Gezi Park, Taksim Park Back to Normal
So it seems that the demonstrations set off by Gezi Park are coming to a gradual, yet grudging, halt. The last two times I visited Taksim Square, the site of some of the heaviest protesting, things there were peaceful and calm: tourists strolled around with shopping bags, the policemen stationed in the area joked around with shop owners, and the antique tram that starts in Taksim and runs down Istakal Street, which was nowhere to be seen in the early weeks of June, was running normally. The only obvious remnants of the conflict were some yet to be dealt with shattered windows and graffiti and a small group of determined activists who have set up a booth near Taksim to sell anti-government t-shirts and signs. And although there continue to be several organized protests in the city each week, they are much smaller and don’t weigh as heavily in the minds of Turks as those that came before. The Turkish family I live with rarely talks about the Gezi Park issue anymore; in fact, the last time I heard anything mentioned at length about it at all, in private or public, was about five days ago among a group of expats who were considering where they could relocate if things got worse—a conversation I found strange, because even then the situation was already well into its current downhill trajectory.
Politics Aside, Turkey is still Incredible
The anti-government movement has lost its momentum, and the comparisons that were made to the Arab Spring have proven to be as far-fetched as they first sounded. The major difference between governments of the Arab states in 2011 and of Turkey today—that Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s Prime Minister, and his ruling AKP party were fairly put into power by Turkish voters—should be kept in mind. Unless the government makes another misstep in the coming months, I don’t anticipate serious unrest in Turkey for the rest of the year; presidential elections, in which Erdogan plans to run, will be held in early 2014, and the Turkish people will have a chance to show how Gezi Park has affected their opinion of their current Prime Minister. And with the wave of recent, and massive, protests that has begun to spread through Egypt, it is likely that the world’s interest in the region will shift elsewhere.
Our Writers near Gezi Park, Istanbul
Jesse Anderson is a native of Olympia, Washington, but later went on to study political science at Emory University in Atlanta. Since graduating, he has been working and living abroad in places as diverse as Normandy, southern China, and Istanbul, and he spends his free time making music, reading, and studying languages.
An Editor’s Update on Istanbul
I have now spoken to half a dozen writers and travelers who have recently returned from Turkey. While all had differing opinions about the politics of Turkey and Gezi Park, all agreed when we discussed traveling in Turkey — I can’t wait to visit again. Their enthusiasm reminded me that safety concerns about one of the greatest cities in the world are unfortunate. Personally, I plan to visit Turkey again soon because I returned home with the same enthusiasm about the country as more recent travelers. If you were considering traveling to Turkey, I know you will have an incredible time. Here is the company that took me everywhere — and I mean everywhere — during my stay, http://www.flo-usa.com/. ITKT Editor