Book Reviews

Book Review: The rise of Turkey


For anyone interested in the complex developments that are reshaping Turkey, this book provides a valuable window into the many economic, religious, and military factors making the country an important political power in the Middle East.

The author, born in southeastern Turkey, openly discuses how all successive governments treated and still treat minority Jews, Greeks, Armenians and Kurds since the declaration of the republic in 1923.

Although Turkey is officially a secular country, and “on paper” all citizens have the rights and privileges, Jews, Greeks, and Armenians are barred from government jobs, but still must serve in the military as soldiers, at least this was the case until a few years ago. Now you can avoid obligatory military service by paying a large sum of money.

During the reign of Ottoman rulers, these minorities had all the rights ad privileges enjoyed by all citizens, but had to pay 20 per cent more tax than others.

When the economy experienced difficulties an Armenian was put in charge to reverse them. Minorities dominated commerce, production of many essentials, and fine arts, yet all experienced untold hardships, and extermination.

Dr. S. Cagaptay to his credit mentions that minorities have been treated as second-class citizens, and advocates to abolish this latent, and sometimes not as latent, undemocratic practice.

Undoubtedly the country has made great progress in the last 30 years after liberalizing the economy a aggressively emphasising industry and exports to African and Muslim Middle Eastern countries. Yet there are more Turkish journalists jailed as compared to China that has a population of well over a billion. (Turkey’s population is a little more than 81 million).

The author explains with facts, figures, and effusive prose how the country progressed economically, but has fallen short of cultivating democracy as understood and practiced by western governments.

Highly recommended for all interested in Middle Eastern politics and students studying foreign affairs to become diplomats and ordinary Europeans and North Americans.

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