Rising and Shining Turkey
Turkey commemorated its 88th Anniversary of 'Proclamation of the Republic of Turkey' on 29 October 2011. While grappling with the gloom radiated by the recent earth quake, Turkish nation celebrated the event with traditional passion. Presently, Turkey is going through an era of renaissance and is marching forward with confidence. During this cathartic phase, Turkey is lead by a remarkable national leadership team. Within less than a decade Turkey has really turned around in almost all strategic aspects. In 2002, it suffered from almost all the ills that Pakistan is facing today. A sinking economy, political instability, 'junta' dominated civilmilitary equation and polarized society were the hall-marks ofTurkey. It prided itself with secular ideals and shunned its Muslim identity. Getting the membership of European Unionwas a matter of life and death. Nevertheless, this was the profile of the state only. Public sentiment was quite the opposite. Shrine going jeans wearing youngsters, privately praying elderly and masses flocking to see the Islamic relics in specially arranged centers represented the simmering attachment of the public with Islam. Undercurrents were visible indicating that people were looking for an outlet, an opportunity and a genuine political leadership. Earlier Prime Minister Najmudin Erbkan's government had represented the Islamic aspirations of the Turkish people. His government came to power in 1996, but was ousted by 'Junta' in 1997, and elderly Erbkan was later jailed on flimsy charges. Late Erbakan is referred to as the “teacher” of a number of Turkey's leading political figures. He was indeed the mentor of current leadership including President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. They owe Najmudin Erbkan the foundation of their political thought process. Consecutive electoral victories of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) indicates amazing confidence reposed by the people of Turkey in the leadership of Prime Minister Erdogan, who has taken bold and visionary decisions for the uplift of his people and to carve out a place of respect for the country amongst the comity of nations. Before becoming the prime minster, Erdogan had already established his credential as charismatic leader, a visionary, and as an agent of change during his tenure as Mayor of Istanbul during 1994-98. Ruling party clinched a record landslide (50.3%) in the previous parliamentary polls held in June this year. It was party's highest electoral tally since it came to power. In his post election victory speech in June 2011, Erdogan said “We will be humble,” he pledged to start work on a new constitution. “We will be seeking consensus with the main opposition, the opposition parties outside of parliament, the media, the NGOs, with academics, with anyone who has something to say.” The ruling party has presided over strong economic growth and has adopted an assertive foreign policy. Per capita income of the country, which tripled to $10,079 during the tenure of AKP is indicative of the success of its economic policies; the party aims to further jack it up to $25,000 by 2023, when Turks commemorate the centenary of the Turkish Republic. The growth rate last year was 8.9 per cent, the second highest among G-20 nations after China. Turkish Lira regained its former prestige through the elimination of six zeros. Forty five years after Turkey signed an Association Agreement with the EU, the negotiations for Turkey's accession to the EU started during Erdogan's tenure, and that too in a respectable way. Turkey's foreign policy reflects the sentiments of its masses, especially in the context of daunting challenges facing the Muslim Ummah. Foreign minister Professor Ahmet Devatoglu is the architect of the current foreign policy. Cardinal principles of the policy are documented in his illustrated book “Strategic Depth: Turkey's International Position”. First, on the domestic front, resolve Kurdish issue. Second, on the international front, resolve all the bilateral disputes to achieve “zero problems” with neighbours. Third, “de-securitization” of foreign policy and transforming Turkey to an economy oriented state. Fourth, play the role of mediator in the international conflicts. Middle-East, Afghanistan, and Kashmir issues have attracted Turkey's special attention. Turkish initiatives like brokering an arrangement between Brazil and Iran to avert a nuclear impasse during 'NPT Review Conference of 2010', offer for opening of an office for Taliban in Turkey, abstention in UNSC resolution 1973 pertaining establishment of no fly zone over Libya, and refusal to participate inNATOoperations in Libya are reflections of a robust foreign policy with Islamic inclinations. Turkey has reclaimed the respect for 'Hijab'. 'Freedom Flotilla' episode in 2010 brought the Palestinian issue under intense international focus. Israel committed high sea piracy against a modest convoy of six boats carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza. Nine innocent pacifists were killed and the boats were impounded. Reaction by the comity of nations and agencies like UN, OIC and Arab League etc was of severe denunciation of Israel's brutal acts. Erdogan came out with flying colours by expressing his desire to join the struggle by being on board such subsequent Flotilla to break the inhuman blockade of Gaza.