Time Magazine has recently published a list of candidates for its Person of the Year award and has asked its readers to rate their favorites. Currently topping the list is none other than Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was praised for his courage to challenge both Israel and the United States by the paper's editors.
The editors explained their choice of candidates in a special page devoted to each individual. "When an Israeli raid on an activists' flotilla trying to deliver aid to Gaza caused an international outcry, it was no surprise that the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Erdogan, had something to say," Time wrote.
"Turkish aid groups had been part of the flotilla, after all, but his rebuke of Israel was notable because of his refusal to tiptoe diplomatically around the issue."
The editors added, "His rhetorical takedown of Israel, which he repeatedly accused of 'inhumane state terrorism,' was particularly striking given Ankara's history of warm relations with Israel and the US."
Flexing diplomatic muscles
The editors also elaborated on the Turkish premier's influence in the international arena.
"Indeed, Erdogan's outspokenness was just one of many instances in 2010 in which Turkey displayed a newfound willingness to flex its diplomatic muscle. The ultimate bellwether of a shift in geopolitics may have been when Erdogan teamed up with Brazil's Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to offer a second-track fuel swap in the ongoing negotiations over Iran's nuclear program."
Finally, the paper said: "Erdogan has shown that Turkey will no longer shy away from throwing its weight around in the volatile Middle East."
Time editors are not alone – Erdogan has won more than 120,000 of readers' votes thus far. Lagging far behind in second place is pop-phenomenon Lady Gaga with only 80,000 votes.
The third spot is currently occupied by Wikileaks founder Julian Assange with 65,000 votes.
The current top 10 candidates include comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, Apple CEO Steve Jobs, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin and US President Barack Obama.
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