How to make Syrians more invisible in Turkey
21 July 2019
There are around 3.6 million Syrian refugees in Turkey, and nearly half of them are children. That number plateaued this past year, but we in Turkey’s big cities didn’t really feel them. In the last few months, it’s as if the visibility of Syrians has increased. This shows up in public opinion surveys too, where people list Syrian refugees as one of the country’s top five issues. Why? I see three reasons.
What Europe should know about North Cyprus
14 July 2019
Last week, Turkey saw its first current account surplus in 16 years. That would be cause for celebration if it wasn’t due to the Lira’s rapid depreciation, and the deep recession we’re in. The era of constructive ambiguity in economic policymaking has abruptly ended with the sacking of the governor of the Central Bank. Markets are now clear about the kind of institutions they are dealing with in Ankara. This of course, will not help the recession, no matter how rapid the impending rate cut is going to be. So success stories are hard to come by these days.
The lessons from Turkey’s election season
30 June 2019
Turkish politics will be on a much-appreciated break this week, as President Erdoğan makes his way to Osaka for the G20 summit. The Istanbul rerun is over. After Japan, President Erdoğan will be hosted by President Xi in Beijing, and all together, he will be away from Ankara for about 10 days. Turkey’s Parliament is also in summer recess. So this is a time when Turkey’s political class can get some distance from their routines, and maybe even deign to think ahead a little bit.
Of Turks and Americans
16 June 2019
Winston Churchill once said that “you can count on the Americans to do the right thing,” then he added, I presume with a smile, “after they have exhausted all other possibilities.” It isn’t any different for the Turks, I may add.
The G20 can save the world once again
09 June 2019
Marx and Engels famously started the Communist Manifesto with the words “a specter is haunting Europe—the specter of communism.” Crypto Anarchist Timothy May was less Euro-centric, beginning his 1992 Crypto Anarchist Manifesto with the words “a specter is haunting the modern world—the specter of crypto anarchy.” I would say that the “modern world” today, is anywhere with an internet connection. That’s a lot of people of a lot of different cultures.
Half of Turks are still not working
02 June 2019
In 2018, the Turkish lira depreciated by 39 percent against the US dollar. That was followed by steep increases in unemployment and inflation, the combination of which yields a 60 percent increase in Turkey’s so-called “misery index.” In other words: people are hurting.
Yes, Turks feel the impact
21 May 2019
“Is the guy on the street feeling it?” someone asked me this week. The “it” here refers to the economy of course. His intention, I gather, was to understand why the governing bloc failed in Istanbul, as well as Turkey’s other major cities. Is it the economy or ideology? I tend to think that economy was important, and it’s going to be more so from now on.
All the reserves in the world will not suffice
12 May 2019
Rulers have to live with their decisions. There is a point in Shakespeare’s famous play where Lady Macbeth is sleepwalking. She has recently plotted with her husband the murder of Duncan and Macduff’s family, and though this has given them power, she is now ridden with guilt, and maybe regret.
Why I am optimistic about Turkey
05 May 2019
Turkey may look vulnerable to you. When President Erdoğan was elected back in June 2018, you could buy a dollar with 4.71 Lira. Now it costs around 5.97 Lira. This means that the Lira has depreciated by around 27 percent in less than a year against the dollar. Yet there are solid reasons to be optimistic about Turkey.
The EU’s hot air balloon and Turkey
21 April 2019
When it comes to global politics, we all know that the European Union (EU) is in a sorry state. One of its three most powerful members is leaving, its inbred establishment is besieged, its Eastern edges are slipping into despotism. It lacks a cohesive foreign policy framework: 2016 Global Strategy to make the EU a global actor has yet to be implemented. Why? It’s as Seneca said “If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.” Without political leadership, even the best of plans is useless.