Turkey Resides in a Complicated Neighborhood…

Istanbul literally is both in Europe and Asia which underscores just how complicated the neighborhood around Turkey is. To its south is Syria and Iraq; to the east is Iran; to the north across the Black Sea is Russia and Ukraine with Europe to the west. Almost 100 years to the month, the Greek, Armenian, and French armies were expelled from the country, and the current Republican political system was established, bringing to a close the Ottoman monarchy rule of over 620 years. Current events made my recent trip to this most extraordinary country even more confounding.

It was somewhat unsettling to see massive tankers navigate the narrow Bosporus strait, which bisects Istanbul, on their way to/from the Black Sea and the Ukrainian war zone. Because of the Montreaux Convention, which effectively affords Turkey significant control over which military vessels can access the Black Sea (civilian vessels are granted “complete freedom” during peacetime), global attention is now directed to this important waterway as the west wrestles with how to best assist Ukraine and secure safe passage of its agricultural products to the rest of the world.

With 84.7 million people, Turkey ranks as the 18th most populous country with nearly three-fourths of the population being ethnic Turks and another 20% of Kurdish descent. While a secular country, it is estimated that more than 80% of Turks adhere to Islamic faith. Importantly, Turkey is a member of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) but its application to join (Read more...)