Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Research Paper about Turkey

Research Paper about Turkey

Turkey is considered to be a rather developed country, constitutional republic; its political system was set up in 1923 by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, following World War I (Kinross, 11). Turkey was closer to the West, at the same time contributing to development of the relations with Eastern part. Due to its position the country has an unrivalled mixture of Eastern and Western cultural traditions. “A powerful regional presence in the Eurasian landmass with strong cultural and economic influence in the area between the European Union in the west and Central Asia in the east, Russia in the north and the Middle East in the south, Turkey has come to acquire increasing strategic significance” (Hale, 222). In this paper we will study the historical background of the country after World War I, the famous Ottoman Empire period, relations between Turkey and NATO and other main historical facts, which were of primary importance for the establishment of political system and cultural traditions of the country, pointing out the major advantages and disadvantages of the significant historical events and changes for the country’s cultural development.


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During the 8th and 9th centuries the Turkish nomadic tribes were converted to Islam. One century later the Seljuk tribe became one of the most powerful in Islamic world, they led settled life, had their administration and even taxation system. Later the conflicts between them and the rest tribes arose. “The tribe known as the Ottomans arose from one of the smaller emirates established in northwestern Anatolia after 1071” (Findley, 95). The Ottoman Empire was situated on the present territory of Turkey and had a strong influence in the southeast of Europe and the Middle East. In 1444 a significant battle took place on Varna, during which European army was not able to stop the Turks. “The Turks subsequently established an empire in Anatolia and southeastern Europe which lasted until the early twentieth century” (Kinross, 29). The powerful Ottoman Empire presented a serious menace for Christianity in the West, and the crusades of the Europeans were of little success.

The basic religious beliefs of Ottomans were initially based on shamanistic religion, but as soon as their contact to settled tribes was getting closer, they turned to Islam. For Islam were fighting the gazi warriors, at the same time some part of military forces of the Ottoman Empire, called the Janissaries, were paid for fighting on the side of Christian army. They were educated enough to become chiefs of the administrative offices in the Ottoman Empire. “In the 1340’s, a usurper’s request for Ottoman assistance in a revolt against the emperor provided the excuse for an Ottoman invasion of Thrace on the northern frontier of the Byzantine Empire” (Findley, 115). Thrace conquest was the first step for developing the empire over the territories of Anatolia, some of Byzantine territories and Minor Asia.

This is next to impossible to define the separate Ottoman culture, as it was rather a mixture of different cultures. During their invasions Turks gathered different cultural characteristics of the conquered territories and let them contribute to the Turkish folk culture. Thus for example the influence of Seljuk, Persian, Byzantine Greek, and Islamic architecture was evident upon the architecture of the Ottoman Empire. Classical period of Ottoman architecture belongs to the times of its growth, later during the period of stagnation this style was not in use any more and during the Tulip era it was under the strong impact of the Western Baroque, Rococo, and Empire styles.

Three languages were spoken in the Ottoman Empire: Arabic, Turkish and Persian without any special statues and as a result the spoken language presented the mixture of grammatical rules and vocabulary of all these languages. “In the last two centuries, French and English emerged as popular languages, especially among the Christian Levantine communities. The elite learned French at school, and used European products as a fashion statement” (Shaw, 54). Later Persian language was more often used for literature and Arabic - for religious ceremonies.

The education for the Ottoman elite people included classical music; they learnt also how to compose music. The roots of the Ottoman classical music can be traced in the fusion of Byzantine music, Arabic music, and Persian music. Apart of classical music, folk music was developed in different regions of the Ottoman Empire. “The most dominant regions with their distinguished musical styles are: Balkan-Thracian Türküs, North-Eastern (Laz) Türküs, Aegean Türküs, Central Anatolian Türküs, Eastern Anatolian Türküs, and Caucasian Türküs. Some of the distinctive styles were: Janissary Music, Roma music, Belly dance, Turkish folk music” (Shaw, 81).

The main problem from the Ottomans was caused by Tamerlane – the leader of Tatars – in the 15th century; however the Ottomans continued the attacks on the Eastern Europe and Byzantium.

In 1453 Constantinople was captured and in 1456 fell Athens and by 1480 the Islamic threat was hanging over Italy already. Their presence in Italy however didn’t last for a long period of time, and soon the battle were won by Europeans.

There were advantages and disadvantages during the times of Ottoman Empire. Certainly the territorial expansion was great, but at the same time Turks had to face problems with organization of power. For example the ruler Murad II taking faithful former slaves to administrative positions, was able to built a system, ruled by Sultans who “were able to play one faction against the other, a feature that came to typify the Ottoman Empire” (Findley, 168). However the weak point was connected with inheritance of the sultan’s throne, especially in the cases when there were no male children or several sons of the sultan. At the beginning to solve this problem the male relatives of the new sultan were murdered, later put to prison. Researchers state, that this had a negative impact upon the governing system of the Ottoman Empire. Besides, the territory was too large and the lack of sufficient communication system didn’t allow controlling all the regions of it. The tense relations between different ethnic groups of the empire and inability of the government to solve these problems also contributed to the failure of the Ottoman Empire.

