Major Choices Ahead of Turkey as Global Power Axis Shifts

Major Choices Ahead of Turkey as Global Power Axis Shifts

Yesterday, at the last session of the spring term “Wednesday Meetings”, moderated by Melis Kobal, Çağrı Erhan, Erhan Aslanoğlu, Işın Çelebi and I talked about the current state of world economy in the light of recent global and national developments.

With a focus mainly on the Sino-US conflict, we have discussed the fact that China has been working to ensure a shift in global power in their favour for the last decade, while the US has been taking various measures to prevent that from happening. In order to become a global power, first of all, China should be able to improve human rights and democracy.

“China does not issue an annual Human Rights Report like the US does. It is clear that it does not require its potential partners to cherish democracy, human rights, or justice.” This striking fact emphasized by Professor Erhan also tells us that China funds lawlessness, autocracy or turmoil in countries to which it pledges cooperation and mutual financial gain. Naturally, this act of funding increases China’s influence in every continent, while helping it make money.

With its current economic system, described by Professor Çelebi as state capitalism, China remains as a major risk in terms of spreading its system to the whole world. All this shows us how influential and manipulative the politics and diplomacy are on economies.

After listening very carefully to these two political experts, we have decided to go into the philosophy of it by pointing out the fact that economic developments take shape according to the preferences of those in power. As Turkey seeks a new direction amid the current conjuncture, it is obvious that it will determine its new economic model in line with the results of its search. However, if Turkey is to behave like China, it means that it will violate the core philosophy of its republic. If it is to behave like the Europeans, it must first ensure peace within the society.

“Turkey has no choice but to revive and accelerate the accession talks with the EU”, said Professor Çelebi in response to Professor Erhan who stated that a complete alliance among Russia, China and India may result in dangerous consequences. Experienced politician and academic Çelebi seemed particularly worried about the possibility that Turkey might be tempted to incline toward state capitalism as the China-Russia-India trio defies the world.

Two important questions stood out among others we have received during the session: “What will happen to the FX volatility-hedged deposit scheme?” and “Will the Government Actually Start Implementing Rational Policies?” Frankly, there is not much to say about that scheme. It will either be replaced by another instrument or it will disappear within a couple of years. An urgent return to rational policies, on the other hand, is imperative, while it is also subject to President Erdogan’s decision. Clearly, there has been some discomfort regarding the perception that sees the recent appointments to top regulatory positions as “a heroic act to save the country”. If the verb “save” is used, it means that the economy is troubled. This statement indicates that everything that has been done so far was wrong, and I do not think that it will be easily accepted by the government.

Some of you might think that whether Turkey will be a global power or not is more important than its major inflation problem and its rapidly depreciating currency. Allow me to remind you that if you are a globally powerful country in multiple domains such as popular culture, art, sports, education, diplomacy, justice, civil liberties, healthcare and welfare, you are a “soft power”. If Turkey attempts to become a global power using military power alone, then it will be betraying the founding philosophy of the Republic. Peace brings prosperity, but mobilizing all resources for war power damages public welfare.

It is best to have rational policies and carefully consider the resources that Turkey has before determining a path forward, which was in fact perfectly designed 100 years ago by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Once again, I cherish his memory with respect and gratitude.