New push from Turks

In terms of development and livelihood, Turkey is the odd one out in a region of war-shaken nations. Turkey has a population of 76 million and a territory as big as half of Mongolia. In 2013, Turkey had a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 830 billion USD, which ranked them 15th in the world and 7th in Europe. It meant the GDP per capita was 12,000 USD.
In the same year, Turkey’s total exports equaled 164 billion USD while their imports were 242 billion USD, which resulted in a trade deficit of 80 billion USD. Having a median age of 28, Turkey is regarded as the youngest nation in Europe. A survey reported that one fourth of Turkey’s total population live in urban areas, a half is connected to the internet, and 65 million people use mobile phones while 47.4 million have credit cards.
Turkey experienced an economic growth of five percent on average in the last ten years. The government of Turkey had an external debt as low as 42 percent of GDP, which is the third lowest debt-to-GDP ratio in Europe after Sweden and the Czech Republic. Turkey is the world’s largest producer of hazelnuts, apricots, and dried figs. Also Turkey is the second largest producer of float glass, the fifth largest in gold and silver products, and the eighth largest in shipbuilding. Furthermore, Turkey comes in third on TV exports and leads Europe through cement exports as well as production of textile and fertilizers. It is also the third biggest steel producer in Europe. Turkey is also listed as one of the top 10 tourist destinations in the world and welcomed a total of 36 million tourists in 2013.
Turkey boasts astonishing infrastructure such as the Istanbul Metro that connects Asia and Europe, Antalya’s airports and sea resorts that have become a large tourist attraction, highways connecting Ankara with other cities, vast network of electric power distribution, and their impressive waste management system. Turkey’s construction and engineering companies have been taking part in building many cities worldwide and are implementing almost all of the large-scale construction projects in the Near East and Africa.


Let us have a closer look at the main factors of Turkey’s rapid socio-economic growth, which is also known as Ankara’s “economic miracle.”
Foreign/economic policy: Turgut Ozal, who received education in the United States, was Prime Minister of Turkey and later became President of Turkey. In the 1980s, he developed and started a policy aimed at economic liberalization, privatization of state enterprises, free competition in the market, international competitiveness, and investment in education. This policy commenced by Ozal was reinforced by Turkey’s current Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, who took office in 2003 after a short-term crisis in domestic politics as well as banking sector. Prime Minister Erdogan, who is also the chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party, has carried out the gradual recovery of the banking sector and ensured regular investment in infrastructure, education, health, and technology.
Prime Minister Erdogan has conducted an economic policy to open up Turkey’s economy to the volatile region and has pursued a foreign policy aimed at making Turkey a bridge that connects Muslim countries, the United States, and Europe. Furthermore, he encouraged domestic businesses to make investments abroad and supported them in acquiring soft loans. A total income of 47 billion USD was generated by the privatization of state enterprises that were carried out from 2003 to 2010. Turkey has recently set a goal to become the regional leader in the competitiveness of industrial production and service sector.
The backbone of Turkey’s economy is its small and medium enterprises. The hard work and steady effort of the Turkish people have helped their products and services produced domestically to gain competitiveness on international market and attract foreign investment into almost all sectors of the economy.
Education policy: Turkey’s universities and colleges are attracting an increased number of students from Asia and Africa. Turkish high schools have been successfully set up in more than 160 countries in the world and are graduating students who are fluent in both English and Turkish languages. Many of those students come to Turkey in order to pursue higher education. A total of 1,500 Mongolian students are currently attending schools in Turkey while approximately 3,300 Mongolians graduated from Turkish universities in the last ten years. Many companies from knowledge-based industries such as robotics, avionics, information technology, and advanced electronics trace their roots back to universities and colleges in Turkey.
The Turkish government has recognized the need to improve the quality and availability of education at all levels, and increase the enrollment of female students. Therefore, the government has currently started several initiatives to continue educational reform, increase investment in education, and broaden the use of technology in delivering courses.
Although the Turkish government is currently spending 4.5 percent of GDP on public education, a socialist party is demanding to increase the education expenditures to six percent of GDP. Recently, there have been serious discussions on whether to close down university-preparatory schools in Turkey.
Innovation policy: Following the trends of Japan and South Korea, both of which are similar to Turkey in terms of lack of mineral wealth, Turkey has been pursuing a policy to make the best use of its geographical location, solar and wind power, and geothermal resources. Turkey has also been successful in attracting foreign investment in employing sustainable technology, developing tourism, constructing greenhouses, and building pipeline transport of oil and natural gas.
Turkey is building greenhouses throughout the country to grow all types of vegetables all year round, and is preparing to break into not only regional but also global market. Due to new developments in medical and sports tourism, Turkey’s hotels are fully booked at all time of the year regardless of tourism season. The entire Europe is attracted to their high quality medical services including diagnosis, rehabilitation, and oral and maxillofacial surgeries. Turkey has built all kinds of sports facilities, resorts, and hotels with quality service and competitive prices that attract professional athletes around the world. After coming back to their home country, Turks who used to live in other European countries, especially their children, are contributing greatly to creating a knowledge economy by making an efficient use of their education, knowledge, and know-how.

Uncertainty is found both externally and internally, that will affect Turkey’s process of development. The regional instability, including the situations in the Eurozone, Near East, Syria and Iran, will produce a significant impact on Turkey’s tourism industry. Also, a minimal fluctuation in oil prices would affect Turkey’s economy. However, Turkey has already acquired the skills and experience that will help them manage all those risks.
There is still enormous media attention on Turkey’s political party that has had the ruling power for ten years and led the country to rapid development and Recep Erdogan, their chairman and Prime Minister. Four cabinet members have resigned after being accused of corruption. There was also a widespread accusation on social media that Prime Minister Erdogan has overexerted his power. Twitter and YouTube were banned in Turkey for several months, which have been strongly opposed by the people, especially the younger generation.
In August, Turkey will have its first ever presidential elections to elect the president through direct popular vote. Many Turkish people are wary of the potential move by their Prime Minister to run in the presidential elections and obtain the powers of the Prime Minister and President at the same time. They think that such move could result in the dominance of single figure inside the country and slow down Turkey’s process of joining the European Union.
In any case, Turkey and its hard-working people have built strong foundations for flourishing development and are looking forward to the future with great faith.
Translated by B.AMAR

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Posted by on Apr 27 2014. Filed under Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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