced into a gridlock which would be a new source of restlessness for Iraq. This time the Kurds will not be faced with a compliant people like the Turkomans but the main human potential of Iraq, the Arabs.

No disarray

At this stage we have no tolerance for even the smallest weakness regarding Turkoman people and the ITF. If attempts are made to separate the ITF it must be clearly realized that the price will be enormous and the Turkoman people will not be able to recover from the consequences. For this reason criticism made must be of a quality that does not weaken our hand not only in Iraq but in the region and the world as well.

For those who are unaware of the difficulties of surviving in the geography of Iraq it may be easy to talk about the disarray of the Turkoman people, to claim that the Turkoman are not represented by the ITF, and to propose the dissolving and restructuring of ITF.

However, one need not be a historian to see the realities. It is sufficient to glance at the recent history. 111 parties participated in the elections held on 31st January 2005 while 287 parties participated in the elections held on 15th December. Among these there were numerous Kurdi, Shiite and Sunni parties. In a country with a total population of 27 million can there be a greater disarray? There were very few parties which participated in the last elections alone and the ITF was one of them. The ITF was the only political formation to hold a general assembly after the first elections. Its level of democracy is sufficient to participate in elections under new leadership.

The view that the Turkoman people are in disarray or dissolving, and that the ITF is in need of restructuring, is contradictory and extremely harmful to the Turkoman cause at this stage. In addition to having 10 years of work go down the drain, there are no guarantees that the restructuring will make the organization any better. It must be realized that if the ITF is dissolved it will never recover, no matter which name it is established under and which leader it chooses to continue with. The consequences are enormous and the price will again be paid by the Turkoman people.

The right alternative is to bring the Front to the forefront of all political platforms and to defend its representation of the Turkoman people. The Front may have deficiencies and faults. These are amendable. To ignore or attempt to change the Front will primarily serve to please only the local forces and the occupying imperialist countries.

For the first time Iraqi citizens have gone to the polls twice in a single year. The Iraqi citizen started to use his democratic rights. However, as a result of the elections the Turkoman were again the injured party. Although everybody is aware of the deceptive games played with the Turkoman votes, some groups in Turkey chose to portray this as a failure on the part of Turkoman.

Turkomans and Turkey

Some groups describe the ITF as “an organization supported by a recognized center in Turkey”. This places the Front in a dubious light, as if it were an illegal formation. In fact, Turkey is at an equal distance to all political groups in Iraq. All the groups in Iraq have representations in Turkey and are allowed to carry out political activities. It is difficult to understand why anybody should be disturbed that the Turkoman group is closest to Turkey and that Turkey recognizes the Turkoman under the ITF umbrella and accepts them as a counterpart.

It is unfair to criticize and accuse Turkey of connecting the support of the Turkoman only to a specific center, since in Mesopotamia the superpowers do as they please and the Turkoman are the only group who are not on the receiving end of any local, regional, national and international support.

Within this geography, where death is rampant, where human rights and freedoms are seized with weapons and violence, and where it is already a luxury to live as a plain citizen, it is a grave mistake to annoy and hurt the Turkoman people if it is not done intentionally.…

If we intend to still speak about a Turkoman community in Iraq in the near future we must be made to feel less isolated and be more constructive. We have no right for such expectations from others; however from Turkey we do.

Although we Turkoman may not be very pleased with the situation existing today we are not worried. The reason for this is that we have spoken of the dangers awaiting not only ourselves but Iraq and the region at every opportunity. We have considered this our historical responsibility. If nobody or no country takes notice of what we write about and experience then there is nothing more we can do. We will accept our fate.

Everyone should know that nobody wants stability, an end to the human tragedy experienced in Iraq and the territorial unity of Iraq more than the Turkoman people. The Turkoman people still believe that the only way the country can reach redemption is by setting aside ethnic and sectarian differences and uniting under a higher Iraqi identity for peaceful coexistence and unison in Iraq.

Arts :

Nevzat Akoral: Winter’s tales and more

by Sibel DORSAN

Impressions of the everyday, from tea-shop crowds to village chores – these are the stock-in-trade of Ankara-based artist Nevzat Akoral. Skilfully flourishing a wide range of techniques – and sometimes eschewing them – he directs his viewers’ attention to precious moments in our lives that might otherwise go unnoticed: a game, a chat, a winter snowstorm…

What first attracted me to the work of Nevzat Akoral were his naive winter paintings, They opened up for me the doors of a poetic world into which I often lose myself. My fascination with the artist was greatly enhanced when I saw his striking “Fatih Kıraathanesinde” (At the Fatih Café) at Hacettepe Art Museum. And my admiration was clinched for good when I came across a painting entitled “Karda Sokak” (A Street Under Snow), exhibited in the “winter auction” catalogue of the Artium Art Gallery in Istanbul.

