Turkey as a role model?

A consideration of Turkish economy and policy since becoming an official candidate for EU-accession and the influence of AKP and EU upon

Academic Paper, 2015

25 Pages, Grade: 1,7


Table of contents

List of abbreviations

1 Introduction, sources and state of research

2 The situation in 1999 and before

3 Developments from 1999 until today
3.1 Political developments
3.2 Economic developments

4 The influence of the AKP/EU and the Turkey-EU-interdependence

5 Turkey as a role model?

6 Conclusion

7 Literature


In 1999 Turkey became candidate country for the European Union. Subsequently, but espe­cially after the Turkish financial crisis of 2001 and the AKP electoral win of 2002, Turkish economy boomed. Since then, GDP more than tripled, the economic structure changed (from agricultural to service sector dominated) and economic relevance increased, what is illustrated e.g. by the admittance in G20. This economic boom is accompanied by AKP's do­mestic political transformation (conservatism and moderate Islamisation) as well as the ris­ing orientation to the region (Middle East, Northern Africa and Caucasus). Turkey became a regional player with high geostrategic ambitions. This is illustrated also by an alienation of the EU. This essay adumbrates the general Turkish development before 1999 and outlines the development since 1999 (both political and economic). In both fields the successes will be listed as well as drawbacks. Moreover the influence of AKP and EU and their interde­pendence for the development and the possible function of the Turkish model as a role model Turkey for the region (with combining economic success, democracy and Islam) will be displayed. Turkey's prospective role will be determined by the question how the Western and EU-orientation could be combined with the geostrategic and regional ambitions.

List of abbreviations

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

1. Introduction, sources and state of research

“Turkey has a huge and growing market with a population of 73.7 million and a strategic geographical location as a gateway to European, Middle Eastern, north African and Central Asian markets.”1 In 1999 Turkey became official candidate for EU-accession and in 2005 the negotiations started. Since 1999 and especially since the AKP electoral win in 2002 Turkey changed rapidly political as well as economic. This Turkish ascent to a new middle-sized power is linked with many opportunities as well as challenges from “Western” view.2 Fur­thermore this ascent is accompanied by one “alienation” between EU and Turkey on the one hand and a growing importance of Turkey in the Middle East on the other hand. The Topic of this essay is, to trace the political and economic change of the last 16/13 years, as well as to investigate AKP/EU-influence and Turkey-EU-interdependence and attribution of Turkey (or “Turkish Model”) as a role model for the region.

So, in chapter 2 there will be a short summary of the political and economic situation before 1999, while in chapter 3 the developments since 1999 are described, separated in political and economic ones, although there are of course some common points. In chapter 4 there will be investigated the influence of AKP and EU on the development and in chapter 5 Tur­key's capability of being a role model (linking democracy, an economic boom and Islam) for the region is highlighted and finally in chapter 6 there will be a conclusion.

Due to the wide range of the topic, some points could obviously only be described rather superficial but it was tried to give a profound overview, so a great number of sources and literature was used. It was tried to get economic data directly (and not just from secondary literature). Sources for the data mainly have been: CIA, Economist Intelligence Unit, IMF, World Bank as well as the EC's reports. Basic literature and cited often were the works: BAGCI 2011, BANK/KARADAG 2012 and SENKYR 2010. There are some works to find in the bibliography that were not directly nor indirectly cited. But because they have been used to read in the theme complex and might have influenced the writing they have been listed nevertheless.

2 The situation in 1999 and before

Already in 1963 Turkey had signed an association agreement with the EEC. In the so-called “Ankara-Agreement” Turkey's future membership was held out.3 But not least because the unsteady development of Turkey's domestic policy with its three coup d'états in recent his­tory (1960, 1971, 1980) Turkey's potential membership was steadily delayed. Since the last coup d'état in 1980 and the same-year adoption of the IMF structural adjustment program, “Turkey has been involved in a new project of combining democratic politics and capitalist development.”4 The Turkish aspiration to access the EU continued over the years and in 1987 Turkey submitted its application for accession, but was assigned a candidate country officially not until EU-summit of Helsinki in 1999.5 Already in 1995 Turkey had already joined the EUCU what covered the establishment of a FTA, which is however limited to industrial products and processed agricultural goods, excluding agricultural, coal and steel products.6 From Turkish perspective this was highly questionable because until the late 90's the agricul­tural sector was determining Turkey's economy by far.7 However the EUCU-accession in­creased trading volume between EU and Turkey considerably, from $27 billion in 1996 to $50.5 billion in 1998.8 With Turgut Özal's novel economic policy in the early 90's, privatiza­tion started and it was achieved an opening of Turkish economy for global market as well as a resettlement of industry in rural areas. This policy favoured the establishment of a new Anatolian middleclass and a moderate re-Islamization of the secularized and laicist Turkish Republic. This new middleclass spread their “conservative and religious system of values” into policy. This could be seen as the base for the success of the AKP and their struggle with the “secular-Kemalist establishment”.9 Nevertheless between 1980 and the 2000's “Turkey could not achieve sound macroeconomic indicators.”10

