As Turkey enters 2019, it has a number of key issues in close proximity, namely the restructuring of Syria and Iraq. To that end, newly elected Iraqi President Berhem Saleh's Ankara visit on Jan. 3 was critically important.On Jan. 3 and Jan. 4, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was also in Ankara. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's multifaceted and multilayered foreign policy has positioned Turkey as the most listened to country, whose vision and guidance are widely considered and pondered upon, both in its region and in Eurasia. Therefore, the new geopolitical and trade diplomacy that is being shaped over the corridor between Asia-Pacific and Africa, with Turkey as its "center of gravity," is putting forward the fact that Turkey's mission and contribution should be amplified.
The "South-East" alliance has advanced over the past 10 years through BRICS - an association of five major emerging national economies, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Following Russia and China's call, it has been determined that Turkey needs to build stronger relationships with the South-East alliance.
In addition to the Pakistan-Iran-Azerbaijan-Russia highway project, the Pakistan-Iran-Turkey highway project will increase the weight of the Eurasian corridor in global geopolitical and trade diplomacy. If Syria and Iraq are restructured, the weight of these projects will increase even further.
The Atlantic alliance, however, is very uncomfortable with these developments. The bomb attack on the Chinese Consulate in Pakistan in November 2018, confirmed that dark forces of the asymmetric order are determined to demonstrate their discontent with the decrease of the Atlantic's weight in all kinds of brutal operations.
If you remember, in the article from Dec. 10, I wrote that the Atlantic alliance was determined to break Brazil and its new extreme right-wing leader Jair Bolsonaro from BRICS. As the world was celebrating the new year, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Rio de Janeiro, where he asked Bolsonaro, "If he were not going to move the Brazilian Embassy to Jerusalem now, when would he?"
However, the Brazilian agricultural sector is reacting to Bolsonaro's statement on the grounds that it will affect exports to Arab countries. It seems that an important item on the asymmetric order's agenda in 2019 will be to cut Brazil out of BRICS, pushing a "Braxit" of sorts. Let us read again what President Erdoğan said in his New Year's message to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
From 2018 to 2019: a 'stronger' Turkey
In terms of world economic politics, 2018 was a year of great conflict and tension among the big actors on different issues. Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak defined the greatest risk caused by these tensions as the "considerable weakness of the global coordination today when compared to the 2008 global financial crisis."
With the awareness that neither Turkey is the same nor the region around it or the world is as it was, Albayrak reiterated that Turkey is the only country engaging in serious dialogues with the U.S., Russia, the EU and Iran on regional issues. Syria and Iraq will advance to a different phase in 2019. Turkey is aware of this and is ready.
2018 will leave its mark on history as the year when Turkey, for the first time in the republic's history, face direct economic attacks by the U.S. - its strategic partner and NATO ally.
However, with the reforms implemented over the past 16 years, strong fiscal discipline and a well-structured banking sector, Turkey managed to endure the massive attack that would have crippled others. We have seen our strengths and weaknesses, and we have come out of a tough year and entered 2019 stronger.
Meanwhile, 2020 brings greater risks for the U.S. and EU economies. Minister Albayrak has described 2019 as the year where the government will fortify the Turkish economy further against the possible global risks of 2020-2021, whose likelihood is gradually increasing.
This week, there will be a broad knowledge transfer on how the second half of 2018 passed. Wrapping up 2018, Albayrak emphasized that they will be surprising the markets with budgetary discipline and the fight against inflation and that they will further strengthen the credibility of Turkey with its 2019 budgetary performance.
So 2019 will be a year where the communication on what is being done and what will be done will be more intensively managed. The minister emphasized we should be ready for significant surprises in the public interest burden, stronger than the effort in 2018.
With the switch to the presidential governance system, the Turkish economy has passed the test and fought the attack in 2018. Albayrak is ready with his team to take the real sector test in 2019. With the success predicted for the first six months of 2019, Turkey is determined to recover its economy in the second half of the year.