At my age, my far-sight­ed­ness has long cor­rect­ed my myopia. But, on learn­ing what a Euro­pean Con­sul said about Turkey and Instan­bul, I sud­den­ly real­ize the extent to which my glass­es must be fool­ing me. Because France whose influ­ence still shines all the way to Istan­bul is always right, isn’t it?

Here are the words spo­ken by the French Con­sul in Istan­bul. Excerpts :

The Turks haven’t changed. Their gen­eros­i­ty is always on dis­play just as are their hos­pi­tal­i­ty and their affec­tion toward chil­dren. The Turks are still as proud of their coun­try and of their his­to­ry, and they are right to be so. Turkey hasn’t changed but it has evolved and has con­sid­er­ably mod­ern­ized itself.

All one needs is to see how incred­i­bly Istan­bul has grown in every sense of the word. It has become a tru­ly world-class city that attracts every tal­ent, every ener­gy. Istan­bul is filled with ener­gy, be it in the realm of cre­ativ­i­ty, of art or of entre­pre­neur­ship as demon­strat­ed by the country’s eco­nom­ic expansion.

Turkey remains faith­ful to itself but con­tin­ues to renew itself. It is a coun­try that looks ahead. This can be explained, notably, by the faith the Turks have in a bet­ter future. That is the great strength of this coun­try and of its population.

The Turks haven’t changed

I con­firm this… Their nation­al­ism goes through parox­ysms, true, and in this the school sys­tem has done its job well. For gen­er­a­tions, it has formed flag bear­ers pleased and proud of being Turks since ear­li­est child­hood. And Erdoğan knows how to remind them of this per­ma­nent­ly. In terms of gen­eros­i­ty and hos­pi­tal­i­ty, the arm­chairs at the Palace are wel­com­ing, vis­i­bly, and con­sular rear ends must feel com­fort­able there. I sup­pose he isn’t refer­ring to the lit­tle peo­ple whom he does not meet much although he sees them fil­ing through his con­sulate, days on end, seek­ing visas that are refused. France is much less wel­com­ing and hos­pitable. One point for Turkey !

Turkey has evolved and modernized itself

True, it has pro­gressed recent­ly in its affec­tion for chil­dren. It no longer kills chil­dren oth­er than Kur­dish or Syr­i­an. For oth­ers, it low­ers the age of their sex­u­al matu­ri­ty and gives them work in clan­des­tine work­shops. This is a progress for every­one, espe­cial­ly for exploiters… All right, I know, I kvetch all the time.

We have a sub­way, bridges, a tun­nel, super­mar­kets that open, close and re-open else­where. Build­ings and tow­ers that grow like mush­rooms, roads and high­way exchanges lead­ing to air­ports that replace forests, we also have pow­er outages…
Moder­ni­ty is here, and well estab­lished. On the bus, tur­banned chick­ies read the Coran on their I‑Phone and talk loud­ly while stay­ing seat­ed as old folks like me look else­where. The flags aren’t made of cot­ton any­more but of syn­thet­ic mate­ri­als and take on incred­i­ble dimen­sions… All this, I can see very well. Turkey is becom­ing Euro­peanized now that the Sul­tan is tak­ing care of it.

And the tal­ents, the ener­gies… All those « igno­rant and obscure » uni­ver­si­ty pro­fes­sors sud­den­ly attract­ed by the murk­i­ness of jail cells, with the help of the oh-so ener­getic hand of police­men. He’s right again there, the Con­sul is. Why leave their pass­port to those who, fired with­out indem­ni­ties and with no right to their pen­sion, might find their tal­ents attract­ed else­where and might hop off to Europe ? Yes, those tal­ents, how Turkey knows how best to keep them in the shade, where they can’t get damaged…

And entre­pre­neu­ship, aaah­hh, entre­pre­neur­ship, inch’allah, how it lays out the con­crete, how free and entre­pre­neur­ial it is, how well it belongs in the family…How it fills up the shoe­box­es, the entre­pre­neu­ship ! And how the Bilal knew how to pass them on to Italy in the old days. Now, with moder­ni­ty, it’s French banks, a way of remain­ing faith­ful to one’s self and renew­ing the accounts.

The Sul­tan looks ahead to 2023, cen­te­nial of the « nation­al rev­o­lu­tion ». He envi­sions it lib­er­al, Ottoman in its man­ner of dom­i­nat­ing the world, big­ot­ed and tru­ly nation­al­is­tic, his Turkey. We could draw him in pro­file, with a cres­cent behind him, look­ing toward Mec­ca via Swiss banks…with the fig­ure of a « moth­er » at his side. Oh no, not one of those search­ing for her lost son or daugh­ter, but one who promis­es to make chil­dren, as befits her « function ».

I don’t know on what occa­sion this with­old­er of French visas pro­nounced his ode to mod­ern Turkey, but I have the feel­ing he would have been bet­ter advised to shut up rather than to present his wish­es. I sense I’ll look at the Con­sulate with anoth­er eye when I walk past it. I know some who will present their thanks by deposit­ing por­traits of Erdoğan there.

But, come to think of it, per­haps he fig­ured that by say­ing all those nice things, he’d avoid the bul­lets of a grumpy police­man.

If you want to know more about it, and most of all, in order to read this, « But this attempt­ed putsch also demon­strat­ed the demo­c­ra­t­ic matu­ri­ty of the Turk­ish peo­ple as well as the strength of its insti­tu­tions, » still out of the Consul’s mouth, have a look over here and you’ll see we can say that he’s « remained French1».

Brief note from Kedistan : we can easily understand the anger since this was not part of a conventional « diplomatic » declaration in an official meeting, but part of an interview given to a local rag aimed at French-speakers in Turkey, where nothing forced him to lay on the praise and where he could have been satisfied with talking about his life.

Trans­la­tion by Renée Lucie Bourges
In French : Turquie • Quand le Con­sul de France cire les pompes

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