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Turkish External Orientation and Political Culture

In 1964, Turkish leadership decided to make an overtures to the Soviets, along with the Arab and Islamic world. III During the seventies, Bulent Ecevit attempted to change Turkey’s perceptions with regard to its security and to widen the arena of its foreign policy. Internal unrest, which drove the country close to disintegration, and the indirect, though abrupt, changes in Turkey’s security policy, once again in the name of Kemal Atatürk, led to the coup d’etat of September 12, 1980. This military intervention, as with the previous ones in 1960 and in 1971, was legitimized by invoking Kemal Ataturk’s principles, i.e. the preservation of the secular, western-oriented Turkish state.IV Today, however, the crisis regarding the Turkish political system, i.e. of the continuance of a Kemalist approach, is deep, complex and possibly incurable. Indeed, for many, Kemalism as a social reality and philosophy ceased to exist long ago.V Rather, it simply existed for the purpose of legitimizing political and ideological power by the leaders currently wielding it. What we have now is an expression of divergence between East and West,VI between Asiatic and European social behavior, between eastern and western modes of development, while at the same time there is conflict between the European secular political and the Islamic theocratic cultures. Until now Atatürk’s creation of the Turkish state has shown a unique ability to endure, survive and adapt to new conditions, despite internal contra¬dictions and conflicts, and despite external pressures and problems in the region. However, to the founder of the Turkish Republic, Islam represented a backward concept, both as a form of social behavior and as an ideology and did not belong in a politically modern state.VII

2. Western and European aspirations and affiliations Europe represented for Turkey, according to Atatürk, a civic and cultural measure of strategic importance - a political partner and a paradigm of economic success which “ought to have been a model and an example for Turkey”.VIII With this model in mind, Mustafa Kemal attempted to westernize Turkish cultural, social and economic sectors: in fact, many established norms were overturned. He also attempted to establish new institutions. At the political level, however, he ruled dictatorially. After his death, and especially 94


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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