However, the Ottoman Empire managed to develop one of the most successful governmental policies during the late Middle Ages. The Ottomans, owed their wealth to the control of the main trade routes and to its convenient position between Eastern and Western worlds within six centuries (Hale, 263).

Germany and Turkey entered the World War I in November 1914, announced war to Britain, Russia and France. The most famous battle, which took place on the territory of Turkey was the Dardanelles campaign Australian and New Zealand Army tried to attack the capital of the Ottoman Empire – Istanbul; however the attack was not a success. Mesopotamia also belong to the territories of Turkey and British troops fought there as well. In September 1917 they managed to take Jerusalem and Baghdad. Russia made an attempt to attack Turkey from the North, but because of the Russian Revolution of 1917 Russian forces had to recede.

After World War I the Ottoman Empire was split into several parts. “The process began with the signing of the Armistice of Mudros on 30 October 1918, followed 13 days later with the occupation of Istanbul” (Kinross, 65). In 1916 Britain signed a secret Sykes-Picot agreement with France for division of the territories of the Middle East. The occupation of Istanbul was followed by the Turkish War of Independence, aftermath the Republic of Turkey was founded. In 1945 Turkey entered World War II from the side of Allies and became a charter member of the United Nations in 1945 (Leslie, 31). In 1952 Turkey joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) after the Korean conflict, at the same time making an obstacle for the expansion from the Soviet side to the Mediterranean. At the moment the country is trying to develop its political and economical basis to enter European Union.

As it was already mentioned, the population of Turkey consisted of ethnic minorities, one of the separate ethnic groups were citizens of Kurdish origin. The Kurds had really strong influence upon national politics and were said to be a threat to the national unity of Turkey. The Turkish government tried to assimilate Kurds through prohibiting official speaking and writing Kurdish. From 1984 in the south east of Turkey Kurdish separatist movement started, later on growing into opposition to Turkish government. On one side the Kurds were struggling for autonomy from Turkey, on the other hand the majority of them still belonged to Turkish political parties and to Turkish society. The political leaders were trying to support the recognition of Kurdish cultural and civil rights. “In Turkey two major Kurdish dialects are spoken: Kermanji, which is used by the majority of Kurds, as well as by some of the Kurds in Iran and Iraq; and Zaza, spoken mainly in a triangular region in southeastern Turkey between Diyarbakir, Ezurum, and Sivas, as well as in parts of Iran”(Wink, 79. Turgut Özal, who was a prime minister in 1983 and then six years later became a president allowed officially to use the term Kurd. In 1991 he also recalled the ban for the use of Kurdish language. However, soon after his death in 1993, the political leaders of the country through the Constitutional Court declared the HEP – party of Kurds illegal. Instead a new organization - the Democratic Party – was formed, then later, in 1994 - Kurdish deputies formed the new People’s Democracy Party (Halkin Demokrasi Partisi—HADEP (Leslie, 36). Another well known radical movement of Kurds was the PKK. In general, the whole situation with Kurds’ conflict was really not easy for the country and strong political and social management was needed in order to solve it as soon as possible. The roots of the problem could be traced in the history of the country, which was built upon the expansion of the territories of other peoples and ethnicities that would at certain moment start their struggle for regaining their independence.

The whole history of Turkey was very dynamic and no wonder, that the culture of the country was developed under constant changes and extremes. It was already mentioned, that Turkey is considered to be the only country, where the Eastern and Western cultures interlaced with one another, forming a unique combination. During the times of the Ottoman Empire a great number of ethnic groups were united under one system, but they all had their own religious identities and cultural customs. After World War I, when the Ottoman Empire fell, the new born Turkish republic build a unitary approach, aimed at producing the Turkish national culture on the bases of all the constituent parts of the mixture. “This mixing, instead of producing cultural homogenization, instead resulted in many shades of grey as the traditional Muslim cultures of Anatolia collided with (or had imposed upon them) the cosmopolitan modernity of Istanbul and the wider West” (Shaw, 111). The main disadvantages for cultural development of the country were certainly the constant inside and outside conflicts, Turkey had to go through; it is evident that formation of the unique culture and language was a rather sophisticated task under such circumstances. On the other hand, there is hardly any other country with such a rich and versatile culture like Turkey, in fact we could call the contemporary Turkish culture the connecting link between the past and the present traditions, between West and East. Besides the growth of economy in Turkey, which started from the year 2002 continues till the moment, average from 2002 till 2006 it made 7.5 % and another 6.1 from 2006 till 2007. There are certainly some problems connected with fall of exchange rate and account deficit. In order to continue the economical growth of the country implementation of reforms, especially concerning fiscal policy is needed. As it was already said, Turkey already started negotiations about joining EU, thus the sectors of banking, telecommunication and retail are concentrated on enlarging foreign investments.
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