Revitalizing South-East Turkey After the 2023 Earthquakes
Turkey is grappling with the aftermath of multiple earthquakes of unprecedented strength on the Richter scale, particularly in urban areas. This devastating situation calls for a novel approach to rebuild the once prosperous, cosmopolitan, and tightly knit communities to their former glory.
Affected cities include Gaziantep, a historical city with a lineage spanning from the Roman Empire to the Ottomans, which has become a powerhouse for overseas exports in recent decades. Other devastated cities include Hatay, Kahramanmaras, and Adana, where the strategic Incirlik Air Base is located. Additionally,
Re-Building Paradise: A complete revitalization of the South-East of the Turkish Nation post the earthquakes of 2023
Osmaniye, Kilis, Malatya, Diyarbakir, Adiyaman, and Şanlıurfa have been impacted, bringing the total to ten affected provinces across the region.
Rather than adhering to existing city planning doctrines, a new approach must be implemented, incorporating both incentivization and distinct governance oversight. This will ensure the revitalization process is not hindered by other political developments, ranging from socio-political matters to day-to-day topics dominating the media cycle. Drawing inspiration from the London Docklands Development Corporation and the revitalization of East London in the 1980s, an emergency decree should grant tax breaks and relief to the southeast of Turkey.
An immediate Presidential Executive Order is necessary to designate all ten affected provinces as 25-year tax-free regions for domestic and international corporations. Individuals who move to the area or have existing registrations will also benefit from income tax exemptions for the same period. This policy promotes capital inflow and ensures existing residents are not priced out. Private investors must contribute a percentage of social housing, similar in quality to their own projects, to the local populace at cost. This approach is reminiscent of Singapore’s successful combination of foreign investment and social cohesion through high-quality social housing.
To curb unemployment, a 90% mandatory quota must be imposed for employing local Turkish workers, while incorporating similar quotas at the executive board level for Turkish entities. Those who relocate their businesses to the region will also benefit from the above-mentioned fiscal advantages. The ports of Iskenderun and Mersin will invigorate these developments by prioritizing sea routes and expanding the existing free trade zones.
Innovation must be reciprocated in governance by establishing a body directly accountable to the Presidency, superseding all Cabinet Ministers and Ministerial levels. This body will comprise Turkish Armed Forces officers and leading civilian administrators from various fields, forming a triumvirate to oversee region-specific redevelopment. This will ensure that the revitalization effort remains uninterrupted by internal or external politicization and election cycles.
The solution is clear as the Turkish nation looks toward a new dawn, with global support from allies like Israel and the United States and Turkey’s growing regional power in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. The nation must move swiftly to not merely rebuild but to create a fundamentally new form of regional planning, administrative governance, security infrastructure, and economic policy. This innovative approach will serve as an example to other nations as they face the opportunities and challenges of the 2030s.
Alp Sevimlisoy is an internationally published geopolitical strategist & national security expert on NATO’s role within the Mediterranean, focusing on regional unionism, development of national unity doctrines & Defense Policy and a Millennium Fellow at the Atlantic Council headquartered in Washington, DC. Alp Sevimlisoy’s opinion-editorials have been regularly published in The Hill, The National Interest, South China Morning Post and Israel Hayom. Alp Sevimlisoy has been featured by Newsweek, The Daily Mail, The Daily Express, Politico, the National Journal, Benzinga, Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and the Centre for the National Interest (CFTNI). He has also published extensively on the role for a unified Mediterranean Command Structure within NATO. Alp Sevimlisoy is also the CEO of his flagship private asset management corporation & hedge-fund headquartered in Istanbul. He has served as an advisory board member at Bayes Business School (formerly Cass Business School).