I want to start by speaking to you about your nomination as president of Québec Solidaire (QS), and what are you going to do to continue the development/growth of QS?
To begin with, I was elected a few weeks ago and I have only officially been holding the position for one week. I’m jumping on a train which is already rolling with several elements being developed, so yeah, I’m on board with the process and I intend to continue with the strategies which have been adopted and, if possible contribute in a positive way. In that sense, you know, we’re doing some excellent work at the parliamentary level, we are very present in the Assemblée Nationale, and my work is to continue, but that doesn’t depend on me, it’s mostly up to Françoise David and Amir Khadir as well as the parliamentary team. However, it’s very important that we support them and ensure that the party represents a strong foundation for our parliamentary team.
I love Istanbul. It’s a city without comparison. A city spread across two continents, a grandeur that is fitting of its culture, history and mega metropolis geography.
I also love Turkey despite growing up with Armenians. It’s a fascinating and unique country, and I enjoy writing about it. A country that is difficult to simplify and deconstruct into neat categories, and declare that they’re just like someone else. If I had to, Turkey ends up resembling Russia the most, despite their glaring superficial contrasts.
I’m just going to come out and say it: North Korea is bad.
It’s true. They’re really bad. Like trouble making children.
But they’re not the bully in the playground. They’re much more like the child that tortures insects. The kid bullies avoid because they don’t want to encounter that world of strange and bizarre. Plus, who knows what kind of filth could be picked up?
When reading spirited texts written over 150 years ago about the goodness of individuals and the impeding role of government in their lives, the effect of romanticizing these words has an exceptional influence on the reader. Any reader with even a touch of activist will read Henry David Thoreau’s famous essay post-humorously titled “Civil Disobedience” and rhythmically nod their head concurring throughout.
Turkey is one of the few complicated states in the word that is difficult to classify and force into a neat cultural and political grouping. Its land is the setting of Biblical stories, the birthplace of Western Civilization, and the spread of Islam.
Turkey is far more than a bridge between Eastern and Western worlds; it is a land home to both. From an outsider’s perspective Turkey is difficult to classify. From within, Turkey struggles with a perpetual identity crisis.
A year lad a half ago I wrote an article about how Turkey’s strategic geo-political position in the world has them in an identity struggle between Western and Eastern influences.
Is Turkey a future member of the EU (after 48 years of associate membership) or will their large Muslim population perpetually keep them as a special relation to the West? Undeniably, Western Turkey has been a setting where important events in European history have played out over the last 2000 years, thus they can’t be written off as un-European.
With that in mind, where does that line draw on their relations with their Muslim neighbors? Turks are far from Arabs, but what exactly is their current status in the Islamic world?
These types of questions can be thrust upon different eras in history and produce distinctly circumstantial answers each time, just like the layers of influence from different periods built on Hagia Sophia.
Originally Published for Dispatches International in 2011
“Turkey is a medium-sized country and there is going to be a power vacuum because historically we have a perspective of Europe and if we stop having this perspective we will have to have another one. Unfortunately, the closest option for Turkey is the eastern world,” says Asli Postaci, a PhD candidate in political science at Yeditepe Univeristy in Istanbul.
With the ongoing unrest in the Arab world, Turkey is starting to become a major player in the region. It has become clear that the European Union has put any plans to add Turkey as a full member on hold. As a result Turkey has shifted its policies in the Middle East. This past May, Turkish relations with Israel were greatly strained with the Gaza Flotilla Raid. This was a Turkish demonstration to show that it will create its own foreign policy in the Middle East, even if it directly opposes policies that Western powers have in the region.