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Something is Changing In Turkey

Nowadays everyone I come across with talk about the same economic problems in Turkey citing their own personal difficulties.

Although they know that I am a retired diplomat, they don’t care much about a discussion in foreign policy. They are fed up with Iraq and Syria and ISIS and PKK and other terrorists. Thanks to Erdogan they have learned so much about foreign policy in the last years; as it was seen by the ruling AKP’s leader to be the best tool to cover up what is going wrong inside the country. Of course Turkish people were asked to believe whatever the ultimate leader wanted them to believe, that everyone in the world is working against him and the AKP rule and that this is the reason for everything going wrong in the country.

But nowadays it is foreign policy no more. This is also partly because the world leaders are not interested in seeing Erdogan anymore so visiting the Qatari sheikh over and over again does not make much news and maybe most importantly as the Turkish media is not allowed to talk about interesting news like the funds deposited in Qatar by some AKP politicians. The people unfortunately don’t have access to real interesting news on foreign policy.

What they talk about is mostly about eroding income under increasing inflation. People are concerned about their jobs, the future of their kids as parents are increasingly unable to pay fees for university or high school entry courses.  It is all about how to make the ends meet.

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Most of the university graduates are at the brink of losing their hopes for the future because they are unemployed. 25 % of the youth are unemployed. The official unemployment figure is at around 11% but everyone is aware that leaving aside the seasonal employment, it is well above that rate.

The Turkish Lira lost more than 5 % value against the US dollar in merely two months.

The leader of the ruling AKP, Mr. Erdogan is busy to reshape his own party, replacing the elected mayors at his own will, thinking that these remedies will put his party on the right track to earn him the 2019 local as well as presidential elections. He is complaining about almost everything putting the blame on his own party members saying that they are tired. Most importantly, in his opinion, the whole world is attempting, coup after coup, to topple him so that he won’t be able to turn Turkey into one of the world powers! He continues to rule under the Emergency rule by issuing decrees which are sometimes overriding the constitutional provisions. Media continues to be under his direct rule. They say he determines the next day’s headlines.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry is busy sending a verbal note to the US Administration, asking the whereabouts of an Iranian-turned-Turkish citizen Reza Zarrab showing their great concern for our citizen’s health in a US prison regardless of those tens of thousands of Turkish citizens who are being jailed without even indictment. But the leader of the AKP is keen on averting another coup attempt which he believes and wants everyone to believe is directly connected to the upcoming trial of this Iranian-turned-Turkish citizen. From the leaks in the social media, it is certain that Zarrab will implicate many AKP politicians in the scandal tying Turkey with Iran sanctions’ corruption. The mainstream Turkish media will certainly describe this as another plot against the leader of the AKP.

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So is the situation in Turkey nowadays but something is happening with the people. It is as if a change is drawing closer. It is as if the election campaign has already started although the local elections will be held in March 2019 according to the constitution. People have openly started to challenge the present rule. It seems as if they are overcoming their fears. The love for our Founding Father Ataturk reemerged even on the AKP side.  There are signs of change. Once realized, a peaceful change of power in the upcoming presidential elections will be the most historic change ever known in the history of Turkey and the region. So our friends in the US, Europe, Russia, China and the MENA region should start to prepare themselves for this change. Nobody should think that the present political picture is irreversible in Turkey.

About The Author

Murat Ozcelik

Ambassador Özçelik served as a member of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs for over 30 years till his retirement from the Foreign Service in 2013. During this time he held various positions, including Turkish Embassy in Riyadh, Turkey’s Permanent Representation to the then-European Economic Community in Brussels, Turkish Embassy in Washington D.C. and Turkish Consulate General in Shanghai. He was appointed Assistant Special Representative to Iraq in December 2006; served as Turkey’s Special Envoy to Iraq between 2007 and 2009; and Turkey’s Ambassador to Iraq between 2009 and 2011.In September 2014, Ambassador Özçelik was appointed the Chief Foreign Policy Advisor to the Chairman of the Republican People’s Party (“CHP”), the main opposition party in Turkey. Between November 2014 and November 2015, Ambassador Özçelik served as the Vice Chairman of Foreign Relations for CHP. Ambassador Özçelik also served as a Member of Parliament in 2015.Ambassador Özçelik graduated with a degree in Business Administration from the Middle East Technical University in 1976 and also attended a post graduate program on European Union integration at the Free University of Amsterdam in 1988. He is married with two children.

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