The Turkish government is working to advance a resolution process that could remake domestic politics and enhance its foreign policy clout. A 28-year conflict with the autonomy-seeking Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) has cost over 40,000 lives, has held back economic growth and hampered Turkey’s bid for EU membership. Recent peace talks with the leader of the PKK, Abdullah Öcalan, led to a ceasefire agreement and militants have since begun to pull back from Turkey. Given its ability to bridge the divide between Europe and the Middle East, Turkey has become something of a role model for political transformation in countries such as Tunisia and Egypt. Still, issues including Cyprus and the Kurdish question remain key stumbling blocks for its EU bid, which is also hampered by continuing opposition from some European states. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is poised to continue the EU bid, but considers it to be non-vital and “not the end of the world” if it is not accepted. Irrespective of the accession process, Turkey is making its own way ahead, enjoying sustained economic growth and increasing clout within the region and internationally.
This chapter contains interviews with Zafer Çağlayan, Minister of Economy; M Rifat Hisarcılıoğlu, President, Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB); and Hüseyın Diriöz, Ambassador and Assistant Secretary-General for Defence and Policy and Planning, NATO.