Friday, May 13, 2005

Turkish industry and hospitality

It's been another busy day so far. After our group was introduced to the mayor of Iskenderun this morning, we toured a steel pipe manufacturer and a steel mill The steel maker, Ekinciler, sells to 60 countries, including the United States. Visiting these two companies, as well as the ANT Group in Adapazari, made me realize how Westernized Turkey's businesses and industries are. Economically, the country seems ready to join the EU.

Turks who I've spoken with have differing opinions on whether Turkey should join. Bahadir felt the priority should be eastern-facing, looking toward resolving issues with the Kurds and other ethnic groups within Turkey. Meryem felt that Turkey should join, citing the potential benefit to the economy.

The industry here seems as solid as the hospitality. I'm writing this journal entry in the office of an accountant from our host Rotary club, who gave Lisa, Bethany, Steve and me the computer usage priority over his own employees - and then had those employees bring us soft drinks and ice cream!

At every stop - from people's homes to governors' offices - we've been offered glasses of cay ("chai", tea). The whole country uses the same standard, tulip-shaped glass for serving Çay. It is a bit funny to be in a solemn setting like a mayor's office, with Ataturk glaring down from a portrait at us, and to hear no sound but the "ding-ding" of spoons stirring glasses.


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