Responses to mainstream critics on Turkey and its president

ENES YALMAN
Published 28.01.2019 00:25 Modified 28.01.2019 00:25
Responses to mainstream critics on Turkey and its president

The Turkish government, under the leadership of Erdoğan, deserves a much fairer shake as it has so far managed to make Turkey more stable, more functional and stronger

The current government in Turkey has facilitated robust social, economic and political development in Turkey through the leadership skills of government officials, and this development can be seen and felt among Turkey's populace. Turkey can celebrate almost two decades of social and economic affluence and prosperity, something that would have been impossible were it not for the president's vision and leadership. The government has improved the ease of doing business within the country's jurisdictional boundaries. Many investors, local and international, have found Turkey a hub for investment and opportunity. This has acted as the primary reason why most Turks have established permanent homes and businesses in their country.

Turkey is at the border between the East and West, North and South, making it one of the most geopolitically important places globally, and one easily affected by regional instability. During the 1960s, Turkey was renowned for its high emigration rates. However, now the situation has taken an opposite turn. The ground has shifted, and Turkey is now receiving high numbers of immigrants due to ceaseless political turmoil occurring in neighboring countries.

The collapse of neighboring communist regimes and friendly immigration policies in Turkey are significant factors that have led to this increase in immigration rates. Professor Marianne Takle from University College Oslo posits that undesirable social, political and economic elements are likely to cause people to move from one region to another more favorable one. Turkey proves to be a better region in comparison to its neighbors.

Popular criticism lacking foundation

Critics have been fallaciously criticizing the situation in Turkey. These detractors exaggerate the country's emigration rate to be dangerously high. Political opponents have given an erroneous figure that more than 250, 000 people are leaving Turkey, which fundamentally gives a false impression. These data are unreliable, "cooked up" by opposition leaders to perpetuate anti-government fervor.

It should be noted that the emigration rate in the country is controlled and somewhat natural. With only a few thousand Turks leaving the country, millions are entering Turkey. Compared with immigration, which the government has been able to manage, Turkey's emigration is just a drop in the ocean. The last few decades have witnessed Turkey, as a country of destination, and it remains the third most popular destination for British tourists.

The small number of people leaving Turkey is a clear illustration of the country's celebrated liberty. Yağmur Kunuroğlu, et al. from İzmir Katip Çelebi University postulate that only few million Turks live outside their country. The authors also affirm that most of these Turks in Diaspora are currently returning to their mother country. Turkey is a free country where any citizen is welcome and unrestricted to leave at his or her pleasure. A citizen should be allowed to move out of their country at their liking. Clemens & Pritchett ascertain that migration barriers limit global productivity by restricting reallocation of labor. Free human movement between countries maximizes output in the involved countries as this optimizes an efficient allocation of work.

The booming increase in immigration

What many anti-Erdoğan political detractors fail to account for is the booming increase in the number of immigrants into Turkey in recent years. Although an increasing immigration rate is not something to boast about, a country receiving immigrants is a positive sign that the country is a somewhat prosperous nation. Compared to other countries in Europe, Turkey's immigration laws seem to be lenient, especially with regard to Syrian refugees.

Metaphorically, Turkey has been the Canaan for many immigrants, many of whom are from war-effaced countries such as Iraq and Syria. These Syrians and Iraqis view Turkey as a country blessed enough with tranquility and affluence to make it their home.

Perihan Elif Ekmekçi from TOBB University asserts that Turkey hosts more than four million Syrian refugees.

Öznur Korukçu et al. from Akdeniz University confirm that Turkey received the largest number of Syrian refugees in the world. A refugee camp on the outskirts of Kahramanmaraş is home to over 24,000 displaced Syrians and Iraqis (The Economist). The homes consist of a kitchen, one bedroom, a television set and a laundry machine, as per The Economist's report. This means that Turkey plays a crucial humanitarian role in ensuring the wellbeing of these refugees.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's critics had previously alleged that the top elites in Turkey were constantly clearing their accounts and transferring their capital to other nations. They claimed millionaires and billionaires in the country fear that the president and his government would target them judicially. The same critics accuse the president of having a circle of bureaucrats and business magnates who determine the running of the country's affairs. In addition, they shamelessly refer to the president as a dictator. The president is alleged to have imprisoned academics, journalists and intellectuals.

The critics' allegations are contradictory. It is impractical for business elites and bureaucrats to form a close liaison with a president who the same critics claim to be targeting. Multi-millionaires and billionaires would have no reason to prefer investing outside Turkey if they had formed exploitative relationships with the president.

Moreover, a dictator is a totalitarian leader who exercises power by compulsion. President Erdoğan lacks the qualities of a dictator. One cannot possibly be a dictator when the people of the country democratically re-elect him. Those imprisoned are only terrorists related to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), who have broken Turkish law by plotting to overthrow the current government and killed people in the July 15 coup attempt.

