TURKEY'S NEED FOR A NEW CONSTITUTION ERGUN ÖZBUDUN RELIGION, EDUCATION AND THE CONSTITUTION LEVENT KÖKER A GUIDE FOR THE PERPLEXED MEHMET BARANSU ALEVI OPENING: NEW MARGINS, NEW VALUES NECDET SUBAÞI ISSUE ZERO - SPRING 2010
EXPERT NAMES DISCUSS THE DEFECTS OF TURKEY’S 1982 CONSTITUTION
WHY TURKEY NEEDS A REVISED CONSTITUTION?
FOREWORD SPRING 2010
Turkish Political Review No: Zero / Spring 2010
Owner on Behalf of Feza Gazetecilik A.Þ. Ali Akbulut Chief Executive Officer Ekrem Dumanlý Editor-in-Chief Kerim Balcý
Advisory Board Prof. Mithat Sancar, Prof. Naci Bostancý, Ass. Prof. Ömer Çaha, Ass. Prof. Ýhsan Yýlmaz, Dr. Gökhan Bacýk Creative Director Fevzi Yazýcý Managing Editor Emrah Ülker Associate Editors Levent Kenez, Betül Akkaya Demirbaþ Art Director & Design Mustafa Saðlam Chief Copy Editor Helen P. Betts Copy Editors Zoha Khalili, Miralem Jakirlic, Brianna Buck, Rebecca Doffing, Ann Butler, Mikaela Leeden Editorial Assistants Alpay Sevim Þeyma Akkoyunlu Müzdelife Büþra Kaçar Subscription & Customer Relations Funda Buldur Turkish Political Review Ahmet Taner Kýþlalý Cad. No: 6 34194 Yenibosna, Ýstanbul / Turkey www.turkishpoliticalreview.com Contact Turkish Political Review For editorial inquiries: email@example.com For subscription inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org For feedbacks and criticism: email@example.com For other inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: +90 212 454 85 51 Fax: +90 212 454 14 67 Printing: Mas Matbacýlýk A.Þ Hemidiye Mah. Soðuksu Cad. No: 3 Kaðýthane 34408 Ýstanbul Tel: 212 294 10 00
Countdown urkey is passing through a critical period in its democratic history. The political and judicial debate in Turkey is often misread abroad as a struggle between the "good old secularists" and the "bad new Islamists" and is misperceived as a fight for power between these distinctively opposing ideological camps. This dichotomous reading of Turkish politics does an injustice not only to Turkey but also to the pluralistic nature of the sides of the debate. The multi-colored mosaic of Turkish politics cannot and should not be reduced to a black-and-white Kafkaesque tableau. True, the political scene in Ankara can often make one feel dizzy and perplexed, but the debate itself is breathtaking. One reason for the failure to feel the vividness of the debate and the "multivoicedness" of the debating sides is the portrayal of the debate in the "embedded media" as taking place in the political, judicial and military "battlefield" of power politics, where the actors are rude politicians, brutish soldiers and distant high court judges. True, the debate has a frontline where words are used as weapons, but the hinterland of that debate is much wider and inclusive. There is a quite healthy intellectual, artistic and public debate going on behind the frontline. In the hinterland the camps are vaguer, positions are more flexible, discussions are wiser. The "good old secularists" are not always good, not all of them are old and secularism has all kinds of meanings producing proponents ranging from Anglo-American secularists to secular fundamentalists. The "bad new Islamists" are no longer Islamists; they are not so new, in fact, and as Turkey's renowned sociologist Professor Faruk Birtek observes: "We have a situation in which the so-called Islamists are more democratic than the secularists. It's what Hegel would call a contradiction without dialectic." The Turkish Political Review (TPR) regards this contradiction as a dialogic one. Unfortunately the dialogic dimension of the debate is underrepresented in the influential media, and more often than not the commentaries in circulation are produced for mass consumption within a pop-culture perspective of supply and demand. An oxymoronic intellectual populism presides over political analyses of what is going on in Turkey. The TPR has been born out of a need for an allembracive, long-sighted, deep analysis of the social, cultural and political debate shaping the future of Turkish democracy. The current issue of the TPR is numbered "Issue Zero" with this all-embraciveness in our minds. The editorial team of the TPR wanted to invite the prospective readers of the journal to be included in its "launching countdown." This Issue Zero of the TPR is in fact an invitation to you to come and join the family, with your constructive criticism, transformative suggestions and participatory articles. Hopefully, the countdown will be completed on October, 1, 2010. Now, then!
Turkey amid fierce power struggle between old and new mindsets, By Lale Kemal 18-23
Turkey's need for a new constitution, By Ergun Özbudun 24-29 The meaning of a constitution and constitutional movements in Turkey, By Ümit Kardaþ 30-35
Religion, education and the Turkish Constitution: a critical assessment, By Levent Köker 36-45 The Turkish 'Ergenekon' through Arab eyes By Ibrahim el-Beyyumi Ghanem 62-67
Naming what is going on in Turkey: from a 'for the people despite the people' elitism to a 'for the people with the people' democracy, By Ýhsan Yýlmaz 68-75 Council of State's coefficient ruling: appellatre judiciary and constitutional order, By Mustafa Þentop 76-79
Alevi opening: new margins, new values, By Necdet Subaþý 88-96 DOSSIERS
A guide for the perplexed: Why the Turkish military stages coups, By Mehmet Baransu 6-17
What is the problem: reactionaryism or parochialism? By Ahmet Ünal 80-87 Conceptual framework of Turkish foreign policy in AK Party era, By Mehmet Yýlmaz 104-109
Gang movies or the illegal protagonists of the screen, By Mahmud Nedim Hazar 110-119
TPR DEBATE 46-61
TURKEY’S DEFECTIVE CONSTITUTION The TPR Debate deals with the constitutional amendment package that the Justice and Development Party brought to Parliament and was carried to a referendum. The Turkish Political Review (TPR) gathered together three individuals from different political persuasions to debate a particular aspect of the constitutional amendment: reform of the high judiciary. Ahmet Gündel, a retired chief prosecutor at the Supreme Court of Appeals; Atilla Kart, an attorney and deputy from the main opposition Republican People's Party; and Professor Mithat Sancar, a leftist and democratic intellectual, participated in the debate. Professor Naci Bostancý added his own commentary on the subject in a separate segment.
CONTENTS Contributors, By Müzdelife Büþra Kaçar 4-5 Cartoon Review: The Sledgehammer Incursion, By Mesut Çevikalp 120-123 Think Tank Tracker, By Erdoan Shipoli 124-129 Survey Review: Foreign policy backed by public, By Betül Akkaya Demirbaþ 134-139 Column Tracker, By Kerim Balcý 140-145 Chronicle, By Betül Akkaya Demirbaþ 146-151 Contextualized dictionary of Turkish politics, By Deniza Sokolova 152-155 OBITUARY My artist friend and comrade-in-arms Þakir Eczacýbaþý died at age 81, By Ara Güler 130-133 BOOK REVIEWS Galip L. Yalman's Transition to Neoliberalism, By Emre Barca 156-158 Insight Turkey delves into the depths of Turkish politics, By Müzdelife Büþra Kaçar 159 Dersaadet: Ýstanbul, The Gate to Bliss, By Müzdelife Büþra Kaçar 159 INTERVIEWS John L. Esposito: ‘Authoritarian versus democratic politics defines the Turkish debate.’ By Þeyma Akkoyunlu 98-103 Last word with Hanri J. Barkey, By Mesut Çevikalp 160
Contributors Ýbrahim al-Bayoumi Ghamen
Ergun Özbudun Professor Ergun Özbudun teaches constitutional law at the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Economics, Administrative and Social Sciences at Bilkent University in Ankara. He headed the academic commission that prepared a draft text for the revised constitution proposed by the AK Party in 2007. His latest books include Islamism, Democracy and Liberalism in Turkey: The Case of the AKP, which he co-authored with William Hale, and Democratization and the Politics of Constitution Making in Turkey, co-authored with Ömer Faruk Gençkaya. Özbudun contributed the article on "Turkey's need for a new constitution" (pp. 24-29) to this volume of the TPR.
Professor Ibrahim al-Bayoumi Ghanem teaches political science at Cairo University and is a member of the Center for Social and Criminal Studies at the same university. Ghanem is also a retired ambassador and works at the Egyptian National Social Research Center. He writes on civil society, the waqf system and politics in the Muslim world in general and in Egypt in particular. Among his several books Al-fikr al-siyasi li 'l-imam Hasan al-Banna [The political thought of Hasan al-Banna] (1992) and Al-Awqaf wa al-Siyasah fi Misr [Waqf and politics in Egypt] (1998) are best known. Ghanem contributed to the TPR with "The Turkish 'Ergenekon' through Arab eyes" (pp. 62-67).
Ahmet Ünal Professor Levent Köker teaches public law and politics at the Faculty of Law of Atýlým University in Ankara. He has published many books and articles about Turkish politics and democracy. Demokrasi Eleþtiri ve Türkiye [Democracy, Criticism and Turkey] (2008), Aydýnlanma ve Hukuk [Enlightenment and Law] (2008) and Modernleþme, Kemalizm ve Demokrasi [Modernization, Kemalism and Democracy] (2009) are among his bestknown books. Köker contributed to the current volume of the TPR with his article "Religion, education and the Turkish Constitution: a critical assessment" (pp. 36-45).
Ahmet Ünal is a freelance education reporter and a writer on politics, education, defense and security issues. Previously he worked for the Zaman daily as a local representative in Ýzmir, as education reporter and finaly as the news director of the daily. Ünal is a board member of the Writers Union of Turkey. His most recent book is Gizli Atatürkçülük Projesi [Secret Ataturkism project] (2009). Ünal wrote "What is the problem: reactionaryism or parochialism?" (pp. 80-87), where he analyzed the real mindset behind the coefficient problem of the Turkish higher education system.
Ümit Kardaþ Dr. Ümit Kardaþ is a retired military judge and a renowned analyst of civilian-military relations and the military judiciary in Turkey. Kardaþ worked as a military prosecutor at the time of 1980 coup and fought torture. Besides his contributions to several volumes, he has penned books that include Hukuk Devlete Sýzabilir mi? [Can law infiltrate the state?] (2006) and Ötekiler Ýçin Sivil Ýtaatsizlik Rehberi [A guide to civil disobedience for the others] (2008). Kardaþ wrote "The meaning of a constitution and constitutional movements in Turkey," (pp. 30-35) for this volume of the TPR.
Lale Kemal is the Ankara representative of the Taraf daily and a regular columnist of Today's Zaman. Kemal is also the Turkey correspondent for Jane's Defence Weekly. An expert on military expenditure, armament issues, Turkish arms purchases and civilian-military relations, Kemal has contributed to several volumes on civilian-military relations including the now famous Almanac series of the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV) and published Kurt Kapanýnda Kýsýr Siyaset [Barren politics in the wolf trap] (1997). Kemal contributed to the TPR with "Turkey amid fierce power struggle between old and new mindsets" (pp. 18-23).
M.Nedim Hazar M. Nedim Hazar is a columnist for the Zaman daily and a regular film critic for the Aksiyon newsweekly. He has published several books on daily politics and its representation in art. Leprom [Leproma] (1998), Barbarlarý Beklerken [While waiting for the barbarians] (2002) and Bir Aþka Krallýðým [My royalty of a love] (2004) are among his best-known books. He penned Maskeli Balon & Medyatik Bir Ýnfazýn Anatomisi [Masked balloon & anatomy of a media lynching] (2008) under the penname of Ferhat Barýþ. His "Gang movies or the illegal protagonists of the screen," appears on pp. 110-119.
Mehmet Baransu is a young journalist working for the Taraf daily. His contacts with democratic officers helped him uncover illegal activities by certain groups within the army. He was given the 2009 Sedat Simavi Award by the Turkish Journalists Association (TGC) for his groundbreaking reporting. Recently he published his book Karargah [the headquarters] (2010), where he disclosed evidence of the Sledgehammer coup plot. Baransu wrote "A guide for the perplexed: Why the Turkish military stages coups" (pp. 6-17) for the current volume of the TPR.
Ýhsan Yýlmaz Assistant Professor Necdet Subaþý teaches the sociology of religion in the Public Relations Department of Gazi University's Faculty of Communications in Ankara. Subaþý works in the fields of Alevis, modernity and religion, Islamic philosophy, religion and state, and Islam in Europe. His latest books include Öteki Türkiye'de din ve modernleþme [Religion and modernization in the other Turkey] (2003), Alevi Modernleþmesi [Modernization of Alevis] (2005) and Sýnýrlarý Yoklamak [Examining the boundaries] (2007). Subaþý was behind the AK Party government's Alevi opening, and he headed the Alevi workshops. He wrote "Alevi opening: new margins, new values" for the TPR (pp. 88-96).
Assistant Professor Ýhsan Yýlmaz teaches at the International Relations Department of Fatih University in Ýstanbul. Formerly a professor with SOAS at the University of London, Yýlmaz has published two books: Muslim Laws, Politics And Society In Modern Nation States: Dynamic Legal Pluralisms In England, Turkey And Pakistan (2005) and Islam and Peacebuilding: Gulen Movement Initiatives (2010; co-authored with John L. Esposito). Yýlmaz contributed to the TPR with "Naming what is going on in Turkey: from a 'for the people despite the people' elitism to a 'for the people with the people' democracy" (pp. 68-75).
Mehmet Yýlmaz Assistant Professor Mustafa Þentop teaches Turkish legal history at the Faculty of Law of Marmara University in Ýstanbul. Þentop is currently the president of the Economic and Social Research Centre (ESAM). A frequent commentator on the Turkish higher education system, Þentop has published Osmanlý Yargý Sistemi ve Kazaskerlik [Ottoman Judicial System and the Military Judiciary] (2005) and contributed to several volumes on college entrance exams and the coefficient system as applied in Turkey. His "Council of State's coefficient ruling: appellate judiciary and constitutional order," appears on pp. 76-79.
Mehmet Yýlmaz is the editor-in-chief of the Bugün daily. An expert on Israeli religious movements and Turkish foreign policy, Yýlmaz has published Mafdal: Radikal Saðýn Ýsrail Dýþ Politikasýna Etkisi [National Religious Party: Influence of the Radical Right on Israel's Foreign Policy] (2003). Yýlmaz is a renowned commentator on Turkish foreign policy, domestic Turkish politics and media-state relations. He wrote "Conceptual framework of Turkish foreign policy in the AK Party era," (pp. 104-109) for the TPR, where he tried to write the initial entries of the new dictionary the Turkish foreign policy decision makers are using.
DOSSIER SPRING 2010
A guide for the perplexed: Why the Turkish military stages coups
uring the coup of Feb. 28, 1997, the military chose the media as its ally and used it as a means to conduct psychological warfare. Taraf has become the center of attraction for some democratic officers within the military discontent with the coup initiatives and attempts. They deliver documents and papers they consider useful to Taraf because they are sure that these will be published without being subjected to any sort of censorship
MEHMET BARANSU Turkey is a country where relations between the state, the military and politics have always been intricate and complicated. The sustained linkage between politics and the armed forces must be the consequence of this special state of affairs. Yet state-military relations should be reconsidered with particular reference to the place of the military in the Ottoman state. The Ottoman Empire, which conveyed the features of the religion of Islam to the structure of the state, denied the involvement of non-Muslim groups in the sphere of military service. This made military service and the profession a special and valuable asset and a desirable vocation. The military profession, denied to certain groups of Ottoman subjects, was a sort of elite, and this service further became sacred because of the strong emphasis on religion. In other words, to become a privileged subject, one does not necessarily have to be a higher-ranking military officer; being an ordinary officer would suffice for greater respect and esteem. On the other hand, the consequences of this elitism would inevitably be felt in the political sphere. In this way, the view suggesting that the military is an upper-class insti-
tution and that politics is subordinate to military institutions and actors emerged in the late Ottoman era. However, there was a problem: How would the military, whose rule was justified by religious precepts, become involved in politics in a modern state? It is generally acknowledged that this issue has been the most pressing one for the Turkish military since the establishment of the Turkish Republic. But how did the military overcome this problem? As a matter of fact, a review of Turkey's near past confirms that this problem has never been fully resolved by the military. Even though some partial successes may be referred to in this respect, the military secured these successes by relying on alliances. These alliances became the reason for a military tutelage regime and a number of military coups. Pre-republican history of Turkish military in politics
For this reason, to better understand the relationship between the military and politics, the military and coups, the military and juntas and the military and civilians, it is essential to have a better and fuller grasp of the developments before the foundation of the republican regime in Turkey. Therefore, it would not be 6
DOSSIER SPRING 2010
ARTICLE IN BRIEF: The tradition of military interventions in Turkey goes back to the Ottoman era. The republican elite inherited the violent policies of the Committee of Union and Progress. The May 27, 1960 coup served as a model and harbinger of this tradition of military coups. The military chooses an ally each time it plots to intervene in politics. Starting from Feb. 28, 1997 coup the ally of the projunta actors has been the media. As such, the existence of democratic voices in the media is crucial in resisting the coup plots. Taraf is one such democratic voice in the media.
Sultan Abdülaziz (1830-1876) was the 32nd sultan of the Ottoman State. He was ousted by a junta headed by Mithat Paþa (18221884), a former prime minister, and Hüseyin Avni Paþa (1819-1876), the chief of General Staff, in 1876. The ousted sultan was found dead four days later, both his ankles were cut.
make sure that they became influential in the political sphere once again. This tendency was so strong that even the military officers who fought against European countries in the war of liberation were accused of treason by the sponsors of these illegal activities with the arrival of the republican regime, and ultimately they were removed from power. Despite the republic being founded as a result of the sacrifices and the efforts of the Anatolian people, the nation itself became the number one target of the pro-junta actors. Religious values demonized To this end, they first attempted to deal with the religious values of the people. Martial courts were set up to punish the sons of this nation because of their religiosity on groundless and unsubstantiated charges whose legality and appropriateness still remain controversial. Being a Kurd, an Alevi or an Armenian would suffice to be treated as a criminal by the pro-junta actors; innocent people were sentenced to death by these courts. The magnitude and gravity of the arbitrary trials was so visible and sizeable that the residents of a city were bombed because they were considered insurgents simply for failing to pay taxes. The killing of thousands of people through extrajudicial measures and means was considered ordinary during this period of time. Likewise, millions of people were forced to migrate elsewhere. The military officers who frequently argued that they laid the foundations of the young republic believed that such violent means were legitimate in order to achieve their goals. This approach, which holds that everything is justifiable in order to preserve political power, became the governing philosophy of the state with the creation of the republican regime. In this new era the legacy of the Ottoman era was dismissed, and the pressure on the different ethnic groups in the empire reached serious levels. In addition to the Armenians and Kurds, the Anatolian Greeks and religious people became enemies of the state in this new period. The holders of political power in the young republic, of which the military actors claimed to be the founders, tried to make the smooth transition to a multiparty system several times; however, whenever they sensed that political power was slipping out of their hands, these actors would decide to return to a single-party regime. Turkey moved to a multiparty system after the lengthy
unreasonable to recall the following for the sake of determining the special place of the military profession in this land: Pro-junta and pro-coup activities and movements attracted attention and gained fertile ground before and after the establishment and consolidation of the republican regime on this soil. By bearing in mind that 12 Ottoman sultans were toppled by military force, it will be easier to understand the roots of the coup tradition and the special place of the military in Turkish history. The removal of Abdülaziz, one of the late Ottoman sultans, from office by Mithat Paþa and his friends and the accompanying political affairs during this process may actually suggest that the Ottoman Empire, which conquered the territories of the Byzantine Empire, also borrowed its tradition of political entrapments. The involvement of the members of Committee of Union and Progress in political affairs in the late Ottoman era and their attempts to stage coups and create juntas and secret enterprises proved to be costly for this country. The Ottoman army failed to respond effectively and decisively to the insurgencies in the Balkans region in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Because of the illegal pro-junta activities sponsored by the Committee of Union and Progress, the military was defeated by local gangs and had to withdraw from the Balkan region. The harm done by the illegal activities of the Committee of Union and Progress was not limited to this withdrawal; because of these activities, the eastern, western and southern parts of the country as well as its capital were invaded by European countries. This chaotic and destructive process ended thanks to the Turkish nation, which waged a war of liberation against the invaders in the Anatolian region, and the people's willingness and determination to achieve independence. As a consequence of this process, one era was replaced by another, and a republican regime was established in the place of the Ottoman Empire. However, it was not the end of the game -- the ancient custom proved to be alive still; despite a new government taking office in Ankara and a new state being created, the elitist sentiments within the military were nowhere near dead. The supporters of Committee of Union and Progress-style activities in the military restarted their pro-junta moves and worked tirelessly to 8
agreed with their terms and adopted their worldview. However, the election results proved that this was not the case at all. These concerns led the CHP administration to decide to monitor the people and keep secret records of the persons they identified as dangerous. As a consequence of these developments, a new political figure would emerge as an influential actor; this was Adnan Menderes, who served as rapporteur for a commission in Parliament, where the CHP was the only party until 1945. Menderes resigned from his position at the commission after refusing to approve a draft law on the administration of land proposed by the government led by Þükrü Saraçoðlu. Menderes, along with Refik Koraltan and Fuat Köprülü, was expelled from the party by the CHP Disciplinary Board because of their opposition to the land reform, on June 12, 1945. Subsequently, another prominent figure, Celal Bayar, resigned from the party and his office. All these developments resulted in the creation of the DP on Jan 7, 1946. Menderes was elected the deputy from Kütahya in the general elections held in 1946. Shortly after his election, Menderes became the number two figure in the DP after party chairman Bayar.
rule of a single party that reigned for two decades between 1930 and 1950. The Democrat Party (DP) was founded in January 1946. This party, despite strong opposition and pressure, won 62 seats in the general elections held in July 1946. Despite some electoral fraud by the Republican People's Party (CHP), founded by former military officers, the DP won a huge number of seats in Parliament, something that attracted a great deal of attention. In addition, the DP became a haven for oppressed people; this raised concerns among the elitist circles and the military actors who felt they were losing their privileged positions in society. They were particularly worried because the CHP went to the effort to create a new state, and in order to achieve this goal the party used illegal and violent methods, including the extrajudicial killings of a huge number of innocent people. Therefore, they were concerned because of the growing interest in a newly emerging political party despite the measures they took to make sure they remained in power. In other words, the CHP believed that thanks to their practices and measures, including coercive and violent actions, the Turkish nation had 9
The elections on May 14, 1950, were a turning point for the advance of democracy in the country. The Democrat Party, headed by Adnan Menderes, received 53.5 percent of the vote and came to power, ending the long-standing rule of the CHP backed by the military. PHOTOS: ARCHIVE
DOSSIER SPRING 2010
After the 1960 military coup, Menderes and some other figures in his government were imprisoned on Yassýada, a small island in the Sea of Marmara. Menderes and two ministers from his cabinet were sentenced to death by a martial court PHOTOS: ARCHIVE
tary, aware of their inability to acquire power in this environment, interfered with the political administration by a staging a coup on May 27, 1960. The motive and justification for the coup publicized by the military were quite interesting: The military staged the coup arguing that a government elected by popular vote was moving the country toward a repressive regime and internal turmoil. Another interesting justification was that it was taking action and measures against the antisecular practices it argued were sponsored by the DP government. Some military officers were of the opinion that the DP was a threat to Turkey's Atatürkist and secular regime. Based on these justifications, Menderes and some other figures in his government were imprisoned on Yassýada, a small island in the Sea of Marmara. Menderes and two ministers from his cabinet were sentenced to death by a martial court appointed by the National Unity Committee (MBK) established by mili-
Menderes comes to power The elections on May 14, 1950, were a turning point for the advance of democracy in the country. The DP received 53.5 percent of the vote and came to power, ending the longstanding rule of the CHP backed by the military. Menderes remained in power as the prime minister and the chair of the party for a decade. During his term in office, Menderes attracted attention due to a number of political initiatives that consolidated the democratic order in Turkey. The Menderes-led government launched a process of industrialization and urbanization. The activities of the government were mostly visible during this period of time in such fields as health, energy, education, insurance and banking. Turkey first encountered the notion of development during Menderes' reign. This state of affairs received the attention of the military, which views itself as the elite class and the true holder of power in this country. Members of the mili10
and administration. It became obvious with this coup that the military had internalized coups as a means of coming to power and that it reserved the right to exercise this option when it felt it was necessary. All the developments signaled this. Since 1938, the military has proved itself able to interfere with politics by relying on various justifications. Moreover, it was not a reflexive move, but rather a wholesale plan drafted and implemented by an institution. 1980 coup was different by means of its preparation On the other hand, there is one interesting thing that distinguishes the 1980 military coup from others. The TSK had assigned a general to lay out the roadmap for the coup one year earlier. Gen. Necdet Ürüð, the commander of the 1st Army at the time, was assigned the task of coordinating the coup process and drafting all necessary plans. The plan, called the Bayrak (Flag) Action Plan, would use all means necessary to create fertile and appropriate ground for a military coup. The overall situation before the coup was as follows: The country was in the grip of terrorism and assassinations by 1979, and hundreds of young people were being shot dead on the streets. A number of murders were committed in an attempt to create a chaotic environment. Within a very short period of time, two renowned professors, prosecutor Gün Sazak, who served as a minister in an earlier cabinet, and CHP deputy and former Prime Minister Nihat Erim were assassinated in 1980. Many other deaths followed these political assassinations; however, the murderers were never caught. The situation was just what the military desired. Society was polarized and chaos was dominant everywhere. Hundreds of people were dying on the streets every day. Those who supplied the weapons and committed the murders remain a mystery. However, the street fights ceased with the arrival of the military coup on Sept. 12, 1980. Surprisingly, no politicians have been assassinated since then. The actions of the military officers who assumed power in the aftermath of Sept. 12 was the greatest response to those who held that the Turkish military would never undertake such detailed plans for a coup. Some 650,000 people were detained during the military administration. The personal information of 1,683,000
tary officers. The justifications for the death penalties included allegations that university students were slaughtered in meat grinders under the supervision of the DP government. The pro-junta actors generated fabrications and lies that would serve as justifications for the killings of these undesired politicians at a court they created. Finance Minister Hasan Polatkan and Foreign Minister Fatin Rüþtü Zorlu were executed on the morning of Sept. 16, 1961, whereas Prime Minister Menderes was hanged on Ýmralý Island on Sept. 17. Despite it being an established custom to carry out executions early in the morning, the military even deprived Menderes of this gesture and right, showing their eagerness to exact revenge with his execution. The May 27 coup would serve as a model and harbinger of a tradition, given that it was the first military coup in Turkey. The coupmakers suspended the elected government, arguing that it violated the constitution. Military interventions every 10 years The constitution drafted in 1961 in the aftermath of the military coup undermined the noble principles of the previous constitution drafted in 1924. The 1924 constitution stated that sovereignty rests with the nation without any conditions; this provision was changed in the new constitution, which stated that the Turkish nation employs its sovereignty through the authorized bodies under the principles of the constitution. The sovereignty was transferred from the parliament elected by the people to other institutions. In other words, some shareholders were invented to act as partners in the popular sovereignty. These included the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), the Constitutional Court, the Council of State and the Court of Accounts, which were all set up to protect the regime. The tradition established on May 27 would take on a different dimension with the 1971 military memorandum. The military would enjoy the advantage of staging a coup without shutting down Parliament. On March 12, 1971, the military asked for some changes to legislation and a new government that would readily abide by its orders. In so doing, it once again came to power, this time without relying on violent means. Parliament acted as if it had no other choice. On Sept. 12, 1980, Turkey experienced yet another military coup 11
Prime Minister Menderes was hanged on Ýmralý Island on Sept. 17, 1961, a day after Finance Minister Hasan Polatkan and Foreign Minister Fatin Rüþtü Zorlu were executed.
DOSSIER SPRING 2010
On Sept. 12, 1980, Turkey experienced yet another military coup and administration. It became obvious with this coup that the military had internalized coups as a means of coming to power. Gen. Kenan Evren, the chief of General Staff and the leader of the coup (in the center), would be the next president of the country PHOTO: ARCHIVE
years, six months in jail. Forty-seven judges were removed from office. Thirty-one journalists served time in jail, and another 300 journalists were assaulted while three were killed. A total of 303 lawsuits were filed against 13 larger newspapers. Thirty-nine tons of paper and journals were destroyed. Parliament was suspended, and members of the cabinet were arrested. Political parties, associations and unions were dissolved. This is merely a partial list of what the Sept. 12 military administration did. The military tracked down thousands of people before the coup; some of them were arrested after the coup and some of these people were executed, while others languished in prison for years. And all these plans were drafted by Ürüð, who was assigned the task of laying the foundations for the coup one year before it took place. During this process, the military patiently waited for the outbreak of street violence, where people were murdered and leading figures were assassinated. Similar roadmaps were employed in the 1990s The military, which resumed its plans in
people was stored for future use. A total of 230,000 people were brought to trial in 210,000 lawsuits, and 517 were sentenced to death. Out of these people, 52 were executed. The files of another 259 were referred to Parliament for approval before execution. Seventy-one thousand people were prosecuted under Articles 141, 142 and 163 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK). A total of 98,404 people were tried for membership in a terror organization. Two hundred ninety-nine people died in prison, 14 of whom died in hunger strikes. Ninety-five of these people were reported to have been killed in "conflicts," and 43 were reported to have committed suicide. Thirty thousand people were laid off because they were politically "harmful," and another 30,000 sought refuge in another country. Another 300 people died suspiciously. One hundred seventy-one people were tortured to death. Nine hundred thirty-seven films were banned. The activities of 23,677 associations were suspended. Four hundred journalists were tried, with prosecutors demanding sentences of 4,000 years in prison in total, and they were sentenced to 3,315 12
mayor of Ýstanbul at the time, was banned from politics and sent to jail because of the recitation of a poem. This institution, which orchestrated crucial developments in the country, was shocked by the election results of the general elections held in November 2002. The person sent to jail and banned from politics founded a political party, and that party came to power in a landslide victory. Even though he was still banned from politics, his party ran in the elections without him being at the head of the party, and the party won with such a majority that it would be able to change the Constitution, which was drafted by figures from the Sept. 12 military coup. This was a big disappointment for this group, who until that point had been fairly sure that Erdoðan would never become a prominent political figure thanks to the measures they had taken against him. Taking the new situation into consideration, they started drafting another plan just as they did in 1980 and 1997. Military is not the only actor It should be recalled that the brief history of military coups as narrated above should not necessarily lead to the conclusion that the military was the only actor sponsoring the coup process. The military was able to accommodate the style of the coups to the political environment, and it was quite successful in making sure that non-military figures were also involved in the process. Another thing that needs to be investigated with respect to the relationship between the military and coups is the influence of the internal dynamics of the military over the ambition to stage a coup. In addition, whether the training the military officers receive influences their ambition to intervene in political affairs also remains a question to be investigated. As noted before in this essay, the military entered into alliances to ease their interference in political affairs. These alliances were shaped in accordance with the political and social circumstances of the time. Therefore, one mistake that analysts have made in relation to the military is the argument that the coups were all staged under the guidance of external actors, includ-
1996, a decade after the end of the military administration set up by the Sept. 12 coup, sponsored the creation of illegal organizations including the Western Working Group (BÇG) in an attempt to address the alleged threat posed by the pro-Islamist Welfare Party (RP) government. This organization gathered information about persons working in private and public institutions. Having a veiled wife was turned into a crime, and some people were declared dangerous because of their piety. Some made it onto the list because they were Kurds. Just like in Nazi Germany, a number of people were "labeled" in secret lists drafted by an illegal organization. Orders for the fulfillment of this labeling task were forwarded to the relevant units all across the country. The state officially began gathering information on its citizens for future use through the methods and means employed by the military. The military also made note of religious officers working in its units. They were expelled from the military because of this reason. The expelled officers were not given the right to object to or appeal their expulsion. There was no possibility of appeal because there was no institution in existence to which they could appeal. It was impossible to appeal the rulings of the Supreme Military Council (YAÞ). And the pro-junta actors did not hesitate to rely on all means available to break down the barriers to the fulfillment of their goals. Secularism and Atatürkism were used as justifications and pretexts to carry out their activities. The military was committing a crime by hiding behind Atatürk and claiming that the principle of secularism was being violated. Even though it did not directly come to power in this period called the "Feb. 28 process," the military was able to drive the undesired government away and ensure the creation of another one it favored. This cabinet did everything the military asked of it. During this process a group within the military also secured dissolution of the RP and oversaw a process whereby the rising star of this party, Recep Tayyip Erdoðan, was sentenced to prison because he recited a poem during a peaceful party demonstration. Erdoðan, who was the 13
The military was able to use the media as a means for psychological warfare. Back in 1997, the headlines of the three largest circulating newspapers set the stepping stones of the Feb. 28 process. That is why this military intervention was named a postmodern coup.
