The re-election in June 2011 of prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an in Turkey, confirmed the rootedness in Turkish society of the AKP, the Islamic party that has commanded a majority in the country since 2002. It has to be said that the “Turkish model”, so often advocated by Western countries in the 20th century, has undergone major development and is arousing growing attention on the part of Turkey’s Arab neighbours. Given the geopolitical upheavals affecting North Africa and the Middle East for almost a year now, can this non-Arab border-nation between East and West, with its secular, democratic state led by an Islamic party enjoying broad popular support, become a source of regional inspiration ?
Jean Marcou examines this question within the framework of the series of articles on the Mediterranean initiated by Futuribles in 2011. He begins by reminding us how much the image of Turkey has changed in less than a century, with the “Turkish model” evolving from that of a modernized, secular Muslim country – which, despite a relatively flimsy layer of democracy and the domination of politics by the army, became an ally of the West – into a democracy asserting its Muslim identity and exercising an independent diplomacy. This has been a course of development that has left the country no longer an estranged “brother” to its Arab neighbours, but a power with renewed autonomy vis-à-vis the West and an example that might inspire those countries which have just emancipated themselves from the yoke of dictators. Quite clearly, as Jean Marcou reminds us, a number of internal ambiguities and difficulties remain, beginning with the Kurdish question, but the former “Sick Man of Europe” has undoubtedly become a key actor again in this region that stands the crossroads of Africa, Europe and Asia.