I have previously written about our propensity as Turkey to manipulate surveys and statistics and the degree to which we end up suffering for it.
We have continued to experience these problems in the days following the publication of the article. New announcements regarding our GDP and per capita income growth made by the people in charge were met with “interesting” comments by some international organizations. Some of these comments mentioned the misleading and fallacious aspect of these numbers. A government agency declares official “numbers” and these declarations are ignored and even ridiculed in international circles: quite sad, isn’t it?
What should really trouble us is the fact that our addiction to manipulate and distort surveys and statistics will end up hurting our international politics and trade. There are some ground rules valid for every country that shape their international standing and build their reputation. What the statements from international rating agencies say dictate a country’s international prestige and credibility. Regardless of what we think of their opinion and no matter how loud we speak against them, if our situation does not measure to the established and agreed criteria, our efforts will be futile.
There are tens of indexes with pre-determined criteria used to sort countries such as: “rule-of-law indexes”, “stability-instability indexes”, “politics and business ethics indexes”, “world justice index”, “credibility indexes, etc. Every country has to respect these criteria if they want to be taken seriously. They don’t have the luxury to say, “So what?”, or “This doesn’t concern us.” Countries that rate low on the indexes listed above will undoubtedly suffer in their international relations be it political or economic. For instance, countries that are in the negative territory when it comes to criteria such as corruption, credibility, stability, injustice are bound to cause exclusion in their international relations. Turkey’s situation regarding its membership to EU is a case in point: our low standing in these criteria was a major factor in us being excluded. We are under the illusion that we may overcome these hurdles by making a lot of noise. The truth is no matter how much we clamor at them, the rating agencies will not change their opinion.
When we examine the countries that are deemed developed and civilized, we notice that they have gone to great lengths to ensure that they are judged that way. And having a functioning justice system is one of the main and most crucial steps toward becoming a civilized, modern and advanced society. We are talking about countries that have gone through periods of inquisitions, of mass executions by Stalin, Hitlers, Marcos and Pinochets, of ruthless dictators. They have transformed themselves from countries that are were characterized by “law of superiors” and “rule by law” to those that have taken “the rule of law” and “superiority of law”. They have lost millions of lives in the process. We have witnessed countries that supposedly possessed a justice system full of their prosecutors, judges but which were de-facto rules by kings, sultans, dictators and sheiks. These rulers have appointed the people to the justice system according to their whim and will and have reigned via “rule by law” and “law of superiors.”
What the international indexes consider to be the most important and indispensable of all concepts is the concept of justice, and their evaluation of how it is executed. The World Bank has its World Administration Indicators, of which Rule of Law Indicator is one of the most prominent.
Turkey currently holds a 55 rating out of 100 here. USA and Western European members have between 90 to 100, while Spain, Portugal and Japan fluctuate around 75-90. We stand in the same league as Saudi Arabia and Egypt within the 40-75 threshold. The standings are taken from the 2015 index which is re-evaluated every year. Turkey’s rating in 2014 was 59.5. In 2015 it fell down to 55.3. Who knows where we are following the changes to our constitution?
Why, though, does the World Bank need such indicators, and why does it pay special attention to “Rule by Law” index? The answer here is singular: to guide investment decisions.
Another mission that operates in the same vein and prepares a similar index is the “World Justice Project”. Turkey who stood at 72ndposition among 102 countries in 2014, stumbled to 80th in 2015 and further to 99thin 2016. I do not wish to further demoralize you by pointing out what group of countries Turkey belongs under this index. You have the idea!
It is not only impossible but also counterintuitive to dismiss the assessments with regards to stability, corruption, rule of law and safety with angry and frantic tirades. Sermons that start off with blame “the haters”, “interest rate lobbies”, and “Jews” have no impact on the indicators. Wouldn’t it be preferable to rate closer to countries that are regarded high-grade, transparent, stable, dependable, safe and just as opposed to those that we are grouped with when it comes to indexes such as “Corruption”, “Nepotism”, “Confidence”, “Stability”, “Human Quality”?
The United Nations, in one of its published papers describes “rule of law” as follows:
“…a principle of governance in which all persons, institutions and entities, public and private, including the State itself, are accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced and independently adjudicated, and which are consistent with international Human rights norms and standards. It requires, as well, measures to ensure adherence to the principles of supremacy of law, equality before the law, accountability to the law, fairness in the application of the law, separation of powers, participation in decision-making, legal certainty, avoidance of arbitrariness and procedural and legal transparency.”
If we simply take this to heart and try to place Turkey within the boundaries of this context, we can have a pretty good idea how bad the situation in Turkey really is.
One of our esteemed scientists and authors, Prof. Dr. Iskender Oksuz had a review published in Star Açık Görüş on 7/12/2013 regarding the “Corruption Index” where he tackled with the 2012 report which was the latest available at the time. The report had 170 countries listed with countries such as Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland occupying the top spots while Turkey was near to the bottom of the list. Oksuz had the following comments:
“Turkey is in 57h place between Malaysia and Cuba with 49 points. 49 is a failing grade. And we continue to say the Turkish civil servants don’t receive bribes. All other Turkic republics are placed below us. And we can continue to say Muslims don’t engage in ill-gotten gains. The only Muslim countries above us are Qatar, UAE and the Sultanate of Brunei. All these three countries have become sovereign within the last 50 years and their total population is less than a third of Istanbul’s. Almost all Muslim countries suffer from wide spread bribery and corruption and they are all placed below Turkey. Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia they are all there. They stand with former Communist nations together with other bribetakers and their corrupt officials.”
Another NGO that works on similar issues is World Transparency. They issue their “Perceived Corruption Index”, and “Perceived Corruption Index.” They released their 2015 numbers in 2016. Turkey has gone down from 49 points to 41 points. The indexes cover 169 countries, and Turkey has steadily declined from 57th place in 2012 to 67th in 2014 and to 69th place in 2015. Even Bangladesh rates higher. Among the 39 European countries we are the 32nd. We are closely followed by former Soviet Republics. Our main competitors here are the fast-falling Muslim countries.
There are also “Political Instability Index” studies that we should consider. We do not fare any better in those either. We are 55th among 173 countries. Note that a lower standing is better here. The list is topped by Zimbabwe!
So, at this point you might be asking: “What is the consequence of all those similar looking indexes? What exactly are you trying to point out?” And my answer is I am pointing out to a Turkey that is getting more and more isolated and disreputable.
Even in NATO where we have a strong representation, our situation is dire. I don’t even have to mention the EU. The USA pays no attention to us, it is playing its own game. Muslim countries are in a state of total chaos. Some have been divided into 3-4 (Libya), some are having civil wars (Syria, Iraq, Egypt), Iran is on an all-out assault on Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia is dealing with its internal and external tribal conflicts and Wahhabism, the Shiites and Turkic Republics have their own discords. Just like us. This is where we are. And every further step we take that will take us to a worse standing in “justice”, “confidence”, “stability”, “rule of law”, “superiority of law”, “political ethics” will further isolate us from the rest of the world. If things continue the way they are, we won’t even have the handful of UN members that listen to us anymore. We will sermon an empty hall. What the “Strategic Depth” nonsense has taken us is the empty chairs in the UN.
I am deeply worried because of all these reasons and their consequences, and I am praying for wisdom, rationale and common sense.