Yet my acquaintance with Akoral’s work may not be as new as I imagined. During the course of our recent conversation, I discovered that the artist had been working with Ankara’s Armoni Art Gallery for the last five years. And suddenly a painting which I had seen and deeply admired at the gallery a year earlier sprang to my memory: another beautifully painted winter scene, bearing the unforgettable signature of Nevzat Akoral.

From graphics to paint

Born in Manisa in 1926, Akoral first revealed his artistic talent when he was at secondary school. His art teacher, (who was also his neighbour) decided to help develop his gift further. “My teacher had a rich library, and soon I had learned all the ‘impressionists’ by heart,” he recalls. Akoral became a boarding student at Balıkesir Necatibey Training College. In 1946, a dream came true as he went on to study painting at the Gazi Education Institute, Ankara.

After graduating in 1949, Akoral worked as an art teacher at high schools and training colleges, which prepared him for future work helping others develop their talent. In 1960, a scholarship took him to America, where he successfully studied graphics at Indiana University. Back at the Institute, the artist was to continue to give lectures on graphics until he retired in 1976. During this period Akoral developed and intensified his style of painting to produce the moving work we know today.

Akoral’s first paintings were figurative. The influence of his training is apparent in a style that emanates from the linear order of graphic painting. The work ‘Sığırtmaç’, painted in 1956, is perhaps one of the best examples. Later paintings maintained the graphic fabric appearance and recognisable Akoral style, but also incorporated new elements in the relationship between line and colouring. Akoral believes in the power of paint, making sure that it never becomes dirty, but stays clean and crisp. The effort to produce work with a strong pattern requires the substructure to be detailed, and diligently painted, so that the finished work can come to the fore, and be observed in all its glory. Akoral also experimented with advanced print techniques such as black-and-white wood printing and lino printing between 1957 and 1970, and has included these techniques in his art work. Besides oil paint and various print techniques, the artist also uses watercolour with great skill.

Sensitive gaze

The artist chooses his subjects either from nature or from the environment in which he lives. “I depict the subjects that I like, that interest me, things that enthuse me, the feelings that are experienced,” he says. Akoral enjoys celebrating the momentary effects of life on people and the dynamism that stems from fictional structures. The subjects of his work sit in cafes playing chess or billiards or slurping their Turkish coffee. In his rich compositions we meet lottery ticket sellers, day-dreamers, people reading newspapers, and other familiar activities to which we can all relate.

These are real people experiencing life with all its turmoil as well as its pleasures. Akoral is not one to mask suffering and hardship, and he has painted the people of rural Anatolia, struggling to earn a living, people in hospital corridors and the waiting rooms of stations. The sensitivity with which he expresses and inter-weaves the joys and doubts of everyday life is born of careful, patient observation and calm understanding.

Other work includes pastoral paintings of countryside or village views, painted in his summer house in Pursaklar near Ankara, which he bought shortly after retirement. Akoral captures the warmth of summer through his paintings of bays, beaches and town streets, while cosy winter paintings reveal the broadness of the artists’ repertoire.

“Like a true impressionist painter, I do not convey what I see exactly, but incorporate my own interpretation,” Akoral explains. He has spent a lifetime exploring and experimenting with a diverse range of painting styles to add interest and spice to his compositions. “If the painting requires perspective or light and shadow, I will make use of this, but in some of my work I don’t feel the need”. In ‘Satranç Oynayanlar’ (People Playing Chess) and ‘Taraça Kıraathanesi’ (Taraça Café), for example, he adopts a very naïve style of painting and interestingly includes his own self-portrait in figurative compositions, barely recognisable amid the sea of faces.

Diplomatic encounters

Akoral started to participate professionally in exhibitions in 1959. His first personal exhibition opened at the Turkish-American Association in Ankara in the same year. Two of his works – an oil painting and a design – were purchased by the Ambassador of Norway, who was so impressed with them that he invited the artist to his residence one bitterly cold winter evening. The painter knew no foreign languages at the time, and it was the Ambassador’s driver, with only a limited knowledge of English, who acted as interpreter. After many awkward moments and several glasses of whisky – which Akoral had never drunk before – he finally took his leave and set out for his Hasanoğlan home far from the city centre. By the time he arrived, he was suffering from sweats and chills, and the next morning he was too ill to get out of bed. It was a week before he was able to resume his work or even speak to anyone.

