Let me start by writing about Den Haag (The Hague). This famous Dutch city with a population of just over half a million residents has been the constitutionally manifested seat of both the government and national parliament since 1588. But if the question has to be answered about whether Den Haag is today's "official" capital, the answer is no -- Amsterdam it is indeed. And having visited both Den Haag and Amsterdam, the latter with a population of 1.57 million in its greater metropolitan area, I somehow began to understand why the Dutch would not want to change the status quo.
Whilst Amsterdam is a brand in itself, a tourism magnet recognized all over the world, Den Haag is positively speaking more modest, somewhat away from the hustle and bustle. Perhaps not by intent but by eventual outcome I have the impression that it makes perfect sense when politicians and judges have space to work and figuratively speaking air to breathe in a city that is calmer than it's much bigger neighbor.
My next stop: Bonn. The relatively small city (310,000 citizens) had been West Germany's capital until after reunification with the former German Democratic Republic (GDR). It had suited the newly established post-war democracy very well. It became a symbol for achievements and not only on the economic front.
Similar to Den Haag although in a completely different historical context of course, having Bonn as capital meant modesty, hard work and ultimately becoming Europe's integrative engine. Those politicians, civil servants and diplomats who worked in Bonn knew that they were there for work instead of living the high life often associated with politics in a world capital.
Without the relatively "calmer" decades in Bonn, moving the capital to Berlin might have resulted in another phase of over-the-top self confidence leading to over-the-top policy making scenarios.
On to Ankara, the capital of the Turkish Republic and a 5-million-strong metropolis! Hence not comparable by numbers with either Bonn or Den Haag, although something else merits attention: as ystanbul is -- similar to Amsterdam or Berlin -- a brand in its very own right, a busy and a tourism hotspot, I would argue that having a capital some distance away makes sense. It is a proud city where politics reign supreme yet other professions find a home in an ever-increasing number.
One could argue that would ystanbul have become the nation's capital some time earlier during the 20th century, the focus on building a strong and successful nation state might have been lost.
Whilst everyone loves going to ystanbul either for work or for pleasure and appreciates its almost 24/7 way of life, politics more often than not may benefit from a more down-to-earth attitude. Three cities mentioned in my title, yet six cities discussed in total: Den Haag/Amsterdam, Bonn/Berlin and Ankara/ystanbul. In a "capital choices" nutshell: Keeping the status quo is logical for the Netherlands. Having swapped Bonn for Berlin did reflect well on a "new Germany."
And what about here in Turkey -- the status quo or something daring? By conclusion, somehow it seems to me that Ankara as the political and administrative capital and ystanbul as the economic and historical hub works out extremely well for everyone concerned.
KLAUS JURGENS (Cihan/Today's Zaman) CyHAN
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