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Turkey's Post-Coup Funk Reaches Far and Wide
Turkey's Post-Coup Funk Reaches Far and Wide
Video: Russia and Turkey in the Black Sea and the South Caucasus
Video: Russia and Turkey in the Black Sea and the South Caucasus
Ancient sites like Sagalassos, a former Greco-Roman city two hours north of Antalya city, have seen a sharp drop in visitors and since the coup the Belgian-led archaeological team has had to suspend its excavation work. Photo: Hugh Pope.
Op-Ed / Europe & Central Asia

Turkey's Post-Coup Funk Reaches Far and Wide

Originally published in Nikkei Asian Review

Turkey's rulers say the world does not understand how much the attempted coup in mid-July traumatized the country. To judge by three weeks in the rural backwoods of the southern province of Antalya, they are not far wrong. But the distress is not just because of the shocking acts of the night of July 15, but also the aftermath.

At first glance, much looked normal around my part-time village home in the pine- and cedar-clad mountains of the Mediterranean coast. Roadbuilding continues. Provincial markets bustle with people and overflow with fresh produce. The country's politicians are even making a show of overcoming their partisan divides.

But daily life is moving visibly more slowly. And underneath it all, most ordinary people in this country of 79 million are in a deeply apprehensive funk.

Unless uttered among trusted friends, once free-flowing diatribes about politicians dry up or turn into worried whispers. Weeks after the coup was crushed, national television stations still broadcast feverish programming in the name of national unity. Business people say they feel paralyzed. Tourism had already been hit by an eight-month long travel ban imposed by Russia after Turkey shot down a warplane on the Syrian border in November, and the bombing of Istanbul airport in March. Nobody in the sector has a clue what to plan for next.

Keeping up appearances is a well-established art in a country that has long suffered rollercoaster swings of sentiment and boom-and-bust economic cycles. But Turks fear that many real, broad achievements of the past two decades are unraveling. While everything may turn out alright in the end, as everyone says they hope, the frightening forces now at work mean nobody knows how bad it will get before it gets better.

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