Guide Turkey in 2010 (SETA Policy Reports)

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In the first Gulf War, it was Turgut Ozal that averted the crisis. In the second Gulf War of Turkey simply decided to stay out. Similar dynamics are in play today, as Washington is asking for Turkey's support against Iran. Turkey doesn't want to destabilize Iran because it doesn't share America's threat perception.

To be sure, Iran is a rival of Turkey, and Ankara doesn't want Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. But there is no shared sense of urgency with Washington or Tel Aviv. In fact, Turkey believes the only way to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear military capacity is to engage it more effectively on the economic and diplomatic fronts. Washington, on the other hand, wants to isolate Iran. This is exactly what happens when two countries no longer share the same threat perception.

In the eyes of Turkish decision makers and public opinion, neither Iraq under Saddam Hussein, nor Iran under the Islamic regime and certainly not the close ally of today, Syria, posed an existential threat necessitating a war effort. In fact, Turkey needed the support, stability and partnership of its Middle Eastern neighbors more than ever. To do so required a regional security partnership with Syria, Iraq, and Iran.

All of these neighbors have significant Kurdish minorities and are as determined as Turkey to block Kurdish nationalist aspirations for independence. If current trends continue, Washington might witness the emergence in Turkey of not necessarily an Islarnist foreign policy but a much more nationalist, independent, self-confident and defiant strategic orientation After , the US appeared to be on the wrong side of this regional equation.

The no-fly zone enforced in northern Iraq by the US Air Force created conspiracy theories about American support for Kurdish separatism and independent statehood. This perception went from bad to worse as Kurds became America's best friend in post-Saddam Iraq and began to pursue a maximalist territorial agenda with claims over Kirkuk. All this proved too much to digest for a Turkish public opinion that had always maintained a heavy dose of fear of disintegration - the Sevres Syndrome - due to Western support for Kurdish and Armenian nationalism.

Of course, it did not help that Turkey's own repressive anti-Kurdish military policies in the early s had triggered a regional Kurdish backlash. By the mids a major part of the Turkish army was fighting a Kurdish insurgency in southeastern Anatolia. Therefore, in this post-Cold War context, Ankara and Washington not only failed to share a common threat perception; in the eyes of most Turks, America itself had become the main supporter of the local and regional enemy, Kurdish separatism.

It was hardly surprising that a radical paradigmatic shift was taking place in Turkish-American relation as far as the Turkish public opinion's growing distrust of the United States was concerned. Perhaps most troubling is the state ofTurkish public opinion vis-a-vis the United States. During the Cold War, resentment against the United States was mainly a leftwing phenomenon. Bashing the United States and long run decide to no longer blaming Washington for every domestic pursue an elusive EU issue - from the Kurdish conflict to the membership.

It may even rise ofthe Justice and Development Party question its military alliance AKP - has become a national hobby. Most secularist and Kemalist believe that with the United States there is an American agenda to promote "moderate Islam" in Turkey and a "Turkish model" for the Islamic world. In addition to President Bush praising Turkey as a model of for the Islamic world, in , then US Secretary of State Colin Powell's reference to Turkey as an "Islamic Republic" strengthened the secularist paranoia and provoked widespread conspiracy theories and criticism in Turkey.

Many within the secularist establishment thought that America was pushing Turkey to play the role of the "good Muslims" against the bad ones in the Arab world, a role that would situate Turkey firmly in the Islamic Middle East rather than secular Europe. Then President Ahmet Necdet Sezer reacted to such alleged American plans by stating that "Turkey is neither an Islamic republic, nor an example ofmoderate Islam.

As previously mentioned, similar negative dynamics are in play on the Kurdish front. The majority of Turks also believe. When you have a domestic public opinion that is so. In that sense. Such focus often comes at the expense of the most powerful force driving Turkish foreign policy: nationalism and selfinterest. Such nationalism is driven by a perception that Turkey'sself-interests are not necessarily aligned with the interests of the West. After all, both the Turkish military's Kemalismand the AKP neo-Ottomanism - the ideal of regional influence - share a similar vision of Turkish independence and nationalism.

If current trends continue, Washington might witness the emergence in Turkey of not necessarily an Islamist foreign policy but a much more nationalist. A Gaullist Turkey may in the long run decide to no longer pursue an elusive ED membership. It may even question its military alliance with the United States. Burdened by a sense that it never gets the respect it deserves, Turkey may increasingly act on its own in search of "full independence, full sovereignty" strategic leverage and, most importantly, "Turkish glory and grandeur:' As France did under Charles de Ganlle in the s, Turkey may opt for its own "force de frappe" - a nuclear deterrent - and its own "Realpolitik" with countries such as China, India, and Russia.

