Now we will urbanize Abidjan with our expertise

Now we will urbanize Abidjan with our expertise

During his official visit to Ivory Coast, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey “will share our experience in urbanization with Ivory Coast.” These words were reflected in pro-government newspaper headlines as “We will teach urbanism to Ivory Coast.”

Indeed, we have colossal experience in this field. All our cities are beautiful, habitable with clean air. Our city water is drinkable, our traffic is perfect, and our cities are full of parks and gardens. We can even say we have taught this science of urbanism to the Europeans!

For this reason, we are generously considering exporting this knowledge of ours to Ivory Coast. We can start by helping to deal with its capital Abidjan. That city has far too many green zones; what’s more, they are on the coast. This is a huge waste of resources. In place of these gardens, they could have erected malls, residences and business towers. 

They must have never heard of a thing called “urban transformation.” Those palm trees on the coast grate on the eye. They must be unaware that such clusters of trees poison a city. 

A healthy city has no place for trees. We know that through our vast urbanism experience. They should come here and spend a few hours on the streets of Istanbul’s Mecidiyeköy neighborhood - then they would learn what real urbanism is. 

Kut versus Sykes–Picot

The centenary of the Battle of Kut Al-Amara during the First World War, where the Ottoman Army defeated the British Army, has been marked in a new Culture Ministry calendar. 

The battle at Kut, in today’s Iraq, has an historic significance because it was the last war that the Ottoman army ever won. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu also recently mentioned this battle in a speech: “In the Sykes-Picot agreement that came later, they pondered how to divide up the Ottoman Empire, how to separate people … But 100 years on either Kut Al-Amara will win or Sykes-Picot will win.”

The Sykes-Picot Agreement between British and French diplomats drew artificial borders between spheres of influence in Iraq and Syria. 

I am certainly curious that if this agreement is such a terrible one, why does Turkey insist on the territorial integrity of Syria and Iraq? 

Single-party coalition government 

Last December, a decree was published in the Official Gazette ruling that all civil service appointments would have to receive a permit from the Prime Ministry. 

It was not discussed at that time why there was a need for such a decree. But those close to the matter said Prime Minister Davutoğlu was uncomfortable with the fact that he was not asked about the appointment of certain cabinet ministers, apparently appointed with a signal from the Presidential Palace. 

When this situation caused some disturbance within the party, the prime minister took a step back and changed the decree from the need to “permit” to the need to “inform.”

The same decree said temporary appointments should be limited to three months. The permanent appointment should be made within three months and again permission from the Prime Ministry should be sought. 

In this way, the prime minister would have control over the bureaucracy and would be able to prevent names he does not want to work with from staying in bureaucracy for long periods of time. 

The decree lasted two-and-a-half months before it was removed. 

Several appointments have now been made done with the approval of the Presidential Palace and the prime minister does not have a say in this. Most of the time he is informed of appointments afterward.

When the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power, it prioritized the “stability” factor. But it seems that it has not been able to secure stability even internally. Just like a coalition government, the AKP has a kind of dual executive. It cannot even make permanent appointments to key positions. Even a very important institution such as the Treasury is managed by temporary appointments. 

The Presidential Palace wants to determine everything, hold every power. It treats the prime minister as merely a “prime minister-in-waiting.” 

Who can say this is a “stable government” model?