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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Former Turkish Chief of Staff on Trial Monday

The trial of Gen. İlker Başbuğ, former Chief of the General Staff of Turkey, began Monday. The NYT has a brief report. The following is a video from Euronews (I hope it's OK to embed it here - if not, let me know, Euronews, and I'll remove it!):

For those of you wondering how to pronounce his name, the best I can describe it is as follows: Ilker - the "I" as in "In" and the "e" as the "a" in "advertisement"- Bashbou - the "a" as the "u" in "uppercut".

Friday, March 23, 2012

Swedish Development Minister's Op-Ed in Radikal Newspaper

Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation - and Gunilla has an op-ed in yesterday's Radikal. The article coincides with her current two-day visit to Turkey, the purpose of which is described as:
for discussions on how Turkey, as an influential regional actor and aid donor, can cooperate and exchange experience with Sweden. The talks will also focus on Sweden's support to Turkey's EU membership negotiations.
She is also there to attend a UNDP conference and is meeting with Egemen Bağış and Ali Babacan, Minister for EU Affairs/chief negotiator and Deputy Prime Minister respectively.

The op-ed in Radikal (which, btw is in Turkish! - I suspect someone helped her with the translation...) emphasizes Sweden's support for Turkey's EU candidacy and Turkey's strong ties to the EU. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Toulouse killings: Death in the morning | The Economist

Three young Jewish school children and one adult have been shot dead at a religious school in Toulouse.

This is when my analytical brain runs the risk of short-circuiting. I just fail to comprehend deliberate and brutal violence directed against children.

In the case of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales - the US soldier who went berserk in Afghanistan two weeks ago and murdered nine children and seven adults in their homes - the horrific acts appears to have been the result of mental instability. In a way, this makes is easier to comprehend, albeit no less abhorrent of course. But if such violence is perpetrated for political reasons?

True, the many inaccurate speculations in the immediate aftermath of Anders Breivik's terrorist attacks in Norway should caution us against loose guessing about perpetrators and objectives. Hopefully, the murderer will be caught and we will know the reason in time. So let us not point in any particular direction.

But what if the Economist is correct in speculating that there was a political motive behind this attack? As a student of ethnic conflict, I am aware of the affective power of ethnic, nationalist, religious or other kinds of identity, and the rage felt by those marginalized and oppressed as well as victims of perceived and/or real injustice. But no matter what crimes you may have been subjected to, the children of your enemies are never guilty!

Anyway, I should be preparing tomorrow's lecture but I felt the need to respond to this somehow.

Toulouse killings: Death in the morning | The Economist

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Deep State | The New Yorker

The New Yorker adds its voice to the growing number of Western observers who are concerned about developments in Turkey:

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was elected in 2003, despite having been banned from holding office, and since then he has taken an increasingly harsh line against his opponents. In the past five years, more than seven hundred people have been arrested. 
Letter from Turkey: The Deep State | The New Yorker

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Swedish Bank SEB Bullish on Turkey

I just got a newsletter from my bank - the large Swedish bank SEB - which contained an extremely bullish article on Turkey. The title of the piece (in translation) is indicative: "Turkey: Soon among the 12 largest."

Their analyst, Mats Olausson, believes that "Turkey is probably the country in Europe with the highest growth potential in the coming decade."The piece emphasizes high growth, political stability, inflation under control (down to single digits from previous 70% rates), a well-managed and attractive financial sector.

For those of you who read Swedish, here is a link to the original piece. I think that it should be accessible also to people who are not SEB clients but let me know if the link doesn't work.
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