A few years ago, I began to despair about the future of my favorite country. I had spent years travelling and even bought a flat in a wonderfultown on the coast called Kas - http://www.kashotel.org/, it was frankly a revelation. So I began to research Turkey to see if it was a safe place to relocate – it is !
1. Turkey is not the nation the West understood. Once a member of the Western community Turkey is currently in the center of its world spanning North Africa, the Middle East, the Balkans, the Caucasus and beyond. Its foreign policy has experienced change too. Its once warm relationships with Israel are now in tatters. Turkey is no longer anxiously banging on the EU’s door but pursues a multivector policy serving its advertisement and security interests. Ties with Russia are while Ankara is reaching out to increasing powers for example Brazil, booming. Turkish entrepreneurs are making inroads in places in Africa or Latin America. In short, Turkey has become an actor, an economic pole, and maybe an aspiring regional hegemon—or “sequence setter” (dzen kurucu).
2. The UK and other friends must take into consideration that Turkey’s new foreign policy doesn’t result in the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party’s roots in political Islam but reflects long term, structural shifts. Turkey was at pains to find a brand new function in a explosive and highly risky regional environment with conflicts erupting in the Caucasus, former Yugoslavia and the Middle East.
3. The second change relates to the profound transformation in the nation’s political economy and society. Liberalisation reforms opened Turkey to the international market in the 1980s, including neighbouring regions, energised empowered and increase to a new, economically and traditional dynamic middle class. Over time, the secularist establishment was challenged by the latter.
4. Since 2002 AKP has utilized change to broaden democratic rule and continue market friendly policies, with the assistance of the EU’s political conditionality. Deepening democracy has controlled the power of the guardians of the order in the military, civil service and the courts, the enemies of the AKP and its particular predecessors. Having been reelected for a third successive term, this battle have been largely won by AKP to appear as dominant power in Turkish politics (by way of comparison, within the interval between 1960 and 2002, authorities survived on average 14 . months) The party effectively controls essential institutions including the General Staff, the Presidency, the judiciary and the authorities. Concentration of power without a correctly operating system of checks and balances is definitely a cause of anxiety.
5. For a majority of Turkish citizens, growing prosperity is more significant than the AKP’s authoritarian tendencies, whether actual or perceived. Turkish GDP per capita (at PPP) increased from approximately USD 3,000 in 2002 to well over 10,000 at present. Unlike the EU as well as the US, Turkey weathered the 2008 international crisis with few casualties, with market growing by 8.2% in 2010 and reaching 11% in Q1 of 2011. Consumption and investment are crucial components in the growth model. Government spending so plays a main function with big jobs in home and public infrastructure. Such initiatives, along with its popular reform in the field of health care, improve the allure of Erdoan et al to voters.
6. Strength at home has empowered AKP to pursue an overconfident policy abroad. Its targets are highly practical. First, engaging neighbouring nations, notably within the Middle East, adds to Turkey’s security, eg with the perspective of the Kurdish problem which tops the plan. Secondly, to balance its market, Turkey seeks to start new markets for its energetic businesses, purchasing support for the AKP. Thirdly, Prime Minister Erdoan has the penchant for grandstanding on problems outside Turkey, like the circumstances of Palestinians, to score points domestically.