On May 21 in Istanbul, Andrew Finkel, American journalist and author who has lived in Turkey for over twenty years, publicly released his new book: “Turkey: What Everyone Needs to Know” to the press.
In it, Finkel updates the reader on the current state of this country’s development, through a perceptive take on its history and a keen analysis of its present economic boom and growing power base in the Middle East. He uses a 50-Question & Answer format that lifts the book from a sober presentation to a sparkling enlightenment.
His colleague Hugh Pope, author of “Sons of the Conquerors: The Rise of the Turkic Peoples,” presented the book and Finkel to the press corps. “This is a very accessible, short handbook on the major themes of Turkish politics and policy: Ataturk's legacy, the Kurds, Turkey’s place in the world, the economy, the military, the media, non-Muslim minorities and so on. A format lends itself well to the needs of any journalist, speech-writer, tourist or analyst who wants a quick fix on how the Turkish elite debates any of these hot-button issues, and how outside commentators usually view them too.”
Regarding the much-discussed possibility of EU membership, Finkel summed it up with “The EU views Turkey as a boa constrictor might view a rhinoceros -- it’s the one political entity it can't digest," and “Turkish public opinion views Europe with a ‘reverse Groucho Syndrome’ ... it wants to join a club that wants them as a member and resents one which does not."
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Concerning the issue of women’s rights, he feels the problem stems from an inescapable historical patriarchal heritage: "Ataturk liberated Turkish women, but forgot to tell the men. And even though Turkey had a woman Prime Minister in the 1990s, that unfortunately didn’t change anything.” He admitted that this is an issue for which there seems to be no immediate solution.
Regarding its position on the northwestern edge of the Middle East: “While Turkey doesn't have a ‘petrol curse,’ it does have a ‘strategic curse’ that makes it and its friends overlook its flaws. In the Cold War, this was because the US viewed Turkey as an aircraft carrier, and now its because Turkey seems to be a safe platform from which to view the safari park of wild nations to the east.”
While, as Pope says, “these thematic musings are high-class punditry,” Finkel’s portrait of Turkey’s charismatic and dynamic present reality is what you take away from the book, which should be required reading for all interested in a country that is destined to be a major player in world politics.
“Turkey: What Everyone Needs to Know” is published by Oxford University Press and is available on Amazon