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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Going East, Young Turk? An emerging narrative?

At times, it must feel to Turks that they can do no right in the eyes of many in the EU. My last post was a link to a news piece about the Turkish economy, and it got me thinking about how the latter is being portrayed in Western media.

The Turkish economy, as most readers will know, is now doing extraordinarily well and is coming out of the current recession in much better shape than many of its European neighbors. As Bloomberg notes:
During his first five years as prime minister, Erdogan presided over gross domestic product growth that averaged almost 7 percent per year. Turkey’s GDP increased at an annual rate of 6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009 as the country recovered from the global crisis, lagging behind only China among the Group of 20 nations, and the International Monetary Fund predicts an expansion of 6.25 percent in 2010.
The IMF now ranks Turkey as the world's 15th largest economy and Turkey is growing faster than its EU counterparts. All of this may seem like good news from the EU's perspective, and four EU foreign ministers recently did make the argument in a NYT op-ed that such a dynamic economy would be a good addition to the troubled EU economic area.

Instead, it is striking to note how many of the Western reports of the Turkish "miracle" that end up either mentioning of framing the entire story in terms that make the recent economic growth and trade a threat to the EU. The trouble is, we learn, that much of this growth is due to Turkey's increased trade with its eastern, Asiatic, and most troubling of all, predominantly Muslim neighbors - like Iran and Syria - rather
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