DOSSIER SPRING 2010
Former Chief of General Staff Gen. Hilmi Özkök was known for his firm belief in democracy. It is revealed today that Özkök had effectively circumvented several coup attempts during his tenure (2002-2006).
ing the United States. The fact that the most recent coup attempts were effectively circumvented by former Chief of General Staff Gen. Hilmi Özkök, who worked tirelessly to preserve the democratic order, confirms that this argument is not particularly valid. In other words, the drafting of the most recent plans in the absence of any instruction or orders from the US or the European Union shows that there have always been some military figures in this country eager to stage a coup. This, of course, does not necessarily mean that the military did not receive external support from the US in the military coups staged in 1960 and 1980. On the other hand, it no longer seems realistic to argue that the military would not consider staging a coup in the absence of a provocative element. Therefore, depending on the outlook of the conjecture, the military either chooses the ally that best fits its goals and interests, or it does not raise any objection to an external actor using it, as was the case with the 1960 coup when the US chose to side with the Turkish military in order to fulfill its own goals in the region. For the coup of Feb. 28, 1997, the military chose the media as its ally and used the media as a means through which to conduct psychological warfare, thus the label "postmodern coup." Postmodern coup staged through the media As a matter of fact, this postmodern coup was something that the military had been gradually doing through the media since the local elections held on March 27, 1994, when it became apparent that the RP was marching towards political power. In response to the electoral success of the party, certain papers published public surveys and research to grasp the true dimensions of the rise of the RP. The dominant state ideology and the military simply wanted to measure the potential threat posed by this party. The conclusions were negative according to their understanding of Turkish politics. The RP was
dangerous, and it had to be stopped. Subsequent to this conclusion, the psychological warfare that was waged through some media outlets started. This campaign that would lead the country to a military coup started with events in Germany, where supporters of a radical Islamic group led by Cemalettin Kaplan, who declared himself the Islamic caliph, held a rather irritating and repugnant demonstration against the Turkish state. The demonstration made it into the headlines of newspapers. The choice of highlighting the Kaplan issue was quite wise. It was chosen to demonstrate that the RP would facilitate creation of a state governed by Shariah. The logic was that the rise of the RP would encourage all other radical religious groups to mobilize their efforts, just like the Kaplan movement did in Germany. The military used the media in the coup process to prove that there was an intrinsic relationship between the rise of the party and the rise of fundamentalist movements here and abroad. The media's eagerness to serve the military in Turkey is not surprising, either. The media made an effort to ensure that the proper conditions for a military coup were in place before the first military coup staged in 1960; what is more, it has always showed eagerness to play the same role. However, just as the military changes its attitude and allies depending on the changing conditions and circumstances, the media have also had various motives for its decision to align itself with the military. In the 1960 military coup, the media lent its support for ideological reasons; however, the situation was quite different in Turkey in 2000. Media bosses, aware of the influence of the media and eager to make their fortunes by relying on this influence, wanted to secure the material and financial benefits that were to be awarded by the state. There was only one way to do this: to get along with the military, the true owner and manager of the state apparatus. The plan was perfect; the military toppled the RP, which it viewed as a danger to the regime, whereas the media bosses made it to the lists of world's richest men within a few years.
cult to explain the silence and indifference of some media outlets to what is happening currently despite their not having any stake in the military's agenda. On the other hand, this is not that surprising given the conditions and circumstances in Turkey. It is known that the media suffer from excessive pressure from the military. This pressure, which became even more visible during the Feb. 28 postmodern coup process, seems to be the primary reason why some media outlets have failed to act decisively in cases of military coups. Taraf as a new player in the media This also explains the success and aggressive performance of the Taraf daily, which attracts attention because of its brave actions with regard to militarycivilian relations. Taraf, which relies on a policy favoring democracy, is also distinct from many other publications because of its independence. Due to these features, Taraf has attracted some democratic officers within the military who are unhappy with the coup initiatives and attempts. These democratic officers deliver documents and papers they consider useful to Taraf and to myself because they are sure that these documents will be published without being subjected to any sort of censorship. This actually negates the argument
However, democratic circles favored the AK Party government because of its relations with the EU and its eagerness to maintain the democratic order. Believing that their traditional plan would work this time as well, the military wondered why things did not go as smoothly with the media; because of these unexpected outcomes, the military became more aggressive. The April 27 e-memo posted on the website of the General Staff, under the rule of Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaþar Büyükanýt, was the product of these circumstances. The AK Party and Turkey's intellectuals reacted strongly to this memo. Taking this unexpected response into consideration, the military and the media actors supportive of military action had to make a reversal. This was a turning point in Turkish history, when military-civilian relations entered a new era. The military lost crucial positions on the battleground in its fight with civilians. Even though the easy manipulation of the media by the military can be explained by the media bosses' motivation to make their fortunes, this does not explain the silence of those media organs that do not allow themselves to be manipulated by the military. It is diffi15
The AK Party came to power with the support of not only the religious, but also the liberal and social democrat circles. Its firm stance against the April 27 e-memorandum boosted the support of liberal circles for the AK Party
DOSSIER SPRING 2010
Seclusion and superiority complex
Taraf’s willingness to publish damaging stories about the armed forces has energized individuals in various state offices to leak information to the press. Taraf revealed several coup plans. Among these the Sledgehammer plan was probably the most striking. Gen. Çetin Doðan (above), former commander of the 1st Army, was arrested due to his involvement in this plot. PHOTO:TURGUT ENGÝN
the time within the military based on different justifications and motives. The plans have different names. The plan becomes "Sledgehammer" during a certain period, while the name is changed to "Cage" at a different time. Even though the members of a junta retire, they extend their support for coup plans as external actors. The success of these plans depends on whether the efforts of a brave soldier or journalist are sufficient to abort the attempts, given that there is no other mechanism to deal with this danger and threat. For instance, it is evident that former Chief of General Staff Gen. Özkök effectively aborted the coup plan drafted by Gen. Çetin Doðan, former commander of the 1st Army, thanks to the information he received with respect to the Sledgehammer coup plan. The Taraf daily, which published the Action Plan to Fight Reactionaryism, may have prevented a process that would probably have taken the country to the edge of a military coup. If the fact that this plan sought to make sure that innocent people would be viewed as criminals by planting weapons in their homes is taken into account, the gravity of the whole plan becomes more obvious.
that Taraf is being abused and used by some bigger actors. Additionally, the pressure on me because of my news reports and coverage shows the importance and significance of the type of journalism that the Taraf daily promotes. More than 40 lawsuits have been filed with different courts against me because of the news reports I have published in Taraf with regard to the coup plans; a substantial number of these lawsuits were filed following a request by the General Staff. This demonstrates the magnitude of the pressure on the media in Turkey. The most serious suits were filed with respect to my coverage of the Cage Operation Action Plan, where the coup-makers planned the murders of non-Muslims and the bombing of mosques to create a chaotic environment in the country. In addition to these lawsuits, I should also note the threats I occasionally receive because of my work. In conclusion, the recent coup attempts have confirmed this fact: the potential threat of a military coup is still imminent in Turkey. Another fact that these plans reveal is that the drafting of the coup plans is the rule, whereas the motives vary depending on the circumstances. In other words, coup plans are generated all 16
Taking a look at how the military promotes the selfperception suggesting that it is the true owner of this country will provide some insights and clues regarding its eagerness to interfere in politics. Even a superficial review and investigation will suffice to prove that this feeling and perception are dominant within the military. Military officers reside in well-protected lodging facilities in Turkey. The fact that their hospitals are different, that their healthcare system is different and that the courts they are brought to trial in are different proves that they feel different and distinguished from ordinary people. No further explanation is actually needed to recall that this difference refers to some sort of dominance and superiority. This implies that the military views itself as the driving force of modernization in Turkey and a distinct and elite class. The secluded life that a military cadet lives and the training he receives actually lead him to believe that he is a member of an institution charged with modernizing the country, and this must be the number one motive and reason for the eagerness of the military to stage coups. In the meantime, I would like to recall a common mistake made in analyses of the military. It is commonly held in Turkey that the illegal juntas that have penetrated into the army seek to sponsor coups independent of the military itself. However, as noted above, the conditions for interference with the political order are like gifts for the military, and it is always ready to utilize the opportunity. Because this is the case and because interference in politics becomes so attractive for the military, it should be no surprise to witness that even some lowranking military officers have been involved in the recent coup plans and attempts. On the other hand, as a psychological factor, the fact that the cadets who received such idealist training in military schools and academies have to address the problems of the ordinary soldiers when they become officers causes greater disparity between real life and the content of the training they received. An officer who views himself as a member of a privileged institution cannot find the appropriate atmosphere in the conditions of a small military unit to satisfy his superiority complexes, and this drives him towards illegal initiatives seeking to interfere with the political order.
The secluded life that a military cadet lives leads him to believe that he is a member of an institution charged with modernizing the country. This must be the number one motive and reason for the eagerness of the military to stage coups.
On the other hand, this perception of superiority is further confirmed by the Constitution, which refers to the military as the protector and guardian of the domestic political regime of the Republic of Turkey. Under Article 35 of the Internal Service Code, it is the duty of the armed forces to protect and guard the Republic of Turkey as well as the homeland of the Turks as outlined by the Constitution. The same article underlines that this duty is assigned to the military. Reference to this assignment is important, but it is also understandable considering that all the three constitutions introduced in Turkey were sponsored and drafted under the auspices of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK). Because Turkey does not have a civilian constitution, the military did not hesitate to list some privileges for itself in the constitution it sponsored. 17
ARTICLE SPRING 2010
The power struggle between the staunchly secular, military-led establishment and the political authority has tarnished not only the image of the armed forces but Turkey as well. The military resists not only accountability and transparency of its budget but also redefining military courts' duties, which have given it wide room for maneuver in maintaining its privileged status and an escape from the review of civilian courts
ILLUSTRATION: YUNUS EMRE HATUNOĂ?LU
Turkey amid fierce power struggle between old and new mindsets
urkey, NATO's only Muslim member and a European Union candidate country, has been the scene of a bitter power struggle over the past several years between old and new mindsets. The old mindset, led by the staunchly secular Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), seeks to maintain its power if necessary through non-democratic means, under which intervention in politics through the use of force is still an option, even in the 21st century. The new Turkey, representing people from all walks of life, including Kurds, Armenians and Alevis as well as the Turkish Sunnis in the majority, has begun resisting the fearbased policies imposed on the citizens from the top. The military-dictated 1982 Constitution, prepared after the 1980 military coup, therefore, cannot fit this new Turkey, which has been breaking taboos, necessitating a brand new road map to push the country toward democratic standards. Behind the fight that has raged in recent years between the establishment -- led by the military and supported by senior members of the judiciary, a product of the 1982 Constitution -- and the conservative, Islam-based Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government lies the question of whether civilian authorities will be able to both rule and govern or if they will continue sharing their power with the appointed bureaucrats led by the uniformed men, though this system causes instability. As an important reflection of a fierce power struggle in Turkey, but also as a sign that the country has been settling its score with the deep state, the onceuntouchable armed forces have begun feeling the heat. Over 50 of its active duty and retired top officers, including some service commanders, have been arrested or are facing charges over either triggering armed unrest to unseat the government or allegedly making coup plots such as the recently disclosed plot code-named Sledgehammer. Prosecutors allege that in 2003, military officers plotted to undermine the AK Party by sowing unrest through staged bombings of religious sites, including Fatih Mosque in Ă?stanbul. The alleged actions included nearly provoking a conflict with neighboring Greece. In another investigation, among the roughly 200 defendants arrested and facing trial under the Ergenekon probe, launched almost three years ago,
are several retired generals. The alleged involvement of military personnel in anti-government activities, disclosed by the investigation into Ergenekon, raises serious concerns, as a report released by the EU last October on Turkey's progress on meeting the union's democratic criteria noted. As the military, for the first time in the history of the Turkish Republic, has come across a situation where its senior members, both active duty and retired, are being charged with serious crimes, fresh reforms are being prepared to introduce accountability and transparency to military expenditures as well as to limit to a certain extent the areas of responsibility of military courts, which exist to protect the autonomous status of the TSK.
Military begins to feel the heat The bitter power struggle taking place between old and new Turkey is evident now more than ever as the military has come under the spotlight and its privileged status has increasingly been subject to criticism. With about 1 million personnel, the majority of whom are conscripts, the TSK is the second biggest military within NATO, after the US. The TSK has staged four military coups since 1960 and released an electronic memorandum on April 27, 2007, warning the AK Party in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent then-Foreign Minister Abdullah GĂźl from becoming president. The TSK sees itself as the guardian of the secular 19
ARTICLE SPRING 2010
ARTICLE IN BRIEF: The bitter power struggle taking place between old and new Turkey is evident now more than ever as the military has come under the spotlight and its privileged status has increasingly been subject to criticism. In addition to the civilian judiciary, which most of the time sides with the establishment, the military judicial system also requires a serious overhaul to bring it up to democratic standards. Contrary to some views in Turkey, an accountable, transparent and democratically overseen military makes for a strengthened military sector while it will ease the heavy burden on taxpayers.
Another significant law is the Public Financial Management and Control Law (KMYKK), which went into effect in January 2005. This law stipulates parliamentary oversight of the TSK's budget -- consisting of the military budget allocated through the Defense Ministry and the extra-budgetary resources allocated to defense -- through the Court of Accounts. With a decree that was passed in February 2004, the road was opened for the Audit Court to supervise military expenditures and any extra-budgetary defense expenditures upon a demand from the Parliament Speaker's Office. The third regulation bringing about civilian oversight of military expenditures was realized with an amendment made to the last clause of Article 160 of the Constitution in 2004 (See the box on page 68 for Article 160). With this amendment, the principle of auditing TSK-held state property through the Supreme Audit Court at the request of Parliament was legalized, another step toward lifting the veil of secrecy on this matter. During this period, Parliament also made an attempt to initiate a Military reforms initiated in the early 2000s democratic oversight mechanism to marked a positive beginning in Turkey, raisprevent fraudulent acts in weapons ing hopes that the country's highly politicized procurement. In 2003, Parliament's corruption investigation committee military establishment would finally come launched an investigation into claims under democratic civilian oversight that the state had sustained a $180 million loss in the procurement of airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) systems. ing with the TSK, was prompted by the EU Helsinki However, the investigation was terminated and the Summit in December 1999, when Turkey was grantgovernment approved the purchase of four AEW&Cs ed EU candidate status. The first serious efforts to worth $1.5 billion. The termination of the investigademocratize the civilian and military sectors were inition highlighted the inhibition and reticence of tiated in the aftermath of a grave financial crisis that Parliament and the government when it comes to erupted in February 2001. Reforms that paved the scrutinizing military bids. way for good governance, such as diminishing the Reforms face obstacles TSK's active role in the political domain and parliaHowever, it is worth noting that the impact of the mentary supervision of the Defense Ministry budget majority of the abovementioned reforms has not yet and extra-budgetary resources allocated to defense been fully felt on the ground. This is mainly because through audits by the Audit Court, were initiated the ruling AK Party has slowed down major reforms after the financial crisis. These reforms were legislated both in the military and in the civilian sector since by the AK Party, which came into power as the sole 2005, playing into the hands of those seeking to ruling party in November 2002. maintain their power. As the EU report in October After a legal amendment, National Security last year stated: "The armed forces have continued to Council (MGK) activities and decisions, which proexercise undue political influence via formal and vided the legal grounds for the influential role the informal mechanisms. Senior members of the armed TSK plays in political life, were reduced to the level of forces have expressed on a large number of occasions "recommendations to the Cabinet." principles of Turkey's founder, Mustafa Kemal AtatĂźrk, and uses Article 35 of its Internal Service Law as the basis for its interventions. The Internal Service Law, whose abolishment the EU has called for, was implemented after the 1960 coup. It charges the TSK with the duty of protecting and watching over the Turkish homeland and the Republic of Turkey as defined by the Constitution. The problem with Article 35 is that the authority designated to protect and supervise is the TSK, as opposed to a civilian political authority. The TSK's coups were not necessarily staged on the grounds that the Turkish secular system was in danger. For example, the 1960 and the 1980 military coups were precipitated by concerns that political authorities were not able to bring law and order to the country or were involved in corruption. Through reforms made in 2003 and 2004, the government has raised the curtain of secrecy concerning TSK activities. The turning point in the public debate of subjects considered taboo in Turkish politics, start-
expenditure. However, these audits are based on accounting records and take the form of desk reviews. Auditors are not allowed to conduct on-thespot checks. Moreover, the court remains unable to audit movable assets belonging to the military, pending adoption of the draft Law on the Audit Court," the report said. The Defense Ministry budget is set at TL 15.9 billion for fiscal year 2010; it was TL 14.5 billion in 2009. But extra-budgetary resources allocated for defense are not included and not open to the public. When extra-budgetary resources are added, military expenditures are estimated to be about $20 billion per year, according to unofficial data. The 2008 yearbook of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has revealed that Turkey, categorized as a middle-income country, has had military expenditures between 1998 and 2003 of 4.4 percent, 5.4 percent, 5.0 percent, 5.0 percent, 4.9 percent and 4.9 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), respectively. Turkey is estimated to spend about $4 to $5 billion per year on arms purchases; though it has also given emphasis in the past several years to research and development (R&D) projects to boost its local defense industry, it is still reliant on high technologies from abroad for about 75 percent of its arms. Military judiciary In addition to the civilian judiciary, which most of the time sides with the establishment, the military judicial system also requires a serious overhaul to
their views on domestic and foreign policy issues going beyond their remit, including on Cyprus, ethnicity, the South-East, secularism, political parties and other non-military matters. On a number of occasions, the General Staff reacted publicly to politicians and media reports." Similarly, the regulatory statute necessary for the Audit Court to conduct audits of TSK expenditures has yet to be passed due to the military's ongoing objections. As a matter of fact, a delegation from the General Staff opposed a bill on the Audit Court on March 13 during its first debate at a subcommittee of Parliament's Planning and Budgetary Commission over grounds of military secrecy. An AK Party deputy talking to the author of this article, however, said that contrary to the military's reasoning in its opposition to this court auditing military expenditures, the privacy rules of every institution will be respected. Article 160 stipulates auditin gof all institutions, he recalled. The EU progress report has noted the lack of progress on the oversight of military expenditures. "No progress has been made on strengthening legislative oversight of the military budget and expenditures. Likewise, the Defense Industry Support Fund (SSDF), from which most procurement projects are financed, is still an extra-budgetary fund excluded from parliamentary scrutiny. Parliament has no mandate to develop security and defense policies. As regards auditing, under the Constitution, the Audit Court can carry out external ex-post audits of military 21
Turkey has the second largest army in NATO. When extrabudgetary resources are added, Turkeyâ€™s military expenditures are estimated to be about $20 billion per year. The Turkish army is still reliant on high technologies from abroad for about 75 percent of its arms
ARTICLE SPRING 2010
The military judiciary has existed since its inception in the 1961 Constitution. Among the problems existing within the military judicial system in Turkey include the ambiguity surrounding the measures that establish boundaries of action for military courts vis-à-vis civilian courts, which creates disaccord between these two institutions and thus widens the territory of military jurisdiction as military courts gradually began trying soldiers and military personnel not only for their military offenses but also for their general offenses. The military courts have since become the only courts of justice that concern military personnel and are authorized to try civilians for a variety of offenses -- not just for offenses related to national defense, the implementation of the military draft and the maintenance of military discipline. The TSK's once-respected image, despite five different interventions into politics, Contrary to the perception that the military has begun to deteriorate since the tutelage system has prevented harm to Turkey's recent disclosure of coup plots targetsecular character, it has inflicted serious injury ing its own citizens. Added to that are on the country's democratization process lead- top commanders' remarks defending military suspects embroiled in coup ing to social, political and economic instability plot allegations in an attempt to put pressure on civilian prosecutors. case and on the indictment, thus putting the judiciary The image and reputation of the TSK will be prounder pressure. Some senior members of the armed tected if it does not stand by its personnel who comforces lent support to military personnel standing mit crimes and helps judicial bodies to exercise their trial," it said. duty, Hüseyin Çelik, an AK Party deputy chairman, Another mechanism in Turkey's established order told the media on March 26. to create prerogatives for the military is the distincÇelik was referring to Turkish Chief of General tion between military and civilian courts. The basic Staff Gen. Ýlker Baþbuð's remarks to the media, durfunction of military courts, which gained constituing which he publicly expressed his position against tional status after the 1960 coup and maintained this the probe into Ergenekon. He once termed a military status after the 1980 coup, is to protect the plot drafted by an active duty colonel a "piece of autonomous superior position of the army within the paper." The plot was aimed at undermining the AK system ("Security Sector in Turkey: Questions, Party. Problems, and Solutions," Hale Akay, February 2010, Gen. Baþbuð and Land Forces Commander Gen. TESEV). Iþýk Koþaner expressed strong disbelief in the justness The military courts have extensive powers that proof an ongoing investigation in Erzincan in which 3rd tect the military from the review of civilian courts. Army Commander Gen. Saldýray Berk stands bring it up to democratic standards. The government introduced a mini Constitutional reform package in late March with judicial reforms comprising the greater part. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoðan says the steps are crucial for Turkey's EU membership bid. The package includes a constitutional amendment that would enable the prosecution of members of the military in civilian courts over crimes such as attempts to unseat the government. The EU progress report last year stated that judicial practice on the jurisdiction of military courts needs to comply with EU practice. The military has been putting the judiciary under pressure over the Ergenekon case, it also stated. "During a press briefing in April, the Chief of General Staff made comments on the Ergenekon
IV. AUDIT COURT (AS AMENDED ON MAY 22, 2004) ARTICLE 160. The Audit Court shall be charged with auditing, on behalf of the Turkish Grand National Assembly, all accounts related to revenues, expenditures and properties of the government departments financed by general and subsidiary budgets, with taking final decisions on the acts and accounts of the responsible officials and with exercising the functions required of it by law in matters of inquiry, auditing and judgment. Parties concerned may file a single request for reconsideration of a final decision of the Audit Court within 15 days of the date of written notification of the decision. No applications for judicial review of such decisions shall be filed in administrative courts. … The establishment, functioning, supervisory procedures, qualifications, appointments, tasks and duties, rights and obligations and other matters concerning the status of its members and guarantees of the president and the members of the court shall be regulated by law.
Commissioned by the UK Department for International Development, Jan. 11 2002). Statistics released on March 15 showed that the unemployment rate has reached 13.5 percent, while unofficial figures put this number at 20 percent. Added to the problem is Turkey's reliance on foreign sources for about 75 percent of its critical arms technologies, despite efforts to reduce this dependency. Therefore, much of Turkey's resources allocated for defense do not create meaningful job opportunities in the defense sector; to the contrary, they turn into a heavy burden on taxpayers. Meanwhile, the row between the government and the secularist establishment has weighed on financial markets as investors fret about political stability in the $650 billion economy. Turkey has continuously paid the price for its arms acquisitions, regardless of whether they are a necessary means of deterrence. The absence of democratic civilian control over the TSK raises serious questions about the rationale behind Turkish arms purchases. If Turkey has been seriously polarized, this is because the country has for the first time been openly debating once-taboo topics such as the military's role in politics. This debate, if not today, will in the future help bring democratic standards to the country.
accused of engaging in terrorism and also over suspicions regarding a munitions-filled truck discovered in Ankara, in separate interviews with two newspapers, Hürriyet and Milliyet (Today's Zaman, March 16). "We asked [Gen. Berk's] opinion of the incident. The commander told us several times that he has no links to the allegations," the military chief told Hürriyet, to which Gen. Koþaner added, "And we have no hesitation that this is the case." Gen. Berk is accused of putting into operation an alleged military plot to undermine the ruling AK Party and certain religious communities in the eastern province of Erzincan. The plot would frame individuals in certain religious organizations for crimes they did not commit by planting hand grenades and munitions in their homes and offices. A civilian prosecutor summoned the general twice to give testimony on the issue, but he has not yet complied with the order. Benefits for TSK and the country Contrary to some views in Turkey, an accountable, transparent and democratically overseen military makes for a strengthened military sector while it will ease the heavy burden on taxpayers. The fact that the principle of accountability in the security sector is for the public good was elucidated in research carried out by the World Bank in 2002 among countries to whom it gave credit. The research illustrated that the inclusion of defense expenditures in public expenses was an ultimately beneficial mechanism because it provided for a better understanding and acceptance of defense policies by the public, it provided the reasons and justifications for defense expenses and it facilitated a more efficient and rational use of defense expenses. (Nicole Ball and Malcolm Holmes, "Integrating Defense into Public Expenditure Work,"
EXTRA READING Lale Sarýibrahimoðlu, "Türk Silahlý Kuvvetleri," in Ümit Cizre (ed.), Almanak Türkiye 2005 - Güvenlik Sektörü ve Demokratik Gözetim (Almanac Turkey 2005: Security Sector and Democratic Oversight), TESEV: Ýstanbul, 2006, pp. 52-81. Ümit Kardaþ, "Military Judiciary," in Ali Bayramoðlu and Ahmet Ýnsel (eds.), Almanak Türkiye 2006-2008: Güvenlik Sektörü ve Demokratik Gözetim (Almanac Turkey 2006-2008: Security Sector and Democratic Oversight), TESEV: Ýstanbul, 2009, pp. 66-72. 23
Turkey's need for a new constitution
istorically speaking, none of Turkey's three republican constitutions (those of 1924, 1961 and 1982) were made by a freely chosen and broadly representative legislative assembly through a process of interparty negotiations and compromises. The 1924 Constitution was made by an essentially single-party legislative assembly almost totally dominated by Mustafa Kemal's (AtatĂźrk) newly founded People's Party. Although the Constitution was democratic in spirit and contained no signs of the approaching authoritarian single-party regime (19251946), it provided a convenient instrument for this regime since it established no checks and balances against the absolute power of parliamentary majorities. The 1961 Constitution and the 1982 Constitution were both products of military interventions (those of 1960 and 1980, respectively). In their making, the military committees that carried out the coups (the National Unity Committee [MBK] in 1960 and the National Security Council [MGK] in 1980) played a predominant role. In both cases, the ruling military council was one of the chambers of the bicameral constituent assemblies. In neither case was the civilian wing of the constituent assembly (the House of Representatives in 1960-61 and the Consultative Assembly in 1981-83) based on free popular elections. The former was based on an essentially cooptative system which totally excluded the supporters of the overthrown Democrat Party (DP), and the latter comprised 160 members, all of whom were appointed by the ruling MGK. The MGK went much further than its predecessor in excluding all civil society inputs in the making of the 1982 Constitution. All political parties were closed down, and no political party member (as of Sept. 11, 1980) was eligible for the Consultative Assembly. Furthermore, in contrast to the 1961 constituent assembly, the powers of the two chambers were excessively unequal. The MGK had the final say over the draft prepared by the Consultative Assembly, with no mechanism to resolve the differences of opinion between the two bodies. Thus, the Consultative Assembly, composed mostly of bureaucrats, played only a consultative role, as its name indicated. Furthermore, in the referendum stage, only "constructive" criticism was allowed; critical comments about the transitional articles as well as campaigning for a
None of the three republican constitutions (those of 1924, 1961 and 1982) were made by a freely chosen and broadly representative constituent assembly through interparty negotiations and compromises. On the contrary, state elites played a predominant role in the making of all three constitutions with little input from civil society. This article analyzes the partial amendments that the Constitution has undergone so far and Turkey's ongoing search for an entirely new, liberal and democratic constitution
"no" vote were banned; no criticism was allowed against Gen. Kenan Evren's speeches in favor of the new Constitution. Gen. Evren was at the time the chairman of the MGK and the head of state. Finally, the constitutional referendum was combined with the election of the president of the republic for seven years in which Evren was the sole candidate. Thus, a "yes" vote for the Constitution also meant a "yes" vote for the presidency of Evren. Under these circumstances, the referendum of Nov. 7, 1982, produced a 91.37 percent majority in favor of the Constitution, a result reminiscent of election results in totalitarian countries. 1982 Constitution: authoritarian, statist and tutelary The way in which it was made strongly determined the content of the 1982 Constitution. Thus, it clearly reflected the authoritarian, statist and tutelary mentality of its founders. The military founders of the Constitution had very little trust in civilian politicians, which they often expressed in highly blunt terms. Thus, they designed the Constitution to limit the domain of civilian politics as much as possible. Under the original version of the Constitution, all civil society organizations other than political parties were banned from engaging in political activities. Trade unions, volunteer associ-
of political parties still constitutes one of the most objectionable "democracy deficits" in the Turkish political system. Thus, a recent (March 2009) report by the Venice Commission (European Commission for Democracy through Law) of the Council of Europe strongly criticized the Turkish constitutional and legal rules concerning the prohibition of political parties. The report concludes that "the basic problem with the Turkish rules on party closure is that the general threshold is too low, both for initiating procedures and for prohibiting or dissolving parties. This is in itself in abstracto deviating from common European democratic standards, and it leads too easily to action that will be in breach of the ECHR [European Convention on Human Rights], as demonstrated in the many Turkish cases before the European Court of Human Rights." With the aim of limiting the domain of civilian politics in mind, the Constitution established a number of tutelary institutions designed to check the powers of the elected agencies and to narrow the space for civilian politics. Foremost among such institutions was the Presidency of the Republic. The combination of the constitutional referendum with the election of the next president of the republic gave Gen. Evren (the sole candidate) the possibility of exercis-
ations, foundations, public professional organizations and cooperative societies were not allowed to support political parties, receive support from political parties or cooperate among themselves. These restrictions were repealed through a constitutional amendment in 1995. The military authors of the 1982 Constitution also restricted the activities of political parties with a long list of vague party bans in the Constitution and even more draconian restrictions in the Law on Political Parties. Thus, so far 25 political parties (six under the 1961 Constitution and 19 under the 1982 Constitution) have been banned by the Constitutional Court, and many leaders and members of such parties have been banned from political activities for a period of five years by the prohibition ruling of the court. Despite some limited improvements brought about by the constitutional amendments of 1995 and 2001, the legal regime
ing tutelary powers over elected governments for a period of seven years (19821989). In fact, he often described himself as the "guarantor" of the Constitution. This tutelary role was strengthened by the broad powers given to the president by the Constitution, as will be shown below. The 25
ILLUSTRATION: CEM KIZILTUĂ?
ARTICLE SPRING 2010
ARTICLE SPRING 2010
ARTICLE IN BRIEF: The 1982 Constitution established a number of tutelary institutions designed to check the powers of
ILLUSTRATION: CEM KIZILTUÐ
the elected agencies and to narrow down the space for civilian politics. Foremost among such institutions was the Presidency of the republic. The National Security Council, the Higher Education Board and the judiciary were conceived as other tutelary institution designed to protect the values of the state elites against the actions of elected governments. The constitutional crisis of Turkey took on an acute form starting from the spring of 2007, triggered by the conflict over the election of a new president of the republic.
