Turkey: What Everyone Needs to Know
Turkey occupies a strategic position in today’s world: culturally, historically, and geographically, it is the link between Islam and Western democracy, between Europe and the Middle East. The only predominantly Muslim nation to be a member of NATO and an ally of Israel, Turkey straddles both Europe and Asia. And it boasts an economy larger than any of the states that have joined the EU in recent years–Istanbul alone has a bigger economy than that of Hungary or the Czech Republic–with pipelines that carry much of the world’s oil and gas. Andrew Finkel has spent twenty years in Turkey writing about the country for a number of leading news media such as The Economist and Time magazine. In this concise book, Finkel unravels Turkey’s complexities, setting them against the historical background of the Ottoman Empire, the secular nationalist revolution led by Kemal Ataturk, and repeated political interventions by the military, which sees itself as the guardian of Ataturk’s legacy. Finkel reveals a nation full of surprises. Turkey’s labyrinthine politics often lead to such unexpected outcomes as leaders of the untra-nationalist party starting on the road to EU membership by voting to scrap the death penalty–which also meant giving a reprieve to the convicted leader of the Kurdish separatist movement. And where else but in Turkey, Finkel writes, would secularist liberals have supported a prime minister who was once jailed for promoting religious extremism? From the Kurdish question to economic policy, from Turkey’s role in Iraq to its quest for EU membership, Finkel illuminates the past and present of this unique, and uniquely consequential, country.