3 Developments from 1999 until today

With becoming an official candidate for EU-accession in 1999 the developments in political and economic issues ought to be regarded in this chapter. But there were no outstanding governmental actions until the Turkish financial crisis of 2001 and the subsequent elections in 2002, which were won by the AKP, which forms the government in Turkey for a decade and is disputed both national and international.11 However, there has been an extensive transformational process which changed political, economic and societal structures heavily and will likely influence prospective developments.12 For a better clarity the following chap­ter will be split in political and economic developments.

3.1 Political developments

The banking and financial crisis from 2001 (see chapter 3.2) led to a radical political change. The three previously ruling parties (DSP, MHP and ANAP) were not only unelected but all three did not manage to even get re-elected to the parliament. Obvious winner was the AKP. This electoral victory in November 2002 caused a socio-politically caesura. The AKP has been established in 2001 by prominent ex-politicians of the Islamist FP. The victory has been seen as kind of a protest election, but the AKP managed to use the opportunity to ensure a voters majority, not least because a progressive reform program, combined with an able PR as well as an effective HRM. AKP won every subsequent election. Turkey's economy also benefitted from this political long-term stability. Especially the first four years of AKP-rule were charac­terized by an “impressive dynamics of reforms”. The reforms contained an enhancement of freedom of speech and press, abolition of death penalty, containment of torture, abolition of DGM's, a reform of the NSC, cut-back of military authority, adjustment of criminal and civil law to EU-standards13 and later the foundation of Kurdish TV-stations, kind of a rap­prochement with Armenia, Greece and Cyprus and a revision of Article 301 (“Insult of Turk- ishness”).14 One reason to name for the reform speed was the Turkish aim to join EU, which had been a main target of AKP under leadership of Mr. Erdoğan in the first years of rule15 and their firm pro-European reform course especially between November 2002 and Decem­ber 2004.16 The accession negotiations were finally opened after the EU had testified Tur­key's fulfilment of the Copenhagen Criteria in 2004. Until now 12 of 35 chapters have been opened, one was successfully closed (“science and research”). But from the beginning, the accession process was spoiled by the Cyprus dispute, because Turkey refused (and still re- fuses) to expand the EUCU-scope to Cyprus, which is why 8 chapters are frozen according to a decision of General Affairs and External Relations Council in 2006.17

Domestically Turkey's policy since 2002 was coined by AKP's conflict with the old Kemalist elites (especially the TAF, which considered itself as “Keeper of Kemalism”), wherein AKP succeeded and disempowered the TAF and its general staff as well as the NSC. These actions indeed were taken with concern of the EU-accession and from 2007 on assisted by antimili­tary civil society and media.18 This success has been “regionally validated as clear proof that Muslim identity, economic liberalization and political democratization can co-evolve”.19

Nevertheless Turkey declines in democracy. In The Economist's Democracy index 2014 Tur­key occupies place 98 (after an average of 88 between 2007 and 2012) and is categorized as “Hybrid regime”. “This reflects the continuous fraying of the social, political and institutional fabric as Turkey becomes steadily more polarised under the increasingly unchecked rule of Recep Tayyip Erdogan.” Nevertheless it is no doubt, that the presidential elections were mostly democratic and Mr Erdoğan was the most popular candidate by far.20 This polarisa­tion could be detected in the aggravated power-struggle between religious-conservative and secular-Kemalist powers since 200821 and the fact the opposition gets increasingly marginal­ised and partly criminalised (cf. Gezi-Park protests in 2013), e.g. by a widespread use of the antiterrorist law.22 In legislation, civil society and stakeholders are ignored by government. Some laws even get adopted without any parliamentary consultation.23 However an im­portant point during AKP-rule was the attempt for the adoption of improved minority rights, making Turkey a much more diversified state, after a long period of denying some minorities and claiming one “Turkishness”. Especially in/since 2009 there was an opening [catchphrase: açılım ] towards the heterodox Alevi, the Republic of Armenia, the Christian minorities and the Kurds.24 Especially concerning the Kurd issue some actions were taken to find a peaceful solution since 2009, including allowance of speaking Kurdish in TV and broadcast and not treating adolescents taking part in Kurdish demonstrations with an anti-terror law anymore.

