Turkic Cluster Forecast, 2015-2025
Last updated June 2013
Overarching Forecasts for 2015-2025
1. Turkey will grow less secularized and more Islamic, but it will not go so far as to implement shari’a. High birth rates among conservative families (and the low rates among secularists) will politically tilt Turkey toward Islam. However, the large number of secularists in urban areas where the AK Party is strongest will continue to moderate this tilt. The children of immigrants to cities will be less conservative, but will likely have fewer children.
2. Cities will continue to be centers of liberality, with pockets of Islam. Turkish cities are economic powerhouses that attract foreigners and rural Turks who bring their values. Many (not all) intellectual Turks will emigrate, seeking increased freedom abroad. This diaspora will feature a mix of liberals and conservatives. Ministering to Turks abroad is a significant and vital ministry that should not be overlooked; indeed, it may be the best way to bless the nation.
3. A short-term conflict between Turkey and its neighbors is likely, but by no means certain. Right now, the odds of open conflict are over 60%. This is not likely to worsen the situation of the church any more than the general population, and it may lead to an influx of Christian refugees from neighboring countries.
4. Turkey’s economic growth is most likely to increase, with a small chance of a downturn before 2015. If there is a choice between Islam and the economy, Turkey will probably choose its economy. But if a choice involves Islam and does not harm the economy or threaten the government’s power, Turkey will probably choose Islam. While there are few opportunities to run businesses within Turkey, there may be more opportunities for businesses outside of Turkey to interact with Turkish businessmen, but most Turkish businessmen will be inside Turkey.
5. The possibilities for missionary work (particularly for Westerners) will narrow. The window had widened somewhat in recent years, but signs indicate it may be narrowing again. By 2025, the opportunities for foreigners outside of major cities will very likely be much more limited and regulated than they are today.
6. Barring a wildcard event, it is more likely the church will be slowly forced into more regulation and less visibility. Right now there is a great time of openness, particularly in the wake of the Malatya Murders. But as that event recedes, the economy grows, and the government’s power strengthens, seeping “mild Islam” and governmental regulation is more-likely to push the church out of sight. This does not mean the church would no longer exist: in fact, out-of-sight growth may enable more growth than would otherwise be possible.
7. Christianity is about 0.2% of Turkey, and the evangelical church about 0.01%. in spite of its current growth rate, it is highly unlikely to comprise 1% of the population by 2025 without a significant cost. Those who would change this future would likely see the best results from a strong evangelistic push in some of the more open, large, liberal cities and urban areas.
1. Turkey’s total population will almost cetainly level off and age, and begin to decline in number around 2050.
The population has reached 75 million, and will likely grow to 94.6 million before reaching its peak around 2050 and beginning to decline. Three significant factors are involved:
a) Infant mortality has been significantly reduced. Thanks to improving preventive and primary health care services across Turkey, infant deaths per 1,000 live births dropped from 43 in 1998 to 9.1 in 2011. Maternal mortality likewise fell from 28.5 per 100,000 live births in 2005 to 19.4 per 100,000 in 2008. (Infant mortality remains high in more rural regions.) Because fewer children die in infancy, many women are having fewer pregnancies.
b) The fertility rate is falling. The average number of children per woman dropped from 4.3 in 1978 to 2.7 in 1993 (3.8 in the East). Turkey is now one of the least fertile of all Muslim countries; Iran is the only substantial Muslim population with a lower rate. There are three reasons for this decline, all of which represent significant cultural changes since World War II.
Women are increasingly delaying their first marriage. The rising average age of first marriage is a notable trend not just in Turkey, but throughout the Middle East. In Turkey, the percentage of women aged 15 to 19 who were married dropped from 21% in 1978 to 13% in 1993. A later marriage reduces the window of childbearing years, thus reducing the average number of children per woman.
More women are avoiding or terminating pregnancy. The Turkish government had a strong pro-birth position from Independence to 1965. The Population Planning Law of 1965 legalized contraception and began education programs to limit fertility to avoid rapid population growth and unwanted pregnancies. In 1983 the military government liberalized this further, permitting abortions to the 10th week of pregnancy and voluntary surgical contraception (IUDs). By 1988, two-thirds of married women were using some form of birth control, whether contraception or abortion.
More women are choosing to have no more than 2 children. Most married women will have children—but they are having fewer children than they did before. One reason is fewer of these children die young; another is the transition away from agricultural society; and a third is the cost of a family in urban areas coupled with the high rate of urbanization.
These trends are more pronounced in the secularized portions of society. It is particularly true in urban areas, where parents feel they cannot afford to have large families. Fertility rates have not changed as dramatically among the more traditional and conservative families, largely in the East.
c) Turkey’s life expectancy continues to rise, having reached 74 now. This is the lowest life expectancy of the OECD countries, but it is continuing to improve and will undoubtedly reach between 75 and 80 by 2050.
d) These shifts have been slowing the population growth rate since the 1980s: from 2.9% in 1950 to 1.14% in 2010. Low infant mortality and increasing lifespan are presently counterbalancing the fall in fertility, so the population is presently growing, albeit slowly. The decline in total population will begin around 2050 if the fertility rate falls low enough.
e) The population will age. This is the inevitable result of the steadily decreasing number of births and the extending lifespan. The median age will likely rise from today’s 28.9 to 40 by 2050 (vs the then global median of 38). The share of the population over 65 is rising and will peak at close to 25% of the total population around 2075.
“Demographic structure of Turkey and its future, 2010-2050,” Republic of Turkey Turkish Statistical Institute, 7/11/2012. http://goo.gl/IACig.
“The Islamic world’s quiet revolution.” Foreign Policy (9 March 2012). http://goo.gl/xthUz. “The desired fertility level… was the single best predictor for actual fertility levels… where Muslim women want fewer children, they are increasingly finding ways to manage it–with the pill or without it.”
“Fertility trends, women’s status, and reproductive expectations in Turkey.” Hacettepe University: Institute of Population Studies (Ankara), 1997. http://goo.gl/Qe5uQ.
“Turkish women protest plans to curb abortion.” Al Jazeera (3 June 2012). http://goo.gl/ousvE. PM Erodgan calls abortion ‘murder’ and repeatedly calls on women to have at least 3 children. 40% of live births are by C-section. “Abortion rates in Turkey have steadily declined since the practice became legal… At 14.8 abortions per 1,000 in 2008 turkey is far behind UN global rates.”
“Experts concerned over increasing abortion rate in Turkey.” Today’s Zaman (8 April 2012). http://goo.gl/NoSzS. 60,000 in 2009; 58,186 in 2010; 69,364 in 2011.
“Fertility declining in the Middle East and North Africa.” Population Reference Bureau (April 2008). http://goo.gl/ypI0Z. Delayed marriage a significant factor.
Yavuz, Sutay. “Fertility decline in Turkey from the 1980s onwards: patterns by main language groups.” Ph.D. Dissertation, Hacettepe University Institute of Population Studies. http://goo.gl/VYIhI.
“Marriages and fertility among Turkish and Moroccan women in Belgium: results from census data.” Center for Population and Family Studies, Winter 1999, JSTOR: http://goo.gl/dbTBk.
The population of Turkey. 1974. http://goo.gl/Uz01Q.
“The population of Turkey in 1950,” W. C. Brice. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1791586. 13.6 million in 1925, 20.9 million in 1950. Steady at 25% urban.
2. Urbanization is slowing, but will almost certainly continue through 2025.
Before World War II Turkey’s population remained fairly constant, growing slowly from 13 million in 1925 to 20 million in 1950. Urbanization likewise remained constant at about a quarter of the population. After World War II, about 5 million people lived in Turkey’s cities.
In the years following World War II urbanization became rapid. It started with the mechanization of agriculture, which resulted in a significant flow of the rural population toward the cities. Urbanization then increased dramatically after the 1981 coup (when the army took over after social chaos in the 1970s). Families felt cities were safer places to be, with better chances at education and jobs. Increased immigration combined with this rural migration to further fuel urbanization, which rapidly climbed from 40% to 60% by 1990.
In 2012, Turkey is now 70% urban. Cities are adding about 1 million new residents per year, growing from 51 million in 2010 to 58 million by 2015. Istanbul in particular is a magnet: about 1 in 5 Turks lives in the area. It is the 8th largest of the 78 OECD metropolitan areas, and the fastest-growing. It produces nearly a quarter of Turkey’s GDP, a third of its total industrial output and about half of its services. It’s responsible for 40% of national tax revenues. (One is reminded of the tongue-in-cheek “golden rule”: “He who has the gold, makes the rules.”).
a) The rapid pace of urbanization has led to a number of challenges. The most obvious example is infrastructure. The migrants flooding into the cities needed places to live. This led to the rapid construction of housing and infrastructure, much of which was inadequate and illegal. “Gecekondu” means a house put up, quickly, without proper permissions, constructed through a legal loophole: if someone started a building after dusk and moved into a completed house before dawn without having been noticed by authorities, the authorities were not permitted to tear it down without starting a legal proceeding in court. During election cycles, if a politician wanted to do something dramatic, they might send in bulldozers to wipe out an illegal housing section, but most were overall allowed to remain. In the long term, these illegal houses were upgraded with cinderblocks, new roofs, and eventually became built-up neighborhoods. In 1955, the percentage of housing that was partially or totally illegal housing was estimated at 4.7%; by 1973, 23%; by 1984, 50%; today, it is estimated at 70%.
