Turkey. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in a speech to EU ambassadors in January that Turkey would continue to push for political reform to join the EU and that Turkey did not accept a partial membership that some EU countries flagged for. In June negotiations started. They include a total of 35 negotiating chapters on how Turkey should adapt to the EU. Right from the start, they cracked worryingly because Cyprus demanded Turkish recognition. The EU urged Turkey to continue its reforms and not to try to tie in the demand that the EU lift its economic blockade of the Turkish Cypriot part of Cyprus before opening its ports and airports for the EU country of Cyprus. During the EU Presidency of Finland from 1 July, feverish diplomatic activity took place to resolve the dispute. At the end of November, the European Commission recommended EU countries to freeze negotiations, citing Turkey’s unwillingness to open its ports and airports for Cyprus transport. A total of eight chapters were proposed to be closed until further notice. on free movement of goods, agricultural and rural development, transport policy and customs union. At the last minute, Turkey offered to open a port and airport for Cyprus, which was welcomed but considered insufficient. Turkey was also not heard for its demand that the blockade against Turkish Cypriots be lifted. The issue of the EU’s relationship with Turkey seemed to take over the final EU summit in Brussels on December 14-15. However, the issue was raised since the EU’s foreign ministers agreed a few days earlier to freeze the negotiations.
According to CountryAAH, major public holidays in Turkey include Independence Day (October 29) and New Year (January 1). Pope Benedict XVI visited Turkey in late November. It was seen as an opportunity for the head of the Catholic Church to repair the relationship with the Muslims after an attentive speech in September that angered many Muslims as he quoted a Byzantine emperor’s critical words about Islam. The visit was preceded by some protests. In addition to meetings with the head of the Greek Orthodox Church, Bartolomeos met the Pope’s Prime Minister Erdoğan and the President of Turkey.
In the financial area, there was some concern during the year. In March, President Ahmet Necdet Sezer halted the government’s proposal for a new governor, as Adnan B邦y邦kdeniz, head of an Islamic bank, was deemed “inappropriate”. Vetot created nervousness in the financial markets, but in April President Durmus¸ Yılmaz accepted.
Parliament adopted a new pension and health insurance law in April. The retirement age was raised to 65 while the pensions were lowered. The measures were aimed at keeping public expenditure in line with requirements of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
In June, the central bank raised the repo rate for the third time in a month and said it could not meet the inflation target of 5%.
Several trials were held against journalists, writers and academics who discussed the position of minorities. One concerned five journalists who objected to the decision to set up a conference in the fall of 2005 on the mass murder of more than one million Armenians in 1915-17.
In January, the indictment was dropped against the 2006 Nobel Laureate in Literature, Orhan Pamuk. He was one of 18 writers, according to the International PEN Club, who was prosecuted under the disputed Article 301 which prohibits the “insult of Turkish”.
In March, EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn called on Turkey to rapidly improve the Kurds’ economic and cultural rights. The statement came after the city of Diyarbakır in the southeast was shaken by violent clamor between Kurdish youths and Turkish security forces. At least seven people were killed on March 28 at the funeral of fourteen PKK guerrillas killed on March 25.
The Turkish Human Rights Foundation TIHV reported on the continued incidence of torture. In 2005, at least 400 people were tortured. The assaults often took place outside the police detention center and prisons to make it more difficult to detect.
In February, a military prosecutor prosecuted 29 soldiers for the mistreatment of a 20-year-old conscript in Adana.
A judge was killed and four injured on May 17 when an Islamist lawyer opened fire in Turkey’s highest administrative court. The drama in Ankara was said to have been triggered after the court decided not to promote a female teacher who wore a veil on her way to work. The following day demonstrated tens of thousands for a secular Turkey.
