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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

FT.com - A country more comfortable with itself

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"A country more comfortable with itself
By Vincent Boland
Published: November 28 2005 17:22 | Last updated: November 28 2005 17:22

For the past few weeks the European Union flag has been flying above the Grand Bazaar, the magnificent marketplace in Istanbul where, for centuries, Turks have been doing business with Europeans.

The blue standard with its gold stars flies alongside Turkey’s own red banner with its distinctive crescent and star, so close they seem to touch in the wind.

Here, amid the throng of shops selling carpets, jewellery, precious metals, leather goods, and spices, a visitor can appreciate an essential but sometimes hidden side of an often misunderstood country – and its history as a trading nation. It was a crossroads in the global market place before anyone had heard of globalisation. It is also a reminder of how old Turkey is, and of how, in spite of its many upheavals, it has remained unchanged in surprising ways through the centuries.

The Grand Bazaar has been established, in the Sultanahmet district of Istanbul, since 1461, before Columbus discovered America and before England invented capitalism."

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