Golden opportunity for Turkey
OSMAN ULAGAYI came across a Brazilian journalist, Clovis Rossi – who I met during the first years I was attending the World Economic Forum meetings in Davos – in our hotel’s elevator. I immediately remembered those old Davos days. As I mentioned in my column yesterday, Brasilia and Turkey were used to being on the Davos agenda because of debt issues and political dilemmas that looked difficult to overcome. I asked Rossi: “The world has changed so much, hasn’t it?” He answered: “Yes, indeed,” before going on to describe the admiration he has for Istanbul with great excitement. Before coming to Davos he visited Istanbul for the first time and, if I may say so, he was struck.
I also met Time magazine’s Hong Kong-based economy writer, Michael Schuman, while waiting for George Soros’ speech. I asked Schuman, who has lived in Hong Kong for one year, how he evaluated the success story of China.
Leave aside China, look at Turkey
Schuman, who was based in Japan and South Korea before his present location, said that in principle, China’s progress was in line with the Asian model. “The role of the state is very important. China made huge progress because it started from a very low base and because it had enormous resources that it was able to put in place, starting with human power. However, I don’t believe this will last long, or that this success story will continue the same way.” He went on: “The story that has given me the most hope recently is Turkey.” He, too, was extremely impressed by Istanbul and he explained to me how enthusiastic he was to work in Turkey, especially Istanbul.
It is certain that Turkey, and especially Istanbul, occupy a separate place in the agenda of global elites. When reviewing the global picture, the positions and performances of all countries are taken into account and, based on that, a comparison is being made. As the atmosphere prevalent in Davos this year demonstrates, the situation of Europe, excluding Turkey, is not bright at all. The majority of attendees have the impression that Europe is at a stage where it is just diagnosing its problems, and that solutions may only be found after it is dragged into a much more serious crisis. It is also a widespread opinion that the United States will undergo serious problems, both in overcoming its economic and financial problems and also in reaching the social consensus required to form an effective administration.
In such an environment, Turkey has become one of those countries that attracts the most attention. There is a widespread opinion that Turkey is economically successful, and also, in an environment where the Arab Spring is also on the agenda, Turkey draws attention as a “Muslim country that has adopted secularism and democracy.”
It is obvious that Turkey has created a huge opportunity with the distance it has covered during the last 10 years. However, in order to make good use of this opportunity, it should not lean toward those practices which might imperil this story.
Osman Ulagay is a columnist for daily Milliyet in which this piece appeared Jan 26. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.