Finds from the older Stone Age are still sparsely coated in Turkey; To see more information other than history, please visit Abbreviationfinder. However, paleolithic settlements are known from caves near Antalya. Neolithic, which previously researched only near Mesopotamia, i.e. at Mersin and Tarsus, since the 1960s has proved to be widespread and varied. Cereals used in the introduction of agriculture are growing even more wild in the Taurus Mountains.
In western Turkey, finds from Hacılar show a non-ceramic-producing culture from about 7000 BC, while in Cayön邦 in the south-east textile production (possibly the oldest in the world) occurred at about the same time. In Çatal H邦y邦k, extensive urban development with murals and stucco reliefs and a wealth based on obsidian trade has been plotted from around 6500-5600 BC.
The copper age, in Turkey dated to about 5500-3500 BC, is also represented in Hacılar, further in Can Hasan and Beycesultan. However, the use of metal was only extended to the end of the older Bronze Age, about 2900-2000 BC. In western and central Turkey, this period is represented by Troja as well as by the places where the Hatties, the predecessors of the Hittites, were active, mainly Alaca H邦y邦k. In the south, there was also influence from the cultures of Mesopotamia, including from Akkad. To see more information other than history, please visit Abbreviationfinder to learn more about climate, population, government, and economy for the country of Turkey.
The entry of the Middle Bronze Age (c. 2000 BC) was characterized in central Asia Minor by the establishment of Assyrian trade factors (see Kanesh). These included extensive trade relations and the introduction of wedge writing in Anatolia.
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Around 1800 BC the Assyrian factors ceased to function, which was possibly caused by immigrant Hittites, an Indo-European people dating back about 1600 BC. made Hattusa the capital of a great kingdom. Among the Hittite enemies, they were about the same time immigrant and likewise Indo-European Luvians, who founded the kingdom of Arzawa in the southwest, and the so-called Kask people in the north. In the south-east, the hurricane kingdom of Mitanni, with its center in present-day Syria, became about 1350 BC. a Hittite vassal state, but as such continued to exert a strong cultural influence on the Hittite kingdom. In the west, about 1800-1300, the so-called Troja VI flourished. Miletus, Ephesus and near Halicarnassos have found Mycenaean remains.
New migrations and the kingdoms
The time at the end of the Bronze Age was turbulent. characterized by attacks from seafarers. Shortly after 1200 BC ceased to exist, about the same time as Troja VIIa, by several scientists considered the city that was the role model for the Homeric Troja. Immigrant fears now came to dominate western and central Turkey for about 400 years, and in the south, the so-called late or new Hittite city states were established along the Syrian border. However, the latter fell during the 800s and 700s BC for the expanding New Assyrian empire.
On the west coast of Asia Minor, Greek colonists built numerous cities, gathered in an Aryan covenant in the north, an Ionian in the middle and a Doric in the south. From Miletos, a large number of colonies were founded around Lake Marmara and the Black Sea. In the east, about 850 BC appeared. the mighty kingdom of Urartu. However, this weakened in the following centuries by battles with the Assyrians and occurred 714 BC miracle for the immigrant Cimmerians across the Caucasus. These then traveled west to Phrygia, where they took about 690 and destroyed the capital Gordion.
Sounds and Persians
By the time of the Cimmerians invasion, Lydien had already emerged as the heir to the Phrygian Empire. The chimneys also occupied the Sardes capital, but were driven about 600 BC. by King Alyattes. This also came into conflict with the Greek cities and destroyed, among other things. Smyrna. Urartu had recovered by this time but succumbed to the Medes in the 580s, which were now expanding after destroying Assyria. In a conflict between the Medes and Sounds 585 BC the river Halys (current Kızılırmak) was established as a border. Alyatte’s successor Kroisos invaded the Greek coastal cities and destroyed Ephesus but became 547 BC. defeated by the Persian great king Kyros II, who conquered Sardes and then all over Asia Minor. The European part of Turkey, inhabited by the thraker, was conquered by the great king Dareios in 512 BC.
The Greek cities sometimes revolted and were at times free (see Ionian revolt), but even under Persian supremacy philosophy and science continued to flourish among them; Persian art and architecture are noticeably visible outside the satirical capitals. The Satraps, the governors of the Persian Empire, could be both ethnic Persians and local great men. Among the latter, rulers in Lycia and especially Mausollos in Caria guarded Greek culture.
Minor Asia was conquered 334 BC by Alexander the Great. It occurred after his death, mainly Antigonos I and after his death 301 Lysimachos. Following the latter’s defeat against Seleukos in 281 BC several areas became more or less independent. Pergamon, Bithynia, Pontos, Cappadocia and Armenia. Invading Celts that crushed the remains of Lysimacho’s kingdom in European Turkey went to Asia Minor, defeated by the Pergamean rulers and eventually formed Galatia (see Galatians). After war with Rome and its allies, the Seleucid Empire lost through the peace of Apamea 188 BC. all land north of the Taurus Mountains and retained only the south coast. Most went to Pergamon, but some city states became independent.
The Pergamanian Empire was testamented 133 BC to Rome by its last king and became the province of Asia. After several devastating wars between Rome and Mithridates VI of Pontos, Pontos was also merged with Bithynia into a province 63 BC On the south coast, Cilicia was established as a province and areas such as Galatia and Cappadocia became vassal states, later also the Roman provinces. Lykien first became 43 AD province together with the Pamphylia. Similarly, most of Europe became Turkey, ie. client region Thrace, Roman 43 AD The regions east of the Euphrates, Armenia and Mesopotamia, belonged only to Rome for a short period in the 110s AD.
The Mithridate wars and the subsequent Roman civil wars meant devastation and economic decline for Asia Minor. However, the subsequent emperor era brought about a major upswing. Older cities like Ephesus and Miletos were among the foremost in the Roman Empire, and even Hellenistic foundations such as Pergamon, Nikomedeia and Aphrodisias flourished. The eastern part of Turkey now belonged to Armenia and the kingdom of the Parthians. The latter was replaced 226 AD. of the Sasanids. The border areas against these were hit by repeated wars.
After Diocletian’s throne accession 284 AD the number of provinces increased considerably. The capital of the easternmost and richest of Diocletian’s newly established four prefectures became Nikomedeia (now Izmit), which by Constantine the Great was replaced by Byzantion 324 (see Istanbul, History and Cityscape). The eastern border of the Roman Empire continues to be attacked by the Sasanids. Then Emperor Julian fell in battle against these 363, peace was made with Roman land deeds to the great king Shapur II, and 387 Armenia was divided into a Roman and a Sasanid sphere of interest. European turkey was threatened by the Goths at about the same time; 378 fallen emperors of Valens fought against them at Adrianople (now Edirne).
The Byzantine era
In 395, the Roman Empire was divided, and the Greek half of the country came to form the East Roman, later the Byzantine Empire. The Anatolian area was occupied by Christians at this time, preferably. The Hagia Sofia Church became Östrom’s most important unifying symbol. Greek was the dominant language of the Byzantine Empire, but its laws and administration were distinctly Roman. At the beginning of the 600s, the kingdom included the southern Balkans, Anatolia, Syria, Egypt, parts of Italy and northern Africa. However, Anatolia remained the core country of the Byzantine Empire.
Islamization and Turkification of Anatolia began in the 11th century with the Seljuks, who, after the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, conquered large parts of the Byzantine Empire. At the end of the 11th century, the Selju empire was hit by external setbacks and internal divisions, and during the 1100s, the Seljuks in Asia Minor came to rule their own kingdom, called Rum, with the center of Ikonion (present Konya). When the Mongols attacked in the 1240s, this kingdom gained vassal status under the Ilkhans of Iran, and by the end of the 13th century it was divided into a number of emirates. The nominal empire of the Ilkhans lasted until the 1330s, but by then a new Turkish great power, the Ottoman Empire, had begun to develop in northwestern Asia Minor. In the 1320s, Bursa became the capital of this empire, expanding rapidly at the expense of the Byzantines. In the 1360s, the Ottomans settled in southeastern Europe, and Adrianople (now Edirne) became the capital of the Ottoman Empire.
Expansion of the Ottoman Empire
In 1453, Mehmet II took Constantinople, and with this victory over the Byzantines, Islam had finally consolidated its positions in southeastern Europe and most of Anatolia. Constantinople became the capital of the Ottomans, and Hagia Sofia was transformed into a mosque. The Ottomans organized their kingdom according to Byzantine model. The Sultans perceived themselves as the heirs of Constantinople and Rome, not as descendants of Turkish nomads. At the court was developed the Ottoman language, a mixture of Turkish, Persian and Arabic, which became a literary language in the kingdom. Sunni Islam became state religion.
The Orthodox Patriarch responded directly to the Sultan, the Christians paid special taxes and were exempt from military service. At the same time, the elite of the Ottoman state were recruited among the Sultan’s Christian subjects. The peasants paid through the devşirme system a tax in the form of sons who were brought to the Sultan, converted to Islam and raised for a career in the civil and military administration. The foot troops, the Janits, and the cavalry, the Sipahs, were also recruited in this way.
Expansion of the Ottoman Empire was ongoing. During the reign of Beyazit II (1481-1512), the empire consisted of Asia Minor and the Balkan Peninsula up to Sava, the Transylvanian Alps and the Danube estuary, Crimea, and the areas around the Azovska Lake. During this time, thousands of Sephardic Jews, who in 1492 moved from Spain, were given a sanctuary in the kingdom. Selim I (1512-20) expanded east and south, subjugating western Kurdistan and northern Mesopotamia, Levant, and Egypt.
Under S邦leyman I(the Great), whose reign (1520-66) is usually referred to as the highlight of the empire, Belgrade was conquered in 1521, and most of Hungary came after the victory of Moh芍cs in 1526 under Ottoman rule. An attempt to conquer Vienna in 1529 failed, but Buda was captured in 1541. The kingdom also expanded to North Africa, Baghdad and Yemen. The Ottoman Navy had taken over Venice’s role as ruler of the Mediterranean. Until the middle of the 16th century, the country experienced a flourishing period with a stable development of settlements in Anatolia. Western and central Anatolia developed into rich agricultural areas with dense settlement. At the same time, the success of the Muslim Ottomans in the battlefields and their political takeover in the Balkan Peninsula led to the emergence of a Turkic terror spread across Christian Europe. Before the 19th century, the term Turkish was synonymous with a Muslim within the Ottoman Empire.
By the defeat of the naval battle at Lepanto in 1571 against an alliance of Spain and Venice, among others, the Ottomans lost the grip of the Mediterranean. The Ottomans took part in the many wars that took place on Central European soil during the 17th century, and in 1683 another attempt was made to conquer Vienna. This, however, led to a devastating defeat for the Ottomans and was followed by numerous adversities. The expansion of the Ottomans to the north was thus broken, and in the peace of Karlowitz in 1699 the Ottoman Empire lost over a third of its European lands, mainly to the Habsburg emperor.
The war meant increased orders, and the central government gradually lost control of local rulers and military. The peasants were systematically plundered on their assets. Many landless former peasants joined forces in rebel movements, so-called celâli, in the countryside, causing great destruction in Anatolia around 1600. The Anatolian high plateau was ruled by nomads over which the authorities had little control. From the 18th century, the great powers increased the pressure on the Ottoman Empire, and the sultan suffered great foreign policy adversities. The foreign policy problems were followed by domestic politics. The absolute power of the Sultan had been weakened in favor of various local elite groups. At the same time, throughout the 18th century, wars were waged with Russia.
“The sick man”
The Ottoman Empire was greatly weakened from the beginning of the 19th century and began to be regarded as “Europe’s sick man”. The Janits were disposed of in 1826, which strengthened the sultan but also led to the modernization of the military power according to the Western model. Edict for the purpose of reorganizing the empire began the so-called reform period, Tanzimat (1839-76), but had only limited effect.
Large parts of the population of the Ottoman Empire were Christians, who were increasingly protected by the European superpowers. The empire was strongly segmented by religious affiliation, where religiously defined ethnic groups, millet, had far-reaching autonomy in a number of respects. During the 19th century, these mills became increasingly redefined in national and geographical terms and formed the basis for the new state formation that was to become the downfall of the Ottoman Empire.
The biggest external threat to the kingdom was Russia. Crimea was lost as early as 1783, and the Turkish participation in the Crimean War (1853-56) on Britain and France’s side against Russia led only to guarantees of the kingdom’s integrity. The Russian-Turkish War 1877-78 ended with the dictatorship of San Stefanof Russia in 1878. A large number of refugees from the Caucasus poured in. At the same time, the empire collapsed, and the Berlin Congress in 1878 sealed its fate. Bosnia and Herzegovina came under Habsburg administration, and one nation after another was created. Greece had been liberated as early as the 1820s with the help of the superpowers, followed by Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Albania. Cyprus resigned to the United Kingdom.
Under Abd邦lhamid II, in 1876 a constitution was introduced in the liberal spirit. However, political reform had no effect. Neither did the attempts to appeal to a Muslim sense of belonging succeed. The wave of reform ceased, and the kingdom was subjected to the despotism of the Sultan. During the 1880s, the Empire lost present-day Tunisia and Egypt. In eastern Anatolia, 100,000 Armenians were subjected to massacres in 1894-96.
In order to save the Ottoman state, a Turkish nationalism was launched. Ideological foreground was the author Ziya Gökalp (1876-1924), but the inspiration was drawn from Tatars and Bashkirs in Russia. At the beginning of the 20th century, the young Turkish movement, led by Enver Pascha, emerged as the dominant political force in the Ottoman Empire. This movement embraced Turkish nationalism as a solution to the empire’s crisis. In April 1909, the young Turks forced Abd邦lhamid II to resign in favor of Mehmet V, but in practice Enver Pascha came to rule the kingdom.
After the Tripoli War of 1911-12, the Ottoman Empire to Italy had to resign its last possessions in North Africa, as did the Dodecanese (the Twelve Islands) with Rhodes. The Balkan Wars of 1912-13 led to further setbacks. Crete was conquered by Greece in 1913, and its Muslim population moved to the coastal regions of Anatolia. The Ottoman Empire participated in the First World War on the part of the central powers. In the shadow of the war, in 1915, with the support of Muslim locals, the authorities directed a genocide of 1 million Armenians and 100,000 other Christians. As a result, a multi-millennial Armenian culture in Asia Minor disappeared. See further the genocide of the Armenians.
Among Kurds, at the turn of the century, demands were raised for autonomy for the Kurdish areas. The defeat of the Ottoman state in the First World War changed the political conditions for the Kurds and other peoples in the empire. According to the so-called Sykes-Picot Treaty of 1916 between Great Britain and France, and according to President Wilson’s World Peace Program, the Ottoman Empire was to be divided into a number of new states, independent or under foreign mandate. The Kurds and Armenians were then encouraged to demand their respective independent states.
At the end of the war, the empire was cut up and practically disappeared from the map, all that remained was a small area in the center of Anatolia. In August 1920, a peace treaty was signed in S豕vres, which, however, never came into effect. General Mustafa Kemal opposed it all. In the course of three years, Kemal succeeded in expelling the Greek occupation forces, and Europe’s great powers were forced to give up their territorial claims. A Turkish state consisting of Anatolia, Eastern Thrace and Istanbul was created. The Sultanate was abolished in 1922 and the Caliphate in 1924, and the last Sultan, Mehmet VI, fled.
Turkish nation building
Turkey was declared an independent republic on October 29, 1923 under the name of the Turkish Republic and with Mustafa Kemal (from 1933 called Kemal Atat邦rk) as the country’s first president. The capital was moved to Ankara in 1923. Thus, the modern Turkish nation building began in earnest, too, at a time when other nations in Europe have long been consolidated. Reforms would create a modern Turkish national identity. Historical writing created the notion of Turks as a homogeneous people with roots in Central Asia.
As a result of the Lausanne Peace in 1923, a population exchange took place between Greece and Turkey. However, the agreement guaranteed certain rights for the Greeks and Armenians living in Istanbul. During the 1920s, Turkey received 500,000 Muslims from Greece, while forcibly deporting 1.5 million Greek Orthodox from the country. This meant further homogenization of Turkey. Throughout the interwar period, Muslims moved in from the Balkan Peninsula. In addition, Turkey received a greater number of Jewish intellectuals from Germany during the 1930s.
Until his death in 1938, Atat邦rk carried out the most tumultuous changes that any Muslim country has experienced. His quest to break ties with Islam was an important step in the country’s modernization and in building a nation-state. Legislation following a European model was introduced, a language reform was implemented with a written language based on spoken Turkish and written with the Latin alphabet, Gregorian timescale replaced the Muslim, the state was secularized and in addition, some details of the clothing were banned.
Western observers wrote in enthusiastic terms during the 1920s and 1930s about the cultural revolution that Turkey was undergoing. In the nation building, however, there was a built-in contradiction in that the Kurds, who also had national claims, did not receive these within the framework of Turkey. Kurdish nationalists continued to work for an independent Kurdistan. Two extensive revolts (1925, 1927-31) were fought. After a third uprising in 1937, the Kurds were subjected to massive retaliation, which manifested itself in deportations, massacres and immigration of Turks in Kurdistan. The harsh methods adopted by the Ankara government gave rise to new uprisings, and in the fight against the Turkish central power an increasingly stronger Kurdish identity was revealed. This in turn led to the Kurds being perceived as an even greater threat by the young state. See alsoKurdish.
Foreign policy oriented Turkey towards the West but was outside the international conflicts of the time. In 1934, Turkey merged with Greece, Romania and Yugoslavia in the Balkan Tent. Through the 1936 Montreux Convention, Turkey gained control of the Channel to the Black Sea. At the outbreak of World War II, Turkey joined the United Kingdom and France but remained neutral until February 1945, when war was declared against Germany and Japan. After the war, Turkey received aid according to the Marshall Plan to modernize agriculture. In 1946 the formation of several parties was allowed, and in 1950 the first free elections were held, since the Republican People’s Party ruling in 1923 lost power to the conservative Democratic party, led by Adnan Menderes. Turkey joined NATO in 1952, and the United States has retained great influence in the country.
Menderes abandoned Atat邦rk’s secularism, theological seminars began to work again, mosques were built and religious teachings in schools were reinstated. In the 1960s, the population surplus in the countryside began to move west. Millions of Turks have since emigrated to Northwest Europe’s industrialized countries since 1961, a process that has created extensive economic, social and demographic changes. The remaining Christian population in eastern Turkey has largely emigrated.
The government’s growing anti-democratic tendencies led the military, under the leadership of Kemal G邦rsel, in May 1960 to overthrow Menderes, who in 1961 was executed together with his Foreign and Finance Minister. The purpose of the coup was considered to be to promote the continued development of democracy in the country. Under the supervision of the military junta, a new constitution was drafted, and democracy was restored. The Constitution of 1961 was the most liberal the country had. For the first time, free unions were allowed to operate, and the framework for political freedom was widened. Only after the October 1965 elections did Turkey get a new strong government led by S邦leyman Demirel, later a portal figure in the country’s politics.
The military elite has played a prominent role in politics. The Turkish officer corps felt like a select group with a special mission to defend the Kemalist gains, especially secularism and the unity state, because the military had played such a prominent role in founding the republic. During the 1960s and 1970s, the military gradually became increasingly conservative. The previous contradiction between Kemalism and the opposition to it was replaced by a left-right contradiction as Turkey industrialized and a working class began to emerge and organize itself.
The officer corps was becoming increasingly right-wing. The generals allied themselves with the layer of industrialists and merchants who felt threatened by the social and democratic demands of the working class. Strikes and student unrest led to a new military coup in 1971. A large number of students and intellectuals ended up in prison, but many officers were dismissed as well. In 1973, general elections were held, resulting in the Republican Party leader B邦lent Ecevit becoming prime minister.
A political crisis in Cyprus in the summer of 1974 culminated in Turkey invading the northern part of the island, establishing a northern Cypriot state, recognized only by Turkey, see further the Cyprus issue. Relations with Greece, which also applies to territorial waters and oil deposits in the Aegean Sea, have remained strained. Neither Ecevit nor Demirel succeeded in bridging the economic and political crisis that occurred in 1975-80. Violent contradictions between extremist groups led to anarchy and political murders. Chief of Staff Kenan Evrenseized power in September 1980 with the intention of restoring order. Politicians and trade union leaders were imprisoned or exiled. Torture and abuse reports became very common. The general rule lasted for three years but caused lasting damage to democracy. The military banned and disbanded all parties. Above all, the left and the trade union movement were affected. A new constitution was adopted in a 1982 referendum.
Turkey under Özal’s leadership
In the autumn of 1983, the country returned to civilian rule. Turgut Özal became prime minister after his newly formed party The Motherland Party received the most votes in an election that allowed only three parties. The Motherland Party is seen as the first Islamic-oriented party in the history of modern Turkey.
The coup generals banned all leading parties from the pre-coup period from engaging in political activity for ten years. The euro itself held the post until 1989. The ban was lifted after a new referendum in 1987, but a number of other prohibitions still restricted democracy. Among other things, trade union representatives were forbidden to comment on political issues, officials to form trade unions, teachers to become members of political parties and the parties to have women’s and youth associations.
During Ozal’s time as president, Turkey developed broad economic cooperation with several Muslim countries, notably Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran. Turkey also took a permanent place on the Board of Islamic Development Bank, which led to criticism from secular groups. When the Soviet Union disbanded, Turkey was keen to build close relations with the new Turkish-speaking states of Central Asia and with Azerbaijan. Bilateral agreements on increased cooperation and trade were concluded, and within the framework of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), initiatives were taken to assist the new states in their development. One goal was to eventually establish a large Muslim free trade area, which proved difficult to realize.
At the same time, Turkey developed its relations with Western Europe and the United States within the framework of membership in NATO and the OECD.
Economic crisis and political unrest in the 1990s
A somewhat Islamic-oriented policy continued after Özal’s death in 1993. Prime Minister Tansu Çiller contributed to this. In the 1994 local elections, the Islamist Welfare Party stepped forward strongly, worrying about the outside world and the secular middle class in Turkey, as well as the Alevites. The welfare party’s success was the result of an increasingly deep economic crisis in Turkey. Following the December 1995 parliamentary elections, its leader Necmettin Erbakan was appointed prime minister.
The welfare party, which first pursued a relatively moderate policy, soon stepped in on a more religious track and deepened its contacts with other Muslim countries, which faced criticism. The government coalition collapsed in June 1997 and Erbakan was forced to retire following strong pressure from the military. In 1998, the Welfare Party was banned. Mesut Yilmaz was appointed new Prime Minister. In January 1999, B邦lent Ecevit was appointed Prime Minister for the fourth time.
Turkey under the Justice and Development Party (AKP)
In the 2002 election, the newly formed Justice and Development Party (AKP), under the leadership of Istanbul’s former mayor Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, won. The party was more liberal and more Western-friendly than previously similar parties, but still rested on a distinctly Islamic value-conservative foundation. Erdoğan himself was first not allowed to take up the office of prime minister, because he was convicted of religious incitement in 1996 after citing a few sentences from an old poem, which is why Abdullah G邦l was appointedto the Prime Minister. Because of his dominance in parliament, the AKP was able to repeal Erdoğan’s ban and in 2003 he took over as head of government. The Erdogan government came to reorient both domestic and foreign policy, with liberal economic reforms and a pronounced effort to approach the EU.
In January 2007, Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink (born 1954), who was previously sentenced to prison for violating the infamous section 301 of Turkey’s criminal law and “insulting Turkish” by writing about the Armenian genocide, was murdered. The burial led to extensive demonstrations where Kurds, Armenians and Turks demanded that this law clause be removed. Earlier, author Orhan Pamuk had been prosecuted under the same paragraph for a statement on Turkey’s treatment of Armenians and Kurds. The paragraph has also been criticized by the EU, and the current government has expressed its willingness to remove it.
In the spring of 2007, Erdoğan planned to run for president, but he resigned after tens of thousands of people demonstrated in Ankara in protest against his candidacy and against increased Islamization of Turkey. Erdoğan then chose to launch Abdullah G邦l as presidential candidate, but it also provoked violent protests and even G邦l’s candidacy was withdrawn. In the July 2007 parliamentary elections, the AKP received 47% of the vote and, with its 341 seats in parliament, could still vote for G邦l as president. Following the election, a referendum was held that supported a constitutional change that meant that future presidential elections would take place through direct elections.
After the AKP in 2008 lifted the ban on Turkish women and girls to wear headscarves at the universities, the secular forces in the country were given new air under their wings. In the light of the decision, the Turkish Prosecutor made an attempt to declare AKP illegal by deciding in the Constitutional Court because the party was considered to be Islamizing the country, which violated the secular basic principles of the Constitution. After a lengthy trial, the court ruled in favor of the AKP with only one vote margin.
2013 was a turbulent year in Turkey, with extensive demonstrations directed at the regime. The demonstrations began in the Gezi Park at Taksim Square in May 2013. Many environmental activists turned to the park to be transformed into a mall. The demonstrations spread, and widespread violence developed as riot police were deployed to disperse the masses. The criticism of the Prime Minister increased after he condemned the demonstrations in harsh terms. The leading groups in these demonstrations consisted of elites.
Parallel to the manifestations of the regime-critical groups, a rupture occurred between the AKP leadership and the G邦len movement, which is important to the party, and its leader Fethullah G邦len. The breach was due to G邦len criticizing the AKP leadership’s position on the Israel-Palestine issue, among others. Many people thought that this conflict would make AKP difficult in the municipal elections in the summer of 2014 and reduce the chances for Erdoğan to be elected president, but AKP and Erdoğan won both elections (see State of affairs and politics).
Shortly after Erdoğan took office as president, he and the AKP announced plans to change Turkey in order to significantly increase the powers of the presidential office. However, a change in the constitution requires a referendum to be held, and this can only be called for if two-thirds of Parliament’s 550 members vote for such a decision.
It is partly against this background that the end of the parliamentary elections held in June 2015 should be seen. The election was a setback for President Erdoğan and the AKP and a success for those forces in the country who want to keep the current constitution, not least for the pro-Kurdish Left Party People’s Democratic Party (HDP). The HDP received 13 percent of the vote and thus passed for the first time the ten percent block required to enter Parliament. The question of transition to the presidential board is thus considered to be settled at this time.
The election results should also be seen as a protest against Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian rule, the widespread corruption, voters’ general concern for the economic development of the country, a Syria policy that has failed and the construction of a new, gigantic and luxurious presidential palace.
After the election, the AKP remains Turkey’s largest party but must continue to form a coalition government or find support in parliament for a minority government. The end of the June competition is generally considered to increase the possibility of new elections within one year.
EU adaptation and liberalization
In 1987, Turkey applied for membership in the EC. The first step towards membership was to realize the customs union already mentioned in the 1963 EC-Turkey Association Agreement. In order for a future Turkish membership of the EU to become a reality, the organization has demanded continued economic liberalization, and Turkey is considered to have made great progress in this area. In addition, the EU has demanded liberalization in other areas, in particular with regard to the state’s treatment of minorities such as Kurds and Alevites, as well as better conditions and increased participation for Turkish women (see also Human Rights). The EU has also called for Turkey to change its constitution to limit the military’s influence over politics and reduce the risk of new military coups.
Although membership negotiations continue, the future is uncertain. Several EU countries, including France’s negative views on future Turkish membership have created a stir in Turkey. Recurring opinion polls in Turkey show a reduced commitment to the EU. Sweden, which supports a Turkish membership, in March 2013 marked its positive outlook on the country by signing a declaration on strategic partnership.
Read more: Turkey’s foreign policy since 2002.
Turkey’s Kurdish policy under the AKP
Since the leadership of the Kurdish Workers’ Party PKK, Abdullah Öcalan, was captured in Kenya in 1999 and sentenced to a long-term prison sentence in Turkey, PKK has been reorganized. In August 2002, the Turkish Parliament decided to allow teaching and radio broadcasts in Kurdish, and the following year the Kurdish linguistic rights were expanded while freedom of speech was strengthened. In 2004, for the first time, a state-owned TV channel broadcast a program in Kurdish. In September 2006, the PKK declared a unilateral ceasefire against the Turkish military, and in 2013, the PKK militia was withdrawn from Turkish territory to the Iraqi Kurdistan border area.
However, since the start of the uprising and the civil war in Syria in 2011, the Kurdish question has been given a new complicated dimension, in light of PKK’s previous close relations with the Assad regime in Syria. Among the picture is that many people in PKK, like many Syrian Kurds, are Alevites. The Iraqi Kurds are to a large extent Sunni Muslims, as is the AKP party. This was the reason why the Turkish leadership opposed the PKK to provide military assistance to the Syrian Kurds in 2014, when the city of Kobane risked falling into the hands of Islamic State troops, and instead supported the Iraqi-Kurdish peshmer family (see peshmerga). Important in this context is that the majority of Turkish Kurds are Sunni Muslims, of which a large proportion vote for the AKP.
Turkey and the Syria conflict
The basis for Turkey’s foreign policy since 2002 has been laid by Ahmet Davutoğlu, who until 2009 was the prime minister’s adviser and then foreign minister until he was appointed prime minister in August 2014. According to Davutoğlu, Turkey would strive for a proactive foreign policy with a global interest, and develop relations with both the EU and the OIC (see Organization of Islamic Cooperation). However, the ambitions have been confronted with a complicated reality. However, Turkey’s deep relations with Western Europe and the United States remain firm, despite some differences of opinion, such as the Cyprus issue. Turkey must fully recognize Cyprus and cease all forms of discrimination against Cyprus in order to become a member of the EU.
