Live broadcast from a Berlin hotel lobby

Live broadcast from a Berlin hotel lobby

I am staying at the Ritz Hotel in Berlin, the place where Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is staying. Before his arrival, a wide corridor in the hotel lobby was cordoned off. There were two or three lines of people behind both sides of the line; among them were many headscarf-wearing women. There was a crowd in front of the hotel. While we were waiting inside, there were loud noises coming from outside from time to time.

While Erdoğan entered the lobby,the famous Prince song “Purple Rain” started playing from the hotel bar’s music system. Indeed Prince surprised me since one is waiting for the divine music of the Turkish Airlines planes while the prime minister is approaching.

Excitement reached its peak as Erdoğan entered the lobby. Everybody had a smartphone and was trying to take a picture of his entrance. Thus, a wall of smart phones formed before me. I took a look and besides iPhone and iPad, no small number owns Samsung. I concluded that Turkish conservatives were pretty good in adopting technology.

A person started reading a poem right at the entrance of the lobby as the prime minister was walking.
The lobby ratings of his close aides were as follows: The first to enter the lobby was the new Sports Minister Çağatay Kılıç. Because he is a new minister, not many people recognized him. Former EU minister Egemen Bağış was second to enter the lobby. His coefficient “to be recognized” was higher than Kılıç’s. Many people wanted to have photographs taken with him.

His words for Merkel, the one when he said “She would lose the elections and go fishing,” and the bribery claims against him did not create a negative effect on the conservative segment in the lobby; on the contrary, it looked as if it had a positive effect.

Chief advisor Yiğit Bulut was so easily recognizable with a lot of gel on his hair that I expected him to receive the biggest applause. It did not happen. All of his telekinesis shows and his thesis that Germans supported the Gezi Park incidents because they were afraid of the third airport project did not look as they have succeeded here.

I observed one by one the faces of the headscarf-wearing women waiting for Erdoğan. I could clearly see that their former expressions have changed.

They are more open to life. They smile. They approached me and said “Merhaba.” They have a much more self-confident attitude near men. Also, it looked as if their style of covering their hair has become a bit different. The black band on the forehead was seen less. The bump at the back has been eliminated. The front part is not tied tightly at the neck; actually the two ends are even left untied on purpose.

But, as I said, most important of all is the smiling faces, the softened, self-confident, sympathetic expression…

That was the thing I liked the most at the Ritz Hotel in Berlin.

I asked for extracts of the stories published in the German Media. This is very clear that the Gezi incidents have radically changed the German media’s view of Erdoğan.

The lightest phrase used about him is “Authoritarian…” Some openly call him the “Dictator.” However, they have a very criticizing stance against the Gülen schools also…

Ertuğrul Özkök is a columnist for daily Hürriyet in which this piece was published on Feb 5. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.