2015: A Lost Year for Turkey

17 September 2015

We are only three-and-a-half months from New Year’s Eve. The end of a year is usually a time for stocktaking, reflection and hope. Unfortunately, ending the year on an optimistic note would be next to impossible in Turkey since the past eight-and-a-half months have offered absolutely nothing to inspire hope.

On June 7, Turkey had parliamentary elections. At least the three preceding months were devoted to the depressing rhetoric of the election campaign. The election result was a disappointment for the Justice and Development Party (JDP) because the electorate denied them a fourth consecutive term with parliamentary majority. The logical solution would have been a coalition government. But in a country willfully and purposefully polarized that was simply impossible. So we are going to have another round of elections on November 1.

If, and that is a very big if, Turkey can have a government to stay at least for some time following the November 1 election that would make a grand total of nine wasted months.

To make a long story short, if I were to write a book describing the year 2015 for Turkey, the following would be the titles of chapters: “ Authoritarianism”, “A Shelved Constitution”, “Polarization”, “Absence of Parliamentary Oversight”, “Separation of Powers Consigned to Oblivion”, “No Regard for the Environment”, “No Regard for Cultural Heritage”, “A Failed Foreign Policy, “Failure to Identify Friend/Foe”, “A Nose Diving Currency”, “Slashed Incomes”, “Mounting Foreign Debt”, “Terrorist Attacks” and “Potential for Instability”.

I may be the pessimist. The optimist could say, “We had a great year with two democratic elections within four months and on November 15-16 Turkey will host the tenth annual G20 summit in Antalya and that would be the jewel in the crown.”

I wish days, weeks and months would fly because I honestly can’t wait to be proven wrong on New Year’s Day …

About Ali Tuygan

Ali Tuygan is a graduate of the Faculty of Political Sciences of Ankara University. He joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in January 1967. Between various positions in Ankara, he served at the Turkish Embassy in Brussels, NATO International Staff, Turkish Embassies in Washington and Baghdad, and the Turkish Delegation to NATO. From 1986 to 1989 he was the Principal Private Secretary to the President of the Republic. He then served as ambassador to Ottawa, Riyadh, and Athens. In 1997 he was honored with a decoration by the Italian President. Between these assignments abroad he served twice as Deputy Undersecretary for Political Affairs. In 2004 he was appointed Undersecretary where he remained until the end of 2006 before going to his last foreign assignment as Ambassador to UNESCO. He retired in 2009. In April 2013 he published a book entitled “Gönüllü Diplomat, Dışişlerinde Kırk Yıl” (“Diplomat by Choice, Forty Years in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs”) in which he elaborated on the diplomatic profession and the main issues on the global agenda. He has published articles in Turkish periodicals and newspapers.
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