In the early 2000s, the government began getting more involved in the housing issue. They began building new and better housing, initiating urban renewal projects, and implementing amnesty programs to legitimize some of the older illegal settlements. Unfortunately this effort was about a generation too late. Rapid growth coupled with inadequate policies have left Turkey’s larger cities without adequate infrastructure and green spaces while giving them severe traffic and accessibility problems.
b) Today, those who come to the cities today are finding a different situation: without pre-arranged employment it is difficult to find a place to live, and the immense buildup of the urban areas leaves little land available for housing construction. Nearly every house has good connections to urban water and sewage networks, vyt less than 50% of the supplied water is treated. The number of vehicles per 1,000 people rose from 15 in 1980 to 190 in 2010, although Turkey has some of the highest fuel prices in the world. For the elite, gated communities further out from the cities are becoming the norm.
c) Urban markets have been pursued by global corporations, who have impacted local culture. Before 1985, there were no malls or supermarkets or fast food restaurants: only street markets and little stores owned by individuals. As foreign companies began moving in, larger chains began constructing shopping malls. When McDonalds arrived, Turks wondered if it would survive, since it was antithetical to Turkish culture: Turks liked to go to restaurants, sit down, talk, eat, and make a social occasion of the visit. But McDonalds survived, thrived, and other fast food chains moved in as well. Turkish culture in the cities changed instead.
d) The government has worked to improve rural areas, to slow urbanization. In order to encourage people to remain in the rural areas, the government has done some work in building better roads, schools and infrastructure into the smaller cities and towns. (Also, this helps the AK Party with votes.) Urbanites in the big cities have discovered the higher costs of living and different, secularized culture there, and this combined with the government’s programs have begun to slow the pace of urbanization.
e) Urbanization will thus continue, but slow. The annual growth rate peaked at 5.77% in 1950, then unsteadily declined to 4.25% in 1985, then dramatically to 2.6% in 1990. It fell from there to a low of 2.01% for the period 2000-05, but then rebounded. For the period of 2005-10 and 2010-2015 it increased at about 2.4% p.a. It is expected to begin slowing again but still outstrip the population growth rate.
Raiser, Martin. “Workshop on urbanization in Turkey.” World Bank (12 Jan 2012). http://goo.gl/k33Hs.
Finkel, Andrew. “Turkey’s urbanization: the secret behind AKP’s third consecutive electoral success.” Silk Road Studies (13 June 2011). http://goo.gl/HXVgM.
“The dark side of Istanbul: despite a rich history, Istanbul is a city coping with the difficulties of modernization and rapid growth.” Foreign Policy (5 May 2011). http://goo.gl/AM8GK.
“How Istanbul Became One of Europe’s Safest Cities.” Atlantic Cities (5 Feb 2012). http://goo.gl/IUnXb. Layered policing, military principles, training, nightly checkpoints, integrated surveillance systems and community watch programs.
“Turkish cities hit the top 10 fastest-growing list.” Hurriyet (20 Jan 2012). http://goo.gl/9pIl5. Based on a Brookings Institution report, “Global MetroMonitor 2011: Volatility, Growth and Recovery.”
OECD Territorial Review: Istanbul, Turkey. Policy Brief (March 2008), http://www.oecd.org/regional/regionaldevelopment/40317916.pdf.
Ozer, Gamze, Ender Vardar, and Mehmet Nazum Ozer. “Unplanned settlements within the context of urbanization process of Turkey.” Special information management toward legalizing informal urban development, FIG Commission 3 Workshop (2007). http://goo.gl/OZjTg.
Sinemillioglu, M. Oguz, and Nurtekin Ozen. “The effect of migration on urbanization of Turkey, case of Diyarbakir.” European Regional Science Association (2006). http://goo.gl/ISkoN.
Sayari, Sabri, and Bruce Offman. “Urbanization and Insurgency: The Turkish Case, 1976-1980.” RAND, 2007. http://goo.gl/1uIZZ.
Yilmaz, Ensar, and Salih Ciftci. “Urbanization policies under programs of political parties in Turkey.” European Journal of Social Sciences 19:1 (2011). http://goo.gl/oEGQM.
Young, Sebnem Yucel. “Hyper-traditions/hip villages: urbanite villagers of Western Anatolia.” TDSR 18:2 (2007). http://goo.gl/Hjctv.
Gur, Mehmet, Volkan Cagdas and Hulya Demir. “Urban-rural interrelationship and issues in Turkey.” 2nd FIG Regional Conference (2003). http://goo.gl/Zkje4.
Gedik, Ayse. “Differential urbanization in Turkey: 1955-2000.” 43rd Congress of the European Regional Science Association (2003). http://goo.gl/474ry.
Bicerli, M. Kemal. “Female labor force participation in the urbanization process: the case of Turkey.” Anadolu University. http://goo.gl/Y8WDT.
3. Turks will continue to go abroad, and immigrants will continue to come to Turkey. However, the demographic makeup of the immigrant population has changed dramatically in recent years.
a) Turkey has a history of population flow. The Ottoman Empire received refugees frequently. The early years of modern Turkey saw a flow of people in both ways, particularly the forced exchange of population between Greece and Turkey in the 1920s: a million Greeks were sent from Turkey to Greece, and half a million Muslims and Turks came from Greece to Turkey. During World War II, over 100,000 Jews from Europe came first to Turkey.
b) The flow of Turkish emigrants to work abroad has shifted over the years. A 1961 agreement signed between Turkey and West Germany coinciding with Germany’s economic boom saw a migration of with a large pool of temporary unskilled labor while reducing Turkey’s large ranks of unemployed. The plan was for Turks to go to Europe to work and learn new skills, then return to Turkey and help usher Turkey into a modern, urban age. Instead, many settled in Europe, bringing their families to join them.
The 1973 oil shock sent Europe into recession and ended the recruitment of Turks for work there, but the resourceful emigrants quickly shifted to Libya, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. This migration flow was different: they didn’t settle in these nations or bring their families.
In the 1980s and 1990s, family reunification brought more Turkish emigration to Europe. At the same time, asylum seekers from the social chaos of Turkey in the 1970s went to Europe as well. Intellectuals, qualified professionals, university graduates and students have likewise been moving abroad. In the early 1990s Turkish construction companies won contracts in Russia and the CIS (former USSR), and workers headed there as well.
In 1972, the number of Turks living abroad were estimated at 0.6 million. Today, this total has risen to about 3.7 million (2010), of whom about 3.2 million are in Europe.
c) Immigration to Turkey has likewise shifted over the years.
In the early years of Turkey’s founding, its leaders saw the importance of increasing the population size—but they also needed to define their national identity, and did so in terms of their Turkish language and Islamic culture. They encouraged immigrants from Europe who were either already Turkish-speaking Muslims, or who were part of ethnic groups that would easily “melt” into that identity (e.g. Albanians, Bosnians, Tatars, etc). Some Turkish peoples (such as the Gagauz Turks) were not encouraged to immigrate principally becuase they were Christians. Over 1.6 million entered by the 1950s and assimilated into a Turkish identity.
By the 1970s, additional immigration was being discouraged as Turkey’s resources were being strained. Today, officially accepted immigration is discouraged and has slowed to a trickle.
d) Since the 1990s there has been a significant upsurge in people movements.
Refugees have poured over the borders. UNHCR estimates over 2 million refugees entered Turkey in the 1980s and 1990s, many from Iran, Iraq, Bulgaria and African nations. More recently, in the 2010s, there has been been an obvious surge from Syria and Iraq.
Illegal immigration is easy. Turkey allows nationals from many nations to enter fairly freely with visas easily obtained at airports; many overstay their visas or illegally work while in Turkey. The number of such people is difficult to estimate, but it is likely on the order of a million people. There are also thousands of human trafficking victims who are brought to Turkey for commercial sex work (see Structures of Sin later in this study). Finally, there are European retirees who are virtually settling in resorts in Turkey.
e) The flow of Turks to other nations, and returning, is shaping Turkey. Turks who travel abroad tend to be more liberal, open-minded, curious, intellectual and secularized. They aren’t afraid to meet Christians or visit churches. After spending a few years abroad, university students can return to Turkey having been exposed to a wider view, and when they meet a Christian or see a church in Turkey they have a different response. This short time abroad makes diaspora ministries difficult in some settings, but is an incredible bridge to impact Turks when they return.
Iraqi/Syria refugee crisis of 2010-2012:
“Iraqi Christian refugees continue to arrive in Turkey.” France24, on Youtube, 15 November 2010.
“Syrian refugees flock to Turkey and Jordan.” Washington Post, 3 Sep 2012.
“Turkey cracks down on Syrian refugees.” Washington Post, 9 Sep 2012. Moves tens of thousands into camps or deeper inland, away from tense borders.
Immigration into Turkey, issues in Turkey:
Korfali, Deniz, Aysen Ustubici and Helene De Clerck. Turkey: Country and Research Areas Report. University of Antwerp (2010). http://goo.gl/WZX8K. Significant analysis of Turkey’s history, and migration patterns and their impact.
“Internal mobility of foreign-born in Turkey.” CSSR 2012. http://goo.gl/z24aY.
Elitok, Secil Pacaci, and Thomas Straubhaar. “Turkey: change from an emigration to an immigration and now to a transit migration country.” Hamburg Institute of International Economics, 2010. http://goo.gl/zFZu5.
Icduygu, Ahmet. “Europe, Turkey and International Migration: an uneasy negotiation.” 2010. http://goo.gl/ryyXZ.
