Ahmet Tolga Karabulut
Studying the economic development of autonomous regions has gained attention from
researchers, policymakers, and economists. These regions have a certain level of independence in their governance, providing an opportunity to investigate the factors that shape their economic growth. This research paper will investigate why the Basque Country has experienced economic success while the southeast part of Turkey has faced challenges, despite both regions being autonomous and having similar climates.
The Basque Country, located in northern Spain, is known for its thriving economy, high
employment rates, and strong industries. On the other hand, the southeast part of Turkey, with its similar climate and autonomous status, struggles with lower economic development, including issues with unemployment, poverty, and infrastructure deficiencies. This contrasts suggests that it is worth exploring the reasons behind these differing economic outcomes.
The research question is: What are the main political, cultural, and infrastructure factors that contribute to the varying economic development between the Basque Country and the southeast part of Turkey, despite their similarities in climate and autonomy? By investigating this question, the aim is to enhance the understanding of the factors that shape economic growth in autonomous regions.
Understanding these factors is important for policymakers and regional authorities who want to promote sustainable development and reduce regional disparities. By studying the success of the Basque Country and the challenges faced by the southeast part of Turkey, one can derive valuable insights and policy recommendations to foster economic growth in similar regions.
To make this comparison, this paper will first examine the political and socio-economic
conditions of the regions. With the examination of their recent history, the economic profile
examinations and economic growth analyses to be made in the later parts of the research paper will be more meaningful. Following the examination of the economic situation, the methods of possible economic growth will be examined, along with the policy recommendations both for regions and indirectly for all other autonomous regions.
II. Political History of Regions
The Basque Country, situated in the northern part of Spain and southwestern France, represents an autonomous region with a rich political history that has been shaped by a diverse array of factors. These include pre-modern governance structures, Spanish and French colonization, as well as nationalist movements seeking enhanced regional autonomy.
In ancient times, the Basque Country operated under traditional institutions characterized by kinship affiliations and communal land ownership. While these institutions fostered a measure of political stability, they proved vulnerable to external pressures imposed by neighboring states. Spanish colonization in the 16th century and French control in the 17th century progressively eroded or outright abolished these traditional institutions.
During the modern era, nationalist movements emerged both in Spain and France, leading to significant transformations in regional politics. One such movement was the ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna), which pursued the establishment of an independent Basque state through violent means. Although ETA's violence has largely subsided since it declared a ceasefire in 2011, nationalist movements continue to exert substantial influence on contemporary Basque politics.
The political landscape has yielded mixed economic effects. Ongoing political instability has adversely impacted economic growth, with potential investors expressing hesitancy due to uncertainties surrounding future policies and regulations. Furthermore, nationalist ideologies have influenced regional economic policies, occasionally favoring industries like fishing and agriculture at the expense of more lucrative sectors like manufacturing or services.
Nevertheless, despite these challenges, current economic trends indicate that the Basque Country has emerged as one of Spain's most prosperous regions, largely attributable to investments made under EU Cohesion Policy programs. This observation highlights the potential of effective policy-making to surmount negative repercussions stemming from historical events.
Southeastern Anatolia(Kurdish Region)
The Kurdish region of Turkey, also known as Southeastern Anatolia, has been a site of ongoing political conflict and unrest for several decades. The complex history of the region is marked by struggles for autonomy and self-determination on the part of Kurdish groups, which have often clashed with the Turkish government.
The long-standing conflicts between Turkey and Kurdish groups seeking autonomy can be traced back to Ottoman times when Kurds were subjected to intense discrimination. After World War I, however, Middle Eastern territories were under British and French mandates. The Treaty of Lausanne (1923) saw modern-day Turkey gain independence from these mandates, while Kurdistan was divided among several regions. This led to Kurdistan being politically fragmented into four different regions: Iran's Kurdistan Province; Iraq's Kurdistan Region; Syria's Rojava; and Turkey's Southeastern Anatolia.
Currently, there are many factors contributing to continued unrest in Southeastern Anatolia that include governmental policies such as suppression tactics against civil society organizations that represent Kurds' interests alongside human rights violations -such as extrajudicial killings or torture inflicted upon innocent civilians without proper trials or charges pressed against them. Additionally, violence has erupted between the state forces and the terrorist Kurdistan Workers Party (also known as PKK) and its subsidiary branches, leaving hundreds dead over recent years.
Peace negotiations between Turkish officials and pro-Kurdish political parties, with involvement from international actors like Bret McGurk, have been attempted in recent years. However, challenges persist due to lingering skepticism and mutual distrust. The presence of various Kurdish groups with differing goals and armed extremist factions further complicates the peace process, emphasizing the need for transparent dialogue, trust-building, and international support. These ongoing conflicts have had severe economic impacts on Southeastern Anatolia, as well as affecting international relations with other countries. The conflict has stigmatized the region, making it difficult for economic development to occur.
Socioeconomic Characteristics of Regions
The Basque Country, located in northern Spain and southwestern France, is known for its unique culture and economy. There are some key indicators to observe the socioeconomic characteristics of the region that need to be discussed to apply the Solow Growth Model in the next section.
Southeastern Anatolia (Kurdish Region)
The Southeastern Anatolia of Turkey, also known as the Kurdish region, is a significant area both culturally and economically. The region has been notable for its political instability, with ongoing conflicts between the Turkish government and Kurdish separatists. However, it is essential to study the socio-economic characteristics of this region to better understand the unique challenges faced by its inhabitants as well as frame the economic situation in the Solow Growth Model.
The section discusses the socioeconomic characteristics of two regions, the Basque Country and Southeastern Anatolia (Kurdish Region), providing insights into their human development, health indicators, income inequality, demographic factors, and overall conclusions.
Starting with the Basque Country, the region demonstrates positive socioeconomic performance indicators. It has a high Human Development Index (HDI) score, reflecting achievements in education, living standards, and life expectancy. The region also exhibits good public health infrastructure, with higher life expectancy and lower mortality rates compared to national and European averages. Although the income inequality measured by the Gini coefficient is relatively low, some provinces still face poverty-related challenges. The demographic factors, such as population size and age distribution, suggest the potential for sustained economic growth in sectors like healthcare and tourism.
Shifting to Southeastern Anatolia, the region faces unique challenges due to political instability and conflicts. Its HDI score is lower compared to the national average, primarily influenced by poverty resulting from inadequate infrastructure and limited investment opportunities. Health indicators highlight disparities in mortality rates, attributed to the lack of access to healthcare services and social determinants. The region also struggles with lower literacy rates and school enrollment, influenced by insufficient access to educational opportunities and social dynamics. Income inequality, measured by the Gini coefficient, is higher in this region, calling for economic development initiatives aimed at narrowing the income gap. Demographic factors such as population growth and urbanization require targeted investments to sustain growth and improve living standards.
Socioeconomic characteristics significantly impact the quality of life in both regions. The
Basque Country exhibits positive indicators in human development, health, and income equality, though some disparities persist. Southeastern Anatolia faces challenges related to poverty, education, and income inequality, requiring focused interventions to improve healthcare, and education infrastructure, and promote economic growth. Understanding these dynamics helps policymakers identify areas for intervention and design effective policies to alleviate poverty and achieve long-term economic stability in the respective regions.
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