Debrecen, Hungary – In Pictures

Ceylon tea at Carpe Diem Tea House on Batthyány Street

Ceylon tea at Carpe Diem Tea House on Batthyány Street

Snow falls in all its beauty

Snow falls in all its beauty

Christmas market in the city centre

Christmas market in the city centre

Christmas market in the city centre

Christmas market in the city centre

A tram passes through the Christmas market all lit up

A tram passes through the Christmas market all lit up

German style burger and hot-dog at the Christmas market

German style burger and hot-dog at the Christmas market

The Northern Great Plain, part of the Great Hungarian Plain

The Northern Great Plain, part of the Great Hungarian Plain

Nagypiac (Big Market) hosting many fresh fruit and veg stalls as well as butchers and fishmongers

Nagypiac (Big Market) hosting many fresh fruit and veg stalls as well as butchers and fishmongers

Left: Road, Middle: Cycle path, Right: Footpath

Left: Road, Middle: Cycle path, Right: Footpath

Békás-tó (Frog Lake)

Békás-tó (Frog Lake)

Nagytemplom (Great Church) The Great Calvinist Church of Debrecen

Nagytemplom (Great Church) The Great Calvinist Church of Debrecen

Nagyerdő (Big Forest)

Nagyerdő (Big Forest)

University of Debrecen (UNIDEB) main building

University of Debrecen (UNIDEB) main building

2013 Flower Festival - Held in August, annually

2013 Flower Festival – Held in August, annually

“There is not much confidence and credibility left for Turkey”

Turkish FlagTurkish President Abdullah Gul approves controversial Internet censorship law as an EU delegation to Ankara states that “There is not much confidence and credibility left for Turkey”.

Hurriyet has a piece today on the EU getting fed up with Turkey and Turkey’s attitude towards European values of freedom, freedom from censorship, freedom of information etc.

Amongst other things an EU delegation to Ankara has said (in regards to opening new chapters for Turkey’s EU accession bid)…
“That could happen in a normal-functioning negotiation process, but after witnessing the Turkish government’s move with regard to the HSYK Law, there is not much appetite left for such gestures,” the diplomat said. “There is not much confidence and credibility left for Turkey.”

The list of things that are happening and have happened in Turkey over just the last year are surely enough for any genuine appetite for Turkey to join the EU to be over.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul has now approved the controversial Internet laws that allow sites to be blocked immediately without the need for a court order that was earlier passed in parliament following a fight by MPs.

Other major factors are the new judiciary rules, limiting their power and giving more power to the government, a serious attack on democracy in the country.

These moves by the AKP government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan come after members of his government and their family members where investigated for corruption in which 4.5 million dollars where found in shoe boxes at the house of former Halkbank general manager, Halkbank is state-run.
The government responded by sacking and relocating over 5,000 police officers and investigators in a great purge.

What now does the future hold for Turkey? Will it now as many Turkish secularists think, turn towards an Islamic Republic like Iran? An alliance with Russia? Upcoming elections could be interesting but no doubt they will actually lead to another AKP victory.

Hungary to Turkey (and back) – Without flying

As a non-flyer I’m always getting trains and buses but reliable information is often hard to come by, this information is 2014.Turkish Hungarian flag

Budapest to Istanbul (train)

Budapest to Belgrade (€15) Mav-Start 8 hours
There is a wait in Belgrade for the connecting train of about 15 hours, if you’re not in a hurry it’s a great opportunity to explore Belgrade (often written as Beograd) the kalemegdan (fortress) is especially worth visiting.
Belgrade has a left luggage option which can be found just round the corner by the bus station.

Belgrade to Sofia (€20) Serbian Railways sleeper/couchette 10 hours
There is also a wait here for the connection this time of 11 hours and while this is also an opportunity to explore Sofia (often written as Sofya) it is not as beautiful or interesting as Belgrade. Papaya offers good value breakfasts which can be found on the main road Maria Luiza Boulevard (it connect the train station to the city centre).
There is also a left luggage option at the train station. Ignore anyone approaching you to offer you ‘information’ and showing you a badge, they are scammers.

Sofia to Istanbul (€20) BDZ sleeper/couchette 13 hours

Bursa to Budapest (bus)

Bursa to Sofia (€30) Metro Turizm 13 hours

Sofia to Budapest (€48) Eurolines/Kapat-C 12 hours

Make or break for Turkey?

Is it make or break for Turkey?

Shoeboxes a symbol of corruption.