The Ambassador’s compliments were to be followed by others, and as time went by the artist was to make many friendships with foreigners – particularly Americans – who appreciated and bought his paintings. He exchanged letters with many of them. His correspondence with a Japanese couple – the former principal of the Japanese Embassy school in Ankara and his wife, a well-known opera singer – continued until very recently. While in Ankara, the couple collected many authentic objects from Turkey with a view to creating their own museum when they returned to Japan. They bought many of Akoral’s paintings, and would never tire of telling their visitors friends how proud they were to have known the artist in person.

Father and son

Akoral has held more than 15 personal exhibitions and participated in many others, including international exhibitions in countries such as Austria, Italy, the United States and Yugoslavia. He has received six awards, and his work can currently be viewed in the State Painting and Sculpture Museums of Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir, the Foreign Ministry collection and the Hacettepe Art Museum, in museums in America, Italy and Canada, and in private collections both in Turkey and abroad.

One of the most exciting moments in Akoral’s career was undoubtedly the holding of a joint exhibition together with his son, Ozan Akoral, who has followed in his father’s footsteps as a painter.

Ballet: Dancing into history

by Sibel DORSAN

The world of dancer Fahrettin Güven is interwoven with the history of classical ballet in Turkey. The former chief choreographer of the Ankara State Ballet recently found time to talk to us about the trials and joys of his career, the contributions of Dame Ninette de Valois, the ballets of centuries past and the prospects for the next generation.

For a voyage into the history of Turkish ballet, Fahrettin Güven is your ideal travelling companion. As a senior dancer of the Ankara State Ballet – and until recently its chief choreographer – he has personally played many a part. He began his professional dancing career in 1977 with an appearance in ‘Hürrem Sultan’, composed by Nüvit Kodallı and choreographed by Oytun Turfanda, one of the first of the great Turkish ballets to be staged at Ankara Opera. His first solo role was as Paris in ‘Romeo and Juliet’, and he went on to perform lead roles in nearly all the classic works including ‘Les Patineurs’, ‘Giselle’, ‘Swan Lake’, A Love Fairy-Tale’, ‘The Nutcracker’ and ’The Fountain of Bakchisarai’…

On one memorable occasion, Güven was assigned to present the order of merit to Ninette de Valois on behalf of the State within the framework of the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Turkish Ballet. It was, he stresses, a great honour. The legendary Dame, who had done so much to help the Turkish ballet stand on its own feet, was 101 years old at the time. A year later, she passed away.

Dame Ninette de Valois laid the foundations for the ballet in 1948 and in later years never hesitated to offer assistance for the training of dancers, teachers, choreographers and composers. Believing that Turkish ballet would develop further, she visited Turkey frequently, made recommendations and provided scholarships for dancers to be trained in foreign countries. “We owe a great deal to Ninette de Valois,” Güven says, “She exerted enormous efforts for the institutionalization of the ballet and its systematic administration.”

Italian celebrations

While the formal history of Turkish classical ballet goes back 58 years, the earliest ballet performances took place many centuries ago. All current ballet histories rank a performance of ‘Beaujoyeux’ by Catherine de Medicis staged by ‘Le Ballet Comique de la Reine’ in 1581 as the earliest significant show. However, as early as 1524, migrants from Venice, Florence and Genoa who had settled in Istanbul’s Galata district from the twelfth century onwards, organised a ballet performance together with their Turkish friends as part of the celebrations marking the defeat of the French King Francois I in Italy (Prof. Dr. Metin And: ‘Feste Date Da Toscani Veneziani in Constantinopoli nel Carnavale’, 1524).

The memoirs of Pietro Della Vale, an Italian traveller with an extensive knowledge of music, reveal that Turks participated in dance and other similar performances at the residence of the Venetian Ambassador in Istanbul in 1644 (‘Viaggi de Pietro Della Vale’, Rome 1650).

Later on, Guiseppe Donizetti (‘Donizetti Pasha’), who was invited to take part in the establishment of the ‘Muzika-i Humayun’ during the reigns of Mahmud II (1784-1839) and Abdülmecid (1823-1861), introduced opera, operetta and ballet in addition to the principles of western music to the Ottoman Palace. Thus, these presentations became popular in the country.