A breakaway group from the Kurdish PKK guerrillas, who called themselves the Kurdistan Liberation Hawks (TAK), conducted a series of blast attacks. The deed hit, among other things. Istanbul as well as tourist resorts such as Antalya and Marmaris. In April, TAK urged tourists to avoid Turkey. The death claimed sixteen dead while about 100 were injured, including a Swedish-Turkish woman in August.
Mehmet Ali Agca who tried to assassinate Pope John Paul II in 1981 was returned to prison in January after the Supreme Court overturned a lower court’s decision to release him. He received a reduced sentence for two robberies carried out in Turkey.
Admiral Ilhami Erdil, commander of the Navy during the late 1990s to 2002, was sentenced Feb. 7 to three years in prison for corruption. On the same day, Erdog˘an reported its own assets.
In January, four children were reported to have died in the aggressive form of bird flu, H5N1, in eastern Turkey. In February, bird flu was confirmed in 39 cities, while bird flu was feared in another 25 cities and some 60 villages. More than 1.8 million domestic birds were slaughtered.
The contemporary history of Turkey
Since the establishment of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, major economic, political and cultural changes have taken place. The changes outlined in this article range from state-centered economics to neoliberalism, from state-run, secularist ideology to state-backed conservative Islam, and from a society of one secular economic and cultural elite to the emergence of a parallel “Islamic” middle and upper class.
The Turkish Republic began as a one-party state, where Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s CHP (Republican People’s Party) had all power. This party sprang from the military resistance movement that managed to defeat the western occupation forces in 1921. It stood for a state-centered modernization ideology, where secularism and nationalism were central. This modernist ideology is often called Kemalism, after Atatürk’s real last name, Kemal. The military was given the role of guardians of the secular constitution, and a large degree of independence was granted within the state, including as owner of civil industrial companies. The economy was state-centered, with an emphasis on industrialization and self-sufficiency. In the 1980s, leaders began to abandon this centralized economic policy, and the strict control over Islamic practices and organizations was softened. It may therefore be natural to start contemporary history in 1980.
The 1980 coup
After a decade of strong political polarization and violence between radical groups on the right and the left, the military did a coup in 1980. This coup coincides roughly with the introduction of history’s first structural adjustment program under the auspices of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. This program, introduced during a period of state of emergency and military rule, led to deregulation and export orientation of the economy. These measures were easy to implement because no political organizations or trade unions were allowed.
The military coup makers began to portray Islam in a more positive light, in what they called “Turkish-Islam synthesis”. The concept and thought came from right-wing organizations. It was an attempt to promote Islam as a conservative and moral “social glue” against what they saw as the threat of communism. This led to compulsory religious education in the school, more mosques and larger budgets for the religious directorate, as well as more tolerance for Islamic welfare organizations and religiously oriented bureaucrats. What was being promoted was Islam as a private faith with good moral implications, while Islamic parties and institutions were still banned or strictly controlled. Thus, they did not want to strengthen political Islam, but Islam as a personal and conservative conviction. The fact that the religious party of later Prime Minister Erbakan was not allowed in the first election after the coup illustrates this. The coup maker’s attempt to use personal and moral Islam as social glue was not entirely foreign to the republic’s early ideologues, which in part tried to “rationalize” Islam to incorporate it as a culturally unifying force.
Prime Minister Turgut Özal of the Conservative Motherland Party (ANAP) came to power in 1983, at the first election after the military coup in 1980. Prior to the coup, he had been central to the planning of the structural adjustment program. He introduced several deregulatory and privatizing reforms in the industrial banking and finance sectors. He represented wealthy industrialists from Inner Anatolia, as well as religious conservatives and moderate Islamists.
Özal became central to the softening of the state’s secularist politics in several ways. He gave privileges to Islamic banks and allowed the use of charitable gifts for religious purposes. He himself was known to be a practicing Muslim, belonged to a Naqshbandi Sufi fraternity (which was and is formally banned) in Istanbul (İskenderpaşa Cemaati), and in 1988 became the first Turkish president to go on a pilgrimage to Mecca.