It could even contemplate leaving, as France under de Ganlle did, the military structure of NATO, while maintaining its political membership in the organization. To understand Turkish Gaullism one needs to look at Turkey'simpressive economic performance. Today's Turkey offers a considerably different picture than Turkey in the s. During the "lost decade" of the s, the Turkish economy was plagued by recessions, an average inflation rate of 70 percent, structural budget deficits, chronic financial crisis and constant political instability.

In addition to such dismal economic performance, the fight against the PKK, had caused 30, deaths during that decade alone. Turkey managed to surprise most, analysts with its remarkable economic recovery and political stability in the last 10 years. Shortly after the lost decade culminated with the worse financial crisis in Turkish history in early , Turkey began structural economic reforms and cleaned up its financial and banking system under the stewardship of Finance Minister Kemal Dervis.

Economic and political reforms continued after the AKP came to power in In the last 8 years, the Turkish economy managed to grow by an average of 6. C 16 I Such economic performance. The AKp, under the Europe. But Turks are already charismatic and mercurial leadership of Prime Minister Erdogan personifies this looking for economic and sense ofTurkish "hubris:' Much has been strategic opportunities in Russia, said about the Islamist character of the India, China and, of course, the AKP and the "Islamic shift" in Turkish Middle East and Africa foreign policy. Yet, one should not forget that Turkey's newfound sense of confidence and grandeur is taking place in a context where most Turks feel they are not getting the respect they deserve from the West, particularly from Europe and the United States.

Should the West pay attention to Turkish Gaullism?

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The answer is yes. The recent referendum results on Turkish constitutional reforms clearly show that the AKP is doing well Barring aside a sudden change in the AKP's policies or a new pro-Western sentiment within the CHP under its newly elected leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, Turkish Gaullism will increasingly define Ankara's foreign policy. In the past, Americans and Europeans would often ask whether Turkey had any realistic geopolitical alternatives and complacently reassure themselves that it did not. But today such alternatives are starting to look more realistic to many Turks..

The rise of Turkish Ganllism need not come fully at the expense of America and Europe. But Turks are already looking for economic and strategic opportunities in Russia, India, China and, of course, the Middle East and Africa. If the strategic relationship between Ankara and Washington continues to erode and prospects for joining the EU continue to recede, Turkey will certainly go its own way. Americans and Europeans who do not take the risk of such a development seriously underestimate the degree of resentment of the West that has been buIlding up in the country.

It is high time for analysts to pay more attention to what unites the secularist and Islamists camps in Turkey: Turkish nationalism. Gaullism may be the real future for Turkey in the 21st century. Endnotes 1. President Barack Obama visited Turkey in April During his visit he used the expression "model partnership" to define US-Turkey relations. Both sides have emphasized the importance of Turkish-American relations and suggested that a redefinition of relations after the Bush presidency was necessary.

However, it seems that there is no agreement on what "model partnership" is or will be. Some-analysts and even politicians have argued that the Flotilla Crisis and Turkey's "No" vote at the UN Security Council put an early end to "model partnership;' which is now only a bygone hope. I argue that "model partnership" has not ended; on the contrary, it has not even started.

This concept is premised on the recognition that TurkishAmerican relations are very valuable and that the old framework, which threatens the bilateral relationship itself, needs to change. In other words, it is not a "model" describing how Turkish-American relations are today. On the contrary, "model partnership" is the "will to redefine" bilateral relations.

AB such, I will treat it as an "empty signifier:' i. This is nothing new to the relationship, as the two partners have had serious disagreements in the past even during the Cold War when the two sides worked closely under NATO. However, this time the difficulty behind recent tensions is qualitatively different than the previous disagreements. II1I The current problem derives from the gradual transformation in the nature of Turkish-American relations from a hierarchical relationship into a complementary one, i.

It is, in fact, the other way around: policy disagreements are the consequences ofthis transformation in the very core of the partnership. Therefore, any attempt to resolve problems between the two countries, without serious consideration of this structural change, is doomed to fail.

A conceptual rethinking ofrelations does not mean to supply content for what seem to be otherwise empty concepts. In other words, it should not mean to find a "signified" to the "signifier:' A more radical conceptual thinking is needed to reconstruct the relations on a healthy basis. A possible step in this direction would be to ask, "What does 'model partnership' really mean? Some argue that there is no such thing as a "model partnership:' Some argue that it was a good way to start 0.

Some simply start talking about "model partnership" as if it is a well-known fact over which there is an agreement. Some argue that it is a good project upon which we still place some hopes. And finally, some argue that it is the new framework of Turkish-American relations.

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  8. The common theme that brings together all of these responses is the desire to answer the question right away without conceptual reflection. None of them pause for a second to try and make sense of the basic reason why we are still discussing the "model partnership:' Let us assume anyone of those answers actually reflects the truth about the issue; then, what does one need to do? If the model partnership has failed, why have there been so many discussions on the issue?

