Crisis with Russia

The downing of a Russian fighter-bomber on Nov 24 along the Turkish-Syrian border is considered by many observers as an act of war. The Russian administration, claiming that their SU-24 never violated Turkish air space, called the incident “a stab in the back.” While the USA, France and NATO seem to back Turkish claims that Turkey has the right to defend its territorial rights, Russia has immediately proceeded to impose economic sanctions on Turkey, ranging from a ban on Turkish imports to visa restrictions.

Kremlin’s tough and unwavering stance will certainly have an impact on Turkish economy. For example, in 2014 the number of Russian tourists that came to Turkey reached 4.5 million. This amounts to almost 4 billion dollars in revenue, comprising a major portion of Turkey’s earnings from foreign visitors. Leaving aside Turkey’s dependence on Russia for its natural gas, another critical issue that needs to be resolved, its exports are likely to plummet if the Russians stick to their words. In 2013, Turkey’s exports to Russia were in excess of $7 billion, making it one of its major export partners.

Turkey’s Exports to Russia (2013)

On the other hand, Turkey imports from Russia mostly petroleum products, raw aluminium, scrap metal, various chemicals and wheat. The value of total imports from Russia exceed $14 billion, more than 30% of which being refined petroleum.

Turkey’s Imports from Russia (2013)

It is clear that in the short-term both Turkey and Russia are likely to lose from the current stand-off. It needs to be emphasized, however, the reckless foreign policy of Turkey does not serve Turkey’s long-term interests; neither does it serve peace in the region.

Data source: AJG Simoes, CA Hidalgo. The Economic Complexity Observatory: An Analytical Tool for Understanding the Dynamics of Economic Development. Workshops at the Twenty-Fifth AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence. (2011)



The Rising Tide of R

I do not know to what extent R, the Statistical Computing Environment,  is being used in the social science community (or by fellow political scientists for that matter) but in a variety of disciplines R is becoming the tool for data analysis.  Despite the fact that it has a steep learning curve, it is certainly worth diving into.  It is a very powerful language, and as such it poses a real challenge to the commercially available software such as SPSS or SAS.  Although commercial software has its own advantages, R is superior in many ways.  Not only is it freely available, it also has a wide and growing community of users that keep adding to its arsenal.  Even though a user doesn’t need all the features R offers, it has something for everyone who deals with data.  The magazine Nature has published an article that should give you a good idea about R.  Click on the following link to read it: