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Nation of SW Asia occupying most of Asia Minor, which constitutes approximately 97 percent of its territory, as well as E Thrace in SE Europe. It includes parts of Armenia and Kurdistan. Ankara is the capital. As a nation Turkey came into existence following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after its defeat in World War I. By the Treaty of Sevres in 1920 the Allies set up a small Turkish state in the northern part of Asia Minor. The reigning sultan, Muhammad VI, accepted the treaty, but Turkish nationalists known as the Young Turks refused it.

Under Mustafa Kemal, later known as Kemal Ataturk, they organized resistance, set up a government at Ankara, and fought the Allies. A treaty with the USSR in 1921 led to the restoration of the Kars and Ardahan regions, while a Greek offensive against the nationalists was routed in 1922. The nationalists declared the sultan deposed on November 1, 1922.

A new agreement, the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923, recognized Turkey with its present boundaries, except for the sanjak of Alexand retta, a province now in southern Turkey, which was transferred to Turkey in 1939. In October 1923 Turkey officially became a republic, and Kemal became its first president, a position he held until his death in 1938. He westernized Turkey, abolishing the caliphate in 1924, granting suffrage to women in 1934, ending polygamy and the wearing of the traditional fez, adopting new civil and criminal law codes, and substituting the Latin alphabet for the Arabic. Constantinople was officially renamed Istanbul in 1930.

In 1934 Turkey joined Greece, Romania, and Yugoslavia in the Balkan Entente and in 1937 the Saadabad Pact with Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq.

The Montreux Convention of 1936 allowed Turkey to control and fortify the Dardanelles, which had not been permitted under the Treaty of Lausanne.

Kemal was succeeded as president by Ismet Inonu, who tried to keep Turkey neutral in World War II, but it finally joined the Allies in February 1945. Relations with the USSR deteriorated in 1945, and in 1947 Turkey began to receive aid from the United States under the Truman Doctrine, aimed at “containing” communism. Turkey became a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1952 and helped create the Central Treaty Organization in 1955.

In the mid-1950s a dispute with Greece arose over the island of Cyprus. Turkey supported the demand s of the Turkish minority there for partition of the island . After Cyprus became independent in 1960 there was fighting between Greeks and Turks, and in 1974 Turkey invaded the island to protect the Turkish Cypriots. Since the late 1950s there has been much political unrest in Turkey, with government suppression of dissidents, and numerous changes of rulers.

General Kenan Evren led a military takeover of the government and declared martial law in September 1980 and in 1981 abolished the two leading political parties amid widespread repression. In elections in 1983, the conservative Motherland Party won the overall majority, and party leader, Turgut Ozal, became prime minister. In 1987, martial law was lifted, except in the four Kurdish-dominated provinces in SE Turkey where a guerrilla campaign by the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) had begun in the mid-1980s. In 1987, Ozal was reelected.

In 1989, Ozal succeeded Evren as president, and 300,000 Muslim Turks fled from Bulgaria into Turkey to avoid government sponsored Bulgarianization efforts. During the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Turkey was a strong ally, allowing the United States to launch air strikes against Iraq from Turkish bases.

Turkey closed its borders to prevent Kurdish refugees from entering the country, fearing in increase in Kurdish nationalist activity. In the 1991 elections the conservative True Path Party won the majority and Suleyman Demirel, a former prime minister, again took office. President Ozal died in 1993. Demirel took over as president, and Tansu Ciller of True Path became Turkey’s first female prime minister.

After an economic boom in the late 1980s, inflation, foreign debt, and deficit spending led to a financial crisis in 1994. Islamic fundamentalists became increasingly popular as religious-based social services supplemented underfunded government services. Turkey continued to fight a guerrilla war with Kurdish separatists in Turkey and N Iraq. Turkey was accused of human-rights violations against civilians, including the razing of villages to deny Kurds safe harbor and the use of torture and summary executions. In 1995, Turkey joined in a customs union with the European Union.

In 1995, the parliamentary elections gave the islamist Welfare Party, Motherland , and True Path parties nearly equal shares of the vote with the Welfare Party gaining the most. A Welfare–True Path coalition government was formed in 1996, making Welfare leader Necmettin Erbakan prime minister, and ending 75 years of exclusively secular governments in Turkey. The military intervened, however, after Erbakan made overtures to Libya and Iran, and proposed support for Muslim education and culture.

In 1997 Mesut Yilmaz of the Motherland Party became the new prime minister. The Welfare Party was banned in 1998, and Erbakan was forbidden to participate in politics for five years. Some other Welfare officeholders remained as independents, and many of them reorganized as the Virtue Party.

Yilmaz lost a confidence vote in 1998, and a new government was formed by another former prime minister, Bulent Ecevit, the head of the Democratic Left Party. The 1999 elections confirmed Ecevit as prime minister, heading a three-party coalition government.

High inflation persisted into the late 1990s. Two major earthquakes hit NW Turkey in 1999, killing thousands.

Mutual earthquake aid with Greece led to an improvement of relations between the two nations.

Late in 1999, Turkey was invited to apply for membership in the European Union (EU). President Demirel was banned from seeking a second term by the constitution and Ahmet Necdet Sezer, the president of Turkey’s high court, was elected as president. In 2000 there was another financial crisis that required a $7.5 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan. The Turkish lira was floated and lost 30% of its value.

In 2001, the Virtue Party was banned by Turkey’s high court on charges of pro-Islamic and antisecular activities. Ecevit called for new elections in 2002, and the new Islamic Justice and Development Party won a land slide victory. Abdullah Gul became prime minister because party leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan was banned from running. The new parliament passed a constitutional amendment permitting Erdogan to run for office. He was elected to parliament in a 2003 byelection and then became prime minister. In 2003 Turkey refused to grant the United States permission to invade N Iraq from bases in Turkey, straining U.S.- Turkish relations. Revisions to the penal code, the final part of the package of reforms sought by the EU, were passed by the Turkish parliament in 2004. The EU continues to negotiate for Turkey’s admission in spite of anti-Turkish feeling from some of its members.


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