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Key Economic Data 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
Millions of US $ 237,972 182,848 147,700 21
GNI per capita
 US $ 2,790 2,500 2,530 92
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Turkey


Update No: 124 - (28/09/07)

The Second Coming?
There is no doubt a monumental event has happened in Turkey. The Turks have elected an Islamic president to occupy the position once occupied by Ataturk. 

Would the great founder of secularism in Turkey be turning over in his grave?

Probably not. 

Abdullah Gul is a highly intelligent man, absolutely aware of the very delicate job upon which he has embarked. He has a terrific task ahead of him - to reconcile Islamicism and secularism second time round. 

Ataturk was certainly a devout Moslem; so is Gul. But they both realised long ago that theology and politics don't mix.

Gul's wife wears a head scarf; but then so do most Turkish women - perhaps not many generals' wives - or not . This makes him the ideal person to effect a compromise. Or not.

The West and the world approves 
Congratulations for Gül continue to flood in. As the announcement of the composition of the new Turkish Cabinet took over newspaper headlines, messages continued to flow in to the Çankaya Presidential Palace to congratulate its new resident, Abdullah Gül, elected the new president of the Republic of Turkey on September 11th. 

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice telephoned her former counterpart Gül to congratulate him on his election, expressing her hope that the United States and Turkey "continue to have a good, positive relationship with him in his new capacity, that she enjoyed with him when he was foreign minister," US State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey said. 

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II sent a message of congratulations to Gül. "I send you my congratulations on your election as President of the Republic of Turkey. My Government and I look forward to continuing the close cooperation and excellent relations between our two countries. I send you and the people of Turkey my best wishes for the future," the queen said in her message. 

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy, known with his firm stance against Turkey's EU bid, was among those leaders who sent a congratulatory message to Gül, voicing hope for stronger ties between Paris and Ankara. "We salute the election of Mr Gül, who has always shown himself very attached to relations with France and Europe," foreign ministry spokeswoman Pascale Andreani told reporters. 

The greatest testament of all
Meanwhile, quite notably, Robert Kocharian, president of Armenia with which Turkey has no diplomatic relations, as well as Armenia's Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian also sent congratulatory messages to Gül. 

He has a high regard for his ability, as have every other interlocuter with the gifted Turkish diplomat.

Middle Eastern acclamation 
Another telephone call to Gül was from Jordan's King Abdullah II. According to a palace-issued statement, the king "expressed his trust in Gül's ability ... to achieve the ambitions of the Turkish people" while congratulating him. 

Gül's election as the new president of Turkey was described as "a victory" displaying "a natural demonstration of the region's turn toward Islam," according to Palestinian movement Hamas' spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri. "This historic change will benefit both the Turkish people and the nations of the region, especially the Palestinian people," Zuhri added. 

Israeli President Shimon Peres called Gül and expressed his country's expectation that friendly bilateral relations between Israel and Turkey would continue during Gül's term in the presidential office. Peres praised Gül's efforts for contributing to regional stability and peace. 

Neighbouring Iraq's President Jalal Talabani, for his part, expressed his expectation to see the promotion and cooperation of the mutual relationship between Turkey and Iraq in the fields of politics, security, economy and culture during Gül's presidency. "I wholeheartedly congratulate you. Your being promoted from the Cabinet to the presidency is an indication of the trust felt toward you," Talabani said. 

The wider world in agreement
The secretary-general of the Developing-8 (D8) also congratulated Gül on behalf of the organization, which was established by Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria and Pakistan in addition to Turkey. 

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, who worked closely with Gül when the latter was serving as Turkey's foreign minister, welcomed his election and said he was "convinced" that Gül would strive to be a "unifying force in Turkey, a country undergoing great change." "As foreign minister he has contributed strongly to the reform process that has characterized Turkey in recent years and which is key to the country's continued road towards membership in the European Union," Bildt said in a statement. 


America loses Turkey
The mood in Turkey, a once strongly pro-American country, has been transformed by recent events. The country is now the most anti-American in the world according to opinion polls, only 9% being in favour.

The reasons are not hard to seek. The horrendous events next door in Iraq are there for all to see. As many as 600, 000 civilian deaths by some estimates and no end in sight. They are grateful indeed that the Turks kept out of it. No Turkish soldiers are losing their lives there nor are they as a nation complicit with this colonial adventure to secure oilfields, as they read the invasion in most middle-eastern lands.

But they are finding themselves imperilled by the Kurdish militants of the KKP, former (and not so former) Marxist Kurds, who have waged a violent confrontation with Ankara for fourteen years now. 

The success of the Kurdish enclaves in Iraq, the one undoubted success story in the country, is not such good news for the Turks. It is Washington that is responsible.

But Turkey has not lost the US 
This is not a situation upon which Tony Blair, in his new role as peace envoy in the Middle East, is likely to have much purchase. He is after all now regarded as Washington's biggest perceived stooge. The UK is for the time being a busted flush in the Middle East now.

Ankara is discreetly allowing the US overflight rights. Indeed, three-quarters of US air-borne supplies to Iraq go over Turkey. The AKP government wants to keep in Washington's good books, its most important ally in its bid to join the EU. This is an ironic fact, but true. 

When Bush successively pressed for EU entry for Turkey last year, Chirac was heard to mutter: "We are not pressing for the US to admit Mexico." European officials, however, immediately became more emollient. The 'road to Brussels' for Turkey, lies via Washington and its loyal ally, Berlin.

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