Shoeboxes, a symbol of corruption.

These are very turbulent times for Turkey and its authoritarian (and often paranoid) Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The ongoing corruption scandal that has gripped the AKP government which has ruled Turkey for the last 11 years has already claimed 3 MPs with their resignations and the PM’s son Bilal Erdogan has been ordered to testify in court (which he hasn’t done).

Hitting out at the corruption investigations the PM will take on Turkey’s (theoretically) independent judiciary, limiting their powers, effectively overriding Article 138 of the constitution which dictates that the judiciary must be independent.

Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek has deplored the end of judicial independence in Turkey citing that “Article 138 of the Constitution is not functioning”

Meanwhile PM Erdogan in his usual paranoid authoritarian way has said that the blatant corruption scandal (millions of dollars found in shoe boxes in peoples homes) is a conspiracy against him and his government and a coup plot.

There are two main choices for Turkey, the path of democracy, secularism and Europe or the path of authoritarianism, strict Islam and a future away from Europe.

Pressure mounts on Turkish PM Erdogan

From EuroNews

Turkish corrupt flagTurkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is facing fresh calls to resign – as his government faces a wide-reaching corruption scandal, which has exposed the country’s deep institutional divisions.

Hundreds of people across Turkey took part in anti-government demonstrations on Thursday, December 26. Protests were held in Istanbul and several other cities including Izmir and Adana.

In a controversial move, Turkish prosecutor Muammer Akkas was removed from the high-level graft case, which has led to the arrests of the sons of two of Erdogan’s government ministers.

Akkas accused the police of obstructing the investigation, saying: “by means of the police force, the judiciary was subjected to open pressure and the execution of court orders was obstructed.”

However, Chief Prosecutor Turhan Colakkadi told reporters that Akkas had been removed from the case for leaking information to the media and failing to provide timely progress updates.

“Nothing can be covered up. Regardless of who the criminals are, or whose children are involved, we will not allow for the judiciary to be eroded,” Colakkadi said.

Erdogan, who has replaced half of his cabinet with loyalists in a reshuffle, says he believes he is the “real target” of the probe.

There are Turkish media reports that the corruption investigation could be set to reach members of Erdogan’s own family.

Turkish Economy, Interior and Environment Ministers resign

Turkish corrupt flagZafer Caglayan, the Turkish Economy minister and Muammer Guler, the Turkish Interior minister whose sons have been arrested on corruption charges plus Environment minister Erdogan Bayraktar have resigned today.

As they resigned they hit out at the police anti-corruption probe as a dirty operation against the Islamist government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan. They accepted no blame and denied all allegations.

The Environment Minister Erdogan Bayraktar said the prime minister should also step down as he announced his resignation.

In response to the police operation, a number of police commissioners have been sacked, including the head of police in Istanbul.

Meanwhile PM Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to break the hands of anyone who attempts to use the ongoing corruption scandal against the government.

EU patience with Turkey running out

Turkish corrupt flagIt often seems like the European Unions patience with Turkey will go on forever, tolerating the blatant lack of democracy, human rights abuses, the illegal occupation of Cyprus and support of Islamic dictators.

So much to the delight of many both inside and outside of Turkey the EU has finally been more direct with its criticisms of Turkey and its leader Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan due to his interference in the current high-level corruption probe griping the country.

Ankara Dec 2013

Ankara Dec 2013

Istanbul Dec 2013

Istanbul Dec 2013

Istanbul Dec 2013

Istanbul Dec 2013

“The latest developments, including the sacking of police chiefs and the instructions to police to inform authorities on investigations, raise serious concerns as regards the independence, efficiency and impartiality of the investigations and the separation of powers,” said a spokesman for Stefan Füle, the European commissioner for enlargement.

More of this from Hurriyet click here.

The Telegraph furthers this by also saying about the ongoing protests and riots on the streets of Turkey’s main cities.

From the Telegraph:

Mr Erdogan has sacked around 1000 police officers who were helping to carry out a bribery inquiry that engulfed the upper echelons of his party last week.

Other officers have now been ordered to brief government officials on the progress of the corruption probe, which critics say will allow suspects to be tipped off in advance.

While the prime minister claims that the probe is part of a politically-motivated smear campaign, the inquiry has already led to a repeat of the anti-government rallies that took place earlier in the summer.

On Monday, the European Union warned Mr Erdogan that he was in direct breach of EU rules safeguarding the independence of the judiciary, which is also a key condition for Turkey’s EU membership bid.