Is the Turkish state coming to a standstill?
Sometimes it is an enigma to me to realize how far this country has come, despite all its problems.
I can’t even imagine what Turkey would have looked like if we had endorsed efficiency, rather than shooting ourselves in the foot as a national sport.
The success of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) is attributed to the fact that it has basically worked to improve the lives of millions in Turkey. In fact, the AKP even got credit for not deviating from its economic program during electoral periods.
However, this no longer seems to be the case. The Dec. 17 operations, coupled with the “triple election process,” with one down and two more still to go over the next year, appear to have slowed down the workings of the government. While Dec. 17 led to a purge by the government of people believed to be close to Fethullah Gülen in the civil bureaucracy, the uncertainty about Turkey’s future leadership also appears to have affected the decision-making system, with a lot of decisions being postponed until after the presidential elections.
Let me give you some examples.
A friend of mine recently visited a high level official in the Finance Ministry. He wanted advice on a specific issue that apparently fell within the responsibility of the undersecretariat of the Treasury. “Let me call them and find out,” the high level official said. After half an hour, he was astonished that his secretary could not reach anybody in the relevant department of the Treasury. “Find me someone, anyone, at least a secretary on the phone,” he instructed his assistant, without success. My friend left the ministry with the high level official humiliated and frustrated.
That’s an example about domestic issues. Let me give you an example about the international scene.
Turkey will hold the presidency of the G-20, the group that brings together the world’s biggest economies, in 2015. It will officially take up the functions of the presidency next December, and the government should by now have already named the key people and institutions that will administer the presidency. For example, the Business-20 (B-20) is an event that is part of the G-20 Summit, intended to formulate common views in the international business community. The government needs to designate a person or an institution to organize B-20 activities in Turkey. The Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessperson’s Association (TÜSİAD) is a member of the B-20. It has made it known that it is ready to assume responsibility. But the government, probably due to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s not-so-positive views about “big capital,” has refrained from designating TÜSİAD as the coordinator of the B-20. The government has every right not to pick TÜSİAD as a partner on that endeavor, but you would expect it to come up with an alternative. However, no decision has been taken so far. As a result, the B-20 summit on July 17 in Australia, which is currently holding the G-20 presidency, will be held in the absence of an official coordinator of the B-20 from Turkey. TÜSİAD will be there, as it is a member of the B-20, but it will not be there as the government’s designated coordinator. Last year, when the G-20 presidency was held by Russia, the meeting in Moscow witnessed a ceremony between the troika: The former, current and future coordinators.
The representatives of the business communities of the world’s biggest economies will certainly wonder why the Turkish government has so far not been able to designate a coordinator.
Think about what kind of impression this will create among the international business community about the efficiency of Turkey’s governance up to the end of the electoral period.