Turkey History

Turkey History


In Asia Minor there are traces of settlement from the 7th millennium BC. (Çatal H¨¹y¨¹k). Archaeological finds indicates agriculture, metalworking and trade links to the Red Sea. In the northwest of today’s Turkey probably originated in the 3rd millennium BC. the city of Troy, which was often destroyed and rebuilt due to its strategic location. In the 2nd millennium BC. the Indo-European Hittites, coming from the northeast, immigrated to Asia Minor, a highly developed people who were militarily superior to the other peoples. Several great and powerful empires emerged under the Hittites, which extended across the whole of Anatolia to Syria and Babylon stretched. With the competing Egyptian kingdom of the pharaohs, the rulers agreed on a division of power in Syria (from 1460 BC). From around 1200 BC the last great empire of the Hittites fell apart and was destroyed by the peoples invading Thrace (today’s European part of Turkey) and the Mediterranean.

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An Assyrian Empire emerged in the east of Asia Minor and a Phrygian empire in central Anatolia and the west (King Midas), each of which was destroyed by the Medes (around 614 BC) and the Kimmerians (695 BC). The Lyder became the dominant great power in Anatolia, and the many Greek cities on the Aegean coast were also under their rule. Lyder King Croesus, famous for his legendary wealth, was defeated in 546 BC. the Persian Achaemenid (Battle of Pteria), from then on Asia Minor belonged to the great empire of the Persians, which was the most powerful of its time after the destruction of the Babylonian and the Egyptian empires.

500 BC until the 13th century AD

Around 490 to 449/8 BC the so-called Persian Wars took place between troops of the Persian King Darius I and the Greek cities that had supported the uprising of the Greek settlers on the west coast of the Asia Minor Peninsula against the Persians (defeat of the Persians in the battle of Marathon in 490 BC.; Naval battle at Salamis 480 BC).

From 336 BC Macedonian Alexander the Great, whose father had already defeated all of Greece, conquered Asia Minor and almost the entire Persian Empire (Battle of Issus 333 BC; Gaugamela 330 BC). One of the successors (diadoches) of Alexander the Great, Seleucus, established the so-called Seleucid Empire after his death, which extended from the Aegean coast to the east to northern India. At the same time, several smaller empires were formed in northern Asia Minor (Bithynia, Paphlagonia, Pontus, Cappadocia, Pergamon). Through the allies’ policy of alliances with Rome against the Seleucid Empire, the Romans emerged, who gradually subjugated the northern empires and turned them into Roman provinces. 64 BCthe Roman general Pompejus defeated the last Seleucid ruler (Antiochus XIII.).

According to AbbreviationFinder, the capital of the Roman Empire was moved by Emperor Constantine I from Rome to Byzantium on the Strait of the Bosphorus and AD 330. renamed Constantinople. The city became the center of AD after the division of the Roman Empire in 395. emerging Eastern Roman and Byzantine Empire, which was able to prevail in Asia Minor against the Persians and later also against the Arabs, who had conquered the Persian Sassanian Empire in the 7th century. The Euphrates River has long formed the border between the Byzantine and Arab areas of influence. From the 10th century, the Islamic Empire of the Seljuks, a Turkic people from Inner Asia, developed east of the Euphrates, which also conquered and settled large areas of Asia Minor in the course of the 11th century.With Konya as the center, a Sunni Islamic empire of the Rum Seljuks (1097) was established in Central Anatolia. Traditions and language of the Turkic people spread, the influence of the Hellenistic culture was suppressed.

The empire of the Seljuks was destroyed in 1243 by the Mongol horsemen.

The Ottoman Empire

At the end of the 13th century, the Turkic people of the Oguses fought for independence from the Mongols and supremacy in Anatolia. Its leader Osman I appointed himself Sultan (King) of the new empire in 1298. First the city of Bursa became the capital of the Ottoman Empire named after the Sultan in 1325, then Edirne in Thrace in 1366. The sultan called for a religious struggle against Christian Byzantium, which became the main enemy of his empire. The Ottoman army crossed the Dardanelles Strait for the first time in 1354, at that time on the Asian side only the city of Constantinople was in the hands of the Byzantine Empire.

Within a few years, the Ottomans advanced westward and secured rule in the Balkans (battle on the blackbird field in 1389). After a brief period of weakness (1402 against the Mongol army of Timur Leng), the Ottoman Empire consolidated again and, after a siege of several weeks, conquered Constantinople in 1453, ending the more than 1,000-year history of the Christian Byzantine Empire. The city was renamed Istanbul and became the new capital.

In the following years the Ottoman rule in the Balkans and in Southeast Europe was consolidated. In the 16th century, the Ottoman armies (feared primarily because of the so-called Janissaries, a military elite force) penetrated as far as Tunisia and the Arabian Peninsula, and Turkey reached its greatest expansion. The end of the expansion was the defeat of the Turkish fleet of Sultan Selim II in October 1571 near Lepanto in the Gulf of Corinth against Venetians and Spaniards. In the confrontation with the Habsburg Empire, which had become the main opponent of the Ottoman Empire after the end of Byzantium, the Ottomans suffered several defeats in the 17th century and other areas were lost.

