Let the person without sin throw the first stone
10 January 2015
People seem to think that Turkey has changed in some basic way in the past couple of years, that the system of 80 million people somehow shifted its stance overnight to no longer be an integral part of the Western civilization. Well, it’s nonsense. Turkey’s is an integral part of western civilization, and its balance of payments is its anchor. Let me be more specific here: its current account deficit links Turkey to the West. So Turkey is deeply integrated with the West, and it will continue to be so despite mounting uncertainty.
How the ballot box made Turkey
03 January 2015
Internal migration made Turkey. Families packing up and leaving their hometowns has been one of the major building blocks of our growth model. But no more, according to the new World Bank report on Turkey’s Transitions. Turkey is now reaching its limits regarding urbanization via internal migration. Why? When I was born in the early 1960s, 30% of Turkey’s population was living in urban centers. The pace of urbanization increased with the liberalizing reforms of the 1980s. By 1980, 44% of Turks were living in urban areas, and nowadays, around 75% of us do. Meanwhile, in Egypt, that number was 44% in 1980 and still is around 44% today.
The state of the Turkish economy
28 December 2014
Santa Claus is a citizen of Turkey - or he would have been if he was living today. In the third century, he was known as Saint Nicholas of Myra, today’s city of Demre in Antalya province. So he was one of us. Yet Santa brings no gifts to his fellow citizens this year. Instead, a pattern is now emerging around the Turkish economy for the year to come. This pattern will make us more vulnerable to outside shocks and it is hard to reverse. Maybe we were naughty.
The unbearable feeling of loneliness
20 December 2014
It takes courage to accept failure. President Obama showed the world that he can learn from the facts and abandon a long-failed policy. Because US policy towards Cuba has been a disaster, a remnant of the 20th century. The President’s actions this week set the stage: no more 20th century obstacles to US policy making. A country with unresolved issues from the last century cannot lead in the present. Obama just showed that Americans had the courage to lead again, and lead by example.
What’s the problem with the Middle East?
13 December 2014
What comes to your mind when you think about the Middle East? For me, it’s the low level of connectivity. Here we have a region composed of clammed up countries; but whoever crammed them together also managed to do so in such a way that they are not entirely disconnected from each other. Each exists in its own shell They have little to compare themselves to and fail to se their own absurd condition .
Why are Turkish men paying out of their noses to be exempt from military service?
06 December 2014
I was in Israel last week, where I saw a Picture of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his wife, posing with their youngest son who is about to be conscripted to the Israeli army. Israel has mandatory military service and as the photo shows, and there are no exemptions. Even young women serve. I was there with a Singaporean, who told me that Singapore also had a so-called “National Service.” As the name suggests, “everybody has to do it. There are no exemptions, not even for the President’s son.”
On Track for Inclusive Growth - How to make ends meet in G20?
01 December 2014
Since the onset of the financial crisis, the G 20 Forum, whose membership consists of systemically important advanced and emerging economies, has emerged as the principal forum for inter-governmental economic cooperation. At the Washington Summit, building on the momentum created by deteriorating economic conditions, the G 20 leaders declared their commitment to respond to the crisis collectively to restore global financial stability. The leaders also agreed to follow up on a broader policy response to the crisis by exercising closer cooperation on non-financial issues including development, employment, trade, social issues and corruption among others. Thus, in addition to the Finance Track that focuses on economic issues and financial matters, the G 20 incorporated the Sherpas’ track to d
Actions and words in Turkey
29 November 2014
Here are two presidential addresses to consider from November 2014: President Obama talked about net neutrality, while President Erdoğan talked about gender equality (or the lack thereof). Obama’s address was direct and very practical. It was progressive in its underpinnings, but the thrust was in policy. Erdoğan’s address was evasive and philosophical in nature, but its socially conservative foundation is sure to get a popular reception. Obama addressed a 21st century issue – he was trying to get ahead of events and regulate them before they happen. Our president’s speech could have been made at any point in the 19th century. Obama’s address is about an action he was taking. Erdoğan’s address was “kelâm, kelâm, la y’enfah”, as the Arabs would say, talk, talk, but nothing got done. And the
Nothing personal, Mr. Biden
22 November 2014
Have you seen the latest Pew Attitudes Survey on Turkey? Only 19 % of Turks have a favorable opinion of the United States. The Americans I talk to appear to be offended by this. No need. Just read on in the same survey. Only 14% of Turks have a favorable opinion of Iran. China? 21%. And only 20% harbor pleasant feelings for Brazil. So our American friends can find solace in knowing that Turks don’t have anything against them in particular. It turns out we are equal opportunity misanthropes, disliking everyone across the world more or less equally.
After all it’s not that bad in Ankara
15 November 2014
These days, I am increasingly hearing that Turkey is becoming less democratic and more authoritarian. People bemoan the decline of the rule-of-law, the symbol of that being the new Presidential Palace. That, at least, is the view in all meetings I attend, and the western media’s coverage of Turkey pushes that view aggressively. I disagree, if I may. It may be a tempting picture, but it fails to represent the reality in Ankara. Let me explain.