Leigh Turner » Istanbul, Turkey

Video: the perils of conspiracy theories

A harvest fails.  Saboteurs are blamed.  A well-know personality dies tragically.  A secret plot is alleged.  Another well-known personality dies tragically.  Rumours circulate that he has faked his death and has been seen in a supermarket near Basingstoke. I have written several times in this blog about conspiracy theories.  Now, if you don’t mind hearing someone murdering the Turkish language, you can watch me talking on the same subject.  I … Read more »Video: the perils of conspiracy theories

Crimean Tatars: suppression, intimidation, fear and distrust

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A country illegally uses military force to seize the territory of a neighbouring country despite having signed treaties recognising, and promising to respect, that country’s territorial integrity.  Once in de facto control, the new authorities systematically suppress and intimidate an important ethnic minority with strong links to Turkey.    It’s happening right here in Europe.   I blogged in April 2014 about “Why Ukraine matters and what happens next”.  In … Read more »Crimean Tatars: suppression, intimidation, fear and distrust

Gay Pride in Istanbul: great stuff

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A massive march surges down Istiklal, Istanbul’s main thoroughfare.  Banners urge understanding of minority rights.  International commentators praise the tolerance on display at one of the biggest festivals of its type in the region.   Istanbul Gay Pride is big.  In 2013, more than 100,000 people were reported as participating. The festival celebrates the gay community by fighting discrimination and violence against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex people, … Read more »Gay Pride in Istanbul: great stuff

Crossroads and boundaries: Eastern Anatolia

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Snow-capped peaks tower over ancient mausoleums.  Although they were built by Saltukids in the 12th Century, the steep-roofed tombs are reminiscent of Armenian churches.  The nearby Selcuk-era madrasah features both Central Asian-style twin minarets and double-headed Byzantine eagles.  Above the city, in a fortress founded by Emperor Theodosius in the 4th century, a newer minaret-like structure has a bell tower at the top. At the crossroads of Europe and Asia, Turkey is … Read more »Crossroads and boundaries: Eastern Anatolia

Politics and power: Why the Magna Carta is still a burning issue

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A bunch of English barons challenge the King for power and seize London.  To make peace, the King agrees a legal document.  But he then asks the Pope repeal it – which the Pope does, declaring it “null and void of all validity forever”.  War erupts; the King dies; and a nine-month-old boy becomes head of state. All this happened in 1215 – 800 years ago.  Why should anyone care … Read more »Politics and power: Why the Magna Carta is still a burning issue

Why learning English is easy and fun

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I have the privilege and honour to work as a British diplomat.  That means I spend a lot of time learning foreign languages. Before each of my last five postings (in Vienna, Moscow, Berlin, Kyiv and Istanbul) I spent between four weeks and nine months on intensive language preparations. If you want to understand a country and its people, speaking the language helps. I’ll be blogging later on how I … Read more »Why learning English is easy and fun

#REASONSTOLIKEISTANBUL PART 2

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I was delighted to spend a couple of hours recently with top Turkish journalist and photographer Ercan Arslan. Ercan had come across my Twitter  account @leighturnerFCO and the series #reasonstolikeIstanbul, now at #373.  He asked if we could visit a few of the places I’d tweeted about. The result was a piece published in the Turkish newspaper Milliyet on 24 May, also available online (in Turkish).  Warning: as the idea … Read more »#REASONSTOLIKEISTANBUL PART 2

James Bond, conspiracy theories and the Welsh Secret Service

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Amongst the snippets of “what will happen in 2015?” news earlier this year I saw one piece of news sure to please many people. A new James Bond 007 Film, “Spectre”, will launch in November. People are fascinated by secret services.  Some are more secret than others.  My blog of December 2010, “I can burn your face”, expressed my admiration for the Dutch secret service, the AIVD, for the fact … Read more »James Bond, conspiracy theories and the Welsh Secret Service

UK and Turkey: doing good business

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Next week promises to be a big week for UK-Turkish trade and investment.   Lord Livingston, the British Minister of State for Trade and Investment, will visit Turkey from 22-25 February.  The Minister will open a GREAT Technology event; hold formal high-level talks with Trade Minister Zeybekci; meet British investors in Turkey, and Turkish investors in the UK; and meet top representatives of sectors of Turkish business with which the … Read more »UK and Turkey: doing good business

Business in Turkey: the rules of the game

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British people are often accused of using too many sporting metaphors.  Expression such as “a good innings” (doing well but nearly finished) or “a sticky wicket” (a hard-to-defend situation) come from cricket.  Others, eg “game, set and match” (the contest has ended) or “ the ball’s in your court” (it’s up to you to make the next step) come from tennis. Others come from football: we all know the meaning … Read more »Business in Turkey: the rules of the game