Denmark , The World’s happiest country, Burak Pehlivan

by burakpehlivan on 03/07/2014

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That cue is one of the unforgettable cues of the unforgettable work ‘Hamlet’ of Shakespeare: ‘Something is rotten in the state of Denmark’. However, it is apparent that today’s Denmark occupies highest positions in the world in transparency, struggling with corruption, social development level and economic freedoms, thus, it constitutes a controversy with this sentence of Hamlet. The country is among the first 5 countries in the index of easiness of doing business of the World Bank. According to the perception of non-permission of corruption and bribery of the International Transparency Organization, Denmark takes the first place among the measurable 177 countries, while Turkey takes the 53. place and Ukraine takes the 144. place. On the other hand, on the world competitive ability index which measures having the most qualified and competitive work power, Denmark is on the third place. On the globalization index of the Swiss Economy Institute, which displays the development level of the countries with the rest of the world in development level of social, economic and political integration, Denmark takes the 6th place. According to the social development survey that was conducted by the international monitoring institution Deloitte among 132 countries this year, Denmark is among the first 10 countries, while Turkey in the 64th place and Ukraine is in the 62nd. Yes, I realize that I have been bothering you with those statistics, but anyway I have to emphasize that Denmark will all the time be among the first 10, no matter which rating system we choose for any positive criteria. Now let’s turn back to the headline of our article and close the issue of statistics. Last year, according to the World Happiness Index, Danish people were selected as the happiest people of the world. When you visit this country, you see this data with your own eyes. I wanted to write about this small but at the same time beautiful country of Europe in those dark days that Ukraine experiences.
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I heard the name of this southernmost Scandinavian country from my elder sister, who was reading aloud the world atlas to me. I was 3 or 4 years old and I could not read at that time. At first, my mother used to read aloud the names and features of the world countries to me, then, my elder sister. And I used to memorize the capitals of those countries. Since then, I have never forgotten neither the name of the capital, nor the flag of Denmark, which has a population of 5,5 million people. Scandinavia distinctly differs from the other parts of Europe with its unique hotel chains, dishes, restaurants and trademarks, while Denmark differs in the same issues from the rest of Scandinavia. The Danish people, in contrary to the Finnish people have had great fame in the world with their trademarks which have access to wide masses of consumers and which can compete with other marks not only with their high quality, but also with their prices. On the other hand, in contrary with Norway and Sweden, Danish trademarks have been dominating the market not only in engineering and industry spheres, but also in many consumption products and in various sectors.

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Lego, which is the biggest toy producer in the world, Bang & Olufsen, which produces high quality audio products, telephones and televisions, the sport war company Hummel, Grundfos, which is the biggest pump producer in the world, Danfoss, which produces components for machinery sector and which is the leading companies of the world in this sphere, are only some of the trademarks that this country has donated to the world. On the other hand, the trademark Pandora in jewelry sector and Ecco, whose global endorsement is about 1,2 billion euros and which is the second in the world in shoe production, should not be forgotten. The corporation Maersk, whose center is in Copenhagen, has been determining the rules of the maritime sector in the world. The income in the country comes from production which has high added value and from the service sector. The spheres such as designing, information-operation technologies, management consultation are very popular. However, the energy sector must be separately emphasized. Denmark, with its amount of renewable energy, is in the first place in the world in energy production. Despite the fact that Denmark is a net exporter of petroleum and natural gas, it attaches great importance to renewable energy.

They are also in a very important position in wind technologies, consulting and in its service production. Vestas, the biggest wind tribune producer of the world is the trademark of this country and in this sphere there is such a high level of export that in the foreign trade balance the export of wind tribune appears as an important export item. Another interesting export item of this country is toys. Denmark, together with China, is the biggest toy exporter in the world. However, there is a difference: The success, which is tried to be obtained in China by thousands of producers and by means of mane cheap products has been achieved in Denmark by means of Lego alone, which is the most valuable toy trademark of the world and which produces toys with high added values.
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You can observe the importance that is attached to sports, the dominance of the women in society, the interest towards the organic products and the lack of interest toward spiritual issues, even during a journey of a few days. The Danish people have interiorized sports. On every corner of the city you meet with people that run, deal with sports every hour. On the other hand, riding bicycle has become a way of life. Last year, since the end of WW II, the amount of bicycle sales has passed the amount of automobile sales in Europe. For sure, one of the contributor of that fact is Denmark. The bicyclers in Denmark enjoy a prominence compared with both car drivers and pedestrians. Wide use of bicycles in inner city transport decreases air pollution and at the same time it turns back to the citizens as improvement in health and life quality.

