Holiday in Turkey? Yes!

Kuşadasi – you bet your assy

Ölü Deniz  it’s just the biz

Next to Godrum, there is Bodrum

Jumping Jack Kaş it’s a gas

Yeşil Üzümlü, er…

That’s right, we are bigging up Turkey. Those who visit, live in or have invested in Kalkan on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast have taken it upon them selves to start waxing about the joys of Turkey as a holiday destination in an online group Holiday in Turkey? Yes

It’s a good job somebody is beating a drum because I do not see much of an attempt by Turkey’s government to rouse up and reassure the world, despite visitor numbers last year being down by some 30 – 40%.  And there is a great story to tell, although I want to add a different perspective. Let me first, however, repeat the points made better by others in the group:

Turkey offers great value for money; at just short of 5 liras to the pound you can eat in the best restaurants (and they are good) and still get change from £20 per head and an average family restaurant will come in well below that.

The climate is great and the standard of accommodation is high.

This is a great country for activity tourism; you can go on canoe excursions, boat trips, walks, swims, jeep safaris, mountain visits, quad bikes, pony trekking and so on.

There is a treasure trove of ancient sites for those who like to walk in the footsteps of Roman legions on their holidays. Stand quietly amongst the ruins of the amphitheatre at Pınara or Xanthos and you will feel the ghosts of ancient Likya. Just 15 minutes drive from Kalkan are the substantial ruins of the ancient city of Patara, complate with the restored Assembly Building of the Lykian League: the first known democratic parliament.

Perhaps most importantly you will get an amazing friendly welcome and, despite the economic pressures bearing down on tourist business owners, very little hassle or pressure.

But I want to mention something else; Turkey is just too important for the West to walk away from.

What other country in the Middle East has sustained democratic government for ninety years? Or can boast six state funded regional ballet and opera companies, offering regular quality performance of works by Handel, Mozart and many others? Find another country in this area that gives women full political rights under its constitution and has done so for 80 years?

The Republic of Turkey is still a place where western democratic values are cherished by many and where people can live their lives as they want to live them and express themselves freely.

BUT Turkey’s attachment to the West is under heavy challenge from the current government and its undisputed leader President Erdoğan. The sale and enjoyment of alcohol is being stealthily eroded. The freedom to celebrate Western and ınternational festivals and holidays like New Year are being questioned. Even when 40 party goers at Istanbul’s Reina Night Club were massacred on New Year’s eve this year, some in Turkey said the victims had brought it on their own head, prompting the Head of Diyanet (Religious Affairs directorate) to state that it is wrong to divide people according to their life-style.

So the West needs Turkey onside. Teresa May has recognised that and made Turkey her first stop after America.

Turkey holds some of the world’s most difficult borders and is the buffer between Europe and states like Syria, Iraq, Iran. We need a strong, secular and free Turkey and we need to understand and support its struggle to understand and bridge East and West. Walk away from it and we leave a void that will be filled by forces almost certainly at least suspicious, if not hostile, to the West and Western values.

So enjoy a fabulous holiday with all that Turkey has to offer, which is everything, at a modest price too.

Equally importantly allow yourself the self-satisfaction of knowing that in holidaying here you are supporting those campaigning for Freedom, Tolerance and Women’s Rights.

I will drink to that.

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