Excerpt from Faruk Yalvaç (2014) “Approaches to Turkish Foreign Policy: A Critical Realist Analysis”, Turkish Studies, 15:1, 117-138, DOI: 10.1080/14683849.2014.892238

Umut Uzer argues in his Identity and Turkish Foreign Policy that identities and ideologies as well as national interests are important in determining state behaviour (2011, p.9). Uzer states that the approach which he adopts is Turkish_Studiesan “eclectic” one whose argument falls somewhere between an identity-based constructivist analysis and a realist analysis. However, the argument suffers from trying to combine two diametrically opposed positions, namely, the rationalist epistemology of conventional constructivism (which provides a “framework of prediction for future Turkish behavior” Uzer 2011, p. 184, 186) and the subjectivist ontology of constructivism.

Criticizing Wendt’s model for failing to analyze the actors before interaction, Yucel Bozdaglıoglu (2003) offers another constructivist analysis of TFP that emphasizes the importance of the domestic construction of identities in explaining FP preferences and interests. Bozdaglıoglu stresses that identities are constructed before states interact with each other, explaining different foreign-policy stances by referencing differences in perceptions of Turkish identity among Turkey’s Kemalists, Islamists and Nationalists. He combines his analysis with a liberal–pluralist understanding of society, suggesting that “the state’s identity will emerge as a result of domestic struggles among various groups—each pressing for an identity that would conform to their identity conceptions;” however, he does not elaborate on the nature of these domestic struggles or how they relate to wider social relations. Similar to Uzer’s analysis, a state-centric constructivism is combined with a liberal understanding of the state as the arena where different group conflicts are solved, and foreign policy is explained by the “different cultural backgrounds and identity conceptions” of different groups and institutions (Uzer 2011, p. 7, 27, 25). However identity formation is defined in culturalist terms, without an explanation of how identities are related to concrete social power relations.

One problem that all these constructivist accounts share is that they fail to discuss how identities are translated into state power, nor is it so clear that identity-based foreign policy is based less on geopolitical considerations leading, for instance, to different policies when and if security of a state is at stake. Can Turkey be said to be following a less state-interested policy today due to its changing social identity?… Similar to constructivists, poststructuralists see the world in terms of inter-subjective praxes and human actions and understandings, rather than objective material social relations…

The poststructuralist discourse in TFP analysis focuses on how different foreign policy practices are constructed through different discourses. The emphasis is on the deconstruction of different discursive structures, challenging binary oppositions and demonstrating the instability of meanings attached to the discourses. In one example of a poststructuralist analysis of TFP, Senem Aydın Duzgit, in her analysis of European Union (EU)–Turkish relations, defines foreign policy “as a discursive practice,” (2011) arguing along the lines of Roxanne Doty (1993; Laffey 2000) that foreign-policy actors “produce meanings” through discourse and “actively construct the reality on which foreign policy is based.”(Doty 1993, p.52).

Other scholars have also attempted to use post-structural approaches to understand how the discourses against Turkey’s membership of the EU are constructed (Tekin 2008; see also Yilmaz 2007). In an analysis bringing together post-structural and post-colonial approaches, Bahar Rumelili discusses the construction of “Turkey as a liminal subject” “which eludes the identity categories constituted by discourses on international politics, such as, Western/non-Western, developed/under-developed, democratic/ non-democratic.” (Rumelili 2012, p. 496). Turkey’s liminal status is described as “being in but not of Europe.” This is meant to demonstrate “how social categories constituted by the discourses of international politics are inevitably negotiated, contested and ultimately transversed by actors positioned in liminal spaces.” (Rumelili 2012, p. 500).

Similarly, Lerna Yanık analyses the “discursive formation of exceptionalism” in TFP and “illustrate[s] how historical and geographical features of a country are used discursively to construct an exceptional identity that in turn justifies and rationalizes foreign policy actions.” (2011, p. 82, 87). Despite its radical claims, this form of analysis is based on an acceptance of the traditional domestic/international distinction, replicating this in a discursive analysis. Thus, Yanık notes a contradiction between the discourse on exceptionalism in foreign policy and the domestic Kemalist nation-building project based on the “idea of purity” of a nation. From the emergent perspective of critical realism, this contradiction between domestic and foreign-policy practices can be traced back to the same social relations and processes without being reduced to them and therefore they stop appearing to be contradictory. Therefore, the contradiction can be resolved if the domestic and the international “levels” can be seen to arise from similar social processes and conditions. This, however, would imply a different ontological starting point, that of social relations rather than the discursive practices that are rooted in those relations.

Ali Balcı’s analysis of TFP most closely follows a “poststructuralist line”(2010). As is often the case in post-structural writings that criticize modernist approaches to the state and foreign policy, his analysis is based on a criticism of the internal/external divide. Similar to other poststructuralists such as Walker and Weber, he deconstructs this as a myth whereby the state “imposes specific meanings” on who is inside and who is outside. Foreign policy “does not have an a priori reality, but is a constructed myth;” it is a “strategy” that involves “internal power relations” (p. 87, 88, 89, 91). As with Yucel, Balcı takes the construction of identities as dependent upon different power relations inside; however, what these power relations are and how they are constructed is not clearly analyzed. Despite their different starting points, both Balcı and Yucel possess a liberal–pluralist understanding of the state as an arena of power struggle without relating power relations to a structural context of state–society relations. If foreign policy is a myth, then the circumstances that “produce” this myth need to be understood. Moreover, although Balcı underlines the importance of power relations in the formation of identities, he ignores more concrete social relations such as the relations of property and production out of which these power relations emerge and how they are translated into state policies. Thus, as Joseph might argue, Balcı’s “critique is deconstructive but not ontological,” (2004, p. 150, 158) ignoring how power relations emerge and are formed within a structural context and as an outcome of social processes. In contrast, Balcı’s analysis reduces power to a performative strategy (Ashley 1987, p. 51) or to its exercise. This argument lacks “an adequate notion of social stratification and hierarchy,” and assumes “a flat ontology that remains at the level of the surface play of power relations” (2004, p. 154, 159).


Ashley, Richard K. “Foreign Policy as Political Performance.” International Studies Notes 13 (1987): 51–54.

Balcı, Ali. “1990 Sonrası Turk Dıs¸ Politikası Uzerine Bazı Notlar: Avrupa Birligi ve Kıbrıs Ornegi.” In Turkiye’nin Degisen Dıs Politikası, edited by Cuneyt Yenigun and Ertan Efegil, 87–99. Istanbul: Nobel Yayın Dagıtım, 2010.