Ballet really started to take off in Turkey at the end of the 19th century. Theatres such as the Naoum Theater, which generally worked with Italian troupes, staged performances open to the public. The Güllü Agop, Concordia, Amphi, Variete, Tepebaşı and Verdi theatres also later brought Italian and French companies to Istanbul.

The Republican era

It was with the proclamation of the Republic that ballet became an academic subject and an institution. In 1921, two years before the Republic was proclaimed, Güven tells us, the Belarusian ballet teacher Lydia Krassa Arzumanova, had opened a ballet studio in Istanbul and trained many students. Arzumova had come to Turkey in the wake of the 1917 Russian revolution. In 1931, she and her dancers made their first performance at the “Casa d’Italia” in the Tepebaşı district. Arzumanova staged a performance at Eminönü ‘Halkevi’ (Community Center) in 1942, and in 1944 she brought ballet to Ankara, presenting the ballet ‘A Forest Fairy Tale’ composed by Ahmet Adnan Saygun and choreographed by herself. This ballet was performed at Ankara Halkevi in 1944.

At this point the State took a hand. “In the young Turkish Republic,” Güven explains, “the State had taken steps towards the contemporary civilization pointed by Atatürk and major steps had been taken in the field of culture and art. As a result of efforts made in line with the interests and demands of the people, the Ankara State Conservatory was set up. For the ballet school to be established within the structure of this Conservatory, Dame Ninette de Valois, who was the founder of the British Royal Ballet and one of the most important names in contemporary ballet, was invited to Turkey in 1947 and the seeds of today’s national ballet were sown.”

Dame Ninette de Valois opened the first official ballet school in Istanbul (Yeşilköy) on January 6, 1948. Dame Ninette recognized the fact that it was important to develop the students academically as well as creatively and made sure that the students were also working hard in this area and not just at their dancing. The entrance examination for the school was competitive, as only the selected few could make it professionally. Eleven male and 18 female students were taken to the school. Joy Newton and Audrey Knight of the Sadler’s Wells Ballet were brought to Turkey to train them.

The Ankara stage

The Yeşilköy Ballet School was moved to Ankara in 1950 and affiliated to the State Conservatory. This is how the ballet department of the Conservatory was established. The first performance to be given by the conservatory students trained under British teachers was ‘Keloğlan’, composed by Ulvi Cemal Erkin and choreographed by Ninette de Valois. This group of dancers graduated in 1957 and together with dancers from Arzumanova’s school formed the initial line-up of the Ballet Department of the State Theatre. The Department made its debut when it performed in the opera ‘Salome’ and the accompanying one-act play ‘El Amor Brujo’. The dancers went on to adorn various other stage shows until, in 1961, the first entire ballet, ‘Coppelia’, was performed. Another stride was taken in 1965 with the staging of the first indigenous full-scale ballet, ‘Çeşmebaşı’. The show, inspired by Turkish folklore, was created by Ninette de Valois and composed by Ferit Tüzün.

From that moment on, Turkish ballet matured rapidly. Star dancers such as Hüsnü Sunal, Ferit Akın, Binay Okurer, Sait Sökmen, Gülcan Tunççekiç, Ayla Önal, Meriç Sümen, Oytun Turfanda, Güloya Arıoba, Özkan Aslan and Mehmet Balhan won accolades at home and abroad. The ballet ‘Çark’, by Sait Sökmen, was the first work to be choreographed by a Turks. It was followed by performances choreographed by Duygu Aykal, Oytun Turfanda, Güloya Arıoba and others who combined local colours with international standards. And it was at this point that Fahrettin Güven took to the stage.

When he entered the conservatory with top marks, Güven can hardly have imagined that he would go on to train in Britain – between 1982 and 1988 – and later exchange his dancing career for a six-year stint as chief choreographer. In this post, Güven faced many challenges and difficulties, but he retained all of his contagious energy, self-confidence and enthusiasm. He managed to collaborate with 24 different sponsors. “You cannot produce good work without financial power,” he notes. The results included thirteen international tours to countries as diverse as the USA, Bulgaria, Hong Kong, Japan, Germany and Hungary, and nearly 100 tours within Turkey.

The next steps

During those Turkish tours, Güven was frequently moved to tears by the close interest of the Anatolian people. Meanwhile, he takes enormous pride in the accomplishments of the Turkish ballet at the international level: “This feeling cannot be expressed with words,” he asserts.

