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Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
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)

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Update No: 152 - (29/01/10)

The West: Yes or No?
Turkey is keen to be accepted as part of the Western world. Some 75% of its people, according to opinion polls, deem themselves to be Westerners. The Islamicist party in power, the AKP, is utterly opposed to Muslim extremism of any sort. The Turks wish to become members of the EU, a hallmark of Western identity.

But there are another people, the Armenians, who wish to do so too. As it so happens, they have a prior right to a claim to join, dating back to 300 AD, when they founded the very first Christian state. If the countries adhering to the Treaty of Rome, are not part of Christendom, what else are they?

This is the nub. Turkey's claim to join is based on the fact that 5% of their territory is in Europe, just north of the Bosporus. But, actually, it is more powerfully based on the fact that the founding moment of modern Turkey was the rule of a most remarkable man, Ataturk (1922-37). He put the Ottoman heritage behind the Turks, drawing on the tradition, nevertheless, of the Young Turks, radical reformers of the Ottoman state before 1914. He secularised and basically Westernised his nation, even converting the script of their mother tongue to a Latin one.

This is the solid reason why the Turks want to be in the European Union. But, alas, too many existing member citizens, particularly in France and Germany want them out.

The First World War still counts
Events that took place in the First World War, that awful disaster and yet foundation moment of the modern world, are still at work today. Awful things were afoot; and recrimination is still being begat and wrought.

The Armenians are never going to forgive the massacre of millions of their kind in 1915 at the hands of the Turks, as the Ottoman Empire fell apart. There are perhaps a very few centenarians left alive who can attest to it.

It is a curious, but very telling fact about human nature that the Turks are still in denial. They are adamant that that they did nothing wrong in 1915. Hitler put the point in a rather different way in 1938 when he said: 'Who now remembers the Armenian genocide?'

He obviously did; and had a genocide or two on his mind to perpetrate on the sly. It would become the Turks to own up to this business, as do the British that they set up concentration camps in the Boer War. Most nations have skeletons in their cupboards.

The giant Armenian question
The normalisation of relations between Armenia and Turkey has hit a reef. Turkey considers that progress being made in the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is an essential condition of this normalisation, and Azerbaijan will probably demand this for the sake of Turkish-Azerbaijan relations. However Yerevan says that these two issues should not be connected.

Almost the same idea was expressed by Russian Premier Putin during his Turkish counterpart's visit to Russia. He said that both issues are complicated enough in themselves, and linking them will make their resolution even more complicated. Azeri officials observe that as the Russian and Armenian positions coincide in this, Moscow does not support change in the South Caucasus.

Russia does not want to resolve the Karabakh conflict because then Armenia would not need Russian military assistance. Azeri analysts and political figures think that Putin did not say anything new. Co-Chairman of the Azeri Social Democratic Party Araz Alizade has stated that Russia supports establishing Turkish-Armenian relations for its own benefit, on its own terms.

The Sochi solution?
There is a very important development afoot. The interested parties are meeting at Sochi, the winter resort, on January 25. The presidents of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia are convening to resolve the outstanding issues of the Caucasus.

But there is one outstanding absentee – the president of Turkey. The conference will be likely to fail
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