Iran remains a pariah state. In the eyes of many Westerners, not least those sitting in the mighty US Congress, there are few more dangerous, untrustworthy states on Earth. It’s incredible, then, that in the wake of an historic framework agreement, which emerged earlier this month after fraught negotiations in Lausanne, long-standing international sanctions against Iran could soon be dropped.
Even in the midst of a general election campaign, to say nothing of the slow-motion-car-crash negotiations that may or may not keep Greece (for now) in the eurozone, this Iran deal deserved more headlines. A country that should rank as one of the truly significant global economies, bigger than South Africa and home to 81m people, could soon return to the world stage.
Turkey’s economic potential is obvious. Sitting at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, this secular, predominantly Muslim democracy could hardly be more strategically located. With its blend of Western and Eastern cultures and fast-growing 74m-strong population, many of them young and well-educated, Turkey should be among the world’s most attractive emerging markets.
And so it has seemed. The Turkish economy has tripled in size since the early 2000s, riding an almighty wave of consumption and construction. Foreign direct investment has poured in. This ancient country, with its ubiquitous monuments and minarets, now has a multitude of skyscrapers, shopping malls and infrastructure mega-projects. These include the $11bn Istanbul-Izmir motorway, a high-speed Ankara-Istanbul rail-link and a plausible bid to build the world’s largest airport, handling 150m passengers a year.