    If the model partnership is simply another name for "strategic partnership:' why then does it not satisfy the parties and force them to find another label for the bilateral relations between Turkey and the USA? If the model partnership can be saved through some policy solutions, why have there been so many problems especially at the policy level? My answer to these questions and answers is rather simple.

    The option for a model partnership is still on the table; however, it requires a serious, engaged, and conceptual discussion as the two sides adjust to and negotiate the new form of the relationship. To put it in a different way, I argue that since the conceptual construction and re- negotiation of the partnership as a "model partnership" is still the main issue in defining Turkish-American relations, it is neither a failed nor a complete project. We can identify the "model partnership" debate as the symptom ofthe lack ofa genuine conceptual engagement and discussion of the fundamental changes takingplace in Turkish-American relations.

    In short, even though the questions cited above might seem justifiable, none of the answers are satisfactory, or justifiable for that matter, because the question does not require an answer in the first place. The question deserves attention, discussion, engagement, and thoughtful analysis rather than a simple answer. If that discussion can be undertaken, I believe that the two sides can build a healthy and long-term relationship.

    It remains a serious challenge that these somewhat misplaced questions and responses foreclose the discursive area for a quality discussion that needs to take place. Quality of the Debate on Turkish-American Relations An engaged discussion, which aims to question the current state of the relations, requires a pause before answering what a "model partnership" signifies. One would expect tensions to be relieved when politicians express good will and offer "simple answers" so to speak.

    But these are not enough, as they do not address the fundamental issue. The fact that simple explanations do not suffice becomes even more obvious when we consider that the level of cooperation between the two countries is exceptional on many of their foreign policy issues. Why is it that we define the Turkish-American relationship with reference to problem areas only? How do we fail to remember that the u. There are only two significant areas where the two parties diverge on a tactical level: the Iranian nuclear issue and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If we were to make a list of agreement and disagreement areas, we would find convergence rather than divergence in most of them.

    Then, what is the reason for the problems haunting the Turkey-US relationship? Why it is the case that "model partnership" neither solves these problems, nor allows them to disappear from the discussion? The "model partnership" is yet to be constructed through adjustment to a newly defined relationship between the two actors. We need to treat "model partnership" as an empty signifier of this new yet-to-bedefined relationship between the US and Turkey.

    Let's look at how it has been used. Neither explained nor materialized. It mainly functions as a word that carne to be used by either party to show that the other partner "violated" the spirit of the "model partnership:' Both parties define "model partnership" differently while they agree on policy issues; but it does not produce any tangible results. Since there is no genuine content to "model partnership;' I argue that "model partnership" is an "empty signifier.

    Following Laclau's discussion, I see "model partnership" not as a policy issue or a new framework of relations. Therefore, "model partnership" does not show us how to resolve problems; in contrast, it shows that it is impossible to construct a new type of relationship given the current circumstances. Relations have to be reconstructed. However, even though there is no positive content to the discussion, model partnership shows that both parties agree on the importance and continuation of the relationship.

    Only through such rethinking would it be possible to prepare the ground for a sustainable and long-term relationship between the two sides.

    In other words, the concept of "model partnership" signifies "the need for a redefinition of relations;' nothing more. This might answer the question why we still discuss "model partnership" and why all parties attempt to give their meaning to the concept. Moreover, this also answers the question why the parties did not give up on the conceptaltogether even though there have been some serious tensions and disagreements. Now, the Turkish side is pushing for a more egalitarian relationship with the U.

    S by trying to act as an agent on its own Since the model partnership discussion is not a policy discussion, it is impossible to put an end to this discussion on a policy level. Policy recommendations would work only if there were an agreed framework on the nature of the relationship, which is currently missing in the Turkish-American relationship. The broader structural question I am concerned with here has to be answered at the conceptual ievel informed by a reconstructed political reality through a re-negotiation of political terms of the game.

    Conclusion In the end, "model partnership" as an "empty signifier" shows US. The Turkish side, however, was the "submissive" party lacking the "subject" status enjoyed by the US. Therefore, Turkey has been focusing on political issues rather than policy issues to be recognized as a "political subject. In the past, it has simply assumed its role in scenarios designed by the US. However, just as that anomalous reality no longer exists, the very definition of the relationship is to be redefined through thoughtful conceptual consideration.

    If a "model partnership" is to be truly realized between the US. Until then, Turkish-American relations are destined to experience many tensions and "model partnership" will likely remain an ''empty signifier. I borrow the term from Laclau. I argue that "model partnership" as an empty signifier does not represent either the ideal or the fully accomplished state of Turkish-American relations. Turkey has been helping the u. Laclau, Emancipation s , p. French anthropologist Claude-levi-Strauss, deriving from French anthropologist Marcel Mauss and Russian linguist Roman lakobson, defined empty signifier as a "pure symbol" that does not have a positive semantic value.

