the European and American mounting economic troubles, an increasingly
self-confident Turkey goes to the polls on the 12 June tomorrow. Certainly an
emerging political and economic power, neither Eastern nor Western, is rising
fast and becoming a model not only for the emerging democracies of MENA but also
transforming potentially democracies of the entire world. It is bound to become
truly a bridge between the East and the West.
Whether Turkey is in Europe or Asia or if it is to turn westward or eastward,
remains a wrong question in my view. Turkey is not heading east or west: it is
heading upwards. In just one decade the Turkish economy has quadrupled in size,
tripled its per capita income, which rose from 3,000 to 10,000 dollars, cut
public debt from 75 percent to 40 percent of GDP and has seen its risk premium
fall to well below those of most countries in many parts of Europe. When, the
European Union is stagnating and many economists doubt Europe’s future progress,
it is being marked by decline and a regression in the living standards that
Europeans have been taking for granted. Also, there remain serious economic
uncertainties in America at this point in time
Europe has been prejudicially debating whether to take in or keep out Turkey
from the European Union .Europe has been ignoring and even openly despising
Turkey. Turkey has proudly challenged all the stereotypes and has forged a
success story over the decade. Many even speak of an Islamic Renaissance in the
making -- to describe the new, successful and proud Turkish entrepreneurial
class that has emerged in the most dynamic cities of Anatolia called Anatolian
tigers. The perceptions of poor and illiterate Turkey that have been painted
often, supposedly ignorant Anatolian peasants eager to storm the fortress of
Europe's welfare state, is no longer valid.
On the streets of Tunis, Cairo and Rabat, Europe has ceased to be the model. The
new model is certainly Turkey, a country that proves you can be both Muslim,
truly democratic and prosperous, and even have a foreign policy not subject to
the dictates of the West. Emerging from a Mediterranean region riddled even
until recently with authoritarian regimes submissive to the West, Erdogan's
Turkey points very well to a brightest future of proud and independent
democratic regimes in the region that will not hesitate to point the finger both
at Europe & America and publicly embarrass the West when Western nations preach
false democracy to the world and apply double standards towards Israel, open
markets, human rights, nuclear proliferation or immigration.
Never before have the Turks lived so well and faced the future with such
optimism. No wonder, nobody doubts that the AKP with enlightened Islamic
credentials will win an absolute majority in the parliamentary elections
tomorrow. I even predict that they will God willing get the 367 deputies (out of
560) that will allow Erdogan's party to amend the Constitution to universal and
true democratic values away from laic influence and military meddling into
politics for so many decades.
The constitutional amendment and the prospect of EU membership will have further
beneficial impact on Turkish domestic politics guaranteeing that the military
will no longer intervene in politics, as they had done frequently in the past.
For the military, secular and liberal forces, it would and should mean true
democratic values respecting human rights and individual freedoms.
Turkey of today is certainly becoming genuinely democratic, rich and stable than
the country that became an EU membership candidate in 1999 and had begun
accession negotiations in 2005. There is certainly no fear that such a
resounding majority of AKP would ever allow casting off from the democratic pier
that Europe had feared and misperceived. Thus, while for MENA Turkey is the
model certainly today; it is bound to become the European ideal in my opinion in
the future. Even if some maliciously and wrongly insinuate the European model of
Endogen Turkey, the other European archetype – like the Russia of Putin, is an
authoritarianism disguised by free elections and with the mass media and
entrepreneurial class completely under the thumb of political power.
Turkey with its present servant leadership can never be authoritarian, it will
confirm that despite the European Union’s awkwardness and myopia in managing its
relations with Turkey, there is still this most incredible strategic opportunity
that could ever have been conceived as Turkey is today and will increasingly
become a powerful lighthouse that would go on radiating genuine democracy
throughout Central Asia, the Caucasus, the Middle East , North Africa and the
rest of the world in the years to come.