An assessment report funded by the Norwegian, Irish and Swiss governments and prepared for the Democratic Progress Institute (DPI) by Turkish researcher Izzet Akyol was published in July sharing an analysis of the effect of the armed conflict in Turkey on the economic growth of the country.
Providing a socio-political overview about the political and economic rationalisation in Turkey and examining literature from various other scholars in the field, Akyol presents in the report the argument that if the Kurdish issue is resolved and sustainable peace is brought to Turkey, Turkey will experience economic growth in various sectors, and bring political stability to the country.
The report suggests that in its struggle with regard to the Kurdish question, Turkey has chosen security policies over the political option that it introduced in “a very limited scope”, mainly as a result of its official attitude based on “ideological preferences”.
Supported by presented figures, the report offers examples of how the Kurdish conflict has negatively influenced the economy, for example in Foreign Direct Investment, infrastructure and tourism, and has a significant human cost, not only in loss of life but also in trauma that is carried for generations.
Akyol pointed out in the report that per capita income in a conflict-free Turkey would be almost “35 percent higher than the current figure” as the annual growth rate of Turkey if it had not been not in a state of armed conflict for almost 40 years would be “1 percent higher”.
“Wasted resources have cost Turkey trillions of dollars. Should we consider this growth, the following situation may be observed:
Between 1985 and 2020, Turkey’s total national economic size is around 16 trillion dollars at current prices. When the calculation is made on the assumption that the resources which evaporate due to the conflicts every year (which corresponds to 1% of the total national income) remains in the economy pool, we see that Turkey could have generated a national income of almost 20 trillion dollars in the same time period,” Akyol said.
According to the likeliest figures obtained by converting the national income figures of all years since 1985 to the values of 2020, Akyol suggested that the economic size difference between “synthetic Turkey” (without conflicts) and “Turkey in conflict” amounts to almost “4 trillion, 200 billion dollars” in 2020 values.
Approaching the subject from the perspectives of Professor Brunetti and the Nobel Prize-winning economist Professor North, Akyol has observed that the institutions and set of rules in Turkey are nourished by “a conflicting social ground on the one hand and lay the groundwork for conflict politics on the other.”
While this cycle leads to partisan and rigid attitudes rather than pragmatic and rational flexibility in determining policies, Akyol noted, “countries like Turkey that have difficulties in solving its social problems, countries that waste energy on useless manoeuvres by turning conflicts that have political solutions into problems of regime and security, exhibit a low growth performance economically – well below its dynamic and potential.”
Noting that the direct losses caused by the intensification of armed actions and conflicts, are at “extraordinary” level, Akyol also drew attention to the “indirect losses caused by Turkey’s significant loss of flexibility and political and economic predictability.”
“Kurdish peace is the key to both the democratisation and rationalisation of Turkey,” Akyol concluded.
“Considering the wide variety of risks surrounding Turkey, it will be seen that becoming rational regarding the Kurdish issue is of vital importance.”