Two months have already passed since we started living under pandemic conditions. Lockdowns on weekends and on holidays, a street ban for elderly and children, masks and gloves have become our new routine.
We hardly remember the times where we socialized in crowded restaurants, went to cinemas, brought our children to events ...
In short, we made a lot of sacrifices as a nation. Was it worth it? Let’s look at the numbers in Turkey.
The total cases were announced as 153,548 today but don’t stick to this number. The number of new infections were 961. Last week we were in the 2,000s and now have dropped below 1,000. The infection rate has dropped under 1.5.
The battle is continuing, but these numbers tell us that Turkey chose the right path. It was a subject of debate whether a partial lockdown would be as effective as a full lockdown, but such concerns were unfounded.
The Erdoğan government has implemented its unique way of slowing on certain days and opening on the others, protecting the elderly and children, not stopping the economy and building a very wide filiation network.
It was risky, but as we see today, it was the right decision to take. The hospitals did not get too crowded, there was no piling into intensive care units and the world saw in these hard days that Turkey has built a very strong health infrastructure.
Now hot summer days are coming, and life is returning to normal with new habits. I believe that after this crisis, Turkey will be a safe haven for tourism and health in international terms. The tourism sector is preparing rapidly, hotels are transforming themselves with wider individual spaces, restaurants are adapting for social distancing and beaches and pools are complying with new hygiene standards.
European countries and Russia already declared Turkey to be a safe destination for tourism. Now the Ankara government is working on a widescale post-corona plan. Besides beach and leisure tourism, health tourism is on the rise, and in the short run, we will see people coming to Turkish hospitals in much bigger numbers.
I think Turkey should use this opportunity to be a stronger soft power in the world. Many countries including Italy, Spain and even the U.K. and the U.S. have proven to have inefficient health systems. Turkey, on the other hand, had a greater capacity to handle an influx of coronavirus patients.
This pandemic has also been a tool to enhance the deteriorated relationships with many Western countries. Turkey is and will be a strong candidate for European Union membership and a good partner to the U.S.
The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government has implemented a multipolar diplomacy, but the West resisted to understand this paradigm. They insisted that Ankara should make choices. But this crisis has also shown that having good relations with Russia and the U.S. and Europe and the Middle East at the same time is not impossible. The coronavirus has proved that the world should move beyond the poles.
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