The general elections in Turkey held on 24th June 2018 extended the Presidency of Recip Tayyip Erdoğan’s tenure as the President of the Turkish Republic. Erdoğan came into power as the Prime Minister in 2003 as they won the majority in the Turkish Parliament in March 2003. Since then Turkey has experienced various ups and downs in the international stage. Particularly, allegedly after the IMF bailout in 2002 of $20billion to a stagnant Turkish economy gave a boost which later carried on to give Turkey an economic ‘miracle’ which is often attributed to Erdoğan’s policymaking. After the founding of the Republic, the country has gone through a vast and quite extreme measures of instilling secularism within its society. Starting with banning religiously inspired political groups to restricting the Islamic call to prayer the Azaan. With the help of the rather secular Military and the Kemalists. However, after the rise of AKP (Party of President Erdoğan) the ancestral roots of the Anatolian Turkic people and its connections to the Islamic civilisation has been rekindled. Many of the supporters of Erdoğan believe he will revive the Islamic golden ages once dominated by the Ottoman Turks.
The economy of Turkey under the secular and Western-leaning governments throughout the 1950s-1980s have not experienced the growth potential of the Anatolian heartland. The Turks were opting to join the European Union and were attempting to ‘Westernise’ its societies and radically opting to restructure its traditions and politics to appease Western Europe in order to join the EU. Even before the rise of Erdoğan the EU dreams of the Turkish Republic were far gone. The economy was restricted to primarily dealing with Western countries and was dependent on it. However, as Erdoğan came to power he started to lead the Turkish businesses into greater Asia, and more importantly into Africa. Turkey had a very minimum number of embassies in Africa however in the last decade and a half they have more than tripled the number and have established commercial relations with the majority of African countries. This has enabled Turkey to exert its economic and political presence in the African continent. As a result, this mutually benefits both the LDCs in Africa and Turkish businesses.
Turkey has diversified its economy throughout its recent couple of decades, now they export military hardware, electronic goods, textiles and various other goods and products. They reach far beyond the Central Asian and European markets. Turkish products are found in East Asia and in various African countries, it is worth mentioning that this was not the case in the 1980s. One of the achievements of the Erdoğan rule has been the radical decline of Turkish external debt. Turkey now is in a solid position in terms of its economic independence. Turkey starting from talking IMF bailouts in 2003 have reached the level of aiding LDCs in Africa in the 2014-18 era. However, it is not all due to Erdoğan’s policies in Turkey, however, it should be noted the demand for Turkish goods have significantly increased in the international level, as more countries emerge and increase their livelihood and expenditure the more demand for Turkish goods will increase. It is a sign of the global emergence of developing countries, also Turkey has had a role of the Hub in the Eurasian heartland. Turkey largely benefits from its position in the centre of the Eurasian heartland as many goods and services have to pass through Turkish territory, primarily the most sought-after good in the global economy oil and gas. Many crucial oil and gas pipelines pass through Turkey from the Middle Eastern region and the Caspian Basin into Europe.
Turkey is situated in a very important position in the heartland of Eurasia, this gives them some leverage in bargaining out deals with countries that want to access Asia from Europe and vice versa. The Chinese OBOR/Silk Road projects greatly include Turkey as its influence in the Central Asian region and ist position to connect Asia with Europe brings brand new prospects of further infrastructure development and collusion with the formidable economy of China. This surely brings prospects of further businesses and commercial benefits for Turkey in aiding the OBOR projects in the Eurasian theatre. Turkey has started to build closer relations with emerging economies such as Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Philipines, South Africa, Central Asian countries and with various others. This makes Turkey a more present in the International Stage and gives them more opportunities to further increase their economic involvement in the Global Economy. The main exports to these countries are military hardware, steel, transport machinery, textiles, food, and many other goods. On top of that, Turkey experiences beneficial trading relationships with European countries.
All these have resulted in the Turkish economic growth in the recent past and have enabled them to grow and emerge into a stronger economy. Turkey, however, faces security challenges of the internal Kurdish minority groups and the rise of global terrorism. Turkey has been a crucial part of NATO since its inception, however, after the Syrian debacle Turkey have started to slowly drift away from the American sphere of influence and have started to tackle its own security concerns in its immediate region. This might be a great challenge for the Turkish Republic’s future and they are looking Eastward to solve this crisis they are currently experiencing by collaborating with Russia and Iran in Syria. However, this seems a bit in the distance as Turkey initiated a ground invasion in the Northern parts of Syria which puts them in a secluded position not on the American camp neither on the Russian camp in the Syrian chaos. The new term of President Erdoğan’s will surely be focussed on its immediate geopolitics and its economic presence in the developing and emerging countries. Additionally, Turkey must ensure its internal stability as the Erdoğan government have often banished and imprisoned opposition and critical journalists. Internal conflicts is among the main threats to Turkey’s economic progress and the government needs to maintain stability within its borders before reaching far beyond.