Icduygu, Ahmet. “International migration and human development in Turkey,” UNDP Human Development Research Paper: 2009. http://goo.gl/owBQz. Statistical tables for migration to/from Turkey, 1961-2005, more.
Icduygu, Ahmet. “Irregular migration in Turkey.” International Office of Migration: 2003. http://goo.gl/sMke6.
Soykan, Cavidan. “The migration-asylum nexus in Turkey.” Enquire #5: 2010. http://goo.gl/B6Q7a.
Kaya, Ayhan. “Turkey as an emerging destination country for immigration.”
“Migration in Turkey: A Country Profile.” International Office of Migration: 2008. http://goo.gl/ZsCfw.
Avci, Gamze, and Kemal Kirisci. “Turkey’s immigration and emigration dilemmas at the gate of the European Union.” http://goo.gl/fj3Rp.
Keser, Hasan. “Justice and home affairs: Europeanization of Turkish asylum and immigration policy in the light of the Central and Eastern European experience.” Ankara Review of European Studies 5:3 (2006). http://goo.gl/IC0Do.
Brewer, Kelly T., and Deniz Yukseker. “A survey on African migrants and asylum seekers in Istanbul.” 2006. http://goo.gl/J7AHz.
Turkish emigration to other lands
“European imams, rabbis pledge zero tolerance for hate preachers.” Today’s Zaman (6 Sep 2012). http://goo.gl/Kxqhm.
“Turkish migration in Europe: projecting the next 50 years.” London Centre for Social Studies, Turkish Migration Studies Group (December 2012). http://goo.gl/UBzEo.
Biffl, Gudrun. “Turkey and Europe: the role of migration and trade in economic development.” 2011. http://goo.gl/QCy03.
Yukeleyen, Ahmet. Localizing Islam in Europe: Turkish Islamic communities in Germany and the Netherlands. Syracuse University Press: 2011. http://goo.gl/3eXrL
“Immigration, integration and the labour market: Turkish immigrants in Germany and the Netherlands.” IZA.org: 2007. http://goo.gl/JwD3u.
Erzan, Refik, and Kemal Kirisci. “Turkish immigrants: their integration within the EU and migration to Turkey?” 2004. http://goo.gl/f3cGi. Est. 3.6 million Turkish national live abroad, flow of 1.3-2.7 million to emigrate to EU by 2030.
Kilicli, Ayca. “Turkish migrants in Germany, prospects of integration.” EU-Turkish Relations Dossier. http://goo.gl/cjqIW. 3.8 million live in the EU (largest destination globally); 2.5 million in Germany (2.5% of all expats there).
“Turkish migration studies group at Oxford University.” University of Oxford. http://goo.gl/9iaFv.
“The impact of immigration on Germany’s society.” http://goo.gl/T2zIJ.
“Examining immigrant Turkish household food consumption: consumer insights for food acculturation models.” Turkish immigrant consumers who migrate to the United States. http://goo.gl/s2g6o.
Icduygu, Ahmet. “Facing changes and making choices: unintended Turkish immigrant settlement in Australia.” http://goo.gl/ps0NA.
Toktas, Sule. “50 years of emigration from Turkey to Germany—a success story?” 2012. http://goo.gl/jvFJv.
Elitok, Secil Pacaci, and Thomas Straubhaur. “Turkey as a migration hub in the Middle East.” Insight Turkey. http://goo.gl/pcD8O.
Sonyel, Salahi R. “Turkish migrants in Europe.” Perceptions (Sep 2000). http://goo.gl/ozzuA.
Atay, Tayfun. “Ethnicity within ethnicity: the Turkish-speaking migrants in London.” 2010. http://goo.gl/OVHLt.
Angelos, James. “Importing Germany’s Imams: Islam in the diaspora.” Spiegel Online (5 March 2010). http://goo.gl/fWWLS.
“Turks abroad: settlers, citizens, transnationals.” International Journal on Multicultural Societies 11:2 (2009). http://goo.gl/TN8yi.
Milewski, Nadja. “Immigrant fertility in West Germany: socialization effect in transitions to second and third births?” Conference on effects of migration on population structures in Europe, 2008. http://goo.gl/LlLWL.
4. There is a better than 50% chance of a major earthquake before 2025, and minor quakes are a near certainty.
Turkey sits on top of two major earthquake belts. One is the North Anatolian Fault, running the length of the country on an east-west line just south of Istanbul. In the east near Erzurum, it joins the East Anatolian Fault, running at an angel to the Syrian border (see USGS map, next page). Turkey experiences a magnitude-7 earthquake, on average, at least once every 20 years, and it is not uncommon to have multiple magnitude-7 quakes in a given year; these earthquakes can be devastating if they strike in vulnerable places: the August 1999 earthquake was measured at 7.6 and killed tens of thousands of people. Magnitude-6 earthquakes are even more common: at least 1 every 5 years. Turkey has never experienced on record an earthquake stronger than 8.0, but it is not impossible to rule out.
Krajeski, Jenna. “It will make Sandy seem like nothing: the massive quake coming to Istanbul.” The Atlantic, 2 Nov 2012. http://goo.gl/ZyPky
5. Turkey’s natural resources are not based on oil. Instead, Turkey has a large supply of water and arable land. The use of these resources is not without debate.
a) Turkey seeks to use its abundant water supplies both for hydroelectric power (by constructing dams) and for irrigation. Dam construction however has led to arguments over environmental impact and cost effectiveness. Worse, it has also led to tensions with downstream neighbors Iraq and Syria over water rights.
b) Turkey is an agricultural powerhouse, but the industry is in slow decline. An infusion of innovation and investment is needed, and would stand Turkey in good stead to preserve its stability in the midst of global recessions as well as fuel shocks and food crises.
History & Catalytic Events
6. Turkey is presently in the midst of a nation-building High that will likely last until sometime in the vicinity of the 2020s. During this period we will likely see an increasing number of problems resolved, processes and infrastructure built, and an economic upsurge—but in the latter part of this decade and the beginning of the next, we will also probably see an increasing number of restrictions, regulations, rules and a further quashing of liberties.
A generational view of history is useful in understanding where a culture has been and where it is going. The research of Strauss & Howe (“The Fourth Turning” being perhaps one of the best known, see http://www.fourthturning.com for a broad overview) argues every culture goes through four generational “Turnings”—prophet, nomad, hero and artist. These cycles are caused by the ways that the previous generation raised their young, and the interaction of the generations. The response of these broad generational archetypes to crisis events likewise sends cultures through four “Turnings”: from High to Awakening to Unraveling to Crisis, and then back to High again.
We can apply these generational types to Turkey. This analysis is constrained to the period from the obvious and well-known nation-shaping Crisis from World War I and the formation of Turkey to today.
a) 1908-1923 Crisis. At the start of the 1900s, the Ottoman Empire controlled a vast swathe of territory from southeastern Europe to Turkey, Israel, Iraq and the Arabian peninsula, and west across North Africa–but this vast empire was incredibly weak, having been hollowed out over the previous century. It was frequently referred to as “the sick man of Europe.” Ethnic nationalism led to the Balkan wars, which cost the Empire its European and North African holdings. In 1908 the “Young Turk” movement took control of the Empire, but when World War I broke out, the government made the disastrous decision of siding with Germany. It won the notorious battle of Gallipoli, but in April 1915 the Armenians of Van (who would have preferred to be separate) rose in revolt and captured the local fortress, asking the Russians to send reinforcements. The Ottoman government, in response, began to deport the Armenian population of Turkey: hundreds of thousands were massacred in the process, and the rest forcibly marched to Syria. A short-lived Armenian republic was declared in northeast Turkey, but the territory was quickly reconquered by the Turks. At the end of World War I Turkey was occupied and about to be dismembered and divided amongst the victorious nations. When Greece, with Britain’s encouragement, took then-Smyrna (now Izmir), a Turkish national movement led by military commander Mustafa Kemal rose in revolt. The Turkish War for Independence lasted from 1920-22, and Turkey’s victory made Kemal a war hero. The old sultanate was disbanded, the Turkish Republic was formed, and the Treaty of Lausanne gave Turkey all of the land occupied by the Turks while it relinquished any remaining claims. Greeks in Turkey and Turks in Greece, meanwhile, were forced out of their respective homes and back to their ethnic nation-states, and Turkey became nationalistically defined as the home of the Turks. This period altogether was responsible for the deaths of some 20% of Turkey’s population and the devastation of its land, livestock and cities, as well as the Armenian Genocide.
b) 1923-1945 High. A time of nation-building began with the founding of the Republic by Mustafa Kemal, who took the surname Ataturk, and lasted until his death in 1938 and the subsequent launch of multiple political parties. Kemal (who took the surname “Ataturk”) began to completely remake Turkish society into the image of a secularized, Western-leaning, forward-looking nation. Islam was retained in the fabric of social identity but “backward-looking” practices were eliminated. Polygamy and the fez (hat) were abolished. Western legal codes were instituted. Civil marriage (not religious) was required. Islam lost its rank as the state religion. The Arabic alphabet was replaced with one based on Latin letters. Constantinople was renamed Istanbul, and other city names were “Turkified.” Women were allowed to unveil, encouraged into the workforce, and given the right to vote. This period continued until Ataturk died in 1938. Soon after, multiple parties were permitted.
c) 1946-1960 Awakening. After the death of Ataturk, the party he established was voted out of office, Turkey became a multiparty republic, and the Democratic Party came to power in 1950. The DP had many ideas about how government should be run. During the High, religious influence had been sharply limited; under the DP, restrictions were markedly loosened. The Menderes government re-legalized the Arabic-language call to prayer and re-opened thousands of mosques. At the same time there was increasing intolerance of criticism, which led to censorship and the arrests of journalists. Young radicals feared the ideals of the High were in danger. Eventually, in 1960, a military coup removed the government, claiming it had gained too much power and betrayed the secularist ideals of Turkey.
d) 1961-1980 Unraveling. The mood of unravelings is often opposite that of a high: institutions are distrusted, individualism is strong. There was a clear polarization between different sides and parties in Turkey during this period, along with a desire of those in the middle—a practical generation—to avoid argument. The period was bookended with new constitutions (one in 1961 and the other in 1982).
