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Istanbul at the crossroad (5)

(People's Daily Online)

13:55, March 21, 2012

Old Istanbul tram (Andre Vltchek/ People's Daily Online)

Erkin Oncan, a student, translator and activist sees Istanbul through different light:

“I was born and raised in Izmir. I came here for better education and better living conditions. Of course, I also see how capitalism is turning people into slaves, how the entire city is being eaten by consumerism. But I also see Istanbul as the great city of rebellion!”

He tells me about the battles students fight with the police on the streets, about progressive media including daily newspaper Aidenlyk.

Among the young intellectuals in Istanbul, it appears, both Chinese and Latin American models are studied and discussed.

Vapurs – beautiful traditional ships are connecting Asia with Europe. Their interior is made of wood and comfortable upholstery. Delicious tea is served during the crossings and the views on both sides are simply stunning, incomparably beautiful.

Istanbul is in love with its past, with its vapurs, cable cars, old streetcars, historic bathhouses, bazaars, sweets shops, cemeteries and mosques. But it is also looking towards the future, trying to determine in what direction to move.

The West had often and unjustly humiliated Turkey. Its endless applications to join European Union had been either rejected or delayed; unrealistic restrictions for membership had been erected.

“I am very disappointed in Europe”, exclaims Elif Aydinligil. “We used to admire everything that would come from Paris or Berlin, but now to stay in Istanbul appears to be a better choice.”

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