    Felicity Baker London: Routledge, An empty signifier, similar to lakobsons 'zero phoneme' or Mauss' 'mana: has a "zero symbolic value" that "can take on a value required:' In discussing German phenomenologist philosopher Edmund Husserl's idea of "circle square:" Jacques Derrida argues that an empty signifier is a Signifier that is emptied out all of its empirical content, see Jacques Derrlda, Speech and Phenomena, Evaston: Northwestern University Press, Quester When stereotypes of women in the Muslim world abound, Halide Bdib' s memoirs remind us of the courage and dedication of "foremothers" who struggled for emancipation at both personal and national levels.

    These memoirs open a window on the search for personal expression of a woman caught up in the oppressive dynamics of her polygamous households, and the travails of national liberation and nation-building in Turkey, in which she played an active role. ISBN, cloth pp. Who gets to represent whom and by what authority? Dabashi updates Edward Said's classic, Orientalism, and maps it out to the events that led to the post-9fll syndrome. ISBN: cloth pp. The electorate swept aside the Democratic majority with Republicans gaining 63 seats in the US House of Representatives bringing the new partisan balance to to in the Republicans' favor, and reduced the Democrats' , majority in the United States Senate by seven seats to a Democratic advantage of 53 to The heavy swing of seats in the House and lighter swings in the Senate tend to obfuscate the, actual percentage of each parties' vote share due to the single member district plurality system.

    The Republicans polled at L' Put simply, the Republicans had a very good night indeed and President Obama's relationship with Congress will get much more complicated and contentious. Briar Cliff University, david. Though the presidency is most often the focus of scholarly work concerning electoral mandates and presidents elect are generally quickest to claim them , there is no doubt that congressional delegates search for and act upon perceived mandates as well; with winners pursuing aggressive agendas and the losers generally moving in that ideological direction.

    Rather than trying to parse through the layers of nuance and vagaries in the public will, an elected official can simply default to their own ideological agenda, which they presume was the vehicle by which they were elected. However, the murkiness of public opinion and the marginal importance of policy preferences in the voting calculus, have led scholars to reject the claim of policy mandates with near unanimity.

    The newly empowered and emboldened Republican leadership of the House has predictably made this dubious claim. Hours after the Republican victory was secured, incoming Speaker of the House John Boehner of Ohio claimed the American people delivered a clear message to repeal the "monstrosity" of Obamas health Care reform. This is despite the fact that election-day polling showed voters were evenly divided on the issue. Even the minority leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, claimed a part of this mandate despite his failure to deliver a Republican majority in his chamber.

    What is most remarkable about this claim ofa policy mandate is the fact that many conservatives readily acknowledge that Republicans failed to run on a cohesive policy agenda during the election and merely defaulted to criticisms of President Obama appealingto latent anger and frustration in the electorate. These models do a rather nice job of describing the underlying dynamics that drive American voting behavior. They typically include several structural factors that influence the vote, and a variety of indicators ofthe general political mood ofthe electorate.

    Insight Turkey

    In , it was never a question of ifthe Dem The Congressional Elections and Turkish Interests in the Congress ocrats would lose seats, but of how many The American voter is seats they would lose. While the presiimpatient and expects to see dential party typically gains congressiotangible results from their nal seats when their president is elected elected officials quickly, or reelected, an inevitable combination of a decline in presidential popularity from sometimes unfairly so the "honeymoon" following his election, an inability to forward all promised points of the legislative agenda, and perceived shortcomingsoflegislation passed conspire against the president's party.

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    Additionally, the very fact that Republicans had done so poorly in the midterm and general elections put them in a position where substantial congressional gains were likely, as the Democrats simply had more seats at risk than did the Republicans. All told, these structural factors put the Democrats in a rather precarious position regardless of how other political factors would eventually play out. Despite the impressive number of legislative victories for President Obama during his first two years," the electorate was in a very sour mood.

    Obamas public approval ratings started off rather high, but as he engaged a rather hostile Congress in securing his policy victories," the public began to turn against him. Presidents often face the conundrum ofthe public's demand for pursuing a policy agenda, but have rather strong distaste for the messy policy process that comes with the negotiating and partisan conflict that is endemic in Washington.

    Obama, bloodied from these protracted legislative fights, simply lost a great deal of standing with the public who perceived him during the election as someone who could rise above the partisanship of Washington and fulfill his agenda without the messiness of partisan bickering and pettiness. During the election, Obama cast himself as a "post-partisan' candidate and helped fuel these paradoxical expectations.