According to Tolga Tezcan from the University of Florida, Turkish immigrants saw the coup plot in 2016, paradoxically as a chance to prove their loyalty towards their homeland. These critics and opponents are therefore preaching a false gospel, but also shooting their own feet at the same time. Media houses spreading such unreliable and false messages should be ashamed of themselves. Evidently, for almost 20 years, the president has been harmoniously re-elected back-to-back. He had garnered more votes than many presidents could, including any Western heads of states. President Erdoğan garnered 52.59 percent of the total valid votes cast with his closest competitor a distant 30.64 percent. This illustrates Turks' decided appeal to reinstate the incumbent president. Such an appeal is hard to get in other Western countries such as France, which had to conduct a runoff, as the winner had not reached a majority vote. The president is characteristically a key position for Turkey's successful development.

Turkish citizens are not ready and will regret losing his service. Turks greatly love their president. After serving as mayor, President Erdoğan joined national politics in 2001.Work and strategy implemented by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), along with their track record, helped Erdoğan win the presidential election in 2014. The people felt that his experience at top-level politics in the 13 years would bring Turkey's goals to fruition, which the country can be proud to be in the process of achieving. Turkish voices have continued to uphold the AK Party's dominance. This is illustrated in the AK Party's victories over repeat elections. Despite the bogus criticism and petty hoaxes spread by anti-government agents, the AK Party government is determined to continue serving its people.

The Turkish government has successfully mobilized Turks on the necessity of fundamental cohesion among its citizens. The government has also required its citizens to trust the government and remain patriotic to their country. Government officials overtly campaign for unity and integration among Turkey's social groups. Turks are precociously learning the art of association. Government leaders are facilitating an environment for social and political development. Adoption and implementation of social and political structural transformations would undoubtedly foster a liberal democracy and bring about political equality.

Since its conception in 2001, the AK Party has remained at the forefront of Turkish politics. The Turkish people have voted in favor of the party in all elections to the present day. Onur Altındağ from Harvard University and Neeraj Kaushal of Columbia University posit that many supporters of the AK Party believe that their party is the only one with the capacity to manage Turkey's troubles. With such faith in the party, Turks have maintained the government they trust. The AK Party has proven to be a party of the people, by the people.

The failed coup in 2016 illustrates the president's role as the chief commander of the armed forces. Despite the hideous collaboration between FETÖ and the U.S. seeking his removal, the situation was efficiently dealt with, says Michael Gunter. According to Gunter, the coup would have negative effects on Turkish-U.S. relations. FETÖ leaders were arrested with immediate effect. True leaders are likely to have real-time solutions for problems.

Controlling the 2016 coup was urgent, and the president needed to find a solution before it all got out of hand. The government laid stringent measures for those who conspired against Turkey's welfare. In the past, such perpetrators commonly known as traitors, would have been forced onto gallows, jails or even beheaded. Nowadays, traitors are charged with treason. The government was therefore obliged to act severely on all those who had conspired towards a coup. Following the coup plot, the Turkish people, along with the president, fought back. This demonstrated that the government would not be cowed.

International relations and development

The current government is credited for developing international relations and integration. Turkey is presently fostering good terms with many European countries, which has resulted in the free movement of people and resources in and out of the state. The free flow of resources and factors of production encourage economic expansion. Free movement of financial resources sets up a common market whereby both producers and consumers benefit.

Simon Marginson from University College London suggests that neo-liberal governments have a characteristically low appetite defining, monitoring and regulating their markets and governments should seek free markets. This would minimize restriction and suppression of the movement of commodities. Professors Daniel M. Bernhofen and John C. Brown emphasize David Ricardo's 1817 models on relative benefit and global trade. This trade ensures that both the importer and the exporter benefit mutually.

According to Alessandro Barattieri & Matteo Cacciatore, protectionism and trade barriers are the major causes of fluctuations in international trade. Government advisors and economists should remember John Maynard Keynes' quote that free trade should not only be an economic doctrine but a moral obligation. Turkey should be commended for its ongoing progression towards international integration.

The implications of the Erdoğan era in turkey

The Erdoğan era in Turkey has seen two changes to the Turkish constitution, in 2007 and 2010, and significant improvements in infrastructure have been realized. Miles of road networks can be seen in modern Turkey, many airports have been established and renovated, and an effective high-speed network is now readily used in Turkey. Employment opportunities are emerging daily in the country. The developments described above have transformed the country a great deal and many analysts now categorize Turkey as a developed country.

In closing, it should not go unmentioned that the Turkish government has worked in a consistent and extraordinary way to help develop the best version of Turkey possible. The government has satisfactorily served its people, and the president and his government deserve more than a modicum of credit.

* Director of the International Office, Ibn Haldun University

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