Turkey’s New Course

Turkey’s emergence as an influential power is being tested as never before by the crisis in Syria and the continuing showdown with Iran over its nuclear policy. Why has Turkey risen to regional prominence over the past decade, and what principles are guiding its foreign policy and relations with the West?

CHICAGO – Turkey has recently been at the forefront of international economic and political debates. On the one hand, despite the economic crisis engulfing neighboring Europe, Turkey remains the world’s second-fastest growing economy, after China. On the other hand, there is almost no issue on the global agenda – from Iraq and Afghanistan to Somalia, Iran, and the Arab Spring, and from sustainable development to a dialogue among civilizations – on which Turkey is not playing a visible role.

This is a rather new phenomenon. Until a decade ago, Turkey was regarded as no more than a staunch NATO ally. That began to change in 2002, when an era of political stability dawned, giving rise to a vision for a stronger Turkey – and a firm commitment to realizing that vision.

To this end, Turkey’s governments since 2002 implemented bold economic reforms that paved the way for sustainable growth and provided a firewall against the financial crisis that hit in 2008. As a result, in less than a decade, GDP has tripled, making Turkey the world’s 16th largest economy. Moreover, the country benefits from strong public finances, prudent monetary policy, sustainable debt dynamics, a sound banking system, and well-functioning credit markets.

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