In Denmark, there is a madness toward organic substances. Apart from food & drinking, even in the shop windows of barber shops it is written that they deal with organic haircut and organic hair care. It is apparent that women have a dominant place in the society.
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When I was taking a walk in one of the verdant parks of the capital city, I met with a father, who had put his three children into a single baby carriage. I started to talk with him. As he said, his wife is a businesswoman, who works very tensely. For this reason, as he says, in the division of labor, child care belongs to him. I think, he realized the expression of astonishment on my face, for this reason, he said laughingly: “there are lots of families like us”. Let’s continue to my impressions from my walk. I want to share with you a case, which took my attention: A new settlement is being constructed in Copenhagen between Frederiksstaden (the old city) and Kvaesthus, the modern face of the city. In other words, an urban transformation project is being realized. The old port region and the warehouses in that place are being transformed to a building complex in which there will be cultural and social facilities. Realization of such projects in all of the world is quite natural. However, the point which is worth to pay attention is that, this process in Copenhagen is being conducted in a very transparent way. The citizens are being regularly informed on the content of the project and on the current phase of the project and even sometimes special presentations are conducted. There is a special exhibition area where not only the citizens but also tourists are being informed and which will operate until the end of the project. When you walk around this area, in the room nearby where the door is open the architects and engineers discuss the works to be conducted. In this way, they try to obtain full help from both the residents of Copenhagen and from the people who visit the city as tourists. In the projects there is a full cooperation of the Ministry of Culture of Denmark, the Copenhagen Municipality and the private sector. This means that all central government administration, local administrations and private sector attach great importance to transparency and accountability. Once upon a time, I had asked a businessman in Turkey, who is famous for his sensitivity in preparing contracts: “to whom and to what do you owe your sensitivity on contracts?” In his answer he told me that he had acquired this quality from Danish people, with whom he had worked for a long time. At that time I was not able to imagine this situation. However, after travelling to Denmark, it is no more a mystery for me why this nation has been well developed in the criterion such as transparency and measurability. Because, they don’t want to leave up to chance.

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Danish people are very fond of universal values and principles. However, this situation should not mislead you: Danish people, who lead in the world in the issues such as human rights, animal rights and environmental issues, are very pragmatic when it comes to trade issues. The capital city Copenhagen hosts to the biggest fur market (auction house) of the world. Because, in this country every year, almost 17 million minks and similar fur animals are being brought up. This figure reflects 20% of world wild animal fur production. The endorsement of Copenhagen Fur Raisers Sale House for the year 2013 is almost 3 billion dollars. (The Economist,
May 2014). On the other hand, the design offices in Denmark are the determining factors of the fur fashion in the world. The main buyers of the furs are Chinese businessmen. Denmark earns great money from all fur production, fur market and fur design. The famous fur protests are not seen in Denmark.
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On my journeys I certainly visit the great shopping centers, hypermarkets and, if any, relatively big shops where luxury food is sold and in these places I try to find Turkish trademarks, products of which are being displayed and sold and I take notes on them. Nevertheless, I met with disappointment in this country, which makes 105 billion dollars of import. In such a great shopping center like Magasin (a multi stored wear shop) I did not see a single Turkish trademark. On the other hand, in the supermarket in downstairs where relatively luxurious products, I saw dried apricots, which were packed by a Turkish company and Turkish nuts which are sold without package. The prices of dried apricots and nuts are approximately 50 USD. As I has written before, we have are in a very backward position in export of branded goods and we have a lot to do in this sphere.

I can say that, in this country, except for the luxurious restaurants, giving tips is not a common practice. Taxi prices are very high and it requires a bravery to dine in restaurants. For this reason, in Denmark, ready food chains are very common. I can say that I was astonished when I saw many 7/11 shops in Denmark, which were also in Turkey once upon a time. On the other hand, the sandwich sellers can be seen everywhere. It is not easy to talk about a special Danish cuisine. In local restaurants, open and closed sandwiches are being sold, which are unique for this country but which are poor in choice. In soups, in many places tomato soup is the only choice. The restaurants are expensive: but they are very big and they feed well. In addition, the open buffet system is being practiced in many restaurants at lunch. It is possible to be full up in these restaurants and cafes for 60-70 crowns and this is a very convenient price in Denmark. But anyway, many employees have their lunches by eating the sandwiches and meals which they bring to office.

Meanwhile, the weakness of concerns on spiritual issues can easily be seen. While the external sides of the churches and cathedrals are magnificent, their inner sides are quite modest. Compared with the churches in Catholic and Orthodox countries of Europe, the churches in Denmark are modestly decorated and it is normal in a Protestan country. It can be easily be seen that, in the churches, there a few people. The country of the happiest people in the world at the same time leads the countries where the greatest number of suicide cases are seen. According to the data of the World Health Organization, Denmark is the fourth country in usage of anti-depression medicines per person. Another interesting point is that, in this country, where the life quality is so high, the level cigarette consumption is apparent; although the cigarettes in Denmark are very expensive. Cigarette butts have covered everywhere and this scene does not fit to this country. According to the data of the World Cancer Organization, the biggest number of cancer cases per population, are seen in Denmark. Certainly, this wide cigarette consumption has effect on this situation. I will continue to write on Denmark. This precious country cannot be summarized in a few words; only its capital Copenhagen alone requires a number of articles. Before ending my essay, I wish to thank the young diplomat Victoria Tsurtsumia, the Consul of Ukraine in Copenhagen, who accompanied me during my journey. It is worth to re-write this essay for her in English and I’ve done it.

Burak PEHLİVAN

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