The essence of the meeting was to stress the position that “despite Syria, trade must go on.” This is not news. What is interesting, though, is the expressions and body language used by Erdoğan and those in his delegation when interacting with Putin. You have to see the envious looks given by Erdoğan to Putin, a man who is in the same league as him, but is more powerful. These looks were a reflection of what we have always known about the prime minister, who is designing all policies concerning this country and the region with an eye towards becoming president and who emulates the sort of absolute leadership of Putin.
For a long time now, the West has not been the area of the world that the majority in Turkey has its eyes set on. This is because of the vast amount of regulation that would impede Turkey’s growth. At the same time, though, it is the level of prosperity of the West that determines the main economic reference in the world.
Though it augurs well to have a variety of models, the new ones are quite flawed in many ways. There is the economic model of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). And then there is the “Gulf subcategory,” which has turned into “fake-city hell.” The shared feature of these models is unregulated growth, consumption and -- at the end -- exhaustion, no matter the cost to humans and nature. Their common motto is “Everything, right now!”
In all of these countries, consumption of resources is not limited to just the existing ones. This is a development model that pushes nature to its limits on a global scale and consumes it without giving it a chance to renew itself. The rights and freedoms of citizens are generally in a miserable state. One should note that while the world rankings of these countries -- including Turkey – show growing economies, positive levels of prosperity and huge company profits, at the same time, citizens’ rights and freedoms seem to be following a negative slope downwards.
But no matter what, such trends are always marked down in the “success column” of statistics that are written up by economists. For example, there is the record of 28 million Brazilians being rescued from poverty between the years of 2003-2010 under Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s presidency. But of course, during those same years, damage intensified in the Amazon rainforests, while the construction of the world’s third-largest dam will flood an area of 500 square kilometers, irreversibly affecting the lives of millions of other Brazilians.
The mouth-watering economic performance of China has had its own tremendous human and natural costs. Take, for example, China’s wealth in coal. Half of the coal used by the world is consumed in China. Since 2000, cases of lung cancer in Beijing have increased by 60 percent and data show that the amount of dangerous particles people are breathing in from the air in Beijing is 10 times higher than what it should be by World Health Organization standards. And let’s not even bother talking about the oppression by the free market-supporting Communist Party rule of opposition voices.
In another of these economic models, India, the brown cloud that winters seem to bring forth is in fact created by the coal and wood burned in the sub-continent. The cloud has decreased the effect of monsoon rains, has melted ice in the Himalayas and has sickened and caused the deaths of 2 million Indians a year due to its polluted air.
The sole reason for Russia’s presence in BRICS is that it is a producer of petrol, gas, coal and uranium. Otherwise, other than weapons production, it has no industry. As for its industrial model, with outdated methods left over from the Soviet years, it long ago broke all records when it comes to damaging human and natural resources. In terms of corruption, Russia is on the same level as Nigeria and Pakistan. Embracing an opposition stance means putting one’s life at risk.
Out of the five BRICS members, it is China and Russia that are being held in the highest favor by Turkish political leaders these days. After all, these are the two dynamos of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, composed of many other dictatorships in Central Asia -- Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
And so, this is the world of economic models. But do the people of this country have different expectations? According to research conducted this year by Ipsos KMG, the Turkish middle class -- when not working -- spends most its time watching television, visiting family, cooking and entertaining friends at home. This middle class is spending the least amount of time reading magazines, going to the opera or ballet, travelling abroad or going to the theater. This class, which is addicted to shopping centers, LED television screens and luxury cars, makes up a full 59 percent of the population. This must be the authentic formula for consuming oneself all the way to exhaustion.