It’s not like I was expecting apathy, but in any case it’s not what I got at all. The World Bank meetings are well-known, and opinions are pointed. Perhaps it’s because of a recent shoe-throwing incident aimed at IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Khan at a pre-meeting university seminar. Perhaps it’s because of the protests organized around the city (activists can be seen handing out flyers and the police running drills). Or perhaps it’s simply a collection of pointed opinions on all things political, economic, or cultural.
Turkey has been an IMF debtor country for years and there has always been a form of antipathy (or perhaps distrust?) towards international organizations. But with changes in the country’s socio-economic and demographic makeup, there are changes in opinions too.
When asked what they understand by “aid effectiveness,” one university student told me, “aid becomes effective when it's used for the investments to have returns. Turkey uses its economic aid to pay for its debts instead of actually making money out of it. Therefore, the aid we receive is never effective.” Wow, that’s about as direct as you can get, I think.
When I ask, how does one eradicate poverty? the response I receive is just as blunt: “It's not possible to eradicate poverty. But it can be lessened by supporting developing countries to help them create their own industrial settlements.”
But does that suggest that “economic development” is always relative? Perhaps. “If the majority of a nation can afford to purchase what they demand, then I can say that that country is economically developed,” says my eager interviewee.
I just hope the delegates tomorrow are just as eager.
P.S. Tomorrow, 6 October, is our first day at the conference. Feel free to send me any questions or topics you would like me to bring up throughout the day!