The problem during the multiparty period was that so many parties ran for office that few had more than 20% of the vote. Within the parliamentary system, the parties had to build coalitions, but these rarely lasted long and little governing could be accomplished. Minor parties had an outsized amount of power and chaos was the result. Soviet money and arms competed with right-wing fanatical Muslim and extreme nationalist groups. The two major political parties in the center were too deadlocked to elect a president. Inflation reached 130% per year in the 1970s, and there was street violence: bombings, killings, shootings, boycotts of university and labor strikes. Turkey was on the verge of civil war. Stores often had half-empty shelves while people hoarded basic necessities. Fuel for transport and cooking was often unavailable. In the winter, there was no heating oil and people endured extreme cold in their apartments. People were hoping the army would finally step in.
It was during this period that the modern Turkish church and the missionary movement had its initial brith. Paranoia and security fears in society as a whole made it very difficult for foreign workers in these days: many lasted only a few months before being kicked out of the country.
e) 1980-2001 Crisis. A crisis is “an era in which institutional life is torn down and rebuilt from the ground up in response to a perceived threat to a nation’s survival. Civic authority revives, cultural expression finds a community of purpose, and people begin to locate themselves as members of a larger group” (Strauss & Howe, The Fourth Turning).
Many Turks were thrilled when the army took over in the 1980 coup. No one knew at the time how many were being arrested, tortured and killed by the military as it clamped down. In many regions in the east, martial law continued through the 1990s. What the public saw, however, was the return of society to some semblance of normality. Businesses started working again, goods came out on shelves, commoditities could be bought, the streets were peaceful, and schools were opened again. The massive migration to the cities coincided with this period.
A new constitution was written (mostly by the military). In 1983 a new civilian government was formed with Turgut Ozal as prime minister. An economic boom followed, but so did the Kurdish insurgency. After Ozal’s death in 1993, a series of weak coalition governments led Turkey until 1995 when the religious Welfare Party formed a government under PM Necmettin Erbakan. They boldly began making Islamist statements which alarmed the military; in 1997, the army alleged the Party had “flouted the constitutional ban” on religion in politics. In a “postmodern coup” the army ordered the government to resign and disbanded the Welfare Party. Another series of weak coalition governments ensued.
The Kocaeli earthquake of 1999 (magnitude 7.2, centered on Izmit) rocked not only Turkey but the confidence of Turks in their government. It killed 17,000 (unofficial estimates are double that) and heavily damaged over 200,000 homes. Over 300,000 were left homeless. Worse, the quake occurred in a heavily industrialized area, doing billions of dollars of damage and starting a terrible petroleum fire. There was massive international response but very slow action on the part of the government.
The November 2001 banking crisis worsened the crisis of confidence. A million people lost their jobs, the economy contracted by nearly 10%, and some $6 billion left Turkey in 10 days. The 9/11 Crisis added to this by weakening tourism, which was about the only industry left standing at the time.
f) 2002-? High. Since its beginning, the modern Turkish Republic has seen more than 60 governments. In 2002, voters ran out of patience with the whole post-Cold War generation of politicians who they perceived had failed them badly. Out of 550 members of parliament, 500 were voted out, and the AK Party became the first party in 15 years to win a majority large enough to enable it to govern without having to build a coalition.
It inherited a bankrupt country held up by huge IMF loans. The economy should have been growing rapidly, but instead it was clogged by government-controlled enterprises, subsidies and corruption. The AK Party rapidly consolidated its power by tenaciously implementing an economic recovery program, eliminating chronic inflation and double-digit interest rates. Several government enterprises were privatized, and others are in the process, although no one doubts much corruption remains. As a result, people became more optimistic about their future. They evidently approved of the government and its policies: the AK Party won two more elections with ever larger majorities, and although PM Erdogan will be retiring soon, the AK Party will likely continue in power. Over the next generation (possibly through 2020), look for:
A strong government, but not unchecked. During “High” periods, governing powers will often run strongly, but they are typically checked from significant excess by the “Nomad” generation—a practical-minded generation that doesn’t want to see another crisis. In Turkey, we already see the AK Party has teetered on the brink of a one-party government, but the opposition has coalesced. Turkey has never lasted long with an unchecked government. The AK Party may have checked the army, but it is not unstoppable.
A tacit acceptance of religious minorities, coupled with a strengthening and centralization of Islam. In a “High,” nationalist culture is rising. The Malatya martyrs helped to reveal anti-government plots and spark the Ergenekon trials which enabled the AK Party to solidify its power over the military. The backlash from the murders brought much grassroots sympathy for the church, and the government is now quick to support the church—but it will likely be more sensitive about losses to Christianity.
An increasing desire for power and influence as a regional leader. The AK Party wants to be seen at home and abroad as a strong power to be looked up to, listened to, as well as a model to be copied.
Increasing regulation of opposition. This is particularly seen recently in the arrests and censorship of journalists and the crackdown on the Kurdish situation. Civic authority will likely solidify and fossilize after 2015.
g) 2020?-2040? Awakening. If these generational patterns continue (as seems likely given the pattern), we will see the next cultural change around the 2020s or 2030s. Right now Islam is being used mostly as a tool of culture to bring the nation together around a common identity. In a future Awakening, there seems a high (>75%) chance of a turn toward fundamentalism.
Pope, Hugh. Sons of the conquerors: the rise of the Turkic world.
Inalcik, Halil. An economic and social history of the Ottoman empire: 1600-1914.
Faroqhi, Suraiya. Subjects of the Sultan: culture and daily life in the Ottoman Empire.
Davison, Roderick. Turkey: a short history.
Zurcher, Erik. Turkey: a modern history.
Pope, Hugh and Nicole. Turkey unveiled: a history of modern Turkey.
Kinzer, Stephen. Crescent and Star: Turkey between two worlds.
Finkel, Andrew. Turkey: what everyone needs to know.
7. The role of Islam in public life is increasing, and will almost certainly continue to increase, remaining mild in the short-term future (to the late 2010s) but growing increasingly powerful into the 2020s.
A Turk is a Turkish-speaking Muslim, and this definition is not likely to change in the next twenty years. At the same time, Turkey has secularized its laws, and while the influence of Islam on the culture is seeing an upsurge right now, Turks do not seem inclined to move to a shari’a-based culture—even without the army’s ability to overthrow a government to defend them from this outcome. These two probabilities not withstanding, many will continue to be suspicious of a hidden, radical Islamic plot. Meanwhile, non-Muslim minorities (e.g. Christians) will be more tolerated in the short-term, but the current warm atmosphere may turn chilly again in a decade.
a) Turkey is a Muslim culture, not an atheistic or nonreligious one. Islam is a foundational element of its identity. The term “Turk” is defined as one whose mother-tongue is Turkish and who is born into Islam. This defintion is nationalistic and has led to the suppression of a polyglot idea of Turkey (and, along the way, to pogroms, “Turkification,” and a Kurdish insurgency). Non-Muslim minorities are tolerated exceptions as citizens; at the start of World War II non-Muslims made up a third of Istanbul; today, they number less than a quarter million. The idea that a good Turk can be a non-Muslim is not really considered. At a 2005 conference on “Missionary Activity in the Muslim World” held in Canakkale, the moderator declared, “If they are such good citizens, and have not betrayed the state in any way, why don’t they just become Muslims?” (Compass Direct, http://goo.gl/YLeAi).
b) Turkey has attempted to secularize. It has sought a religio-political model similar to that of Europe. This competing model does not seek atheism, but does shy away from fundamentalist Islam.
c) In the past, the military has seen its role as protecting the state from religion (and especially fundamentalist Islam) dabbling in politics. Several of the coups were launched because the government had allegedly betrayed the ideals of secularism. However, recent events seem to have broken the military’s power to overthrow the government.
d) There is a significant cultural divide between western and eastern Turkey. In the large cities and along the western coasts, people live life much as they do in Western nations. In the east, a far more traditional Islamic life is lived. This has been further complicated by urban migration: women in headscarves are rare in older parts of cities, for example, but the norm in pockets that are home to immigrants from the East.
e) The real question: how public the practice of Islam should be, and how much influence it should have on the state. In the past decade, to say “I am a Muslim” has taken on a much more religious connotation than previously. Before, the knowledge and practice of Islam was very thin and resistance to the Gospel was not because of a strong Islamic theology but rather a matter of society and family. To be Turk, in that context, was to be Muslim; to be Christian was to be no longer a Turk, to be treasonous. Today, more Turks understand Islam and practice it, and this is leading to an increasing discussion of secularism vs. Islam.
