The Middle East needs pluralism, not deeper trenches
28 May 2017
When I was in Kabul years ago, I was positively surprised to see a branch of the Agha Khan Foundation working on building a cellphone network. Last week, the foundation established the Global Centre for Pluralism in Ottawa. Its objective is to create a global platform for comparative analysis, learning and dialogue on the importance of diversity, both in Canada and around the world. I see this as a very timely endeavor - and very important for the Middle East. Anyone looking for a way to integrate the Middle East into the global economy first needs to focus on how to instill an appreciation of pluralism there.
Still serious about that wall, Mr. President?
14 May 2017
The United States has a 3,300-km border with Mexico. President Donald Trump ran on a campaign promise to build a “big beautiful wall” along it, and though he seems less enthusiastic about it these days, he still hasn’t backed away from the project.
Why are all these Japanese people coming to Turkey?
07 May 2017
It isn’t easy to be an optimist in Ankara, but I must admit that I am one. Still, even I was surprised the other day when I saw a list of Japanese companies operating in Turkey. The Japanese are known for thinking thoroughly before taking action. Yet the number of Japanese companies in Turkey increased from 62 in 2007 to 188 in 2016.
This time it’s different
30 April 2017
Turks voted 51.4 to 48.6 percent in favor of the executive presidency. Here you have another evenly divided society, you may say by looking at the sheer numbers. Yet this time there is a difference. Let me elaborate.
PACE should save Turkey’s Europeanization process
23 April 2017
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan likes to say “the world is greater than five,” referring to the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC.) Many of us would agree with him, as the UNSC’s makeup really is Orwellian. “All nations are equal. But some nations are more equal than others,” it basically says.
The coalition to end all coalitions
16 April 2017
Turks like to vote. They have tasted the freedom of a ballot booth, a place where you face yourself, and make a decision about your future. But we hate coalition governments. Anyone who was around here in the 1990s and before would tell you that the horse trading after elections is unbearable, and that it should be done away with if possible. How far are we willing to go to abolish that kind of uncertainty?
How is Turkey to be governed?
14 April 2017
On April 16, Turkey is going to the polls to vote on a hotly debated constitutional amendments package. The country has had referenda for constitutional amendments before now, but this is going to be the first one to change the system of government as a whole.
‘Come on, this is not Turkey’
09 April 2017
“Human beings are pattern-seeking and storytelling animals,” said Edward Leamer, a professor in economics. That is after all, what science is also about; you look for patterns and tell coherent stories about them. Today, let me tell you about a couple of persistent patterns regarding the Turkish economy.
Why Turkey’s economy stumbled in 2016
02 April 2017
According to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TUIK), Turkey grew by 3.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016. Added to upward revisions of the previous two quarters, that brings Turkey’s annual growth in 2016 to 2.9 percent. The same number was 6.1 percent in 2015.
Turkey's role in the new regional normal
26 March 2017
I was reading the results of a survey conducted in the province of Van around a week ago. Van is one of the easternmost provinces in Turkey, right on the border with Iran. The survey was conducted at a town hall meeting by my colleagues at TEPAV. Around 400 participants were asked “What needs to be done to improve the tourism industry in Van?” The respondents did not choose options like “more SME support,” nor did they ask for more money, as is usual in provinces like Van. No, their first priority was to improve the quality of urban life. If this is the first time you are hearing about quality of life issues in an Anatolian town, you are not alone. I was perplexed. Most people in Anatolian towns don’t try to improve their urban environments; they just pick up and leave for the b