Turkey - Country history and economic development



2000 B.C. Hittites begin migrating to the Anatolian (Asia Minor) area of Turkey. Phrygians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans follow this migratory pattern.

1000-1100 A.D. Immigrants from Russia and Mongolia arrive in the area.

1100-1200. Islam becomes entrenched in Turkey and the residents are involved in the Crusade battles.

1300-1400. The Ottoman Empire is established and prevails as a vast trans-continental empire for several centuries. At the peak of its powers, the empire rules vast areas of northern Africa, southeastern Europe, and western Asia. However, it is unable to keep up sociologically and technologically with developments in Europe. The influence of nationalism causes the diverse ethnic groups within the empire to seek independence, which leads to the fragmentation of the 600-year-old empire.

1923. After World War I and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk founds the Republic of Turkey. Under Ataturk's leadership, the new republic focuses on reform—political, linguistic, economic, and social. Ataturk forms the Republican People's Party, which stays in control until 1950. A republic based on secular governance replaces the once religious and monarchist rule of the Ottoman Empire.

1938. Ataturk dies, having established the ideological base of Turkey as secular, nationalistic, and modern. Since then, the Turkish military has assumed the guardianship of Ataturk's vision.

1945. Turkey joins the United Nations (UN). The Democratic Party is founded and the multi-party era begins in Turkish politics.

1949. Turkey becomes a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

1950. The Republican People's Party loses the elections to the Democratic Party.

1960. Growing economic and internal political problems under the Democratic Party government result in a military takeover.

1961. The civilian government is reinstated and a new constitution written, which enshrines the formation of a National Security Council, composed of the president, the prime minister and other key ministers, and representatives of the army, air force, and navy.

1968. Political disturbance erupts between political extremists of the left and right, bringing domestic instability.

1971. The military interferes in order to deal with domestic disturbance, and calls for a replacement government.

1973. General elections result in a coalition government, which falters a year later.

1974. Turkey occupies Northern Cyprus in order to prevent a Greek takeover of the island.

1975. Until 1980, political and social instability increases under the coalition governments of Suleyman Demirel and Bulent Ecevit.

1980. Under the direction of General Kenan Evren, the National Security Council moves to restore public order and remains in control of the government for 2 years. During this time, a national referendum appoints General Evren as president for a 7-year term. A temporary law bans former political party leaders from political involvement for 10 years.

1983. New elections bring in the Motherland Party under Prime Minister Turgut Ozal. Under Ozal's leadership, the country sees the introduction of liberalizing economic reform.

1987. The 10-year ban on former politicians is lifted by a referendum and the government calls a national election. Turgut Ozal wins a second 5-year appointment as prime minister.

1989. Parliament elects Ozal as president of Turkey.

1991. Early elections are held and result in former prime minister Suleyman Demirel's new True Path Party forming a coalition government with the Social Democratic Populist Party.

1993. Demirel is elected president after Ozal's death and Tansu Ciller becomes the country's first female prime minister.

1994. Turkey suffers its worst recession since World War II after government attempts to influence interest rates. In local elections, the Welfare Party wins local elections.

1995. After much political turbulence during a very short period of time, the True Path Party, Welfare Party, and Motherland Party each emerge with a similar number of electoral seats. The coalition collapses in a year and the True Path Party forms a coalition with the Welfare Party, making Necmettin Erbakan the first Islamic prime minister of Turkey.

1996. Turkey enters into a customs union with the European Union.

1997. The coalition government is as unsuccessful as the previous one. The military's political role is challenged by Erbakan's anti-secular efforts, and the military supports business and community groups calling for the government's resignation. In order to ensure compliance with the secular state, the military takes measures that include banning Erbakan from government participation.

1999. The country experiences 2 devastating earthquakes and 3 changes of government. The economy holds up despite expectations of an economic downturn. The 57th government of Turkey, like its predecessors a coalition, is elected. The new government restarts structural reforms to bring stability back to the Turkish economy. In December, the European Union declares Turkey a candidate for full membership.

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