In 2004, there was a febıile work going on in the entiı·e İstanbul. Preparations were being made for the NATO Sununit which was going to take place in İstanbul. Roads anel builclings were being repairecl, anel security precautions were beiııg taken. Presidents for foıty two countries and dıe first ladies were going to come. !Vlany roacls were doseel inciueling the coastal highway. In the suıTounciings of the hotels, which ilie guests were going to stay, ınajor precautions were bellig taken. 28th to 30th of June had become a complete suffermg for tl1e people of İstanbul, but, at the same time, dıe eyes of the whole world were set on d1is place. There were protests agamst NATO as well. When a group of activists invited tl1e tradesmen to join the protest as iliey walked du·ough tl1e bazaar, thillgs got worse. The traclesmen were alreacly !ike cats on hot tin roof. Actually, d1e problem was not dıe protest or it~ reason. The tradesmen, who were alı·eacly boreel because of bad business, were against this louclness because of one single reason. llıe Grand Bazaar was a covereel place, anel few customer dıat were there were also leaving because of tl1is louclness. Luckily, this riot came to an enel wid10ut any bad inciclents. The !Vliı1istıy of Foreign Affaiı·s, an official from dıe Office of d1e Secretaıy-General of NATO, along with a high level conunittee from dıe Palice Depaıtı11ent came to the Grand Bazaar Foundation. The govenu11ent had a request from d1e Bazaar. Impoıtant guests were goiı1g to come to our bazaar on J un e 28th, 2004 and the security of d1ese guests w as very important. It was even tok! dıat Presielent Bush was going to come. This was announced to all of the traelesmen. T11eir identification carcl information was collectecl. Backgrounel checks were done on each traelesman. Then, they elecidecl to close almost half of d1e Bazaar for d1at day. Beginning with the main street, du·ee Beclestans and suıToLıneling stı·eets were allowed to stay open. just for that day, special picture icl’s were prmted for two d1ousand si.x hunclrecl fouıteen traclesmen. No one was allowecl to come ın to d1e Bazaar from d1e outside. Floors, clisplay windows, walls were cleaned, and prepared for me con1ing guest.,. Even tlıe restrooms were taken care of, anel were repairecl as goocl as possible. At 8:30 in d1e morning, d1e traclesmen entereel the Bazaar from d1e only gate open. It was 4:00pm in the evening but no one haci showeel up yer. Eveıyone was eagerly waiting for dıe Presiclents anel first ladies to come. Of course, w hat really maele d1e tradesmen excited were the sales they dreamed to make to the foreign guests. As d1e officials of tl1e foundation, we were waiting at d1e Nuruosmaniye gate along wid1 d1e security units. We learned mat the guests were on d1eir way. At once, an woman in front, followed by ten Americans, entereel the Bazaar.
They dicl not go through any security checl<. First, potice officer Vehip warned. He said,ait a nıinute, who are these people” and stopped them. I asked the woman who they are in English, she repliecl in Turkish and said, “I11ese are d1e White House offidal’i, d1ey came to purchase rugs.” 1 tolcl the group that d1ey cannot get in because we were waiting for the committee. The White House officials were suqxised to be stoppecl from entering in. We also were sur- prised at thenı canıing alone without waiting for the com- mittee. At the enel, all the security was there for them. Even the private palice officers who were placed on the roofs came to the our office door, whicb openecl to the roof, to waın us not to go up to the roof using that cloor. At this time the committee went into the bazaar as fast as a stoım. Actı.ıally dıe real stomı was in dıe bazaar. Tiıe trac:lesmen nıet this stoıııı wearing black sunglasses before the guests they had been waiting since the morning. This storm was pushing anyone it sees and hurting them. We barely were able to give them the gift we specially prepared for them as the officials of the Foundation. There were only two women in the ‘committee’ we aU had been Vaiting since the moming. One was the wife of the Secretaıy-General of NATO, the other was first lady of Lithuania. Later on, a few ınore first laclies came to the bazaar but, this was not enough for the tradesmen who had high sale expectations. The tradesmen of the Bazaar again respondecl to eveıything maturely. At that time, we leaıned that the White House officials were in the Haliciar street. The Vonıan who spoke Turkish was Dena Sukaya. She told that she worked in the consulate in İstanbul ten years ago, but eveıyone knew her differently. For sonıe reason, on the windows of some stores, she bung posters saying “This store is recommended by Dena Sukaya,” with her picture on them. I learnec.l that she was doing this for a long time. I guess, she had some private agreements widı some stores. The Grancl Bazaar was dıe clisplay window of this cOLıntry with the tourism, trade, cultural, and histarical values.
We, too, were conscious of this responsibility anel had done the best we could, and thought we represented our country as good as possible clespite many problems and clifficulties. Since Turkey was announced unsecure for tourism for a while, we knew how impoıtant dıe visits of the first laclies were. However, it was strange d1at neither clomestic nor inteınational media were allowecl into the bazaar. Anyone who remembered the teıı-oıist activities happenecl in the past years was woıTied. In June 16dı, 1983, ASALA militant, Maclaıyan, had coımTıitted a bloody attack in the Grancl Bazaar. First he killed eveıyone arouncl him with his IVIP5 gun, dıen be brought his life to an enel with the bomb he put araund his belly. Also, PKK’s terrorist attack in Keseciler Avenue, wbich caused the life of one Turk and d1ree tourists, was still in the mincls of many. Luckily, no negative inciclents happenecl during these visits. As d1e people of the Grand Bazaar, we honorably hanelieel the clitficulties of the NATO Summit.