Turkey in the 2000’s

According to Topschoolsintheusa, the first decade of the 21st century. it opens in Turkey with the political elections of November 3, 2002, with which the new political face of the country is outlined. AKP (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi), the Justice and Development Party founded on August 14, 2001 by a group of progressive-minded deputies from the Islamic-inspired party Fazilet Partisi (Party of Virtue), formerly Refah Partisi (Welfare Party) – both dissolved for unconstitutionality in 1998 and 2001 respectively – and presented himself for the first time, he won the elections with 34.43% of the votes, becoming the first party in the country and obtaining an overwhelming majority in Parliament. The office of prime minister is entrusted to Abullah Gül, who resigns after four months, when the major member of the AKP Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, sentenced in 1997 to ten months in prison and banned from taking institutional positions for inciting religious hatred, thanks to some amendments to the Constitution and a by-election (March 2003), was elected deputy and became prime minister, appointing Gül as foreign minister. The AKP distances itself immediately from the traditional formations of Middle Eastern political Islamism and while not denying the importance of the Muslim reference in its program, it presents itself as a democratic-conservative force, determined to guarantee the secularism of the state and to promote a process of democratization of society. The positive image of Erdoğan’s party and his government is also fueled by a favorable economic situation and by the implementation of many reforms of the political and regulatory system urged by the European institutions. The political position of the AKP continues to consolidate at the national level with the early legislative elections of 2007, in which it wins 46.58% of the votes which allows the election of Gül as president of the Republic, and in 2011, when the consensus rose to 49.83%, and also at the local level, with the elections of 2004 and 2009, in which, however, a decline was recorded especially in areas with a Kurdish majority. Even on the occasion of the two constitutional referendums – that of 21 October 2007, proposing changes to the electoral system, and that of 12 September 2010, which presented 26 amendments to the Constitution aimed mainly at reducing the role of the military – the AKP’s position is winning.

Foreign policy. – In the international arena, distancing itself from the traditional Turkish agenda that has always had its gaze fixed on the West, the AKP has turned its foreign policy towards new directions following a theoretical framework defined as strategic depth (Stratejik Derinlik) outlined in 2001 by the minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmet Davutoğlu, in office since 2009. On the basis of a geographical, political and cultural proximity, this policy, renamed by many neo-Ottomanism, he intended to privilege relations with the countries of the neighboring areas (the Middle East, the Balkans, North Africa and the Caucasus), especially with those that were once part of the Ottoman Empire. While Turkey has tried to anchor itself more firmly to its neighbors by promoting political dialogue in the region often with the role of mediator, at the same time it has leveraged a reassessment of its geostrategic position and, in the post- 11 September 2001 climate, on its moderate Islamism, proposing itself as a power with a global projection. Despite the encouraging beginnings of this strategy, many issues remain unresolved as new tensions loom. Although in the more relaxed climate of Greek-Turkish relations, Cyprus is still a point of friction: the failed referendum of 2004 on the reunification of the island and the subsequent entry of the Republic of Cyprus into the European Union led the Cypriot question to an impasse . Furthermore, since 2011, the discovery of gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean has caused a rekindling of tensions between Turkey, Cyprus and Israel. Relations with Armenia remain stagnant, despite a thaw that began in 2008 and continued with the 2009 Zurich Protocols, which provided for the reopening of the border and the normalization of relations between the two countries, but which were not ratified also for the rapprochement of the Turkey to Azerbaijan on the dispute over the Armenian enclave in the Azeri territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. After a gradual improvement in relations with Syria and Iran, which have always been very difficult, the situation has deteriorated again. The repression of the Syrian uprising led Turkey to take sides against the regime of Bashshār al-Asad and various incidents occurred along the border between the two states. The newfound understanding with Iran, sought above all in view of economic-energy alliances, has cracked due to the colliding interests of the two countries in the Middle East. The agreement given by Ankara in 2011 to host a NATO anti-missile defense radar system, with an essentially anti-Iranian function, further compromised relations with Iran, but strengthened the alliance with the United States, which has now faltered since 2003. after Turkey’s refusal to allow US troops to use their territory as a base to enter Iraq.on the occasion of the Israeli military actions during the 2008-09 Gaza War and the Davos Forum in 2009, escalated further after the killing of nine Turkish civilians in May 2010 following the Israeli navy attack on the ship Mavi Marmara, who brought humanitarian aid to Gazans.

The process of joining the European Union. – After the formal recognition as a candidate country decided by the Helsinki European Council in 1999, Turkey has undertaken to implement various reforms to adapt its system to European parameters, especially as regards the rights and freedoms of the person. On 3 October 2005, negotiations for accession officially began, but the progress of these has been slow and uncertain. Only 13 of the 35 negotiating chapters have so far been opened, and of them only one provisionally closed. The unresolved Cypriot issue and the effective implementation of the protection of human rights remain, at least officially, among the major obstacles, and while in May 2012 the EU launched a package of reforms to restore dynamism to the negotiations, the ‘open hostility to the entry of the Turkey of some countries such as Austria,

The problem of minorities. – The Kurdish question and the decades-long armed conflict still ongoing in the South-East of the country remain the most difficult knots to resolve. After the historic speech with which Erdoğan acknowledged a Kurdish issue pronounced in 2005 in the ‘Kurdish capital’ Diyarbakır,there were other promising signs of detente, such as the inauguration in 2009 of TRT6, the first state television channel entirely in the Kurdish language, and the beginning of consultations between the government and Kurdish exponents to find a political solution to the issue, which however resolved in a nothing done. While the government oscillates between attempts at opening and repression, and the Kurds between the desire for integration, truces and armed struggle, the war in the South-East of the country has recently flared up again, with its corollary of killings, violence and arrests. The debate on the thorny problem of minorities in relation to Turkish identity, still perceived by many as homogeneous and unassailable, was rekindled after the killings of the priest Andrea Santoro in Trabzon in 2006, of the three Christian missionaries in Malatya and of the Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in Istanbul in 2007. This crime, in particular, has also brought to the fore the problem of recognition by Turkey of the Armenian genocide, which despite strong international pressure is still encountering strong resistance, and that of freedom of expression which, despite recent reforms, remains very topical, given the still high number of detentions and trials against intellectuals and journalists including the Nobel Prize for literature 2006 Orhan Pamuk. The need to develop forms of cohesion that do not marginalize or ignore the plurality of the various internal components of the country is still the main test of the democratization process initiated in Turkey in recent years.

Turkey in the 2000's