The collaboration message sent from İzmir
Perhaps the most important message from the first Aegean Economic Forum, organized by the Aegean Economy Development Foundation (EGEV), was the hope for further collaboration between Turkey and Greece.
Our two countries certainly share many similarities. We need to collaborate more for mutual benefit, especially in the tourism sector
For example, tourists coming to this region could be encouraged to spend part of their vacation on either side of the Aegean, on Turkey’s western coast and on various Greek islands.
In previous years there were actually a number of similar attempts. The island of Kos, across from the town of Bodrum, and the island of Simi, across from the town of Datça, took a series of joint steps.
But all such moves were the result of personal, individual initiatives, or the local relations between mayors or civil society groups in both countries.
We need to turn this momentum into more formal, ministerial cooperation from now on. The Aegean Economic Forum has prepared the ground for this collaboration.
Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım spoke very openly and clearly at the forum.
“The Aegean region will be the epicenter of the economy. Greece has always supported Turkey’s EU process and we are open to more collaboration,” Yıldırım said.
For his part, Greek Economy Minister Dimitri Papadimitriou said the two countries “can ensure the free movement of people and goods.”
Turkish Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci also voiced willingness to move together on tourism. “Let’s commercialize products together,” he said.
İzmir Mayor Aziz Kocaoğlu gave the opening speech on the second day of the forum, referring to a modest recent influx of people moving from Istanbul to İzmir.
“According to figures from the Turkish Statistical Institute [TÜİK], over the past year 16,000 people have moved from Istanbul to İzmir,” said Kocaoğlu.
“In the past we used to talk about a ‘brain drain’ from İzmir to other cities. But today İzmir has started receiving white collar migration,” he added.
Indeed, there is serious and growing interest in İzmir, which looks set to increase. Big firms want to do business in İzmir and big real estate companies want to realize new projects in İzmir.
Of course it is beneficial for a city to welcome qualified migration. But as I have written many times before, we need to prepare infrastructure for such an eventuality. Otherwise the problems of İzmir tomorrow will become just like those of Istanbul today.
I know that citizens of İzmir are upset by the recent increase in traffic problems in the city. But I am afraid one day they may come to miss the present traffic situation if the city doesn’t take serious structural precautions.
Karşıyaka is one of Turkey’s oldest football clubs, dating back to 1912.
But despite the İzmir-based club’s storied history, it is currently going through difficult days. Although the Pınar Karşıyaka basketball team is consistently successful, the football team lingers at the bottom of the second tier. It is also facing a points deduction based on new FIFA rules about unpaid debts.
If things go on like this, Karşıyaka could be relegated to the amateur league.
As the management of Karşıyaka was watching these events with desperation, a social media campaign began to address Turkey’s agenda.
In this campaign, loyal Karşıyaka supporters managed to repay critical debts targeted by FIFA in the space of just three days. Their campaign set an example not only for Turkey but the entire football world.
The campaign has bought the club a bit more time. Karşıyaka still has many debts to pay and is facing a difficult time.
Karşıyaka certainly deserves support from sponsors and a return to the glory days that mark its history