Editor's Note Volume 19, No. 2

Editor's Note

MUHİTTİN ATAMAN

Turkey has been experiencing a transformation process since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. Then President of Turkey, Turgut Özal, instigated a program of change; however, his successors failed to continue the process. Throughout the 1990s, Turkey was trapped into unstable coalition governments and it was unable to initiate a large-scale reform package. It was when the AK Party came to power in 2002 that Turkey initiated a comprehensive program for the reconstruction of the state.

The AK Party, under the leadership of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has been ruling Turkey for 15 years as the dominant party. The party has won all consecutive general (2002, 2007, 2011, June 2015, November 2015) and local elections (2004, 2009, 2014). Additionally, it won three constitutional referendums (2007, 2010, 2017) and the only presidential election held until now (2014). The governments established by the AK Party undertook extensive and radical political, economic and social reforms, which have contributed to the democratization and economic development of the country.

As a result of many substantial and comprehensive reform packages, the country and Turkish people have been experiencing substantial change in all spheres of political and social life. Turkey has restructured both its foreign and domestic policies. The AK Party governments began to pursue a more diversified and multi-dimensional foreign policy by reinitiating its close relations with neighboring countries and reaching distant and neglected regions of the world. Turkey undertook the negotiation process of the EU full-membership and developed a more realistic relationship with the EU institutions. In order to get rid of the tutelage exercised by the bureaucracy, such as the military and judiciary, and to strengthen the democratic institutions, significant democratization and civilianization steps were taken in domestic politics.

Political openings and processes were initiated to provide a solution of the lingering domestic political and social problems. After the expansion of ethnic, religious and cultural diversity, various sections of the Turkish society such as the Kurds, Alevis, Romani, and non-Muslims began to claim their identities more freely.

The Turkish economy underwent a huge transformation during the AK Party period. After completing many structural reforms, Turkey experienced an enormous increase in total national income, national per capita income, growth rate and exports. One of the most noteworthy developments achieved by the AK Party administration is their success in the realization of world-scale infrastructure projects such as tunnels, bridges, roads, airports, hospital complexes, universities and public schools. Ultimately, Turkey under the AK Party governments widened its economic geography and decreased its economic dependence on foreign resources and actors.

In spite of various detrimental developments such as a number of challenges in domestic politics –the Gezi Park protests, December 15 and 25 judicial operations, the heinous July 15 coup attempt, the world economic crisis and the regional crises, Turkey has succeeded in maintaining its political stability and has grown to become one of the biggest 20 economies in the world. In spite of criticism from some countries, Turkey is considered as a key player on the international scene as it contributes to both regional stability and to global discussions.

The Spring 2017 issue of Insight Turkey aims at analyzing some of the most debated issues during the 15 years rule of the AK Party. Foreign and domestics policies, political economy, Turkey-EU relations and the Kurdish issue are among the topics discussed in this issue.


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