Hollanda’lı gazeteci Toon Beemsterboer ile telefonla yaptığımız görüşme


Hollanda’lı gazeteci Toon Beemsterboer ile telefonla yaptığımız görüşmenin (17.05.2021) ses kaydını paylaşmak istiyoruz. Söyleşi yaklaşık yarım saat ve İngilizce. Gazetecinin salgın ve Türkiye bağlamında sorularını yanıtlamaya çalıştık.

Sayın Beemsterboer’un dileğini bize ileten The National muhabiri Sn. Murat Yıldız’a teşekkür ederiz. Sn. Yıldız ile de geçtiğimiz günlerde çalıştığı The National adına bir söyleşi yapmış ve sitemizde yayınlamıştık (Experts say lack of testing masks number of Covid-19 cases in Turkey – Prof. Dr. Ahmet SALTIK)

Sayın Beemsterboer görüşmemizi çalıştığı gazetede (Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad) haberleştirdiğinde bize ulaşacak word ve pdf dosyalarını da buraya ekleyeceğiz..

Turkish waiter vaccinated sooner than teacher

By our correspondent Toon Beemsterboer / Istanbul

A promotional video with which the Turkish government wants to attract foreign tourists, has led to angry reactions among the public last week. In the video, Turkey is portrayed as a safe destination for a carefree holiday. We see unmasked tourists and Turkish waiters and hotel clerks wearing yellow masks with the slogan ‘Enjoy, I’m vaccinated’.

Many Turks were offended. Some compared the masks with ear tags for vaccinated dogs and thought the video suggested that Turks are inferior to foreigners. Radio host Zeki Kayahan Coşkun responded with a sarcastic tweet: ,,Dear tourists, I have been vaccinated against internal and external parasites. You can adopt me. I don’t bite.”

The video from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, which is part of the Safe Tourism Türkiye initiative, speaks of ,,disinfected resorts and vaccinated personnel”. The ministry promises that the millions of workers in the tourism sector will be prioritized in the corona vaccination campaign.

This approach has met with fierce criticism in Turkey, where only 13 percent of the population has received two doses of the vaccine. The vaccination campaign started expeditiously, but was delayed. According to the Minister of Health, because the second batch of the Chinese Sinovac vaccine was not delivered on time. In addition to Sinovac, Turkey alone has purchased a few million Pfizer vaccines.

Because of the lack of vaccines Turkey is facing some ethical dilemmas, says Ahmet Saltik, a professor of public health at Ankara University (AS: emeritus). ,,Because how important are tourism workers compared to teachers, for example? A lot of people are very angry about what they see as the ruling party’s unfair vaccination policy.”

Saltik also wonders whether Turkey has enough vaccines for the four million people who work in the tourism industry. ,,We don’t have the required eight million doses at the moment. The health minister said Turkey will be short of vaccines for several months (AS: two months). But President Erdogan denies this reality.”

The promotion of tourism is part of the governments efforts to kick start economic recovery. Tourism makes up 12 percent of Turkey’s economy and is a major source of foreign revenue, which the government badly needs given the structural current account deficit, which now stands at 37 billion dollars.

The government is in a hurry, because the economy is already in crisis and the resorts and hotels on the Aegean and Mediterranean coast cannot afford another disaster year. In 2020, the number of tourists decreased by 15.9 million, and the tourism sector suffered a loss of 8.3 billion euros. Total sales fell by 65 percent and 320,000 people lost their jobs.

But according to Saltik, Turkey is ,,extremely late” with preparations for the tourism season this year. ,,Greece, Spain, Italy have surpassed us and offered very low prices. The Turkish government has also failed to get the epidemic under control, like Italy, Spain and Greece.”

To save the tourism season, the government imposed a partial lockdown on April 29, which lasted until the end of Ramadan. Before the lockdown, Turkey had one of the largest outbreaks in the world. Since the country was partially shut, this has dropped rapidly, to about ten thousand new infections per day.

But experts question the official figures. ,,Since the start of the pandemic, we do not trust the government’s figures”,  said Ali Ihsan Ökten, vice president of the Turkish Medische (AS: Medical) Association (TTB). ,,Because they don’t match the data we get from the field.” This Wednesday, the TTB is publishing a report stating that the actual death toll is not 44,000 but 120,000.

,,If we compare the daily numbers of deaths and infections today with those of seventeen days ago, it looks like the lockdown has had a tremendous effect”, says Saltik. ,,I mean that ironically. Because the sharp decline cannot possibly be the result of the epidemiological measures of the ruling party.”

According to Saltik and Ökten, the lockdown only applied for roughly half of the population. The government had excluded many sectors in order to keep production, logistics, construction and tourism going. That is why the lockdown had only limited effect. The declining figures are partly due to the fact that the number of corona tests has been drastically reduced.

Ökten thinks the lockdown actually contributed to the spread of the virus from the city to the countryside. ,,Before the measures came into effect, many seasonal workers went back to family. And city dwellers moved to their summer homes on the coast. They took the corona virus with them, including the new variants, and returned after the lockdown.”

The fact that tourists were excluded from the measures caused a lot of bad blood. Foreigners strolled through the deserted streets of Istanbul, lay on empty beaches on the Turkish Riviera, and could enjoy cheap cocktails in the hotels in resorts (the lira is low), while many Turks were obliged to sit inside during Eid al-Fitr (AS: Raaman Bayramı) and risked getting a to be fined if they went swimming in the sea.

As of May 15, travelers from more than ten countries no longer need a negative PCR-test to enter Turkey. Ökten finds this irresponsible. When asked what he would recommend to Dutch people who are considering going on holiday to Turkey, he says: ,,I’m not going to tell anyone not to come here. People are intelligent enough to understand the situation.” 

Correspondent Turkey/Greece/Middle East

NRC Handelsblad is a leading quality newspaper in the Netherlands. It has a daily circulation of approximately 300.000 copies and is widely read among policy makers, business people and intellectuals. (19th may, 2021)
Haberi pdf olarak görüntülemek için lütfen tıklayınız : Hollanda gazetesine demeç 17.5.21

Sevgi ve saygı ile. 19 Mayıs 2021, Ankara

Prof. Dr. Ahmet SALTIK MD, MSc, BSc
Ankara Üniv. Tıp Fak. Halk Sağlığı Anabilim Dalı (E)
Sağlık Hukuku Uzmanı, Siyaset Bilimi – Kamu Yönetimi (Mülkiye)
www.ahmetsaltik.net         profsaltik@gmail.com
facebook.com/profsaltik    twitter : @profsaltik

Dear Mr. Saltik,

I am Toon Beemsterboer, the Turkey correspondent of the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad. I am working on a story about the recent lockdown, it’s impact on the course of the epidemic in Turkey, the gradual opening up of the country, and the importance of tourism in this context. The recent decline in the number of corona infections is questioned by some, and I would like to get your views on this issue, since you are an expert on public health. Would you have time today, or in the coming days, to answer some questions by phone?

With kind regards,
Toon Beemsterboer

Correspondent Turkey/Greece/Middle East
TR: +90 ……………..                       NL: +316 …………….

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