Turkey History 2

20th century. The 1908 “young Turks” revolution unsuccessfully tried to contain the collapse of the Ottoman empire, which continued to suffer military and territorial losses in the Balkans. Taking advantage of the Italian-Turkish war in 1911, Bulgaria, Serbia and Greece, under the auspices of Russia, formed an offensive alliance with a view to liberating Macedonian Christians. Thus, in October 1912, in a flash campaign, Turkey was defeated, losing all of Macedonia.

The takeover of Adrianópolis later forced the Ottomans, in 1913, to give up all of European Turkey, with the exception of a small portion of eastern Thrace. The sharing of the spoils, however, created conflicts between the allies the day before and gave rise to the second Balkan war, when Bulgaria was defeated by the Serbs, Greeks and Romanians, and Turkey took over Adrianópolis. At the beginning of the first world war, Turkey allied itself with Austria and Germany. Although the Turkish military has demonstrated its preparedness in the victorious defense of the Dardanelles, the country has lost its Arab provinces and part of Anatolia.

Sultan Mehmet V died in July 1918. His brother Mehmet VI came to power in the midst of the collapse of the European central powers. According to Localbusinessexplorer, Turkey asked for the armistice, signed on October 30 of the same year. The Treaty of Sèvres (August 10, 1920) dismembered the empire and imposed a temporary occupation of Anatolia by the allies. Only Istanbul and an area in the north-east of the country came under the administration of the sultan. Meanwhile, the independent republic of Armenia was declared, autonomy was imposed for the Kurdish country and Greece took over Smyrna and Thrace.


A prestigious general, Mustafá Kemal, later called Ataturk (father of the Turks), led a nationalist resistance movement, which refused to accept the conditions imposed on the sultan’s government. In April 1920, Turkish nationalists managed to assemble a National Assembly in Ankara. The interior of Anatolia was soon taken over by them, and in 1921, a treaty with the Soviet Union fixed the borders in the Caucasus. After that, the Armenian population was systematically wiped out.

Ataturk was able to reorganize nationalist forces, so that the Greek inhabitants, defeated in successive battles, had to abandon European Turkey and the region of Smyrna. In November 1922, the sultanate was abolished. The following year, the Lausanne Peace, accepted by all parties, enshrined the Turkish borders and the definitive withdrawal of the occupation troops. About 1.3 million Greeks had to leave the country, while 400,000 Turks returned.

The new Turkish republic established its capital in Ankara. Ataturk undertook drastic reforms that gave rise to an authoritarian, centralized and secular state. Traditional law of Islamic origin was suppressed and the spelling of the Turkish language in Latin and non-Arabic characters was declared mandatory, as it was before. The economy, damaged by the years of international and civil war and lacking manpower due to the mass flight of Greeks and Armenians, proved fragile, and the state intervened to foment it. The authoritarian state of Ataturk, run by the urban educated classes, quickly transformed many external aspects of society and was concerned with superficial details, such as the ban on the use of fez, traditional cap. The profound modernization of customs, however, would take decades.

After Ataturk’s death in 1938, Ismet Inönu, one of his closest collaborators, was elected president. The new Turkish state adopted a foreign policy of neutrality, maintained throughout most of the second world war, but, under pressure from the Allies, declared war on the Germans and Japanese in 1945. At the end of the conflict, Turkey was immersed in a deep economic crisis , due to supply difficulties and military spending.

Soviet pressure on the eastern borders forced the country to ally itself with the capitalist powers. The political system became less rigid, and unions and political parties were able to exercise limited activity. In 1952, Turkey joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and began receiving economic and military aid from the United States. Later, he joined organizations such as the Organization for European Economic Cooperation (OCEE) and the Council of Europe. In 1963, he became an associate member of the European Economic Community.

Adnan Menderes, Prime Minister since 1950, was overthrown by a military coup in 1960. The following year, a new constitution was promulgated and, after the elections, a civilian government was formed, headed by Inönu, head of the People’s Republican Party. . The Suleiman Demirel Justice Party, with a social-democratic tendency, alternated with the Republican in power until 1980, when, in the face of the unstable political situation, the military seized power, under the leadership of General Kenan Evren. Martial law was imposed, newspapers were closed and all political activity prohibited. Two years later, a new constitution was passed and the process of restoring power to civilians began.

The November 1983 elections gave the homeland party a parliamentary majority, and its leader, Turgut Özal, became prime minister, although the head of state remained in the hands of General Evren. In 1987, Turkey applied for admission as a member state of the European Community, but the application was rejected two years later for, among other factors, violating human rights and experiencing high rates of inflation.

In 1989, Özal was elected president. Two years later, the government adopted a liberalization policy, which removed religious-oriented Marxists and politicians from lawlessness and promoted a broad amnesty. In the same year, Demirel became prime minister. With Özal’s death in 1993, Demirel assumed the presidency and was replaced, as prime minister, by economist Tansu Çiller, the first woman to head the Turkish government. Çiller started a broad program of economic reforms designed to allow the country to join the European Union, but a political crisis led it to resign in September 1995.

Turkey History 2