Under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey has steadily descended into authoritarianism and instability. The recent government seizure of one of the main opposition media groups, including Turkey’s highest-circulation newspaper, is only the latest demonstration of how Erdogan has betrayed his county’s potential.
When Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AK Party) took power in 2003, they strengthened the Turkish economy and improved Turkey’s relations with its neighbors. The AK Party pursued European Union membership, ended military domination over Turkish politics and tried to find a peaceful solution to the country’s long-standing Kurdish problem.
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By 2012, Erdogan could confidently declare, “We have a bright future.” After nearly a decade of political progress, economic growth and growing international approval, he could dare to promise that by 2023, the centenary of the republic, Turkey would be “one of the greatest powers of its region and the world.”
Today, Turkey’s future looks much bleaker. Rather than greatness, Erdogan has steered it toward authoritarianism, economic slowdown and civil war.
Mort Abramowitz and Eric Edelman, both former U.S. ambassadors to Turkey, co-chair the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Turkey Initiative. Abramowitz is a senior fellow at the Century Foundation and Edelman is a practitioner-in-residence at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.