Crowds in Turkey gather to honor Kurds. Although they are a minority (and generally unsupported) group in many Middle Eastern states, the execution of three Kurdish people in Paris prompted a gathering of tens of thousands of people in the city of Diyarbakir. The government did not stop the rally, a sign that shows promise for peace talks between the Turkish government and the Kurdish people in Turkey. (January 18, 2013)
Support for Turkey joining the European Union is declining. According to a new survey conducted in Turkey as well as in Europe, the idea of joining the EU is losing its appeal even though increased efforts have been made to further free trade across borders and no longer require a Visa for to travel to European countries. Efforts to join were originally suggested to encourage political reform in Turkey about a range of issues that Europe has already adopted. (January 26, 2013)
Turkey concerned about pollution. It is said to be a major problem for 79 out of 81 of the provinces in Turkey. The primary cause for this is waste from industry as well as heavy traffic, problems that also contribute to water and soil pollution. Recently, sea turtles are becoming a larger concern after noticing altered migration patterns. (January 1, 2013)
Conflict in Syria:
Although this primarily only impacts Eastern Turkey (not the areas where we are travelling) it is still an important issue to be aware of. The revolution, known as the Arab Spring, began in Tunisia and has spread throughout many Middle Eastern countries (notably, Egypt with Hosni Mubarak and Libya with Muammar el-Qaddafi) with the objective of revolting against the dictatorship governments. Many of these revolutions have already had much success, but the conflict in Syria against Dictator Bashar al Assad persists. Because Syria borders Turkey to the south, many of the conflicts occur close to the border. Additionally, Turkey serves as an inspiration as the ideal form of government for many of the Arab protesters, and a significant number of the refugees, from Syria in particular, are currently living in camps in Turkey where they can escape the conflict and experience better living conditions. Although this will not be an issue in the parts of the country that we will be travelling to, it is important to recognize the political situation in Turkey.
New York Times
Hurriyet Daily News, Istanbul