This post is written by my colleague, Charles Landow, associate director of the Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy Initiative at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Whether for its economic dynamism or its increasingly visible role in the Middle East, Turkey today is much in the news. I recently visited the country and found good reasons for the attention. The purpose of the trip was to attend a conference on “The Economies of the Arab Spring” organized by the Hollings Center for International Dialogue, a small but energetic think tank that fosters policy conversations and connections between the United States and the Muslim world.
What I saw made clear that Istanbul is the hub of a booming economy with growing ambitions. The IMF projects that Turkey’s GDP, less than $200 billion as recently as 2001, will exceed $1 trillion by 2015. Per capita GDP has reached $10,000, on its way to nearly $15,000 in the next five years. This growth has many Turks thinking big. For example, the massive Marmaray Tunnel, which will traverse the Bosphorus to connect Istanbul’s European and Asian sides by rail, is under construction to address the city’s transport woes. Even the U.S. transportation secretary has praised its engineering prowess. And in April Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced plans for a colossal new canal that would keep freighters and their often hazardous cargo out of the jammed Bosphorus. Read more »