f) The headscarf debate is an example of this. Religious attire is banned in public spaces (including schools, universities, government offices and businesses). In the 1970s and 1980s, students on university campuses increasingly wore headscarves and the ban was not uniformly enforced. In 2007, Erodgan made lifting the ban a campaign promise. In 2008, the Parliament passed an amendment allowing women to wear headscarves in universities, arguing many would not seek an education otherwise. The amendment was protested and many vowed to defy it, and later the Constitutional Court annulled it. In response, the AK Party vowed to support any student wearing a headscarf, and the Turkish Higher Education Council ruled instructors could no longer act against students who did. As of 2010, students were informally allowed to wear headscarves on campus. Today two-thirds of Turkish women wear head scarves, and the definition of “the public square” is continually contested.
g) There are divisions within Islam in Turkey. Although most Turks are Sunni Muslims, about a quarter belong to such sects as the Alevis.
g) However, Islam will also, often, be used as a tool. Many political leaders have been sincerely faithful, but others have used Islam as a show to curry favor with society or with leaders, for political or personal gain.
g) Secularists will remain suspicious of a hidden radical Islamic plot. This is an aspect of the very Turkish suspicion of a “deep state.” The AK Party descended from an overtly Islamic movement in the 1960s. After winning a landslide in 2002 it promised to keep to the secular principles in the constitution. It has been in power for a decade and shown no hidden Islamic agenda, but this does nothing to alleviate the strong suspicions by some that it has one.
i) Non-Muslim minorities will be tolerated, but the level of toleration will vary from time to time and place to place. During the 1960s to 1980s, there was a strong anti-Christian bias in Turkish culture. Many note anecdotally that a Turk could become anything—an agnostic, atheist or even a Buddhist—but not a Christian. During this period, the pendulum seems to be swinging back in favor of toleration of the church, especially in the more secularized and larger cities.
“Turkey finally makes peace with religion.” London Free Press, 27 September 2012. http://goo.gl/OO4Vi. “It’s time for Turkey to stop waging war on the devout. They deserve the rights of full citizenship, too.”
Gibbs, Joe. “The ghosts of Bingol.” March 17, 2012: http://goo.gl/OJb23. Useful look at Alevi culture.
“Debate on religion takes over politics in Ankara.” Hurriyet Daily, 1 Feb 2012. “Do we want to raise an atheist generation?”
“New Twists and Turns in Turkey’s Head-Scarf Debate.” New York Times, 1 Feb 2012. “Although two in three Turkish women wear head scarves, according to several surveys taken over the past decade, the covering is officially banned from the public sphere, the definition of which is continually contested. Looked down on by the urban ruling class as the garment of poor women, it was long considered unfit for educated society.” Headscarf wearers demand respect.
“Let’s not replace militarist youth with religionist youth.” Hurriyet Daily, 3 Feb 2012. Post-atheist generation comment, fears of conservative fundamentalist generation.
“The mother of all evil (I).” Hurriyet Daily News, Op/Ed, 26 September 2012. http://goo.gl/8kxaW. “…my perpetual pessimism as to why devout Islam cannot be pluralistic.”
Tibi, Bassam. “Islamists approach Europe: Turkey’s Islamist danger.” Middle East Quarterly (Winter 2009). http://goo.gl/13GgF. “What the AKP seeks is not ‘Islam without fear’… but rather a strategy for a creeping Islamization that culminates in a shari’a state not compatible with a secular, democratic order.”
Cagaptay, Soner, Duden Yegenoglu, and Elim Alptekin. “Turkey and Europe’s problem with radical Islam.” The Washington Institute (November 2005). http://goo.gl/ukoV9. Argues that Turkish Muslims are less prone to radical Islam than other ethnic groups.
Dymond, Jonny. “‘Islam problem’ baffles Turkey.” BBC (December 2004). http://goo.gl/Xr55R. “Whatever Europe has today in modern daily life, we have it in Turkey. But we have higher family values, friendship values and solidarity, and I think this is our richness. That’s something Europe can learn from us.”
8. Is Turkey European, Middle Eastern or Central Asian? Yes. Turkey walks a fine line balancing between the three.
Just a decade ago, many Turks believed they shared values and interests with the West, which made it beneficial to collaborate with NATO, the United States, and the European Union. After the 9/11 attacks, the rise of the AK Party, and the Iraq war, they no longer felt the same way, and collaboration became far less important—but then, tensions with Syria and Iran has been forcing it to tilt back toward the West.
a) Today slightly more than half of Turks feel that Turkey has such different values from the West that it is a non-Western country.
b) Yet Arabs admire Turkey for its liberal Western mores and values. The TESEV study revealed Arabs admire Turkey for its (1) democratic rule, (2) working economy, (3) Muslim identity. Arabs love Turkish soap operas that show “ordinary people observing Islam” and yet liberally socializing (dating, flirting, and even drinking).
c) Turkey’s identity will likely continue to shift in this delicate balancing act. The country is a hinge thanks to its geographic, historic, religious and cultural position. We should never assume that it will always act according to the dictates of one side or the other. Turkey’s national pride demands its independence.
Jones, Erik. “Turkey, Islam and Europe.” Survival: Global Politics and Strategy 51:5 (2009). http://goo.gl/bV5Sg. “Turkey was a lot easier for Westerners to deal with when it could be stereotyped.”
Clark, Bruce. “Shifting western views on Turkey.” Asian Affairs 48:2 (July 2012). http://goo.gl/jBTbq
“The so-called ‘Turkish model’.” Hurriyet (27 Dec 2011). Argues Turkey is different from other Arab nations by an increased level of individualism.
“Survey: Turkish opinion warming up to US and EU, but more polarized.” Today’s Zaman (14 Sep 2011).
“Modern Turkey, a delicate balance of East and West.” BBC (11 June 2011)
“PM poses as a Mideastern rather than a European leader.” Hurriyet (13 June 2011)
“For Europe, a Bridge Too Far to Turkey.” New York Times (4 Oct 2011).
“Turkey belongs to Europe.” Hurriyet (24 June 2011).
“Turkey most popular country among Arab nations, poll finds.” Today’s Zaman (27 July 2011)
Ayoob, Mohammed. “Beyond the democratic wave in the Arab World: the Middle East’s Turko-Persian Future.” Insight Turkey 13:2 (2011). http://goo.gl/LZByz.
“Kemalism in Turkish politics: The Republican people’s party, secularism and nationalism.” Insight Turkey Book Review. http://goo.gl/JYBNm.
“Making Islam democratic: social movements and the post-Islamist turn.” Insight Turkey Book Review. http://goo.gl/lXj9e.
“Is Turkey turning its back on the West?” Economist (21 Oct 2010). http://goo.gl/X7B6e.
Ayhan, Kadir. “Is Turkey Asian or European?” KadirAyhan.com (also published in Today’s Zaman). http://goo.gl/yDKVe. “Turkey no longer has to be stuck in the middle, with no clear identity; it can assume the role of a peaceful mediator, or a dual (or multiple) identity.”
9. Turkey’s prosperity is growing. The economy is labeled as an “emerging market” by the IMF, and one of the “newly industrialized countries.” It has a GDP of $1.2 trillion, growing at about 8.5% yearly. Turkey’s economy is now ranked #16 in the world, and it could be a G10 economy in the next few years.
a) The turbulent economic history since the 1940s makes the current growth very desirable. During the 1920s-1940s, the economy quickly rebounded from the devastation of World War I. It stagnated during World War II while Turkey attempted to remain neutral and severely curtailed its foreign trade. Between 1950 and 1970 there was an economic crisis about once a decade. The tumult of the 1960s and 1970s led to a devastated economy with inflation exceeding 100% per year. The reforms of the 1980s helped but did not fully cope with the economic situation. The Iran-Iraq war helped, but the 1991 Persian Gulf War badly damaged it, and the November ‘01 crisis dealt a body blow.
b) The current government’s high public approval is due in large part to how it has managed to grow the economy. The AK Party successfully implemented an economic reform program and brought about a substantial economic upswing. This has continued to win the Party an ever larger share of the Parliament in later elections. The internal economy seems storng, but the impact of the global economy is knocking on Turkey now.
c) Turkey is an economic bridge between Europe and the Middle East—but a shaky one. Over a million Turks work abroad in Europe. Turkey is Europe’s fifth largest export destination, but is also willing to broker deals with Syria and Iran, two states the West doesn’t want to touch. It has established a free trade zone with Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, requiring no visas to pass through. Turkey seeks to use its economic clout to become a regional power, but knows its clout is dependent on its continued economic performance—which is by no means guaranteed.
d) Turkey worries European decline can “come across the bridge.” Throughout the late 1900s, Turkey wanted to be part of the European Union. However, Europe was last certain about admitting Turkey, and although they kept making promises of admission, they also kept adding terms for joining. In 2004, 73% of Turks thought membership in the EU would be good. By 2010, this had fallen to 38%.
Not being part of the EU was an advantage for Turkey during the global economic crisis. They weren’t as badly hurt because Turkey’s currency was independent and their businesses were more local. Presently, Turkey’s economy is in a downturn mostly because the markets they export to are not buying. Internally, the Turkish economy is doing well.
There can be a beneficial relationship between Turkey and Europe, but what kind of relationship this is still needs to be worked out. Turkey seems less likely to pursue EU membership in the short-term future.
e) One of the less noticed factors in Turkey’s economy is the price of fuel oil. Turkey has to import its fuel, particularly its natural gas (used for everything from taxis to cooking). Much of this is imported from Iran and Russia, both of whom Turkey has historically had difficulties with. (Fear of Russian activities in Turkey’s area prompted Turkey to join in NATO, for example.) Minor changes in the price of oil can cause dramatic price shocks in Turkey which affect what (and how much) is had for dinner by the average family.
