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Living and Working in TURKEY
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Political Status
Turkey (Turkiye Cumhuriyeti) is a secular state with an authoritarian regime, although it is parliamentary.

The present constitution dates from 1982. Executive power is held by the President, elected for a seven year term of office by general election, and by the Prime Minister, chosen from the Parliamentary majority and responsible towards the deputies.
The present President is Ahmet Necdet Sezner, since the 16th May 2000, and the Prime Minister is Bülent Ecevit, since 11th January 1999.

The legislative assembly, the National Assembly or "Meclis" is made up of 550 deputies who are elected by direct general election for a five year term of office.
The Presidential Council is made up of 4 members of the National Security Council (the heads of the three armies and the police force).

Voting age is 21, the voting system is one man one vote.

The country is made up of 73 provinces, called "il" or "iller" in plural.

Short historical outline :

- 330 : Byzantium, rebaptised Constantinople, becomes the capital of the Roman Empire (under Constantine)
- 1453 : Mehmet Ali seizes Constantinople
- 1520 : Suleyman 1st (1520-1566), the Ottoman Empire's greatest sultan comes to the throne
- 1908 : revolution of the Young Turks
- 1919 : Kemal Ataturk proclaims the independence and the union of Turkey in its national limits
- 1920 : Treaty of Sèvre and the abolition of the sultanate in 1922
- 20.10.1923, Turkey becomes a Republic, with Mustapha Kemal Ataturk as President
- 12.9.1980, Suleyman Demirel is overthrown by General Kenan Evren during a military coup.The latter becomes President until 1989
- 6 .11.1982, return to democracy. Turgut Ozal wins the elections with the Mother Country Party and becomes Prime Minister.
- 9.11.1989, Mr Turgut Ozal is elected President.
- 20.11.1991, Mr Suleyman Demirel is nominated to the post of Prime Minister
- 17.04.1993, death of Turgut Ozal. 16th May Mr Demirel is elected President. Me Tansu Ciller is named Prime Minister on 13th June.
- 6.03.1995, The Greek veto against Turkey joining the European Union is withdrawn
- 20.09. 1995, Me Tansu Ciller resigns
- 24.12.1995, victory for Mr Erbakan, from the Islamic party.

Two months after these elections the government coalition broke up when Tansu Ciller left the party. The country was without a government for seven months. The Islamic party (Refah Partisi) came out of this conflict much stronger.

- 7.06.1996, Mr Erbakan forms a new government
- Bülent Ecevit, the leader of the Social Democratic Party (DSP) is Prime Minister since the 11th January 1999.

Geographical situation
Turkey is situated in Asia Minor. It is surrounded by the Russian republics and Bulgaria, Iran in the east, Irak and Syria in the south. Its natural northern frontier is the Black Sea.
The length of its borders in kms : coastline 5200, Armenia 268, Azerbaidjan 9, Bulgaria 240, Georgia 252, Greece 206, Irak 331, Iran 499, Syria 822.

Its total surface area is 780,580 sq. kms. for a population of 63 million inhabitants. Its geographical relief and its soil makes it rather unfertile.

Turkey's maritime zone stretches for 6 nautical miles into the Aegean Sea, 12 nautical miles into the Black Sea and the Mediterranean.

Economy & statistics
The major decrease in the economic growth since 1998 was prolonged by a recession in 1999 and made even worse by the August earthquake. The effects of this, added to a weak internal demand, an unfavourable external environment and structural problems have put the country in a difficult situation. On the other hand, the rebuilding of the disaster area should contribute to the activity in 2000, but will certainly increase the inflation.

The level of public debt is also worrying, particularly since it is financed by short term loans in the main and generates strong inflation. The perspective of a speeding up in privatizing and of structural reforms which have been delayed due to political instability over the last years, should help to unblock international credits and hopefully improve this situation.

Also, in spite of the commercial deficits being covered by tourist revenues and private transfers, external pressures remain strong. On one side the debt charges are high, nearly a third of export revenues, and on the other the financial needs of the country are assured by very volatile capital, most of which is attracted by the high interest rates.

In this context Turkey remains very vulnerable to the risk of a loss of confidence in its investors. A budgetary or political crisis would restrict the available finances and could cause a foreign exchange crisis. The banking sector is fragile, too preoccupied with an investment logic : the banks loan primarily to the State to finance the public debts instead of supported private activity. At the end of November a confidence crisis did in fact take place, shaking up the banking system and setting off an outward flight of capital. The lack of liquid assets forced the Central Bank to dig into its reserves for over 45 billion francs. This financial crisis confirmed how necessary it is to reform the whole banking system and to privatize companies and public banks.

The economy is fairly diversified and has an important developement potential (a market of 63 million inhabitants) which is strengthened by the perspective of joining the EU.

Turkey is aided both politically and financially by the international community, but the Kurdish and Cypriot problems, which remain unsolved, expose the country to criticism from its allies. The traditionally tense relations with Greece have radically improved following the earthquakes which hit both countries.

With an improvement in purchasing power for a large part of the population and by the opening up to European exports with Union customs agreements, the demand for consumer goods has gone up and is benefitting from the developement in the distribution sector.

Since early 1996 when the customs agreements between the European Union and Turkey came into effect, European industrial products (but not agricultural products) are exempt from duties and taxes when they enter Turkey. Europe has reduced to zero customs duties on imported Turkish products since 1974.

The pension scheme and health and welfare systems were modified at the end of 1999 to help reduce the public debt and to halt the high inflation which is such a handicap to the economy.

Main Economic Indicators


economic growth (%)


inflation (%)


public debt/GNP (%)


exports (billions $)


imports (billions $)


balance of trade (billions $)


current balance (billions $)


external debt (billions $)


of which is short term debt (billions $)


debt charges/exports (%)


General information

Gross National Product 1999

224.36 billion $

GNP per capita

3480 dollars

Purchasing power parity (PPP)

6300 dollars

GNP growth 1990-1997

+2.3% per capita per annum

Household with PPP +$30000pa

1 600 000 = 12.5%

Household with PPP +$15000pa

5 790 000 = 45%

Household with PPP -$5000 pa

1 900 000 = 15%

Aid 1998

3.781 billion $

Foreign investment 1999

0.760 billion $

Tourist revenue 1998

7.809 billion $

Division of the GDP by activity sector :
Agriculture : 17.6%
Industry : 16.1%
Mining : 9.4%
Services : 57.0%

Agriculture Essentially orientated towards the domestic market, Turkish agriculture has a large and diversified production : wheat, barley, olives and tea for example are produced for the consumer market. Tobacco and cotton feed the industrial market.
The economic significance of agriculture is still considerable because it employs nearly 40% of the labour force. However it is not very profitable and only manages to continue with heavy State subsidizing.

Industries & mining Important needs in infrastructure, growth in the tourist sector and the rapid industrialization founded on the growth of sectors of processing industries like foodstuffs, textiles and cars, mean that the markets for equipment and facilities are also growing. More precisely, in the following domains : electricity, textiles, car manufacturing, foodstuffs and hotels and restaurants.

Turkish industry also represents an important market for prime materials and semi-finished products, particularly for chemical and iron and steel products as well as in certain specialized sectors (leather, skins, yarns, material).

Textiles remains the main industrial sector, but car manufacturing is increasing and the foodstuff sector is very dynamic.

A stabilizing programme, started in 1999, was set up to organize a more stable environment : Turkish private industrials are active, but the country still doesn't have enough foreign investment to help it to modernize its production on a big enough scale.

In 2001 the serious energy problems that Turkey has been going through should improve. The pumping of Iranian gas will start in July in spite of American objections. Azerbaidjan and Georgia should start sharing their excess electricity with Turkey before the end of the year.

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