    In many regards, he was a victim of his own electoral rhetoric. Republican opposition in the US Senate during Obamas first two years was also noteworthy. Typically the majority party is able to negotiate with enough members of the minority to reach the 60 percent threshold necessary to pass legislation through the Senate. Not so in this Congress. From the beginning of the session in January , the Republican leadership mounted a very effective, disciplined, and simple tactic of opposing Virtually all of the presidents legislative agenda with near unanimity.

    Additionally, the Democrats had trouble with a few of the more moderate members who were hesitant to venture too far from center. The second, and most important factor in souring the mood of the electorate was the electorate's assessment on the health of the economy. The unemployment rate at the time of the election was about 6. This figure was higher than normal, and was an ominous sign that things would get far worse. Unfortunately for President Obama and millions of Americans, the unemployment rate would swell to 10 percent by November , and stood at about 9.

    Though the economy had been growing for nearly a year, corporate profits had returned to strong levels, and the stock. The most tangible indication of the economic health ofthe nation from the electorates perspective, unemployment, remained at unacceptable and truly painful levels. When these painful reallties were coupled with the flowery rhetoric and lofiy expectations that brought Obama to the White House in the first place, it is small wonder that the electorate would turn on him to the degree that they did.

    Displeasure with Congress was also rather high. Typically, Americans hold Congress with the lowest regard when compared to the presidency, Supreme Court, and military, but in that confidence in the Congress fell to record low levels. Democrats also faced the grim reality that the electorate was turning on them specifically. By November , Americans preferred Republicans to Democrats by In , Obama netted These are moderate shifts.

    But even small shifts in presidential popularity and the generic congressional ballot can spell victory or doom in midterm elections. Though policy certainly matters in the voting calculus of a few voters, it is not driving the vote for most. Paradoxically, the public is largely in support of most of the legislation that the president and previous Congress passed when they are asked in public opinion polls, but impres30 I! Should the people's economic confidence begin to recover by , President Obama will be well positioned for reelection; should it not, Republicans may well be competitive.

    In sum, we can best characterize this election as the electorate seriously questioning the first two years of the president's term, with disappointment and frustration that tangible improvements in the economy were slow in coming. In no way can it be seen as a full rebuke of the Congress and the President as many may try to infer, and it is certainly not a policy mandate against their legislative agenda. The Tea Party Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the election cycle was the emergence of a new political force known collectively as the Tea Party "Party" is something of a misnomer as the movement itself does not fall under the strict definition of a political party, but is an historical reference to the Boston Tea Party of ; an act of civil disobedience where colonists protested the levy of tea taxes upon the colonies by the British parliament.

    With an unprecedented vigor, the tea partiers truly became a force to be reckoned with and are without doubt the most significant mass movement since the s. It is impossible to even get a proper estimate as to how many individuals are involved with the movement since we are dealing with hundreds, perhaps thousands, of individual groups with membership ranging from a dozen in size to thousands.

    The only constant between all these groups are the labels of "Tea Party" and that they express a conservative political agenda that has a distinct libertarian bent on economic issues accompanied with a strict interpretation of the federalism of the Constitution read: weak national government.

    They are especially wary of public spending, deficits, and high taxes. They also uniformly resent President Obama, consider his health care reform law as socialist if not a fascistic intrusion into the private sector, and harbor a great deal ofanger over the GM and Chrysler bailouts and the financial bailout signed into law by President Bush. The latter three give rise to their populist claims of goverumeut coming to the aid of the business interests of Wall Street at common citizens' expense. They first received mass atteution during the health care debate during the summer of Tea party activists would regularly attend town hall meetings to verbally assail members of Congress with vociferous accusations often patently false " regarding the contents of the proposed law.

    There can be no doubt that the tea party was partly responsible for the precipitous decline in the popularity ofthe health care reform package and they certainly hurt several members of Congress, who were publicly haraugued during its passage. The power and influence of the Tea Party lies both with its identifiers and the politicians that have associated themselves with the movement. The Tea Party proved to be especiaily powerful in Republican primary elections.

    As the movement gathered momentum in , they systematically began to chailenge the Republican establishment. From a tea partier's perspective, "establishment" Republicans had largely betrayed the conservative priuciples that defined their party in the post-Goldwater era; after ail, it was under a Republican presideut and congress that spending and debt came to record levels. With the aggregatiou of Republican primaries, the tea party had exercised a great deal of power, which made them a powerful new voice within the party. Come the general election, Tea Partiers throughout the nation began pouring money into several House and Senate campaigns.

    Their effects were most potent in the Senate elections, though not in the The grass roots Turkish lobby way that Republicans had hoped. It can be in America is relatively new. U Several of the Tea Party favorites proved dwarfed by other groups to be too inexperienced, too ideologisuch as the plethora of cally extreme.

