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Episode 1 of 3
In a three part series Allan Little charts the re-emergence of Turkey as a powerful global force.
Until very recently Turkey's story seemed an entirely positive one. Two decades of sustained economic growth continued to transform the country. The ruling AKP government had, at last, seemingly achieved a balance long sought by a large proportion of the Turkish population: the synthesis between modernity and traditional values respecting Islam.
The initially reforming AKP leadership addressed the complaints of minorities and those who felt excluded in the secular Republic. It successfully removed the army from political life. When negotiations to join the European Union stalled in 2005, it sought to invigorate co-operation and trade with neighbouring countries in the Balkans, North Africa and the Middle East.
Then an environmental protest in Istanbul's Gezi Park turned into nationwide demonstrations against a government that many found increasingly autocratic, constantly justifying its actions by the ballot box, claiming that its fifty per cent majority gave its policies a democratic mandate. Allan Little analyses the rise of the AKP and the Republican tradition they so successfully challenged.
Producer: Jane Beresford.