1992 Turkey analysed
A republic of Asia Minor and southeastern Europe, Turkey has coastlines on the Aegean, Black, and Mediterranean seas. Area: 779,452 sq kin (300,948 sq mi), including 23,764 sq km in Europe. Pop. (1992 est.): 58,584,000. Cap.: Ankara. Monetary
Lit: Turkish lira, with (Oct. 5, 1992) a free rate of 7,511 liras to U.S. $1 (12,768 liras = £1 sterling).
President in 1992, Turgut Oral; prime minister, Suleyman Demirel.
The coalition government formed by Suleyman Demirel, leader of the centre-right True Path Party, with Erdal Inonu‘s Social Democratic Populist Party (SHP) as a junior partner, continued the policy initiated by Pres. Turgut Ozal of establishing Turkey as a bastion of stability in a troubled region.
Turkey’s willingness to work with the U.S. in promoting stability was stressed by Prime Minister Demirel when he conferred with Pres. George Bush in Washington on Feb. 11, 1992. A similar message was conveyed to French Pres. François Mitterrand when the latter went to Ankara on April 13. Demirel visited the Turkic republics of the former Soviet Union between April 27 and May 3 and Moscow on May 25-26.
On June 25 Turkey was host to the first summit meeting of the Black Sea economic cooperation region, a project that had been launched by President Ozal. The summit, which brought together the leaders of Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, and Greece, was followed by Turkish attempts to help find a peaceful solution to the dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh.
Turkey also played an active part in efforts to halt the bloodshed in Bosnia and Hercegovina, but its advocacy of threatening the Serbs with air strikes did little to ease the position of Bosnian Muslims. The Black Sea summit allowed Demirel to confer with his Greek counterpart, Konstantinos Mitsotakis, but once again the conclusion of a friendship pact was postponed pending solution of the Cyprus dispute.
At home, the government’s parliamentary majority was reduced by defections from the SHP, while the opposition was weakened by President Ozal’s efforts to wrest control of the Motherland Party, which he had founded, from the kinds of its current leader, Mesut Yilmaz. The first rift in the ranks of the Social Democrats occurred over the Kurdish issue. After the government intensified military measures to counter the terrorist campaign of the separatist Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), 18 radical Kurdish members of Parliament, who had been elected on the SHP ticket in October 1991, resigned and rejoined the — predominantly Kurdish — People’s Labour Party. Then in September, after Parliament revoked a law passed in 1980 banning all political parties existing at the time, the SHP’s precursor, the Republican People’s Party, was reconstituted and elected Inonu’s rival.
The Kurdish campaign caused over 1,000 casualties in 1992. The worst incident occurred on September 29 when some 23 members of the security forces and up to 200 terrorists were killed in an attack on a post guarding the Iraq frontier. The government responded by launching ground and air operations both within the country and across tin frontier. At the same time, it reached agreement with tin governments of Syria and Iran, and with leaders of the Iraq Kurds, to deny the terrorists facilities across the border Masoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani, the two main leader: of the Iraqi Kurds, visited Ankara, and in October forces under their command attacked PKK camps in northern Iraq. By late November more than half the PKK forces had reportedly been killed, wounded, or captured.
After stagnating in 1991, the economy grew by over 6% in the first half of 1992. The new government’s promise to halt the rise in prices could not be fulfilled, and the consumer price index rose by 44% in the first eight months Nevertheless, a good export performance and the revival of tourism after the Gulf war led to an increase in foreign currency reserves, and Turkey was able to service its foreign debt of some $50 billion and to attract fresh foreign investment.
The first two power units of the Ataturk dam on the Euphrates, the centrepiece of the vast southeast Anatolia project, were commissioned on July 25.
Text: Andrew Mango, Foreign Affairs Analyst, 1993 Britannica Book of the Year p.393
Photos not credited to Wikipedia by Marcus Ampe & Marjolein Pronk
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