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BURAK BEKDİL

burak.bekdil@hurriyet.com.tr

BURAK BEKDİL > Super turbo state Turkey

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A year ago the German magazine Stern described Turkey as “Turbo-Staat Türkei” (Turbo State Turkey), a reflection of the country’s vibrant economy, the Bosporus glittering with wealth, a rising regional power and every other euphemism for the “Turkish miracle.”

In response, and with all due respect for the world-renowned German expertise in the motor industry, I’m inclined to remind readers of a few things:

1. According to the UNDP’s Human Development Report, Turkey stood at a not-so-turbo rank of 92 out of 187 countries.

2. UNDP’s gender inequality index put Turkey 77 out of 146 countries.

3. The World Economic Forum’s 2011 Report put Turkey 122 out of 134 countries in women’s access to education, economic participation and political empowerment.

4. Turkey ranked 138th in the World Press Freedom Index.

5. According to the U.N.’s Economic Freedom Index, Turkey was the world’s 67th freest economy.

6. According to Transparency International, Turkey’s corruption ranking was 56 among 91 countries, a rank worse than Namibia, Oman, Brunei, Botswana, Bhutan and China.

7. The Freedom House put Turkey 116th out of 153 countries, labeling the turbo-democracy as “partly free.” 

8. The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index ranked Turkey 89 (behind Honduras, Ecuador, Albania, Bangladesh, Mali, Ghana, Lesotho and China), presenting Turkey’s democratic credentials under the tag “hybrid regime.” (Turbo state Turkey, Aug. 11, 2011)

These rankings are more or less the same today while Turkey’s impressive economic growth also remains more or less unchanged. 

True, Turkey’s neo-Ottoman dreams have mostly shattered after they hit a wall of reality on which big bold letters said: ‘Welcome to the Middle East.’ But never mind, even the dream of a graceful return to our glorious past was nice. There is no harm if the dreamers keep on dreaming. 

But they look funny when a country with ambitions to “show the others the way” cannot find the way itself. It would have been much nicer if Turkey first controlled its own territory and made peace at home before shaping the future of its neighbors and attempting to bring peace abroad. It is always a difficult task to give someone else what you don’t possess. 

These days, Turkish lawmakers come in three flavors: those who sit in the Parliament, those who are jailed and those who are kidnapped by terrorists and released at their mercy. Glory days! 

Mind you, in the two decades between 1990 and 2010 terrorists kidnapped 154 people. In 2012 alone they have been able to kidnap 146 people, including a local governor, soldiers, policemen, politicians and civilians. And that’s turbo-state Turkey! 

To make it a super turbo state we have new engine additives and modifications this year, like a world-renowned pianist being prosecuted because he had tweeted that he is an atheist, or new additions to the growing list of journalists who have lost their jobs because the prime minister did not like the way they wrote. 

It is quite puzzling to guess which one will happen first; will the Baathist Arab states embrace democracy or will Turkey embrace Baathism. A more realistic option could be that Turkey and the Arab states will embrace each other, daggers hidden behind backs, or perhaps a result somewhere in between. But what other “commodity” can neo-Ottoman Turkey export to the “awoken” Arab nations? Justice. As in the name of the ruling party. Not only justice, but also economic justice.

The government’s statistics agency has just released the results of its household consumption survey for 2011 according to which: 

1. Turkey’s top 20 percent income bracket accounts for 36.7 percent of total consumption while the bottom 20 percent for a mere 9.1 percent,

2. The top 20 percent bracket accounts for 39.7 percent of total health spending vs. 10 percent for the bottom 20 percent, and

3. The top 20 percent accounts for 62.3 percent of total education spending vs. 5.2 percent for the bottom 20 percent.

But is it not great to be a net exporter of democracy, security, peace and justice?

August/17/2012

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