Bozdaglıoglu, Yucel. Turkish Foreign Policy and Turkish Identity: A Constructive Approach. New York and London: Routledge, 2003.

Doty, Roxanne L. “Foreign Policy as a Social Construction: A Post-Positivist Analysis of US Counterinsurgency Policy in the Philippines.” International Studies Quarterly 37, no. 3 (1993): 297–320.

Duzgit, Senem A. “Avrupa Birligi-Turkiye Iliskilerine Postyapısalcı Yaklasım: Almanya Orneginde Dıs Politika ve Soylem Analiz.” Uluslararası Iliskiler 8, no. 29 (2011): 49–70.

Joseph, Jonathan. “Foucault and Reality.” Capital and Class 28, no. 1 (2004): 143–165.

Laffey, Mark. “Locating Identity: Performativity, Foreign Policy and State Action.” Review of International Studies 26, no. 3 (2000): 429–444.

Rumelili, Bahar. “Liminal Identities and Processes of Domestication and Subversion in International Relations.” Review of International Studies 38 (2012): 495–508.

Tekin, Beyza Çagatay. “The Construction of Turkey’s Possible EU Membership in French Political Discourse.” Discourse and Society 19, no. 6 (2008): 727–763.

Uzer, Umit. Identity and Turkish Foreign Policy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

Yanık, Lerna K. “Constructing Turkish ‘Exceptionalism’: Discourses of Liminality and Hybridity in Post-Cold War Turkish Foreign Policy.” Political Geography 30, no. 2 (2011): 59–114.

Yılmaz, Hakan. “Turkish Identity on the Road to the EU: Basic Elements of French and German Oppositional Discourses.” Journal of Southern Europe and the Balkans 9, no. 3 (2007): 293–305.

Documentary Title: “Voices of the Unheard” by Assoc. Prof. Alper Kaliber

Length: 44 minutes

Language: Turkish with English subtitles

“Europeanisation of Public Debates and Civil Society in Turkey” (EUROCIV), financially supported by the European Commission, was conducted by Assoc. Prof. Alper Kaliber at Istanbul Bilgi University European Union Institute from 1 September 2012 to 31 August 2014. Activists from more than 35 civil society organisations in Istanbul, Ankara and Diyarbakir were interviewed within the scope of this research. This short documentary features selected civil society organisations, which could not make their voices heard due to different reasons, yet which have carried out vital works on the economic, social and cultural aspects of the Kurdish issue.

originally published in the 23rd issue ofG20 and BRICS Updateof the Heinrich Böll Foundation – North America

Dr Sevil Acar is an assistant professor at Istanbul Kemerburgaz University. Her research is on environmental and resource economics, particularly natural capitdrsevilacaral accounting, sustainability indicators, and the resource curse. Her undergraduate, masters and Ph.D. degrees are from Bogazici University, Istanbul Technical University, and Marmara University, respectively. During her Ph.D. studies, she was awarded a scholarship to conduct research at the Centre for Environmental and Resource Economics (CERE, Sweden) involving the analysis of Swedish sustainable savings and carbon convergence across countries, among other things.

In 2009, G20 Leaders committed to “rationalize and phase out over the medium term inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption”. The ongoing G20 agenda and the upcoming G20 summit in Antalya stand as unique opportunities to realize that pledge.  For more background information on the G20’s track record on eliminating fossil fuel subsidies, see the publications by the Global Subsidies Initiative and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), including the report co-authored by Acar, and  “The Fossil Fuel Bailout: G20 subsidies for oil, gas and coal explorationby ODI and Oil Change International (November 2014).

As a developing country, Turkey is facing increased demand for utilization of electricity and primary energy sources. At the same time, it is grappling with the challenges of realizing its emissions abatement needs and ensuring a cost-competitive energy supply. According to UNFCC, Turkey’s total greenhouse gas emissions reached 439.9 million tonnes (Mt) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-eq) in 2012, which represents an increase of 133.4% above 1990 levels. The current situation of coal subsidies in Turkey, which is summarized below, counters potential abatement efforts.

In order to sustain a  cost-competitive and secure energy supply, Turkey set the following objectives in its Comprehensive Growth Strategy document prepared as part of the G20 Growth Strategy documents in 2014 (p. 16):

  • to increase the ratio of domestic resources in energy production;
  • to diversify the origins of energy supply in terms of countries, regions, and sources;
  • to increase the share of renewables, lignite coal-fired power plants and include the nuclear in energy mix; and
  • to take significant steps to increase energy efficiency.

As importing the majority of its energy supply (more than 75%) imposes a heavy burden on its balance of payments, Turkey has a definite priority to reduce import dependency in energy. Recently, there has been a rapid expansion of coal exploration and coal-fired power generation throughout the country. Although it also has ambitious plans for deployment of renewable energy, these are likely to be compromised by the continued existence of subsidies to coal-fired power generation and coal mining, including the recently introduced regional development package with investment support and loan guarantees. However, debate over subsidy reform is hindered by lack of transparent data about the magnitude and impacts of these subsidies.

A recent report developed by the Global Subsidies Initiative (GSI) and their partners in Turkey (Acar, Kitson and Bridle, 2015) establishes a detailed account of the current level of knowledge around the role of subsidies to coal and identifies particular subsidies for which direct cost estimates are not available. To begin with, the government provides generous support to the hard coal sector via direct transfers from the Treasury. The summary table below displays how these transfers reached a level of around US$300 million in 2013. Besides, consumer subsidies (coal aid to poor families) amounted up to more than US$390 million in the same year. Additionally, the coal sector is supported via the following measures and regulations):

  • In 2012, Turkey introduced the New Investment Incentive Scheme, which is comprised of various instruments to promote different industries. Coal exploration and production as well as investments in coal-fired power plants are categorized as “priority investments” and receive subsidies in the form of Customs Duty Exemptions, Value Added Tax Exemptions, Tax Reductions, Social Security Premium Support (Employer’s Share), Land Allocation and Interest Support, with the terms and rates of support depending on the region .
  • R&D expenditure: The government supports the fossil fuel sector with R&D expenditures. Among various fuels, coal receives the highest level of expenditures for this purpose. The International Energy Agency (IEA) reports that 2.6 million Turkish lira (TL) was spent on coal R&D by the government in 2009. (No data was available after this year.)
  • Rehabilitation Support: As part of the privatization process, the Turkish government funded the rehabilitation of hard coal mines and coal power stations.
  • Government support for exploration: The Strategic Plan 2010-2014 of the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources (MENR, 2010, p. 41) documents its coal, oil and gas exploration budgets as displayed in the table below. The annual budget varied between 35 million and 51 million TL (approximately US$23 million to US$34 million) in the plan period.
  • Government expenditure on coal-fired power stations: Planned budgetary expenditure for new coal power plants was calculated as 28 million TL (~US$15 million) for 2013 and estimated at 31 million TL (~US$14 million) for 2014. These include the new domestic coal thermal plants of 3,500 MW to be completed by the end of 2013 (MENR, 2010).
  • Investment guarantees to coal power plants over 15-20 years of their operational life (e.g., Cayirhan and Iskenderun thermal plants).
  • Guaranteed price and purchase of electricity for certain periods of time are offered by the government to projects including investments in lignite coal-fired power generation.
  • Exemptions from environmental regulation: There are several reported examples of lax environmental regulations or straight-out failure to enforce the existing regulations and standards.