“The ballet is always developing further,” Güven adds. It improves because it builds on examples from the previous period. It is traditional from this standpoint. However, in academic, technical and artistic terms, it has sometimes been more British and sometimes more Russian. Now we have created a technique of our own through the amalgamation of these two. Despite its short history, I think Turkish ballet has something original both in its dancers and its choreography. It has taken its place in the international arena.”

The dancer is pleased with the amount of interest being shown in activities held jointly with the State Opera, Ballet of Istanbul, Izmir, Mersin and Antalya. He has full confidence in the new General Director of the Ankara State Opera and Ballet, the award-winning ballerina and state artist Meriç Sümen, who was appointed to the job last year. One of Turkey’s leading international dancers, Sümen was invited to the British Royal Ballet after she graduated from the conservatory, and became well known in Russia, Europe and the United States. She became the first foreigner to take the lead role at the Moscow Bolshoi Ballet, where she has performed “Giselle” on a number of occasions.

”Ballet is in safe hands,” Güven concludes. For his own part, he is now sharing his knowledge and experience at the ‘Art Academy’, the school of music and stage arts which he helped to establish after his mission as chief choreographer came to an end. “I feel very lucky because I love my job,” he declares, “I am so grateful to my family for introducing me to this profession.”

Private healthcare boom: The search for finance

by Oğuz Engiz

The private healthcare market in Turkey is growing at an amazing speed. This is partly thanks to the government incentives and partly, but more importantly, due to better financing options offered by both local and international financıers. The private healthcare market has grown to nearly US$10bn in 2005 from US$5bn in 1995, which is a one hundred per cent increase over the last ten years. The strength of the Turkish Lira and the steady growth in the economy have also played a major role, but it is obvious that the growing demand for good quality healthcare services has the leading effect.

A considerable part of the private healthcare market consists of private hospitals. The annual turnover of nearly 300 private hospitals is estimated to be US$2bn. Just fifteen of these 300 hospitals are considered A class – meaning they are of an extremely high standard. These incur 25% of all private hospital revenues. Nearly US$500mn is expected to be spent by private insurance companies and over $1bn from the government. Private insurance companies have a portfolio of nearly 800,000 members and pay almost half of their damages to private hospitals (The rest goes to private doctors’ practices, laboratories, imaging units and other ambulatory facilities). The government, on the other hand, started to work with private healthcare facilities in the mid 1990s to procure cardiac services and has now expanded the service line to all medical departments. Today all social security members can go to any private healthcare facility of their choice, provided that they are ready to make a top-up payment.

More investment to come

Over the last ten years, nearly 100 new private hospitals have opened with another 50 preparing to open very shortly. The new investments have been made not only in the big Western cities but also at the farthest ends of Anatolia. The rising demand for high quality healthcare seems to be inevitable. The government is promoting new private investments in healthcare, as there will be no vast resources available for public health facilities, which the public dislikes in any case. The government has declared that it is no longer willing to finance and subsidize healthcare investments out of the overstreched budget. However Turkey recognises the need to at least, double the capacity of its healthcare;

i-to the uninsured population

ii-to the underinsured population

iii-to meet the needs of the growing population

iv-to meet the needs of the aging population

v-to meet the complicated needs of the population

It is an obvious crowding out effect that we are experiencing in the Turkish healthcare market. It is highly likely that this situation will remain unchanged, and is expected to continue over the next ten years. The new investment incentives for the private sector also support this view. Today the government provides deductions on corporate and income tax, and exemptions on V.A.T. and other related duties and levies. In its most recent investment model, the government is offering the private sector the opportunity to invest in healthcare in partnership. The Public Private Partnership (PPP) model, well-known in the West, seems to be a good alternative for the government to renew its old healthcare facilities mostly in the big cities. The Ministry of Health coordinates the PPP model on behalf of the government and seems to be enthusiastic about discussing the new ideas. While some observers suggest that the government is trying to promote foreign investment into the Turkish market, others suggest that supporters of the AKP, the ruling party, will be granted the licences. In any case, the Turkish healthcare sector will double in size over the next ten years, and this will be achieved, primarily by the private sector with the underwriting of the Turkish Treasury.

Long-term finance

When we look at the investment financing opportunities available in the market, foreign banks appear to have been more enthusiastic than local banks so far. Some German banks, including Landes Bank Baden-Württemberg and Hypovereinsbank, have already financed some major healthcare projects in Turkey through funds guaranteed by German export financing organisation HERMES. Some British and Belgian Banks operating in Turkey are also interested in taking part in health sector projects. Meanwhile, local banks like Denizbank have been preparing to enter the healthcare investment market. While the banks offer practical long term financing, major medical equipment manufacturers like Siemens and GE also offer rational financing options to healthcare investors.