mentioned above, the military was exempted from the review of the Court of Accounts and the State Auditing Board (YDK). The decisions of the Supreme Military Council (YAÞ) regarding high-level military appointments, promotions and expulsions from the military were closed to judicial review. The laws and lawamending ordinances (decree laws) passed by the MGK regime (1980-1983) were exempted from a review of constitutionality by the Constitutional Court. Furthermore, the Law on the Secretariat-General of the MGK provided that the secretary-general shall be a high-level military person and endowed the secretariat with broad executive powers. The politics of constitutional amendments It is no wonder that the 1982 Constitution met with severe criticism almost from its inception. In the years that followed, most political parties and leading civil society institutions such as the Turkish Bar Association (TBB), the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB) and the Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen's Association (TÜSÝAD) proposed entirely new constitutional drafts or at least radical changes to the Constitution. Consequently, starting from 1987, the Constitution underwent 15 amendments. The general direction of these amendments was to improve liberaldemocratic standards, although some of them dealt with rather trivial matters. Despite these positive changes, it is generally agreed that it was not possible to completely clear the illiberal and tutelary spirit of the 1982 Constitution. In the summer of 2007, constitutional debates took a new turn when the governing Justice and Development Party (AK Party) initiated a process for the making of an entirely new constitution, as will be analyzed below. The constitutional amendments of the 1990s, as well as those of 2001 and 2004, were accomplished through a process of intense interparty negotiations and compromises and adopted by strong majorities in Parliament. Thus, it was hoped that after so many decades of internecine interparty conflict, the time had come for a period of "elite convergence," that would result in the making of a liberal and democratic constitution based on a broad consensus [The terms "elite settlements" and "elite convergences" were developed by Michael Burton, Richard Gunther and John Higley in their "Elites and Democratic Consolidation in Latin America and Southern Europe: an Overview" and in
military authors of the Constitution might have possibly thought that after Evren's term came to an end, his successor would also be a military person or at least someone acceptable to the military. Another institution was the strengthened MGK. The original text of the Constitution gave members of the military the majority of seats in the council and stipulated that the decisions of the council should be given priority consideration by the Cabinet, thereby rendering such decisions binding, if not in theory at least in practice. A third tutelary institution was the Higher Education Board (YÖK), which was designed to put universities in order and under strict discipline. The president of the republic was given the power to appoint the chairman and some members of YÖK as well as university rectors. Finally, the president of the republic was given broad discretionary powers with regard to the judiciary, such as appointing the judges of the Constitutional Court (three of them directly and eight of them from among three candidates nominated by the other high courts and YÖK), one-fourth of the members of the Council of State (the
highest administrative court), the members of the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) (from among three candidates nominated by the two high courts) and the chief public prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals and his deputy from among five candidates nominated by the Supreme Court of Appeals. Thus, the judiciary was conceived of as another tutelary institution designed to protect the values of the state elites against the actions of elected governments. Finally, the military obtained important powers, privileges and immunities as a price for relinquishing power to elected civilian institutions (exit guaranties as they are commonly called). In addition to the MGK 26
As a result of this deadlock, Parliament decided to call new elections as required by the Constitution. At the same time, the AK Party majority in Parliament, with the support of a minor opposition party, the Motherland Party (ANAVATAN), amended certain articles of the Constitution, shortening the legislative period from five to four years and providing for the popular election of the president for a maximum of two five-year terms. The amendment was challenged by outgoing President Ahmet Necdet Sezer before the Constitutional Court, who also submitted it to a referendum. However, this time the court rejected the claim of unconstitutionality and the amendment was approved by referendum on Oct. 21 with a 68.95 percent majority and a turnout rate of 67.51 percent. The period starting from the so-called "367 crisis" can indeed be characterized as a series of "constitutional battles." The two other peak points of this battle were the annulment by the Constitutional Court of the amendments to Articles 10 and 42 of the Constitution and the closure case against the AK Party. The first issue is popularly Historically speaking, none of the three known as the "headscarf amendment." republican constitutions of Turkey was made Evidently, its aim was to abolish the by a freely chosen and broadly representative headscarf ban on female university students by changing Article 10 on equalilegislative assembly through a process of ty by adding the phrase "in the utilizainterparty negotiations and compromises tion of all kinds of public services" and adding a new paragraph to Article 42 mum of 367 and 276 votes, respectively. The on the right to education that runs as follows: "No one Constitution contained no special quorum rule for shall be deprived of his/her right to higher education opening the meeting of the assembly, in which case for any reason not explicitly specified by law. The limits according to the general rule in Article 96, the quorum on the exercise of this right shall be regulated by law." should have been one-third of full membership, The amendment was supported not only by AK Party namely 184 deputies. At that time, the AK Party did deputies, but also by those of the ultranationalist not have a sufficient majority to elect its own candidate Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the Kurdish in the first two rounds, but it did have a comfortable nationalist Democratic Society Party (DTP) and some majority to elect him in the third or fourth rounds. independents. It was adopted by a record-high majoriAt that point, maneuvers of dubious legal validity ty of 411 votes. started. It was claimed that a two-thirds majority in the However, the amendment was carried to the first round was not only the decisional quorum, but Constitutional Court by CHP and Democratic Left also the quorum required for the opening of the sesParty (DSP) deputies, on the contention that it was sion. After the first round, in which a two-thirds against the first three unamendable articles of the majority was not obtained because of the boycott of Constitution (in this case, against the principle of secuopposition deputies, the main opposition party, the larism) and therefore, null and void. On June 5, 2008, Republican People's Party (CHP), carried the case to the court, in another controversial ruling, annulled the the Constitutional Court, and the court, in an extremeamendment. In fact, Article 148 of the Constitution ly controversial ruling rendered on May 1, endorsed precludes substantive review of constitutional amendthe claim of unconstitutionality. ments and limits the court's competence over them to John Higley and Richard Gunther, eds., "Elites and Democratic Consolidation in Latin America and Southern Europe" (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1992), pp. 323-24, 339]. However, the constitutional crisis of 2007 seems to have baffled this hope of elite convergence, as will be spelled out below. At the time of this writing, Turkey seems to be in a deep constitutional crisis and deadlock with little hope of achieving constitutional consolidation in the near future. The constitutional crisis of 2007-2008 Turkey's constitutional crisis took on an acute form starting from the spring of 2007 and was triggered by the conflict over the election of a new president of the republic. Article 102 of the Constitution in force at the time had foreseen four parliamentary rounds for the election of the president. The quorum needed was two-thirds of the full membership of the assembly in the first two rounds and an absolute majority of the full membership in the third and fourth rounds, a mini-
ILLUSTRATION: CEM KIZILTUÐ
ARTICLE SPRING 2010
the chief public prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals opened a closure case against the AK Party. He claimed that the AK Party had become a focal point of anti-constitutional activities intended to undermine the secular character of the state. Although evidently he had been collecting evidence against the AK Party for a long time, the start of the proceedings seems to have been triggered by the constitutional amendment concerning the headscarf issue. On July 30, 2008, the Constitutional Court announced its ruling (Constitutional Court decision, E. 2008/1, K. 2008/2, July 30, 2008, Resmî Gazete, Oct. 24, 2008, No. 27034). Even though a majority of the judges (six out of 11) voted in favor of banning the party, the qualified majority (three-fifths, or seven members out of 11) required by the Constitution was not obtained. Therefore, the party was not banned, but 10 members concluded that the AK Party had become a focus of anti-secular activities and decided to deprive it partially of state funding (a sanction also provided by the Constitution for less severe cases of violation). The Constitutional Court's ruling conforms neither to the European standards for party prohibitions developed by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe nor even to the much more restrictive provisions of the Turkish Constitution (Article 68). It is based on a certain assertive and authoritarian understanding of secularism without parallel in any Western democracy. One of the main justifications for its ruling, according to the Constitutional Court, was the constitutional amendment concerning the headscarf issue, although the amendment was adopted by a nearly three-fourths majority of the assembly that included not only the AK Party deputies but also those of the MHP and the DTP. At any rate, condemning a party for an act of Parliament that is clearly within the limits of its constituent power is unheard of in the practice of European democracies. Furthermore, many of the accusations in the indictment of the chief public prosecutor are statements by party leaders and members within the universally acceptable limits of the freedom of expression. Constitutional issues and political cleavages The overtly antagonistic nature of the recent constitutional debates cannot be properly understood without an analysis of political cleavages in Turkey. It
three specific procedural questions, i.e., whether the proposal is signed and adopted by the required number of deputies and whether it is debated twice in the plenary. The Constitution has no explicit or implicit rule allowing the court to review the compatibility of a constitutional amendment with the unamendable articles of the Constitution. Indeed, under the 1982 Constitution, the court rejected three requests for such a review (one in 1987 and two in 2007), declaring itself not competent in the matter. The resulting situation gives the court almost total power of control over constitutional amendments. The characteristics enumerated in Article 2 ("a democratic, secular and social state governed by the rule of law, respectful of human rights, committed to the nationalism of Atatürk, and based on the principles specified in the preamble within an understanding of social peace, national solidarity and justice") are so vague and broad that almost no constitutional amendment can be conceived that is not in one way or another related to one of these characteristics. Thus, this interpretation amounts to an almost complete usurpation of the constituent power by the Constitutional Court, which can only be described as an extreme example of "juristocracy." The constitutional crisis was further aggravated by the closure case against the AK Party. In March 2008,
rights and liberties but as the guardian of the "sublime interests of the state." Hence the AK Party government's plans to reform the judiciary in order to strengthen its democratic legitimacy and the higher judiciary's fierce resistance to such efforts. Although the AK Party's project for an entirely new, liberal and democratic constitution seems to have been shelved at least for the time being, a partial constitutional amendment addressing the most urgent "democracy deficits" in Turkey is clearly needed. Under these circumstances, it seems difficult to arrive at a broad-based constitutional consensus in the short and medium-run. There is a wide gap between the constitutional positions of the AK Party and its liberal allies on the one hand, and those of the CHP and its allies among the state elites, namely the armed forces and the higher judiciary, on the other. While the intends to remove these tutelary Turkey seems to be as far away as ever from former vestiges, the latter favors preserving them constitutional consensus and consolidation. for fear that the AK Party will establish a majoritarian version of democracy that The only way out of the present impasse will pave the way for an authoritarian seems to be a clear and strong mandate Islamic regime. Thus, Turkey seems to be from the people for a new and truly as far away as ever from constitutional democratic constitution consensus and consolidation. The only way out of the present impasse seems to be a clear and strong mandate from the people for a sentative of the center. In the electoral arena, the new and truly democratic constitution. center-right parties always dominated the scene. Thus, in 15 general parliamentary elections from READ ALSO 1950 to 2007, the average vote percentage of the cen1. Ergun Özbudun and Serap Yazýcý, Democratization ter-right (or right) parties was 63.5, as opposed to Reforms in Turkey, 1993-2004, Ýstanbul: TESEV, 2004. 33.8 percent for the left parties. In this period, the 2. Venice Commission, "Opinion on the Constitutional percentage for the right parties varied between 55.7 and Legal Provisions Relevant to the Prohibition of in 1977 and 71.7 in 2007. However, this dominance Political Parties in Turkey," Venice, March 13-14, 2009, was interrupted by three direct military interventions CDL-AD (2009) 006, paras. 30, 107. (1960, 1971 and 1980) and the so-called "postmod3. Ergun Özbudun and Ömer Faruk Gençkaya, ern coup" of 1997 by another important actor of the Democratization and the Politics of Constitutioncenter, namely the armed forces. Making in Turkey, Budapest and New York: Central The whole philosophy of the 1982 Constitution, as European University Press, 2009. outlined above, clearly reflects the authoritarian and 4. Ergun Özbudun, Türkiye'nin Anayasa Krizi, Ankara: tutelary outlook of the center. Thus, once again we are Liberte Yayýnlarý, 2009. witnessing a struggle for power between the centrist 5. Ergun Özbudun, "Changes and Continuities in the coalition (the CHP, the armed forces and the higher Turkish Party System," Representation, Vol. 42, No. 2 judiciary) and the AK Party, which has established (2006), p. 130. itself as the main representative of the periphery. The 6. William Hale and Ergun Özbudun, Islamism, role of the higher judiciary in this conflict is evident not Democracy and Liberalism in Turkey: The Case of the only in the three dramatic cases referred to above, but AKP, Routledge Studies in Middle Eastern Politics, also in many other lesser cases. Clearly, the higher New York and London; 2009. judiciary sees itself not as the defender of individual is generally agreed upon that the origins of the present party system in Turkey are based on a centerperiphery cleavage. Starting with the Ottoman times and continuing in the republican era, the center was essentially composed of the bureaucratic state elites with a strong authoritarian and tutelary mentality as the carriers of top-down Westernizing reforms with little input from civil society. The periphery, on the other hand, comprised all the other sectors of society that had little or no part in the conduct of government. With the transition to a multi-party system in the late 1940s, the periphery was organized and represented by a series of center-right parties -- the Democrat Party (DP), the Justice Party (AP), ANAVATAN, the True Path Party (DYP) and now the AK Party -- while the CHP remained as the main repre-
ARTICLE SPRING 2010
here was no teaching of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the Ottoman Empire. Restrictions on the sphere of the political administration were introduced much earlier in the West. The principle of equality before the law was promoted by the 1789 Revolution, whereas the 1848 revolutions all over the Europe introduced principles of economic equality. However, human rights received attention in the Ottoman Empire only in the mid-19th century. Behind the radical changes in the West we see both powers of ideology (freedom, equality, liberalism, individualism, democratic sovereignty) and material powers (class and political struggle). The developments in the West were outcomes of a process of struggle. The bourgeoisie, which attracted popular support against feudal and aristocratic institutions, played a determinative role in the West. This was not exactly the case with the Ottoman Empire, which lacked a tradition of creative thinking and a bourgeoisie class that would readily fight for the restriction of the administrative power and further rights and freedoms. The primary concern in the period between 1789, when Selim III came to power, and 1918 was to keep the multinational empire alive. Subsequent to the French and American revolutions, the Western world experienced the first wave of constitutionalism in the US, France, Sweden, Norway, Holland and Greece. During this period, individual rights and freedoms were not recognized in the Ottoman Empire, where there was no equality before the law or effective protection of life and property. In an attempt to make some progress in this field, the Ottoman rulers proclaimed the Gülhane Hatt-ý Hümayun (Gülhane Royal Decree), a move dictated by external actors. As a unilateral action of the sultan, this document was in the form of a decree. It was inherently insufficient in terms of recognition of some fundamental rights and freedoms; however, the decree was important considering that it was just a start. The reason for its insufficiency was the still immature liberalism in Ottoman territories and the lack of a bourgeoisie class. But it should be recalled that the decree made references to such noble notions as equality before the law, the inviolability of human dignity and the protec-
Despite the fact that it bears signs of Western standards in terms of rights and freedoms, the 1961 Constitution gave way to military guardianship and a split judicial regime. The 1982 Constitution, which transforms the democratic and social state into a cliché, serves as the major obstacle before further democratization and liberalization. Today, we have a historic opportunity to make a democratic and civilian constitution whose governing paradigm and principles are built on national consensus
considering that the Ottoman state silently approved the transition of one of its principalities to a constitutional system even though it did not have one. The Romanian voters endorsed in a plebiscite a constitutional document inspired by the Belgian Constitution in 1864. Serbia, an autonomous principality back then, also created its own constitution in 1869. First constitutional document of the Ottomans: Kanun-i Esasi The first constitutional document of the Ottoman Empire was the Kanun-i Esasi (Basic Law), promulgated in 1876. Even though it introduced visible innovations with respect to individual rights and legal safeguards, the document did not create a body or institution. Whether the Ottoman Basic Law of 1876 is a constitution is a matter debate. Münci Kapani holds that it was not a real constitution but a constitutional chart that could be viewed as a grant to the people (Charte Constitutionelle). Transition to the second constitutional order was made via amendments in 1909 to the Basic Law, which, this time, genuinely restricted the monarchy. For the first time, a constitutional monarchy and parliament were created in terms of the reinvention of the state apparatus and individual rights. The period in the aftermath of 1918 witnessed the issue of creating a nation state. In this era, the 1921 Basic Law was the outcome of the ambition to carry out the war of liberty relying on a constitution and a legal foundation. The Basic Law of 1924 was created by a regular parliament in accordance with the classical constitutional approach and methodology. The document adopted a liberalist and individualist approach referring to natural law with regard to the philosophical roots and limits of rights and freedoms. This approach is best visible in Article 68 of this Constitution: "Every Turk is born free and leads his life as a free man. Freedom means the ability to do everything that shall not do any harm to others." The article made no reference to the interests of the state, national interests, the indivisible integrity of the state with its nation, national security and public interest as restrictions to the enjoyment of rights. The liberal and individualist impact of the French Revolution is observable in this document. The 1961 and 1982 constitutions refrained from liberal tendencies. The 1924 Constitution is more
ILLUSTRATION: CEM KIZILTUÐ
The meaning of a constitution and constitutional movements in Turkey
tion of life and property. Subsequent reformatory decrees were further proclaimed in the Tanzimat era to implement the Gülhane Royal Decree, which described only general principles. The most important of the series of decrees is the Islahat Fermaný (Improvement Decree), whose proclamation was dictated by foreign powers. The objective of this decree was to introduce equality for non-Muslims in the empire. Both decrees were by no means constitutions. The Western states as well as Balkan constitutionalism have played a role in Turkey's transition to a constitutional order. Romania (an autonomous principality of the Ottoman state in this period) adopted an electoral system via a constitutional document introduced in 1834. This was interesting 31
ARTICLE IN BRIEF: The constitutions of Turkey were products of the historical environments they were created in. The 1921 and 1924 constitutions carry the signs of liberation and nation state formation as their priorities. The 1961 and 1982 constitutions were products of constituent assemblies created under military rules and they were not based on national consensus. The 1982 Constitution cannot be viewed as a real constitution and it is impossible to fix it because of its language, content and philosophy. Today, we have a historic opportunity to make a democratic and civilian constitution whose governing paradigm and principles are built on national consensus.
rights and freedoms; however, this reference is linked to an ethnic identity -- Turkish nation or Turkish nationalism. The basic goal of the Constitution, the document says, is to create a democratic state based on the rule of law with all legal and social foundations. This Constitution was pretty comprehensive in terms of classic rights and freedoms and social and political rights compared to many European constitutions. It furthermore restricts the sphere of authority of Parliament to make sure that the legislative authority is not employed to limit the scope of rights and freedoms. ("The fundamental laws and freedoms shall be restricted by law only in accordance with the letter and spirit of the Constitution," Article 11). While the main subject of the rights and freedoms spelled out in the 1924 Constitution was the "Turk" and the "Turks," the subject is "all people" in the 1961 Constitution. Therefore, the main subject is the human being. However, this Constitution also created the The 1982 Constitution sanctifies the state, National Security Council (MGK), a leaves the individual unprotected, reinforces semi-military institution whose functions and duties are prescribed state authority and military tutelage and imposes serious restrictions over fundamental in the Constitution; this institution was further given administrative rights and freedoms powers by the Constitution, which also created a military Supreme Court of Appeals that expands the sphere of the more like a majority democracy rather than a plumilitary judiciary. The Constitution provides that ralist one. The primary reason for this outcome was the military judicial institutions may prosecute the perception that the main issue was to transcivilians in connection with some actions that fall form and modernize the state and the society back within its competence. then. Its rejection of a constitutional review of the The military has become more influential over law, its reference to the Council of State as an the political administration subsequent to amendorgan of the political administration and its ments made to the Constitution in the aftermath acknowledgment of the role of extraordinary courts of the 1971 military intervention with respect to of law were all about the political and ideological the organization and powers of the MGK; more goals of the new regime. By this Constitution, the importantly, the Military Administrative Court judiciary was actually asked to serve as the watchwas authorized to review administrative actions dog of the regime and the republican revolutions. and processes by military personnel. Moreover, Besides, judicial review of administrative and legwhile freedom was the rule and restriction the islative actions was discouraged in this period. The exception in the 1961 Constitution, the military single-party regime, contrary to the Constitution, intervention sought to reverse this. The number of was authoritarian and repressive in terms of rights reasons and justifications to restrict rights and and freedoms. 1961 Constitution and the freedoms was increased in the Constitution with creation of a military judiciary further amendments later on that introduced The preamble of the 1961 Constitution, drafted vague restrictions including the indivisible integriin the aftermath of a military coup, refers to some ty of the state with the nation. liberal and individualist; the reference to "Turk" as the subject of the rights and freedoms is the only contentious issue in this document. Article 88 of the 1924 Constitution states that "people living in Turkey as citizens are considered Turks regardless of their religion and race." This statement acknowledges the religious and racial differences but stresses that the notion "Turkishness" does not bear a religious or racial connotation and that it refers to a geographical (Turkey's people) and political (bond of citizenship) entity. I hold that even though this emphasis did not intend to make a national or religious reference, the subject points to a dominant ethnic identity. The citizen is the subject in a democratic definition; therefore, it is not proper to define ethnic identity. The 1924 Constitution envisaged a system where the power to legislate and the power to administer and govern were combined. This Constitution was
Is the 1982 Constitution a real constitution? The 1982 Constitution, which was created in the aftermath of a military coup, sanctifies the state, leaves the individual unprotected, reinforces state authority and military tutelage and imposes serious restrictions over fundamental rights and freedoms. In fact, constitutions are supposed to be based on the fundamental rights and freedoms spelled out in the declarations. The letter and spirit of a constitution is to introduce principles, institutions and rules that will help achieve a social cohesion that envisages further democracy, peace and harmony. It is not proper to describe texts that do not serve to achieve this goal as constitutions. For this reason, it is not possible to view the 1982 Constitution as a real constitution considering its content, process of creation and the procedure by which it was adopted. The 1982 Constitution further expanded the sphere of military tutelage. The amendments made to this Constitution in connection with the recommendations spelled out in the EU progress reports did not ensure a radical change in its letter, spirit, objective or philosophy. It is not possible to fix this Constitution because of its language, content and philosophy. This Constitution, which transforms the democratic and social state into a clichĂŠ, serves as the major obstacle before further democratization and liberalization. The procedure followed in drafting the Turkish Constitution The National War of Liberation in Turkey started with local and regional congresses representing willingness and determination, from the Sivas Congress through the Turkish Parliament. The need for a new constitution was raised with regard to the
new state and power that emerged in the circumstances of the Turkish War of Independence. The leaders of the war wanted to rely on legitimacy and legality and stage the war under the existence of a new constitution. The draft that was prepared by a committee of executive deputies and then referred to the assembly was more like the action plan of a government. The fact that this paper was referred to as a program for people was a confirmation of this argument. The draft was a culmination of a long process from the local congresses through the creation of a national assembly. It should be noted that civilian elements were at the forefront in the foundation of the republican regime. The draft sought to consolidate national unity rather than introduce restrictions upon the political administration, and it put an emphasis on the assembly as the sole representative of the nation. The 1924 Constitution was created by the second national assembly on April 20. The constitutional committee acted unilaterally and referred a draft to the general assembly without being asked to do so. Despite the fact that the Grand National Assembly was not a founding parliament, it was considered 33
ILLUSTRATION: CEM KIZILTUĂ?
ARTICLE SPRING 2010
ARTICLE SPRING 2010
A second draft was prepared by the faculty of political science at Ankara University. A referendum was another first in the process whereby the 1961 Constitution was adopted. Despite the fact that it bears signs of Western standards in terms of rights and freedoms, the 1961 Constitution gave way to military guardianship and a split judicial regime. The amendments made to this Constitution in 1971 removed the noble items and consolidated the military tutelage. For the first time, a clause creating a higher military administrative court was inserted in the Constitution. The multiparty regime that became unstable because of economic turmoil and increased terrorist activities which started in 1975 faced a violent military coup staged on Sept. 12, 1980. The MGK created a constituent The constitution should make no reference assembly by a law promulgated on to institutions facilitating military June 29, 1981. The assembly assigned a commission of 15 members for guardianship and it should guarantee prodrafting of a constitution. Written tection of the rights, cultures, customs and statements and recommendations languages of the people living in Turkey were received from relevant institutions and experts during the preparatory stage of the draft. The Constitution was disbuilt. However, the multiparty regime was abancussed at an advisory assembly and approved by the doned in 1960, when a military coup was staged MGK. The draft was ratified in a plebiscite held on and a new constitution was sought. The 1961 Nov. 7, 1982. Constitution is the outcome of the military coup National consensus for a civilian constitution and the conditions that laid the groundwork for The 1921 and 1924 constitutions were the outthat coup. This Constitution was drafted at a time comes of special periods and conditions and were when a military administration was still in power by created by Parliament without seeking national an elitist assembly of representatives and the consensus for the constitutional principles National Unity Committee (MBK), where 37 milienshrined within. The 1961 and 1982 constitutions, tary officers served as delegates. however, were made by the advisory assemblies The first constituent assembly created by the coup-makers, who imposed their For the first time in 1961, Turkey experienced the logic on these assemblies. To conclude, the consticreation of a constitution by constituent assembly. tutions made thus far were drafted in the absence of Even Mustafa Kemal AtatĂźrk, the founder of the a national consensus on the governing principles; republic, preferred a more moderate option over a for this reason, they failed to last for a long time. constituent assembly because of strong reactions Today, we have a historic opportunity to make a against it. There were three stages in the making and democratic and civilian constitution whose governratification of the 1961 Constitution: preparation of ing paradigm and principles are built on national the preliminary drafts, parliamentary debate and a consensus. Constitutions are documents of national referendum. The MBK and the military assigned consensus. This national consensus should be seven law professors from the faculty of law at Ă?stanachieved via comprehensive agreement by a reprebul University for preparation of a preliminary draft sentative and authoritative board over the fundaconstitution. This academic committee was further mental paradigm and principles of a constitution; expanded to include three other professors from subsequently, a commission of experts should work Ankara University and created a preliminary draft on the articles of the draft, and the final product that was subsequently referred to the MBK.
attempt to show that discussion and consensus over governing principles are easier: 1. A constitution makes no reference to institutions facilitating military guardianship; military bureaucracy is under civilian command; and external security is the number one job of the military. 2. Judicial independence and impartiality are the fundamental elements of the right to a fair trial. The achievement of such independence and impartiality will resolve the issue of a split judiciary. 3. People are born as free men. The task of the administration and the state is to make sure that everybody enjoys the human rights and freedoms that are legally safeguarded. Exceptions and restrictions that impede the enjoyment of these rights and freedoms are unacceptable. Fundamental rights and freedoms are interpreted in light of international conventions and judgments rendered by the European Court of Human Rights. 4. Freedom of expression can be restricted only on grounds of promotion of violence, provocation and defamation. 5. The Constitution guarantees protection of the rights, cultures, customs and languages of the people living in Turkey. It ensures peaceful coexistence with all our differences. 6. The republic, an indivisible whole, recognizes local autonomy in order to strengthen the principle of local administration, and it does this taking administrative regions into consideration. This is particularly important to help in resolving the Kurdish problem. 7. The state is a non-ideological apparatus created to protect the rights and freedoms of all segments of society and individuals, to ensure the enjoyment of these rights and freedoms, to achieve social and individual welfare and to overcome poverty within the framework of the rule of law. 8. The security expenses and activities (of the military, the police and the national intelligence agency) and the preparation of the National Security Policy Document are handled under the oversight of Parliament. National consensus over general principles, some of which are presented above, and the creation of a new constitution via a civilian process are critical for the full realization of the principles and goals of this Constitution and increased popular support for the entire process.
ILLUSTRATION: CEM KIZILTUĂ?
fully authorized to make a new constitution because it was held that it had an inherent right to represent the nation. The goal was to create a strong state order; however, Parliament -- and not the administration -- should be the center of this strength. The 1924 Constitution represented a liberal worldview in terms of human rights and freedoms. The 1921 Constitution was a unique example that was an interim solution and a product of the circumstances of that period, stretching from the War of Independence through the foundation of the republic. The 1924 Constitution, on the other hand, represents transition to a period where the revolutions were fully implemented and the nation state was
should be referred to Parliament for further deliberations and debate. Finally, the text approved at the assembly should be voted on by the people. The work and studies during these stages should all be transparent, and the views and contributions of the community and individuals should be received. The procedure by which it was drafted is as important as the content of a constitution. Fulfillment of the principles and goals of the new constitution depends on the existence of a broad national consensus. The American Constitution of 1787 and the 1978 Spanish Constitution are fine examples of this. The new constitution should be comprehensive and inclusive to the extent that even minorities feel they are represented by it. Authoring the articles is a technical job that constitutes the final stage of the making of the constitution. It is difficult to achieve consensus on technical matters; conversely, a consensus on general principles is easier. For this reason, I would like to make the following points in an 35
ARTICLE SPRING 2010
Religion, education and the Turkish Constitution: a critical assessment
nder the title of "the right to freedom of conscience, religious belief and conviction," Article 24/4 of the Turkish Constitution stipulates that "[e]ducation and instruction in religion and ethics shall be conducted under state supervision and control. Instruction in religious culture and moral education shall be compulsory in the curricula of primary and secondary schools. Other religious education and instruction shall be subject to the individual's own desire, and in the case of minors, to the request of their legal representatives." Although the wording states quite explicitly that there are two different kinds of religious education, one compulsory, the other optional, this important clause has been interpreted and implemented as if the Constitution promulgates only compulsory religious education in primary and secondary schools. Moreover, "education and instruction in religion and ethics" is understood most commonly by state authorities as the instruction of the fundamental principles of (Sunni) Islam as approved of by the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet). This practice of religious education has not only led to a series of violations regarding freedom of religion or belief, but has also been a source of deep controversy among Muslim and non-Muslim communities and individuals in Turkish society. Even if the rights of non-Muslim communities and individuals have been under the protection of the Treaty of Lausanne, the state authorities' interpretation of the stipulations pertaining to the rights of nonMuslim minorities have always been suspicious vis-àvis the language used therein and the universal principles of the modern rule of law. Explicitly put, the official interpretation of the term "non-Muslim minorities" includes only Greek Orthodox, Armenian and Jewish communities, whereas no specific religious or ethnic community has been mentioned in the treaty. This official interpretation of the treaty, therefore, led to a neglect of the rights and liberties of ancient Syriac, Nestorian and Chaldean Christian communities or caused some problems regarding freedom of religion for newly formed communities. Leaving aside the problems faced by non-Muslim communities, major problems caused by the constitutional provision mentioned above pertain to the rights and freedoms of the vast majority of Turkish society who regard themselves as Muslims. In contrast to an outsider's view of Turkey as a predominantly Muslim
The current state of affairs in Turkey regarding the issues of religion, education and the Constitution contradicts the most important dimensions of freedom of religion or belief. Three major problem areas are the existence of a Directorate of Religious Affairs, the obligatory religion courses in primary and higher education and the headscarf ban that closes the gates of universities to the veiled women. The urgent need for a constitutional and statutory reform is still waiting to be realized for Turkey to fulfill not only its international legal obligations but also to eradicate internal conflicts in its legal system
The formation and increasing role of the Diyanet Established territorially in a region (mostly Anatolia) whose inhabitants had become "Islamized," the Turkish Republic was inevitably faced with the problem of religion as an important part of the emerging national identity. Anatolia, historically being a territory with almost a third non-Muslim population in the 19th and early 20th centuries, has become a 99 percent Muslim land due to the Armenian "Great Catastrophe" of 1915 and the population exchange with Greece in 1924. The "asset tax" law of 1942 (Varlýk Vergisi) which discriminated against non-Muslims, and the riots of Sept. 6-7, 1955 should be noted also as major historical events that contributed to the almost total disappearance of nonMuslims from Turkey, leaving very small Greek and Armenian communities in Ýstanbul and in some Anatolian towns, and very few and marginalized communities of ancient Christians mainly in the south and the east. Thus, the Kemalist founders of the republic in 1923 had to face a dilemma: The population of the republic consisted of different ethnic groups such as Turks, Kurds, Laz, Albanians, Circassians, etc., who were united under the banner of Islam for national (millî, a term reflecting still the old Ottoman meaning of a religious community) struggle. The founders, on the other hand, had a project of modernizing society from above, using the power of the state to establish a new nation-state, and in order to realize this project they had to replace the religious institutions, most notably the Caliphate and the office of the Þeyhülislam, the superior authority in religious matters. The historical but partial resolution of this dilemma took place in 1924 when a law passed by Parliament abolished the Caliphate and the office of the Þeyhülislam, establishing instead the Diyanet. I say the resolution was "partial" because these legal-institutional changes had to be supported by cultural policies to eradicate the strong religious (Islamic) element that existed in the traditional national identity. Resulting from the failure of establishing a culturally pluralist polity with Muslim and non-Muslim commu-
society, there happen to be sharp differences, hence a highly significant degree of cultural and religious pluralism reflected in certain fault lines like that of the Sunni-Alevi divide, or that of Hanafi and Shafii (mostly Kurdish) denominations within the Sunni majority, or that of the practicing and non-practicing members within the greater society, etc. As each of these groups might have developed their own understanding of religious belief and practice, the undifferentiated implementation of the constitutional provision has caused serious stress, controversy and human rights violations reflected in some recent decisions of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and the Turkish Council of State (hereafter Danýþtay). In addition to this major problem area caused by the misinterpretation of the compulsory education in religion, there are also other constitutional promulgations related to any discussion of the legal status and practice of freedom of religion or belief in contemporary Turkey. If one example is the ban on the headscarf in higher education, the other is the constitutional status of the Diyanet. What follows is a critical assessment of the present Turkish Constitution regarding the ways in which it stipulates the relations between religion, education and the state. Since the universal standards of freedom of religion or belief provide for the guidelines of the critical analysis I wish to pursue, and so far as these standards include the establishment clause, the free exercise clause and the requirement of equal respect, the assessment will focus on three major problem areas in Turkey. The first problem area concerns the institutional framework within which the relations between religion, education and the state have been established, that is, the historical formation and present status of the Diyanet. The second problem area pertains to the ways in which the constitutionally compulsory education in religion and ethics is understood and implemented. Finally, the third problem regards the now famous issue of the ban on women students wearing the headscarf in higher education. 37
Leaving aside the problems faced by non-Muslim communities, major problems caused by the Constitution pertain to the rights and freedoms of the vast majority of Turkish society who regard themselves as Muslims PHOTO: TURGUT ENGÝN
ARTICLE SPRING 2010
ARTICLE IN BRIEF: This article is a critical assessment of the present Turkish Constitution regarding the ways in which it stipulates the relations between religion, education and the state. The article focuses on three major problem areas in Turkey. The first problem area concerns the institutional framework within which the relations between religion, education and the state have been established (the Diyanet). The second problem area pertains to the ways in which the constitutionally compulsory education in religion and ethics is implemented. Finally, the third problem is the now famous issue of the ban on women students wearing the headscarf in higher education.
The overall modernization of Turkish society, thus, resulted in the increasing role of the Diyanet in public and educational affairs. The increasing role of the Diyanet can be seen most notably in the change of its constitutional status. The institution had no constitutional status when it was established in 1924. In the 1961 Constitution, the Diyanet gained constitutional status as an organ of the central state administration, attached to the Office of the Prime Minister. In the 1982 Constitution, however, the status of the Diyanet was redefined so as to function "in accordance with the principles of secularism, removed from all political views and ideas, and aiming at national solidarity and integrity" (Article 136). Reflecting a conservative and authoritarian reaction in Turkish politics to the social and political unrest and street violence in Turkish society during the 1970s, this provision gives the Diyanet the duty to provide for cultural (ideological) means of social integration. Even if this constitutional arrangement is sufficient to show the increasStarting with the university reform of 1933, ing public and political role of the which closed down both the Darülfünun and its Diyanet, we cannot help but mention another provision in Article 89 of the school of theology, religious education was Political Parties Act. Placed under the erased from school curricula at all levels in part of the act that promulgates prohiorganized education until 1949 bitions for political parties, Article 89 stipulates an important prohibition for the protection of the secular state which reads as folels of organized education in Turkey until the early lows: "Political parties cannot pursue aims that violate 1930s, when authoritarian secularist policies were Article 136 of the Constitution pertaining to the organiadopted. Starting with the university reform of 1933, zation of the Directorate of Religious Affairs functioning which closed down both the Darülfünun (meaning litin accordance with the principles of secularism, erally the realm of sciences, a name given to a modern removed from all political views and ideas and aiming higher education institute established in the late 19th at national solidarity and integrity." This stipulation has century) and its school of theology, religious education a kind of constitutional status, for it is formulated so as was erased from school curricula at all levels in organto protect secularism, which in turn has been defined as ized education until 1949. one of the immutable principles of the Turkish With an increasing visibility in the public and political Constitution. role of Islam after Turkey's transition to a multi-party This increased role of the Diyanet in Turkish public politics in 1945, a new theology school was opened and political life is further reinforced by its central role together with religious vocational schools to educate in designing the curricula of compulsory religious eduimams and preachers, hence the allowing of optional cation in primary and secondary schools. Leaving the religion courses in primary and secondary schools after discussion of the problems created by this institutional 1949. Together with the increasing public and political framework to the following section, we have to empharole of Islam in Turkey, and as a consequence of sociesize that the authoritarian conservative mentality that tal modernization and popular understanding by relaplaced its stamp on almost every aspect of the current tively conservative-minded parents of religious vocaTurkish Constitution has shared the judgment that the tional schools as places where children learn their relifundamental reason that gave way to the outbreak of gion properly, the numbers of these schools increased. nities, the republic had established the new institution of the Diyanet. The new institution had been so organized as to deal with the problems of Muslims in ethics (ahlâk), faith (itikadât) and worship (ibadât), giving the law-making and judicial powers of the office of the Þeyhülislam to the legislature, that is, the Turkish Parliament, and to the secular courts. When this new institutional design took place in 1924, the constitution of the new republic had an article stating that "the religion of the Turkish state is the religion of Islam." Reflecting the dominant role of Islam in mobilizing Anatolian Muslims for national struggle, this article would be abolished in 1928, and the principle of laicism (secularism) would be constitutionalized some nine years later, in 1937. As for the issue of religious education, having stated already the provisions for non-Muslims in the Lausanne Treaty, for the Muslim population, we have to mention that religious education continued at all lev-
should be given to the appropriate people.' For these reasons, we will introduce compulsory religious education in our schools." This official justification of the acceptance of compulsory religious education by the military junta of the 1980s refers to the "undisputable" and "infallible" personal cult of Atatürk and tries to reconcile this policy choice with secularism and a modern idea of religious education in democratic and secular societies. Attempts at reconciling compulsory religious education in Turkey with the experience of Western democracies have not been confined to the views of the military founders of the 1982 Constitution. Referring occasionally to the wording of Article 24 of the Constitution, many supporters of compulsory religious education in Turkey argue that the courses in fact aim at providing students with knowledge about religion in general, Islam in particular and ethics. So far as the wording of the Constitution is concerned, it is not easy to say that it is incorrect since the Constitution makes a distinction between "education and instruction in religious culture and ethics" and "other religious education." Three cases, all filed by Turkish citizens belonging to the Alevi community, one in the ECtHR (Hasan and Eylem Zengin v. Turkey, 2007) and two others in the Danýþtay, however, suggest that the compulsory education in religion has been implemented as a kind of catechistic instruction of Sunni Islam and discriminates against the Alevi identity. Deciding on a case filed by the parents of a fourth grade student in primary school, the 5th Administrative Court in Istanbul ruled that the state authorities' denial of the parents' request that their child be exempted from compulsory religious courses violates both the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Mentioning the different types of religious education stipulated in Article 24 of the Constitution, the court decided that the current practice of compulsory religious instruction is against the Constitution and also violates Article 2 of Protocol No. 1 of the ECHR, which requires government respect for parents' philosophical and religious beliefs in educa-
political violence, especially among Turkish youths, in the 1970s was the lack of education with the aim of the internalization of national values (again, the term millî is used to imply Islamic traditions). Problems arising from the constitutional status and the actual practice of compulsory religious education As the foregoing passage suggests, the relationship between religion and the state has been changed from "religion as the legitimizing ideology" to "religion as an instrument of political control," the latter becoming more and more explicit as the need for increased state control over society increased. The abolishment of the caliphate and the office of the Þeyhülislam, the establishment of the Diyanet and the acceptance of the unification of instruction (Tevhid-i Tedrisat) have marked the initial phases of a project to establish a modern state with a united, homogeneous national culture. So far as this "nation-building" project has succeeded in social and economic modernization, the ensuing public presence of religious, denominational and cultural differences has alarmed the state to the extent that it has worked to find new institutional mechanisms for societal control. This need backed by the authoritarian-conservative idea that religion and traditional culture are an important pillar of societal integration paved the way for the promotion of the constitutionallegal status of the Diyanet and the acceptance of compulsory religious education in primary and secondary school curricula. The official justification for this change in the approach of the state towards religious education has been provided by the National Security Council (MGK): "By taking this new decision, religious education will be introduced in every primary, middle and high school on a compulsory basis. Consequently our pupils will receive religious education from state schools. In the majority of Western countries religious education is given by schools. In fact, compulsory religious education in schools is compatible with secularist principles. In this matter Ataturk stated, ‘Religion must be taken out from the hands of ignorant people, and the control 39
Deciding on a case filed by the parents of a fourth grade student in primary school, the 5th Administrative Court in Istanbul ruled that the state authorities' denial of the parents' request that their child be exempted from compulsory religious courses violates both the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights PHOTO: UÐUR ÖZTÜRK
ARTICLE SPRING 2010
other subjects. It enjoins the State to respect parents' convictions, be they religious or philosophical, throughout the entire State education programme." (The quotations are from "Hasan and Eylem Zengin v. Turkey," [Appl. No. 1448/04], ECtHR, Oct. 9, 2007, paragraphs 48 and 49.) Now, according to Article 90 of the Turkish Constitution, as amended in 2004, "In the case of a conflict between international agreements in the area of fundamental rights and freedoms duly put into effect and the domestic laws due to differences in provisions on the same matter, the provisions of international agreements shall prevail." The ECHR, beyond doubt, falls into that category of international agreements that shall prevail over the domestic statutory laws that contradict its proviThe TCC exceeded the limits of its competences as a sions. In view of the above quotajudicial organ entitled to settle a dispute over the tions from the European court decision, there shall be no doubt that constitutionality (and hence legal validity) of a there is a conflict with domestic laws statutory law and functioned like a legislative body, in Turkey that regulate compulsory regulating what the notion of freedom entails religious education. Thus, an idea still prevailing in the Diyanet and with some scholars of Islamic theology -- including the "The right of parents to respect for their religious and president of the Diyanet, Professor Ali Bardakoðlu -philosophical convictions is grafted on to this fundaand academics in Turkish divinity schools that the decimental right, and the first sentence does not distinsion of the European court does not require a reorganiguish, any more than the second, between State and zation of religious education courses as optional seems private teaching. In short, the second sentence of to be groundless. Article 2 aims at safeguarding the possibility of pluralDespite this clear and legally binding verdict of the ism in education, a possibility which is essential for the European court, the Diyanet's insistence on sustaining preservation of the ‘democratic society' as conceived by the existing compulsory constitutional status of relithe Convention. In view of the power of the modern gious education suggests that the majoritarian underState, it is above all through State teaching that this aim standing of Sunni Islam prevails. Much has been said must be realized. … and written on the ways in which these courses, even "Article 2 of Protocol No. 1 does not permit a distincin their present content, modified after a series of tion to be drawn between religious instruction and tion, with an absolute failure of enabling the child to develop critical approaches to religious claims. This preliminary court decision of 2006 was approved by the Danýþtay in 2008. In its 2008 decision, the Danýþtay refers to the 2007 decision of the ECtHR. The importance of the dates is that even though the preliminary court decision had been made before the ECtHR explained its verdict on the case Hasan and Eylem Zengin vs. Turkey (the Zengin Case), the Ýstanbul court followed almost an identical line of reasoning. The importance of the ECtHR decision in the Zengin case is that the court establishes the actual practice of compulsory religious education as violating the ECHR. According to the ECtHR:
Treaty of Lausanne and freedom of religion The most important stipulation regarding freedom of religion or belief is Article 38/2 of the treaty: "All inhabitants of Turkey shall be entitled to free exercise, whether in public or private, of any creed, religion or belief, the observance of which shall not be incompatible with public order and good morals." [italics added]. All other articles in the treaty pertaining to the rights and freedoms of minorities use the same language, like "all inhabitants of Turkey" or "Turkish nationals" without mentioning any specific religious or denominational community: "Turkish nationals belonging to non-Moslem minorities shall enjoy the same treatment and security in law and in fact as other Turkish nationals. In particular, they shall have an equal right to establish, manage and control at their own expense, any charitable, religious and social institutions, any schools and other establishments for instruction and education, with the right to use their own language and to exercise their own religion freely therein." (Art. 40) [italics added]. 40
and Atatürk's secularism, the basic motive behind the polished scenes has been that of establishing an authoritarian system of social and political control. The ban on women's head coverings in higher education: A Turkish peculiarity! In December 1988 a law was passed by the Turkish Parliament stipulating that "it is compulsory to show up in contemporary attire in institutions of higher education, in classrooms, laboratories, clinics, policlinics and the corridors. It is acceptable to cover the shoulders and hair with a scarf or turban for reasons of religious belief." The former leader of the military junta, who became the president after the approval of the 1982 Constitution by popular vote, filed a case against this law, arguing that it is unconstitutional for reasons of violating not only the fundamental and immutable principle of secularism mentioned in Article 2 of the Constitution and protected by Article 4, mentioning its immutability, but also other constitutional provisions such as the Article 10 provision of equality before the law, the Article 24 provision of freedom of religion, conscience and conviction and Article 174, which protects the modernizing reforms made during Atatürk's single-party rule. In 1989, the Turkish Constitutional Court (TCC) made its decision accordingly and established a very important verdict based on arguments of crucial importance that still have impacts on the continuation of the ban on women's head coverings in Turkish institutions of higher education. According to the TCC, the clause "for reasons of religious belief" is in contradiction with the principle of a democratic and secular rule of law because "national sovereignty is the basis of democratic structure," thus a regulation that places heavy emphasis on the necessities of religion cannot be democratic. From the perspective of the principle of secularism, the court states that "only a secular state is a democratic state. … Secularism is connected in individual and social levels as well as in the affairs of the state with the requisites of free thought that lie outside the metaphysical thought.