    P or just too weird 14 for the Armenian-American interest electorate. Yet, Tea Party activists would groups gladly sacrifice short-term political gains in exchange for having a more enduring effect on the party by tugging it in a more libertariau and rightward direction. Given the mixed results they had in , their legacy may be in doubt. Turkish Interests in Congress Like most congressional elections, especially in economic hard times, foreign policy plays little to no role in shaping the American voting calculus.

    Additionally, since the most critical foreign policy decisions are under the purview of the Presidency; there will be far more continuity in Turkish-American relations than there is changes. However, Turkish interests will probably be affected in a few ways, some symbolic and some substantive. What has dominated the headlines in the Turkish press is the non-binding House resolution requesting that the President refer to the plight of Armenians during World War One as genocide, which has repeatedly failed to reach the floor of the House over the past couple decades.

    Though it carries no force of law and has no substantive effect on public policy, it has attracted a great deal of attention from all interested parties due to its symbolic importance. Though the partisan divide on the issue is far from absolute, Republicans tend to be less inclined to support it. Most people believe the issue won't be tabled for the next two years and there will be no vote by the Foreign Affairs committee or on the House floor. Needless to say; there are far more important Turkish interests at stake in the US Congress, particularly in regards to military cooperation, aid, and commerce between the two natious.

    Though it is impossible to examine all these points, suffice it to say that hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake on a yearly basis in the budgetary process. To make a precise assessment of whether the interests of the Turkish government and people are best served by a Democratic or Republican controlled House would be difficult, again because these issues are never The Congressional Elections and Turkish Interests in the Congress DAVID 1.

    However, we can get a sense of which party is more hospitable to Turkish interests by following the money of Turkish American interest groups and the organizational resources these groups have within Congress. The grass roots Turkish lobby in America is relatively new. Though its influence is growing on a yearly basis," it is still dwarfed by other groups such as the plethora of Armenian-American interest groups and the spending of the Turkish government in direct lobbying.

    Despite its recent formation, it has quickiy organized a political action committee Turkish Coalition USA that strategically dispenses campaign contributions to Congressional candidates under the strict limitations and reporting requirements of federal campaign finance law. The partisan division of this money is skewed towards Republicans, but not terribly so, with a ratio favoring Republicans three to two.

    The giving also goes well beyond the Armenian genocide resolution, with only a handful of recipients 19 of the 82 sitting on the Foreign Mairs committee. Though the opposition to the resolution is important, it would seem to be a secondary issue. Those receiving the higher contributions are clearly targeted for their inlIuence on some ofthe most policy-relevant and powerful committees in the House.

    Several were from the Financial Services of importance to Turkish business interests , Transportation a powerful appropriator , Rules procedurally critical to the operation of the House , Armed Services, Energy and Commerce, and the Defense Appropriation subcommittee. Though mouey does not buy policy, it certaiuly makes key policy makers accessible to donating interest groups. Conclnsion All told, the results in the midterm election of were hardiy surprising given the current political and economic climate ofthe United States.

    Any incumbent party presiding over a 10 percent unemployment rate can expect to lose a significant number of seats, particularly if they are of the presidential party. Though Republicans may have gained a few more seats in the House than many expected, this is hardly an unprecedented loss. It will uuquestiouably make it rather difficult for President Obama to pursue as aggressive of a legislative agenda as he did in his first two years of office, but the elections haven't rendered him powerless Visa-vis the Congress.

    The month of December may offer a rather nice preview of what we might expect to see in the next two years. In a rare "lame duck" session of Congress," the President had an impressive string of political victories including a major tax law, ending the ban on homosexuals serving openly in the military, and the ratification ofthe New Start nuclear arms treaty with Russia. If this is how President Obama responds in the wake of an electoral defeat with a rather hostile Congress, we can certainly expect a degree of cooperation and productivity simi1ar to President Clinton. Moreover, no one should assume that this loss is a signal of a sure Republican victory in Following the midterm elections of and the general elections of many Democrats in their own moments of hubris spoke of partisan realignments with Democratic majorities lasting decades.

    Just as those prognosticators were proven wrong in , anyone assuming that President Obama or the Congressional Democrats are doomed in could be simllarly disappointed. If there is any word that aptly describes the American electorate at the moment it is "volatility;' something Turkish readers are no strangers to. The American voter is impatient and expects to see tangible results from their elected officials quickly, sometimes unfairly so.