The report further highlights that the quantifiable subsidies to the coal sector result in a per-kWh subsidy of around US$0.01, which increases to US$0.02 per kWh when consumer subsidies are included. A total of US$730 million accrued to the coal sector in the form of subsidies in 2013 (Acar, Kitson and Bridle, 2015, p. 10). Needless to say, this number demonstrates an underestimation of the total subsidy amount since it excludes investment guarantees, the regional incentive scheme measures, price and purchase guarantees, permissive environmental impact assessment (EIA) procedures, etc. When remaining informational barriers are addressed, it will prove easier to show that these subsidies cannot be justified in financial, social or environmental terms.

Subsidies applicable to the coal sector in Turkey


Source: Acar, S., Kitson, L. and Bridle, R. (2015) Subsidies to Coal and Renewable Energy in Turkey. International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)-Global Subsidies Initiative (GSI) Report, p. 11).


* Coal exploration, production and investments in coal-fired power plants are subsidized within the Regional Investment Incentive Scheme, which offers subsidies in the form of Customs Duty Exemption, VAT Exemption, Tax Reduction, Social Security Premium Support (Employer’s Share), Land Allocation and Interest Support.

** The numbers include estimated coal, oil and gas exploration budgets of the MENR from 2010 to 2014 as recorded in the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources Strategic Plan 2010–2014.

*** The numbers represent planned budgetary expenditures for coal power plants for 2010– 2014 as stated in Target 1.2: New domestic coal thermal plants of 3,500 MW will be completed by the end of 2013 (MENR, 2010). The amount of subsidy within these budgets is not known.

Measures by other G20 countries

On the other hand, energy and energy subsidy policies of the other G20 members widely vary. For instance, Germany has committed to increase the share of renewable energy sources to 40-45% in 2025 and 80% in 2050 as well as to enhance energy efficiency. Besides, it aims to lessen its dependence on imports of oil and gas. However, the country still remains the biggest supporter of coal in Europe having spent €3 billion for coal production in 2012. In comparison, the United States focuses more on energy productivity and innovation. In its new policy actions, it pledges to eliminate $4 billion in taxpayer subsidies to the oil, gas and other fuel producers while extending the renewable electricity production tax credit permanently.

China’s growth strategy (2014) anticipated that energy consumption per unit of GDP would decline by more than 3% in 2014 and energy savings would be encouraged. The country intends to “promote the development of the green industry and provide more support to new energy, energy-saving and environmentally friendly technologies and products; actively carry forward pilot projects on the using and trading of emission rights, encourage energy saving and emission reduction” (p. 4). India takes similar steps towards promoting clean and efficient energy by promoting ultra mega solar power projects in different regions. However, the Indian government continues to provide substantive subsidies to the electricity sector and petroleum products, which are hard to estimate as electricity policies and tariff rates vary among states and consumer groups. Finally, South Africa has plans to reform the energy sector via ensuring security of electricity supply to support economic growth and development and the formulation of legislation allowing exploratory drilling for coal seam and shale gas reserves and draft regulations and other legislation for utilization of shale gas.. The country’s growth strategy does not articulate any attempts to depart from fossil fuel dependence apart from increasing the share of gas and renewables in the energy mix.

Concluding remarks

Fossil fuel subsidies have the potential to compromise the environment, disrupt the development of low carbon technologies, and undermine public finances. In 2009, the G20 leaders committed to “rationalize and phase out over the medium term inefficient FFS that encourage wasteful consumption”. The ongoing G20 agenda and the upcoming G20 summit in Antalya stand as unique opportunities to act on this promise, beginning with solid definitions of fossil fuel subsidies; comprehensive data collection; and vigorous peer review of subsidy cuts, including penalties for non-compliance.


Acar, S., Kitson, L. and Bridle, R. 2015. Subsidies to Coal and Renewable Energy in Turkey. International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)-Global Subsidies Initiative (GSI) Report. Available at http://www.iisd.org/gsi/subsidies-coal-and-renewable-energy-turkey

G20. 2009. Leaders Statement of G20 Pittsburgh Summit, September 24-25, Pittsburgh. Available at: https://www.g20.org/official_resources/leadersE28099_statement_pittsburgh_summit

G20. 2014. G20 Growth Strategies 2014 – Country Strategy Reports. Available at https://g20.org/resources/current-presidency/g20-growth-strategy-2014/

Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources (MENR). 2010. Institutional Strategic Plan 2010–2014.

Review of Massimo Rosati / Alessandro Ferrara (2015) The Making of a Post-secular Society: A Durkheimian Approach to Memory, Pluralism and Religion in Turkey, Ashgate, ISBN: 978-1-4724-2312-2, 320.

By Sevket Sefa (PhD candidate at Humboldt University Berlin)

