To evaluate the position of Turkey in the regional and global context, I will, first of all, briefly define emerging economy and emerging power. The utilization of these two concepts will help us to locate Turkey's role in the international system.
"Emerging markets/economies" is a term used for developing countries that grow faster than other countries in the world. They are more developed than traditional countries, which depend on agricultural products or the importation of raw materials.
However, they do not satisfy standards of a developed economy. Even though economic growth in emerging economies is much higher than developed countries, they have much lower per capita income.
On the one hand, rapid economic growth in emerging economies frequently leads to rapid social change, which causes unpredictability and instability in domestic politics. Due to their dependency on external markets, they are vulnerable to volatile currency swings (such as with the American dollar) and commodity swings (such as oil). On the other hand, although emerging economies have fewer mature capital markets, they generally provide higher-than-average return for investors.
"Emerging/rising powers" is a concept coined for those states that began to increase their presence and influence in international relations. These countries demand a more powerful position in international politics and a more active role in regional and global contexts. They have enough economic resources, military procurement and political weight to be involved in international issues. When large markets in the non-western world constantly grew above average, emerging powers began to challenge the current global balance of power. Contemporary emerging powers force the global system to reshuffle.
Since economic development is a precondition of political and military influence, emerging powers are expected to have an emerging economy. That is, while all emerging powers are also emerging economies, not all emerging economies are emerging powers. In other words, emerging power status is a step further.
Turkey has been considered as an emerging economy for several decades. Recently, we witnessed that Turkey has elevated its status to an emerging power. With its large population, growing economy, rising military power, active diplomacy and strong national identity, Turkey has increased its outreach and influence to the global scale. It has also increased its capacity and autonomy. Therefore, enjoying emerging power status, Turkey is considered as a potential great power.
Turkey has been taking significant regional initiatives in the Middle East, namely in Syria and Iraq. Until very recently, the Turkish market was relatively small and very vulnerable, while the execution of military operations against terrorist groups was heavily dependent on foreign support. However, after developing its defense industry, Turkey is now able to perform military operations against terrorist networks on multiple fronts.
In 2018, Turkey has faced many threatening political and economic attacks from different international actors. Turkey started the year 2018 with Operation Olive Branch in northern Syria and saved the Afrin district from the People's Protection Units (YPG) forces. In the wake of a successful transformation of its administrative structure after the presidential elections, Turkey consolidated its domestic political system. Throughout the year, Turkey succeeded to begin negotiations with the European Union countries, to initiate a normalization process with the U.S., to consolidate its position in the Syrian crisis, to improve its cooperation with East Asian countries and to continue its constructive role on the African continent. The Turkish government worked hard to stave off economic attacks and eventually managed to protect its market stability.
With its sustainable economic development and upgraded military industrial complex, Turkey will continue to improve its constructive and multidimensional foreign policy. As an effective independent regional and global player, Turkey will continue to play the international game. Therefore, it seems that 2019 will provide more opportunities for Turkey to consolidate its emerging power status.