    Typically, the party that controls the Presidency bears the brunt of that anger. Should the people's economic confidence begin to recover by , President Obama will be well positioned for reelection; should it not; Republicans may well be competitive. Again, the S:MD system coupled with the staggering of elections in the Senate allowed the Democrats to maintain their power in the Senate despite losing the overall share of the vote. This was largely due to several Republican incumbents winning rather lopsided elections while most Democratic incumbents won narrower races, and that only one third of the seats were at stake.

    Lawrence J. Grossback, David A. Peterson and James A. David Broder, a well respected "elder statesman" of the press and political columnist for the Washington Post, once noted that Washington is run by political entrepreneurs: the president, senators, and house members. Each gets there essentially on their own: choosing the office to run for, raising their own money, funding their own campaigns, and staffing their campaigns with their own staff and volunteers.

    They are also willing to do anything retain office, up to and including running against their own political party and president if it ful:fi1ls their electoral ambitions Broder Alan 1. Abramowitz, "How Large a Wave? Again, consider the myth of the electoral mandate. President Obama had an enormously suc- cessful two years in Congress with impressive wins in health care, the economic stimulus package, funding renewable energy, financial regulations, GM and Chrysler bailouts, and public infrastructure.

    Nearly all of these were promises made in the campaign, yet upon delivery of these promises the electorate delivered a blow to his presidency by handing the house to Republicans. None of these victories were easily won. In the US Congress, party discipline in roll call votes ISfar lower than parliamentary systems simply because the power of nomination is not in the hands of the party, but in the electorate at large through the primary process. In practical terms, this meant President Obama had to secure every Democratic senator's vote or peal away a few Republican senators for each roll call.

    Sarah Palin popularized the notion of "death panels" where bureaucrats would decide if patients would receive treatment. Though these were seats previously held by Republicans and they were a net wash for the balance in the Senate, it shOWed that some tea party candidates were viable in certain states.

    Angle made some rather strong statements with clear subtext that Violence directed at politicians was justified should the elections not go their way, in what she dubbed "Second Amendment solutions:' Had virtually any other Republican run for this seat, Reid would have most likely been defeated. Another Tea Party candidate Christine O'Donnell, running for the Senate in Delaware, had appeared on television in the s claiming to have "dabbled in witchcraft:' Eventually she had to run political ads explaining that she wasn't a witch, not an especially effective campaign tactic.

    On the mght ofher primary victory, manypohtical observers made note that her victory made a Republican talceover of the Senate very unlikely. Representatives and Senators typ1ca lly resent being called in the interim, making presidential deal-making that much harder. Moreover, it has become one of the countries that got out of the economic downturn first. The reasons behind this strong response and quick recovery can be placed under two categories: low country risk premium and low currency risk The indebtedness ofboth private and public sectors were low compared to its peer countries and the foreign exchange positions of these sectors were very strong.

    Several different measures of the economy Can be considered while comparing the Turkish economy with its peers and show the Turkish economy's pre-crisis situation and its resilience to the financial downturn.

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    These measures are leverage on households and the corporate sector, the public sector's debt level, and foreign exchange positions of individuals, the public and the corporate sectors. However, ,.. Unlike its peers, the leverage ratios in Turkey for both private and public sectors, stayed at moderate levels during the period of excess global liquidity. For the private sector, households' indebtedness was kept below certain limits. Before the crisis, this ratio was very low in Turkey relative to the other countries.

    During the crisis, although this ratio had a tendency to increase among the Eastern European countries, it did not change in Turkey. Table I collects a larger set of countries and compares the ratios of consumer loans to GDP. Although the calculation techniques vary across countries, these numbers reflect the basic trends. The consumer loan to GDP ratio was the lowest in Turkey each year except India and Indonesia for only a couple of years , ".

    The ratio for Turkey is 9. The source of the data is Datastream. As mentioned in the text, this is a very difficult data set to collect. Therefore, different ways of calculations are applied while building this table. The differences in the calculations of the consumer loans are available upon request. Although it is very difficult to find reliable data for corporate loans, the best approximations ofthe ratios ofloans to corporate sector to GD P are collected and illustrated in figure 3.

    The figure shows that the liabilities of the corporate sector in Turkey remained relatively low. One of the reasons behind the low levels of indebtedness of households and corporate sector was that banks were subject to additional capital adequacy requirements and hence not allowed to increase their leverage to toxic levels. The figure shows the ratio of corporate loans to Turkey's gross domestic product and its peer countries.

    TIlis is a very difficult data to measure.

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    To be able to consistent we tried to collect all the data from one source: however, none of the major data sources have the data for a large set of countries. Therefore, we used the ratio of the credits from banks to non-financial sector to the GDP. For some of the countries the data is gathered from their central banks. I Turkey's foreign exchange position can be viewed as the most critical aspect of a small open economy. The overall position of the Turkish banking sector was balanced before the crisis.