PPCspine22mmIn his last work, most of which was completed right before his unexpected death, Rosati applies a Durkheimian theoretical analysis to the case of Turkey which is in the process of transformation from a Kemalist view of secularism to a post-Kemalist view of the religious and cultural diversity in social and political life (p.119). In this sense, this study using Turkey as an illustrative case, focuses on the practices and rituals that stimulate dynamism of the symbols and transform the central value systems (p.7). In this study, he employs the current theoretical approaches mostly from Durkheimian sociological framework on the formation of the central value systems, de-privatization of the religion, establishment of post-secular sanctuaries, functionality and dynamism of memories and the rituals. While he does not remain in the theoretical analysis of the transformation of the value systems, he elaborates on the laboratory of Turkey which is for him a perfect case study for analyzing the formation of the post-secular and multicultural society due to the ‘conflicts and unusual merging and mixing of traditionally polarized actors’ and their ‘potent symbols’ (p.2). However, a more significant thing that makes him study the Turkish case is the recent reformations in Turkey during the AK Party governments. In this process, plurality and neo-Ottomanism became the central issues that contributed the formation of post-secular society. Thus, the main objective of the book is to shed light on the emergence of the post-secular society through the case of Turkey. In his analysis of the memorial of Hrant Dink, he employs almost all of the instruments that he introduced in the theoretical chapters of the book such as collective memory, ritualization, formation of symbols and the social construction of the victimhood. Here, he does not only show the formation of the post-secular sanctuary; but he also elaborates on its function as constructing the post-secular society. His ethnographic work in the memorial site enriches the content and the quality of the analysis. Stemming from this civil societal movement, Rosati claims: ‘Hrant Dink is a symbol of the post-Kemalist Turkey’ (p.231). He observes the emergence of ‘new standards of morality, new ultimate sacred postulates and a new regulatory hierarchy’ founding the post-Kemalist, post-secular Turkey. Although this is enough to understand Rosati’s important contribution to the study of the formation of post-secular societies, other cases contribute to the main argument in varying degrees due to mainly their dependence on secondary sources and interviews with journalists.

The theoretical part of the study defines the Shils’ center-periphery model, concepts of post-secular, Rappaport’s ‘cybernetics of holy’, sacred space, collective memory, and main theories of Durkheimian studies and tends to systematize all those theoretical insights. This tendency on the one hand makes the study easy to be grasped; on the other hand, it reinforces the risk of freezing such dynamic concepts as the post-secular. Despite the well-established analysis of the term, it might have been limited and somehow sterilized from its current enhancement, for example by the global turn to political conservatism (Braidotti 2008, p.5).

He was able to easily depict the anatomy of the post-secular sanctuary in his analysis of Hrant Dink’s memorial with the great help of his field work. In other cases, especially the transformation of the Atatürk as the old symbol, he might have relied too much on secondary sources, the works of other scholars, the comments of journalists and official documents. This methodological choice might challenge the authenticity of the work and make the other cases less attractive for the readers.

This book advances a great contribution to the discussion of the dichotomy of the secular and religious. It does not only bring a different and critical insight to the debate, it also exemplifies its argument by revealing through the case of Turkey that something is happening out of this classical dichotomy. Thus, he reveals the different organization of central value systems which lets the plurality and coexistence of the secular and the traditional, constituting the central value creating its own collective memories and sanctuaries. Therefore, during the deadlock of Turkey’s accession negotiations with the European Union and the increasing negative perceptions on both sides towards both Europe and Turkey, the release of this book would contribute to the changing visions – on both sides – regarding the pluralities and coexistence of societies, minority and religious freedoms.

Rosati’s well-structured theoretical framework based on the Durkheimian studies merging with the Gramscian approach of ‘cultural hegemony’ and the critical concept of the ‘post-secular’ makes this book very useful and valuable for the further employment of its theoretical approach. Also, his field observations and analysis of Dink’s memorial with many photos from the site strengthen his arguments. Yet, his insufficient contributions to Özyürek’s analysis of the new symbolism of Atatürk or Mattalucci-Yılmaz’s creation of the ancestor (Ata) from a dead person as well as his over-reliance on English sources and the journalists of Today’s Zaman in some chapters, limited discussions of Gezi protests regarding the complexities of the secular/Islamic divide may be regarded as some of the weaknesses of the study.

Overall, Rosati’s book makes an important contribution to the literature on the post-secular studies. In this sense, it could be useful for the students and scholars of theology, humanities and social sciences especially for those who are interested in the post-secular studies, Durkheimian studies, minority, religion, diversity, Turkish and European studies. The charts, graphs and the simple language used in the book while explaining and illustrating theoretical points can also help other interested readers to more easily understand certain key sociological concepts.


Braidotti, Rosi (2008) “In Spite of the Times The Postsecular Turn in Feminism.” Theory, culture & society 25(6): 1-24.

by Dr. Bilge Eris Dereli (Marmara University, Turkey)

Associate editor of ChangingTurkey.com


According to World Bank’s World Development Indicators, Turkey has been listed among the biggest 20 economies in terms of current GDP, steadily since 1997. Yet, development-related indicators other than the economic growth have been on the agenda of many development debates. Indices of human development, gender inequality, innovation, education, health, democracy, happiness, technology achievement, environment, media independence, human rights and many others have been treated as important indicators of national development and there is almost total consensus that a country’s overall social and economic success should be evaluated as a combination of its performance at these numerous aspects.

In order to evaluate Turkey’s mid-2015 well-being performance in terms of different development indicators, it is suggested to gather the most well-known development indicators mentioned above and compare them with each other. Since many of the indices are published by different institutions; both the calculation methodologies and the numbers of countries involved in the estimation differ from each other. This makes the evaluation of different indices at once challenging. Consequently, it is useful to put forward the indicators published by a selected institution, which cover the same countries[i] in ranking. The OECD publishes “Better Life Index” that compares countries’ well-being based on different essential topics which cover most of the key indicators of development. I use the most recently (July 5th) extracted data[ii] of Better Life Index for Turkey in order to evaluate Turkey’s rank of well-being in comparison with other OECD countries.[iii]

Before evaluating the indicators, it is necessary to look at the distribution of Turkey’s rankings out of 36 OECD countries for the selected indicators. Figure-1 shows that Turkey’s rank[iv] is 30 or more for 67% of the indicators, between 20 and 30 for 25% of the indicators, 15 for 4% of the indicators and 5 for the 4% of the indicators. Turkey is ranked 5th at best, and 15th at second best. Turkey is ranked at tops rarely: Turkey is ranked as 5th out of 36 countries in terms of voter turnout (which makes Turkey’s overall ranking for civic engagement in top 10) and 15th in terms of the housing expenditure. For all of the other indicators, Turkey is ranked 20th or higher out of the OECD countries.

Figure-1: Distribution of Turkey’s Ranking by Better Life Index Indicators


After introducing the indicators where Turkey is ranked at tops, let me move to where Turkey is ranked at bottoms. Figure-2 (the scale of the y-axis is reversed to make higher ranks to appear at the bottom) puts forward Turkey’s ranking among 36 OECD countries for the selected indicators of the Better Life Index. Turkey’s ranking for the following indicators is 30 or more: Household financial wealth, educational attainment, employees working very long hours, time devoted to leisure and personal care, dwellings with basic facilities, employment rate, personal earnings, air pollution, water quality, household net adjusted disposable income, job security, student skills, life expectancy, rooms per person, life satisfaction and quality of support network. It is observed that Turkey is performing very poorly in terms of housing, income, job quality, education, environment, life satisfaction and work-life balance indicators. Among these, I focus on the education and job quality indicators and it is very disappointing that Turkey performs almost worst out of 36 countries at these aspects.

