The Rise of Turkey(Part 1): Kemal Atatürk's Story
In the world of the twenty-first century, if any country has made itself known in world politics in a completely new way, it is undoubtedly Turkey. In today's world politics, the country competes with the superpowers in terms of diplomatic and military power. In particular, the leadership of the Muslim world has shifted from Saudi Arabia to Turkey. Let's take a look at the story behind the rise of Turkey in world politics.
Geographical Introduction and History
Turkey is a country located in the Eurasia region. Of this, 90 percent fell in Asia and 10 percent in Europe. The continent is divided by the Bosphorus Strait, which runs through the city of Istanbul. In addition, Greece and Bulgaria are in the northwest. The Black Sea in the north of Turkey. Georgia is in the northeast. Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Iran to the east, and Iraq to the southeast. To the south is Syria and the broad region of the Mediterranean Sea. Geographically, Turkey is in a very significant position. This NATO member country has a US naval base.
In World War I, Turkey sided with the Axis Powers and lost the war. After the war, Turkey was divided into many small states. From there, under the leadership of Kemal Pasha, the Republic of Turkey emerged as an independent country in 1923. Since then, the rise of Turkey will be discussed in two episodes. Today's first episode will review the period of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
1923 to 1938: The Ottoman Empire in Turkey was the last carrier of the Muslim Caliphate until World War I. Mustafa Kemal came to power in Turkey during the turbulent period after World War I. He is called the founder of modern Turkey. He declared himself 'Ata Turk' means father of Turkey. He founded the Republican People's Party. Take Turkey through a sociopolitical and economic reform. He established the theory called "Kemalism" which had 6 main principles. It tries to explain how society will go through change under this principle. He also applied that theory in Turkey. The influence of these theories on the rise of Turkey today is immense. Let's talk about the principles of 'Kemalism'.
First of all, he talked about the republic. There is no opportunity for people to participate in a monarchy. And to bring about change in society, the republic must be established first. He abolished the Caliphate from Turkey and declared a republic, establishing a parliamentary democracy, he believed that democracy would bring welfare to the people. He framed the constitution in 1937 and incorporated these principles there.
The people of the country should adopt a deep tone of nationalism. Before considering what religion or tribe a person belongs to, one must understand what his/her nationality is. As a result, he brought Turkish nationalism into the Turkish constitution. With Turkish nationalism, he actually wanted to unite the divided people of Turkey which division was caused by religion and tribes. That is why they made a big change in their education program. He brought the heroic stories of the Turkish nation to the educational program. He made changes in Arabic. Brought control over the use of foreign words.
The government will be created for the welfare of the people. Kemal Atatürk defined the concept of populism in a speech as follows- I believe that the essential reason for our existence has now proved to be the general instinct of our nation, and that is the people and the government of the people. This principle made him very popular with the people. As the people are the symbol of sovereignty, the welfare of the people is very significant to the state.
After achieving political stability, a society needs economic stability. Kemal Atatürk then introduced the concept of Statism. Statism means the nationalization of industries. This policy of Atatürk is inspired by the former Soviet Union. When Greeks and Armenians left businesses during the post-World War II economic downturn, Turkey faced a shortage of skilled entrepreneurs and manpower. Atatürk then nationalized all industrial establishments. In other words, the state becomes the owner of all institutions. But this initiative was not successful. Because they had to pull the burden of the huge debt of the Ottoman Sultans in the First World War. It took them several more decades to manage the huge currency deficit and the economy to be stabilized.
He believed that in order to achieve political and economic stability the people of the society should be adapted to modern and progressive thinking. In this continuation, he brought the concept of religious neutrality. This policy completely changed the identity of Turkey. The reason behind the transformation from the Muslim caliphate to a completely secular nation was far more. To imply this policy, Islam as the state religion was removed from the constitution. Religious educational institutions were closed. In some cases, the wearing of the hijab or burka is regulated. Sufism was regulated, polygamy was banned, and the Gregorian calendar was adopted replacing the Hijri calendar. The main objective of the Kemalist Secularism policy was to control religion by the state. The objective was to free society from religious bigotry.
This revolution will be complete when society passes through the five stages stated before. In this phase, society will develop into a new shape in its cultural, political, and economic forms. The morale of society will be strengthened. The scope of these six principles of Atatürk was vast and its influence was far-reaching. But what was the effect of his Kemalism theory? In the world politics of that time, Kemal Atatürk was very much a role model. Many people knew Turkey by his name. His theory of Kemalism helped Turkey to be established as a middle-class country. But he was still a dictator. The Republican People's Party, founded by him, was established as the only legitimate political party for a long time. He did not succeed in nationalizing the economy, but he managed to industrialize the agrarian economy. He managed to make the rural people urban. Turkey was able to compete with the Western world because of the reforms it undertook in the field of education.