These small steps are seen as a symbolic act acknowledging Kurdish identity, due to the bri­sance of Kurd issue in Turkey. Nevertheless the Constitutional Court prohibited the Kurd par­ty DTP in December 2009 (and so opposed the government).25 One ongoing Turkish problem is freedom of press, which is seen endangered e.g. by YouTube and Twitter-ban in 2014, alt­hough these were subsequently found unconstitutional by Constitutional Court. Free press is intimidated by state officials and press tends to widespread self-censorship.26 In 2015 RSF press freedom ranking, Turkey reaches place 149, improving 5 places since 2014,27 although this improvement results of some discharges of imprisoned journalists in 2014, but shortly after report's period some critical journalists got arrested again.28

In foreign policy, Turkey kept a straight principle of neutrality (with good neighbourly rela­tionships) in the early years of Republic, but at the latest with NATO-accession in 1952 Tur­key turned pro-Western. Until the 1980's this was Turkey's maxim of foreign policy, but then under the reign of Turgut Özal, Turkey started turning increasingly to the Middle Eastern countries. But not until AKP-rule Turkey a specific regional as well as global foreign policy started. “Turkey currently tries to define its place in the globalized world and in the region between Europe and Central Asia, Middle East, Black Sea and Mediterranean.”29 Turkish for­eign policy under AKP-rule was dominantly defined by opinion leader Ahmet Davutoğlu (the current PM) especially in his work stratejik derinlik (strategic deep). He claims, that only Tur­key with its historic and strategic deep can form thereof a reasonable geographical deep. Turkey “could and has to fill the role of a mediator, conciliator and stabiliser in the surround­ing regions of the Balkan, in Middle East as well as in Northern Africa.”30 Furthermore Turkey gets characterised as a peacekeeping and regional power, which has to shape regional rela­tions and Turkey should not rely unilateral to the West especially the USA.31 This new foreign policy is based on so called “Zero problems with the neighbours”-doctrine, which contains two strategic aims: Growing geo-economic success i.e. regional increase of trade and capital expenditure as well as gaining ideological support for Turkey in the Middle East (with the idea of a “Turkish Model” for the region; see chapter 5).32 This growing regional engagement is e.g. illustrated by Turkey's commitment within the OIC (with a Turkish SG (2005-2014)), favouring Palestine Authority (instead of Israel) and improved relationships with almost all its neighbours33 by confidence-building measures.34 The relationship with Israel has consid­erably worsened, due to Gaza Wars, Mavi Marmara-incident and Mr. Erdoğan's anti-Semitic statements,35 after relations had been intensified in the 90's.36 This bilateral discord is so profound that Turkey refused to take part in 2015's MSC due to Israel's attendance.37

In spite of “stronger ‘multidimensionality' and a diversification of alliances outside the West”, it is assumable, that Turkey keeps one basic Western orientation38 e.g. the EU- accession is still named a strategic aim.39 But Turkey's new foreign policy also contains some global aspect as Turkey strives to reconcile and to participate in peacekeeping missions e.g. in former Yugoslavia, Lebanon, Darfur and Afghanistan.40 Potentially Turkey's (economic and political) rise might be seen in a context of rising of new regional and global powers like the BRICS and a possible end of US-hegemony.41 But finally there are many factors and variables in Turkish foreign policy that are not directly linked with the AKP's foreign strategy.42

3.2 Economic developments

The large Turkish economic boom in the beginning 21st century started after the Turkish fi­nancial crisis of 2001. Basic Reasons for this crisis had been a growing budget and current account deficit as well as a battered banking system, supplemented by a constitutional crisis. This situation in turn favoured speculations and capital flight and as a consequence the stock exchange collapsed. The CBRT subsequently was forced to decontrol (first) Turkish Lira (TRL) by which dramatic capital loss was triggered and finally the financial market collapsed. 21 Turkish banks fell into insolvency and deposits had to be guaranteed by government. IMF had to accommodate Turkey with $31 billion between 2002 and 2004 to prevent national bankruptcy. The then Turkish Finance Minister Kemal Derviş (non-affiliated) initiated reforms and these reforms together with the compliance of IMF-restrictions led to economic recov­ery. Already in 2002 Turkish economy showed large growth rates again. As written before, this crisis was the trigger for the first AKP electoral victory. The AKP continued market-based reform course what contributed to the continuous boom.43 Considering the 2004 EC's re­port, regarding the structural challenges for the candidate countries, these challenges to name for Turkey were: Fiscal sustainability, privatisation, improvement of business environ­ment and problems in the labour market.44 Obviously the report also was still quite charac­terized by 2001's financial crisis.