Investors looking for a long lasting relationship turn to the International Finance Corporation (IFC), an arm of the World Bank supporting private sector investments. The IFC has already financed two major private hospital projects in Turkey as well as a number of private school investments in the last three years. The IFC will probably continue to finance promising projects meeting the crucial and increasing needs of society such as healthcare and education. Upon the official announcement of the Turkish Ministry of Health, the IFC would be interested in reviewing PPP projects planned for the future.

To cut a long story short, Turkey, as an emerging economy, anticipates keeping its high growth rate, while eventually spending more money on health and education, similar to EU levels. There will be many promising investment opportunities to be exploited in the healthcare system, including PPP projects in the years to come.

Kaz Dağı: The magic mountain

by Recep Peker TANITKAN

Situated in the West of the province of Balikesir, the Mount Ida of classical mythology retains something of its ancient magic in its delightful trails and waterfalls, its rural charm and scenic views. Today it is a haven for climbers and trekkers. The mountain’s healthy climate is also home to a range of arts and crafts, including some which date back to nomadic Turkish tribes.

Kaz Dağı stretches from East to West along the north coast of the Gulf of Edremit at the northern extremity of the Aegean. The myth-makers called it Mount Ida, the mountain of the Mother Goddess, Cybele, and made it the site of repeated seductions of men by women. Among its slopes and valleys, they insisted, Paris, suckled by a she-bear, went on to make his famous and fateful judgement. And upon its summit, the Gods gathered to watch – and decide – the resulting battle of Troy.

Today, the crystalline and volcanic mass bears the more prosaic name of Kaz Dağı (or Dağları), meaning Goose Mountain (or Mountains). Its 1,774-metre summit – Karataş, the highest of a series of peaks – continues to soar above archetypal firs and a uniquely-preserved flora. But the sibyls and soothsayers have gone, and only a more homely ‘Sarıkız’ legend – still female and fatal – is narrated. The region has become a magnet for mountaineers, hikers and other friends of the outdoors. Visitors can also trace the origins of more recent, rural civilisations.

Forest haunts

Within and without the Kazdağı National Park, almost every path can be explored – all the way towards Assos, en route for Troy, in the West. However, many canyons, cliffs and other zones require special equipment or experience. Accordingly, honorary eco-tourism guides are there to accompany everyone, and permission from the Akçay National Park Engineering Centre near the coast is essential.

Do not let that put you off. Each of the established walks is defined by settlements and landmarks with names as charming as themselves. The villages of Çamlıbel (Pine Ridge), Pınarbaşı (Spring-side), Beyoba (Pince’s camp) and Mehmetalan – all are to be encountered along a single horizontal route which combines the freshness of nature with a glimpse of traditional lifestyles.

The town of Güre retains the feel of yester-year, adorned with architectural features proper to the Anatolian Greeks as well as the Turks. Its neighbourhoods, Yassıçalı and Kavurmacılar, are little more than peaceful villages. Following the Kızılkeçili Stream brings the visitor to the Sütüven Waterfall, 17m high and a designated picnic area. Just 500m away are the rocks of Hasanboğuldu (“Hasan drowned”).

Village museum

The steep and level tracks, asphalted lanes and gardens of Zeytinli afford the walker a constant permutation of surface and vista. In the Village of the Wooden Birds (Tahtakuşlar Köyü), just a few kilometres from Akçay, stands Turkey’s first private ethnographical museum and first village art gallery ( or Tel.0266 387 33 40). Opened by retired teacher Alibey Kundar in 1991, the small two-storey building displays artefacts of the nomadic Turkish tribes which migrated from Central Asia, including clothing, household goods, tools, carpets and tents. Also on view seven days a week are more contemporary works of art, embroidery, jewellery, lucky charms and even a giant leatherback sea turtle. The legends of the Kaz mountains are told here and the medicinal plants which grow on them can be purchased along with local handicrafts.

A kilometre to the Southeast is Şarlak, with its commanding view of Çamlibel and the Gulf. Its picnic area and tea garden, containing a pool in the shape of the Sea of Marmara, are an ideal place to gather breath.