Figure-2: Turkey’s Ranking by Better Life Index Indicators


Other sets of indicators where Turkey’s rank lies between 20 and 30 (still worse than the half of the countries) are related to community, health and safety: Years in education, assault rate, consultation on rule-making, homicide rate, long-term unemployment and self-reported health. With a very high voter turnout, Turkey performs very well in terms of civic engagement. However, it fails in the remaining main categories.

In terms of overall education indicators, Turkey performs the worst after Brazil and Mexico. Taking into account the growth-stimulating role of innovation and human factor lying at the heart of innovation and technology, and education being one of the most important components of human capital; education indicators show us that Turkey needs to go a long way to be ranked among the top 10 economies in the world. The dramatic increase in the number of universities since 2000 is claimed to be one of the biggest successes achieved by the Turkish education system. However, if the share of higher education graduates in total unemployed since 2000 is taken into account, this success story becomes questionable: According to TURKSTAT statistics; while 9.5% of the unemployed were recorded to be individuals with higher education degree in 2000, this share increased to 20% by 2014. On the other hand, unemployment rate across higher education graduates has jumped from 7% in 2000 to 10.6% in 2014. Moreover, the quality of the education at the universities has been questionable for the last years. The unplanned increase in the number of universities and thus the number of individuals with a higher education degree have led to serious labor market deficiencies.

Overall evaluation of Turkey’s job indicators makes its ranking 34, ranked just before Greece and Spain. Low employment rates (especially for women), low job security and low personal earnings are the main reasons that explain Turkey’s poor performance in this sector. Only long-term unemployment rate helps Turkey to be ranked as the 20th country. In addition to these; low female participation rates, high youth unemployment rates, high share of informal sector, gender inequality, long working hours, occupational accidents and mismatch can be listed as other poor  indicators of labor market in the country.

Although Turkey is among the top 20 economies in the world, there is a long way to go for it to be classified as a developed country, or at least to be among the top 10 economies. There are many policies that Turkey needs to implement in order to achieve that goal and it can be suggested to give the priority to education policies providing equal opportunities and aiming to increase both the quality and attainment for all levels of education. In this sector, quantitative improvements should not be considered more important than qualitative improvements. If the education system does not bring up innovative individuals capable of contributing to research and technology, it seems that Turkey will keep its place at the bottom of the development indicators ranking.

To conclude, it is important to remember that Turkey performs poorly on other macro-economic indicators too. There are many macroeconomic indicators that make Turkish economy fragile. Among them; low saving and investment rates, high current account deficit, increasing external debt of private sector can be listed as the most alarming ones.

[i] Most of the countries ranked as bigger economies than Turkey are captured by this classification as well.

[ii] http://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DataSetCode=BLI#

[iii] OECD itself evaluates each country’s Better Life Index (for Turkey: http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/countries/turkey/); here, I to put forward Turkey’s ranking at a glance and analyze the indicators in more depth.

[iv] The higher the rank, the worse the performance.



By Associate Professor Dr. C. Akça Ataç (Çankaya University, Turkey)

21 July, the day of summer solstice, has been recognized by the United Nations as the International yogYoga Day, consequent to India’s vibrant campaign since September 2014 and the growing unforced global love for yoga. For the first time this year, yogis and yoginis all around the world concurrently came together outdoors as a proof of their commitment to be in unity and harmony with nature and in this way acknowledged that co-existence is humankind’s natural state. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the increasingly recognized face of the developing world, has set yoga diplomacy as a priority on his foreign policy agenda. The fact that the resolution for ‘International Yoga Day’ has received the support of 177 out of the total 193 member states of the UN is unprecedented in terms of the support for similar kinds of UN resolutions. Since the registration of the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, 2 October, as the International Day of Non-Violence in 2007, International Yoga Day has been India’s second important contribution to the UN’s annual calendar. According to the Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, such contribution to the UN agenda is “a reflection of the pan-global appeal of India’s rich cultural heritage,” which in fact “signifies how India’s age old traditions are in harmony with what the world needs today.”[i]

It appears that at the opening of the 70th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 70), scheduled to be held on 16 September, the issue of reforming the UN structure will be predominantly brought up by the leaders of major states and Modi will definitely be one of them. In his UNGA 69 speech he already underlined that a new, genuine dialogue must start there, at the UN, within a year and India constituting one-sixth of humanity would definitely participate in it. The Indian Prime Minister’s launch of this ‘pro-active, pro-people’ foreign policy was actually an unexpected move on his behalf, given that the more evident emphasis in his election campaign remained on domestic priorities.ModiSelfie-e1431693156496 However, before the first year of his mandate ended, he surprisingly became the “most well-travelled prime minister in Indian history”[ii] by beginning a series of high-profile travels, from China to France, Mongolia to United States. Also, he has demonstrated a renewed interest in the immediate and far-beyond neighbourhood of India by paying visits to Bhutan, Fiji, Mauritius, Nepal, Seychelles and Sri Lanka -places none of which had been visited by an Indian prime minister for more than 10 years. As a token of the good intentions of a neighbour, India has even yielded its claim in the Bay of Bengal, which was a thorny issue with Bangladesh.[iii]  Looking at this new internationalism, Modi is being more and more associated with Jawaharlal Nehru and his vibrant and inspiring foreign policy in progress with a sort of Non-Alignment 2.0.[iv] His selfie with the Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing went viral in social media early this year and definitely contributed to his popularity worldwide.

In point of fact, Modi’s enthusiastic reception by the international community makes one think of Ahmet Davutoğlu’s first years as the Turkish Foreign Minister. Davutoğlu’s rapid and unprecedented scheme of traveling had gained him the nickname ‘peripatetic,’ whereas Modi is the one now who bears the title ‘globetrotting’ among all pro-active statesmen of the world. Davutoğlu, too, had a vision for the new world order and the reform of the UN, as he underlined a “unitarian humanitarian conscience under the flag of the United Nations,” and in this vision he foresaw a cardinal role for Turkey.[v] To him, Western civilization had its chance to design the world, but instead led the international system to an impasse. Therefore, as he contends:

We have to be aware that the Eurocentric culture reached the limits. Now there is a rise of authentic cultures, of old traditions. We have to admit them, we have to create a cultural inclusiveness. Otherwise global cultural order could not be restored…There is a need for a new paradigm of cultural inclusivity and interaction of authentic cultures and modernity.”[vi]

Similarly, to bring the much awaited peace and harmony to the world under the UN, Modi’s new, active diplomacy suggests an ‘Indian way,’ which is “a constructive approach focused on finding peaceful solutions to global challenges that are in harmony with our environment.”[vii] In this way, he has reinvented the previously ‘Look East’ principle of the Indian foreign policy as ‘Act East.’

