Saturday April 18, 2015 Search
Weather | Athens
14o C
09o C
News
Business
Comment
Life
Sports
Community
Survival Guide
Greek Edition
From Athens in 1998 to Istanbul in 2013

By Alexis Papachelas

History goes in cycles and while this is one of its most charming features if you’re a scholar, it is not so pleasant when you’re actually experiencing it.

A few days ago I was in Istanbul to attend an event held in memory of the late Turkish journalist Mehmet Ali Birand. I remembered the expression on his face when he first visited Athens around 1998. He was impressed by the wealth, the dynamism and the air of Europe that was evident everywhere.

“Wow, you guys have really progressed. You’ve left us far behind,” he told me after a long walk through central Athens. Had Birand been alive today, I may very well have uttered the same words to him about Istanbul.

Turkey today is a country that exudes confidence and has made marked leaps forward.

Let’s start with the trip. The airplane was full of Greek Americans heading home, as Ataturk International Airport has become a hub for travel to the United States, Asia and Africa. Here in Greece, we used to brag about our overly expensive new airport, but we never succeeded it turning it into a real crossroads.

On the streets of Istanbul, there is ample evidence of construction activity as new residential complexes spring up near the banks of the Bosporus and new private universities go into operation, making Greek universities seem like poor relatives in comparison.

Turkey has made so many leaps forward because it has found in Recep Tayyip Erdogan its own Andreas Papandreou. But there is a difference between the two. The Turkish prime minister has modernized his country and unleashed its creative forces, while at the same time assimilating into the system the masses of Anatolians who voted for him. He tore down outdated institutions and built new ones in their place.

On the other hand, while Turkey may be in its prime right now, it is also showing cracks that have many observers very concerned. Its overambitious foreign policy opened fronts that have no strategic advantages; its economy is at risk if the real estate bubble bursts and drags banks down with it; and democracy is being sorely tested, if the experiences of non-establishment journalists are anything to go by.

Given this uncertainty, we should not draw any conclusions about where Greece or Turkey will be in 20-30 years. Sure, Greece is at a very low point right now, but that is nothing new if viewed from a historical perspective. Turkey likewise has known growth before, but has also gone through long periods of decline.

We mustn’t forget that history is never predictable, dull and linear.

ekathimerini.com , Saturday October 26, 2013 (15:25)  
The Armenian genocide and Hagia Sophia
Crime against education
Unfulfilled pledge
Schaeuble’s comeback
Krugman advises against ‘nightmare’ euro exit
Economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman spoke at the Athens Concert Hall on Friday. Although Krugman was critical of the way that the eurozone has handled Greece’s crisis, he adv...
Brussels Group due to meet in wake of Obama’s call for Greek reforms
Greece and its lenders are due to get back down to business on Saturday with a meeting of the Brussels Group that Athens hopes will result in an interim agreement by the end of the month at ...
Inside News
ECB examines possible Greek IOU currency in case of default, sources say
The European Central Bank has analysed a scenario in which Greece runs out of money and starts paying civil servants with IOUs, creating a virtual second currency within the euro bloc, peopl...
New bank programs to contain bad loans
Local banks are offering new programs for the settlement of outstanding loan payments, providing for the postponement of debt payment for up to 10 years. The new programs will likely become ...
Inside Business
BASKETBALL
Triumph for Olympiakos at Barcelona
Olympiakos produced its best away performance so far this season to defeat host Barcelona 76-63 on Friday and snatch the home advantage in the Euroleague play-offs. The Reds have now tied th...
BASKETBALL
Another heavy loss for improved Panathinaikos in Moscow
Panathinaikos raised its performance since Tuesday but still suffered a 20-point loss at CSKA Moscow on Thursday to find itself trailing 2-0 after Game 2 of the Euroleague play-offs. Having ...
Inside Sports
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
 RECENT NEWS
1. Triumph for Olympiakos at Barcelona
2. Krugman advises against ‘nightmare’ euro exit
3. Brussels Group due to meet in wake of Obama’s call for Greek reforms
4. Crackdown on uni sit-in deepens rifts in SYRIZA
5. Greece, Cyprus hope for progress in peace talks
6. Komotini mosque damaged by fire, arson suspected
more news
Today
This Week
1. Quarantine for Greek bank subsidiaries in neighboring countries
2. Putting off payments led to Q1 budget primary surplus
3. Obama calls for flexibility in Greek reform talks in brief exchange with Varoufakis
4. Greek finance minister says cannot sign existing loan deal
5. Greece enters twilight zone as visions of euro exit take shape
6. Fourteen face charges after police enter Athens University grounds, ending sit-in
Today
This Week
1. Greece and lenders head back to technical talks
2. Quarantine for Greek bank subsidiaries in neighboring countries
3. Contraband is big business in Greece
4. FYROM push expected at EU meeting
5. Islands of eastern Aegean struggle as migrant influx triples
6. Greek finance ministry hits back at German newspaper report
   Find us ...
  ... on
Twitter
     ... on Facebook   
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright © 2015, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.