Gormez, Yuksel, and Serkan Yigit. The economic and financial stability in Turkey: a historical perspective. Southeast European Monetary History Network (2009). http://goo.gl/zOI8E.
Ercel, Gazi. “Globalization and the Turkish Economy.” Globalization and the Developing Countries Conference, Vanderbilt University (2006). http://goo.gl/UXk71
Takim, Abdullah, and Ensar Yilmaz. “Economic policy during Ataturk’s era in Turkey (1923-19838).” African Journal of Business Management 4:4 (April 2010). http://goo.gl/sxq1T.
Dempsey, Judy. “Turkish Vote Result Seen as Opportunity for E.U.” New York Times (14 June 2011). http://goo.gl/SDYju
Bilefsky, Dan. “For Turkey, Lure of European Union is Fast Fading.” New York Times (4 Dec 2011). http://goo.gl/T6zeh.
10. Turkey will have to struggle to maintain its economic gains, and this will be a key focus of its short-term future. The economy has been in a period of growth, but the impact of the global economic downturn is starting to impact the nation.
a) Turkey’s economy is estimated to have grown at 9% for 2010-2011. Its per-capita Gross Domestic Product rose steadily from about $4,000/person in AD2000 to nearly $11,000 in 2011. GDP fairly tripled between 2001 and 2008. There was a significant drop in GDP in 2009, but Turkey has since regained that and now is at its highest GDP peak ever.
b) Not all boats are being lifted by the economic tide. The average Turk earns less than USD$25,000 per year. This average can lead to error, too; there is a significant gap between the richest and the poorest. OECD studies indicate the top 20% of the population earn over eight times as much as the bottom 20%. There are over two dozen billionaires in Turkey, and no absolute poverty (living on less than US$1/day), but many in the bottom 20% (who are often found in rural areas and “low-income” areas of densely populated regions) are struggling to survive on their monthly income.
c) Only 46% of adult Turks aged 15-64 have a paid job (two-thirds of men, a quarter of women). Over a third of the labor force is in the rural, agricultural sector.
d) Only 33% of Turks have earned a high school degree. Many Turks do not have the education needed to participate in high-technology jobs.
e) There is a chance of an economic drop in the long-term, but a better chance in the short-term of avoiding this. When measuring GDP per capita growth as a percentage on an annual basis, 1962-79 was the only recent period that avoided a downturn. In fact, for the 50-year period from 1980 to 2012, 8 years had GDP declines (negative growth); based on this one might project a 20% chance that next year would experience a decline (or an 80% chance by 2015 of at least one bad year). The good news: for the ten-year period of 2002-12 (the tenure to date of the AK Party), only one year had a negative growth rate. Given all these factors, the chance of a downturn a given year in the immediate future can be estimated at 9.5%.
”Turkish immigrants: their integration within the EU and migration to Turkey?” Refik Erzan and Kemal Kirisci, 2004. http://www.turkishpolicy.com/images/stories/2004-03-EUodyssey1/TPQ2004-3-erzan+kirisci.pdf.
11. The black and gray markets will be a substantial part of Turkey’s economy for the foreseeable future. Turkey has developed a “culture of complicity” in which people turn a blind eye to each other’s rule-breaking in exchange for a blind eye turned to their own.
a) The black market is estimated to generate $8 billion per year through prostitution, human smuggling, counterfeiting and intellectual piracy.
b) The “gray market” (selling goods that are legal in a way that avoids tax and regulation) is estimated to account for about half of the country’s national economy. In order to survive in business many must use illegal means to avoid the tax structure.
c) Many industries and businesses in Turkey are controlled in whole or in part by the military. They benefit from insider information and make it difficult for private businesses to compete with them. It is unclear whether the trials of 2012 will change this situation.
d) The government is making noises about cracking down on organized crime, but most of this seems to be talk with little action.
Caryl, Christian. “Guns and Butter.” Foreign Policy (24 Jan 2012). http://goo.gl/b7Pbq. The military is deeply involved in private businesses run in Turkey.
Zalewski, Piotr. “Building a better Turkey: Anatolia is booming, but some Turks are finding that their new country’s model for prosperity is rigged.” Foreign Policy (23 Nov 2011). http://goo.gl/8TW66.
“The Black Silk Road: Black Markets and organized crime in Turkey.” http://goo.gl/uvahp.
Dogan, Yonca Poyraz, and Fatma Disli. “Social inequality still a problem in Turkey, study reveals.” Today’s Zaman (26 May 2010). http://goo.gl/stEss.
Duman, Anil. “Female education inequality in Turkey: factors affecting girls’ schooling.” Spring Meeting of Young Economists (2009). http://goo.gl/WKokT
Duman, Anil. “Education and income inequality in Turkey: does schooling matter?” Institut za javne financije (March 2008). http://goo.gl/stEss.
12. Turkey has become and will most likely remain less isolated and more active on the global stage.
Since 1980, Turkey has opened up to the world. Its growing economy has translated into confidence in its regional presence. In 2009 it began dramatically increasing its attempts to build its reputation and influence, although other global players thought less of its chances at the time. It wants to be seen as a model of moderate Islamic power and a regional leader, but whether it can achieve this will largely depend on the strength of its economy and its ability to influence the other powers.
a) Turkey’s foreign policy is very pragmatic. It was quick to urge Mubarak to exit Egypt, but slow in Libya where it has many business ties.
b) Turkey and the United States are pragmatic allies as well. When threats are less, so is cooperation. Turkey does not wish to be seen as a “puppet” of America, and there is little economic incentive as the US market is not a substantial one for Turkey. During the Cold War, Turkey was a strong ally of NATO due to the threat from Russia. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Turkey moved out of the US orbit and began trying to build up regional relationships and influence.
c) Turkey and Israel. Turkey recognized Israel early on, but has been a staunch supporter of Palestine. Turkey wanted to help negotiate an agreement between Syria and Israel, but Israel spurned the effort and Turkey was embittered. After the MaviMarmara flotilla affair, in which Turkish nationals were killed when Israeli commandos stormed an aid flotilla to keep it from landing in Palestine, Turkey downgraded its relations. Neither side seems keen to do what is necessary to restart relationships in the short-term future. Turkey seems more likely to remain cold toward Israel through at least 2015.
d) Turkey and Islam in Europe. The sizable Turkish diaspora has been in Europe (mostly Germany) for a very long time. Questions of whether Islam was being “Europeanized” or Europe was being “Islamicized” have risen, and there have been concerns about radicals, but Turkish Muslims are rarely involved in fundamentalist activities. Turkey has sponsored the construction of mosques and Muslim training centers in France and Turkey. In the early 2000s, Turkey sponsored an effort to begin revisiting the Hadiths and reinterpreting them in a modern context; this effort is not without controversy. Turkish diaspora are often less likely to participate in fundamentalist or radical Islamic activities. The imams sent from Turkey to minister to Turkish diaspora in Germany are as focused on keeping the Muslims there faithful as they are to working against radicalism; and, most importantly, working to keep the Turkish diaspora from integrating into Europe—and losing their Turkishness.
e) Will Turkey and Syria go to war? Turkey had begun building closer ties with Syria while stepping away from ties with the United States and Israel. Then, in the wake of the Arab Spring, Syria fell apart, and Turkey began standing against the government of Assad. Relations between the two nations rapidly deteriorated.
Erdogan has undertaken actions which are hostile to Syria: providing a safe haven for the Syrian opposition and channeling funds, weapons and intelligence to the rebels. Rebels control a strip of territory along the Syria-Turkey border wher ethey enjoy the protection of Turkish forces.
In response, Syria began encouraging the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK). The PKK has been fighting for autonomy for over 28 years, with more than 40,000 killed in the conflict; it has been labeled a terrorist organization by Turkey, the USA and the European Union. At Syria’s urging, the PKK has launched a surge of attacks, and Turkey has responded forcefully. The conflict of these “proxy forces” could potentially break out into open warfare between Turkey and Syria.
As a result of this conflict, thousands of refugees have poured into Turkey form Syria (as well as from Iraq and Iran). Turkey says it can’t handle more than 100,000 refugees without help.
In 2012, this situation worsened when shelling from Syria landed in Turkish towns and villages and civilians were killed. The Turkish parliament authorized the government to intervene directly in Syria if necessary. Turkey began returning shelling, although it says it is not yet ready to put troops on the ground.
Given all these factors, the probability of Turkey invading Syria seems high but by no means certain: perhaps 60% by 2015.
Gumuscu, Sebnem. “Turkey’s reactions to the Arab Spring.” Yale Journal of International Affairs (16 May 2012). http://goo.gl/Qa6WV.
Siddiqui, Haroon. “Turkey transforms itself into an indispensable ally.” The Star (Canada), 22 September 2012. http://goo.gl/Zr3EM.
Giraldi, Philip. “Turkey’s Syrian delimma.” The American Conservative, 26 Sep 2012. http://goo.gl/pfOSy.
Leigh, Karen. “Turkish dilemma: Turkey’s voluble prime minister has talked himself into a corner on Syria. Will the spiraling unrest next door finally force him to back up his words?” Foreign Policy (6 September 2012). http://goo.gl/Zrskd.
Pauker, Benjamin. “Epiphanies from Abdullah Gul.” Foreign Policy (May/June 2012). http://goo.gl/ZQlYA. “Turkey can be a democratic model for the Middle East.”