In 1673 the host failed for the second time after 1529 to conquer Vienna as the center of the Habsburgs. In the following the Ottoman Empire lost in Europe Hungary, large parts of the later Yugoslavia and Romania, the Ukraine and large areas along the Dalmatian coast and in Greece (Great Turkish War 1683-99). Power struggles and uprisings of dissatisfied sections of the population also took place inside. In the 18th century, the Russian tsars became the main opponents of the Ottomans alongside the Habsburgs, with both there were several wars after which the Ottoman Empire lost its position as a major power.

In the Greek War of Liberation (1821-29), which was supported by France, Germany and Russia, the Ottomans lost further territories. With British and French help, the Ottoman Empire was able to assert itself against Russia in the so-called Crimean War from 1856 onwards, and in 1878 another defeat led to the Balkan countries (Romania, Serbia, Montenegro) gaining their full independence and further reducing the influence of the Ottoman Empire has been.

Even in their own multi-ethnic state, the voices of the individual peoples, which called for independence, became louder and louder in the 19th century. Uprisings of the so-called “Young Turks”, an intellectual upper class, forced the incumbent sultan in 1876 to enact a constitution that included, among other things, the equality of religions and nations in the Ottoman Empire and a parliamentary monarchy. The decline of the empire accelerated in the 20th century: the liberal “Young Turks” overthrew the Sultan (1909), further areas were lost to Italy. In the First Balkan War in 1912/13, the Ottoman Empire lost to an alliance from Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia and Montenegro, which led to the abandonment of Macedonia and Albania.

The Republic of Turkey

During the First World War, the Ottoman Empire participated alongside Germany, Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria. After the defeat, the Sevres peace treaty lost all areas outside Anatolia and a small remaining area (Eastern Thrace). The great Ottoman Empire had ceased to exist. The straits were opened to international shipping, and areas in eastern and south-eastern Anatolia were separated in favor of the Armenians and Kurds.

As early as 1919, a new war broke out with Greece that tried to occupy areas in western Anatolia and Thrace. General Mustafa Kemal Pasha took the lead in the nation-state movement that fought against the Greeks. Kemal Pascha belongs to a group of officers who wanted to transition from a multi-ethnic state to a smaller, nation-state-oriented Turkey. Greek troops were defeated at the end of 1922, and the Lausanne Peace Treaty (1923) established the borders (which roughly correspond to today’s) of an independent and sovereign Turkish state. The sultan abdicated a year earlier, in 1923 the Republic of Turkey with Ankara as the capital.

The first president was Mustafa Kemal Pasha, who in 1934 was given the nickname “Ataturk” (father of the Turks). He is still considered the founder of modern Turkey and opened the country to European influences. The country’s former upper class was disempowered and extensive reforms were introduced, such as the adoption of the Gregorian calendar, the use of the Latin alphabet, the abolition of Islamic jurisprudence in favor of Western legal systems, the separation of state and church, etc. The economic reforms introduced (nationalization of companies, Expansion of the industry) was only partially enforced by the global economic crisis that started in the late 1920s.The new government was just as brutal and cruel against the Kurds and Armenians in Southeastern Anatolia as its predecessors.

Uprisings were put down by force of arms, their culture was suppressed, the language was banned. A friendship pact with Great Britain and France in 1939 ended the good relations with the Soviet Union that had existed since the 1920s. During the Second World War, Turkey remained neutral, and by officially declaring war on Germany and Japan in February 1945, the country fulfilled the requirements for admission to the United Nations Organization. Due to its geostrategic location, Turkey played an important role for the West in the Cold War. Turkey joined NATO in 1952 (North Atlantic Treaty Organization / 1949 defense alliance founded by the United States, Canada, Great Britain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Italy, Portugal, Denmark, Norway and Iceland).

The multi-party system was introduced in 1946, and the first parliamentary elections in 1950 were won by the Democratic Party against the Republican People’s Party founded by Kemal Ataturk. The successor party to the Democratic Party, the conservative Justice Party, won the elections in 1965 and appointed S¨¹leyman Demirel, the new prime minister (until 1971). Like its predecessor Menderes, Demirel was overthrown by the military. B¨¹lent Ecevit of the Republican People’s Party became Demirel’s successor.

From 1970 to the present day

The conflict with Greece over the island of Cyprus (released to independence from Great Britain in 1960, Turkish Cypriot minority without autonomy rights) escalated after the Turkish minority’s civil war-like clashes with the Greek Cypriots on the island. In 1974, the Greek majority of the population declared the island’s connection to Greece, whereupon Turkish troops occupied the northern part of the island. Cyprus was divided in 1975.

There were frequent changes of government in the second half of the 1970s, with Demirel from the Justice Party and Ecevit from the Republican People’s Party alternating as Prime Minister. In 1980 a military coup led to the dissolution of the parliament and the suspension of the constitution. General Kenan Evren, who also chaired the National Security Council, became the new President. Martial law was imposed on the provinces of Turkey, political parties were banned and party leaders were arrested. International organizations have accused the Turkish military government of serious violations of human rights.

