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If you're reading this, you've come to the old home for the James in Turkey website. The website has changed servers and adopted a new look ahead of the 2014 local election.

For the latest Turkish politics and election analysis from Michael Daventry redirect your bookmarks to jamesinturkey.com.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Erdoğan on British press freedom

When a foreign leader descends on the Turkish capital for a working visit, the journalists from that country invariably use the leaders’ joint press conference to ask about Turkey’s record on freedom of expression.

“You have more journalists are in prison than China,” is the standard line of attack. “Shouldn’t you do something about that?”

Today, it was Angela Merkel and Germany’s turn to receive Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s stock answer.

Talking to the prisoner

Never before has Turkey been so far down the road towards peace with its Kurdish minority.

In themselves, negotiations are nothing new. They have been held on-and-off and in secret for years – most recently brokered by the Norwegians. The preliminary objective is, as it has always been, to stop the fighting between the Turkish army and members of the PKK. Of course, these talks have produced ceasefires before; all eventually fell through.

This time might just be different. The Turkish government is talking not only to the PKK leadership in the Iraqi-Turkish mountains, but to the organisation’s number one himself, Abdullah Öcalan. And, for the first time, it is openly admitting doing so. This is the so-called “İmralı process”, named after the prison island on which the PKK leader is kept.

Let’s be plain about what it involves: Turkey is in peace talks with the man it sentenced to death thirteen years ago.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Turkey's next election: the CHP's challenge

Here’s a prediction that won’t astonish anyone: the CHP will not win Turkey’s next general election in two years’ time.

A victory for the main opposition party is a monumentally difficult thing to achieve not just because of the party’s current leadership woes, but because the governing AK Party has a solid hold on power.

A Metropoll survey at the end of December, which showed a near-uniform swing in support away from the three main parties, reported a full 25 per cent of voters saying

Thursday, 14 February 2013

The Turkey or the egg?

Consider, if you will, the curious case of Turkey’s ambiguous name. It can mean one of two things. The first is a parliamentary democracy of 75 million squeezed onto the Anatolian peninsula and home to one of the largest cities in the world. The other is a large bird that American presidents have a penchant for pardoning every year.
Neither makes a decent bottle of wine – but beyond that, they have few things in common.  The bird is not indigenous to the country. In the country’s main language, the bird is named after another country -  India. You cannot seriously confuse the two.

But some people in Turkey see clarity as an opportunity for bewilderment: there is a campaign, growing in voice, for the country to adopt Türkiye as its English name.