Schleifer, Yigal. “Dead in the water: as Turkey cuts Israel adrift, the relationship between these two former allies is sinking fast.” Foreign Policy, 2 Sep 2011. http://goo.gl/1mqiE.
“Growing less mild: Turkey’s aggressive posture toward Syria signals a shift in foreign policy with imperial overtones.” Economist (14 Apr 2012). http://goo.gl/qyv9W.
Warning, Martina, and Tuncay Kardas. “The impact of changing Islamic identity in Turkey’s new foreign policy.” Alternatives 10:2 (2011). http://goo.gl/aT6sd.
Traub, James. “Turkish dilemma: Turkey is now going its own way in the Middle East, and nobody in Washington or Brussels knows what to do about it.” Foreign Policy (15 June 2010). http://goo.gl/Epl0.
Cagaptay, Soner. “Turkey’s Kurdish calculus: Ankara re-embraces its old allies in Washington, at the expense of Tehran and Damascus.” Wall Street Journal (25 Sep 2012). http://goo.gl/Akqxz.
Hockenos, Paul. “The war over Germany’s Imams: sent by Turkey as a check on Western influence as well as Islamist radicalism, Germany’s holy men are at the heart of the battle over the future of Islam in Europe.” Foreign Policy (2 July 2010). http://goo.gl/NZlj.
Cook, Stephen. “Arab Spring, Turkish fall: Turkey’s leaders are looking less like the new Ottomans they’ve imagined themselves to be, and more like stumbling politicians afraid of a new regional order.” Foreign Policy (5 May 2011). http://goo.gl/JSGcN.
13. Turkey is haphazard about enforcement of its laws, but has shown a pattern of dealing harshly with perceived threats.
This will not change; if anything, it seems more likely to solidify. On the one hand, Turkey claims to be an open, democratic nation, and points to its improving human rights record. On the other, it runs roughshod over freedoms and the rule of law when it perceives it to be necessary or expedient.
a) Turkey takes Al Qaeda very seriously. The government responds quickly and forcefully to threats of attack.
b) The Kurdish situation is precarious. It is being encouraged along by Syrian factions as part of a “proxy war.” There has been a significant upswing in violence and governmental response, and it is likely this violence will continue until the Syrian conflict is resolved.
c) The Ergenekon Conspiracy. “Ergenekon” is an alleged illegal hardline nationalist organization accused of planning to oust the AK Party through a military coup. Some 200 leading civilian and military figures have been detained and trials are under way. No one has yet been convicted. The Ergenekon conspiracy allegedly had a four-stage plan of preparation, organization, terrorism in rural and urban areas, and civil war: all in order to bring down the government. Ergenekon aimed to form phantom terrorist groups and launch attacks in order to create chaos. One of these attacks, it is alleged, was the murders of evangelicals and priests (notably, the Malatya murders) that devastated the Christian community. There is some question at this point as to whether the Ergenekon trials are fair, or whether the action against the conspirators has not been widened to enable the AK Party to quash its opposition. The net result for the church is the government seems to have become more amenable to protecting the church from attack—at least for the moment—due to the aftermath of the Malatya attacks.
d) Turkey will continue to censor and arrest journalists. Currently there are 76 journalists in jail (as of 2012, more than any other country). The AK Party says the arrests are part of its pursuit of threats to Turkey, and particularly threats from Kurdish separatists and coup-plotters. Others say the arrests are purely the effort of the AK Party to muzzle opposition.
Zalewski, Piotr. “Turkey’s democratic dilemma.” Foreign Affairs (21 March 2012). http://goo.gl/sjPek.
“Turkey: Guide to Ergenekon,” Open Source Center (US Government), obtained and published through the Federation of American Scientists. http://bit.ly/ON9yaF.
Cook, Steven. “Tarnished brass,” Foreign Policy (2 Aug 2011). http://goo.gl/FJ73u. “The military’s chief of staff explained that the officers believed they could no longer ‘protect their personnel’ from criminal investigations and as a result could no longer carry on their duties effectively.
Marcus, Aliza. “The historical blindness of Turkey’s detractors,” Foreign Policy (24 Nov 2010). http://goo.gl/M2TF0. “Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is not destroying the country’s democracy—he’s building it up after an era of military repression that was far worse.”
Barkey, Henri. “Turkey’s silent crisis: tensions between the government and the country’s Kurdish minority are threatening to explode like never before.” Foreign Policy (31 Aug 2010). http://goo.gl/w30N9.
Schleifer, Yigal. “General paralysis: a series of blunders have cost the Turkish military its once dominant role in Ankara.” Foreign Policy (9 Aug 2011). http://goo.gl/amFMt.
Aslan, Ali. “How Turkey tamed its army.” Foreign Policy (28 June 2010). http://goo.gl/Rwh3T. “Fifty years after the country’s most infamous military coup, Turkey finally appears to be strengthening its democratic institutions.”
Malek, Alia. “Turkey’s war on journalists.” Foreign Policy (22 Dec 2011). http://goo.gl/WhLN1. “As Prime Minister Erdogan’s government grows increasingly intolerant of dissent, the media is bearing the brunt of its effort to silence its critics.”
“Enemies of the state: four journalists are released from prison, dozens are less lucky.” Economist. http://goo.gl/iWHNr.
Structures of Sin
14. Prostitution is, in theory, legal and licensed by the state, but in fact the number of licenses is rapidly declining.
In 2004, there were 3,000 licensed prostitutes in 56 state-run brothels, and 30,000 women waiting to get licenses in Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir (according to a report by the Ankara Chamber of Commerce). The prostitution industry was once estimated at $3 to 4 billion; in fact, Mtaild Manukyan, who died in 2001, once “topped the taxpayers lists for many years… used to pay as much as $9 million in annual taxes” on a prostitution empire built over 30 years. As licenses decline, the number of unlicensed prostitutes has been rapidly increasing: there are an estimated 100,000 in Turkey, about half of whom are foreign (many trafficked from Eastern Europe). Prostitution is spread throughout the country; in Diyarbakir, there were an estimated 6,000 women working illegally. Many prostitutes are underage. During election seasons there are raids from time to time, but the networks relaunch almost immediately. Illegal prostitution will grow further in the near future.
Sussman, Anna Louie. “Dimming the red lights in Turkey.” New York Times (19 August 2011). http://goo.gl/tSdtW
Dynan, Nicholas. “A look inside Turkey’s transsexual brothels.” Global Post (29 August 2010). http://goo.gl/M1DY.
“Prostitutes total 100,000 in Turkey, ATO says.” Hurriyet (19 July 2004). http://goo.gl/idlP9.
15. Istanbul is a smuggling hub due to lenient entry standards at its international airport, and its proximity to Greece.
The International Organization for Migration estimates 250,000 have been trafficked through Turkey since 1999. Most come from the USSR. Many leave home voluntarily, thinking they are headed for legitimate work. Some may be trafficked as far as Southeast Asia. One recent research study estimated there were as many as 200 human smuggling operations in Turkey. The US State Department has marked Turkey as a destination and transport country for trafficked individuals. This problem will continue mostly unabated.
“2011 Trafficking in persons report: Turkey.” United States Department of State (2011). http://goo.gl/WHjdK.
Zaman, Amberin. “Sex trafficking plagues Turkey: the country is a prime destination for women lured from former Soviet states and pressed into slavery.” Los Angeles Times (1 Feb 2006). http://goo.gl/c4Mfh.
Smith, Craig. “Turkey’s growing sex trade snares many Slavic women.” New York Times (26 June 2005). http://goo.gl/5tiMI.
“Dying to leave.” PBS, 25 September 2003. http://goo.gl/vzHB5.
16. There has been a substantial increase in the narcotics trade.
In 2007 and 2008, Turkish authorities seized more illicit drugs than all other European nations combined. Turkey is a key transit route for South Asian heroin to Western Europe: the Balkan route from Afghanistan to Europe via Istanbul yields $20 billion for traffickers alone (not counting the profits from its sale). Some 80% of the heroin flowing to Europe goes across Turkey’s borders.
“Turkey leads regional effort against organized crime.” SETimes.com, 27 September 2012. http://goo.gl/Yxii7.
17. Turkey experienced the worst Christian population decline of any nation in West Asia.
Today, Armenian Orthodox (about 70,000) and Catholics (about 30,000) are the largest professedly-Christian traditions in Turkey. Evangelicals number between 3,000 and 6,000 total. Virtually every other country in the region gained Christians (although in many, the percentage of the population these Christians represented declined). Declines included the 1915 deportation & death of up to 1.5 million Armenians living under the Ottoman Empire (the debated and Turkish-denied “Armenian Genocide”) as well as the the 1923 “population exchange” between Greece and Turkey in which roughly 1.5 million Greeks (primarily Orthodox Christians) were expelled. In 1900, Turkey was 21% Christian; today, it is just 0.2% Christian (evangelicals, about 0.01%).
Clark, Bruce. Twice a stranger: the mass expulsions that forged modern Greece and Turkey. Harvard University Press: 2006 (274pp).
Grossbongardt, Annette. “The diaspora welcomes the Pope.” Spiegel Online, 28 November 2006. http://goo.gl/UU5W5.