reforms, do not satisfy the demands of the Alevi community. On the other hand, there are also other groups and individuals in Turkish society who are not Alevis but are still against compulsory religious education, no matter what the curricula is. Although we have no case filed representing these radical secularist groups and individuals in society, their voice hitherto unheard does not mean that they do not exist. Another important point worth mentioning here is that the Diyanet uncompromisingly asserts that the Alevis do not make up a different identity to be recognized. In stark contrast to the self-image and self understanding of the Alevi community as a different sect within the Islamic religion with its own particular symbols and rituals and their resulting demands such as the public recognition of the cemevi as a "place of worship," the Diyanet constantly emphasizes that the Alevis belong to the same religious tradition as Sunni Islam and that the cemevi cannot be recognized as a place of worship. It should be noted that public recognition of the cemevi as a place of worship not only means recognizing the Alevi identity, it will also result in creating some material benefits for the Alevi community, including reduced payments for expenses such as electricity or water, etc., benefits shared by mosques and recognized churches and synagogues. In a similar vein, the Diyanet also emphasizes that compulsory religious education, after a revised and reformed curricula, provides children with an adequate knowledge of Alevism, whereas the Alevi community still emphasizes their demand for non-compulsory religious education. This ongoing conflict between the religious establishment (Diyanet and its supporters) and the Alevi community can also be read as a sign that the republican establishment in Turkey does not want to lose its control over the religious and cultural practices of its citizens. In spite of the fact that the military junta tried to justify the constitutional status of compulsory religious education through references to Western democracies 41
There has been no statutory law stipulating women's dress in public or in institutions of higher education during or after Atatürk, and there is still no such legally binding norm, except the TCC decision of 1991 PHOTO: ÝSA ÞÝMÞEK
ARTICLE SPRING 2010
dom to cover one's head and shoulders, that is freedom to wear a "headscarf or türban," is not included. With this decision, the TCC exceeded the limits of its competences as a judicial organ entitled to settle a dispute over the constitutionality (and hence legal validity) of a statutory law and functioned like a legislative body, regulating what the notion of freedom entails. Ever since, the women's headscarf has been one of the main issues concerning freedom of religion or belief in Turkey. The case of Leyla Þahin v. Turkey in the ECtHR internationalized the problem, resulting in a European court decision establishing that the decisions of the Turkish court do not violate the ECHR. I wish to now draw attention to two interesting points regarding the European court's decision on the Þahin case. The first point pertains to the requirement of the presence of a law that restricts certain rights and freedoms mentioned in the ECHR. In the Turkish case, however, there is no statutory law restricting freedom of dress in institutions of higher education, but only the interpretation of It is not clear why wearing headscarves is the TCC's 1991 decision mentioned imposed only on women while abstinence above. The European court, however, decided that the term "law" from pork and alcohol is imposed on all includes not only statutory law but Muslims and obeying the Ten Commandments high court decisions as well. This is imposed on all Jews and Christians understanding of the term "law" may not be mistaken, but in view of the TCC's decisions regarding the restrictions on the ing directions, is in a sense an imposition. Forcing perfreedom of religion or belief, I think the European sons to get dressed in this or that way and to cover court's broader definition of law including the TCC their heads would create a privilege from the perspecdecision is disputable for some important reasons. If tive of those who belong to a different or even to the one reason is the fact that the TCC exceeded its compesame religion." tence as a judicial organ and attempted to function as a All in all, in its initial verdict on the headscarf issue, legislative organ, the other and more important reason the TCC regarded the recognition of freedom of dress is that the TCC set rather undefined limits, not only to including the headscarf for women in institutions of the headscarf but also to the freedom of dress for all higher education as unconstitutional. The importance individuals. Reiterating the evaluations made in the of this decision lies in the fact that the court reiterated it 1989 decision, the TCC concluded in 1991: on several occasions. In 1989, for instance, another law "Consequently, either for reasons of religious belief was passed by Parliament stipulating that "in instituor for other reasons, the dress in institutions of higher tions of higher education, freedom of dress is recogeducation must not contradict the modern situation. In nized provided that the attire does not contradict prethe Constitutional Court decision [of 1989] mentioned vailing statutory law." This time a case was filed by the above, this point was explained as ‘Either religious or "main opposition party" (the Social-Democratic not, dress that is against being modern and that contraPeople's Party, SHP) in Parliament, one of the subjects dicts regulations stipulated by the revolutionary codes entitled to file a case as such according to the cannot be seen as adequate'." Constitution, with similar arguments. In this case, howThe crucial point here is that, before going into a ever, the TCC decided that the law is not unconstitudetailed argumentation on whether the ban on the tional and that in terms of the "freedom of dress," freeIt renders it compulsory to fulfill the requisites of reason and science in regulating individual and social life." Another of the TCC's arguments is that the freedom to cover the "shoulders and hair for reasons of religious belief" contradicts the principle of equality before the law because "from the perspective of the Constitution, religion is not a precondition for enjoying certain rights. For those who believe in various different religions and for those who do not believe in any religion, they are free to express their religion and belief within the limits of freedom of religion and conscience. … In a secular state which treats all citizens as equals regardless of their belief in religious matters, differences of religion or denomination cannot be a reason for discrimination. In the regulation against which the case is filed, however, there happens to be recognition of a concession to the allegedly Islamic head covering. … Recognizing the freedom to the cover shoulders and hair with a head covering or turban for reasons of religion, a way of giv-
Evans, "this is a serious issue that deserves proper consideration, but it did not receive such consideration by the court in either case. In both cases the court made the assertion that wearing the veil is incompatible with gender equality, but in neither case did it flesh out the reasoning behind this statement beyond saying that it ‘appears to be imposed on women by a precept which is laid down in the Koran.' The way in which the word ‘imposed' is used here is loaded. Most religious obligations are 'imposed' on adherents to some extent, and the court does not normally refer to the obligations in such negative terms. It is not clear why wearing headscarves is any more imposed on women by the Quran, than abstinence from pork or alcohol is imposed on all Muslims, or than obeying the Ten Commandments is imposed on Jews and Christians. Both Ms. Dahlab and Ms. Þahin lived in societies where there was no imposition by the state that required women to wear particular religious clothing -indeed, it is clear from the cases that the governments in question were unsupportive of the wearing of Muslim clothing. In this circumstance, the adoption of the headscarf by educated, intelligent women might be better described as voluntary compliance with what they perceived to be a religious obligation." Another point that is worth mentioning here is the European court's "justification for banning the headscarf that it is incompatible with a tolerant, secular society that respects the rights and freedoms of others." According to Evans, "there is no evidence that Ms. Þahin was intolerant of the views of others. She did not engage in any behavior that involved attempting to force her views on others. She was not guilty of any disciplinary offence at university other than those related to clothing and she did not belong to any of the fundamentalist groups within Turkey. At some level, the court seems to be saying that anyone who is sufficiently serious about advertising the fact that they are Muslim must be, by definition, intolerant. Of course, the court does not make that point explicitly, but this equating of Islam with intolerance (and Islamic woman with oppression) seems to inform the court's judgment implicitly."
headscarf in institutions of higher education is justified, as the TCC and the European court say, for the protection of "the rights and freedoms of others" and "public order" and whether the ban is "necessary in a democratic society," we have to discuss if the ban is "prescribed by law." As for an answer to this question, the European court says the TCC decision is "law" that has prescribed a limitation to a way of dress, the headscarf, for the sake of enabling the TCC with the powers of a legislature that may establish future restrictions on other forms of dress which it does not see fit for a contemporary (modern) situation. Together with Peter G. Danchin [see the Read Also section of this article for Danchin's article on the issue], one may think that "since the earliest days of the republic, Turkey has had laws and decrees requiring ‘contemporary costume' in the public sphere. Atatürk himself signed a 1923 decree on dress and the Hat Law of 1925, and the Law Relating to Prohibited Garments of 1934 required religious clothing not to be worn outside of times of worship and laid down dress guidelines for students and civil servants." Even though this is true, we have to underline the fact that there has been no statutory law stipulating women's dress in public or in institutions of higher education during or after Atatürk, and there is still no such legally binding norm, except the TCC decision of 1991. It should be noted also with a heavy emphasis that the ban on the headscarf in Turkish institutions of higher education resulting from the so-called law established by the TCC being put into practice strictly after the Feb. 28, 1997 military intervention, which resulted in the resignation of the Erbakan government. As for the other aspects of the European court decision on the Þahin case, I have to say that I am in absolute agreement with Carolyn Evans, in whose criticisms one may also find a thorough criticism of the TCC decisions as well. According to Evans, writing on the European court decisions on the Dahlab v. Switzerland and Þahin v. Turkey cases, for instance, the argument that the freedom to veil is against "gender equality" cannot be sustained as a valid argument. For 43
The TCC draws a distinction between traditional, uneducated and innocent women covering their heads in accordance with the traditions of rural life, and educated women covering their heads with what the TCC calls a "türban" as a symbol of political Islam, threatening the secular foundations of the republic PHOTO: MUSTAFA KÝRAZLI
ARTICLE SPRING 2010
Constitution. It should suffice here to point out that the amendments in 2008 passed in Parliament by 411 votes out of a total of 550 had reinforced the meaning of equality before the law (Article 10) and prohibited any unlawful restriction on the right to education (Article 42). Although the intention of the amendments mentioned in the justification stated the desire to lift the ban on women's headscarves, the wording made no explicit mention of the ban, and despite a clear restriction on the powers of the TCC in reviewing the constitutionality of the constitutional amendments, the TCC exceeded once again the constitutional limits set on its judicial competence and decided that the amendments were unconstitutional. Conclusion Freedom of religion or belief entails three interrelated dimensions. The first regards the obligation of the state not to establish an official religion. Replacing the word "Congress" with "the state," we may recite the First Amendment of the US Constitution: The state "shall make no law The Diyanet thinks it represents the correct interrespecting an establishment of relipretation of Sunni Islam and it has a self-image gion." The second dimension, again stated in the First Amendment, as that its interpretation of Islam as such must be well as in other national and internarecognized and internalized by all Muslims in legal documents, regards the Turkey, regardless of their sects or denominations tional free exercise of religion and belief. The third dimension is the requirement on the part of state and public authorities and pripractice and, on the other, they are seen as bearers of vate citizens to respect differences in religion or belief. a political ideology, conscious of a political project As for the first dimension, the constitutional and with the aim at undermining secularism and establegal status of the Diyanet seems to be violating the lishing an Islamic state. All these attempted justificaburden on the state not to create an establishment tions for the ban on women's head covers serve, on on religion. The constitutional status of the Diyanet the contrary, for the exclusion from public and educaas a public administration unit with the task of tional life of many women who either insist on wearmaintaining national unity and solidarity and the ing a headscarf as a fulfillment of the requisites of effective legal protection provided in Article 89 of their religion, or for other social and cultural activities the Political Parties Law are not the only reasons that they have no chance of participating in unless behind this conclusion. The Diyanet is a good examthey put on their scarves or veils. ple of a religious establishment created by the state Coupled with the recognition of a kind of lawdue to its huge public bureaucracy and its incompamaking power to the courts, this self-contradictory rably high degree of enjoyment of public funds. and unjustified line of reasoning seems to be the real Perhaps the most important factor in this concluobstacle vis-à-vis the realization of a fuller freedom of sion, however, is the very fact that the Diyanet repreligion or belief not only in Turkey but also in the resents the correct interpretation of Sunni Islam and contemporary world. that it has a self-image that its interpretation of For reasons of space I refrain from going into a Islam as such must be recognized and internalized detailed criticism of another TCC decision on the by all Muslims in Turkey, regardless of their person"unconstitutionality" of some recent amendments al and community sects or denominations. So, made in Articles 10 and 42 of the Turkish In the criticisms I quoted from Evans, one may easily replace the word "court" with "the Turkish Constitutional Court." Like the European court, the TCC also established lines of reasoning and justification almost identical to that of the European court. One important difference of the TCC decisions, however, regards a distinction made between two types of Turkish women. Echoing the unjustified argumentation mentioned above pertaining to the issue of gender equality, the TCC draws a distinction between traditional, uneducated and innocent women covering their heads in accordance with the traditions of rural life, and educated women covering their heads with what the TCC calls a "türban" as a symbol of political Islam, threatening the secular foundations of the republic. This is a self-contradictory statement since, on the one hand, women wearing headscarves are regarded as victims of an intolerant and oppressive religious
(2) Article 13 of the Turkish Constitution promulgating that "fundamental rights and freedoms may be restricted only by law" and that there is no law restricting student attire in institutions of higher education, and also Article 42 of the Turkish Constitution stipulating that no one can be deprived of the right to education. (3) The moral and legal principle of equal respect to which every human being is entitled to regardless of his or her religion or belief system. It seems to be the case that the current state of affairs in Turkey regarding the issues of religion, education and the Constitution contradicts the most important dimensions of freedom of religion or belief. The urgent need for a constitutional and statutory reform is still waiting to be realized for Turkey to fulfill not only its international legal obligations but also to eradicate internal conflicts in its legal system and perhaps more importantly to become a country with full recognition of human freedom in conformity with the moral requirements of contemporary multicultural democracy.
Alevis and Sunnis, Hanafis and Shafiis, practicing and non-practicing citizens of Turkey shall listen to and preferably follow what the Diyanet says about religious matters. In view of both the moral and legal requirements embedded in the notion of freedom of religion or belief and the contemporary requirements of multiculturalism, this state establishment of religion cannot be accepted. Disestablishment of the Diyanet as a constitutional and public organ seems to be the most adequate solution that will fulfill the requirements of religious freedom and pluralism in Turkey. Compulsory religious education curricula designed under the heavy influence of the Diyanet is another aspect of Turkey's practices violating "the establishment clause." Constitutional distinction between compulsory instruction and education "in religious culture and ethics" and other "optional" religious education cannot be sustained as a reason for the ongoing practice of religious education because there is an apparent contradiction between the current practice and the requirement of the state to respect the parents' religious beliefs and philosophical convictions. So, it seems necessary for Turkey to opt for eradicating the compulsory status and establishing at least some form of optional courses in religious education. As for the ban on women's head coverings in institutions of higher education in Turkey and in view of the criticisms mentioned above both for the TCC and European court decisions, this seems to be a violation of the state's requirement not to prohibit or interfere with the free exercise of religion. The unjustified ban on women's head coverings in Turkey violates: (1) Article 38/2 of the Lausanne Treaty and is against the law in a more general sense because according to Article 37 of the same treaty "Turkey undertakes that the stipulations contained in Articles 38 to 44 shall be recognized as fundamental laws, and that no law, no regulation, nor official action shall conflict or interfere with these stipulations, nor shall any law, regulation, nor official action prevail over them."
READ ALSO Ýþtar B. Tarhanlý, Müslüman Toplum, "Laik" Devlet, Türkiye'de Diyanet Ýþleri Baþkanlýðý [Muslim Society, "Secular" State, The Presidency of Religious Affairs in Turkey], Ýstanbul: Afa, 1993. Recep Kaymakcan, "Religious Education Culture in Modern Turkey", ed. Marian de Souza et al., International Handbook of Religious, Spiritual and Moral Dimensions of Education, Springer, Dortrect (Holland), 2006, pp. 449-460. Carolyn Evans, "The 'Ýslamic Scarf' in the European Court of Human Rights," in Melbourne Journal of International Law 4; (2006) 7(1), 52. Cf. Peter G. Danchin, "Suspect Symbols: Value Pluralism as a Theory of Religious Freedom in International Law," in The Yale Journal of International Law, Vol. 33:1, Winter 2008, pp. 1-61. Mehmet Semih Gemalmaz, Türk Kýyafet Hukuku ve Türban, Istanbul: Legal, 2005. 45
The ban on women's head coverings in institutions of higher education in Turkey is a violation of the state's requirement not to prohibit or interfere with the free exercise of religion. At some point the universities had established “convincing rooms” where “enlightened” professors tried to convince veiled girls to uncover themselves and come to the university only after they did so PHOTOS: TURGUT ENGÝN
DEBATE SPRING 2010
Turkey's defective constitution Turkey has been engaging in a fateful discussion about the future and nature of its democracy. This is a multifaceted discussion. It has an intellectual dimension running in conference halls and in academic papers. It has a political dimension in Parliament and party headquarters. It even has a public dimension that defines the content of dinner table conversation. Everyone is speaking about where Turkey is going. A particular dimension of this discussion is the constitutional amendment package the Justice and Development Party has brought to Parliament and will probably carry to a referendum. The Turkish Political Review (TPR) gathered together three individuals from different political persuasions concerning the constitutional amendment to debate a particular aspect of the package: reforming the high judiciary
prefer AKP instead. In this debate and in other articles in this volume we preferred to use whichever form the author or the speaker chose to use.]) is not a legitimate player when it comes to drafting a constitution. The third speaker in the debate is Professor Mithat Sancar, a leftist and democratic intellectual, as he defines his political stance. Despite the fact that he is critical of the AK Party government's timid steps on amending the Constitution, he believes the current package fits with his ideals for Turkey's future. The TPR debate on the constitutional package took place at a fairly early stage of the discussion in Turkey. The debate on the public platforms continued, and the parliamentary commission even made some minor changes to the draft. Moderator: As far as I understand, there is consensus over the need for a thorough constitutional reform in Turkey. Even the honorary chief prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals, who criticizes the fact that the AK Party is undertaking this mission, said, "Turkey should do this, but this should not be done by the AK Party." What aspects of this amendment concern the judiciary? Ahmet Gündel: Almost all actors agree that Turkey needs an amended Constitution because this Constitution is a product of the military coup staged in 1980. A review of this Constitution reveals that it restricts the sphere of action of the civilian and elected governments while expanding the space of action of the military, judiciary and particularly the high judiciary. For this and other reasons, many agree that this Constitution needs to be changed. The need for constitutional reform has become even more imminent because of recent developments. However, there are also some objections, claiming that this Parliament and the AK Party government are not authorized to make these changes because of the recent Constitutional Court decision implying that the AK Party has become
he Turkish Political Review (TPR) gathered together three individuals, all from different political persuasions concerning the constitutional amendment, to debate a particular aspect of the package: reforming the high judiciary. The amendment package as it came to the Turkish Parliament suggests a redefinition of the membership structures of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK); it restructures the relationship between the civilian and military judiciaries; and it limits the authority of judicial organs over party closures. The TPR brought three experts with differing views about the reform to debate these judiciary-related aspects of the package. Ahmet Gündel is a retired chief prosecutor at the Supreme Court of Appeals. He has been writing in the national media on the constitutional amendment and has been both supportive and critical of the package article-wise. Atilla Kart is both a professional lawyer and a deputy from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) from Konya. He is understandably against the package and is critical of not only the content of the package, but also the subject of this amendment, i.e., he thinks the Justice and Development Party (AK Party or AKP [There is a redundant discussion in Turkey over how to write the acronym of the Justice and Development Party. The party prefers and has patented its acronym as AK Party, but there are those who oppose either the party or this form of the acronym and 47
Ahmet Gündel, a retired chief prosecutor; Atilla Kart, a deputy from the main opposition party; and Mithat Sancar, a leftist intellectual, participated in the first TPR debate. Kerim Balcý was the moderator, and Naci Bostancý contributed to the debate with his observations PHOTO: MEVLÜT KARABULUT
DEBATE SPRING 2010
The council's decision to annul the Higher Education a center of anti-secularist activities. Board's (YÖK) introduction of a new coefficient system Without delving into too many details, I would like to for university entrance exams was plainly illegal. [For stress that the need for a constitutional amendment is more on the new coefficient system and its annulment even more imminent at the present time. From the milby the council, see Mustafa Þentop's "Council of State's itary perspective, it is obvious that the April 27 memocoefficient ruling: appellate judiciary and constitutional randum has served as a catalyst to make us ponder order," pp. 98-101, and Ahmet Ünal's "What is the such an amendment. The recently revealed secret plans problem: reactionaryism or parochialism?" pp. 102-108, to topple the government drafted by some military offiboth in this issue.] A detailed review of this case cers and the launch of a discussion as to whether the shows that there are serious violations involved. civilian or military judiciary is authorized to address this I should further recall that the office of the chief prosissue and some rulings by some of the civilian prosecuecutor at the Supreme Court of Appeals is authorized to tors and courts referring these cases to the military judifile a dissolution case with the Constitutional Court ciary suggesting that they were competent to deal with against a political party that receives millions of votes in these cases show that such a constitutional amendment the general elections. In other words, the fate of a politis a pressing need. The annulment of the amendment ical party, the sine qua non of a demmade to Article 250 of the Code on ocratic political order, is at the discreCriminal Procedure (CMK) by the This Constitution tion of a prosecutor. The chief proseConstitutional Court confirms the restricts the sphere cutor's frequent appearance in the urgency of an amendment. media using a language of threats A review of legislative activities of action of the civilimplying that he may file another lawreveals that the Constitutional Court ian governments suit against the ruling AK Party is not has made gravely unlawful decisions while expanding that tolerable in any democracy. with respect to the decisions of If you look at the recent actions of Parliament, relying on the pretext of of the military, judicithe HSYK, you would notice some unconstitutionality. These decisions ary and particularly seriously illegal practices. For more give the impression that the court the high judiciary than 19 years I worked in the HSYK, acted deliberately to circumvent the and I was directly affected by its pracsphere of Parliament. The tices. But I will not mention these periods. Let me give Constitutional Court decision on the 367 quorum some recent examples, however. The HSYK's decision debate is the plainest example of this sort. Likewise, the to review and discuss the decisions and deliberations annulment of a package of constitutional amendments with respect to the Ergenekon investigation and its changing Articles 10 and 42 of the Constitution, which eagerness to act on the side of the defendants in the introduced equality among students in educational Ergenekon case confirm that an institution set up to institutions, by the Constitutional Court was a real ensure judicial independence actually undermines the problem. The same could also be said with regard to principle of judicial impartiality and independence. the court's decision to declare the AK Party a center of I am not just talking about the change in the workanti-secularist activities. I should recall that these are places of judges and prosecutors overseeing this case. not decisions that our nation can accept. This is the legal authority of the board. However, even Council of State: an alternative body of opposition in exercising this authority, the board may have pushed On the other hand, if you take a look at the Council its limits. of State, which supervises the actions of the executive It should also be recalled that the HSYK interfered organs, it becomes obvious that the council transgresses with the content of the investigation into and the subits authorities and violates the inviolability of the discresequent arrest of the Erzincan prosecutor as well as the tion of the government, turning its supervision of issuance of a subpoena for the commander of the 3rd administrative action with respect to legality to some Army. Of course, changing who occupies the post of sort of supervision of appropriateness. It is also evident prosecutor is the natural authority and power of the that the Council of State arbitrarily interferes with politboard. However, this change should have been carried ical affairs and has become an alternative body of oppoout in accordance with procedure, law and custom. sition. 48
power for eight years in Turkey. What would you normally expect from a party that has been in power for eight years? You would expect effective remedies to remove the contradictions in the system, fix the problems and shortcomings and introduce visible solutions in the constitutional, social and economic fields. You would further expect measures to deal with unemployment, poverty and other social problems. These are the duties and jobs of political administrations. But what do we have instead? We have a party identity that has exploited the entire system during this period, created its own capital groups, excluded the notion of civil servants in public administration and replaced it with the notion of party officers, and favored the media organs taking its side. What does this political administration do now? It frequently relies on a discourse of democratization on the one hand but adopts a harsh stance of opposition against the system on the other. This is a game. On the one side, you see efforts seeking to ensure rapprochement with the EU up until 2004. And some of our intellectuals eager to legitimize these efforts and these political actors are aligned with the political administration. Actually, these intellectuals should have analyzed this political identity through academic and political prisms. Now, you see the prime minister reacting to Israel in Davos, where he is remembered for his famous "One minute!" showdown. However, you also see the same administration assuming a role in the implementation of the Greater Middle East Project during the March 1 motion process. [The speaker refers to the March 1, 2003 motion in the Turkish Parliament on US troop deployment in Turkey to open a second front against Saddam-era Iraq. The motion was supported, at least on the surface, by the government, yet it was rejected by Parliament.] You also see that the security of Turkey has been delegated to Israel through a contract on the Heron unmanned aircraft. The prime minister reacts to Peres in Davos but refrains from exercising his right to terminate the contract. Religious movements should be under protection There are some attempts to promote religious movements seeking to infiltrate the state apparatus. My
Removing a prosecutor from office at a time when he had already initiated an investigation in a crucial case and after the police had made arrests in connection with this ongoing investigation was not ethical or appropriate. This means there was interference with the judicial process. On the other hand, if you take a look at the Council of State, it becomes evident that the council acts with political motives on key issues and makes annulment decisions accordingly. In addition, the chief prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals serves as a major obstacle to and blocker of political parties. The HSYK, created to maintain judicial independence and impartiality, has turned into an institution that local prosecutors and judges are afraid of. All these judicial institutions have created a system of guardianship and tutelage over the legislature, the political administration, the political parties and the local prosecutors and judges. With these facts at hand, it would be illogical to oppose the constitutional amendments. Some problems might be cited with regard to the content of the proposed articles. These have been discussed publicly, anyway. We notice that the draft articles have been amended in accordance with the outcome of the ongoing discussions. I am on the side of those who wish to make some contributions. All parties should adopt a constructive approach. Wholesale opposition does nothing good for the sake of achieving a resolution. Moderator: I will now ask Konya deputy Atilla Kart to speak. We all are familiar with his stance from his press statements. He holds that there are different motives and intentions behind this judicial reform and constitutional change. Mr. Kart, do you see any motives other than those Mr. Gündel has just outlined behind this initiative? Atilla Kart: Mr. Gündel referred to the mistakes and flaws of all constitutional institutions except the political administration. Of course, we will be discussing these mistakes, but in doing this, we have to level some criticism against the political administration as well. To be consistent and convincing, I believe we should adopt such an impartial and integrated approach. We are talking about a government that has been in 49
"The HSYK, created to maintain judicial independence and impartiality, has turned into an institution that local prosecutors and judges are afraid of," says retired prosecutor Ahmet Gündel. The HSYK is the seven member Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors. Ýn the photo, the deputy chair of the HSYK Kadir Özbek (center), and other members of the HSYK are seen during a meeting.
