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20.02.2017 - 12: 20

Turkey: the inner springs of foreign policy

In the socio-economic and the political life of Turkey, there are important processes that can have a serious impact on the foreign policy pursued by Ankara, and even give the foreign policy of the country dangerously unpredictable.

In late January 2017, the international rating agency Fitch lowered the long-term credit rating of Turkey in foreign currency to a record low "junk" level of BB + with the previous "investment" BBB- level. However, it is not only and not so much in foreign exchange borrowing and speculation. Much more dangerous is the negative trends in Turkey's gross domestic product. According to the assessment agency Fitch experts, the average growth of the Turkish gross domestic product in 2016-2018 years exceeds 2,3% compared with 7,1% in 2011-2015 years. "Changes in policy and security matters undermine the institutional independence and economy", - believe in Fitch and conclude that in Turkey "significant security problems are likely to persist."

All these factors have in the case of Turkey, two key consequences directly related to the scope of its national security - a significant increase in external debt while reducing the investment appeal. Sustained current account deficit of the balance of payments in the year exceeded 2016 4% of the Turkish GDP, short-term external debt of the country by the end of November 2016 100 has reached billion, 84% of which is denominated in foreign currency. This amount is equal to the size of foreign exchange reserves, which at the end of November fell to 98 billion dollars. At the same time, Turkey soglasnootsenkam international experts, was "extremely vulnerable to an outflow of foreign capital."

Do not carry a lower risk for the Turkish and global processes in the trade, economic and political spheres. Not by chance the London weekly The Economist has included the country (along with China, Mexico, South Africa and Brazil) in the list of states that may suffer the maximum financial and economic losses in case of changes in the political and economic priorities of the new US administration.

According to available information, the observed over the past years a steady increase of the crisis phenomena in the Turkish economy has already received a very specific political dimension in the form of the upcoming referendum on constitutional amendments. According to the CEC, the plebiscite must pass 16 April. In late January, the relevant amendments have already been supported by the Parliament, where the majority are members of the Justice and Development Party. And now the ruling coalition will try to use the socio-economic situation in the country in order to maximize their own electorate to mobilize in support of the proposed constitutional changes - and do not miss the moment when the financial and economic problems might turn against the government and the president.

The most massive since the days of Kemal Ataturk change the basic law of the country in the direction of its transformation into a presidential republic - a key point of the theory and practice of the current heads of State Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Turkey's current constitution was adopted in 1982 year, when the country was shaken by political instability and military coups that led to 1981 year to the adoption of the law on the prohibition of the existing political parties. Then a draft basic law on referendum was 91% of the vote.

Erdogan is expected to start the mechanism of constitutional reform back in 2013 year, however, the protests in Taksim Square in Istanbul and beyond political instability slowed down this process. Nevertheless, it is clear that Erdogan will not abandon the idea to establish the country as much as possible and customize the model of government. In particular, if the upcoming referendum, the majority will support the amendments to Turkey's 2019 year will be abolished the post of prime minister and head of government will be the president. In addition, the President will receive the right to issue decrees to declare a state of emergency, appoint ministers and other senior officials and dissolve parliament. Just the year 2019 scheduled and the holding of presidential and parliamentary elections. The presidential term will be five years, renewable for a second term. Thus, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, will have the right to run for president in 2019 year for five years, and in the year 2024 go for re-election for another five years.

Another key point: the new draft constitution (and in this fundamental difference between the current situation of the constitutional reform 1982 years) gives the president the right to suspend membership in a political party for a period of execution of presidential powers. With regard to Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which means the possibility to return to the leadership in the Justice and Development Party (abandoned them 2014 year) - which will further strengthen the centralization of power in Turkey, "hooked" on the presidential figure and the party-representative and executive powers. It is no accident, according to Turkish sources, the current bill on constitutional reform was prepared in a narrow circle of leadership Justice and Development Party, without consultation with other parties and any public debate.

In this situation, the question of the likely outcome of the forthcoming referendum occurs. Getting the support of the required majority in parliament is not difficult for the ruling majority Justice and Development Party. Against the bill on constitutional reform expectedly voted deputies of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and the pro-Kurdish Democratic People's Party, which together got 36% in the last parliamentary elections 2015 years. CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu called the vote a "betrayal of the Parliament of their own history."

However, the outcome of the forthcoming referendum is not so obvious for President Erdogan. Sociological studies conducted by two leading agencies of the country - Gur's A & G Research and Metropoll, given the opposite meaning of, but they both show that neither supporters nor opponents of the constitutional reform does not have a stable majority. According to a study by Gur's A & G Research, 52% of voters would vote "for", while the forecast Metropoll says that 51% of the electorate would vote "against".

Much will depend on what position will Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). In the parliamentary elections, she 2015 12% scored and entered into a coalition with the ruling Justice and Development Party. However, as the research shows Al-Monitor, at least half of the supporters of the party opposed to the constitutional reforms aimed at strengthening presidential powers.

This constitutional proposals Recep Tayyip Erdogan does not currently support approximately 20% of supporters of the most Justice and Development Party.

The uncertainty around the outcome of the forthcoming key politically for President Erdogan's referendum gives reason to anticipate Ankara's attempts to use foreign policy factors for the consolidation of their own electorate and win over strontium "wavering". In this context, the most advantageous for the Turkish leadership steps, along with traditional card-playing "Kurdish terrorism" look intensification of military and political efforts on the Syrian and Cypriot directions, as well as possibly in the Black Sea and the Caucasus. When Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the next two months will be able to present to the voters the real achievements of the country in terms of strengthening Turkey's position in Syria and around Cyprus, as well as in the context of the development of relations both with Russia and the new US administration, the question of victory in the constitutional referendum can be considered solved.

A source: Strategic Culture Foundation

Author: Peter ISKENDEROV

Tags: Turkey, Erdogan, Policy, Research, Middle East, Reforms