But since then a continuous economic boom is clearly visible. Due to market-based and fiscal reforms in the early 2000's this boom with multiannual growth rates of up to 7 % Turkey at least could be regarded as a regional economic player.45 Considering the EC's 2014 report it is to notice that the Turkish economy since 2001 grew with an average annual rate of 5.1%.46 47 48

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

In the long-term outlook Turkey's economy will probably surpass EU28 one's with an aver­age GDP-growth of 3,7%.49 As a result the GDP of Turkey has more than tripled between 2002 and 2008 (from $230 billion to $742 billion)50 and accounts for =$820 billion in 2014, what makes Turkish economy No. 18 in the world.51 GDP per capita more than doubled be­tween 2000 and 2010 (or tripled taking 2001 as reference): From $4026 to $2906 in 2001 to $10309 in 2010.52


1 BAGCI 2011, p. 147.

2 SENKYR 2010, p. 85.

3 SENKYR 2010, p. 98.

4 BANK/KARADAG 2012, p. 7.

5 SENKYR 2010, p. 98.

6 DG ECFIN n.y., n.p.

7 SENKYR 2010, pp. 86-88.

8 STEINBACH 2010, p. 119.

9 SENKYR 2010, pp. 86-88. [Translation]

10 BANK/KARADAG 2012, p. 8.

11 JOPPIEN 2012, p. 1.

12 SENKYR 2010, p. 84.

13 Ibid. 2010, pp. 87-91. [Translation]

14 ERMAGAN 2011, pp. 165.

15 SENKYR 2010, pp. 90-91.

16 ERMAGAN 2011, p. 150.

17 SENKYR 2010, p. 99.

18 BANK/KARADAG 2012, p. 11.

19 Ibid., p. 5.

20 DEMOCRACY INDEX 2014, p. 31.

21 SENKYR 2010, p. 90.

22 KEYMANN/GÜMÜŞÇÜ 2014, p. 52.

23 DG ECFIN 2014b, p.3. [preface]

24 SEUFERT 2009, pp. 462-463.

25 SENKYR 2010, pp. 92-93.

26 DG ECFIN 2014b, p, 4. [preface]

27 RSF 2015, p. 6.

28 GILLERT 2015, n.p.

29 SENKYR 2010, p. 94. [Translation]

30 SCHULZ 2012, p. 7.

31 SENKYR 2010, pp. 94-95.

32 BANK/KARADAG 2012, pp. 12-13.

33 SENKYR 2010, p. 95.

34 SCHULZ 2012, p. 12.

35 SENKYR 2010, p. 96.

36 SEUFERT/KUBASECK 2006, pp. 191-193.

37 ARSU 2015, n.p.

38 BANK/KARADAG 2012, p. 12.

39 SENKYR 2010, pp. 94-95.

40 BAGCI 2011, p. 150.

41 BANK/KARADAG 2012, p. 5.

42 SCHULZ 2012, pp. 20 ff.

43 SENKYR 2010, pp. 86-87.

44 DG ECFIN 2004, pp. 4-5.

45 SENKYR 2010, p. 84.

46 DG ECFIN 2014a, pp. 46.

47 THE WORLD BANK n.y.b, n.p.

48 THE WORLD BANK 2014d, n.p.

49 The Economist Intelligence Unit 2014b, n.p.

50 SENKYR 2010, p. 85.

51 THE WORLD BANK 2014c, p.3.


Excerpt out of 25 pages


Turkey as a role model?
A consideration of Turkish economy and policy since becoming an official candidate for EU-accession and the influence of AKP and EU upon
European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder)  (Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät)
The Economics of the European Integration
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
Türkei, Wirtschaft, Wirtschaftspolitik, AKP, Finanzen, Erdogan
Quote paper
Bernhard Weidenbach (Author), 2015, Turkey as a role model?, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/900921


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