Gezi Park and Turkey's Disproportionate Risks


Global events that took place during the last decade have, in comparison to earlier periods, left a bigger impact than a whole century. Given the extraordinary pace of developments,...

Global events that took place during the last decade have, in comparison to earlier periods, left a bigger impact than a whole century. Given the extraordinary pace of developments, it can be argued that the next 10 years will be decisive for the 21st century. Our actions in the next 10 years will therefore be pivotal in determining our place in the rest of the century.
Today’s international relations revolve around multi-dimensional competition. The very nature of states is changing; where their role in the success of domestic and foreign policies is reduced down to 10% - while maintaining the golden share of legislation and final decision-making authority. Meanwhile, efforts are being made to find a middle-ground between the statist and capitalist/liberal approaches. New concepts like public diplomacy are starting to come into view and the roles of institutions such as NGOs, universities, sporting institutions and the private sector are increasing. ‘Expectation Management’ is thus emerging as one of the latest concepts states need to debate. Countries that failed to recognize the change that is taking place see their defence mechanisms/institutions become increasingly dysfunctional.
Although factors such as history, religion, language and geography play a role in exercising soft and hard power capacities, becoming a regional or global power goes through skilled human resources, a high added-value economy and a respectable share of the global marketplace.
The success of this process depends on developing interdependencies, through multi-dimensional channels, with countries and regions based on domestic and foreign policy priorities. It is indispensable to have official and civil institutional instruments that will develop capacity and interdependencies and, furthermore, to mobilize existing institutions without discriminating based on ideological prejudice. Developing a discourse without a capacity building program will have no lasting results other than triggering early warning systems.
In order to protect any capacity built up until know, it is of high urgency that Turkey studies the countries with which it competes in the economic and diplomatic arena and develops concept approaches including also moral and spiritual aspects. For example, Japan pledged over $30 billion in aid to Africa at a recent Japan-Africa summit.
By increasingly distancing itself from Raison d'État and its principle of ‘Proportional Risk – Mutual Dependence’, Turkey took on too many disproportional risks in domestic as well as foreign politics. ‘Gezi Park’ events started as the first consequence of accumulated national and international energy which could prelude to a historic turning point. The events which started for environmental reasons quickly turned to anti-government protests and, with the high interest of international actors, have become difficult to manage.
Seeing the ‘Gezi’ events as an opportunity to reduce risks and make adjustments will bring about the implementation of more reasonable policies and allow for a better understanding of recent developments. Protecting our achievements, which have become the target of inhibitive/preventive reflexes in international competition, and that we are all striving to contribute to the best of our abilities for the protection and progress is the humble essence of this article.
The dynamics of the 21st century, which is defined by the multi-dimensional Global Spring that is unfolding around the framework of Micro-nationalism, Integration and Unpredictability parameters, is indicative that the power struggle between East and West will neither be easy nor painless. Expecting Western countries, who have managed to keep their virtually collapsed financial systems afloat since 2008 through instruments that could risk their very existence, to share roles easily is against historical precedent. From Turkey’s perspective, just as there is no viable alternative to our Western-Block-and-NATO-centred foreign policy priorities, the multi-dimensional and multi-coloured world order makes it also impossible to choose a single colour.
In an existential conflict in which instruments of historically unparalleled sophistication are deployed, and one that has the Arab World at its centre, we need to reconsider the risks we have taken on in regional developments and especially on Syria. The instruments of this dangerous competition, which is taking place mainly in the Islamic World, has deepened existing differences and achieved Sunni-Shia based sectarian polarization. Using governments that will implement security and liberal policies on the basis of these divisions will serve economic growth and ultimately the surrounding of Russia and China. This strategy, whether successful or not, will mean ‘pain’ for the region – one way or the other.
The initiatives Turkey has taken as a consequence of its excessive and unfounded confidence, at a time when even the biggest powers see their existence at risk, earn Turkey the image of an unpredictable country in the eyes of Eastern and Western powers and other less dominant actors and will, furthermore, isolate us during difficult times. It has always been of vital importance for Turkey to conduct its foreign policies based on realpolitik if it is not to be disintegrated.
We need to realize that our macroeconomic policies are one of our most important risk areas and that these are accumulating a heavy burden which becomes difficult to carry. If the current model of ‘deficit-financed consumption, consumption-based growth and a public finance funded by consumption taxes’ continues, it will eventually require a multidimensional transfer of ownership. The opportunities provided by this conjuncture have led to more public services than ever before in the history of the Republic. However, the risk of us turning into a satellite country at the end of the process is considerably high.
A country whose export profitability is around 4%, tourism profitability around 7% and one which has no other source of foreign currency income, would be expected to revise its strategy to urgently transform its human resources so as to enable them to produce technology and civilization, making ‘quality parameters’ its priority.
Moreover, Turkey’s international investment position (IIP) deficit, which shows our currency obligations, has reached 70% of our total obligations and 54% of Gross National Product (GNP). Indicators of new power candidates, like Turkey, are incomparably better in these areas. It needs be explained persistently to the Turkish people, who have been made believe that it is that easy to get among the world's top 10 economies or become a regional power / global actor, that this can only be (partly) achieved through a national mass mobilization and in a timespan of at least 10 years.
Our social policies need to be rehabilitated if we do not want them to turn into the biggest obstacles to competition and quality education, and become the centre point of social explosion at a time of crises. The excessive government generosity in social policies is continuously weakening civil society capacity. Expanding social policy instruments directly through or via the collaboration of civil society is crucial in the building of moral values.
As a country that has managed to accumulate around $600 billion capital stock in the total history of the Republic, and of which 80% has been taken as loans, protecting our existing individual and institutional assets/brands on the principles of law and democracy, and avoiding attitudes that will create rifts in this area is of great importance.
One other area of domestic policies that needs to be highlighted is the parameters that constitute a state and a nation. It is known that we have made the following three establishments the load-bearing columns of state memory and reflexes ever since our transition from the Ottoman Empire to the Republic; The Armed Forces, the National Intelligence Service and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. These three establishments, followed by other institutions, after the consolidation of their institutional structure and capacity, have formed the basis of the State. The integration of the nation is possible by uniting around a common identity inside, and dividing – in the positive sense – outside, based on the country’s priorities - as done by all smart countries.
As a country that has, thus far, not put Expectation Management’ on its agenda despite persistent reminders, let us hope that the ‘Gezi Park’ events will lead to the discussion and eventual institutionalization of this concept at government level. Prosperity that comes without establishing moral values is decay for us all. It is harder to manage prosperity that has (or will) come without established moral values, than to attain the desired prosperity itself. I think once we realize this, we will have solved fundamental rifts. Establishing the representation of institutional ethics on all government levels and institutions is the most difficult, yet essential, cognitive threshold that needs to be tackled and will, in my opinion, prevent polarizations and the accusations of interfering with the lifestyles of others.
If we see recent events as an opportunity and take the path of reducing/consolidating the aforementioned disproportionate risks on foreign policies, domestic policies and social values, it would not be too optimistic to expect ‘Gezi Park’ to be remembered as an event that moved our democracy forward.
Exploiting Turkey’s accumulated risks on various opportunities is the basic duty of foreign powers and further is, albeit wrong, the building block of international competition. Raison d'État and national memory are the most important antidotes for these risks. This is also the only means that will drive Turkey, on the principle of ‘power and justice’, to where and what it aims to be.


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