Turkey. The year was marked by crises both domestic and
foreign policy. The Islamic Welfare Party (Refah Partisi,
RP) - whose government had been forced to fall by the
military in 1997 and succeeded by a coalition led by the
Motherland Party (Anavatan Partisi, ANAP) - was declared
illegal in January when it was considered to have violated
the secular principles of the constitution. Party leader
Necmettin Erbakan was banned from holding any political
office for the next five years. When the verdict fell in
1998, however, the party had already been reformed under the
name Dygdpartiet (Fazilet Partisi, FP). The vast majority of
the welfare party's MPs joined the Virtue Party, which thus
became the largest party in parliament.
Countryaah, the military's pressure on the Islamists continued.
Islamic schools were closed, female students were forced to
take off their shawls and several politicians belonging to
the Virtue Party were sentenced to prison, including
Istanbul Mayor Recep Tayyip Erdoǧan. Playwright and actor
Mehmet Vahi Yazar was sentenced in August to 24 years in
prison for putting up a play about a country where the
military oppresses Muslims.
However, it was revelations about politicians' contacts
with the mafia that caused the greatest dissatisfaction. In
August, a wanted murder suspect, Alaattin Cakici, was
arrested in France equipped with a Turkish diplomatic
passport. It was discovered that he had contacts within the
government, and a minister, Eyup Asik, was forced to resign.
When it emerged that the Prime Minister and Leader of the
Motherland Party, Mesut Yilmaz, likely helped one of
Cakiki's contacts to buy the state bank T邦rkbank, the
Republican People's Party (CHP, Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi)
stopped supporting Yilmaz. The government fell in December,
just before Yilmaz planned to step down to pave the way for
the new election to be held on April 18, 1999. The
government crisis was unresolved by the New Year.
Abdullah Öcalan, leader of the PKK (Partia Karkaren
Kurdistan; Kurdistan Workers Party), pleaded several times
during the year to cease fire and announced several
unilateral ceasefires. Turkey took no notice of these plays.
But in November, a turning point was reached in the Kurdish
question: Öcalan was arrested in Rome. There he had come via
Moscow since Turkey, with military pressure, had forced
Syria to evict him from his many years of refuge in
Öcalan sought asylum in Italy at the same time as Turkey
requested him extradition. Italy announced that both cases
would be investigated but that Öcalan could not be
extradited as long as Turkish law provides room for the
death penalty. Mass demonstrations against Italy erupted in
Turkey. What would happen to Öcalan was unclear at the end
of the year.
The leader of the Human Rights Association (IHD), Akin
Birdal, was subjected to a murder trial in May that he
survived with little need. In July, a one-year prison
sentence was set against him for "provoking hatred" in
connection with his statement for a peaceful solution to the
In July, Parliament approved new measures against
inflation. new tax legislation. This meant lower income tax,
which the government hoped would lead to better income
reporting. Inflation fell in 1998 but was still 77% towards
the end of the year.
2014 AKP/Gülen power struggle
On December 17, 2013, a comprehensive corruption scandal
started. While the prime minister was on a state visit to
Pakistan, police struck in Istanbul, arresting 47 people -
predominantly officials of various ministries and almost all
affiliated with the ruling AKP party. They were charged with
corruption, money laundering and gold smuggling.
On January 7, 2014, the government struck again. With a
decree, 350 policemen were removed from their posts -
including the heads of the police departments dealing with
financial crime, smuggling and organized crime. Islamic
scholar Fethullah Gülen described it as purging within the
police, while Prime Minister Erdogan described arrests as an
attempt at a "legal coup" targeting the AKP of those who
were envious of Erdogan's own success. Erdogan appointed
Gülen as the person responsible for the coup attempt. When
interviews were posted on the internet that implicated
Erdogan in the corruption scandal, Turkish authorities shut
down YouTube and Twitter.
The full extent of the scandal was never revealed.
Apparently there was talk of corruption - several of the
responsible ministers resigned from office - but also of a
power struggle between Gülen and the AKP - a number of the
police officers who had carried out the arrests subsequently
In May, the coal mine in Soma was hit by a fierce fire
that over two days cost 301 miners life. The miners had
already demonstrated in 2013 against the life-threatening
working conditions in the mine, and a proposal by the
opposition a few weeks earlier to investigate the working
conditions in the mines had been voted down by the AKP in
parliament. Turkey is one of the countries in the world with
the worst working environment.
Israel's staffing of its embassy in Ankara and the
consulate in Istanbul had only just returned to normal
levels after several years of work to improve Israel-Turkey
relations when Israel launched a war against Gaza in June
2014. The war triggered a series of violent demonstrations
in front of the embassy and consulate. threw stones at the
buildings. Israel then cut back on its staffing for security
reasons. Prime Minister Erdogan sharply criticized Israel's
war: "Ever since [Israel's] establishment in 1948, we have
witnessed every day and every month these attempts at
systematic genocide... But first and foremost, every Ramadan
we have witnessed these attempts at systematic genocide ”.
He added that Israel's war derailed the attempts to
establish links between the two countries.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan of AKP won the August 2014
presidential election with 51.8% of the vote. In 2nd place,
independent Islamic candidate Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu got
38.4%, while leftist Selahattin Demirtaş from HDP got 9.8%.
Demirtaş won big in Kurdistan, thus reflecting the fierce
polarization in the country. Erdogan inaugurated Ahmet
Davutoğlu as new prime minister.
In 2011, Turkey played a key role in the West's efforts
to overthrow Gaddafi in Libya, and has since made
significant efforts to ensure a viable moderate Islamic
government in the country. In vain. In December 2014, as the
last country, Turkey canceled its flights to Libya. It had
become far too dangerous after the country was de facto in