About Turkey country Information
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 All figures from the Economist Intelligence Unit July 2010 Country Report.
A Turkish café at
The Republic of Turkey is strategically placed between Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East, and shares borders with Greece, Bulgaria, Armenia, Georgia, Iran, Iraq and Syria. Turkey is a secular state following the path envisaged by the first President, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Turkey has a large emigrant population overseas, particularly in Europe (Germany and France). Muslims make up 98% of the Turkish population.
New Zealand and Turkey have a warm political relationship, based on the shared history of the Gallipoli campaign. The annual Gallipoli commemorations in Turkey constitute one of the largest annual off-shore gatherings of New Zealanders and Australians and attendance has grown dramatically in recent years. There have been a number of high-level visits to Turkey in recent years.
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk founded the Turkish Republic in 1923. Until his death in 1938 he worked on establishing Turkey as a Western-oriented, secular, unified state. These values have remained a core unifying element of the establishment, and are particularly revered by the military, who view their role as protecting the Turkish State from threats to these values. It was on this basis that the military took power from civilian rulers in 1960, 1971 and 1980.
The formation in July 1996 of a coalition Government by the Welfare (Refah) Party led by Prime Minister Erbakan was a watershed in Turkish politics. This was the first time since Turkey’s establishment as a modern secular state in 1923 that a party reputed to have Islamist tendencies held the office of Prime Minister. The government was forced to resign after 11 months due to pressure from the secular military. The secular nature of Turkish politics was reinforced when the Constitutional Court banned the Welfare Party in January 1998 and barred its leaders from politics for five years. A new coalition government of the left and right was formed and ruled until early elections were held in November 2002. A landslide election brought the Justice and Development Party (AKP), formed from the ashes of the Welfare Party, into power in November 2002, following the collapse of Bulent Ecevit’s coalition government.