Friday, January 30, 2009

The Merry Widow (German: Die lustige Witwe) by Lehar, in Istanbul

The Merry Widow (German: Die lustige Witwe) is an operetta by the Austro-Hungarian composer Franz Lehár. The librettists, Viktor Léon and Leo Stein, based the story — concerning a rich widow, Hanna Glawari, and her attempt to find a husband — on an 1861 comedy play, L'attaché d'ambassade (The Embassy Attaché) by Henri Meilhac.

It is now on Stage in Sureyya Opera House in Istanbul, Turkey

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Energy and Power in the Northern Cyprus

Dear Energy Professional, Dear Colleagues,

Your writer was in Northern Cyprus on sacrifice holiday. He stayed in Guest House of Middle East Technical University (METU) Northern Cyprus Campus. Within his limited time and in his humble capacity, he tried to bring together his firsthand observations of the daily local life from his own perspective, and presented his upfront impressions as well as an overview of energy and power in the following story given below.

At first, your writer admired the effective camera recordings applied at city boundaries to avoid speed limit violations and fine when necessary. It is an important application for 24/7 surveillance of the roads at all times with minimized number of public employees, free from any corrupt practices. That is a great practice which has to be copied in the mainland.

With professionally minded attitude, your writer first inspected the available electricity generation and distribution facilities of the Northern Section. At 15 kms east of Girne/ Kyrenia city center, Teknecik Thermal Power Plant has 2x60 MWe oil fired Conventional Thermal power plant. New 4x 17.5 MWe Diesel oil fired Diesel Engine generators are also in operation for peak loads.

Northern Cyprus Electricity Generating Public Company KIBTEK has further plans to purchase new generators to add 100 MWe more. There are also many stand-by emergency generators of various manufacturers, mostly by Aksa of Istanbul Turkey. There is a new EU fund available for alternative energy, simply speaking solar and wind. There is a huge solar and wind capacity in the Northern Cyprus.

The existing 2x60 MWe oil fired thermal power plant was in full operation when we were in the nearby Turtle Shores; however the stack dust emissions were intolerable. They need to upgrade the stack emissions and make necessary dust control emissions urgently.

Northern Administration should also put a milestone to install nuclear power plant with a small size 50-100 MWe output capability, even on barge mounted for future electricity requirements. These will be available from USA and Russian sources in near future. METU Cyprus mechanical Engineering Department should also start educating the nuclear engineering careers for future operations, design and construction. There is no need for complete denial of the nuclear technology in foreseeable future, since there will be better controlled nuclear power plants with less waste soon in our backyard.

When we were in Guzelyurt/ Morphou town, we asked the grocery man if this city is called Guzelyurt/ Morphou (Beautiful City), he replied “So-called”. It was quite an irony to explain the prevailing cruel reality. Guzelyurt/ Morphou and its surrounding region is faced with severe drought for the last decade. They depend on mostly underground water from the nearby mountains in wintertime. Summer time is like a hell with limited collected water.

Since practically borders are opened for the locals on the both sides, they pass to the other side and first they visit their former houses left after 1974 dispute. Home visits were nostalgic, sad. They met their old school friends, saw their old villages. Historically and genetically, people on the North and the South are the same people, speak both languages, have the same life style, and give the same responses. Only religions are different. However in new times, North is more liberal in religion views, whereas South seems more rigid.

There is a chronic dispute on land ownership, who owns what. We visualized many churches in renovation, and new churches are available to visit as “icon museums”. The 1000 years old monasteries, cathedrals, abbeys are cultural heritages of the long past since Crusaders. The religious sites in South are not so lucky since South demolishes the minarets of the Mosques first to erase their religious identity. They are so-called ethnographic museums.

Unskilled and illegal influx of labor force from many parts of the world, mainly from mainland Turkey poses a great problem to the Northern Economy, as well as her social life.

On the other hand there are high number of middle aged retirees in the North who receive multiple number of retiree salaries. Administration should avoid that practice and erase the multiple payments leaving the highest single salary in effect.

There are three major business activities in the Northern Cyprus. These are Villa/ Summer House construction, Casinos/ Night clubs/ money laundering enterprises and Universities. Construction boom is now ceased due to ongoing global economic turmoil.

“Gambling involves simply sterile transfers of money or goods between individuals, creating no new money or goods. Although it creates no output, gambling does nevertheless absorb time and resources. When pursued beyond the limits of recreation, where the main purpose after all is to kill time, gambling subtracts from the national income.” (Nobel Laureate Paul Samuelson). Gambling also increases crime rate. Therefore Money laundering casinos should be eradicated, since they are no value-added activity and furthermore they obscure public income generation with no-tax privileges. Offshore banking and offshore financial institutions are of the past. You cannot rely on these not-real, virtual non-existed operations.

Varosh (Marash) region near GaziMagusa/ Famagusta is to be demolished as soon as possible. There is no point in keeping that much large size land empty. It has no more negotiation/ no bargain value, nor any commercial meaning at this time. Rotten apartments, old hotels, old buildings are to be completely bulldozed down and a new industrial fair ground, an exhibition and congress center have to be placed.

Northern Cyprus has a young President now, Ankara METU EE 1972 graduate Mr. Mehmet Ali Talat. Since he graduated from the university he earned his life in his own local repair/ service business in Girne/ Kyrenia without having any public post all his life apart from his political activities.

