When the Anzacs fought the Turks at Gallipoli, Turkey was in its terminal phase after six centuries as the mighty Ottoman Empire. Today, it is rising again.
It has emerged as the model for the protesters who are rising up against the despots of the Arab world. It is a country where Islam and democracy co-exist and enjoy growing prosperity.
In a 2009 survey of seven Arab countries plus Iran, two-thirds of people said they saw Turkey as the model for their own countries. Not Iraq, democratised at the point of a bayonet and at the cost of dreadful bloodshed, but Turkey.
It sits aside the Bosphorus Straits as the country that bridges Europe and Asia geographically. It is also the country that bridges the East and West politically and socially. An unexpected reason for its influence is that eight in 10 of the region's people watch at least one Turkish soap opera on TV. It has a population of almost 80 million, bigger than any European country after Germany, and the world's 17th biggest economy.
For these reasons, it is again one of the most important nations in the world. "I don't think that anyone can self-claim that we are a model or not," Turkey's Foreign Affairs Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, told the Herald. "It's a test of history. In the last eight years Turkey has passed a significant test of history, proving that dynamic democracy, a developing economy, Muslim culture and an active foreign policy can be achieved together in a very sensitive geographical location.
"And this, of course, created certain hopes for Muslim countries as a success story. What we need in our region is more success stories. So we are ready to share, to support, any transformation in our surrounding regions in the direction of democratisation, economic development, active foreign policy, and a strong zone of freedom."
But while Turkey today is admired by many, some accuse it of tilting away from the West and harbouring ambitions for a new Ottomanism. And many fear it is entering a new authoritarianism.
Just a decade ago, Turkey was a mess. Under an International Monetary Fund program to cure its chronic inflation, it discovered the cure was worse than the disease.
In 2001 it suffered a banking panic, capital flight and a currency crisis. Overnight, interest rates hit a peak of an unimaginable 5000 per cent. The economy shrank by 9 per cent in a year. Real wages fell by a shocking 20 per cent. It was an epic humiliation. Elections in 2003 changed everything.
The good news is that Turkey stood up. The new centre-right government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan embraced pro-market reforms and brought the country into increasing prosperity.
Inflation was tamed, interest rates normalised. The economy has grown at an average of 6 per cent since 2003. Under the eight years of Erdogan government, Turkey has built 14,000 kilometres of highways and half a million new homes while cutting the IMF debt it inherited from $23.5 billion to $5 billion.
Unsurprisingly with this record, the polls suggest that his Justice and Development Party, known by its Turkish acronym AKP, will win its third term with a handsome majority when it goes to the polls on June 12. The AKP is campaigning on so-called Vision 2023. By that date, it promises to double the size of the economy, build 15,000 kilometres of new highways, a network of high-speed trains, and another 500,000 homes, with 50,000 to be given to the poor. Erdogan promises to increase the number of universities and academies from 160 to 250.
One Turkish woman told me: "I hate AKP, but it's been good for Turkey and it deserves to be re-elected."
So what's to hate? There are three overlapping concerns. One is that Erdogan, a former Islamist who was once briefly jailed for breaching strict laws enforcing secularism, remains a covert Islamist.
But his moves to Islamicise Turkey seem modest. He has sought to relax the ban on the female headscarf in public universities. And he has tamed the army, a traditional guardian of secularism. But he has not tried to match countries like Britain, Greece and Norway by instituting an official state-sponsored religion.
Second, he has overseen a rise in the intimidation of journalists. Turkey has more journalists in jail than China, Iran or any other country. One Turkish intellectual told me that the mood had reached the point where his mother, a middle-aged housewife, refused to mention politics on the phone for fear of persecution.
Many Turks suspect that Erdogan's talk of a constitutional revision to make Turkey a presidential, rather than parliamentary, democracy is aimed at entrenching himself as a more authoritarian ruler.
Third, Turkey is accused of a "neo-Ottomanism", seeking to constrain the West and advance the interests of the Islamic world.
Under Erdogan, Turkey has improved ties with Iran and its affiliated political and military movement, Hamas, which is listed as a terrorist group by the US and European Union. After Israel's Operation Cast Lead against the Hamas-controlled Gaza in 2008-09, Turkey emerged as a leading critic of Israel and downgraded relations.
It has become conventional wisdom in the West that Turkey has shifted its foreign policy axis from West to East. But Davutoglu dismisses this: "This is nonsense. Turkey is a country active in many regions now, it's true. But we did not ignore any historic relations.
"We are a leading country in NATO … but of course our foreign policy has to be much more diversified. Turkey is a European country, an Asian country, a Balkan country, a Middle Eastern country, a Black Sea country, a Mediterranean country, so we have to be fair to all these regions.
"We have historical ties … with all of them. We have not shifted axis. Turkey itself now is the axis."
Peter Hartcher is the international editor.