At the UNGA 70, India seems to be planning on putting a fresh emphasis on the Indian philosophical dictum vasudhaiva kutumbakam (the world is one family) in its attempts at taking part in the reform of the UN Security davutogluCouncil. For its permanent membership, it has already gained the support of a wide range of countries from France to Mongolia and to further its bid, it aims to question the fact that the world, no matter how interdependent it might look, has been deeply divided among groups, “various Gs with different numbers.” The reformed UN must be able to act as one united family, may it be “G-1” or “G-All,”[viii] and India under Modi comes to fore as an apt candidate to initiate an all-encompassing dialogue. In the same way, Turkey, too, has been demonstrating an intensified focus on the UN reform, particularly since 2008. Within this context, Turkey, not long after its non-permanent membership appointment to the Security Council in 2009 and 2010, once again announced its candidacy for another round of temporary membership in 2015 and 2016. The campaign it has started, Dünya 5’ten Büyük (the world is bigger than 5), may correspond to that of India. Nevertheless, the recent attempts by Turkey to remain ‘pivotal,’ a term Davutoğlu frequently and particularly picks to define Turkey’s new foreign policy, in the UN have not been received by the member states in the way Turkey had expected. Dünya 5’ten Büyük remained an uninfluential and under-attended campaign (only 31 votes on change.org) and Turkey could not win its bid for the 2015-2016 term on the Security Council.

Parallel to the acceleration of the Syrian crisis in 2011, the tone of Davutoğlu’s criticism of the UN has become less and less friendly as the Security Council continues to decline to militarily intervene against the Assad regime. He considers the failure of the UN to act on the Syrian civil war as a missed opportunity to reform the UN, or to be more direct, to elevate Turkey to a permanent position on the Security Council. Davutoğlu’s frustration about the absence of “a single binding resolution on Syria where more than 30 thousand people have been refugees”[ix] justifies the humanitarian diplomacy subsequently conducted by Turkey in the form of establishing refugee camps along its border with Syria. Asking, “So why do we need the UN?,”[x] however, diminishes the UN reform to merely increasing the number of permanent members of the Security Council and limits its mission to humanitarian intervention. Despite his earlier advocacy for a broader vision of the UN reform, Davutoğlu has come to perceive the UN only as a tool for intervening in conflict within neighboring states. This attitude has weakened Turkey’s capacity and capability to meaningfully contribute to any debate on the UN reform.

On the eve of a new round of reform talks at the UN, Turkey is no longer in the position to contribute to a genuine civilization of dialogues- impartial to all civilizations, partial to civilization. The recent uncertainty about the future government and the possibility of an intervention in Syria weaken Turkey’s international position even further. Meanwhile India comes to the fore as the state likely to be influential in initiating and conducting such a dialogue, willing to make progress on the gender-equality agenda. It is a pity that Turkey is now unprepared and unsuitable to contribute a meaningful input to the upcoming reform talks at UNGA70. This, however, could have been otherwise, had Turkey not taken the misguided steps of the recent past.


[i] ‘177 Nations Co-Sponsor the United Nations Resolution to Declare International Day of Yoga on 21st June, Every Year,’ http://www.indembassy.org.tr/alert_detail.php?newsid=36 [ii] Jaideep Prabhu, ‘Do We Finally Have an Assertive Foreign Policy Under PM Narendra Modi?’, dna, April 13, 2015, http://www.dnaindia.com/analysis/stand-point-do-we-finally-have-an-assertive-foreign-policy-under-pm-narendra-modi-2077065 [iii] Tanvi Madan, ‘Indian Prime Minister Modi’s Foreign Policy: The First 100 Days,’ Brookings Institute, August 29, 2014, http://www.brookings.edu./research/opinions/2014/08/28-modi-100-days-foreign-policy-madan [iv] Prabhhu, ‘An Assertive Foreign Policy?’. [v] C. Akça Ataç, ‘Turkey’s New Vision for “Man’s Best Hope for Peace”: United Nations Reform and Reorganization of the Security Council,’ All Azimuth, Vol. 3 No: 1, January 2014, pp. 5-18. [vi] ‘Speech Delivered by H. E. Ahmet Davutoğlu Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, in the University of London School of Economics and Political Science’, 7 March 2013, London, http://www.mfa.gov.tr/speech-delivered-by-h_e_-ahmet-davutoglu_-minister-of-foreign-affairs-of-turkey_-in-the-university-of-london-school-of-economics.en.mfa [vii] ‘177 Nations Co-Sponsor the United Nations Resolution.’ [viii] ‘English Rendering of the Statement by Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi at the General Debate of the 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA),’ September 27, 2014, pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=110091 [ix] ‘Davutoğlu: International System About to Fail Syria Test,’ TurkishNY.com, September 25, 2012 http://m.turkishny.com/news/davutoglu-international-system-about-to-fail-syria-test [x] Ibid.

Şükrü Hanioğlu’s Atatürk

(Review of M. Şükrü Hanioğlu (2013) Atatürk: An Intellectual Biography, Princeton University Press)          

By Prof. Feroz AHMAD, Yeditepe University, Istanbul

Professor Şükrü Hanioğlu began his career in Istanbul University as a political scientist and wrote his doctoral thesis11716023_10153048010533546_1339893570_n on the Ottoman intellectual Abdullah Cevdet. It was then published and received moderately good reviews except from the pen of Cemil Meriç, himself an intellectual and man of letters of some distinction. Writing about Hanioğlu’s thesis later published as a book, Cemil Meriç wrote: “I got no pleasure from the doctoral thesis on Abdullah Cevdet. It is an extremely ordinary and insipid book. Based on police reports it is like a bad police novel. The writer knows neither the language nor does he understand Cevdet’s language. Those who supervised his thesis were also totally ignorant….” [1]. I do hope that Cemil Meriç would have been kinder and appreciative of Hanioğlu’s later works.

