A benchmark for our republic
The 89th anniversary of the establishment of our republic brought, as usual, strain and dispute instead of joy.
In the run-up to Republic Day, there were long, heated discussions about whether the guests would attend the Republic Day reception hosted by President Abdullah Gül together with their spouses or not. The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) boycotted the reception held at the Çankaya presidential palace with the attendance of headscarved wives.

All of these were superficial, format-centered and nasty debates. Wouldn't it be possible to make sure that the main opposition party marked Republic Day in a different manner and at a different place? Isn't it a pity to waste our time and energy on such nonsensical, format-related disputes about the headscarf, the generals, the republic and formal receptions?

The obvious thing is that, except for extremely marginal groups, no one living in this country has any problem with the republic as a regime, and that calling a regime a republic is no guarantee that it will be all rosy for the people. Indeed, Iraq, ruled by Saddam Hussein, and North Korea are formally republics. Even some dictatorships in the guise of a republic have gone too far to add "democratic" as another attribute to their republics. But the outcome is the same.

I wanted to put the republic against a number of benchmarks to find out how it fares as regards science, economy, freedoms, human development, etc., on a global scale. The resulting picture clearly portrays the achievements as well as the deficiencies of our republic.

Turkey ranks 18th in the world with its population of 74 million. With a $1 trillion gross domestic product (GDP), it is given the 16th slot in the league of nations, while it ranks 62nd with a per capita GDP of $10,363. China sits atop the world's top exporters list with $1.8 trillion. In the same list, Germany is in the third slot with $1.4 trillion, France is in the fifth slot and South Korea is in the seventh with $556 billion, but Turkey ranks 33rd.

According to the 2011-2012 Global Competitiveness Report, our country ranks 59th among the world nations.In the list of countries attracting the highest number of tourists, Turkey ranks seventh with 27 million tourists, thanks to its top performance during the past 10 years. In terms of communication, Turkey ranks 14th with 36 million Internet users. And in the list of countries having the highest number of cellphone users, it is in the 20th slot with 66 million cellphone users.

According to the United Nations Development Program's (UNDP) Human Development Index (HDI), based on such criteria as education, literacy, average lifespan, etc., Turkey ranks 92nd among the world countries. According to the results of the tests performed by the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), a program that measures the quality of education in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, Turkey ranks 43rd in the field of mathematics and science.

And as regards press freedom, Turkey is given the 148th slot in the Reporters Without Borders' (RWB) Press Freedom Index (2011). In the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), which indicates the perceived levels of corruption in a country, we rank 61st. According to a survey that examines the general infrastructure of countries, we are in the 40th slot, while France ranks fourth.

Our country ranks 15th in military spending, according to the statistics provided by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), while it takes the 74th slot in the Global Innovation Index (2012), while Singapore ranks third, the US 10th, Israel 17th, Malaysia 32nd and China 34th.

This list of benchmarks may be expanded, but I think the foregoing part of this list is enough to tell us many things about the performance of our republic. In marking Republic Day, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, main opposition party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, other leaders, institutions and we, the citizens, should care about how we can put Turkey in the slot it deserves in these indices. The rest is empty talk.

ABDÜLHAMİT BİLİCİ (Cihan/Today's Zaman) CİHAN
Last Modified: 2012-11-05 10:00:08
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