DEBATE SPRING 2010
these facts at this point. Yes, this is a fact in Turkey: that statements may be upsetting to some, but out of selfyou appoint somebody you consider close to you to a respect I must remain true to my political stance. I am key position in public administration. However, this not obsessed with such [religious] structures. I believe was not as blatant in the past. that religious communities and orders are essential for If the notion of the party officer has become domithe promotion of diversity and pluralism in the counnant in public administration, there will be no democtry. I also believe that their presence should be taken racy or rule of law regardless of the bright and brave under constitutional protection and that their rights content of the constitutional amendment you propose. to expression should be guaranteed. This is my sinIf you do this, you will be fooling us. Now I have a 10cere opinion. I have expressed this view in my party page report on the activities of the Gülen movement. conventions and in public gatherings. I strongly You see that they are very influential in the media, edubelieve that this issue should be reviewed with refercation and health sectors. This is no problem at all. You ence to Article 24 of the Constitution, on the freedom may call this a civil society organizaof religion and thought. Therefore, I tion. But let us make a record of this; would suggest that an automatic and It is important, in the let us run an audit of the movement. reactionary stance against religious case of constitutional Let us monitor its activities under the communities is wrong. review and supervision law of associations. This is what I am But is this the case in Turkey? Is the whole issue in Turkey about the proof administrative deci- saying. Of course, it is important, in the case tection of their fundamental rights and sions and actions, not of constitutional review and supervifreedoms? Take the Gülen movement, to mix review by sion of administrative decisions and for example. We have been drawing means of legality and actions, not to mix review by means of attention to this for five years. I believe appropriateness legality and review by means of approthat the political administrations have priateness. And of course the judiciary limited influence in the public adminisshould not act to replace the political administration. tration. The parties in power are changing all the time. But look what the judiciary does: The judiciary does not However, it is essential to maintain a lasting and effecobject to any privatization process; it says it is up to the tive public administration dedicated to serving the peopolitical administration to make decisions on privatizaple of this country. I am of the opinion that the creation tion. It only objects to the privatization of, say, of a public administration system based on merit and Seydiþehir Eti facilities for a payment of $3.5 million seniority is essential for the sake of the achievement of when it is actually worth $3.5 billion. It says you cannot the notion of public service. To this end, I would like to pass the shares of Tüpraþ over to a select group of busirecall that the notion of "party officer" has become nessmen you prefer in one of the rooms of the Ministry dominant in the public administration system in Turkey of Industry and Trade. It says you should not sell Seka in the past few years. facilities to your relatives at a visibly too-low price. Why We all now know that the promotion of public serdo we not make this distinction? I believe that any vants whose spouses do not wear the headscarf is work ignoring these facts would not be reconcilable blocked. It is nonsense to act as if we are not aware of
THE GÜLEN MOVEMENT AND THE CURRENT POLITICAL DEBATE The French say "Les absents ont toujours tort" -- the absentees are always wrong. Among the anti-government criticism of the main opposition party, the CHP, and the secular fundamentalists of Turkey, the Gülen movement has become "l'absent" of the current political debate. The secular fundamentalists prefer to use vague language in their claims about the movement. They rarely refer to the movement by name, and the term they do use ("cemaat," or community in Turkish) in fact covers all religiously motivated non-political movements in Turkey. In a nutshell, in their perception the cemaat is so powerful that it controls the government, controls the police and is even able to manipulate legal processes. Since the claims are never clear cut, they are almost irrefutable, and even if they are clear and open allegations, the Gülen movement does not have an official representative body to refute them other than the advocates of Fethullah Gülen himself. The claims about the Gülen movement and its manipulation of the legal process pertaining to the Ergenekon case have been echoed in some recent English language articles penned by American writers. Dr. Ýhsan Yýlmaz's article "Naming what is going on in Turkey: from a 'for the people despite the people' elitism to a 'for the people with the people' democracy" in this volume (pp. 68-75) presents an academic criticism of these articles.
program. In addition, it should be noted that the party did not go beyond the content of these recommendations. The AKP did the minimum during this process. The political administrations before the AKP, including the coalition government formed between the DSP [Democratic Left Party], ANAP [now ANAVATAN, the Motherland Party] and the MHP [Nationalist Movement Party] refrained from fulfilling the requirements to become a full member in the EU. They, too, introduced some packages, but their efforts fell short and they frequently relied on the pretext of preserving the national interest to avoid compliance with EU rules and standards. Conversely, the AKP acted sincerely and tried to achieve the standards set by the EU. However, it did not have an additional program and agenda that go beyond the noble content of EU standards. But we all now appreciate why they did not. The AKP was busy dealing with the coup plans whose details are now being publicized while trying to introduce some bold reforms to facilitate accession to the EU. In other words, the AKP was trying to make sure that other state organs acknowledged its administration while introducing all these reforms. For this reason, some of its practices were inconsistent with democratic standards. This ambivalence between introducing reforms and getting along with the state institutions turned the AKP into a center of contradictions. We now appreciate that this was not a groundless fear. The party had to deal with a coup plan almost every month, and most probably the leadership of the party was aware of these plans. The president as the watchdog of the regime The discussion over the presidency that took place in 2007 was a crucial one. The 1982 Constitution views the president as the protector and watchdog of the regime. The drafters of the Constitution were pretty sure that the president would always be a figure that they would favor and like. For this reason, they expanded the sphere of his authorities. They realized that in the event of losing this post, the institutions of the guardianship system would take over. What was controversial back then was not a debate over Shariah or the headscarf. The presidency is a key for the regime, and those who
with intellectual and political responsibility. Moderator: Thank you very much; I will come back to you and hopefully, we will be discussing why you object to the content of the proposed package of constitutional amendments in the next round. Now I will invite Professor Mithat Sancar to speak. What parts of this package refer to a need in terms of the high judiciary? Mithat Sancar: Why did we come to this constitutional amendment? Is the AKP doing this as part of a democratic project, or are there any other factors motivating the party figures to take this initiative? I would like to elaborate on this subject. Now Mr. Kart argues that the AKP has created its own capital groups and media organs. However, we could actually say that those capital groups have created the AKP. Undoubtedly, there had been some interactions. However, the AKP did not emerge out of the blue. And, of course, a new financial class has emerged. The Feb. 28 process was actually an attempt to stop the rise of this new middle class. The votes the AKP received in the 2002 elections should not be surprising at all. The AKP relied on an existing dynamic. This dynamic took it to power. You may call it its own capital groups or set of communal relations; that does not make any difference. There are a number of different dynamics that played a role in the rise of the AKP. The AKP came to power by promising change in 2002, and because of this promise it received the support of the traditional capital groups. And when it set down the lines of its eagerness for EU membership, the party also attracted the support of big capital groups. In other words, it did not fight the older capital groups. Quite the contrary, it attracted a great deal of support. But I should also note that the AKP did not have a solid democratic program with reference to the issue under discussion. Their program did not set a clear framework for an integrated process of democratization. It included nice words and statements. The AKP's work and efforts at democratization mostly include the recommendations of the EU in fulfillment of the criteria for full membership rather than its own terms in its 51
TÜPRAÞ is Turkey's second-largest taxpayer, and its privatization in 2004 was canceled by the Council of State. TÜPRAÞ was privatized once again in 2005. This time its privatization cost four times more than the initial privatization effort PHOTO: MEHMET GÜLER
DEBATE SPRING 2010
against the AKP's activities are two factors that motivatinitiated this discussion knew that. The president is ed the party to take action with respect to the constituauthorized to make appointments to a number of institional amendments. Let me elaborate on this: tutions including YÖK [the Higher Education Board], It is obvious that the HSYK has an oligarchic structhe HSYK and the Constitutional Court. ture. Those who are opposed to any change in this The AKP was trying to address the demands of its institution today have made similar statements in the supporters for more freedoms while it also sought to past. In 1982, I was a college student. I know that the introduce bold reforms that would be determinative vast majority of those who oppose a constitutional over the popular support that it would receive in the change now were harshly criticizing the structure of the upcoming elections, but in doing this the party leaders HSYK back then. This is a unique invention with critical were also working to make sure that the state elites authorities. However, the AKP's ambition to rush for would not oppose their actions. They were acting parthe introduction of a change to the structure of the ticularly carefully to ensure that they were well protectHSYK is due to the July decrees [the appointments to ed against coup plans emanating from the army. The the Turkish high judiciary, which are made in July] April 27 memo is a plain confirmation of what I am rather than its oligarchic composition. In July, a comarguing right now. The memo posted by the General prehensive change will be introduced in the HSYK. Staff, followed by the extensive support by the judiciary Those who are familiar with the operation of judicial -- the Constitutional Court's decision on the 367 quoinstitutions know well that this is a period of decrees. rum controversy -- demonstrated that there is a strong The HSYK has already taken measures cohort of opponents to further democto circumvent the efforts and work of ratization. And the political adminisThe AKP was busy the prosecutors and judges handling tration was to choose submission or dealing with the coup the Ergenekon investigation. They fredetermination to stand against this plans whose details quently offer pirate lists. [According to front. In other words, these institutions are now being publithe constitutional process, the list of seemed to want to wage a war against judges and prosecutors that will be the political administration to protect cized while trying to appointed, removed or promoted is their privileges. introduce some bold prepared by the Ministry of Justice and I believe this: that the AKP was reforms to facilitate is brought to the agenda of the HSYK ready to act as a central-right party if it accession to the EU by the undersecretary of the ministry. had been treated moderately. It was The judicial members of the HSYK ready to assume the role of a favorable have been preparing their own lists and trying to state party. But its opponents did not want to provide impose those lists on the two members from the this opportunity. Their moves shifted the AKP to the Ministry of Justice for some time now. These lists are brink of life or death. Because it was aware that its called pirate lists in the Turkish media.] The only thing choices would determine its fate, the AKP chose to act the undersecretary can do is to leave the meetings so like a democratic party. The reforms it introduced that those lists are never voted on. Now any setback in sought to protect the party's identity and existence from the Ergenekon investigation will negatively affect this its opponents; however, they also addressed the issue process and the AKP will have to pay an expensive bill of the guardianship regime in Turkey. The recently in this case. If the Ergenekon process is blocked or revealed documents now confirm that it would pay a reversed, of course the AKP will be influenced by this, pricy bill if it had not played a decisive role with regard but I think Turkey will pay the actual bill. to the ongoing Ergenekon investigation. Let us take the issue of constitutional amendments. At the beginning, the AKP adopted a cautious The AKP included this on its agenda in 2007. They approach vis-à-vis this case. However, its opponents do offered a draft; their opponents objected to this submisnot seem to be able to accept a tie or a slight defeat. For sion, asking why the AKP, rather than others, had prethis reason, they had to go as far as they could. The end pared a draft. They initiated the opening process withof this road is still uncertain, but the AKP is drifting to out preliminary work; the opponents questioned the the end. state of unpreparedness. In other words, certain circles I mean the coup threat as well as the threat directed have consistently opposed its actions regardless of its by the Ergenekon gang and the judicial blockage 52
how these attempts have become influential and ambitious. I want governance by the party I voted for. I do not want an administration led by the military. They have ruled this country for many years; they even made us celebrate the anniversary of the May 27 military coup. They made us celebrate the day when the prime minister was executed. I remained silent, like a lamb. However, people are now different in this country; Turkey is integrated with the world. The issue is not about the AK Party. The eagerness of the military to maintain its dominance is not connected to this party. Let us put the CHP in place of the AK Party. The high judiciary and the military would act the same way. It does not make any difference for the military. It cares whether it is possible to preserve its position. Our debate is not about the AK Party. Turkey has been discussing a serious constitutional change for the last three years. The opposition blocked the process by making reference to parliamentary immunity. The current deadlock would have been overcome if the attempt had been made in consensus. The AK Party government will not last forever. The military as well as the high judiciary enjoy immunity; you are not allowed to file lawsuits against the high judiciary in the local courts. The high judiciary has created a sphere of immunity for itself. This is a problem that should be taken care of not only by the AK Party but also by the MHP and the CHP. The AK Party did not exist before. The current system was applicable to the former governments as well. We witnessed Mesut Yýlmaz, a former prime minister, point to his shoulder in reference to the military influence in a speech at Parliament. This should be changed. I am aware that there are some concerns over the AK Party because of its religious orientation and conservative references. But in the end, every view should find fertile ground for itself in a democratic system. Mr. Kart referred to religious orders and movements. Of course they exist; they are in the US and Germany as well. Some of them are religious, others have different orientations. Personally, I do not like orders and
intentions or motivations. They want to block a process of transformation. It has become evident by now that it is impossible to create a whole new constitution after the annulment of the constitutional amendments lifting the headscarf ban by the Constitutional Court. In this case, the idea of making a new constitution should be dropped so that the judiciary will no longer act as a factor blocking further constitutional change and transformation. It will not be possible to introduce influential reforms with regard to the Kurdish issue or other fields of democratization unless this HSYK and Constitutional Court are purged of the current oligarchic structure. Likewise, it is also a great possibility that the Ergenekon process will be circumvented by serious interference. To repeat, I believe that the AKP launched this initiative to survive the destructive moves of its opponents. But regardless of its intention, I am saying that they are contributing to the democratization process in Turkey. I am not saying that they are not democratic at all, but they feel they are obligated to do this. I define myself as a leftist and a democratic intellectual. This reform initiative fits the Turkey I envision. I am of the view that the moves are pretty important steps even if they are still far from being satisfactory. The package is a move forward for the sake of further democratization in Turkey despite its shortcomings. This is how I see this package. Moderator: Thank you Mr. Sancar. Mr. Gündel, let us take a brief look at the content of the package. Is the current package an interim solution as underlined by Sancar to avoid strong resistance by some influential institutions, or can we consider it a final solution? Ahmet Gündel: Mr. Kart implied that I never posed any criticism against the government and that I acted as the representative of the political administration. Our current debate is not on the activities of the government. I am not a member of any party. However, we have witnessed some unpleasant situations during the period since 2002. We would have said the same if the CHP were in power in place of the AK Party. In 2002, the AK Party came to power. Since then, attempts have been made to topple this government. Now we see 53
The 1982 Constitution views the president as the protector and watchdog of the regime. The drafters of the Constitution were pretty sure that the president would always be a figure that they would favor and like. When Abdullah Gül was nominated as a candidate for the presidency, the army reacted with the April 27 e-memo and the Constitutional Court cancelled his election in parliament. PHOTO: ALÝ ÜNAL
DEBATE SPRING 2010
to address the problem of politicization. religious communities. But I do not find them dangerModerator: Mr. Gündel, If you will excuse me, I ous because I think such conglomerations are useful for would like to turn to Mr. Kart. I shall specifically ask democracy. The democratic system should protect these him to speak about the content of the constitutional groups. There are laws in democracies. The acts considpackage. ered crimes are stipulated by these laws and rules. Atilla Kart: I believe that I have made myself clear on Atilla Kart: I am saying exactly the same thing; their how I think with respect to religious communities. actions should be audited. What I drew attention to on this matter was the abuse Ahmet Gündel: There would be no such thing as not of the political power within the set of relations being audited, because you don't keep records of these between such communities, political actors and busithings. Ten people pick some place to perform their nesses. I am talking about unfair gains out of such a prayer; no record of this could ever be kept. relationship, which should disturb all of us. Atilla Kart: That was not what I meant. Let me give you an example; it was Aug. 1, 2008. Ahmet Gündel: The limit is whether they commit terThere was a disaster in Konya where an illegally conrorism. No action can be taken against such groups structed building offering religious training collapsed. unless they are involved in terrorist activities. I regret Eighteen young girls died in the incident. I was there to the recent declaration by the chief of General Staff with investigate the case. All of these girls were living there; regard to the Fethullah Gülen movement. The military they all had their housing 100 meters from that buildcannot take action against a school of thought. It has no ing. The state's Religious Affairs Directorate has a such right. There is no room for this in democracies. boarding school and dormitory 300 meters away. There Now, Mr. Kart, you are arguing that the government is another officially legal institution hired people who were aligned with its offering a similar line of training near ideological stance. You are saying this The reforms the AKP this illegal building. But there is a clias a member of an opposition party. introduced sought to mate now where parents send their However, we should also note that the protect the party's daughters to an illegal institution same was done by the CHP in the identity and existence instead of the state's legal training past. Back then, I was serving in the schools. The building was constructed judiciary. We were aware of what was from its opponents; illegally. There is nobody to hold going on in the Justice Ministry. The however, they also issue is not about the CHP. addressed the issue of responsible for this incident. This is what I referred to as unaudited strucUnfortunately, all political parties the guardianship tures. The government extends protecargue when they are in opposition that regime in Turkey tion to this structure; we have to questhe judiciary should remain impartial tion this stance. [The event Kart is and independent. But when they come referring to happened in the Taþkent district of Konya. to power, they take action to make sure that the judicial The "illegality" Mr. Kart refers to is not about the instiinstitutions serve their interests. tution itself but about the construction of the building Probably, the AK Party is doing the same right now the institution was located in. The collapse of the buildbecause it had such an opportunity. I believe the Justice ing had nothing to do with its legality -- apparently Ministry should not remain authorized to interview the there was a gas leak in the building, and the building candidates and that the HSYK should be vested with collapsed after an explosion caused by the leakage. The this authority. The politicization of the judiciary starts institution itself was legally operated and had passed an from this point because the political administrations official inspection only two months before the incident. recruit the candidates they consider close to their posiThe mentioned institution had no relation to the Gülen tion. Almost 100 percent of those candidates become movement. Kart was particularly moved by the awful judges or prosecutors later on. Then we are talking incident because he is a Konya deputy.] about the politicization of the prosecutors or the judges. Turkey is not governed from Ankara I regret that this package does not address this problem. Now I would like to underline this: This government Judicial independence should start from the phase of is about to accomplish what the Sept. 12 coup fell short candidacy. If you hire a man who bases his actions and of doing. The organization and mentality that was decisions on his ideological leaning, you will not be able 54
Daðlýca assault. Fifty soldiers were slain there; they were attacked by a large group of 300-400 militants. Turkey was outraged by the raid. The prime minister traveled to the US, where he made a statement; in that statement, he said they had made a deal with the US authorities to share actionable intelligence. What a big accomplishment! However, they were supposed to deliver the Herons in August 2007. We paid $183 million for these aircraft. But they still have not been delivered. It became evident that 35 American experts traveled to Turkey on Nov. 5, 2007 for intelligence gathering. We have information that they are still carrying out their activities. We do not know whether this number has increased to 135 or 235. During the discussions over public order, we directed a question to the interior minister five or six times; he got angry but finally said he did not have any information. I should note that these statements are recorded. The interior minister said this. What have we seen? The bill on public order was referred to Parliament; a new unit was set up within the structure of the Interior Ministry. Isn't it the duty of the Prime Ministry to coordinate the combat against terror? Didn't we authorize the Prime Ministry on this issue three years ago? Doesn't the Office of the Prime Minister have the necessary political determination to coordinate the fight against terror? You see that foreign experts are employed based on the opportunities extended by the practice of flexible employment. Foreign experts may take part in a certain project for a certain period of time, but when this becomes a permanent practice, there is a big problem. What are you doing? You set up a central administrative unit within the ministry and provincial education and project directorates in 81 cities. They are supposed to do some sociological research in relation to terrorism. The story does not end there; authorized offices will be opened in small towns if needed. All of us have some connection with small towns, so we know that this means the head of the office there will influence the police chief and the prosecutor in that town. He becomes the true sovereign of that place. He does the recordings that were previously done within an institutional setting there. He classifies the people based on
behind all the coups that happened in Turkey is now hiding behind the current administration. Turkey is not governed from its capital city, Ankara; we should be able to see this. It was a Sunday when the telecommunication bill was passed, on July 3, 2005. We did not take part in the deliberations. Why? A change was being introduced to Article 91 of Parliament's bylaws. This change sought to restrict our right to speak. We did not participate in protest of this attempt. Then we noticed that seven to eight other bills were referred to Parliament at the same time; these included the Cargill bill, the laws on municipalities and unions. [The term "Cargill bill" was coined by Kart in reference to the bill extending the period of amnesty granted to those corporations whose activities were curtailed on the grounds that they had constructed illegal buildings on agricultural land. Kart argues that this bill was passed because of pressure from internationally prominent company Cargill.] Finally, the telecommunications bill arrived. AK Party Ankara deputy Ersönmez Yarbay took the podium and said: "This bill will eliminate fundamental rights and freedoms. Let us not discuss this in the absence of the CHP members in Parliament. If we do this, we would undermine the credibility of Parliament." But this proposal was made law; the illegal wiretappings started at that point. There is no control over such illegal wiretappings. The bill remained in effect for three-and-a-half years. It was annulled in January 2009. Then you see this confidential witness thing take place in 2007. We again witnessed terror caused by confidential witnesses. We see that indictments were prepared based on the statements by confidential witnesses despite the absence of any credible evidence. During this process, the gendarmerie, the intelligence service and the police launched investigations all across the country. There is no legal basis for this. Then the government objected to the authority of the gendarmerie but remained silent vis-à-vis the intelligence service and the police. However, all are wrong. Is there any plausible explanation for this attitude in a democracy? You see the secret fund was $30 million in 2005; it became $210 million in 2006 and $240 million in 2007. I care about Nov. 5, 2007 because of its connection to the 55
The refusal of the two smaller opposition parties, the nationalist MHP and the Kurdish BDP to support the constitutional amendment came as a surprise to many. Salih Memecan carried this feeling to his cartoon in the Sabah daily, on March 21, 2010. The scene is from a prison in 1980. The torturer speaks to his nationalist prisoner: “Don’t look daggers at me! A day will come and you will even love the Constitution I made.”
DEBATE SPRING 2010
We are talking about judicial reform in such an envitheir political leaning, ethnic background and so on. ronment. We are mentioning a democratic opening. This is the reality of Turkey. This means that the police Where is the YÖK reform? There was an advisory state practice becomes even more influential. We are board for human rights; it was an important institution going through this process, but this issue is not disin terms of the democratization of Turkey. The board cussed in Turkey. became dysfunctional because of the human rights On Nov. 4, 2002, the chairman of the AK Party said report in 2004. Five years have passed since then; now in the US, "We will set up a system of cooperation that we are setting up a human rights board whose memhas never been witnessed in Turkey's republican histobers shall be appointed by the prime minister, and we ry; you may be sure of this." He made promises regardcall this a democratic opening. ing Cargill, sugar refineries and the privatization of state I specifically want to emphasize this when I am referfactories. These are all being done in the name of privaring to the bureaucratization of the judiciary. I believe tization, but what is actually being done is the shutterthat the criminal judiciary is, of course, important for ing of the sugar refineries. Then March 1, 2003 arrived. the state apparatus, but the administrative judiciary You proudly expressed your service as the co-chair of should also be considered. We see that some of the the Greater Middle East Project. These are all issues members in the structure of the administrative judiciary that we are familiar with. You traveled to Dubai in have not received legal training at all. What rule of law September 2003 to sign some agreements. I am trying are you talking about, then? Now they are seeking to to identify a political determination, identity and charexpand the sphere of this structure by acteristic. Now we have to identify this: drafting a new constitution. I cannot Nobody is defending the military here. I also believe that accept subjecting party dissolutions to Sure, the military should be doing only the prior authorization of Parliament. its job. And yes, the judiciary must per- their presence should be taken under conDiscussing this with reference to form its services within the limits of its democratization is fooling the people. sphere of authority. But do your prostitutional protection The AKP shall decide on the dissoluposals ensure this? and that their rights tion of the CHP, and the CHP shall Bureaucratization of the judiciary to expression should make the decision on the dissolution The greatest harm done by the Sept. be guaranteed of the AKP. Is this plausible? This is 12 coup is the bureaucratization of the democratic murder. judiciary and the judges. To this end, Moderator: Wouldn't it be better if you just take these nobody actually defends the current structure of the objections to Parliament instead of objecting to the HSYK. The board should be reorganized from a legal whole package? standpoint. There can be no constitution in a society Atilla Kart: Of course, we are expressing this, but we where citizens' rights are not guaranteed and the sepaare sure that our objections will not be considered. The ration of powers is not secured. Montesquieu's conclugovernment is heavily occupied with party dissolution, sion points to the same thing. Now if we attempt to the structure of the HSYK and the organization of the discuss the separation of powers with a two-century Constitutional Court. The other articles are just incendelay, I would not find that convincing. I mean, under tives to attract the support of diverse segments of socieTurkey's conditions if a prime minister calls the prosety. The prime minister, who makes frequent references cutor and 587 lawsuits on the immunity of the deputies to the national will, argues that there is no need for a are still pending in the courts, you cannot talk about the popular referendum to be held in connection with this need for the political administration to introduce a package. Is it acceptable to vote on all the different wholesale reform to reorganize the judicial structure. amendments in a single session? Maybe as a voter, I We all see that corruption is now institutionalized in will endorse five and object to 21 of these amendments. Turkey. I am referring to the Cargill incident. No need But you are forced to endorse or reject all. Is this demoto elaborate on the Seydiþehir, Tüpraþ and Sabah-ATV cratic? loan corruption cases. Can you imagine the interest that Moderator: Now let us move to Mithat Sancar. We should have been collected on behalf of the Treasury did not talk about whether the constitutional package but was not collected? No need to speak on the mined would achieve its goals in the previous round. What is land and the Deniz Feneri incident. 56
era of the Democrat Party (DP), which created a safe haven for itself. They introduced some brilliant moves similar to those introduced now. However, the 1961 Constitution consolidated the necessary institutional settings to put an end to this. The consolidation of the National Security Council (MGK) is a product of the 1961 Constitution. The May 27 and March 12 trials and the trial of Deniz Gezmiþ are the dark pages of this country. The Sept. 12 trials were a disaster that could be mentioned in world history. The judges and prosecutors' eagerness to take orders from the military during the Feb. 28 process is shameful. The judiciary has performed this mission for decades. We cannot talk about an impartial judiciary. There was no impartiality by the judiciary in cases where the system's interests were at stake. The Hrant Dink case is still fresh. That decision was a death decree. The Baskýn Oran decision is an open invitation to an assault. Remember the decision with regard to Orhan Pamuk and the Council of State's coefficient decision. While all this is known, it is not realistic to imply that the only problem with the judiciary is nepotism. Is the projected reform a synthesis of the conflicts within the AK Party? The proposed structure of the HSYK is much better than the current system. The judiciary becomes more independent, that's certain. The government gives up its benefits, it's obvious. Fifteen out of the 21 members are to be people with a legal background. The president is not involved in the process. The role of the high judiciary is reduced in the process. The top administrators of the judicial bureaucracy will lose control because 10 members are to be elected by the judges and prosecutors. This current system based on a mutual recognition of interests will be over. However, the AKP is acting timidly by not including a system where Parliament will be authorized to elect some of the HSYK members in the package. The power bestowed on the president, who will have the authority to elect four members, should have been bestowed upon Parliament. Making a distinction between the Justice Ministry inspectors and the board inspectors is a good idea. Inspection is a duty carried out in addition to routine
your opinion on this matter? Mithat Sancar: Undoubtedly, the support base of the AKP wants a more liberal and open structure from the system because of their interests. The limit of this is the sphere of their interests, their vision and their repertoires. I am not delving into this. The AKP experienced democracy more like a tool; however, it went through a process of internal transformation as the pressure on it intensified. The connection of the conservative masses to democracy has become more genuine during this process. At the beginning, this transformation was vague and timid. They were referencing the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) rather than the headscarf. In short, they were laying the foundation for liberties and democracy. This has been changed as the process advances. I believe that the need for greater legitimacy created some sort of familiarity for at least some circles with the rules of freedom and democracy. AKP is the loyal son of the republic The only sphere where the AKP failed to transform itself is the mentality of engaging in the politics that the republican regime created. The AKP is still the loyal son of the republic in terms of making politics. Turkey's modernization was dictated from the top; you have to create a safe haven for yourself in the upper strata. We are aware that the prime minister and the AKP figures adopt a reactive stance against criticism even when leveled by their own members. Nepotism is part of the political system that the republican regime has created, and the AKP enjoys its benefits. Some argue that the judicial reform seeks to maximize these benefits. I believe that these features of the AKP are in conflict. There are big problems in the judiciary, which was given a mission with the creation of the republican order. The military courts constitute the basis of this. We all know how these courts were set up and how they made their decisions. You will see the repercussions of the trials held to address the insurgencies in Tunceli and other eastern parts of Turkey. The judiciary is not an impartial body, anyway; it was designed as an establishment with a special mission. Every government wants to use such an instrument. The first schism in this structure was observed in the 57
In the February 28 process, the members of the appellate judiciary were given a briefing at the Army General Staff about religious reactionaryism in Turkey and the policies the army suggested to fight it. This briefing is a sign of the delicate relationship between the military and the judiciary in Turkey
DEBATE SPRING 2010
of members serving in the court to 17 and authorizing investigations. Authorizing the HSYK inspectors to Parliament to elect three members is good, but it's not conduct routine inspections is a progressive move. As enough. The selection of the remaining 14 by the presifar as permission for an investigation is concerned, I dent is wrong. From the very beginning, I have found have objections to the practice of the justice minister this system where the president selects one-third of the serving as the traditional chair of the board. The presmembers of official institutions to be quite dangerous ence of the minister is not a disaster, but his absence is and wrong. I see this as an insult to these institutions. preferred. A bridge is needed between the political As a university professor, I have not cast my vote in the administration and the judiciary. However, the Turkish institutional elections held in my university for years case confirms that justice ministers are unwilling to because there is no reasonable explanation for this sysserve as that bridge. It is enough to have the undersectem. On what grounds do you appoint the candidate retary of the Justice Ministry on the board because he receiving the smallest number of votes despite an elecperforms both political and administrative functions. tion being held? This proves that, like the drafters of the Likewise, the board should be able to pick its own presSept. 12 system and the Constitution, the AKP seeks to ident to ensure greater legitimacy and credibility of this protect itself via state institutions. The drafters of the draft constitutional amendment. 1982 Constitution created the presidency as an instituNow let us take a look at subjecting to prior approval tion of guardianship. The coup makers wanted to make the authority to initiate an investigation in relation to sure that the president would always be somebody judges and prosecutors; the proposal is made by the aligned with their worldview. The AKP now holds that board, and the approval is given by the justice minister. the president will be somebody who would at least be But the minister is already the chair of the board. The lenient toward its policies. Therefore, justice minister is not allowed to take they are seeking somebody who would action in the absence of a proposal by The AKP experienced safeguard their position. However, this the board. An investigation is not initidemocracy more like a system could be unexpectedly blocked ated if the minister does not grant tool; however, it went in the future. In particular, the crises approval even if the board proposes it. we encountered during the presidential through a process of Yet, it seems that there is a balanced election may be repeated. Imagine mechanism in the system. For many internal transformaright-wing voters electing another years, the HSYK has been requesting tion as the pressure Süleyman Demirel. Imagine how this the establishment of a secretariat. Now on it intensified system would work in that case. the draft reform has created this instiSeeking to guarantee its short-term tution. The appointment of the secreinterests is a reflection of the internal conflicts and tary-general by the Justice Ministry is wrong. This ambivalence of the AKP. It shows that the party does undermines judicial independence. The secretary-gennot have a coherent democratic project. They may eral will be picked by the justice minister among three become the victims of the system they created. candidates to be offered by the board. This is some sort of balance, but the board could have been authorized to My biggest objection is to the fact that a substantial pick its own secretary-general. There are also demands segment of the people are convinced that the operafor a separate budget and a separate building. They are tions seek to undermine the prestige of Parliament. promising that they will do this with the introduction of Parliament is an important actor with the potential to a new law. This system is more or less consistent with create a consensus. That has nothing to do with politithe requirements referred to by the European cization or a lack of objectivity. In the presence of necCommission during its consultative visits to Turkey. The essary arrangements, Parliament is able to pick the best reports, however, underlined that the minister should candidates for the Constitutional Court via consensus. not serve on the board. In an attempt to secure its posiIt is not possible to agree with the objections sugtion, the AKP hesitated to take action for full democragesting that the dissolution of parties become polititization. cized. I believe that Parliament should have greater Proposals for Constitutional Court are not adequate authority under the Venice Criteria. This is a product of There are serious problems with regard to the structhe AKP's eagerness not to create concerns for the ture of the Constitutional Court. Increasing the number state elites. The system should have been based on the 58
Sancar left off. Yes, I agree that there are some problems with regard to Article 69. It would be appropriate to transfer the authority of the Constitutional Court with regard to financial supervision of political parties to the Court of Accounts. I believe that the Constitutional Court filed such a request as well, because it was performing this task by referring the cases to experts. It is also good to see that the initiation of party dissolution cases is to be made by a commission to be set up in Parliament. However, whether this is to be done by a commission or by a qualified majority of the members of Parliament should be discussed further. However, we see that the constitutional language on "becoming a center" is still preserved. I think that the criticism by the Venice Commission in 2009 did make some references to this issue as well. About the dissolution of political parties by judicial institutions, the amendment gives partial control to Parliament. Now I see that the issue as to whether the prosecutor should seek the authorization of Parliament or Parliament should grant the authority to the prosecutor is being discussed. Parliament referring the dissolution of a political party to judicial institutions would mean that Parliament is actually dictating the dissolution. However, the judicial institutions are the best bodies to examine the merits of the dissolution of a party. Since prosecutors are recognized as having this authority, the chief prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals has some useful opportunities and resources including the party registers. For this reason, when the prosecutor concludes that the activities of a political party have amounted to a level justifying its dissolution, he refers the case to Parliament in an attempt to get authorization to initiate a case. And, of course, we are speaking based on developments during the term in office of the current and previous chief prosecutors. Unfortunately, most of the prosecutors serving in the office so far, including current Supreme Court of Appeals Chief Prosecutor Abdurrahman Yalçýnkaya, have abused their power and authority and powers. The basis of our
practice of Germany. The prosecutor should not be allowed to initiate an investigation into a political party without prior authorization by Parliament. Secondly, the outcome of the investigation should be referred to Parliament for approval. There, you should seek a qualified majority. In other words, Parliament should have the final word even if the Constitutional Court rules for the dissolution of a certain party. How could you leave a political matter in the hands of pure bureaucrats? It seems to me that all these are traces of the guardianship system. Whether the constitutional package should be voted on as a whole or in parts is a matter of controversy. It is true that holding a single referendum for all the proposed articles is a necessity in most cases. I think that the current process suffers from some problems arising from the incoherent stance of the AKP during this package's drafting process. A simple package could have been drafted, and that package could have included some articles on liberties, the judiciary and party dissolution. The judicial reforms would constitute a large package with a number of sub-themes. All these issues could have been presented in a single package because of the common outlook surrounding them. However, when you offer a package including elements that barely have any common ground or connection, it will be difficult to hold a referendum for the entire package. The package falls short by not making any reference or amendment to Article 68 of the Constitution, on party dissolution. You could have included a provision requiring the promotion of violence as a basis for party dissolutions, and in such a case you would have drafted a package consistent with European standards. In the end, the package falls short in many respects; but as a whole, it is a huge step forward for the sake of further democratization. I believe that it deserves some critical support. Moderator: Mr. Sancar, thank you very much. I am giving Mr. Gündel the final word. Ahmet Gündel: Let me continue from where Mr. 59
The son and daughter of the republic: The two statues in front of the new building of the Turkish Constitutional Court were made an issue of discussion in the Turkish Parliament. The minister of justice declared that the statue was not of Lady Justice, but of a Turkish girl from the first republican generation symbolizing justice and determination at the same time; hence her eyes were open. The " Lady of the Turkish Republic" wore a traditional Anatolian dress. PHOTO: ALÝ ÜNAL
DEBATE SPRING 2010
is inadequate. However, the actual number at times criticism of prosecutors is the assumption that they will decreases from seven to one. In some cases the decialways do the same thing and abuse their authority. sions are made by only one member of the HSYK. Let However, the introduction of these new constitutional us take the election of a member to the Court of amendments will address the issue of political and Appeals as an example. Let us say that 35 members are arbitrary actions. to be picked. When the justice minister insists, he is One of the problems is that there are so many justifigiven the authority to elect four to five members. The cations for dissolving a party. Even discourses against justice ministers love this. The two members from the Article 68 may be viewed as justification to close down Council of State do not participate in the election a political party. On the one hand, you are free to process. Three members remain to elect some 30 express what is included in Article 68 in day-to-day members of the Court of Appeals. Each of these three discourse but, on the other hand, when a political party take 10 members and each are completely free to elect engages in such discourse, you regard this as a reason whom he or she wants. The election takes place based to shut down that party. In other words, you are on some subjective criteria. The board makes its deciallowed to express your opinions against secularism or sion in such cases with a single member instead of against territorial integrity, but if a political party does seven. The high judiciary is uncomfortable with the the same, it will have to face a closure suit. I believe projected change because of the dramatic change in that introduction of the violence criterion, as recomthis structure. mended by the Venice Criteria, will suffice to address this matter. I really The AKP is still the loyal Under the current election system, a separate voting session is held at the think the content of Article 68 poses son of the republic in Supreme Court of Appeals for every some problems and challenges. terms of making polivacant seat on the HSYK. Therefore, This question should also be asked: tics. Turkey's modernthe dominant ideological majority at What would happen if the political the Court of Appeals elects its own parties are not dissolved? In other ization was dictated candidate in all three sessions. The words, what would happen if we just from the top; you have list goes to the president for approval. prosecute the perpetrators of illegal to create a safe haven The president has to pick one of acts rather than closing the party he or these ideological candidates. The she is a member of and if we just drop for yourself in the upper strata election of Ali Suat Ertosun hapthe idea of dissolving political parties? pened in this way. Some asked why This question should be directed at the president appointed Ertosun. The president had no those who ardently advocate the closure of parties. The option but to appoint him. This confirms the unjust current Parliament and the AK Party cannot promote structure of the system. such an idea for some understandable reasons. The This structure is being eliminated by the current proreasons that Mr. Sancar referred to are behind this posals. A single election will be held, and the president flawed attempt to change the Constitution. But I am will be able to pick from among candidates of different really surprised to see that no other democratic mechabackgrounds and ideological orientations. nism shows any eagerness to discuss this issue in However, the division of the board into three parts Turkey. with regard to the appointments is not appropriate. We Now let us take a look at the HSYK. The board is an already criticize that the number of the members is not important institution in shaping the local and high enough. Now if you divide the 21-member board into judiciary because it elects all of the members in the three, each having seven members, you do not elimiSupreme Court of Appeals and three-quarters of the nate the risk of politicization and appointments based members of the Council of State. For this reason, the on ideological orientation. From this perspective, I board has important powers and authority in terms of believe that it would be better if the board as a whole the election of high judiciary figures and of the makes the appointments. appointment of holders of local judicial posts. How did Moderator: Thank you Mr. Gündel, Mr. Kart and the current HSYK get this mechanism to work so Mr. Sancar. Turkey will continue discussing the constismoothly? tutional amendment package. We argue that the number of members of the HSYK 60
An evaluation on the debate: Losing elite misreading society communities only if they find them attractive and reasonable. If the same Fethullah Gülen had appeared back in the 1960s, he would not have been able to attract 10 people. And if he drew the attention and support of a large number of people in the 1980s and 1990s, this means that there is something we need to concentrate on for a better understanding of this tendency and change. The rising elites promoted the AK Party, but they also concluded that they could align themselves with some of the ideas and thoughts expressed by Gülen. This is not such an irrational relationship. Economic elites are not inherently irrational, anyway; members of these elites make purchases and sales every day and pursue new market opportunities. They should be employing a rational logic in their communal relations as well. And some argue that the activities of these communities are off the books. How would communities exist in the social space? They demonstrate their existence through some institutions. Here we see some schools affiliated with this community; businessmen sponsor the construction of new schools in different parts of the world and in Turkey. Is it possible to argue that they remain off the books and unnoticed? Is it possible to do all this without paying the relevant taxes? A few people may come together to create a secret organization that would remain off the books for a long time. However, if you are referring to a group, you can no longer argue that their activities are underground. I am sensing some sort of deliberate misinterpretation here. The losers try to justify developments from where they are, and in doing so, they are suffering from false consciousness in a way that validates Marx's arguments and theses. What matters here is the difference between the interpretations of society held by the rising and declining forces in Turkey. The elites representing the rising classes in Turkey seem to have adopted a broader sphere of interpretation. The declining forces, on the other hand, are relying on a false consciousness and interpretation. The logic of losing and winning is accentuated in this subtlety, anyway.