    As shown in figure 5, before the crisis, the Turkish banking sector's net foreign exchange position is barely negative. Therefore, the Turkish banks were not fragile against a possible currency crisis. Moreover, since foreign currency denominated loans to individuals were prohibited and foreign currency deposits were not, Figure 5: Net foreign exchange position of the Turkish banking sector , million dollars Figure 4: Public debt to GDP ratio , percent ,0 the five year period prior to As shown in figure 4, Turkey's public debt was already low prior to the crisis and its fiscal discipline was maintained during the turmoil.

    It is still below the Maastricht criteria, which states that the public debt to GDP ratio cannot exceed sixty percent. After , a tendency of increasing household indebtedness ,and corporate sector debt was observed in almost all countries. However, in Turkey since the monetary policy was not accommodative, neither excessive lending nor asset bubbles were observed. In Turkey, the public sector's debt level has been significantly reduced since This discipline produced a primary surplus offive percent of GDP on average over It shows that the Turkish banking sector was carrying a low currency risk during the pre-crisis period.

    It was the corporate sector that carried a significant foreign exchange position, about 10 percent ofGDP See fignre 7. However, since the duration of their assets was short, whereas the duration of liabilities was long, the short term position of the Turkish firms was almost balanced. The short term foreign exchange position of the corporate sector is depicted in figure 8. The data is collected from the Central Bank of Turkey. The figure shows the ratio of foreign exchange deposits to GDP of Turkish households. It shows that the Turkish households were not very fragile against a currency crisis during the pre-crisis period.

    According to the figure, Turkey's risk perception and CDS rate have been performing relatively better than the three Mediterranean euro members due to superior fiscal indicators. The data is collected from Bloomberg. The data is taken from the Central Bank of Turkey. All of these measures of the domestic economy are summarized by the two indicators to evaluate the country's overall performance and risk.

    Figure 91 plots the daily CDS of the countries, According to that figure, Turkey's risk premium sustained a stable course, which is a result ofits solid finan42 cial system and low levels of indebtedness, although the country has lower credit ratings. The EMBI-Global is presented in figure 10' and it shows that Turkey's risk premium remains lower compared to the other emerging economies. Risk indicators of Turkey follow a parallel path with the Latin American countries, except Argentina.

    It announces a Medium Term Program regularly every year that covers the projected economic and fiscal outlook for the next three years. According to the most recent program, Turkey's budget deficit will fall below the Maastricht criteria 3 percent next year and public debt ratio will decline more than 6 percentage points to 37 percent in , lower than the pre-crisis level. There are two EMBI data sets. The main difference between these two Indices Is the criteria in the country selection. The reason of our choice is the number of countries included.

    The former index includes more countries than the latter. The data is taken from JP Morgan. Although the figure cannot be read perfectly; the thickest line belongs to Turkey and it conveys the main message. All data is available upon request. See the previous footnote. Low leverage and low currency exposure became a major source ofstrength that contributed to the resilience of the Turkish economy to the global crisis.

    Here, we should mention a few policy decisions, which were made and will be applied by the Central Bank of Turkey and the Turkish government. The financial environment is stili challengiug and this situation is likely to persist in the foreseeable future. Therefore, the Central Bank continues to focus on financial stability and shapes its policies based on three principles.

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    The first one is to discourage excessive leverage and to keep the banks and corporate sector's debt ratios at modest levels. To that end it raised the required reserve ratios in Turkish lira liabilities and stopped remuneration of required reserves. It also enacted a technical adjustment in the policy rates to encourage better liquidity management within the banking system and to reduce the dependence of banks on the Central Bank's lending facilities. Today, public support is increasingly sought in foreign policies as it provides legitimacy and confidence in pursuing a certain direction. Mobilization of public support in Turkey and the Arab world will boost Turkish-Arab relations on the basis of mutual trust.

    In order to achieve this goal, both sides should work together to eliminate biased views, stereotypes and negative images held towards each other. Although this Research Report focuses on Turkey, one can argue that, despite improved relations, there is still work to be done to eliminate prejudices, ill informed images and monolithic perceptions produced and propagated by nation state ideologies of the past.

    As far as the image of Arabs in Turkey is concerned, several sites emerge as more important sources of image making such as history textbooks, elite discourse, films and the press. Turkish history textbooks in the formative period of Turkish Republic were written in the spirit of creating a homogenous nation state to inculcate a sense of belonging to a Turkish nation.

    Description of Arabs in textbooks gradually evolved to be positive especially after s. However modern developments and achievements in the Arab world are largely ignored today. Recent improvements and modern historical developments on both sides should also be included in the curricula. Turkish cinema and TV soap operas have gained momentum in recent years with many new productions distributed regionally and internationally. Examination of Turkish films with Arab characters indicates that Arabs are negatively represented in general.