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Ankara business trip

I have had a trip to Ankara planned since last month on behalf of the US-based global company I work for. I plan to take an assistant, a young practicing Muslim woman who speaks fluent Arabic and Spanish. My colleagues and even my boss have been anxious for our safety, and are now particularly so after last weekend's bombing in Ankara. My colleague talks about the recent bombings, but even with me telling her she can choose to go or not, she still wants to go. If this was a pleasure trip for me and my husband we had planned as we often do, with our Rick Steves guide in hand, we would be concerned but still take the trip. But now this is for business. It is the correct business decision to go and best practice and policy, but it is not a 'business critical' visit at this time. I'm not just making the decision for me.
Have any of you had to deal with making this kind of decision? What did you do?
Thank you!

Posted by
338 posts

My experience traveling to Turkey for work is dated, but here are some thoughts may help you make your decision.

Turkey has periodically experienced terrorist incidents, most commonly with the PKK and more recently with ISIS. With some exceptions (e.g. the recent attack at the Hippodrome in Istanbul) they are mostly directed at government buildings, not business areas. Realistically your risk of being involved in an incident at any location is very low. If you avoid government and tourist sites, it is even lower. Given the low relative risk I'd say to go ahead and go (I'd personally also plan on seeing the main tourist sites. The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations is really nice).

Monitor State Department warnings and use situational awareness when you travel. There is a wealth of information on line (e.g. the U.S. Army's online antiterrorism course) , but it boils down to paying attention to your surroundings, taking measures to reduce risk with your activities, and having a plan of what to do if you do experience a problem. Simply having a plan and procedures may alleviate some of your discomfort.

I've been in Turkey during two incidents, but nothing a serious as the most recent attack. I was in Istanbul during a hotel bombing in 2004. I did not even find out about it until the next day when my wife arrived for a visit. I was in Adana during a protest in 2009. I just made sure I was out of the area during the planned event. Neither disrupted my plans in any meaningful way. This isn't quite the same situation as you, since I was already there, but neither would have caused me not to travel.

Ultimately you will need to make a decision that you are comfortable with, but in general I think Turkey is a safe and wonderful part of the world. Whatever decision you make is the right one because you're making it with the best intentions and the best information you have available right now.

One final note - the primary languages I've heard in Turkey are Turkish (of course) and German with English following in third. The Arabic and Spanish skills of your assistant may not be necessary if she has concerns or you don't want her to travel.

Good luck.

Posted by
16 posts

Rob, thank you so much for your thoughtful and kind response, I appreciate your thoughts and time.

Posted by
9 posts

Hi Gail,
Greetings from Istanbul! Thanks to Rob for his great and true explanations. As being a local in Istanbul (borned in Ankara), I live in Istanbul for 17years and my parents live in Ankara. As I have explanined in my previous comments regarding safety issue in Turkey.
I can not say there is no risk at all in Ankara and in Istanbul. Unfortunately especially for last 7-8months there are black clouds on the Turkey. However Ankara, Istanbul are far to our southeastern borders, there was 3 attacks in Ankara in 5-6months(they were aiming to hit soldiers) but we assume they hit innocent people by wrong (or we never understand what they have in their mind). And 2 attacks in Istanbul in 2-3months.
Formerly we were totaly living in peace t everypart of the country.
But I could say there is no full guarantee at any country. Except those incidents everyone is busy with their work and day life.
Hope you can feel comfortable and visit our beautiful country.