It is your writer’s humble observation that in order to have solution on the island, Turkish mainland economic might should dominate the both sides of the island with all types of industrial products, such as household equipment i.e. refrigerators, TV sets, PCs, washing machines, air conditioners, all types foods, as well as automobiles, transporters specially produced with right hand drive for left hand traffic, at competitive prices made with lower sales/ custom taxes.

METU and other Northern Universities will also ignite that initiative with more young university graduates to create more Northern surplus production in food and industrial products. METU in the North is a great opportunity with a sound educational tradition in Ankara, having engineering and social science faculties. METU campus is well positioned in the Northern Cyprus. Campus architecture is well organized; buildings are comfortable, big, and spacious. Library is functional. Accommodations for academicians, student dormitories are extraordinary in design, and in comfort.

METU Cyprus has the full support of the Mainland center in Ankara. METU Cyprus Academic program is well organized with major engineering disciplines and key social science departments i.e. economics, management, public sciences and international relations. Their value added educational/ professional capability will certainly accelerate the local industrial output and overall wealth of the Northern Community in the long run.

METU Cyprus International Relations Department is in the natural war zone to practice their education. In Northern Cyprus, people walking on the street in Lefkosa/ Nikosia, people working on the citrus fields of Guzelyurt/ Morphou, the grocery men in local Lemar Supermarket, waiter in Niazi’s Restaurant, barmaid in Kybele Restaurant in BellaPais Abbey, driver working for Rent-a-Car Company are all IR experts of the ongoing sectarian dispute over island. They are better than the respective academicians elsewhere in their ivory towers.

It is our sincere feeling that there is an incorrect understanding in the North for superiority of South. That is incorrect perception/ myth for sure. South is a miserable region in reality, all tied up to foreign support, name it Greece in the past, now European Union. One can only admit that South is strategically located to the Middle East and to south east of Mediterranean.

The Northern part should ignore the South administration for a while since there is no solution at this time, and seems there will be no solution in the foreseeable future. It is your writer’s sincere feeling that it is not important to take the South Administration too seriously. All their approach and game plan is based on simple refusal to all negotiation proposals until they receive any advantage. There is no point to try to negotiate with a counterpart with no flexibility, nor any ability to compromise in their activities.

The existence of British Community in the Northern Cyprus is a great opportunity for the region. They have frugal, decent, modest life style, positive, concrete, constructive un-biased criticism for better-off of the Northern community they live in. They have their own Churches, Charity Organizations, Special/Private public services, their own FM radio, TV Channel, internet groups. However these activities are not enough. They should participate in academic studies in the nearby local universities. British Seniors are not local voters in general elections for sure, but they have huge economic purchasing power and intellectual capability. In Northern Cyprus, there is a high percentage of English speaking local population to help and serve them.

Energy and Power are in education. Northern Cyprus should keep in mind that higher education is a real booster for the real sector and investment in human intellect is the most important ingredient for development of the society. Your comments are always welcome

Haluk Direskeneli is a Ankara-based Energy Analyst

Sunday, January 04, 2009


GREEK CYPRIOT PARLIAMENT SPEAKER'S SHAME, Milliyet DailyNews, Greek Cypriot Parliament Speaker Marios Karoyian, returned the new year gift basket sent by the President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) Mehmet Ali Talat. Karoyian sent the gift basket back because a label on one of the wines in the basket reads it was produced in TRNC.


Although Cyprus has some 5000 years history of winemaking there is no doubt that amongst wine-lovers, the perceptions of the quality of the island’s wines is generally very low. Indeed, in Northern Cyprus there has never been a quality wine producer. Many said that it was not possible to make fine wine in the north. Until present day.

Geçitköy is perhaps not the prettiest village in the area, but after years of detailed research and advice from international wine consultants, this was the site chosen by Mustafa and Sengul Seyfi brothers to be the home for the wine registered as Chateau St. Hilarion.

Although the island has several indigenous grape varieties, including Mavro and Xynisteri, they are not suitable for high quality wine. So the vines chosen for Chateau St. Hilarion are the finest clones of international varieties including Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz.

The vines have been planted according to the latest viticulture practices, and the annual cultivation programme is built around restricting yield and enhancing quality. A new state of the art winery has been built, and equipped to the highest specification. Top quality temperature controlled fermentation vats were imported from Italy, along with every necessary piece of high specification equipment. But the most important import has been: Knowledge.

Mustafa has studied accredited wine courses, and has travelled to many of the world’s classic wine regions to learn how they achieve individuality and excellence. He is ably assisted by expert consultants from UK and South Africa, but Mustafa is the first to admit that producing high quality wine in a country that has no history of production poses serious challenges. For example, all winery equipment, spares, yeasts and agents have had to be imported, and there are no experienced, qualified technicians available. The project has taken 12 years to come to fruition and has involved considerable investment in both capital and time. But brothers wanted to show that this glorious island could be home to a world beating wine.

Last note for my readers, One bottle (red or white) of St.Hilarion costs 27.50 TL in the local Lemar supermarket, whereby you will be charged 35 TL in Niazi's Kebap House in Girne. Winery is closed in wintertime.