Naci Bostancý In defining ideology, Marx refers to false consciousness. He argues that the primary reason for this is the preoccupation of the proletariat with its own class relations. In fact, a basic review of relations based on interests in Turkey confirms that the bureaucratic and traditional elites are becoming more preoccupied with their class relations as they lose their privileged status. For this reason, they fail to understand what's going on within society since they attempt to interpret developments by relying on a structure that provides justifications for their own positions. We know from Ibn Khaldun that the rising groups are relatively extroverted and that they are at least partially immune to the state of false consciousness that Marx referred to. What I have been observing in Turkey is that the rising social groups, the new elites, the new middle classes are, unlike the traditional bureaucrats, prone to go beyond the sphere of their own class relations and to reinterpret developments and events through the lenses of other circles. Those who lost their status and positions have, on the other hand, become more introverted. Those who analyze the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) think that this political party has seized power and the political administration and now is trying to create its own bourgeoisie and media groups that will readily extend support to its actions. The media being referred to as the one being built by the AK Party is actually the media of the rising new elites. They are promoting the AK Party. In other words, the old elite misinterpret the relationship. Just how Marx reversed Hegel's dialectics, the traditional elites of Turkey must also reverse the way they interpret these developments. They are doing the same thing with respect to the reasoning on the religious movements and communities. I view reasoning which suggests that these communities have fairly recently emerged as a form of ill will. The entities we call religious communities are not agents converting individuals into some sort of leaden soldiers. People deliberately and voluntarily join these 61
Professor Naci Bostancý is the dean of the communication taculty of Gazi University. Bostancý contributed to the TPR debate with his observations about the debate. PHOTO: TURGUT ENGÝN
Ibrahim el-Beyyumi Ghanem
The Turkish 'Ergenekon' through Arab eyes
he name of the "Ergenekon" organization is still heavy to the Arab ear, just as it weighs heavily on general Turkish political life. The Arab mass media is still unfamiliar with Ergenekon. The role of this organization and its features are generally still obscure to Arab societies. But the will to learn about this organization is increasing day by day. It seems that the frequent confrontations in the last few years between the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government and this terrorist organization, broadly covered in the media, have caused a big alteration in the Arab consciousness, especially among the political and cultural elite who are interested in the topic of political reformation and democratic transformation. The elite have become more concerned than ever before about what is happening on the sidelines of Turkish politics. They are reflecting on the situation in Turkey particularly because they see benefits for the Arab countries themselves, especially thanks to the open-door policy the AK Party government has been pursuing with the East for many years. Some Arab intellectuals, especially those with Islamic orientations, have started to talk about the possibility of the presence of underground organizations similar to Ergenekon standing behind the many irrational policies that the ruling governments apply in their own countries: policies that cause consecration of despotism, corruption and power monopolies in the name of defending the modern state, on the one hand, and challenging the fanatic currents, on the other. While these governments are formulating policies opposing national interests and obstructing any efforts at rehabilitation, change or opening ways of participation for political rivals, they are also resisting efforts to depart from the exclusivist mentality of guardianship over the nation and from plotting plots in the darkness, undermining stability and endangering the rule of law. The Islamic-grounded elite perceive a synchronization between the founding of the Ergenekon organization, in the middle of the past century (1952), and the start of a series of outrageous confrontations between the incumbent authorities in most Arab countries and reformist powers, especially those with Islamic orientations. From that date on, confrontations and clashes have not stopped, and whenever the atmosphere calms down, the clashes
Some Arab intellectuals have started to talk about the possibility of the presence of underground organizations similar to Ergenekon standing behind the many irrational policies that the ruling governments apply in their own countries. The success of the Turkish government can strengthen the hope of the Arab powers and the elite in the possibility of accomplishing reforms and change, as well
restart without any rational explanation. Until this day, none of the reconciliation attempts between the authorities and the reformist powers have succeeded, although all the parties fully understand that there is no benefit in continuing the dispute at all. As late as 10 years ago, the Arab elite from all segments were generally uninterested in what was going on in Turkey, except for rare occasions such as a coup, a catastrophic earthquake or a soccer game. The political elite rarely showed interest in what the struggling parties in Turkey represented. But this portrait has started to change during the last decade
as the AK Party has made ripples in the stagnant water in the canals of the Arab-Turkish relationship. This is not only because the AK Party is from an antiestablishment background but also because the AK Party government has succeeded in achieving great steps toward reformation and democratization in less than 10 years whereas the earlier governments failed to achieve political reforms and democratization even though those governments never stopped talking about democratization or political reforms. Nowadays, the Arab elite's perception that everything is changing in Turkey is starting to deepen. Maybe the most important part of this new perception is the fact that the changes have reached the military barracks and soldiers are now standing in the line of change, after years of standing against it. Turkey is breaking the chains which were imposed on it by powers that benefited from the status quo. These powers stayed in power in Turkey for about nine decades. This is the biggest lesson imprinted on the minds of the majority of the Arab elite who follow the developments and internal events in Turkey. It is true that the Turkish military changes slowly, but due to the success of the elected government in winning, until now, all the confrontations against Ergenekon, they have really started to change. This success can strengthen the hope of the Arab powers and the elite in the possibility of accomplishing reforms and change, as well. In fact, the realization of these reforms in the Arab world is easier compared to the Turkish situation, where the change-opposing powers have controlled the important ranks in the system of the state for such a long period of time that they were able to obstruct the reforms by different allegations before they started to lose their dominance
ILLUSTRATION: CEM KIZILTUĂ?
ARTICLE SPRING 2010
ILLUSTRATION: CEM KIZILTUÐ
ARTICLE SPRING 2010
ARTICLE IN BRIEF: Turkey is breaking the chains which were imposed on it by powers that benefited from the status quo. Turkish democracy is leaving the logic of exclusion and preclusion and adopting a logic of openness and inclusivity. This is exactly what most Arab countries need and what their reformist elite are looking for in their respective countries. The transformation in the Turkish media's orientation changed the traditional image of Arabs in the Turkish mind from a negative picture to a much more realistic and positive one produced by free competition in the media.
reduplication of their benefits during the six-year reign of the AK Party. In addition to that, new businessmen's associations emerged. Today business organizations are crystallized in three big foundations: the first is the biggest and eldest Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen's Association (TÜSÝAD), which includes great secular businessmen and the second the Independent Industrialists and Businessmen's Association (MÜSÝAD), which includes great Islamic businessmen mostly supportive of the AK Party. The third is the Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSKON), and this one is the newest. It includes a great team of businessmen following the advice of Fethullah Gülen. The openness of Turkish policy to the Arab world under the rule of the AK Party government has permitted safer investment opportunities to Turkish businessmen in the Arab world. This is especially important when taking into consideration the fact that the opportunities in other countries became less safe due to the global economic crisis. This new situation makes businessmen's inclinations closer to the policies of the AK Party government which obtains stability by its adopted political visions. The businessmen are becoming more and more suspicious of the old politics, its alliances with the deep state and its clandestine organizations, which persistently threaten the stability of the country, as is seen in the case of the Ergenekon organization, if not opposed to it altogether. From the Arab side, the amount of Arab countries' investment in Turkey is still less than the amount of Turkish investment in Arab countries. The
gradually due to the insistence of the reformist powers on touching the strongholds of the military, judicial and bureaucratic elite. The Arab elite observe the signals of legitimacy and health the Turkish society is enjoying, and they envy the Turks for this political vitality, which embraces different political and intellectual currents. A majority of Arab political intellectuals, be they Arabists or Islamists, have engendered a conviction that this Turkish vitality in the last few years has managed to fragmentize the dreadful secular rock which controlled the country for the last nine decades. This vitality has also caused far-reaching changes in the system of allegiances which regulated the power equilibrium among different effective currents in the political field. Due to all these changes, Turkish democracy is progressing. Turkish democracy is leaving the logic of exclusion and preclusion and adopting a logic of openness and inclusivity. This is exactly what most of the Arab countries need and what their reformist elite are looking for in their respective countries. Switching loyalties in Turkey The first loyalty which was broken in Turkey was that of the businessmen to the secularist parties and the military, because the trust of the largest businessmen in the capability of the army and the old parties to protect their benefits decreased. This conviction was sustained to them by the
public support. This transformation in the Turkish media's orientation helped change the traditional image of Arabs in the Turkish mind from a negative picture to a much more realistic and positive picture produced by free competition in the media. Thus, whenever the deep state powers and Ergenekon lose a media agent to the democratic powers, especially to ones with more Islamic grounding, Arab intellectuals regard this as a gain on their side. This is so especially because the deep state opposes any Turkish-Arab rapprochement and seeks a permanent cultural and political divide between Turkey and the Arab world. The third loyalty which was broken up is the loyalty of the general bureaucracy to the army and Kemalist principles. The solidarity of the bureaucracy has been always an important guarantee for the army because a loyal bureaucracy would help the army impose its principles The Arab elite observe the signals of legitiand put them in action. Such loyalty macy and health the Turkish society is ensures obedience to military orders whenever they wished, without any enjoying, and they envy the Turks for this serious resistance. This loyalty is now political vitality, which embraces different less strong and less coherent after the political and intellectual currents entrance of a large number of democratic and religious people into the political field. It is also said among the Turkish media nessmen and the money possessors prefer in general. and cultural centers that there has been a gradual New media establishments replacement of the old secularist individuals who The second loyalty which the Arab elite realized were previously dominant in the state establishments has broken up in Turkey is the loyalty of the largest and organizations with a new generation with more media establishments to influential negative secular democratic minds. There are also signals that this powers and the army. Media establishments were replacement has reached the heart of the military and bound for many decades to the negative secular the judicial institutions, which were the two pillars of powers without any powerful ideological rival. These Kemalist secularism for the last eight decades. media instruments have always favored the political This corrosion and breaking up of the secular political and economic positions taken by the army or those and social allegiances and the above-mentioned loyof the secular alliances in the state, especially if they alties resulted in a loss of power by the deep state were blessed by the army. The situation is different and its clandestine groups, while at the same time a now. On the one hand, Islamically motivated groups large portion of the Anatolian people have stayed entered the journalistic arena with dozens of satellite loyal to their Islamic principles. channels, national and local radio stations and magaTransformation in Turkish-Arab relations zines; on the other hand, some of the Turkish deepThis corrosion and reformation of loyalties accordrooted secular newspapers' possessions have passed ing to new bases and the distancing of these loyalties to organizations, groups or businessmen who have from the traditional powers (negative secular and Islamic pedigrees. There are already many publishing exclusive military powers) in the Turkish system is houses and research institutions which help form the one of the important factors which explains why perceptions of people and redraw the boundaries of Turkish democracy is improving and secular domiold loyalties on new bases, leaning toward Islamic nance is fading. This improvement is what the Arab references and also deriving their power from wide amount of commercial exchange among the two parties does not exceed $25 billion annually, with an obvious export deficit on the side of the Arabs, as the amount of Turkish exports to the Arab world is $18 billion, while the amount of Turkish imports from the Arabs is about $7 billion annually. This explains Arab businessmen's fear of the troubles which may result from the Ergenekon conspiracies or any other deep state organization. Arab businessmen know very well that these types of organizations generally adopt isolating policies against the Arab world whereas they seek to support Turkey's relations with the West and not the East and tend to pursue international policies which give the state the full power to rule both the economical and political affairs. After all the powers of the "deep" state do not support the market economy, which the busi-
ARTICLE SPRING 2010
million votes in the last parliamentary elections (2007) and has 47 percent of the parliamentary spots. This government is carrying out an ambitious reform program which aims to place Turkey among the stable democratic countries of the world and qualify it for membership in the European Union. Previous experiments have ensured that foreign direct or indirect support is a prerequisite for the success of a military coup in Turkey. Without this, the possibility of a military overthrow becomes weaker. There are also the great accomplishments of the AK Party government, especially in the field of raising Turkish citizens' standards of living (Turks have more than $10,000 average per capita annual income today). The AK Party government also improved Turkey's economic performance (the Turkish economy is currently 16th in the world) and ended many of its conflicts with neighboring countries. All these causes are substantial and bear much importance in preventing any overthrow attempt by the army. But the most important reason, in our opinion, is the wave of change that is taking place among the Turkish army ranks and inside the General Staff. Today, the General Staff looks more open to civil governance, but its ranks are less coherent in their stance on the political changes and democratic reforms led by the AK Party government. This partial openness of the General Staff to civil life, its understanding of democratic needs and its perception that the old loyalties on which it leaned in the past have changed mean that Turkey is about to complete another stage on the way of democratic reforms and conformation to the pillars of liberty and the rule of law. But many people in the Arab world are still asking, "Does this mean that the age of military coups has come to an end in Turkey?" Most of the supporters of political reforms, powers of democratic transformation and resisters of despotic systems in our Arab societies wish that the answer would be a clear "yes," especially after they see Turks enjoy using their
rights, choosing their rulers, living under normal living standards and feeling proud of their rulers and their rightful position in the international community. They also yearn to see their presidents act the same way as the Turkish president and want to see civil society organizations in their countries participating positively in reform processes and confronting challenges. While the supporters of negative secularism and totalitarian rule in Turkey and in most of the Arab countries wish that Ergenekon and deep state conspirators would escape punishment, just because of their hatred of the religious reformist powers which brought this government to the ruling deck twice, they also wish that the hour hand of Turkey's political watch would turn back to "coup time" and that the military would impose its guardianship. Blindness of the Arab secularists Arab media establishments in general and the governmental ones in particular do not care very much about observing the confrontation happening between the Turkish government and Ergenekon. In addition, Arab secularists act as though they are blind to the conspiracy the Turkish government is facing, just because the accused people in this case are not Islamists and do not belong to any of the Islamic groups. We are accustomed to seeing them very interested if the event has something to do with fanatic groups. They volunteer to expose the precocious intentions of these groups, which are, they allege, against the rule of law, human rights, constitutional legitimacy and the democratically elected government. But this time, they've closed their eyes and ears and act according to the "I don't see, I don't hear and I don't speak" way. What we see today in the confrontations between the Turkish government and the deep state powers is, in fact, a democratic authority that respects the national will that brought it to power trying to use this will to stand on its own two feet so as to break the chains of fear which were planted by the team of politicians who leaned for years on the help of terrorist covert organizations such as Ergenekon.
ILLUSTRATION: CEM KIZILTUÐ
ing the elected government whenever a crisis happens. Arab intellectuals' analyses tend to say that this deep-rooted Turkish army tradition will become a thing of the past as the reforms have already reached the heart of the military itself. The reforms have pushed the army to reshape itself to fit in the political system, which insistently seeks the path of democracy, wants to recover Turkey's global prominence through political reforms and tries to break the chains of suffering binding the Turkish people under the pretexts of "defending secularism" and "protecting Kemalist principles." If this analysis is true, Turkish-Arab relations will be more easily managed compared to before Turkey's successes against the Ergenekon organization. The battle is ongoing, and the Arab intellectual and political powers as well as different Turkish groups are still waiting to see the consequences of the fight between the army, the judiciary and the civilian government. In the past, the specter of any Arab secularists act as though they are political crisis could push the army to blind to the conspiracy the Turkish governseize power through a direct (1960, ment is facing, just because the accused 1971, 1980) or indirect (1997) overthrow. But today, the army finds itself, people in this case are not Islamists and do for the first time in history, in the not belong to any of the Islamic groups defense and not on the attack. This time it is defending its prestige. Because this prestige is targeted by accusations dures, in addition to its ability to expand its social pointing to high-ranking retired and active duty genbase and gain new supporters including those which erals. If these accusations are proven, this will mean had traditionally remained loyal to secular powers. that the army, which is supposed to defend the What really draws the attention of many Arab Constitution and impose respect for the law, has intellectuals is the rational stances the military estabbecome a cell of extralegal actions and is opposing lishment has started to adopt against the persistent the public will and the elected constitutional instituconfrontations between the government on one side tions. and Ergenekon, with the deep-state powers, on the What is new in Turkey? other. After the detention of about 70 officers, some Despite the media kerfuffle accompanied by the of whom are high ranking and most of whom are detention of several army officers, members of the retired, the General Staff declared that it would not judiciary and others who are suspected of involvehide any of the accused, even if he were from their ment in a conspiracy against the incumbent AK Party institution. This reveals that the reformation has government, and despite the ruthless campaigns trigreached the heart of the Turkish Armed Forces gered by the opposing parties, especially by the (TSK), inside the General Staff, which has been manRepublican People's Party (CHP), the General Staff aged since August 2008 by Gen. Ýlker Baþbuð. has not attempted to overthrow the government. Coups no longer What is new in Turkey that makes it nearly impossiThere are many signals which confirm that the ble to overthrow the Turkish government? Turkish army is not going to try its old actions such In our opinion, there are many reasons, like the as threatening the government on the pretext of large popularity of the AK Party, which received 16 defending the state's secular system and overthrowelite admire most. And maybe the main reason for the transformation Turkish-Arab relations are witnessing is the depth of the transformation that reforms the power equation in the political system from bottom to top, and not the other way. This is the biggest lesson to be taken by Arab intellectuals from the Turkish example, especially after it had attempted so many times to change the state from the top but hit a dead end while losing its connection with its grass roots. In the past few years, Arab intellectuals and Islamic organizations have examined the successes of the Turkish government, looking for ways to apply lessons from the Turkish example for the benefit of their own states. They have analyzed not just the success in stepping forward on the road of democratization and political reformation but also the government's ability to block the powers opposing democracy and defeat them using normal and peaceful legal proce-
ARTICLE SPRING 2010
Naming what is going on in Turkey: from a ‘for the people despite the people’ elitism to a ‘for the people with the people’ democracy
ecently there has been an increase in the number of newspaper and academic journal articles published in the US about the Ergenekon terror organization case in Turkey. This case was opened by prosecutors when police discovered around two dozen hand grenades on the roof of a house in a suburb of Ýstanbul. The homeowner said that they belonged to a retired army officer, and it was later found that said army officer's fingerprints were all over the grenades. This retired army officer was not just anybody. He was a close friend of retired Gen. Veli Küçük, who has for years been accused of being behind a secret underground terror organization with deep connections to the state. In the 1990s, even though there was strong circumstantial evidence of his illegal activities, even a parliamentary commission was unable to question him. The story does not end here. The hand grenades were also connected to some terror attacks. When the hand grenades were discovered, a few were missing from their storage case. Criminologists later proved that these missing hand grenades were used in attacks on the staunchly secularist, ultra-nationalist and anti-Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Cumhuriyet newspaper. Every time the newspaper's entrance was bombed, the headlines in certain newspapers pointed fingers at the AK Party government and questioned whether Turkey was becoming an Islamist state. So the discovery was phenomenal. For the first time in Turkish history, there was proof that a plot against the democratically elected government was in action such that the government would unjustly be accused of paving the way for Islamist terrorism so the people would not re-elect the government or alternatively so a coup would be justified. Republican Turkish history is full of military coups and also full of unproven accusations justifying a coup against the government, such as one rumor that Prime Minister Adnan Menderes was butchering -literally, in mincemeat machines -- thousands of dissenting youngsters or burying them under the asphalt roads. Even though nobody reported any missing people, newspapers attacking the Menderes government claimed that the exact figures would be known by that autumn. But that spring, on May 27, 1960, the Menderes government was toppled by
Republican Turkish history is full of military coups and unproven accusations justifying a coup against the government. Most recent ones were fortunately unearthed by a handful of brave journalists and prosecutors. Documented evidence, witness testimony, wiretapped conversations, weapons and so on all point to an underground terror organization with deep connections to some high-ranking military officers, named Ergenekon. But some pieces that appear in the West somehow give a carte blanche on truth to the Ergenekon suspects and accept their claims as true
biased, lack convincing arguments, are full of blanket accusations without any substantiating evidence and are simply written with an anti-AK Party political agenda. These pieces also mostly reflect the views of Turkish ultranationalists and American pro-Israeli neocons who are AK Party enemies and who disregard several objective Western analyses. They suffer also from several Orientalist inaccuracies, false assumptions and a lack of sufficient knowledge of Islam in Turkey. These anti-AK Party pieces emphasize that the army has been the pioneer of democratization in Turkey and is the only genuine protector of secularism and democracy in the country, implying that by enfeebling the army with the Ergenekon case, the "Islamists" in Turkey will easily establish a dictatorship. As we will see now below, a brief analysis of recent Turkish history shows that their positive claims about the army are not entirely true, that modernization, secularization and democratization have strong civilian roots and that the army has sometimes opposed, prevented and even stopped these processes. Army's role in politics Ottoman history is full of army uprisings and coups. These were not for lofty ideals, but either about their payroll or about resisting the modernization attempts of the sultans and their viziers. There has always been a power struggle between the modernizing and Westernizing foreign ministry, the reactionary army and Islamic scholars who were divided between modernizers and the reactionary army. By 1913, after murdering the defense minister and threatening the prime minister, the army-backed Ýttihat ve Terakki resolved the conflict for the benefit of the army. This hegemonic position of the army continued until very recently. It must be noted that by the end of the 19th century, the army was full of young military officers who had received a Western education, were socially Darwinist
young military officers, and nobody mentioned the allegedly missing youth afterward. Thus nobody was shocked to see the connection between the retired general, other retired military officers, hand grenades that were "stolen" from the military and a plot against the democratically elected government. Prosecutors have spoken to several witnesses, legally wiretapped several people, searched homes and offices of many people with warrants and prepared three indictments so far, amounting to thousands of pages, with millions of pages of documented evidence, not to mention hundreds of bombs, light anti-tank weapons (LAWs), all sorts of rifles, illegal wiretapping of many important people, secret reports about almost every public figure in the country, assassination plans targeting important people including Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoðan and so on. Documented evidence, witness testimony, wiretapped conversations, weapons and so on all point to an underground terror organization with deep connections to some high-ranking military officers. The case is now before a court in Ýstanbul, and the media is closely watching. Until very recently, while one section of the media extensively covered the case, one section stayed away from it and did not report it properly, covering the case only when prosecutors or the police made so-called "mistakes," such as detaining elderly people or arriving at the homes of the suspects in the very early hours of the morning. The pieces that have recently appeared in the West show that the Western media also do not analyze the substantiated claims in the indictments but instead try to convince their readers that the whole situation is about the AK Party trying suppress its opponents and that everything is a conspiracy against secularism and its protector, the army. This piece endeavors to show that the articles that have appeared in the Western media and journals are 69
The Ergenekon investigation lead to several digs around Turkey, unearthing LAWs, bombs and other munitions for future use. Some of the munitions found were apparently stolen (or taken) from the army
ARTICLE SPRING 2010
ARTICLE IN BRIEF: This piece endeavors to show that the articles that have appeared in the Western media and journals are biased, lack convincing arguments, are full of blanket accusations without any substantiating evidence and are simply written with an anti-AK Party political agenda. These pieces also mostly reflect the views of Turkish ultranationalists and American pro-Israeli neocons who are AK Party enemies and who disregard several objective Western analyses. They also suffer from several Orientalist inaccuracies, false assumptions and a lack of sufficient knowledge of Islam in Turkey.
public has only extremely rarely heard military offiwith no trust of ordinary people and were crudely cers speaking of the virtues of democracy, pluralism positivistic, with secularist and nationalist ideas also. and the importance of civilian governance. This ideology has continued up until now as well. The army has also secured every important issue in The establishment's ideology in Turkey has always Turkey in addition to its constitutional partnership held that it was the army that emancipated Turkey with political power by way of deciding all important from the occupied forces in early 1920s. But it is never issues at the National Security Council (MGK) (until mentioned that the Ottomans lost the Balkan territovery recently ministers had to follow the MGK's ries as a result of intra-army conflicts and an ultra"orders"). In the old Turkey, the governing capacity politicized army. It was also army leaders such as of the politicians was weak, thus the bureaucracy, Enver Pasha that decided to take the Ottomans into especially soldiers, filled the power vacuum in the World War I. They were also the ones who lost the Southeast. Unfortunately, this pattern tends to be war. The resistance movement in Turkey started in self-enforcing all over the world. As more power and 1919, just after the occupation of Ottoman lands and decision-making passed to the security bureaucracy, Anatolia, and it was civilian elite leaders who started the popular image of the state as authoritarian and this resistance. In most places, the army had been unaffectionate, if not merciless and impersonal was dissolved because of the armistice agreement anyway. reinforced. In this catch-22 situation, this further In Erzurum and Sivas, it was also mainly the civilian reduced the legitimacy of the political system in the elite (tribal leaders, politicians, religious scholars, Sufi eyes of the population and prevented brotherhood leaders, etc.) who legislative and executive bodies paved the way for the resistance and The Turkish army has the from becoming effective rule-making the establishment of Parliament on not come to terms institutions. A vicious cycle of April 23, 1920, in Ankara. The members of the first Parliament were with pluralist democ- bureaucratic domination tended to mainly from these backgrounds. It racy. It meddles with perpetuate itself. It is telling to note that Daniel Pipes wrote in his latest was this Parliament and people's politics in the name anti-AK Party and anti-Fethullah money, goods and effort that reof national unity, Gülen piece, "If the military retains established the army. But after victory, these elite from several backsecurity and secular- its independence…" Pipes and his similar-minded friends do not comgrounds were purged by the former ism as if civilians do prehend that this neo-Orientalistmembers of the staunchly secularist not care about them bon-pour-Orient approach is an and nationalist Ýttihat ve Terakki. A insult to Turkish people, an insult new party was formed (the repeated with different wording very recently by Republican People's Party, CHP), and its ideology Israeli President Shimon Peres. still resembles Ýttihat ve Terakki's ideology. Until Frequently, the generals have targeted politicians, 1950, there was an authoritarian one-party rule thinkers, social activists, human rights activists, relistrongly backed and protected by the army. Even gious leaders and journalists. For instance, during the today, the Turkish army has not come to terms with notorious Feb. 28, 1997 postmodern coup process, pluralist democracy, and from time to time, they upon orders from the generals, some liberal journalmeddle with politics in the name of national unity, ists who did not agree with the generals -- such as security and secularism as if civilians do not care respected journalist Cengiz Çandar -- were wrongly about these issues. accused of being supporters of the terrorist Kurdistan Even though only a few of them voice it publicly, Workers' Party (PKK). One of the accused, Akýn because of the education they get, many military genBirdal, the head of a human rights group, survived an erals in Turkey firmly believe that they are superior to assassination attempt. The assassin is now in jail civilians in all respects and that they are the only ones together with some generals on charges of being who know Turkey, its issues, problems, challenges, members of the ultranationalist Ergenekon terrorist opportunities and so on. It is easy to understand this organization. During the Feb. 28 process, $50 billion from all their public speeches. Moreover, with the (almost one-fifth of the gross domestic product exception of ones like Gen. Hilmi Özkök, the Turkish 70
moving toward an Islamist theocracy. But they are unable to explain the support given to the party from liberal, leftist, democrat, pro-Western and secular quarters. They also fail to address why EU politicians, institutions, bureaucrats, reports and so on support the AK Party's actions and do not question its legitimacy and democratic credentials. The only answer so far is the CHP argument voiced by deputies Þahin Mengü and Onur Öymen, that it was the Zaman daily and its Brussels representative Selçuk Gültaþlý that brainwashed the Europeans. The crucial question of why Armenians in Turkey reportedly voted for the AK Party in the July 22, 2007 general elections, when the AK Party got 47 percent of the overall vote, has not been addressed or answered by those who claim that the AK Party is after an Islamist dictatorship, something "seen" by some American pro-Israeli Likudniks but not by Armenians living in Turkey. Blindly supporting Ergenekon The pieces that appear in the West somehow give a carte blanche on truth to the Ergenekon suspects and accept their claims as true while they refuse to credit the evidence put forward by the prosecutors. Their excuse so far is that the indictments are thousands of pages long and the supporting evidence comprises millions of pages. But that does not stop these writers from passing judgment in the cases. It must also be noted that it is not only the police or the prosecutors who have suspicions about the suspects -- several judges have constantly reviewed the files of the detained suspects every two weeks and continue to keep them in prison. Pro-Ergenekon pieces that appear in the US refuse to discuss, for instance, the original documents discovered in the houses of generals Veli Küçük and Þener Eruygur. In one of these documents, the prosecutors discovered the original copy of the constitution
[GDP] at the time) was reportedly embezzled from the Treasury by bankers who were secularist supporters of the army. Generals also invited the judiciary to their headquarters and briefed them on the dangers of the alleged Islamist threat. The generals -- without any democratic or civilian supervision -- signed several lucrative contracts and military agreements with Israel. European Union reports on Turkey constantly underline that the Turkish army meddles with politics, is not subordinate to the civilians, is not accountable and is not transparent. Very recently, Chief of General Staff Gen. Ýlker Baþbuð boasted in Brussels that if he did not give permission, a judge with a search warrant from the court could not enter a military compound to search despite serious charges, showing that Turkish generals see themselves as above the law. Today, many people object to the army being above the law, but they are portrayed by constant propaganda campaigns as objecting to the existence of the army, an accusation without any solid evidence. Pro-democracy alliance versus the bureaucratic oligarchy and its supporters The AK Party is a result of changes in society; it is not the cause. Turkish society has for some time had a new coalition. This is a coalition between the newly emerging observant Muslim middle class of Anatolia, a new socially conservative but economically liberal bourgeoisie, pro-EU urbanites of the major cities, democratic Kurds and a majority of leftists. Some of these groups are, of course, intermingled, and the boundaries between them are blurred. Likewise, these groups may be represented, overrepresented or underrepresented in the AK Party. But one thing is certain: Mr. Erdoðan knows very well -- despite indicating otherwise at times -- that he has to respond to the demands of this coalition. Anti-AK Party pieces accuse the AK Party of slowly 71
An unforgettable public relations flap by Baþbuð occurred when he showed TV cameras a used LAW and boasted that it was not a weapon but merely a pipe. Baþbuð also implied that the unearthed weapons might belong to police, but later the company that produces these weapons tracked down their unique serial numbers and found they had been sold to the army, not the police
ARTICLE SPRING 2010
misquote their sources. of the Ergenekon organization. When asked about The notorious "Cage plan" prepared by Col. the document, Küçük briefly replied that it was sent Dursun Çiçek is another case in point. The plan to him and that he likes to keep serious documents included planting bombs and weapons in student like that in his archives. In his agenda, notes were dormitories associated with the Gülen movement and found in his handwriting reminding him to take the then prosecuting the residents on terrorism charges "things" out so that the sun shines on them or to in a military court. Four different forensic institutions turn them around regularly. When asked about the (including the gendarmerie, another blow to the notes, he replied that they were about how to prepare police-conspiracy thesis) have so far confirmed that pickles. Prosecutors do not believe him and think that the original signature on the plan does indeed belong they are about keeping secret bombs "fit and in to Col. Çiçek, but he and his supporters still argue shape." When asked about why he had harassed the that the document should be sent to Brussels for furlate Armenian journalist Hrant Dink when Dink was ther tests. These ultranationalists and Euroskeptics on trial, he said that he was passing by when he saw are unaware of their argument's legal implications, as a crowd outside a court building and accidentally thousands of people in Turkey have been imprisoned entered the courtroom where Dink was being judged. on the basis of the Turkish forensic reports and their Another telling fact about the Ergenekon case is Lt. files were not sent to Brussels. This Col. Mustafa Dönmez's imprisonment also shows how the army and by a military court for stealing a large The Turkish public bureaucratic oligarchy sees itself as number of bombs and weapons from above the Turkish law and judicial the military. Prosecutors learned of his has only extremely involvement through documents disrarely heard military institutions. Lastly, these allegedly conspiring covered in other suspects' homes and officers speaking of police officers and prosecutors must via legal wiretaps. Police have found the virtues of democbe irrational to fabricate false evibombs, weapons and ammunition in dence to harm the military. Only a his summer home and in a secret loca- racy, pluralism and few years ago, Erdoðan, the mayor of tion, the map of which was found hid- the importance of Ýstanbul at the time, was sent to den in the cover of Dönmez's agenda civilian governance prison just because he recited a planner. Forensic scientists confirmed poem that was included in statethat the handwriting was his. But he sanctioned schoolbooks. It is obvious what could continues to deny the accusations and argues that the happen to these allegedly conspiring police officers police planted the weapons. Military officers accomand prosecutors if they were caught red-handed. panying the police during the search have testified They must be unintelligent not to see this almost against Dönmez. Dönmez could not explain his inevitable end. But then, if they are so unintelligent, secret map, either. Thus, the military court sentenced how could they successfully conspire against an army him to prison. that employs many thousands of military officers with Even this single case shows that Ergenekon case so many skills, extraordinary education, billions of is not simply about the AK Party suppressing its dollars worth of equipment and a number of intelliopponents or the support given to it by police who gence agencies? And, how come not even a single are allegedly associated with Gülen. This evidence one of these allegedly conspiring police officers have - and many thousands more like it documented in been caught by the military intelligence organizations the indictments -- has somehow been omitted from or the National Intelligence Organization (MÝT)? It the pro-Ergenekon pieces. Instead of discussing should also be noted that not only the police but also and if possible refuting these concrete cases, writers the MÝT prepared several reports supporting the evisuch as Pipes, Rachel Sharon-Krespin, Michael dence against the Ergenekon terror organization. Rubin, Barry Rubin, Soner Çaðaptay and so on base Democratic leaks and generals' their arguments on scaremongering, mindreading inconsistencies vis-a-vis the truth and blanket accusations. They also quote selectively This section could be the longest part of this piece, from pro-Ergenekonian non-academic and nonobbut it needs to be short. The biggest blow to the projective pieces published in Turkey or, reportedly, 72
occurred when he showed TV cameras a used LAW and boasted that it was not a weapon but merely a pipe. He carefully shied away from discussing the several other unused LAWs discovered alongside the used ones in land bought by Yeditepe University chairman and former Ýstanbul Mayor Bedrettin Dalan, who is now a fugitive. Baþbuð also implied that the unearthed weapons might belong to police, but later the company that produces these weapons tracked down their unique serial numbers and found they had been sold to the army, not the police. The public has also heard that the used "pipes" were buried because they were needed for training on how to use these weapons. Thereafter, countless jokes, satirical pieces and criticisms of Baþbuð appeared in the media, but Baþbuð did not break his silence on this. It was also reported recently that several army branches had quietly applied to the courts and had gotten their "stolen" and then discovered weapons back, even though they initially publicly denied that the weapons belonged to them. Speculation and accusations about the Gülen movement As mentioned above, the main thrust of the proErgenekonian argument is that the Ergenekon case is a conspiracy against the protector of secularism in Turkey, the army, by the so-called "Islamist" and "shadowy" Gülen movement, which allegedly wants to establish an Islamist dictatorship in Turkey. But so far, no evidence -- other than mindreading -- has been put forward. Many academic studies conducted in the West have called it an apolitical moderate movement reinterpreting Islamo-Turkish heritage along the lines of Ottoman and Anglo-Saxon secularism, democracy, the rule of law, human rights and inner spiritually with a socially active mindset for the betterment of the world in tune with the zeitgeist. There are several academic books and journal articles on the movement. About 10 international conferences have specifically focused on the movement, and more than 200 papers have been presented at
Ergenekon thesis that it is an AK Party-police conspiracy against secularism is the existence of many democratic military officers of all ranks. The Turkish public has watched in amazement as different factions in the army have quarreled and as top-secret information about antidemocratic plots has been fearlessly leaked, presumably by democratic officers. In some cases, it is obvious that the leaked information could only be accessed by the top brass. Some of this leaked information has humbled the generals in public and paved the way for questions as to whether they've been fully forthcoming. Thus, in addition to prosecutors, judges and police, there are also many antiErgenekon and prodemocracy military officers. If the Ergenekon case is an anti-military plot, these military officers should also be ironically labeled as anti-military. One such leak was just before the presidential elections in 2007, when it became public that a Constitutional Court member -- Osman Paksüt, the son of a CHP politician -- had secretly visited Gen. Baþbuð, obviously to discuss the pending court judgment on the elections. To the astonishment of almost everyone, the court declared that a quorum of two-thirds was needed for the elections to take place, a fabricated requirement that had not surfaced during any previous elections. It was also reported that the BaþbuðPaksüt meeting was kept secret by turning the lights and CCTV cameras off. After Baþbuð was appointed chief of General Staff, the Zaman daily published a news story claiming that a retired top general -whose name was withheld -- told the daily that he warned Baþbuð about juntas in the army. Baþbuð has never denied this allegation. In another case, Baþbuð boasted live on the air that he would sue Taraf writer Mehmet Baransu for libel, as Baþbuð claimed the Taraf reporter had published false and fabricated news about the army. Although a year has passed, the hyper-litigant army has not filed a case against Baransu on this issue. An unforgettable public relations flap by Baþbuð 73
Lt. Col. Mustafa Dönmez was sentenced to four years by the General Staff Military Court in a ruling announced on Feb. 5, 2010. Dönmez was also dismissed from the military, as he was the person responsible for weaponry that was found buried underground in Ankara's Zir Valley in January 2009 PHOTO: MEHMET YAMAN
ARTICLE SPRING 2010
It has been repeatedly noted by Çaðaptay and oththese conferences. Many Western academics have ers that Gülen has said that "every method and path referred to the movement in their works. Several is acceptable, [including] lying to people." Even objective analyses of the movement have suggested staunch Gülen enemies have not put forth such that the movement challenges the stereotypical claims. Analyses that are expected to be more or less Oriental misperceptions regarding Islam-secularism, objective should not include such groundless accusaIslam-politics, Islam-democracy and Islam-this tions without a reliable reference. These anti-Gülen worldliness. The sophisticated discourse of Gülen and pieces simply borrow all the negative words and the movement associated with his name make life terms that would irritate a Western reader, but none difficult for armchair Orientalist and neo-Orientalist of these are true, and clear definitions are never analysts. But even armchair analysts could find suffigiven. It seems that for these writers, where Gülen is cient literature on the abovementioned issues. It concerned, anything could be written about him, would then be easier to understand how Gülen offers such as Sharon-Krespin's great lie about him: "Gülen an Islamic paradigm to the Muslim self to accommo… considers himself a prophet." She does not even date him/herself in secular and democratic settings. know that in the Muslim creed no Moreover, anyone familiar with Max prophet can come after the last Weber's work on the Protestant European Union prophet and that to claim otherwise ethic would not find it puzzling to reports on Turkey makes a Muslim non-Muslim. It is see an Islamic scholar asking his constantly underline puzzling to see such a piece pubaudience to not ignore this world but to endeavor for success as long that the Turkish army lished in an allegedly academic joursuch as the Middle East as the intention is attaining God's meddles with politics, nal Quarterly. pleasure. Some, like Çaðaptay, write without It has also been claimed that there is not subordinate to any proof or evidence that "the are many Gülen followers in the civil the civilians, is not Gülen-controlled parts of the judiciservice but that they hide their true accountable and is ary and police have also wielded illeidentity. This is a complicated issue not transparent gal wiretaps against those entangled and without knowing the intricacies in the Ergenekon case, leaking intiof Turkey it is difficult to understand. mate details of their private lives." This self-contraFirst of all, Gülen has been publicly preaching for dictory statement fails to show the reader how these almost the last 50 years. Records of his sermons have wiretaps are illegal if the judiciary is involved and sold millions of copies. He has dozens of books how come they have become part of the indictments which have sold millions of copies. Several surveys accepted by the courts. There is, of course, no proof have indicated that about 80 percent of the populathat these police and prosecutors are men who follow tion sympathizes with his views. If representative Gülen. These writers fail to mention the fact that sevbureaucracy would be expected to exist in a typical eral Ergenekon suspects were caught with illegal democracy, it is only natural that there would be recordings and pictures in their possession and that many Gülen sympathizers in the civil service. But it is sometimes they were caught not by the police but by important to underline what kinds of views these the gendarmerie, hence there are no grounds to claim people have. Gülen and his movement support that these illegal items were planted by the police, as democracy, a liberal market economy, a passively Ergenekon suspects usually claim. It must also be non-assertive secular state, freedoms, human rights noted that when former Land Forces Commander and so on. But these people also have spiritual conGen. Yaþar Büyükanýt was to be appointed chief of cerns and endeavor to be religiously observant indiGeneral Staff, there was a bombardment of every sinviduals in their daily lives. There are several similar gle cell phone, e-mail inbox and Internet website individuals and groups around the world. With this in used by high-ranking officers in the Turkish army mind, Gülen is a competent zeitgeist-friendly guide accusing him of being everything from a secret Jew to because he blends human rights, fundamental freea corrupt officer. The oligarchy's men instantly doms, several aspects of modernity, spirituality and blamed their scapegoat Gülen at that time, but afterIslam. 74
"shadowy," "Islamist" and "radical" by pro-Israelis, the movement will hopefully pressure the AK Party government to be more massacre-tolerant. Conclusion What is happening in Turkey is not about secularism or democracy being under siege by Islamists. It is about the disestablishment of the militarist and antidemocratic bureaucratic oligarchy, a process which is applauded and commended by the regular EU reports, objective observers, the general public -- who have voted four times consecutively for the AK Party -- and Turkey's non-Muslim minorities. As John L. Esposito put it very recently: "The old political parties and secular elites have proven impotent, incapable of organizing a broadbased, effective opposition with a popular message that speaks to the political and economic challenges that Turkey faces. In contrast, [the AK Party] has affirmed the secular nature of the Turkish state, the separation of religion and the state. But, in contrast to its predecessors' hardline secular fundamentalism with its anti-religious bias, [the AK Party] has insisted that secularism can include a public space for belief as well as non-belief. It has introduced important political and economic reforms, advanced Turkey's cause for membership in the European Union, addressed human rights issues and struggled with resolving the Kurdish and the Armenian 'questions'. The process has not been without its pitfalls and problems. … Yes, there has been a departure from the legacy of the past with major implications for Turkey and Muslims everywhere. Turkey has become more democratic, with a more open political and social system, a more broadbased electorate and leadership, and a greater emphasis on rule of law that includes the accountability of all institutions, including the military. What we are seeing is not a showdown between secularists and so-called Islamists or the demise of the secular state, but a process of normalization and the maturing of Turkey's democracy, institutions and the rule of law."
wards incriminating evidence was found in the office of Büyükanýt's rival for the position of chief of General Staff, Gen. Eruygur (an Ergenekon suspect ), well-protected in the army compounds. Gen. Eruygur today allegedly has amnesia. Referring to this, Gen. Büyükanýt himself has said he was also a victim of Ergenekon. Somehow, these important and publicly known details are omitted in the pieces that address the Western audience, an insult to these people. It is difficult to assess why Gülen has suddenly became a target, but it seems that as the movement is one of the major supporters of democracy in the country and would like to see the army in its proper place, out of politics, this is against Israeli interests. As declared by Israeli President Peres, in the past it was much easier for Israel to strike political, strategic, diplomatic and military deals with the support of the Turkish generals. But this can only partially explain what is going on, as the Gülen movement could have easily been targeted indirectly without sacrificing the names and identities of neo-con, Zionist and pro-Israeli writers. A possible but reasonable explanation of these writers' groundless but fierce attacks on the movement without hiding their identities could be to show the AK Party government that the Israeli matter is indeed serious. After the AK Party government started questioning Israeli attacks on Palestinian territories, these commentators might have decided that one of AK Party's Achilles heels is the Gülen movement. Even though there are many differences between the movement and the party, they share a common goal of a more democratic, stable and prosperous Turkey that is a member of the EU. Thus, the movement openly supports every democratic move in the country, including those of the AK Party. While Zionist, Likudnik and neo-con assaults on the AK Party increase its prestige at home and in the greater Middle East, the movement is more vulnerable to such attacks as it is associated with schools in more than 120 countries, and if it can be "character assassinated" as being 75
Fethullah Gülen and his movement support democracy, a liberal market economy, a passively non-assertive secular state, freedoms, human rights and so on. But these people also have spiritual concerns and endeavor to be religiously observant individuals in their daily lives PHOTO: ONUR ÇOBAN
ARTICLE SPRING 2010
Council of State's coefficient ruling: appellatre judiciary and constitutional order
t is not surprising to witness that the Council of State interferes with the college admission and placement system in Turkey and attempts to determine the governing principles of the placement exam. The recent decisions by the Higher Education Board (YÖK) with respect to the college placement exams are considered administrative acts, and for this reason they are subject to the review of the Council of State. Previously, the Council of State made a different decision on a similar case filed under different circumstances. The coefficient system introduced by YÖK in 1999 and revised in 2002, under which different coefficients are applied to the same questions for exam-takers from different schools, was approved by the Council of State, which ruled that YÖK is authorized to make the necessary regulations in this matter, adding that the system was in full accordance with existing legislation. Those who considered these rulings held that subsequent decisions by YÖK would also be legally valid. YÖK was also of the same view; however, the Council of State in July 2009 annulled YÖK's new egalitarian coefficient system, thus, disappointing those considering the issue from a purely legal perspective. Historical evolution of the coefficient system The Constitution, as well as the law, underlines that the principles governing college placements are determined by YÖK. Relying on this authority, YÖK introduced a system in 1982 under which the placement points of the examinees were determined by a single coefficient that applied to all exam-takers; this single coefficient system lasted through to 1998. The military, which, in reliance on the decisions taken by the National Security Council (MGK) meeting on Feb. 28, 1997, staged a post-modern coup, opposed this system where the graduates of vocational schools were competing with graduates of other schools under the same conditions. Despite the fact that they were disadvantaged in comparison to graduates of other schools in terms of the quality of their education and the content of the curricula, the graduates of vocational schools, including religious schools, were attracting attention because of their striking successes in the placement exams. To make sure that they were not placed in popular departments, a particularly unique and equally illegal method was developed. According to this method, graduates of religious schools would get 0.2 point for each correct answer in the exam, whereas the graduates of regular schools would receive 0.5. Regular school
The recent decisions by the Higher Education Board with respect to the college placement exams are considered administrative acts, and for this reason they are subject to the review of the Council of State. YÖK decided to abolish an unegalitarian coefficient system applied in the evaluation of the placement exams and the Council of State cancelled the newly introduced egalitarian system. The eagerness of the judiciary, which is supposed to review the legality of the acts, to serve as lawmakers reveals a juristocratic tendency
astonishing reasoning that may not be justified by any principle in the history of law. Students who were studying for the exam in consideration of the previous system appealed against the decision, asking for a waiver of the application of the unequal coefficient system for at least that year because they were doing all the necessary preparations in accordance with the system they were accustomed to. In their appeal, they were referring to the principle of acquired rights; however, the Council of State dismissed this request as well. A huge number of students and their families suffered from the repercussions of this visibly unfair practice that has remained in place for over a decade. Some families had to send their children abroad to further their studies, but those who cannot afford this option had to postpone or give up on their dreams of going to a college or department they had chosen. A number of vocational school graduates were deprived of their right to an education. During this process, a substantial number of students had to spend time and effort dealing with the psychological problems they encountered because of this unfair practice; some had to deal with the permanent impact of such problems. YÖK's new placement exam In early 2009, YÖK attempted to fix this unfairness by rearranging the system of college placement exams and particularly by addressing the coefficient problem. First, it entirely changed the college placement exam and introduced a two-stage exam system instead of the former where students were required to sit one sole session. The board also introduced different types of exams for students who had to make their choices out of these exams depending on the major they would like to study. Six months later, the board also decided to apply a single coefficient for all examinees. The Ýstanbul Bar Association appealed this decision; despite the fact that the bar was not affected by the decision, the Council of State admitted the appeal. It should be noted that a lawsuit appeal is admitted by the council only if the applicant is visibly affected by the respective action or decision. However, the council had previously turned down a number of applications on the grounds that the applicant was not directly affected by the action being appealed.
graduates would receive a point if they picked two correct answers, but in the case of religious school graduates they needed 5 correct answers for the same point. It was impossible for religious school graduates to be placed in the department of their choice even if they answered all the questions in the exam. This system, devised to ensure that religious school graduates would be unable to earn the right to admission to the university department of their choice, should have been applied to the graduates of other vocational schools because it was legally impossible to exclude the graduates of these schools. By doing so, the drafters of this system deprived the graduates of vocational schools of equal competition, a fundamental principle of law. Prevention of school transfers The drafters of the system did not stop there; students at the religious schools wanted to change their schools considering that they would be unable to get a placement in college. The government in power during the post-modern coup period, under pressure from the military, passed a directive preventing the students from religious schools from moving to other schools. Under this directive, the transfer from vocational schools to other regular schools was banned. The graduates of vocational schools, including religious schools, were left with one single option: to take the college placement exam where the principle of equality had been violated. It is now obvious that these two practices were implemented in full accordance with the instructions addressed by the generals of the time to YÖK and the Ministry of Education during the period of the Feb. 28 post-modern coup. Students negatively affected by YÖK's decision to change the placement system in 1998 filed a lawsuit with the Council of State seeking the annulment of the unequal coefficients. In its ruling, the council noted that YÖK is authorized to take such action and to determine a system that it concludes will serve the best interests of the students; the ruling further underlined that students at the religious schools and vocational schools cannot be considered equal to the students at regular schools; and, finally, it found the system of unequal coefficients legally valid. This was an 77
The coefficient system was designed to prevent graduates of state-run religious schools, but the students of all the vocational suffered from the system. PHOTO: MEVLÜT KARABULUT
ARTICLE SPRING 2010
ARTICLE IN BRIEF: YÖK decided to abolish the current inegalitarian coefficient system and adapt an egalitarian one, but the new system was annulled by the Council of State on the grounds that the graduates of normal and vacational schools are not legally equal and that there should be an insurmountable difference between the coefficients applied to the gradiates of these schools. It is obvious that in order to maintain the domination of some principles devised during the process of the Feb. 28 military coup legal rules are set aside by the council if deems it necessary.
between the coefficients that would apply to the graduates of different schools but also makes its point on the magnitude of this difference. According to the council, the difference between the coefficients should be insurmountable. What does this mean? The difference between the coefficients should be big enough to make sure that vocational school graduates should not be able to earn the right to study in their chosen field even if they answer all the questions correctly in the exam. In this case, under the council's view, the coefficient should serve as a definite obstacle to vocational school graduates so that they will not be able to overcome this barrier. Therefore, there is no other option that could be employed in the college placement exam; the only thing to do is to retain the former coefficient system (0.5/0.2 or 0.8/0.3) determined during the period of the Feb. 28 coup. What sort of legal grounds does the Council of State rely on when requiring the preservation of the insurmountable difference in the coefficient? Actually, these are not legal grounds. It would be a mistake to expect that the There is no need to provide a lengthy Council of State will remember that YÖK is explanation for this. What legal rule authorized with regard to the placement requires the introduction of a coefficient that the students cannot overcome? exam when annulling a decision that serves There is no answer to this, and there the interests of religious school graduates. cannot be. Why are the coefficients (0.15 for regular schools and 0.13 for vocational schools) illegal and the former coefficients (0.8 for sity placement exam and the impact of performance in regular schools and 0.3 for vocational schools) legal? secondary school in the final score to be used in this There is no plausible answer for this question. There is a placement. Despite the fact that it lists all these items, pretty unusual and awkward statement in the text of the the council ruling finds the new coefficient system illegal ruling of the council: the ruling argues that the YÖK by making reference to the regulations of the Feb. 28 decision will destroy the education system framed by coup era and the decisions of the Council of State durjudicial decisions. Is this a legal answer? The council is ing this period of time. However, the legal reasoning the first in the world to argue that the education system referred to in this ruling actually confirms that YÖK is is framed by judicial decisions. authorized to regulate the college placement exam. The most contradictory and awkward part of the In consideration of the legal grounds referred to by ruling asserts that there is a legal difference between the council in its ruling, YÖK reintroduced a new coeffithe status of high school graduates. But if there is cient system that it believed would satisfy the council's such a difference between vocational school gradureasoning. However, the Council of State annulled this ates and high school graduates, why are they taking decision as well despite the fact that YÖK's new system the same exam? Should not those who hold a differenvisaged different coefficients for the examinees from ent legal status take different exams? If the students different schools. For the council, the difference in the taking the same exam are subject to the same syscoefficients was not big enough. Its new ruling provides tem, should their score not be assessed based on the insights into the background of the Council of State's same coefficient? The Council of State provides no approach vis-à-vis the issue. In the ruling, the council explanation for this contradiction. not only insists that there should be some difference Council of State ruling: legal ground or pretext? A number of scholars as well as YÖK considered the previous rulings of the Council of State and held, based on these rulings, that the council would not annul this administrative action given that the council had formerly decided that the coefficient issue fell within the sphere of authority of the board. However, the council cancelled this newly introduced system, arguing that it was contrary to existing legislation. The most recent ruling on the coefficient involves a number of legal and logical contradictions. Subsequent to making reference to Article 42 of the Turkish Constitution, stating that the procedure on the exercise of the right to an education is determined by law, the Council of State recalls the relevant provisions and terms of Higher Education Law no. 2547 and Basic Law for National Education no. 1739 and underlines that YÖK is fully authorized in the determination of the governing principles for the college placement exam. The said laws outline the principles and procedures to be used in the devising of the univer-
the underlined part was taken out of the Constitution by Law no. 4709 on Oct. 3, 2001 and replaced with the word "an activity." In a ruling released in 2005, the council ignores an amendment made in 2001 and proceeds in accordance with a legal rule that does not exist anymore. A provision that was abolished is used by the council four years after its abolishment. This means that legal rules are not considered by the council. The fact that the council previously held that YÖK is authorized to make the relevant decision on the coefficient was because those decisions were against the interests of religious school graduates. It would be a mistake to expect that the Council of State will remember that YÖK is authorized with regard to the placement exam when annulling a decision that serves the interests of religious school graduates. It appears that the ideological attitudes of the appellate judiciary become so obvious and sharp in Turkey that this amounts to the gravity of setting aside the law. The council takes decisive action to make sure that university administrations are not authorized to determine the procedure to be employed in the assessment of the final scores of students seeking admission to college. To maintain the domination of some principles devised during the process of the Feb. 28 military coup, legal rules are set aside if necessary. This ideological stance of the appellate judiciary creates serious problems for the principle of the separation of powers. The eagerness of the judiciary, which is supposed to review the legality of the acts, to serve as lawmakers reveals a juristocratic tendency. It appears that the judiciary has been trying to consolidate this juristocracy in Turkey for over a decade. The appellate judiciary seeks to block the proper functioning of legislation and the political administration; it also employs an ideological block to restrict the enjoyment of fundamental rights and freedoms. The judiciary, which should take a lead role in the further democratization and improvement of standards of human rights, adopts instead a restrictive function. The most urgent problem in Turkey is to ensure that the judiciary acts within the boundaries of the constitutional order and is freed from its ideological stance. The coefficient issue is a case study only.
What is the Council of State actually doing? For over a decade since the Feb. 28 post-modern military coup, the Council of State has reviewed the legality of administrative decisions with respect to its former rulings rather than with the laws in effect. In other words, the criterion of legality is whether the relevant decision is in accordance with the previous rulings of the council. It appears that the council is strongly opposed to changing the decisions and rulings made during the Feb. 28 coup process. It stages this opposition by making decisions and issuing rulings obviously contrary to the law. In one of its rulings (released by the 8th Chamber on Feb. 7, 2006), the council notes when annulling an amendment to the directive on high schools offering distance learning opportunities that the appealed terms of the directive are obviously contrary to legal provisions, the education process framed and consolidated by judicial decisions, public interest and the requirements of the profession. It should be noted that in this ruling, the council recognizes its decisions as the criterion for the validity of administrative actions and decisions. However, this violates Article 125 of the Turkish Constitution, which states: "Judicial power is limited to the verification of the conformity of the actions and acts of the administration with law. No judicial ruling shall be passed which restricts the exercise of the executive function in accordance with the forms and principles prescribed by law, which has the quality of an administrative action and act, or which removes discretionary powers." In addition, the legal rules the council argues have taken root were replaced by others. In other words, the council refers to its former rulings relying on the legal rules that do not now exist and proceeds to annul administrative decisions or actions. In another ruling (by the 2nd Chamber on Oct. 26, 2005), the council quotes from the preamble of the Constitution: "The recognition that no protection shall be accorded to any thought or view contrary to Turkish national interests, the principle of the indivisibility of the existence of Turkey with its state and territory, Turkish historical and moral values or the nationalism, principles, reforms and modernism of Atatürk…" However, 79
The willingness of the Council of State to annul all the egalitarian arrangements convinced many students that the Council was applying a similitude of the Sledgehammer coup plan. “The Sledgehammer of the Council of State is on the top of the students!” reads the placard carried by a veiled religious school student. PHOTO: KÜRÞAT BAYHAN
DOSSIER SPRING 2010
fficial arguments made by most intellectuals assert that underdevelopment inherently caused by being part of the Eastern world was the primary reason for the Ottoman Empire's defeat by the occupying forces in World War I. For this reason, these intellectuals argue, Turkey must become part of the Western world and adopt European norms. As such, the new republic picked "contemporary civilizational levels" as its primary objective to fulfill through the revolutions led by Atatürk, the founder of the republican regime. Traditional items, symbols and signs used in the daily lives of ordinary people, including attire, the calendar, the alphabet and educational institutions, were replaced by their Western counterparts. The Civil Law focusing on social and familial life was borrowed from the Swiss Civil Code while the laws on economic and cultural affairs were entirely renewed. A group of Ankara-based new intellectuals asked villagers to stay on the periphery to make sure that modernization could become sustainable; these intellectuals particularly discouraged them from migrating to Ýstanbul and Ankara. In so doing, these big cities would serve as role models for the small cities. Up until recently, people who served in the military as low-ranking privates because of their limited financial resources were banned from walking around elite neighborhoods. Parochial people should stay on the periphery until the completion of the modernization process in the capital and other big cities. Nevzat Tandoðan, who served as the governor of Ankara for 17 years starting in 1929, forbid the display of traditional customs and attire by the rural people on the streets of the capital city. Tandoðan tells writer Osman Yüksel Serdengeçti, known for his parochial identity and poverty: "If nationalism is needed, we introduce that; if communism is needed, we do that. You have two jobs: to be farmers and grow crops and to serve in the military when called." [This particular quotation is cited by D. Mehmet Doðan in his Alparslan Türkeþ MHP ve Gölgedeki Adam published by Ocak Press.] The headscarf issue, along with the religious schools training clerics, which were used as a justification for military interventions, were actually caused by the intellectuals' fear of the periphery. Unlike the commonly held view, the problem is not reactionary-
ILLUSTRATION: CEM KIZILTUÐ
What is the problem: reactionaryism or parochialism?
on the rise in the mid-'80s and early '90s, when a huge number of rural residents moved to the cities because of rapid advancements and improvements in the economy, transportation and communication under the leadership of Turgut Özal. The gap between the official intellectuals and the peripheral people was further expanded; at such a delicate time, elitist intellectuals debated whether a visa should be made a requirement for admission into urban areas. Minorities pay bill for enlightenment A large part of the educated population was killed in World War I and the War of Independence. In the post-war period, Turkish intellectuals and administrators had difficulty reconciling their admiration for the West with reality. The civilized West was on one side whereas the underdeveloped East was on the other. However, the allied forces that occupied almost all parts of Turkey left outraged and confused masses behind when they withdrew from Turkish territories. The ruling elite turned its back on provincial people, but the ruthless aggressiveness of the Westerners during the war John Dewey, the founder of pragmatist philosotraumatized the elite. This can be phy, stayed in Turkey for two months and submit- compared to the psychological ted a report on the Turkish education system to breakdown in pro-US actors in the Eastern world caused by US Atatürk. Teachers' colleges and village institutes assaults and indiscriminate were opened in accordance with this report attacks against civilians in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. The age of enlightenment influenced the Ottoman in 1946, when Turkey moved to a multiparty system. intellectuals who founded the republican state. The Intellectuals who had never seen the eastern cities new philosophies led to the emergence of new were elected as deputies in the national assembly, notions of nobles and commoners. However, interestwhere crucial decisions were made regarding the ingly enough, Western ideas were used most extenadministration of the country. sively against the non-Muslim minorities in Anatolia. For the coup-makers who toppled the government The nationalist worldview that became a state ideoloin 1960, the Democrat Party (DP) deputies were secgy with the arrival of the republican regime turned the ond-class citizens; they called the deputies "tails" lives of the minorities into a hell: taxes were raised, whereas they regarded themselves "heads." For them, their schools were closed down and they had to deal the 60 percent of the Turkish population that voted for with provocative racial attacks. The "Cage Action the DP were also tails and illiterate. With the 1971 and Plan," currently under prosecution by a court of law, 1980 military coups, Turkey's route was realigned with involves attacks against clerics and churches as well as the West and NATO after a short break during which the murder of Armenian journalist Hrant Dink. the country moved back and forth along leftist and However, the Ottoman era was relatively a paradise rightist ideologies. The coups were also warnings to for non-Muslims. The nationalist movements prothe people on the periphery who sought to have a say voked by the European states to facilitate the partition in the political administration. All parties were disof the Ottoman state turned the peaceful homeland of solved because they contradicted the fundamental the Greek and Armenian minorities into a battlefield. assumptions of the republican elite. The elementary and secondary schooling system of The size of the country's population was constantly ism alone; the discourse of reactionaryism is used to conceal the fear of parochialism. Women wearing the headscarf, religious schools as well as vocational schools have become victims of this approach. The Alevi and Kurdish issues may be considered from this perspective as well. A rather rude Jacobin line of thinking was adopted to keep the issue away from the center instead of serving the periphery. If one considers that 60 percent of Turkish citizens were living in rural areas as late as the 1980s, the dimensions and magnitude of the problem can be appreciated. For decades, no railway or highway was built in the eastern parts of Anatolia. On the 40th anniversary of the foundation of the republican regime, there was no asphalt road or railway system that connected Van, one of the largest cities in eastern Turkey, to Ankara. In connection with this problem, the number of schools remained fairly small. The Republican People's Party (CHP), the party in power, did not have a local liaison office in the eastern part of Turkey
DOSSIER SPRING 2010
ARTICLE IN BRIEF: The headscarf issue, along with the religious schools training clerics, which were used as a justification for military interventions, were actually caused by the intellectuals' fear of the periphery. Unlike the commonly held view, the problem is not reactionaryism alone; the discourse of reactionaryism is used to conceal the fear of parochialism. The bans introduced by military administrations are eagerly preserved by courts. Each time the governments tried to overcome the restrictions on the religious schools or the religious attires higher judiciary interrupted.
