Head of State: Abdullah Gül
Head of Government: Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Foreign Minister: Ahmet Davutoglu
Area: 814,578 sqkm
Population: 71,5 million inhabitants (2008 census)
Capital City: Ankara
Currency: Turkish lira
Turkey is a parliamentary republic based on the principles expounded by the nation's founding father, Mustafa Kemal "Ataturk" (secular state, modernisation, nationalism). A unicameral National Assembly exercises legislative power with 550 members elected by a system of proportional representation with a 10% electoral threshold. Amongst other duties the Head of State presides over the National Security Council - an important body established by the constitution, composed of the leading members of the armed forces and government, which makes decisions regarding the integrity, independence and security of the state. The constitution ensures the military broad autonomy and a role as guarantor of the Turkish Republic, releasing it from the hierarchy of the Defence Ministry.
Prime Minister Erdogan, of the AKP Party, was reelected, for the third time, in June 2011.
The Erdogan government has a decided reformist thrust in both economic and political/social contexts. Over recent years, and in compliance with the reforms requested by the European Union, Turkey has introduced several major reforms that include amendment of art. 301 of the criminal code (“offence to Turkishness”), approval of the Law on Foundations (on behalf of minority religious communities) and the recent amendment of the same law aimed at permitting restitution to religious minorities of lands recognized as their property by the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne and then nationalized in 1936.
The Commission has also recognised progress made in the area of cultural rights (TV broadcasts in Kurdish and radio broadcasts in Armenian) and the civilian control of the military (with the redefinition of the jurisdiction of judges in crimes they themselves commit). Nevertheless, Turkey still needs to make progress in some sectors, such as freedom of the press and the rights of women, toward a system more protective of its citizens.
Next Elections: summer 2015
Next elections for President of the Republic: 2014
European Union membership is a major goal for Ankara but, despite progress in accession negotiations (begun on 3 October 2005), the process is slowed by the Cyprus issue and the political uncertainties of some Member Countries.
Thus EU integration is being pursued with determination, but is one of Turkey’s foreign policy aspects increasingly being modeled on the so-called “strategic depth” doctrine of current Foreign Minister Davutoglu in place since 2001.
Its central foreign policy aim is the stabilisation of neighbouring regions. In the past this goal was pursued through the establishment and strengthening of political and economic relations with its Middle Eastern neighbours, but which have undergone pragmatic review in light of the “Arab Spring” developments, leading to contributions to the international community’s humanitarian intervention in Libya and a gradual cooling toward those regimes suffocating democratic aspirations and undermining Middle East stability.
NATO’s only Muslim majority member, Turkey plays a substantially complementary role in classic alliances with the US and Europe.
The Turkish economy is developing at a steady rate (GDP grew 8.9% in 2010), allowing it to absorb unemployment, which dropped in May of 2011 to 9.4% (down 1.6% as compared with the same period in 2010). Such growth rates, however, increase the risk of overheating the economy. Inflation in 2010 stood at 6.4%, well above the 5.5% threshold set by the Turkish Central Bank.
Another risk is associated with the arrival of speculative investments, were interest rates to remain high in order to contain inflation. For that reason, in early August 2011 the Turkish Central Bank decided to apply an “unorthodox” monetary policy, cutting the interest rate by 0.5% to 5.75%.
In the first 6 months of 2011 Turkish trade with the rest of the world peaked at €218 billion, of which €77.47 in exports (+20.5%) and €140.51 billion in imports (+41.3%); the trade balance remains seriously negative at €63.04 billion. In the same period Italy ranked 4th among Turkey’s trade partners.