Probably in the next few years Turkey will have to decide how it will deal with the 3,5-4 Million people, who will want to permanently stay in the country, Dr Nebil Ilseven, chairman of the board of Turkish think tank Progressive Thought Institute, said during a discussion conference in Sofia.
Speaking at the event, orginised by the Center for Balkan and Black Sea Studies (CBBSS), Nebil Ilseven talked about the major demographic problem in Bulgaria’s southern neighbour, driven by the crisis in Syria and the subsequent refugee and migrant influx. We have an important issue in Turkey, the movement of people insight the country, their movement through and outside the country and their return, the expert said.
In Turkey there are 2.5 Million people only from Syria, who are searching for safety and a normal life, Ilseven, also an Associate Professor of Finance and Banking at Isik University in Istanbul, emphasised. Turkey introduces temporary solutions which are not sustainable in the long term, he added, underlining the need of a long term solution in case the majority of the migrated people decide to settle permanently.
They will take part in the political and social processes as well as in the economic development, Ilseven stated. According to him, in the future this will be the big and dramatic issue to be solved by politicians in Turkey and the process will turn into „the greatest internal challenge“ for Ankara.
At the conference, whose topic were the economic and political processes in Turkey and the energy sector in East Europe, experts from Turkey discussed the country’s development, together with the geopolitical and energy issues in the region.
Turkey can’t be a major player in the region and now it suffers from its interference with the 3 Million refugees coming from abroad, Prof. Hursit Gunes argued. Gunes, a professor of economics who taught at Marmara University and University of Manchester, was a deputy in the Turkish parliament until last year.
He focused on the geopolitical processes in the Middle East and the problems Turkey had faced in the last 10-15 years. A major geopolitical player disrupted the region, the professor said, arguing that 10-15 years ago Turkey didn’t face problems with its neighbours in the Middle East, namely Syria, Iraq and Iran. Gunes claimed that the problems started at the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century, when the US began to step in the region.
In the opinion of the ex-deputy, Turkey’s wish in recent years to intervene in the region’s geopolitical processes like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the civil war in Syria is a problem. Ankara like others helped some military groups in Syria, he said, adding the note – „of course not ISIS, but the moderate“.
According to Gunes, the US began to interfere in Iraq and Kuwait due to the oil in these countries, but in Syria the conflict happened because Damascus was under Russia’s influence, was Israel’s enemy and a transport corridor for fuel from Iraq. „Could we realistically see an united Syria or we will see a divided one“, Hursit Gunes asked, referring to the future of a country currently torn by conflicts.
„Syria as well as Iraq are in a political mess. More than 4 Million people left their homes and the majority of the refugees are in Turkey and Jordan. The whole region is affected“, Gunes stated. „Imagine how such an economic power like Germany was attacked for accepting 1 Million refugees, and now imagine an emerging country like Turkey, which is hosting more than 3 Million refugees“, the professor of economics said. „Will they go? Probably now“, he added.
Gunes defends the need of a coordinated intervention of the EU in the Middle East and Turkey. Meanwhile, Ankara has to change the structure of its export, aiming at exporting to countries from Africa, he claims. „Turkey has to solve its problems with Russia about Syria and to reduce its energy dependence on Russia“, Gunes stated.
Talking about energy dependence, Kanat Emiroglu, chairman of the board of energy company Global Enerji, argued that Europe is „addicted“ to natural gas. According to him, gas will be the largest commodity in two to three years. Europe is extremely energy dependent on Russia and the state-owned gas giant Gazprom and this is a problem, Emiroglu argued. „It’s not a diversification if your pipeline goes to the same country with its geopolitical goals“, he added, talking about the Nord Stream, which transports gas from Russia to Germany and is a parallel pipeline to the one through Ukraine.
According to a recent analysis by credit insurance provider Coface, Turkey’s economy is expected to grow by 3.6% in 2016. Taking into consideration the refugee crisis and the geopolitical changes, the experts from Coface still anticipate that Turkey will retain relatively good economic outlook without a sustainable increase of risk.
In recent years, Turkey had modest economic growth. After growing by 4.2% in 2013, the growth slowed to 2.9% in 2014. In 2015, the economic growth is expected to be 4.2%, according to the World Bank. Turkey is the world’s 17th largest economy, taking 7.9% of the global economy and 7.9% of the global population.
English version. The article is first published by Bulgarian online media Actualno.com on 6 April 2016.