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Declining Turkish Birth Rates Alarm Erdogan

The Turkish government is putting forward new family-planning initiatives in the context of a declining birth rate and Prime Minister Recep Tayyep Erdogan's opposition to abortion, writes Sibel Utku Bila.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and his wife Emine Erdogan pose with Syrian refugee triplet brothers whose names are Recep, Tayyip and Erdogan as they visit a refugee camp near Akcakale border crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border, southern Sanliurfa province, December 30, 2012. REUTERS/Kayhan Ozer/Prime Minister's Press Office/Handout (TURKEY  - Tags: POLITICS CONFLICT) ) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS

ANKARA — For more than a decade, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has enjoyed unwavering support for his vision of a grand Turkey, winning three elections in a row and two key referendums. But one cause he has fervently championed is falling on deaf ears: Turks are refusing to make more babies.

Himself a father of four, Erdogan has urged married couples to have at least three children, pushing his message bluntly on every platform — from casual chats and wedding ceremonies to party meetings and diplomatic occasions. Arguing that a larger, youthful population will help propel Turkey into the world’s top 10 economies, he has vilified past policies of “family planning” and made bizarre warnings of plots “to wipe the Turkish nation off the global stage.” Recently, he has upped the bar even higher, calling for four or five children.

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