18. The Turkish church is seeing remarkable growth.
From a dozen members in the 1970s, the modern Turkish church has grown to a membership of several thousand. There are about 100 churches, most with memberships well under 100. About half are house churches with 10 to 15 members each. Most have no legal identity whatsoever. Growth has come in waves:
a) The publication of the modern-language New Testament in the 1980s was a pivotal event. At the same time, foreign workers were increasingly able to stay in Turkey for longer periods of time (where before they were often kicked out after a few months). The combination of an understood corpus of doctrine with the “connective tissue” of foreigners who could make friendships, build relationships, and witness and disciple led to rapid growth in the church.
b) The “Praying through the Window” campaigns (and other prayer campaigns) of the 1990s made a significant impact on Turkey. During these events, Turkey was often the country most adopted for prayer. An influx of foreign workers and the March for Jesus prayer movement likewise impacted the nation during a time of significant upheaval.
c) In 2000, the entire Bible was published in modern Turkish. Previously, the Bible was available in an older Arabic/Persian language, and was the equivalent of an American reading Shakespeare. The new Bible made more teaching in the church possible. As with the publication of the New Testament, this led to another wave of growth.
d) The mushrooming in the early 2000s of in-country radio stations and Bible correspondence courses helped to broaden awareness of the Gospel, Christ and Christianity and led to a broad increase in the number of seekers.
e) The launch of satellite TV programs and the availability of followup via the Internet enabled Turkish believers to talk to Turks. Culturally, a Turk speaking for Christianity was even more powerful than the written word, as Turks have a history of believing what a Turk says but viewing with suspicion what is advertised in print. Yet another significant growth spike was the result.
Carnes, Tony. “Jesus in Turkey: after 550 years in decline, a bloodied church is being reborn.” Christianity Today (January 2008): http://goo.gl/jWvJP
19. One of the most remarkable features and greatest strengths of the modern Turkish church is the development of its Turkish face. Turkish leadership has matured significantly.
a) Turks lead the Turkish church. In the 1970s and 1980s, virtually every meeting group was led by a foreigner. Today, virtually every group and church is led by a Turkish pastor. A Turkish Evangelical Council has been formed.
b) The Turkish church today is made up of whole families. In the mid-1900s, many churches had only one member of any given family; the rest of the convert’s family was Muslim, and the convert could only attend church sporadically and in secret. Today, There are many families in churches with second-generation Christians: children who are being raised with Christian training.
c) There has been an incredible increase in boldness and opportunity. From Christian radio stations and Bible correspondence courses in country to metro station advertising, open air concerts, and signs on churches, much is possible today (especially in the larger western cities) than could have been dreamed about even 20 years ago.
d) The Turkish church has become more organized. In the 1999 earthquake, the church has no cohesive response. After the 2011 earthquake in Van, the church has had a real, organized, visible presence.
20. Turkish congregations will likely always remain small (15-20 members, 40 is exceptionally large).
This is owed more to the Turkish desire for intimacy and personal relationships. Most Turks would prefer to start newer, smaller congregations rather than grow a church to a very large size (in the hundreds).
21. Although the modern church is strong and growing, it faces weaknesses and challenges. Many are the result of its recent rapid growth. Dealing with these weaknesses is necessary to grow much further.
a) Much of Turkey remains unevangelized, and much of what remains is a challenging field. There are large portions of cities (particularly Istanbul) where there is no Christian work. In the rural east, many towns have no Christian witness whatsoever. Moreover, many of these regions are far less open and in some cases very dangerous for Christians.
b) The enormous surge in the number of seekers and curious people asking questions (for some programs, anywhere from 10,000 to 100,000) presents a huge problem for follow-up.
c) The church must deal with lingering fears and suspicions of visitors and seekers leftover from a generation of restrictions, arrests, persecution and harassment.
d) Protestants have become used to discrimination and accept any harassment as a normal state of affairs. As the Turkish church grows, it is having to learn how to stand up for its legal rights, and develop the boldness to do so.
e) Leadership development is a bottleneck to the growth of the church. There is no legal way to train clergy in any officially registered institutions. Although Turkish churches are open and willing to train leaders, there is not at present a clear way to multiply Turkish leadership.
f) In order to expand, church growth must reach a multiplying growth rate. However, the idea of movements and multiplication is not well-understood idea for the Turkish church.
g) The Turkish church and the missionary community have had to struggle with controveries, often related to matters “brought in” by expatriates (such as the translation controversy with the Insider Movement, as well as divisions over reformed and charismatic ideologies and the Prosperity Gospel).
“Protestants in Turkey: ‘a threat’ or under threat? Legal and social problems of Protestants in Turkey, 2010.” Association of Protestant Churches, http://www.protestankiliseler.com.
22. The growth of the Turkish church and the transition of Turks into leadership roles means the role of the missionary in Turkey is, likewise, in transition. Missionaries are not presently needed in pastoral roles, or in the work of translation or publication.
a) Seasoned leaders can help “come along side” and encourage younger Turkish leaders. Some networks are looking for older, experienced ministry workers with pastoral and mentoring gifts to help provide training and resources for young Turkish leaders.
b) Expatriates can take on the “slightly risky” evangelistic work opening up new ground: spending a short amount of evangelistic time in places where Turkish believers might not be able to go, in activities like street preaching, literature distribution, etc.
23. There are some significant threats to missionary work on the horizon. By 2025, the ability of expatriates to minister in Turkey may be far more restricted and regulated than it is today. Most challenging are trends which will limit the amount of time expatriate missionaries can spend in Turkey. Relationships are very important to Turks, but it takes time to learn language and culture and build friendships.
a) Finding a platform to enter Turkey is very difficult in the current climate. There are some openings in education and consulting work. Work visas are very difficult (often “nearly impossible”) to get (because the Turkish government is protecting its labor market, and employers must demonstrate a need for a foreign employee rather than a Turkish one). This limits the possibilities of business-as-mission and tentmaking. Even if a work visa is granted, the legal structures make business a losing proposition for non-Turks, further challenging this.
c) Tourist visas are being tightened: foreigners can enter for 90 days, but can only get one every 180 days (which stops the “revolving door” visa). This may lead to workers living in nearby countries, ministering to Turks there, and entering Turkey as much as possible.
d) Longer residency visas are possible in certain larger cities. They recently became more widely available in rural areas, but there are reports that this availability is now drying up again. This will make it less possible for workers to have a longer-term presence in less-reached areas.
“Foreigners leave Turkey amid new residence law.” Hurriyet Daily (26 January 2012).
24. Barriers to conversion are lessening in more urban areas, but growing in the rest of Turkey. In more cosmopolitan cities (as well as among the diaspora outside Turkey), pressures on potential converts have lessened. However, they have not been eliminated altogether, and remain significant in more conservative areas of Turkey.
a) In Turkey’s honor/shame culture, family pressure is the biggest barrier to conversion. If someone becomes a Christian they are often told they cannot come home. Families that see a member convert go through a grieving process: however, although this can take years, they nearly always reconcile with the Christian convert.
b) Many Turks identify themselves by their “home village,” even in the cities. When a convert is threatened with the loss of this identification (“you can’t come home again”), he or she loses a part of their identity. This is a very important cost to bear in mind when presenting the Gospel to seekers.
c) Compulsory religious classes in Turkey’s schools perpetuate Islam to the next generation. These classes were once done away with, but have returned. Christians and Jews have the right to be exempt from the classes, but the exemptions are not well implemented; deciding to exercise an exemption is an act of self-identification and often leads to harassment by other students (and in some cases, teachers).
d) There can be economic costs to conversion. Although larger companies in bigger cities rarely care about the private profession of Christianity, smaller companies in more rural and smaller cities will indeed care, and converts can lose their jobs.
c) Smaller locations and entities are more likely to care about conversion. New converts can avoid attention in larger cities.
25. Although threats to churches have been reduced significantly over the past few years, challenging obstacles to church growth remain. Many of these barriers are “hidden” within the cultural fabric of the nation.
a) The vast majority of churches do not have official recognition or legal status. The only way to gain legal status is to register as a foundation or association. Some have, but many doing so have had a negative experience. Governmental regulations evidence suspicion and a desire to control the churches, but the rules are haphazard and unevenly enforced.
b) Most churches do not have legitimate places to meet. There is a bias in Turkey against small groups: they are seen as cells of revolution (and not just suspicion of Christians, but also of Islamic fundamentalists and communists). Small groups meeting in homes as churches are legally not allowed. To have a building is to a stamp of credibility, but probelmatic. Religious buildings can only be built on land granted by the government; land is given to mosques but not to churches, so new church construction is not possible. Churches must rent buildings or make other arrangements to meet. In larger cities, it is easier to find a vacant church (such as an old Catholic or Armenian church) and get permission to use it. In other places (such as smaller cities or towns, particularly in the East), less is possible, and more care must be taken about meeting in public.
c) Governmental monitoring is pervasive. Phones can be tapped. In the recent past there was much anti-Christian paranoia and disinformation. People working in Turkey are still very sensitive to the security situation.
d) Missionary burnout and the time to acclimate has a significant impact on work. About half of all workers who come to Turkey do not last two years, and about half of the remainder do not last four. Less than 10% of missionaries last longer than 8 years.
e) Church Planting Movements are not getting much traction in the Turkic world. Turks love small groups, and will divide themselves to keep groups small in order to maintain the intensity of relationship. They don’t generally like the idea of a church with hundreds of members. Yet, there are no working models of rapid church multiplication yet.
“Turkey listed among countries with high restrictions on religion.” Today’s Zaman, 23 Sep 2012. http://goo.gl/DvB8d. But Turkey dropped from “very high” to “high.”