     Since writing his thesis, Hanioğlu’s years at Princeton University have matured him into a scholar of some repute. There he reinvented himself as a historian and shifted his attention to what is becoming a multi-volume biography of the Young Turk movement, having completed two volumes so far. The first volume published in 1995 covered the years 1889, the founding of the Committee of Union and Progress, to the Paris congress of 1902. Volume two, published in 2001, covered the years 1902 –1908 when “the Young Turks prepared for the revolution”. I expected to see the publication of the next volume, perhaps two volumes on the Young Turks revolution and the constitutional period 1908-1918. But he seems to have decided to leapfrog that decade and write the book under review [2].

   Hanioğlu’s decision has a certain logic because Mustafa Kemal was, after all, a product of the Young Turk movement and that is how he has generally been portrayed. Hanioğlu argues for “continuity as opposed to the sudden rupture often depicted….” (p.7) I shall take up this point later in the review.

     Hanioğlu has been disturbed by the “personality cult” that has grown up around Atatürk and he wants to portray Mustafa Kemal Atatürk “as he really was”. He wants to create the historical Atatürk, “demythologizing” him though he claims that this “is still difficult”. He doesn’t seem to understand that it is difficult to “demythologize” historic figures because nations, old and new, need their myths and heroes; Turkey is still a new nation just in its 90th year. A younger nation like India continues to need its Gandhi and Nehru. But take the United States of America, now over two hundred years old. America’s founding fathers are still important to the American people who wonder what their heroes – Thomas Jefferson or George Washington – would have thought about affirmative action, or the invasion of Iraq. “When in doubt”, writes Jill Lepore, “in American politics, left, right and center, deploy the Founding Fathers”[3]. Therefore, it is not surprising that Turks today still look to the Kemalist period for some of today’s answers, especially as many who lived through those years are still alive. Hanioğlu belongs to the post-Atatürk generation.

         Hanioğlu’s is based largely on the multi-volume catalogue of books Atatürk read, his underlinings, his special signs, his questions, marginal notes, and personal writing inside the books. From all this Hanioğlu concludes that “Clearly he was not an intellectual in the strict sense of the word” (p.6-7). What does that mean: “in the strict sense of the word”? Much depends on how the word “intellectual” is defined, something Hanioğlu does not do. If one defines an intellectual as someone who thinks critically and who questions traditional values in the name of reason and progress, then perhaps Atatürk ought to be considered an intellectual.

     But let us agree with Hanioğlu that “Mustafa Kemal, was above all, a practitioner, not a theoretician (p.60), and later: “He was no thinker like Comte, Marx, or Lenin…. He was a leader who strove to realize a vision….” Hanioğlu is essentially correct. Atatürk was a pragmatist. Then why call it an “intellectual biography” and not the biography of a pragmatist? (p. 226)

       We don’t know when he read books with such attention as to underline, use his special signs, his questions, marginal notes, and personal writing inside the books. Would he have had the time to do this while he was an officer, fighting at various fronts of the Empire, at Gallipoli, and finally leading the national struggle between 1919 and 1922, and then founding a revolutionary state? I doubt if he had the time or the energy to do so during these years; or even a library. He probably began serious reading and discussion in 1926-27 when he began thinking about his “Great Speech” of 1927.

           When Atatürk could not sit and read book he would have found time to follow the rich and lively press of the constitutional and post-constitutional period. Hanioğlu, the bibliophile, doesn’t seem to have considered this possibility and not had I until I came across the first volume of Mahmut Esat’s Collected Works published only in May 2014 [4].

     Mahmut Esat [Bozkurt] 1892-1943, one of well-known intellectuals and publicists of these years, began writing during the constitutional period in papers like Hizmet, İttihad, Akenk, Köylü, Anadolu (1911). He continued writing between 1920 and 1924, the years when the new Republic of Turkey was founded and its future discussed by the nationalists. Mahmut Esat’s essays were published in journals like Anadolu’da Yeni Gün, Hakimiyet-i Milliye, Sada-yı Hak and Anadolu’da Yeni Gün and included a vast array of subjects about the Ottoman past and the Anatolia of 1920. In Hakimiyet-i Milliye (1921), Sada-yı Hak and Anadolu’da Yeni Gün (1924) Mahmut Esat began to discuss “the meaning of the Turkish revolution and its principles” as well as a variety of subjects dealing with the ongoing revolution such as “Thinking about a People’s State”.

       These essays by Mahmut Esat and others escaped Hanioğlu’s attention. Mahmut Esat is not to be found in the index; his book under Bozkurt (the surname he adopted in 1934) entitled Atatürk İhtilali: Türk İnkilabı Tarihi Enstitüsü Derslerinde (Istanbul, 1940) appears in his bibliography. It would have been critical journalistic writing of this period that Mustafa Kemal might well have found the time to read while he was waging the national struggle and creating the new Republic

       I shall return to the question of Atatürk’s vision later, but first Atatürk’s birth and his formation as an Ottoman officer (Chapters 1 and 2). They may be interesting chapters but add little to what we already know from earlier biographies, especially Andrew Mango’s Atatürk.

     Basing himself on Ali Fuat Cebesoy’s memoir, Hanioğlu seems to take seriously Cebesoy’s claim that in 1907j9408 Atatürk suggested that the Ottoman Empire should voluntarily dissolve itself. Should historians take memoirs at face value, especially the memoirs of one of Atatürk’s principal rival? After all memoirs tend to be self-serving and merely justify the author’s prejudices. Given that Cebesoy was Atatürk’s rival in the nationalist movement, might he have simply wanted to attribute such an outlandish idea to Mustafa Kemal? In 1907 Mustafa Kemal may well have made such a tongue in cheek remark in jest, but it is not a remark a historian ought not to take seriously [4].

       Has there ever been an empire that has dissolved itself voluntarily? Atatürk’s career as an Ottoman officer suggests that he took the existence and the continuation of the Ottoman Empire very seriously. He fought in its defense on various fronts after the constitutional revolution and established a reputation for himself as a soldier of some standing during the First World War. After the armistice he even hoped that the Sultan would lead the struggle against the foreign powers and that he, Mustafa Kemal, would be the war minister in the cabinet. Atatürk only took the reins of the nationalist movement after the Sultan failed to do so.

     In Chapter 3 Hanioğlu discusses the question of Atatürk and Islam. He concludes that what Atatürk “… read was that science promoted progress while religion [read Islam] retarded it….” (p.53) That must have seemed logical given the state of Islam at the time. But he saw his reforms as making Islam rational as it had been originally.

     Atatürk believed in Enlightenment ideals: rationality, critical analysis, and freedom of inquiry. He wanted to have these ideals adopted by the modern Turkey he wanted to create. I have no idea what Hanioğlu means by “a reconfigured version of Islam….” (p.56) Given the state of Islam in the late Ottoman Empire, he wanted to see Islam reformed so that it was again rational and scientific as it had been in an earlier age.

