Wednesday, Apr. 18, 2012

Ali Babacan and Ahmet Davutoglu

With Europe still reeling from a financial crisis and the Arab world in political upheaval, Turkey's dual domestic and foreign policy approach has made it a model for economic growth and democratization in the region.

The country's external outlook has been the design of scholar turned Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. Turkey has been unequivocal in siding with the Arab peoples in their revolts against autocratic regimes. Known for a tireless work ethic, Davutoglu, 53, has embraced his nation's newfound position as a bridge between adversaries.

Turkey's foreign policy clout was made possible by its economic transformation, led in part by Deputy Prime Minister for Economy Ali Babacan, 45. Before the global financial crisis of 2009, Turkey had reformed its public-spending and banking systems, effectively stopping the economic turmoil from crossing its border. Since then, its rocketing economic growth has been fueled by a strong private sector.

While Europe remains preoccupied with its economic crises and the U.S. repairs its tarnished global image from costly wars, Turkey is poised to fill the void by remaining influential and active in the Arab and Islamic worlds. This era of what many are calling neo-Ottomanism has been brought on by Davutoglu and Babacan.

Mohyeldin is an NBC News foreign correspondent in Cairo