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“Turkey’s ‘Demonstrative Effect’ and the Transformation of the Middle East”

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Prof. Dr. Kemal Kirişçi

A string of uprisings in Tunisia  and Egypt followed by those in  other countries have rekindled  the issue of Turkey constituting a model for reform and democratization in the Arab  world, a point raised by many  Western and Arab commentators.  Independent of this debate, what  is lacking in the literature is an analysis of how come there is a “demand” for the Turkish model. This article develops the concept of a “demonstrative effect” and argues that it is this “effect” that makes the Turkish model of interest to the Middle East and that this “effect” is a function of three developments: the rise of the “trading state”, the diffusion of Turkey’s democratization experience as a “work in progress”, and the positive image of Turkey’s “new” foreign policy. The concluding part of the article discusses several challenges Turkey has to meet so that its “demonstrative effect” can have a positive impact.


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