National Geographic : 1994 May
one, Umit explains, is not Turkish. It is a Rus sian bus, the rolling home of traders from for mer Soviet republics. Men and women are climbing into tractor hauled wagons. They are harvesters, heading to the mountains for tea, to the orchards for hazelnuts, to the fields for corn and sugar beets. "We must go to a wedding," Umit says. "The end of harvest is the time for weddings." JOURNEYING THROUGH the rich weave of history and geography that is Turkey, I did go to weddings, and to mosques, and to Russian bazaars. In villages, cities, and factories and on farms and water fronts, I found a nation on the move, led by Tansu (iller, the first woman to become prime minister of this Muslim nation. She intends to build on the economic boom of the eighties, and, looking toward the future, she promises her people: "We will not walk, we will run." As ever, Turkey is a bridge between Europe and Asia, between West and East (map, page 13). Today the bridge strains against waves of change. Jobless villagers pour into cities already packed with people and problems. New nations emerge where the mighty Soviet Union once loomed. Militant Muslims, within and beyond Turkey's borders, challenge Tur key's long-held determination to be a secular nation. And in the bloodstained southeast corner of the country the government hopes to win a guerrilla war against Kurdish sep aratists, using the energy and opportunities created by hydroelectric dams and irrigation THOMAS B. ALLEN has written numerous articles for the GEOGRAPHIC as well as nine books; this is his third article published this year in the magazine. Arduous assignments appeal to Paris-based free lance photographer REZA. His most recent story for the magazine was on Cairo (April 1993). Eavesdropping on the world, a satellite dish serves up television shows in Istanbul (right), a cosmopoli tan center of culture for centuries. Trans formed at the birth of the republic, Ankara wears Western-style clothes and political posters. Driven by the canals. Here the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party has been fighting since 1984 to form a Kurdish state. "When I meet someone, I wonder in the back of my mind, is he a Kurd?" a government official in Ankara told me. "This is a sad by product of the struggle." Another is criticism of Turkey's human rights record in the southeast. A 1993 U. S. congressional report accused Turkey of acting under a "broad and ambiguous definition of terrorism" that authorized torture, permitted "use of excessive force against noncombat ants," and restricted "freedom of expression and association." Officials try to play down the troubles, pre ferring to talk about Turkey's role in the post-Cold War world. Home of ancient Greeks and Romans, heart of the Byzantine free-market economic reforms of the past decade, both cities have hustled into the passing lane. New highways take con sumers to malls and Pizza Huts, while sky scrapers climb near subway construction sites and burgeoning suburbs.