In January 2013, most people go over what happened in the previous year to help them make plans for the New Year and possibly new beginnings. Countries go through the same assessment albeit on a more national and global scale. Thus for Turkey, the title, the New Turkey somehow reflects the plans of its leaders for 2013 and beyond.
In the past 11 eleven years, Turkeys has faced so many challenges from political transformation, influence of religion in national events, and an aggressive thrust on education and the country’s economy. One simple case would be the change in Turks perception. Many years ago, Turks would consider themselves as Europeans but that has gone through some major changes, and now they consider themselves as more Middle Eastern than Europeans. This has polarized the country in the sense that there is a distinct segregation of Turks and Kurds.
The Good News
In the last 10 years, the economy has improved. There is more diversification in trade and many Turkish business people and companies have gone outside of the country to sell their goods and services. This is being termed by business experts as “soft power” where Turkish companies are able to grow their business through global investments.
On the foreign investment side, investors have been coming into Turkey like U.S. companies that have been able to sell “Made in USA” products to the tune of US$ 10 million. Under President Barack Obama’s National Export Initiative, Turkey is a high priority country. It is more stable than many of its neighboring countries that it has become a haven for those living in war-torn or stricken areas.
Challenges for Turkey
The 2013 challenges for Turkey can be summarized in these few sentences:
- The New Turkey must improve its system of education so that its graduates have skills that are relevant to today’s economy.
- The country should find a solution to the Kurdish problem. However, recent developments continue to be positive to the country especially the news that Kurdish rebels plan to withdraw their guerilla fighters from the country.
- Unemployment should be addressed and solved.
The Turkish government has also begun to offer incentives for foreign ownership of land in Turkish Embassy in South Africa. Anyone who buys land or even an apartment in Turkey will automatically be given a one year visa. The assumption is that the new owner would want to enjoy his new property with the least amount of hassle with travel documents. With Turkey being a key tourist destination, this is an obvious next step for those who have come to love the country and its people.
Finally with Israel and Turkey talking again after the political fiasco a few years ago with the 9 Turkish citizens who died because of a naval raid, the future looks even brighter. Israel and Turkey has similar issues regarding peace and order in the region and the need for gas and fuel. There are ongoing negotiations for Israel to pay compensation for the lives lost which will hopefully result in a less stressful situation for both countries.