Turkey has also begun extensive cooperation with China, within the framework of SCO, Shanghai Cooperation Organization. In 2010, China was invited to participate in the annual military flying exercise in Turkey, the so-called Anatolian Eagle, to which only NATO countries have participated. This resulted in criticism from the United States and other NATO members.
In the summer and fall of 2014, Islamic State (IS) advances in Iraq and Syria began to pose a real threat to Turkey. The country at this stage chose to stand outside the US-led alliance of states that declared war on IS.
The new active role of the Russian Federation in the 2015 Syrian conflict was criticized by the Turkish regime. In November 2015, the Turkish military shot down a Russian military plane in the Syrian-Turkish border on the Syrian side. This led to a deep crisis between the Russian Federation and Turkey. On the Russian side, sanctions were imposed on Turkey, Russian food imports were halted as well as construction projects and Russian tourism in Turkey. The Russian military backing of Bashar al-Asad’s regime in Syria had made the Turkish regime very angry.
After the coup attempt 2016
In mid-May 2016, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu (born 1959) left office and was succeeded by Binali Yıldırım (born 1955), who was tasked with improving Turkey’s relations with countries such as the Russian Federation and Israel.
The new approach was temporarily halted by a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016. Units in the military had coordinated themselves in an uprising, which took place simultaneously in several large cities. Parliament was bombed and the army chief captured by his own security detail. When news of the coup attempt spread quickly through social media, a popular backlash occurred. Many Turks defied the military and ventured into the streets, protesting. Representatives from all major parties supported President Recep Tayyip Erdoǧan and the AKP. After a few hours, loyal security forces were able to defeat the insurgency attempt. Hundreds of people are said to have been killed in connection with the coup attempt.
As responsible for the coup attempt, the G邦len Movement, which despite its leader Fethullah G邦len (born 1941) was in exile, was designated as having a large network in the country. After the coup attempt, an emergency permit was introduced which lasted for two years. The Turkish regime arrested thousands of people and closed banks, companies and schools which were reported to have links to the G邦len movement. Furthermore, about 150 newspapers, TV and radio channels were closed. Some were accused of conspiring with the G邦len movement, but also media built up by Kurdish organizations and leftist groups were put down after the coup attempt at the government’s command. Many people, including journalists and university teachers, have become unemployed as a result of the closures initiated by Erdoğan.
In the foreign policy area, the coup attempt had several consequences. Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin expressed immediate support for Erdoğan, while reactions from NATO and other EU member states were delayed. Turkey has asked the US to expel the G邦len movement’s leader Fethullah G邦len, who since 1999 has been living in exile in the country, a claim that has so far been rejected by the US. A reconciliation meeting between Putin and Erdoğan took place in Saint Petersburg 2016, and since then the Turkey and Russian Federation have been approaching each other, which has resulted in Turkey 2019, despite its NATO membership, procuring a Russian air defense robot system.
Relations between the EU and Turkey continue to be complicated. The EU calls for Turkey to act as a gatekeeper and prevent refugees from accessing the EU via Turkey, which is one of the main escape routes into Europe. The EU also demands that Turkey repatriate refugees who have come to Greece. For these measures, Turkey will receive a substantial financial contribution of EUR 6 billion. See EU-Turkey Agreement. The counterclaim from Turkey is that the EU should immediately give Turkish citizens visa-free access to the EU. However, this is complicated by Turkey’s restrictions on freedom of expression, freedom of expression and other democratic rights, which has been criticized by the Union. Opportunities for progress in membership negotiations have been impaired by, among other things, these measures. Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria in 2019 has subsequently contributed to the negotiations being completely on ice.
Parallel to the conflicts described above, Turkey has faced increasing problems with terrorist actions by mainly the Islamic State and the PKK. A war is ongoing in the eastern part of Turkey and in several major cities terrorist acts have been carried out, with a large number of killed and injured.
In the Kurdish region of Syria, located in the Syrian-Turkish border area, there are close contacts between the Syrian Kurdish militia YPG and Turkish PKK. Both groupings are partly alevit Kurds. These Kurdish groups see both the Islamic State and the Sunni Muslim resistance movements in Syria as enemies and opponents, while Turkey, like Saudi Arabia and to some extent the United States, has supported such resistance groups. Until its withdrawal from northern Syria in October 2019, the United States also supported the YPG, which contributed to the tension between Washington and Ankara.