       In an editorial in Hakimiyet-i Milliye (30 Dec l925) Mustafa Şekip, a professor at Dar-ül-Fünun and a supporter of the new regime, defined a laicist government as a government which transfers the leadership in religious life from the ignorant to the enlightened. He went on to say that: “We can with certainty claim that our revolution has more of a religious than an irreligious character, as it has saved consciences from harmful tyranny and domination. To think that a nation can live without any religion is nothing less than denying humanity, sociology and history”. Perhaps laicism was “a reconfigured version of Islam”! As Atatürk noted in his oft-quoted Kastamonu speech on August 30, 1925, the Republic of Turkey was not to be a country of sheikhs, dervishes, disciples and their followers because the most correct and truest path was the path of civilization. [5].

          In his attempt to portray Atatürk “as he really was” and trying to “demythologize” him, Hanioğlu takes certain liberties with the facts. For example how valid is his claim that the new Assembly Mustafa Kemal had “achieved total domination of politics”? (p.144). He disregards the existence of the other nationalist generals – Ali Fuad Pasha, Kazım Karabekir, Hüseyin Rauf, and Refet Bele – his rivals who founded the Progressive Republican Party (PRP) on 17 November 1924. They were serious challenges to Atatürk’s position but are mentioned only once on page 144. Had the Sheikh Said rebellion not broken out in June 1925 and not been defeated, thus allowing the new government to pass extraordinary laws it is likely that the Progressive Republican Party, with its promise of continuity would have been able to come to power in normal elections. Mustafa Kemal’s position had been tenuous until his victory at Sakarya on 13 September 1921; had he lost at Sakarya, leadership might have passed to General Kazım Karabekir, one of the founders of the PRP. Sakarya was a turning-point in his fortunes [6].

     When we come to chapter 5, there is confusion about whether Atatürk’s policy was “opportunistic” (p.109) though earlier Hanioğlu had described it as pragmatic. I suppose it could be both. But essentially Atatürk was a pragmatist who dealt with situations rationally and realistically and in a way that is based on practical and not theoretical considerations; opportunism suggests pursuing a policy of doing what is expedient. Surely he was a realist who saw reality as it was and not as it could be. Were Atatürk and the nationalists “masquerading as communists”? (p.122). Or was their alliance with the Bolsheviks an alliance of convenience for both sides threatened by imperialism? There was no possibility of masquerading as communists for that would not have deceived Lenin.

     Perhaps it is time to come to Hanioğlu’s conclusions and wind up the review. Here we come to the question of continuity of change. Hanioğlu believes in continuity from Empire to Republic. He writes: “the Turkish transformation led by Atatürk was not a rupture with the late Ottoman past but, in important respects, its continuation…. The ideas he espoused had been widely discussed…. Had the Great War not occurred, the normal evolution of Ottoman society would not, in all likelihood, have brought about the triumph of these ideas in the 1920s” (p.227).

       Hanioğlu is right in seeing the continuity of ideas, but he fails to understand how they were implemented in the Empire and then the Republic. Enver Pasha wanted to simplify the Arabic alphabet so that Ottoman soldiers could read and write simple sentences. He was a radical reformer and that is all one may say about him. Atatürk was an iconoclast and revolutionary who discarded the Arabic script and introduced the Latin one in its place. He then went on to transform the language itself to meet the needs of the “new Turk” he was in the process of creating.

     Take the position of women. As we know there was a women’s movement in the late Ottoman Empire and Hanioğlu finds that “the Republican women’s movement had far less marked feminist undertones than the Late Ottoman women’s movement of 1908-1914” (p.210). He misses the point about the Republic and women. The initiative came not only from women but from the new state. Take the example of women’s education. Fatima Aliye (1862-1936), the daughter of Ahmed Cevdet Pasha, the statesman and historian, was one of the first to speak out on the question of education for women. She was born into a cultured and educated family, the nearest thing to an Ottoman aristocracy. While she wanted educational facilities for women of the middle and upper class, she did not try to pose a threat to the social order. The journals of this period spoke for the concerns of urban women, middle and upper class, affected by Westernization. They painted a picture of the educated mother who would be better wives and ‘home builders’, and raise children who were healthy and true to social mores.

     The situation of women changed dramatically in the Republic. The Republican movement launched the process of emancipation because it wanted to educate women, not only because they would be better wives and mothers but they would enter public space as teachers, doctors, and lawyers and all other professions open to men. That would not have been possible by a religion-driven society led by the Ottoman dynasty. Thus urban women began to benefit from Atatürk’s revolutionary policies. Atatürk was determined to transform Turkey’s society so that it would no longer be patriarchal as it had been for centuries. Attacking patriarchy was a process that would take generations before it took root, a process that could be undermined by antagonistic political and socio-economic forces if they were in power. Hanioğlu seems unaware of patriarchy and therefore the concept finds no place in his essay.

     This was Atatürk’s “vision”, a vision not shared by his rivals in the national struggle. They believed continuity under a centuries-old dynastic rule understood by the people. If it had to be a Republic lets its president be the Ottoman Caliph as Sultan had been deposed in 1922. There would be instant legitimacy under an Ottoman president – and perhaps even a restoration to a monarchy a few years later; the situation would have been easier if things were not changed too drastically. There are still people who yearn for an idealized Ottoman past. But Atatürk took the difficult path and opted for revolutionary change and created what we have today.


  1. (Cemil Meriç, Bütün Eserler 3, Jurnal, Cilt 2 , 1966 – 1983, 318) This is what the Turkish original says: “Abdullah Cevdet hakkındaki doktora tezinden hiç hoşlanmadım. Son derece adi ve yavan bir kitap. Polis raporlarına çiziştirilmiş, seviyesiz bir polis romanı. Yazar ne dilini biliyor, ne Cevdet’in dilini anlayacak hazırlıkta. Tezi yönetenler de kara cahil…” I owe this reference to my colleague, Professor Cemil Oktay.
  2. Atatürk: An Intellectual Biography. Princeton & Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2011, pp.6-7
  3. Jill Lepore, The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party’s Revolution and the Battle Over American History, Princeton University Press, 2010
  4. Ali Fuat Cebesoy, Sınıf Arkadaşım Atatürk, 114-17
  5. Söylev ve Demeçleri, ii, Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu 1959, 215
  6. Andrew Mango, Atatürk. 323-326


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 967 other followers

%d bloggers like this: