Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has changed the political face of Turkey, with significant results to show for it—a booming domestic economy and enhanced international prestige. The jury is still out on whether he has the political will to address shortcomings on Kurdish rights, the Armenian genocide question, the future of Cyprus, and the rule of law, and thus elevate Turkey into a truly global player.
In the past eighty years, Turkish society has not become as secularized as Mustafa Kemal Atatürk envisioned. But rather than choosing a radical or violent path, Turkey’s Islamists have become champions of democracy. This is a lesson in how to be modern and Muslim at the same time.
After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the Turkish Republic oriented itself toward Europe to catch up with ‘contemporary civilization.’ But in the last ten years, Turkey has sought to play a more active role in the Middle East. The dramatic policy shift now stands to yield substantial strategic, political, and economic dividends following the Arab Spring.
Turkey’s Justice and Development Party has targeted education reform as a priority—to stimulate economic growth as well as to promote conservative Islamic values. But, so far, the party has not cut loose from the authoritarian Republican legacy within the education system as much Turks had expected.
There is no doubt that social networking helped bring Egyptians to Tahrir Square for the country’s January 25 revolution. But, equally important, services like Facebook and Twitter also prepared the ground by providing a model of horizontal communication and democratic participation.
The effort to hold the former regime of President Hosni Mubarak to account is off to a poor start. But as the experiences of other nations in transition have shown, establishing a credible record of past abuses is essential to forming a democratic culture.
Turkey has adopted a pro-active foreign policy in support of democracy in the Middle East. Together with a democratic and economically strong Egypt, Turkey can help Arab countries forge an integrated regional order.
The pandemic is not out of the danger zone, but apocalyptic predictions about the collapse of armies, state crises, and a vicious interaction between HIV/AIDS and violent conflict — especially in Africa — have not come to pass. Careful analysis gives far less cause for pessimism than many imagined would be possible even half a decade ago.
President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silvaa made the region a foreign policy focus in pursuit of greater South-South cooperation. An insider’s look at how the Brasília sees Arab democratization, Arab-Israeli peace, the nuclear standoff with Iran and trade and investment promotion.
The results of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun proved once again that nations are not serious about addressing the danger posed by global warming. Non-stop consultations between developed and developing countries must achieve tangible and effective compromises before the follow-up conference in Durban in November.
South Africa’s liberation leader taught us a vital lesson when he navigated a peaceful end to apartheid: it is possible to be a great politician and a great human being at the same time. In reaching out to his old enemy, he bequeathed his nation the rule of law, freedom of speech, and free and fair elections.