Turkey: Past, Present and Future

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Turkey: Past, Present and Future  The Ottoman Empire in Turkey had established courts of Islamic law.  At the end of the First World War, the Empire lost a vast portion of its territory, eventually to be abolished.

  The creation of modern Turkey fell into the hands of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (1881 – 1938) at that time.  He was a Turkish army officer and a revolutionary statesman, who is today known as the founder and the first President of the Republic of Turkey (“Mustafa Kemal Pasa,” 2006).As the first president of the nation, Ataturk introduced a range of extensive reforms to create a modern, secular, and democratic state.  His reforms included the proclamation of the new Turkish state as a republic.

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  This gave the Turkish nation the right to exercise popular sovereignty by representative democracy.  The first president of the Republic of Turkey also included as part of his legal reforms the total separation of religious affairs and government.  Islamic courts were closed down, and the Islamic canon law was replaced with a secular civil code and a new penal code modeled after civil and penal codes in Europe (“Mustafa Kemal Pasa;” “Ataturk’s Reforms,” 2009).Many decades after his death, the Republic of Turkey continues to refer to itself as a secular state.

  In fact, the political system of Turkey is a parliamentary democracy despite the fact that the country has spent intervals under military rule.  Because of political unrest, the military has taken over the Republic of Turkey several times.  Yet democracy has returned time and again to rebuild Turkey as Ataturk would have liked to see it (“Turkey: Politics, Government, and Taxation,” 2008).  Turkey continues to try to separate religion from official affairs to boot – on the course that Ataturk had set it on.

  For example, the government of Turkey has forbidden the wearing of headscarves in schools and public universities.  Yet, the wife of the Turkish prime minister refuses to remove her headscarf as she moves around in public places (“Turkey in the 21st Century: The Legacy of Mrs. Ataturk,” 2006).  She is not alone in her adherence to the interpretation of Islam that asks of women to cover their heads.

  Turkey continues to be home to moderate as well as radical Muslims who must necessarily refuse to see the government eye to eye in matters of separation of religion and politics.  Terrorism, too, is a problem experienced in the Republic of Turkey (Yegenoglu, Cagaptay, & Alptekin, 2005).  Most importantly, this dangerous issue reveals that political unrest experienced in Turkey may very well be connected to the fact that the country remains as an agricultural one rather an industrialized one that Ataturk would have liked it to become (“Turkey: Economy,” 2009).  After all, it was due to political tensions that the military took over the country periodically.

  Because Turkey is a Muslim country and innumerable Muslims disagree with the idea of separation of state and religion, the country has not be able to become westernized in its entirety.  After all, the westerners are invaders in their minds, and industrialization may cause evil because westerners are not effective models to follow.Despite the contradictions in the minds of Turkish Muslims, the Republic of Turkey has expressed its desire to join the European Union so as to develop itself further (“Q & A: Turkey’s EU Entry Talks,” 2006).  However, the European Union does not appreciate the fact that Turkey’s political system is not entirely democratic (Tessler & Altinoglu, 2003, p.

25).  Still, the Republic of Turkey is recognized as a “dynamic emerging market,” making it attractive for the European Union to continue to entertain Turkey’s interest in accession (“Turkish Economy,” 2009).  As mentioned previously, agriculture continues to be the mainstay of Turkish economy.  This explains the wide gap between the haves and the have-nots in Turkey.

  What makes Turkey attractive to the European Union, however, is the ever increasing importance of trade and industry to the Turkish economy (“Culture of Turkey,” 2007).  The country has “a network of developed infrastructure and a globally competitive work force” (“Turkish Economy”).  What is more, Turkey occupies a “unique position at the crossroads of the world trade routes” (“Turkish Economy”).  Regions where energy is produced in abundance are in close proximity to Turkey – yet another reason why Turkey remains hopeful of joining the European Union to further the interests of both parties (“Turkish Economy”).

  After all, industrialized nations of the European Union are great consumers of energy.Of a certainty, the fact that Turkey is strategically located must be related to its quest to westernize itself.  The country connects with both the oil producing regions and the industrialized world to pursue its economic interests.  Because of its location, Turkey may neither discount Islam nor westernization.

  It is for this reason that the separation between state and religion continues to create political unrest in the country.  As some would like to get closer to the western world in terms of values, other Turks reject westernization.  Thus, Turkey has been unable to fully democratize itself even as it tries to follow Ataturk’s ideologies. ConclusionToday, Turkey may be expected to side with the west in wartime even if it means that the Turks must kill fellow Muslims in a neighboring country.

  This makes Turkey open to acts of terror committed by radical Muslims.  Even moderate Muslims of another country may decide to attack Turkey for betraying the Muslim world in wartime.  In that case, the west might come to rescue Turkey.  Then again, the west is not completely satisfied with the Turkish political economy.

  Political tensions, including terrorism, discourage the European Union from allowing in Turkey.  The democratic system of the country is not complete either for European Union to appreciate its political progress.Still, Turkey continues to thrive as a trading center uniting the oil producing nations with the west given its strategic location.  Although the current global financial crisis is expected to hurt Turkey immensely, its economy may be back in action as soon as the crisis is over (“In Need of an Anchor,” 2008).

  The main challenge for the country would remain, however; that is, balancing the interests of the Muslims and westerners in ways that violence is impeded and development ensues.  If Turkey were to meet this challenge head on, its democratic system would perfect itself and its economy would grow by leaps and bounds.  What is more, if the country balances its relationships with Islam and the west, energy shortages may be expected to decrease as the European Union would be using Turkey as an ally to strengthen its relationships with the oil producing nations.  Turkey is also expected to industrialize itself further by meeting this challenge.

  After all, by balancing its relationships with Islam and the west, the country would be enhancing its awareness about the fact that Muslims are not against industrialization just as the west does not hate Islam.        ReferencesAtaturk’s Reforms. (2009). All About Turkey.

Retrieved Mar 11, 2009, fromhttp://www.allaboutturkey.com/reform.htm.

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com/To-Z/Turkey.html.In Need of an Anchor. (2008, Oct 23).

Economist. Retrieved Mar 11, 2009, fromhttp://www.economist.com/displayStory.

cfm?story_id=12470615.Mustafa Kemal Pasa. (2006, Feb 6). Who’s Who.

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Q & A: Turkey’s EU Entry Talks. (2006, Dec 11). BBC News. Retrieved Mar 11, 2009, fromhttp://news.


Tessler, M., & Altinoglu, E. (2003, Nov 28). Political Culture in Turkey: Connections AmongAttitudes Towards Democracy, the Military and Islam.

Retrieved Mar 11, 2009, from http://polisci.lsa.umich.edu/documents/111dem02.

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html.Turkey: Politics, Government, and Taxation. (2008). Encyclopedia of the Nations.

Retrieved Mar11, 2009, from http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/economies/Asia-and-the-Pacific/Turkey-POLITICS-GOVERNMENT-AND-TAXATION.html.

Turkish Economy. (2009). All About Turkey. Retrieved Mar 11, 2009, fromhttp://www.

allaboutturkey.com/economy.htm.Yegenoglu, S.

, Cagaptay, D., & Alptekin, E. (2005, Nov 2). Turkey and Europe’s Problem withRadical Islam.

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