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The EU in the International Arena and the Role of Turkey

Turkey during the last decade After a three-digit inflation in the nineties, open military interference in politics, a vicious conflict with ethnic Kurdish insurgents, and a decision on the part of the EU in Helsinki, Turkey became a candidate country to join the Union. With the help of the EU, the US, the IMF, and a number of constitutional and civic rights reforms between 1999 and 2002, Turkey not only recovered but after the AKP took power in 2002, it managed to become an emerging economic power, ranking 16th in the world. It secured a seat among the G20 and a seat at the Security Council for the 2009/2010 period. Turkey witnessed an impressive acceleration of growth rate, brought down the inflation from 45% to single digits in 2009, multiplied by more than five times the amount of foreign investments in the country. Its exports rose from 36 billion dollars in 2002 to 132 billion dollars in 2008. Despite the international economic crisis its GDP continued growing. These successes under the AKP government were not only due to good governance but also to a new foreign policy which is less ideological than pragmatic, by introducing a “zero problems� policy with its neighbours, and allowing investments, trade, export technology and the installation of Turkish enterprises among its eastern neighbours. The first period in this new foreign policy saw an amelioration of relations with Greece and Georgia; and since the ending of the Cold War some time ago, Turkey expanded its activities into the Black Sea region, its back yard. Russia has become one of its leading trade partners. What is even more remarkable is the combination of ideology and pragmatism for an opening into the Arab world, towards Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Libya, but also with Iran; a new foreign policy which provoked the acclaim of Turkey as a champion of the Muslim World, a moderate Islamic Government which became an outspoken supporter of the Palestinian cause, at a time when prior to the uprising, Arab regimes appeared to be more complacent and more hesitant out of fear of undermining their relations with the USA. Southeastern Turkey flourished economically from the trade and interactions taking place along its borders with Syria and Iran.

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IOANNIS KASOULIDES

Turkey on the European Doorstep  

A Publication based on the International Conference organised at the European Parliament/Brussels by Dr. ELENI THEOCHAROUS, Member of the Eu...

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