Ris­ing and Shin­ing Turkey

The Diplomatic Insight - - Editor’s Desk - 17

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.

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