In just over 15 years, Turkey's political system, economic structure, national security and foreign policy fluctuation has surpassed the same peaks and lows spread over centuries of European history. In 2002, when the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) came to power, Turkey's economy was on the brink of bankruptcy. The alliance between the politicians of former governments coupled with military officials who constructed the Feb. 28, 1997 coup and the malevolent intentions from some in the business world had emptied Turkey's bank reserves, resulting in the appreciation of foreign currencies, exacerbation of unemployment and the spread of desperation in society.
However, not only did the economy come to the brink of bankruptcy, but the Feb. 28 coup also seriously narrowed the field of human rights when military tutelage threw its weight into civilian politics. As a result, torture had become the norm in police stations. One of the first actions of the AK Party government was the establishment of a "zero tolerance of torture policy." Although various illegal inhumane practices were conducted on devout people, the AK Party government slowly made significant gains in state apparatuses without inciting yet another coup d'état. Regarding the Kurdish issue, the AK Party not only abolished the long-standing state of emergency, but also passed substantial political reforms backed with economic incentives related to regional conditions.
Analyzing the national problems in a practical manner, the AK Party concentrated on poverty, health, education and infrastructure, both in urban and rural areas. Its success in these fields of public service increased its popular support, especially related to its ongoing strides in the fields of health and transportation, which have even been inspirational for other foreign governments. In fact, two public reforms included in President Donald Trump's agenda, public investments and health reforms, have always been on the top of the AK Party's political plan. As a result, backed by foreign investments, Turkey's economy has become one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, soon to be in line with China and India.
While substantial reforms in favor of economic growth were being realized, the AK Party strengthened civilian politics in state administration by limiting the ongoing military tutelage. However, an unexpected development occurred in the midst of the reformation process in the form of a surprise rebellion protesting a development planned in Taksim. Although it seemed to be a leftist uprising, the "Occupy Gezi" protest was, in fact, designed and manipulated by a secret substructure in the government. The organization has now been exposed as the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), the terrorist organization founded by Fetullah Gülen. Before this incident, FETÖ succeeded in infiltrating the depths of the state structure with the purpose of fighting against "Ergenekon," meaning the putschist military staff. The AK Party government succeeded, under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, to paralyze the secret movements of FETÖ, which in turn responded with the coup attempts of Dec. 17 and Dec. 25, 2013 that mainly relied on police and judiciary members. Over the following three elections, FETÖ continued its mission of weakening the government through "tapes" in order to maintain its newly acquired tutelage over the state structure. Eventually, FETÖ used its last resort, attempting a coup on July 15, 2016, which was defeated by the will of the people.Because "every cloud has a silver lining," the attempted coup set the groundwork for a rejuvenation of Turkey's political structure. The strength, unity and solidarity the country experienced during and after the coup attempt led to an alliance between the ruling AK Party and the opposition, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The last referendum concluded with the electorate's support for Turkey's transition to a presidential system.
As a result of the Occupy Gezi protest in 2013 and the attempted coup in 2016, Turkey has lost precious time. Now, the economy must be re-strengthened, reforms must be maintained and civilian politics must be institutionalized. Turkey's position in the regional and international realm must be improved through new alliances. Fortunately, the AK Party has the necessary political will to overcome the present troubles and accomplish all these reforms.