The route from Yayla Tepe (Alp Hill) to Ayı Deresi (Bear Valley) is strictly for trekkers but for those forcibly or voluntarily confined to vehicles, there are still many sights to be seen via Avcılar (Hunters) Village, Dereçatı Point, Doyran Village, Mehmetalan Village, Yayla Tepe, Tozlu (Dusty) Point, Türkmen Heights, the peak of Sarıkız (the Blonde or Yellow Girl of a local fable), Tavşanoynağı Tepe (Rabbit Run Hill), Dumanlı (Smoky) Point, Gürlek Fountain and Çamlıbel.

Oxygen cure

Besides the coastal and mountain scenery and the villages tumbling down their slopes, the Kaz mountains are renowned for the high oxygen content of the air. The U-shaped Şahin Deresi (Hawk Valley) canyon, some 600m in height, 700m in breadth and 27km in length, acts as an effective chimney, casting the pine-scented air of the highlands out over the gulf, and drawing the iodised sea air back up into the mountains. It is an ideal climate for those who suffer from asthma, bronchitis or infections of the respiratory tract.

Beaches and camp-sites can be found nearby, while the thermal waters of Güre – as well as Balikesir’s springs – offer another healthy and leisurely option.

GUESS : What will happen this summer?

by Aycan ALP

GUESS, continues its success from the 1980s and even today still produces sportswear and more refined, elegant collections, taking women to safari, while its men’s collection focuses on sea and tropical climate themes this summer.

GUESS first entered the clothing market with its jean collection during the 1980s and has grown from strength to strength. Today it has taken important steps toward being an increasingly growing trademark with its pieces suited to every style of every aspect of life. GUESS has succeeded in being one of the pioneers in women’s wear, men’s wear and accessories. Once again it presents its different range for appreciation with its Spring/Summer 2006 collections.

Safari Freedom for women

GUESS focuses on freedom and excitement and follows these themes for the Spring/Summer 2006 Women’s Collection. It prepares to seduce women with pieces very similar to the ones we would see in a Hollywood set. The clothes sometimes reflect a sexy woman coming out of the exciting atmosphere of Safari, sometimes a natural woman reflecting the comfort of her home, also the mystical aspects of nature have been incorporated into the pieces for an unforgettable journey. Pieces supported with crocodile patterns, silken camisoles and flower-patterned textiles have been used beautifully, animal figures, and embroidered chiffon skirts, also bring extremely attractive lines to the collection. Tight trench coats that fit close against the body in a flattering way and linen embroidered blouses woven with metallic thread are completed with safari style Bermuda shorts.

Defaced looking jeans, which are popular, every season, offer a variety of options for the wearer every hour of the day. Canvas jackets, which compliment the jeans, inspire confidence with their aesthetic pose and form. The colour preference of blue, green, brown supporting natural lines, gives a “safe place” feeling ahead of scorching summer days. The effects of this approach also can be seen in tops made from Şile bezi and hooked needle knitting embroidery.

GUESS girls will look both ultra-feminine and modest this summer with striking clothes that match and are sexy with sophisticated features. The waistlines are creeping upwards this season and a little higher with a narrow cut to emphasise and slim the leg. They are embellished with Swaroski gems making them different from the others. Also the use of very authentic looking dragon patterns worked with metal and gem embroidery leads to an extra avant garde appearance.

While silk top pieces are fixed in pink python jackets, silken satin dresses and tops are reminiscent of flower gardens in summer. Chick yellow, Nile green and earth tones in harmony with the lively days of spring and summer, represents the expression of the energy inside GUESS woman. Every kind of accessory including shoes, handbags, belts and hats are put up for sale under the scope of monogram logo products.

Perfectionist men not giving up comfort

GUESS, in its Spring/Summer 2006 collection for men, reflects the longing for the warmth of the sun after the tiring and depressing days of winter. Shop windows display the Marciano collection with GUESS introducing gentlemen and kind men as the theme for its collection.

GUESS prefers pieces, which reflect the enthusiasm, spirit and peace of summer. It virtually lends its helping hand to men who are tired and frayed from a stressful working life in today’s modern and global world. While bright fabrics designed to proceed towards different adventures constitutes the major part of the collection, comfort is always kept in the forefront. The importance given to physical appearance is reflected to the GUESS Spring/Summer 2006 Collection at the level of perfectionism. Among the pieces maintaining the perfectionist line without making concession from comfort. T-shirts and shirts attract attention with sconce applications in details. The smartness of the clothes is enhanced with striped, floral and checked embroidery in conformity with the summer concept. Nearly all the colours in the collection reflect the sunsets of summer and the balmy atmosphere of early evening. A visual saturation occurs derived from the use of earthy tones such as, orange, yellow, pink, green and blue and pastels when combined makes its impressionable mark on the collection.