In 1983, the newly founded right-wing conservative ANAP (mother country party) won in the parliamentary elections. Turgut Özal became the new prime minister and head of a civilian government. As a result of the democratization of the country that he carried out, a party landscape developed again, which essentially consisted of the ANAP, the Social Democratic People’s Party (SHP) and the conservative Right Way Party (DYP).

In the 1980s, the Kurdish conflict in Southeast Turkey intensified again. Abdullah Öcalan founded the “Kurdistan Communist Workers Party” (PKK) in November 1978, which was banned by the government in Ankara, but remained active underground. Their goal was a sovereign socialist Kurdish state in southeastern Turkey, which should also include the parts of Syria, Iraq and Iran in which Kurds have a share of the population. Since the 1980s, the PKK has carried out a series of terrorist attacks on the Turkish military, and military operations have repeatedly occurred in the areas of southern Anatolia, which are predominantly populated by Kurds.

The actions of the Turkish military have been repeatedly criticized by international human rights organizations. In 1991, S¨¹leyman Demirel (now head of the government for the seventh time) recognized the Kurds in Turkey as an ethnic minority for the first time, but resolutely rejected a Kurdish state of its own. In the 1990s, the Turkish army launched a number of large-scale offensives against the PKK (even beyond the Turkish state borders), killing countless Kurdish villages and killing thousands. In 1999, the PKK leader Öcalan was arrested, which significantly weakened the movement. To date, the armed struggle between the Turkish governments and the PKK has resulted in around 40,000 deaths and the migration of hundreds of thousands.

The collapse of the Eastern Bloc since 1989 changed the geopolitical importance of Turkey. The Turkish government reacted to the growing instability of the region with a number of regional initiatives such as the “Black Sea Conference”, which was launched in 1992 (which provides for an annual summit of the Black Sea countries) and the Turkmen Summit in the same year (agreement on close economic cooperation between the Turkic speakers former Soviet republics and Turkey). Domestically, the Islamist Welfare Party (RP), which also won the elections in 1995, gained in importance in the mid-1990s. Contrary to the policies of his predecessors, their leader Necmettin Erbakan sought closer ties to fundamentalist Iran.

In 1998 the RP was banned for anti-state fundamentalist activities (as was the Islamic “virtue party” FP). In 2001 two new parties were founded: the Islamist traditionalists united in the Saadet (bliss) party, the reformers in the AKP under Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The AKP sees itself as a reform-oriented conservative people’s party and rejects the attribute “Islamic”. Her domestic opponents assume a creeping Islamization policy.

At the beginning of the new millennium, the Western integration of Turkey was determined as a foreign policy goal, as was the desired admission to the European Union (the country has been granted official candidate status since 1999, accession negotiations started in 2005). However, the Cyprus issue complicates the negotiations: at the end of 2006, the EU decided on sanctions against Turkey and the accession negotiations were frozen in some areas. There was an approximation between the Greek and Turkish governments: in January 2000 Georgios Papandreou became the first Greek foreign minister to visit Turkey in almost 40 years and concluded an agreement with the Turkish government in the areas of tourism, the environment, the fight against terrorism and the protection of investments.

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During a return visit a month later, the foreign ministers of both countries spoke of a new era in Greek-Turkish relations. Several bilateral agreements followed. This policy of rapprochement was accompanied by a strong upswing in trade. The first Turkish-Greek gas pipeline was inaugurated at the end of 2007. – The fight with the Kurdish rebels (PKK) in southeast Turkey escalated again. As of October 2007, the Turkish Air Force attacked suspected PKK positions in neighboring Iraq. This further burdened the already difficult relationship with Iraq.

In the early parliamentary elections in July 2007, the ruling Islamic-conservative AKP won the majority with 47% of the vote. With Abdullah G¨¹l, she was able to assert herself in August 2008 in the election of the new president. The controversy over the laicism principle and supposed attempts by the government to soften this principle became more acute. The indirect lifting of the headscarf ban at the universities in February 2008 by constitutional change finally led to the application to ban the AKP; it was rejected by the Constitutional Court in July (the easing of the headscarf ban had been lifted a month earlier). In the parliamentary elections in June 2011, the AKP again received the majority of the votes (49.8%).

Since 2002, Turkey has launched numerous reform packages to address many of the priorities listed in the EU accession partnership in the area of ​​human rights, including the abolition of the death penalty, strengthening civilian control over the military, ending legal discrimination against women and a fundamental reform of criminal and procedural law. However, the EU progress report of October 2013 paints a mixed picture in terms of human rights: social reality in many parts of the country lags behind legal progress.

Talks have been held between the Turkish state and the imprisoned leader of the PKK Abdullah Öcalan to resolve the Kurdish conflict since the end of 2012. After violent armed conflicts in the past two years, a ceasefire has been observed for the first time since March 2013.

Turkey President