TURKEY – IS THERE A NEED FOR AN EMERGENCY EXIT?
There have been quite a few changes to life in Turkey over the last few months – not least because of the ongoing state of emergency – and our intention is to try to cover them off with a series of blogs over the next few weeks.
First of all, we’d like to offer a little reassurance particularly to those who might already be part-way through the process of acquiring property in the country and are perhaps now wondering whether they should have embarked on what probably started as an adventure but now looks to be a cause for concern.
That whole “state of emergency” thing sounds dramatic and, for those who don’t reside in Turkey, it probably conjures up images of tanks on street corners and armed militia enforcing a strict curfew. The reality, though, is somewhat different.
It’s certainly true that visitors may notice a police presence in popular areas of large cities like Istanbul and Ankara and, naturally, there will be increased security at border crossings, ports and airports. However, for most going about their daily lives in other towns and cities in Turkey – particularly away from the densely populated areas – it’s difficult to tell there’s a “state of emergency” at all.
The reason? Well, mostly, it’s because it wasn’t introduced to subdue a population on the point of anarchy or to terrorise them into submission. It was more a case of giving the ruling Government powers to act quickly against perceived threats, mostly in the political arena. Yes, thousands suspected of being involved in the failed coup in July 2016 have been arrested and it’s true that the opposition media has been muzzled. But, ostensibly at least, to the average person on the street or to visitors on holiday, Turkey under a “state of emergency” is very similar to the Turkey they probably knew and loved before.
We can state quite categorically that there are no armoured personnel carriers rumbling around Fethiye or any of the other towns and cities we visit regularly in the Muğla region in the south-west of the country as part of our work. There are no restrictions on movement or public gatherings and there is no curfew in place.
It’s true that, if you are a landlord already and rent property for whatever reason, you will now be subject to more controls (more on that here: https://www.fethiyetimes.com/property/21269-giykimbil-system-short-term-property-rentals-turkey.html). This system has been in place for hotels for quite some time but has now been extended to holiday lets to prevent terror cells from exploiting them. Landlords are offered software which they can use to keep track of their guests with details relayed automatically to the local Jandarma.
It’s also true that, if you are visiting Turkey, rules requiring you to carry your passport and entry visa at all times are being more rigidly enforced and the chances of being asked for them have increased. As a general rule though, routine checks are more likely on public transport or at check points on the roads. If you’re coming over, it’s probably best to be ready for them but you could spend weeks or months in Turkey and never come across one.
So, all in all, what we would say to those considering a property purchase, a longer-term rent or even a holiday in Turkey is that, if you see the country as an extension of the war zone in Syria, then you have been misled or misinformed. Indeed, you would have to be pretty unfortunate to find yourself caught up in any event likely to make news headlines.
The best advice we can offer is to make sure you read official sources of information such as the British Foreign Office (https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/turkey) or even the BBC. Facebook and Twitter have their place but, sometimes, we forget social media sources can be unverified and therefore unreliable.
So, in summary, there is no denying a state of emergency exists in Turkey and, indeed, seems likely to for some time yet, particularly with an important referendum having just passed which could significantly extend the president’s power and perhaps change the political landscape significantly.
Whether that influences your view on choosing a new life in the country is a personal decision but we hope, by shedding a little light on the situation from inside the country, we have at least helped you to make an informed one.