Of course sea and sailor themes spring to mind when one says summer and this theme has not been forgotten in the GUESS Spring/Summer 2006 collection. GUESS clubbing sailor trench coats, together with very slim linen shirts constitutes the most significant pieces of the collection. Emblems and striped patterns, rosettes, medals and military motifs used for decoration changes the tune of the collection. Twin sets where shady and crinkled fabrics are used, the amalgamation of blue, white, military green and smoke tones catch one’s eyes.

Seaside, tropical climate, mystery of islands and sea are considered as the most important features of the collection. Comfortable and feel-at-home combinations planned for fast-paced lives are designed to eliminate the tension of work life. Hawaii shirts, Bermuda shorts, cotton and linen mixes, cream-colored, handwork illustrated beach pans, pareos (which are knotted from the waist), local ethnic designed embroidery, tattoo and henna motifs draws attention and highlights the distinguishing features of this collection.

Warm orange tones of the sun combined with the white tones of sandy beaches are reflected together with the cooling turquoise tones of the ocean and bright pink tropical flowers. The higher waisted jeans no not require a belt but foulard has been preferred. Of course an outfit is not complete without the perfect foot wear and comfortable airy sandals have been chosen to complete the summer look becoming indispensable.

Hats: Witnesses of an era

by Bernard KENNEDY

Ankara society, of which most of are readers are a part, never witnessed more rapid change than in the decades following the 1920s. As an ongoing exhibition recalls, this was also the golden age of the hat…

“Ankara was a withdrawn city, worn by years of unrelenting disasters.” Thus writes Turan Tanyer of Turkey’s nascent capital at the outset of the early 1920s. Stone structures were outnumbered by mud-brick and timber-framed houses, there were few shops, and domestic production dominated the economy. By summer, the surrounding vineyards offered relief from the steep, unlit streets with their limited social exchanges. Then came the first grand apartment building (the Foundation apartments), the first motor car, the first patisseries, the first concerts, receptions, exhibitions, fashion shows, dance competitions, horse races and weekend excursions, and the first balls at the Ankara Palas or the Türk Ocağı. With these came a new way of interacting in public, new roles for women and a new consumer society. Of course, there were new costumes to go with this part-imported, part-invented way of life. And no item of attire was more symbolic of the era than its hats.

Cultural icons

Now they emerge rarely from dark wardrobe shelves. Unworn, outmoded, strange, they no longer exude the spirit of the age. Nevertheless, Ataturk’s Kastamonu “hat speeches” of August and October 1925, his Hat Law and the brimmed felts and panamas of his classic photographs are imprinted in Turkish memory. Even today, Süleyman Demirel, prime minister on seven occasions before he became the ninth president of the Republic in 1993, is almost unthinkable without his bowler.

The women of the early Republic wore hats that wanted nothing of the style, variety and colour sported by their western contemporaries. While the young women of the 21st century may eschew the world of “ladies and gentlemen” which these headpieces call to mind, they embodied in their day a contemporary life-style and

preluded the education and emancipation of women as individuals. And has so much changed? With their pins and feathers and bands, they were and remain objects of desire and vehicles of self-expression just like our own studs and bangles – albeit not so mass-produced.


Those early years are brought to life by the exhibition of “Scenes from the Social Life of Ankara in the Republican Period” which opened at the Vehbi Koç and Ankara Research Centre (VEKAM) on May 6 and will remain open until August 7. The exhibition features over 150 hats worn in Ankara between 1930 and 1960. They include hats worn by: Mevhibe İnönü, wife of the second President of the Republic İsmet İnönü; President Süleyman Demirel, the ninth president of the Republic, and his wife Nazmiye Demirel; Hasan Ali Yücel, Minister of Education from 1938 to 1946; İbrahim Rauf Ayaşlı, a member of the first Republican parliament; Füruzende Çağlayangil, wife of İhsan Sabri Çağlayangil, who was foreign minister three times in the 1960s and 1970s, and industrialist Vehbi Koç and his wife Sadberk Koç. Other exhibits include gloves, shawls and similar accessories representative of the period.

VEKAM President Semahat Arsel hosted the opening of the exhibition, which also included a “fashion parade”. The exhibition book, written by Turan Tanyer, is to appear in an English version this month. Vekam is located in the Koç family’s nineteenth century summer house at Şehit Hakan Turan Sokak No. 9 in the Pınarbaşı neighbourhood of Ankara’s Keçiören district.