I guess congratulations are in order for the Men in the Turkish Mediterranean city of Antalya.

I can probably guess that these men are QUITE happy to be living amongst such a population of Russian Ladies.

Turkish-Russian marriages make new ‘melez’ generation
Saturday, July 12, 2008

Approximately 10,800 Russian women who live in the Turkish Mediterranean city of Antalya are married to Turkish men, and most of these brides are university graduates, professionals and entrepreneurs. Their children make up a new generation of 4,000 Russian-Turkish ‘melez,’ or mixed, kids — many of whom will enter primary school this year

Gülden Aydın
ANTALYA – Hürriyet

Upon arrival in Antalya it is difficult not to notice the number of Russians. Aside from the two-and-a-half million Russian tourists who usually keep to themselves in holiday resorts, about 15,000 Russians, 80 percent of whom are women, are living, working and mingling with locals here. Their blonde, thin, tall children are easy to spot in traffic, parks, bike paths and markets. Representatives of this new generation in Antalya, almost all the kids in this large and diverse group speak both Russian and Turkish.

According to official data, 13,000 Russians live in Antalya, but the actual number is likely closer to 15,000. There are 310 active Russian companies in the city, and Russians are either managers or partners in 225 firms. The number of Russians who own real estate in the area is close to 800.

Russian women who settle in Antalya tend to be young university graduates and entrepreneurs. Contrary to many views in Turkey, these women are not hopeless unqualified immigrants who had no choice but to move to Turkey.The women are attracted to the climate, natural sites and easy travel from Russia. According to Mircalol Husanov, the consul general for Russia in Antalya, Russians are qualified, educated people who contribute to the city’s social and cultural life.

No Russian neighborhoods

Russians who settle in Turkey are different from British and German residents. They do not live together in sites or blocs, and there is no Russian neighborhood in Antalya. Russians mingle with locals and try to speak Turkish with almost everyone. They are eager to learn Turkish to run their businesses effectively.

Intermarriage plays a big role. Russians in Antalya are mostly women married to Turkish men. According to the Foreigners Culture and Solidarity Association, or FCSA, in Antalya, there are doctors, engineers or economists among them; however most Russian residents work in the service and tourism sectors.

First generation of mixed kids heads to school

Families want their children to have an education that is valid in both countries. The FCSA offers language courses for Turkish-Russian children and there is a private school founded by Russian Victor Bikkenev. Diplomas from Bikkenev’s school are not, however, valid in Russia, according to Husanov. Right now, there is a preparatory class in the Levent Aydın Anatolian High School’s elementary school department and a preschool class in the Governor Hüsnü Tuğlu Elementary School. In the next school year, Russian teachers will teach 40 children in the first, second and third grade classes.

The consulate plans to open an elementary school in Antalya in the future and to bring in teachers from Moscow.

Priests arrive from Russia for christening

Russians living in Antalya do not have a church. Husanov said, “We know that this is a sensitive issue. We want to buy a lot in Antalya and build a decent church. I hope locals will not be disturbed by that.” For now, Easter and similar holidays are observed in homes. For children’s christenings, a priest arrives twice a year from the Russian church in Istanbul and the ceremony takes place in homes.

Russian women were looked down on in Antalya in the past

Irina Okay is an economist from St. Petersburg. She met Necat Okay in Antalya, fell in love and got married in 2001. She was happy to settle in Antalya and was one of the first Russian women to marry a Turk and settle in the city. Learning Turkish from newspapers and television, Irina founded the FCSA in 2006.

“If my husband hadn’t helped me, our marriage would’ve ended. We Russians who arrived a decade ago were unfortunate in many respects. People looked down on us. We had to explain that we are different, well-educated and sophisticated women. In time, Turkish families have changed their opinions and now they like us.”

Irina’s husband, Necat, is a tourism agent. He describes himself as a typical Turkish man. “I am pro-Western,” he said, “but no matter what I do, I am a Turk. I cannot change my certain way of thinking.” Necat said because Russians are free sprits they are having a hard time overcoming a difficult period. “Some of our traditions do not speak to them.”

The Russian women, however, are different from Westerners. Due to the dire circumstances Russian-speaking countries have experienced in recent years, said Necat, if a Russian woman is happy in her marriage she tries hard to save it.

Arina Yılmaz, 36, from Siberia, holds a university degree in quality control and has lived in Antalya for seven years. Her husband Ethem is an exporter. The couple met in Russia. Arina came to Turkey three months after Mr. Yılmaz returned to Turkey. They have son a four-and-a-half-year-old son, Timur. “I can say that I am happy; we tolerate each other’s choices.”

Elena Durmuş, 35, studied economics at Moscow State University. Her husband is a contractor. Their son, Armağan, is seven-and-a-half years old. Their biggest worry is his education. “There should be multi-language schools in Antalya. Why is only English being taught here?”

Natalia Çelik was a hairdresser in Moscow. She arrived in Antalya 11 years ago as a tourist and met her husband Hasan. They have been married for three-and-a-half years and have two kids, Timur Paşa, 8, and Asya, 2. Natalia misses Moscow a lot and visits once a year.

Janna converted to Islam

Dr. Janna Doğancı from Moscow married Ata who runs the Savoy Hotel in Konyaaltı. Janna works at the hotel’s beauty center. They met in 1996 while Janna was on vacation in Antalya. Janna will soon become a Turkish citizen. She converted to Islam after reading the Koran in Russian. “After we met we waited awhile to get married. In the meantime we have tried to figure out how to overcome the difficulties we face as a couple.”

‘Shall we visit babuşka?’

Nadia and Adil Kürşat Ayhan run the Lidana Hotel in Konyaaltı. Their son Deniz is 3 years old. They have been married for six years. Nadia is from the city of Krasnoyarsk, Siberia. They visit her mother in Siberia after the tourism season ends; Nadia’s parents visit Antalya during the summer. Nadia asks her son, “Shall we visit ‘babuşka’? He replies, “Da!”

She said, “I haven’t become a Turk yet.” Her husband jumped in, “If she had, we wouldn’t be happy.” To the question “Are you in love?” Nadia replies in laughter, “Like a dog!” Nadia knocks on wood, a common thing to do in both the Russian and Turkish traditions to avoid spoiling a good situation. “When I came here I didn’t even consider marrying a Turkish man. But we were so in love and it was impossible to let that go.”

The FCSA has 100 members. They help Russians with the marriage process or to find a home in Antalya. The association introduces Russian and Turkish cultures. (Phone: (0242) 324 5235 – okayirina@yandex.ru).

(You can read the original article here)

Now I know that this resort town and that Turkey in general are very popular tourist destinations for Russians.

It seems that Turkey has done a very smart thing and not hampered the movements of these ladies with any restrictive visa regimes and that has allowed this positive development to happen.

Wouldn’t it be great if other western countries like the US, Canada, UK or Australia had the same attitude?

One can only wish.

But in the meantime places like Antalya might be another pretty good vacation spot to hangout in during this time of year.