New Turkey: The Quiet Revolution on the Edge of Europe Paperback – 6 Nov 2006
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'Chris Morris points out the paradoxes the nation faces ... a striking portrait of a nation in transition ... a timely and important book' Daily Telegraph 'Cuts a brisk and lucid way through the great themes of Turkish life today ... For those who still think Europe should define itself by whom it can exclude, not whom it can embrace, The New Turkey is an eloquent nudge in the ribs' Guardian 'A fine new book by the BBC's Chris Morris, The New Turkey, gives an expert and colourful overview of this ferment' Independent 'A very lively book in which Morris sets his scenes like a novelist' Conde Nast Traveller
About the Author
Chris Morris has covered Turkish affairs for the BBC for over eight years - first as Turkey correspondent based in Ankara and Istanbul, and then as Europe Correspondent based in Brussels. He is now World Affairs correspondent and based in London.
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Mr. Morris writes with smooth prose and engaging language which make this book eminently readable.
A must read for anyone interested in Turkey.
Morris spent eight years as a BBC correspondent in Turkey - and he never stopped learning. If this book is any indication, the only time he spent sitting down was in trains, buses or aircraft. He recounts how many Turks still mourn the breakup of the Ottoman hegemony, yet political and economic leaders want to shed the old idea of "The Sick Man of Europe" - an early indication of Turkey's strained ties with the West. The Ottoman structure lacked firmness, resulting in numerous ethnic groups forming strong identities. Among these, the Kurds are among the most noteable. Laying claim to a vast stretch of territory, the Kurds have struggled long for sovereignty. In response, the Turkish government and society has enforced a strict containment policy. Much of what comprises Turkish domestic policy reflects the dealings with the Kurds. Kurdish language use has been discouraged; an identity within the Turkish community has been rejected and concesssions to religious differences rejected. Yet restraints are loosening and Morris vividly imparts his hope for further change. It's as if he's shamelessly barracking for Tureky's EU membership. Reading his account, it's not hard to sympathise with both him and Turkey.
An enquiring journalist, Morris travelled Turkey extensively. There were tours of new businesses, confrontations at military checkpoints, an encounter with an earthquake and political activities. His interest in the people is ardent and he was keen to learn as much as possible. He views the EU membership as widely, if not universally, held. His scope of view is wide and he must have a fine sense of dealing with individuals within their own frame of reference. Through it all, however, there is a clear clash of Turks wishing to remain Turks even when the EU membership comes through. The process is slow and deliberate, with the European nations demanding high standards. Turkey wants to join, exhibiting enough ambition to modify its society to bring that about. Drastic social disruption, however, is not something the Turks themselves will tolerate. The national government is treading a precarious path in trying to bring about reform. If there is to be change, it will be in the form of a "quiet revolution".
Turkey, notes Morris, is in an anomalous position. Becoming part of the European Union will, in many ways, detach it from its Muslim neighbours. "Muslim" doesn't equate with "Arab" as many Westerners believe. Turkey is looked on askance by many Middle Eastern nations. On the other hand, with other Muslim nations on its borders and the headwaters of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers rising in its mountains, there are other geopolitical forces it must deal with successfully. Water, an increasingly precious commodity in the region, will keep Turkey in close dialogue with regional nations lacking it. It's not a two-front war, but it is a tricky diplomatic arrangement. Morris feels Turkey is making sufficient progress in many endeavours that it will likely succeed in the EU membership application. Even if that membership is at a different level, it will intensify the already strong economic presence Turkey enjoys in Europe. The mutual benefits, he argues, will provide strong, positive ties. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
The fact that this final phase of European integration, designed to completely overhaul the incomplete system that the country's mercurial founder left in his wake, should be undertaken by an Islamic party rather than those that claim to follow in the Kemalist secular tradition is an apparent anomaly that can only be understood with a thorough understanding of the enigmatic nation.
Morris who has been both the BBC Turkish and European correspondent is uniquely placed to undertake this explanation and his deep and abiding love of this increasingly confused and confusing country shines through as he seeks to humanise even the most obtuse aspect of Turkey's EU accession bid with the stories of the very people it will ultimately affect.
And is it really Europe?
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