equipped to become influential and successful in economic life." In fact, the Turkish elite also wanted to use Dewey's views for a new historical philosophy; however, no progress was made on this matter [Extra information on Dewey's mission to Turkey can be found at Bahri Ata, "The Influence of An American Educator (John Dewey) on the Turkish Educational System," 200 Years of Turkish-American Relations, 49 November 2000.] Nearly 80 young people who served in the military as low-ranking trainers were sent to the villages as educators after a six-month training period in 1936. The first village institute was opened in 1940, two years after Atatürk's death. Twenty-one village institutes were inaugurated in villages that had large agricultural fields. Both girls and boys attended these schools. The stuThe nationalist worldview that has become state dents trained in these schools ideology with the arrival of the republican regime were supposed to serve as teachers in the same schools after turned the lives of the minorities into a hell. graduation and to train the vilHowever, the Ottoman Empire was a safe heaven lagers on modern cattle breeding for non-Muslims; it is now a lost paradise and agricultural methods. The opening of additional village institutes, first introduced for pragmatic reasons, was ry; the crosses in the classrooms of these schools stopped by President Ýsmet Ýnönü, who actually startwere also removed. Schools refusing to employ a ed the project, on the pretext that the schools were Turkish teacher or converting their students to training communists in 1946 at a time when a demoChristianity, i.e., Bursa American College, were cratic regime was formally instituted. Many years later, forced to suspend teaching activities for a while. Ýnönü would say in his memoirs that his most imporInstitute stuck in the village tant actions included the institution of a multiparty The administrators of the young republic pursued system and the introduction of village institutes. These policies to make sure that the revolution was adopted schools were completely abolished in 1954 by the DP by the people. They studied the views of well-known administration. Left-wing writers argue that this was a educators from around the world. The works of John counterrevolution staged by the opponents of Dewey, an American scholar known as the founder of Atatürk's revolutions. pragmatist philosophy, were translated into Turkish; Those who praise the village institutes overlook a some time later, he was invited to Turkey. In 1924 detail: Professor Cahit Tanyol, known for his Dewey traveled to Turkey, where he was welcomed in Atatürkist views, argues in his book entitled "Çankaya a special ceremony under the auspices of Enver Dramý"(Çankaya Drama) that the rural people were Behnan Þapolyo. Dewey, who examined the educatreated condescendingly despite a formal discourse tion system for two months, submitted his final report praising the role of villagers in official days and occa"The Report and Recommendation on Turkish sions. Noting that villagers were viewed as a tool for Education" to the Ministry of Education. Teachers' exploitation, Tanyol further recalls that the sons of vilschools and village institutes were created in accorlagers were not admitted to boarding schools and sent dance with the views of Dewey, who also met to European countries for advanced studies. According Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish to Tanyol, who argues that not a single rural boy was Republic. Atatürk delivered speeches during this periadmitted to a boarding school, efforts by Ýsmail Hakký od suggesting a pragmatist approach; for instance, he Tonguç, the founder of the village institute project, once said, "The sons of this nation should be the Ottoman era was completely abandoned in the republican era subsequent to the introduction of a bill on the merger of education and teaching in 1924. The Young Turks, who pursued their studies in European countries, as well as the new intellectuals, who were influential in the foundation of the republican regime, abolished the madrasa system of the Ottoman state; the Education Ministry was authorized to govern all schools including those formerly governed by minorities. Teachers' schools modeled on the progressive schools of the US and the École Normale Supérieure of France were created in metropolitan cities; in addition, Turkish school administrators were appointed to the minority schools where courses in the Turkish language were made obligato-
they were closed down in 1930 because of a lack of students. No similar school training religious clerics was opened until 1949. As a consequence, people who had died were buried without the performance of religious rituals because there were no people qualified to fulfill this task in the villages. This drew a reaction from the people, and even the foreign press published coverage of the public outrage against this problem (Yeniþafak daily, June 29, 2005). The report "Religious education and religious institutions," drafted by Ahmet Hamdi Akseki, head of the Religious Affairs Directorate, and subsequently referred to Parliament in 1950, reflects the overall outlook of the country back then. "Measures should be taken to make sure that our young people and children are protected against the missionary efforts and propaganda of other religions as well as the harmful actions and influences of political and social sects or orders. Children have been trained as opponents to religion in schools by reliance on different means; everything has been done to make sure that they live as atheists. If the young people of the present time are not communists yet, we owe this to the strong religious tradition dominant in their families." In 1949 when the government was gradually abolishing the village institutes, 10-month-long religious courses were introduced. The number of IHL schools had visibly been on the rise during the term of the DP and the subsequent military regime; however, only
were found to be undesirable by the elite. Ýnönü removed Tonguç from office when he decided to abolish the village institutes. The schools, which were closely monitored by the state, were accused of training communists and insulting the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK). Common fate of village institutes and imam-hatip schools The case of imam-hatip schools (IHL) is pretty much the same as the case of the village institutes. Both were introduced under the auspices of the state, and both admitted the sons of provincial families as students. However, the regime abandoned the idea when it realized it did not get the expected results. The only difference between the former and the latter is that the public wanted to keep the former alive and the latter dead. The elitists at the center treated both as second-class institutions. The graduates of both institutions were unwelcomed by the state because the administration of the state was so serious that it could not be left to rural people who were supposed to work to further production. IHL schools were opened in 29 centers in 1924 to train clerics. The school principals, who did not receive any formal religious training, were expected to educate clerics loyal to republican ideas and views. The language and science courses constituted a majority -religious classes were of secondary importance. The schools didn't find favor in the eyes of the public, and 83
The infamous February 28 National Security Council meeting. The decisions taken in the council brought the end of the Refah-Yol Government and started an era of forceful re-secularization in Turkey. PHOTO: ALÝ ÜNAL
DOSSIER SPRING 2010
the general; the headscarf ban in IHL schools has been in place up until now. Coups, IHL and the headscarf Some of the articles in the final declaration issued by the National Security Council (MGK) that convened on Feb. 28, 1997, during Necmettin Erbakan's term in office are directly related to our present discussion: - The number of educational institutions responsible for training enlightened clerics faithful to the republican regime and Atatürkist principles should be kept to an optimum level in strict accordance with the spirit and letter of the bill consolidating the educational institutions. - Practices and actions in relation to violations of the law on legal attire that will make Turkey look like an underdeveloped state should be prevented; the terms of the laws and particularly the decisions by the Constitutional Court on this matter should be fully observed without any compromise. Erbakan had to resign from office in the aftermath of the Feb. 28, 1997 postmodern process and the Welfare The customs from the provinces were transported to coup Party-True Path Party (Refahyol) urban centers because of rapid urbanization during government was dissolved. The Turgut Özal's term in office in the 1980s. During this first three grades of the IHL schools were closed down by a process of urbanization, women replaced their law requiring an eight-year-long regional attire, which gave a rural impression, with uninterrupted elementary educathe turbans displayed in designer stores tion during the term in office of liberal Mesut Yýlmaz in response to the requests of the MGK. The new practice turned and 1985, their graduates were given the right to purthe IHL into a four-year high school. sue further studies in any university department. In Ten years later, the statement posted on the Web site 1985, Anatolian IHL schools offering courses taught in of the General Staff on April 27, 2007 -- also known foreign languages were introduced. as the e-memorandum -- is a blatant example of the The IHL schools started admitting female students distance between the ruling elite and ordinary people. in connection with a ruling by the Council of State as Parts of the statement focusing on actions compared a result of a lawsuit filed by a parent who wanted to to the disruptive and separatist movements staged register his daughter in 1976. However, the military against the unity and territorial integrity of the country regime banned female students from wearing reliare pretty interesting: gious attire. Retired Gen. Hasan Saðlam was appoint- A Quran recitation competition was held on the ed minister of education in the aftermath of the Sept. very same day as National Sovereignty Day, celebrat12 coup. Three months after he came into office, ed on April 23; however, this activity was canceled Saðlam stressed that the headscarf was in complete after influential public and media pressure. opposition to the principles of Atatürk and further - On April 22, 2007, a chorus of girls from Mardin, sought the view of the Religious Affairs Directorate on Gaziantep and Diyarbakýr recited hymns in Þanlýurfa. the matter. Referring to Atatürk's statements affirming 'Turban' preferred over headscarf because of its modthe right of women to wear religious attire, the direcern look torate pointed out that the headscarf was a religious The "turban," or headscarf, issue shares some similarrequirement. However, this response did not satisfy
Former Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan (left) had to step down due to the pressure of the Turkish Armed Forces, headed then by the chief of General Staff, Ýsmail Hakký Karadayý (right)
male students were admitted to these schools, which were transformed into vocational schools offering four-year education in the aftermath of the military intervention on March 12, 1971. Their title was changed to imam-hatip high school in 1973; the graduates of these schools were given the right to transfer to the literature departments of universities. The graduates of these schools had bright opportunities because of their loyalty to their nation and state at a time when young people generally tended toward leftist ideologies. The duration of the education at these schools was further extended to seven years during the term of a coalition government formed by the left-wing and secular CHP and pro-Islamic National Salvation Party (MSP). Twenty-nine additional IHL schools were opened, increasing the total number to 101. Political administrations did not hesitate to open new IHL schools up until the Sept. 12, 1980 military coup. Even though no additional IHL schools were opened between the 1980 military coup
PHOTO: ALÝ ÜNAL
dents who covered their heads. In some respect, the bans were tragic as well. The young girls who were torn between observing their customs and obeying the bans suffered an identity crisis. They were either to remove the headscarves and lead a life contrary to their beliefs or face the risk of expulsion from their work or school. The Religious Affairs Directorate was still insistent that the headscarf was a religious requirement under Islamic precepts. In such a case, what were the women caught between religion and the state's laws supposed to do? Was there a logical explanation for asking female students pursuing their degrees in religious schools to lead a life contrary to what they learned at these schools? Regardless of their ideological stance and orientation, all human rights groups condemned the said bans. The left-wing Human Rights Association (ÝHD), known for its activities focusing on the rights of the Kurds, stressed in a declaration titled "The headscarf issue and attitudes of principle" that the headscarf ban actually interfered with the private life of a human
ities with the drama of the IHL schools and the village institutes, which were not wanted in the city centers. The customs in the periphery were transported to urban centers because of the rapid urbanization in 1980s. During this process of urbanization, women replaced their regional attire, which gave a rural impression, with turbans displayed in designer stores. The turbans and other modern apparel exhibited by models in fashion shows were more attractive. The elitist rulers, fearing an Islamic revolution similar to the Iranian experience in 1979, refrained from relying on scientific analyses for a proper understanding of the process of change triggered by urbanization. Some were outraged, some were really afraid and some frankly believed that women should be Europeanized. The ordinary people, who constituted the majority, stated in regularly held public polls that students should be allowed to pursue their studies without going against their customs and traditions. In other words, female students who did not wear headscarves were not at all uncomfortable with the stu85
DOSSIER SPRING 2010
they were not banned by law. This time, Erdal Ýnönü, the leader of the political party known as the successor of the CHP, took the new bill to the Constitutional Court. The higher court did not annul the bill; however, it further expanded the sphere of the ban via a controversial interpretation. The legal reasoning publicized in 1991 was a complete contradiction. In the end, the ban was upheld, but the penalties issued in connection with the headscarf ban were abolished. The AK Party government, acting together with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), amended two provisions of the Constitution. Subsequent to the amendments introduced in February 2008, Articles 10 and 42 were changed as follows (inserted amendments shown in parentheses): Article 10: All individuals are equal without any discrimination before the law, irrespective of language, race, color, sex, political opinion, philosophical belief, religion and sect, or any such considerations. No privilege shall be granted to any individual, family, group or The young girls who were torn between observing class. State organs and administheir customs and obeying the bans suffered an trative authorities shall act in compliance with the principle of identity crisis. They were either to remove the headscarves and lead a life contrary to their beliefs or equality before the law in all their proceedings (and in utiface the risk of expulsion from their work or school lization of all forms of public services.) Article 42: No one shall be deprived of the right Higher Education Board (YÖK) ruled that a student to learning and education. The scope of the right to may not be asked to step out of a class without makeducation shall be defined and regulated by law. ing a record of the incident in writing. The decision (No one should be deprived of the right to higher was promising because of the possibility that it may education due to any reason not explicitly written save students from public humiliation, even though it in the law. Limitations on exercising this right shall does not mean that they may attend classes with be determined by the law.) headscarves on. The amendments, which made no explicit referThe bans introduced by military administrations are ence to attire or religious freedom, received overeagerly preserved by courts. The Turgut Özal governwhelming support from the deputies in Parliament. ment made a law in 1988 lifting the headscarf ban. Despite this huge support, the CHP took the matter The law stated that wearing modern attire in higher to the Constitutional Court, which affirmed the education institutions was obligatory, adding that covCHP's arguments and stance. The amendment was ering the neck and the head with a headscarf on the also used as evidence in the case filed by the chief grounds of religious belief and requirement was prosecutor with the Constitutional Court demanding allowed. The Constitutional Court, upon the applicathe dissolution of the AK Party. The court did not tion of President Kenan Evren, reviewed the law and dissolve the party; however, the majority ruled for subsequently concluded that it was unconstitutional. suspension of state aid the party was entitled to In response, the government introduced new legislareceive. The CHP, on the other hand, is busy attracttion in 1990 stating that all types of attire were ing the support of women wearing the chador. allowed in higher education institutions provided that being and was not merely discrimination. Professor Þerif Mardin, a renowned sociologist, holds that the headscarf ban is not democratic. Mardin further says: "Regardless of whether they are religious or not, people in Europe have developed a philosophy of attaining the good and the proper. They have produced thousands of pages. Our republican teaching does not encourage the search for the good… If you study Atatürkist ideology, you will notice that it is pretty superficial. This ideology has not produced anything good for society." To Mardin, intellectuals are afraid of discussing laicism because if they hold such a discussion, they may end up in jail (Zaman daily, May 24, 2008). Headscarf-like hat also banned Zeynep Nur Ýncekara, a medical school student who was expelled from class by the professor because she attended the session with a hat covering her head and neck, filed a complaint with the Directorate of Human Rights at the Prime Ministry. On March 8, 2010, the
Similarity between the ECtHR and the Turkish Jacobins The rulings by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) affirming the headscarf ban in Turkey are welcomed by those who seek the continuation of the ban. The ECtHR, which rules in favor of the supporters of armed terror, shares a similar line of reasoning and thinking with the elitist groups in Turkey when it comes to the headscarf issue. In the end, this affects the Turkish people's views on the EU and breeds anti-Western sentiments. In 1998, Leyla Þahin, a medical student at Ýstanbul University's Medical School, applied to the ECtHR arguing that her expulsion from school on the grounds that she was wearing a headscarf was in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. However, the court unanimously ruled that the headscarf ban in Turkey was not in violation of religious freedom. Þahin, who was unable to pursue her degree in Turkey, completed her studies in Vienna. The ECtHR's ruling, putting strong emphasis on laicism, constituted case law for local courts handling hundreds of similar cases in Turkey. In other applications, the ECtHR still insisted that the legislation banning students from attending classes with their headscarves on was not in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. Coefficient issue and vocational schools IHL schools are considered vocational schools. The measures taken to make sure that the graduates of these schools are not admitted to departments other than theology faculties also negatively affected the graduates of other vocational schools. Let's explain this with an example: Consider a student at the computing section of a vocational school; it is almost impossible for this student to be admitted to the department of computer engineering because of the coefficient system of the college placement examination. However, a student who never took a class on computers in a regular high school may be placed in this department. The Higher Education Board (YÖK), chaired by Professor Yusuf Ziya Özcan, appointed by President
Abdullah Gül, agreed on a new coefficient system in July 2009 that would address the problem. The graduates of regular high schools, who would lose their advantage if the new system were implemented, raised objections; the Council of State stayed the execution of the decision. In response to this ruling, the YÖK decided on a new coefficient; however, the Council of State adopted a similar stance this time as well. The YÖK objected to the decision, referring to the possibility of irreversible damage for the students. In mid-March, the board settled on a milder regulation that it hopes will satisfy the Council of State. The resolution of this issue will apparently take a long time because Turkey's elite, backed by ECtHR rulings, are not willing to allow the rise of the conservative periphery. The circles seeking to secure their interests in reliance on laws at a time when the world is globalizing may agree on the same terms, though behind different masks. Selfishness does not remain silent in the body of the human being; when it finds a way out, it evolves into tribalism and into racism. It may even turn into fanaticism if bred by prejudice. The 20th century is full of examples proving that racist ideologies have much in common regardless of national differences (similarities between Fascism and Nazism). The selfish actors first exploit their nearest; subsequently, they destroy everything that reminds them of the fact that they were actually wrong. Those who underline that religious, racial, linguistic and social diversity is a source of richness have to preserve the universal principles despite all pressures and provocations. READ ALSO: On the coefficient decision of the Council of State: Mustafa Þentop, "Council of State's coefficient ruling: Appellate judiciary and constitutional order," Current issue of TPR, pp. 76-79. On the headscarf decision of the Constitutional Court and the ECtHR, Levent Köker, "Religion, Education, and the Turkish Constitution: A Critical Assessment," Current issue of TPR, pp. 36-45. 87
The Feb. 28 Process was triggered by military tanks riding through the streets of Sincan after a controversial Jerusalem Night hosted the Iraninan ambassador to Ankara PHOTO: ALÝ ÜNAL
ARTICLE SPRING 2010
Alevi opening: new margins, new values
urkey has recently launched a new initiative to address the Alevi issue as part of a greater set of accelerated moves towards democratization. The overall goal of the initiative is to make sure that Alevis' demands are considered and reviewed by the state. To this end, a series of workshops was held; the first of the series took place with the participation of Alevi delegates (June 3-4, 2009, Ankara), whereas the second was attended by academics (July 8, 2009, Ýstanbul) and the third by theologians (Aug. 19, 2009, Ankara). A fourth workshop was held in Ankara with the participation of representatives of civil society organizations on Sept. 30, 2009, and the fifth with the participation of media representatives in Ýstanbul on Nov. 11, 2009. Subsequent to a session drawing participation from former and current deputies in Ankara on Dec. 17, 2009, a mixed workshop was held with the participation of some delegates who had already participated in the previous meetings, on Jan. 28-30, 2010. A detailed description of Alevism and its historical dynamics is essential for the sake of understanding the fundamental issues discussed at these meetings and whether the workshops will become useful. Alevis are considered Muslims incorporating some unique features of the Anatolian region where Islam emerges in the forms of Sunnism and Alevism. The Sunni tradition has survived based on normative assets including written sources, while Alevism has been conveyed to the next generation through oral narratives. It is possible to refer to some common aspects of Alevism and Sunnism; however, it would not be fair to argue that they appear to be an integrated part. Because of their religious emphases that openly exclude each other and their attitudes, rituals and reference systems, Sunnism and Alevism seem to be two distinct traditions. Alevism is still alive with features borrowed from different religions, faiths, belief systems and schools of thought including Islam. While it is open to contact with other faiths and views, Alevism should be regarded as the synthesis of all these interactions. Research confirms that the authentic core of Alevism bears traces of a number of faiths including Islam, Christianity, Shamanism and Buddhism. It is important to note that Islam serves as the main mould for this amalgam. The difficulties encountered in defining
Turkey has recently launched a new initiative to address the Alevi issue as part of a greater set of accelerated moves towards democratization. To this end, a series of workshops were held. These workshops were expected to lay out a roadmap, to agree on a set of solutions, to create a fertile ground between the state and the Alevis, to determine the short-term steps and take action to implement the agreed measures, to address the expectations of the general public and to make sure that the resolution of the problems that the Alevis encounter in their daily lives is viewed as a necessity by the entire nation
ering this theological and political background focusing on Ali. Even though it has transferred some features from Shiism, which emerged from the unconditional loyalty to the political and religious charisma of Ali, it could be argued that Alevism has created a path of its own. Above all, Alevism cannot be regarded as a religious tradition shaped by urban experiences. This is a pretty new state of affairs. The religious imagination of nomadic Turks found some useful themes in Alevism. It is important to recall that Turks made their first contact with Islam through the messengers putting special emphasis upon Ali and that their Islamic understanding has been greatly influenced by this reference. Alevism parted ways with the Sunni and Shiite interpretations of Islam at the beginning; however, it never disconnected with these traditions. In fact, this contact is a dominant characteristic of its syncretic nature. Likewise, Alevism managed to create an amalgam of pre-Islamic religious traditions and Islamic features. Islam, which remained as the major source of its character, has also generated a sphere of faith open to different faiths and religious traditions. Alevism has undergone huge transformations over the centuries. The transformation was so huge that the Alevi tradition has moved from a mystical pantheism to a materialist pantheism. For this reason, what distinguishes Alevis, who are considered by neither the Sunnis nor the Shiites as proper Muslims, is the difference in the ways they perform
the basic characteristics of Alevism are mostly due to the fact that the said feature of this unique group is ignored in relevant discussions. Alevis are dispersed all over the Anatolian region. Because the official establishment does not allow the declaration of a religious identity in Turkey, it is not possible to predict the exact number of Alevis. However, based on some simulations and analyses, scholars generally agree that this figure ranges between 7 and 10 million. Alevis, on the other hand, argue that there are 20 million Alevis in Turkey. These figures the different sides would like to rely on are significant considering that such assumptions give some insight into the probable approaches of different actors vis-à-vis the problem; to this end, the political mystery the figures bear cannot be ignored. Understandable Alevi diversity It should be noted that the dispersed nature of Alevism allows some sort of diversity caused by understandable reasons in the Anatolian region. The dominant approach makes reference to the linkage and correlation started by the conversion of the Turks to Islam. It is interesting to observe that not only the Alevis but also the Sunnis of Turkey and Turkish communities that embraced Islam as it is framed mostly by the perspective that Ali and his followers generated in the history of Islam show a special connection and affinity with Ali that may not be observed in other Muslim communities. The Alevi issue cannot be resolved without consid89
The first of the Alevi workshops took place with the participation of Alevi delegates in Ankara on June 3-4, 2009. State Minister Faruk Çelik (on the left at the central table) headed this first workshop PHOTO: ALÝ ÜNAL
ARTICLE SPRING 2010
ARTICLE IN BRIEF: Alevis are unable to resolve their inherent and internal problems on their own. They expect the state to lead the achievement of unity and cooperation between different groups. Arguments suggesting that Alevism is not part of Islam and that it should be considered a separate faith are attracting greater attention and interest from the media. The course of the discussions over laicism serve as the major point for differentiation between Alevi groups. The Alevi community is now prone to attract the support of the EU to make sure that their problems are reviewed with special reference to the influence of the EU.
Ishak, Baba Ilyas and Sheik Bedreddin, were motivattheir religious rituals. ed by social and economic reasons rather than reliEvolutionary stages of Alevism in Anatolia gious objections. The Babaism movement, which disThe evolution of Alevism in Anatolia may be dividplays interesting features considering that it serves as ed into three periods: the first may be called the the harbinger of the non-Sunni groups in the reliemergence and development of Alevism. This period gious history of Anatolia, draws attention for its mesis known among Sunnis as the period of the redsianic, syncretic, mystic and heterodox characteristics. headed (Kýzýlbaþ), in reference to the red hood the It is already known that nomads were mostly followers of the Alevi faith used to wear. During this opposed to the central administration in the Ottoman process, Alevism was born and gained a historical era. The greater centralization of the administration dimension. The second stage is the lengthy historical made the nomads more concerned about their culturprocess where the Alevis evolved as a group distinct al and social independence. from the dominant Sunni communities with its own The cultural differentiation between the social special rituals and heterodox nature; during this groups as well as the subsequent alienation was process, the Alevis felt they had to hide their identity accompanied by the economic difficulties that deterioand customs for the sake of survival. The third period rated the socio-political position. The refers to the position and status of relations of the Anatolian Turkmens the historical Alevism in the modSome argue that with the Shiite Turkmens in Iran led ern era. The historical roots of the Alevism is a sect or them to oppose the Ottoman adminevolution of Alevism in Anatolia istration. The combination of this faith, whereas some shed light on their position within opposition with the Safavids' political the social structure. The Alevism refer to it as a mode and military movements served as an that emerged as the combination of of culture and set of emerging threat for the Ottoman political and social events during cultural motives. state. The huge support by a substanthe era of the Anatolian Seljuks and tial part of the Anatolian people which was subsequently conveyed Others argue that towards a new state on the eastern to the Ottoman social structure has, Alevism is a distinct border of the state could have led to over time, become the faith of a religion that has noth- its collapse. This danger forced the community that required distinction ing to do with Islam Ottoman state to rely on violent and from Sunnism. Alevis, who had often cruel methods to oppress the limited contact with the state during insurgencies in the Anatolian region after the creation the Ottoman as well as the republican eras, have, up of the Safavid state in the 16th century. During this until recently, remained as a large social group that process, the Alevis served as the carriers of the opporefrained from expressing their identity because of site culture, and they did so despite everything they fear of repression. Even though the birth of Alevism had to deal with; eventually, they had to pay the price can be traced back to the periods when Turks were for their choice very dearly. The presence of the first converted to Islam, their position within the nomadic Turkmens represented by the Alevi sentiAnatolian social structure was visibly shaped in ments and identity within the Ottoman social strucOttoman history. To this end, it is necessary to recall ture has over time become a source of threat. Their that the emergence of Alevism as a structure was iniinterest in the Safavid order as well as their undenitiated by the tense and troubled relations between able roles in the insurgencies that broke out in the Yavuz Sultan Selim (b. 1470 - d. 1520) and the same period in Anatolia attracted the wrath of the Safavid Shah Ismail (b. 1487 - d. 1524). As far as state. It should be noted that the interest of the Alevis Ottoman history is concerned, this period of time is in the Safavids may not be explained by religious regarded as an era of pacifism from the point of view motives alone. Their uncomfortable position must of the Alevis. have taken them away from the Ottoman state. For Alevi insurgencies in the Ottoman era instance, it is now evident that the primary motive in The Seljuk and Ottoman eras witnessed a number a series of revolts known as the Jalali insurgencies was of insurgencies against the central administration. the troubles caused for social and economic reasons. Most of these revolts, including those led by Baba 90
regime's emphasis upon secular values generated excitement among the Alevis, who felt they could be loyal to the new regime. However, the republican regime created trauma for the Alevis, who had to experience greater difficulties in this period. The closure of religious places, legal measures that declared their spiritual leaders illegal, the exclusion of their faith from the school curricula and the indifference of the state to their mystic beliefs and practices led to the disappearance of their enthusiasm. To this end, it is still not possible to talk about a coherent relation between Alevism and the state's secular establishment. As a consequence of their structural characteristics, the position of Alevis as perpetual opponents forced them to have contact with the radical leftist movements. Alevis who rapidly became secular by relying on leftist terminology failed to present a modern interpretation of their faith in a timely manner. On the other hand, the fact that they were exploited as an element of provocation in the incidents that broke out in predominantly Alevi cities and towns, including Çorum and Kahramanmaraþ, raised concerns over the fate and future of the community. Some incidents and rows between Alevis and Sunnis made the state even more concerned and ambitious to build social integrity and cohesion through modern and secular values. Alevis are now able to take their requests and wishes to any platform despite the fact that they are pretty diverse in terms of representation. With the complicated structure and organization, organizational incoherence, and their beliefs, discourse and practices that are almost disconnected with the tradition, Alevis complain about the visible erosion that jeopardizes their existence, and they expect genuine interest and attention from the state to remove and address their concerns over their future. To this end, the 1980s were times when the Alevis attempted to make their voice heard and forwarded their demands to the relevant circles. The erosion of
Alevism as it is known at the present time started to surface after the 16th century. During this process, the Safavid order came closer to the Shiite sect, and in this way a new form emerged as a consequence of the state's preventative measures and the Alevis' strategies. When Alevism was referred to in the 17th century, this reference actually suggested the presence of a marginalized and isolated group. The state oppression and repression subsequent to the red-headed revolts led them to seek refuge in remote parts of the Anatolian region in an attempt to escape the brutality of the state; in other words, the Alevis were forced to go underground. The systematic attempts to keep them away from the political administration minimized their contact with the established order, and in most places they were pushed towards an illegal position. The limitation of marriages to the Alevi people alone during this process created a special communal identity for the members of the group. Work to record the teachings and the rituals were initiated as late as this period. The framework needed for a tradition forced to isolate itself to survive was provided in such an environment of deprivation. Alevis have generated an exclusive form of hatred out of any pain and anguish they had to deal with including the killing of Huseyin, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, in Kerbela; in this way, they positioned themselves as a group in opposition to the Ottoman state. This opposition has become permanent over time. Alevis who disconnected from the Safavid order and were unable to connect with Shiite-Jafari theology have preserved their cultural inventory -- which most of the time could be viewed as folkloric -- along with their rituals that gained a religious dimension with time. Alevi-state relations in the republican era Alevis wanted to be sure when the republican regime was established that what they had to go through in the past would not be repeated. The abolishment of the Khilafat Movement and the republican 91
As part of the Alevi opening President Abdullah Gül paid a visit to an AleviBektashi gathering house in Tunceli and watched the semah ceremony on Oct. 5, 2009 PHOTO: ONUR ÇOBAN
ARTICLE SPRING 2010
Alevis of new generations to develop an interest in identity as well as the faith and rituals along with the radical ideological movements and a sentiment of discrimination they had to face were all perceived as deprivation and alienation. In fact, the developments an alarm bell; consequently, the Alevis took steps to are critical, and unless adequate measures are taken, make sure that the relevant public institutions and Alevis may cause serious security problems because of actors addressed their problems. What constitutes the their visible involvement in radical movements and basic parameters of their faith is still controversial anti-state actions. The political movements ignoring among the Alevis; however, there is a visibly growing the Alevis as well as the political actors exploiting demand by the Alevis asking for the recognition of their presence are equally dangerous. The state of their presence and identity by the state in accordance ignorance and exploitation is the primary factor with the founding principles of the political establishbehind the ever-expanding sphere of the Alevi quesment and regime. tion. In addition to the indifference Failure of the state to address the Alevis' problems to addressing and resolving their The Alevis are prone Alevis often become part of daily problems, the rather inconclusive to identifying their discussions and political analyses and palliative initiatives orientation and faith attempts because of their historical, cultural launched to deal with their troubles and ideological problems. They are in as heterodox, popular have raised concerns and discomfort search of rebuilding their own identi- Islam and a cultural among the Alevi people. Unsatisfied ty by putting strong emphasis on with the measures taken, Alevis lifestyle because of their distance from Sunni society and developed interest in some importthe tradition of oral the secular state and relying on ed solutions to cope with their narratives claims of discrimination, exclusion, problems; as a consequence of this deprivation and being forced to interest, the religious content of the become second-class citizens. Even though some of community has vanished and their political rhetoric these arguments are regarded as exaggerations by has gained a harsh dimension refusing to cooperate some, nobody could deny that it is now time to admit with external actors. In addition to such an extreme that the Alevis constitute a group whose rights and language and style, an exclusionary discourse has demands have been ignored so far and to recognize emerged among some Alevi groups; the visibly growtheir rights in accordance with the ideals of a demoing interest in such a violent rhetoric has raised concratic society. cerns among the state organs and the majority of the However, it should be noted that the state has Alevi people. failed to consider the demands and problems of the Alevi demands are not homogenous Alevis and take effective measures to address these The demands of the Alevis do not display homogeproblems thus far. This state of negligence has led the nous features considering their geographical, ethnic
Safavid Order This order, which was free of extreme religious views and tendencies in the beginning, has acquired features of Shiism over time and turned into a political and military power. The sheiks of the Safavid Order relied on the support of Turkmen nomads in the Anatolian region in their cause to assume power in Iran. Due to the support of the nomadic Turkmen people, Ismail Safavi declared himself shah of Iran in 1501 and created the dynasty of Safavids. Subsequent to coming into power, Shah Ismail recognized Shiism as the official sect of the state and in so doing, parted ways with his own tradition as well as the path of his supporters in Anatolia. Under Shah Ismail's administration, Safavids deployed propagandists to different parts of the Anatolian region in an attempt to call the rural residents and urban settlers to initiate a religious opposition movement and political insurgency. Even though the discomfort of some social groups along with the religious opposition created some influence, the Ottoman state decisively addressed this problem and repressed the revolts.
tinct religion that has nothing to do with Islam. The current tension in Turkish domestic politics as well as the international attempts to interfere with this exclusive problem has created fertile ground for the rise of new forms of Alevism with different claims and mandates. The Justice and Development Party and the Alevi workshops The AK Party government declared in its party program that it would launch an initiative to start a democratic process which will also include addressing the problems of the Alevis. To this end, the government announced in February 2009 that it had prepared a set of actions that will deal with their problems and that it was also ready to discuss the matter with the Alevis. In so doing, the government officially recognized by this initiative -- also famously known as the Alevi opening -- the presence of the Alevis and pledged to take action and consider their demands and problems. The process focusing on the resolution of the problems of the Alevis was officially started with a series of workshops. The workshops seeking to consider and review the primary problems Alevis encounter and their demands and requests with a special reference to democracy and human rights were scheduled to take place in seven stages. Above all, the workshops sought to discuss the reactions and demands of the Alevis on a healthy ground. To make sure that the discourses and reactions which were previously publicized in different circles and environments and further consolidated by harsher elements are held and reviewed calmly, it was essential to invite the relevant parties for a healthy discussion of the matter and subsequently to offer realistic and reasonable solutions based on a ground of dialogue to be achieved by these parties. To this end, it was also necessary to include the Alevis, NGOs and academic and political actors as well as representatives of theology and the media in the process. The workshops particularly sought to achieve the following results: - To find out the views of the relevant actors with regards to Alevism
and cultural breakdown -- they attract attention with their heterogenous characteristics. The differences between the Alevi groups constitute solid grounds for real differentiations that go beyond diversity. These grounds lead to the emergence of different and even conflicting demands voiced by different groups. However, unlike past measures, the primary motive for resolving the Alevi question now does not have anything to do with security concerns. While security concerns are considered important in taking effective steps, they cannot be regarded as the only motive for taking action. The actual goal is to make sure that the Alevis have the same rights as those enjoyed by the other citizens. To this end, Alevis should have the right to lead as free a life as the Sunnis do in this country. However, this discourse of equality has not offered a credible agenda for the Alevis so far; in other words, the Alevis still have concerns and reservations vis-Ă -vis what they were offered. The requests and demands of the Alevis towards their recognition by the state as equal citizens still remain unanswered. On the other hand, the fact that these rights should be legally recognized for them rather than granted as gifts should be taken into account. The actual emphasis on the demands of the Alevis is shaped by a political sensitivity that mostly refers to the expression of their identity. Alevis claim that their presence and identity have been denied since the Ottoman period; they also often put emphasis upon their distinctive characteristics that they argue need to be protected in the presence of a Sunni majority. While discussing historical events Alevis refer to different forms of Alevism on different occasions, and this serves as the major obstacle to the creation of a homogenous understanding of Alevis. The syncretic characteristic of Alevism suffices to explain this diversity. For this reason, the question "Which Alevism?" remains a tough one. This diversity led to the emergence of differing claims of representation of the authentic Alevi identity by diverse groups. Some argue that Alevism is a sect or faith, whereas some refer to it as a mode of culture and set of cultural motives. Some now even argue that Alevism is a dis93
Even though it is related to the Bektashi Sufi lineage, Alevism has created its own path. Ali's poster (in the center of the photo) are an integral part of the Alevi worship houses PHOTO: KĂœRĂžAT BAYHAN
ARTICLE SPRING 2010
set of solutions, to create a fertile ground between the - To get their opinions on the primary issues of the state and the Alevis, to determine the short-term Alevis steps and take action to implement the agreed meas- To determine the probable reaction of the general ures, to address the expectations of the general public public vis-à-vis the opening and to make sure that resolution of the problems that - To control the flow of information to be used for a the Alevis encounter in their daily lives is viewed as a roadmap The general and particular goals necessity by the entire nation. of the workshops were as follows: These workshops sought to determine the requests - To make sure that the representatives of all Alevi and demands of the Alevis who had expressed their groups regardless of their orientation will have the views and opinions in different platforms so far and best opportunity to express their the steps as well as measures to be views and concerns over their probtaken for the fulfillment of the goals. It should be admitted lems The workshops aiming to serve as a that the state has not - To consolidate the functioning of bridge between the Alevis and the made any adequate Turkish democracy and to distinstate discussed the leading problems guish the reactions and moves that progress to maintain a of the Alevi people and reviewed the seek to inflict harm on the harmony state's troubled approach vis-à-vis system of direct comand unity of Turkish people from munication and contact the entire Alevi issue. The particireasonable demands pants also discussed the current state in an effort to address - To face the arguments and issues of affairs with regard to the Alevi the problems of the as pointed out by criticisms with question at these workshops. In the Alevis up until recently. face of difficulties and challenges regard to the practices of secularism and human rights in the social strucarising from the diverse nature of the ture Alevi representatives and groups claiming proper rep- To create a sphere of reason to detect and address resentation and known for their diverse demands, difthe issues of the Alevis ferent ideological orientations and political references, - To maintain dialogue with the Alevi community the determination of the possible solutions to be used - To take action in an effort to establish a channel of remains a daunting task. However, the state was communication between the state and the Alevis obliged to consider the demands of its citizens regard- To share the updates on the concrete issues with the less of these difficulties. Peaceful coexistence requires general public and to start a process of negotiation such a basic approach. with the participation of the relevant parties in the No adequate progress yet possible solutions that will bring a fair, permanent It should be admitted that the state has not made any and lasting order of peace adequate progress to satisfy the concerned parties and By the end of these discussions and deliberations, it maintain a system of direct communication and conwill be possible to lay out a roadmap, to agree on a tact in an effort to address the Alevis' problems. The
Erdebili Order and the Alevis Alevis are known as the Kýzýlbaþlar (literaly red-headed people) in Ottoman history. The sheiks of the Erdebili Order and their followers were named the Kýzýlbaþlar because they wore red crowns and hoods. The emergence of the reference to a large group of the red-headed people as the Alevis is pretty new. It is commonly believed that when the notion of red-headed bore the meaning of the word "rebel" in Ottoman society, it was replaced with the notion of Alevi, which represents fidelity to Ali. It should also be recalled that the negative and repugnant meaning attributed to the notion of red-headed was further conveyed to the notion of Alevism. While official Ottoman documents before the 19th century do not make any reference to the term Alevism, the parameters defining this community must have emerged before. Even if it is defined as a notion seeking to convert the red-headed people to Shiism at a conceptual level, the abandonment of the notion may be taken as an indication of the end of an era. 94
enumerate my observations of the Alevi reality in Turkey, as it is reads within the framework of the Alevi meetings: - The Alevis are prone to identify their orientation and faith as heterodox, popular Islam and a cultural lifestyle because of the tradition of oral narratives. - It is hard to find a channel of common discourse in the diverse world of the Alevis. Their arguments are mostly political; in general, they hope to attract greater support by relying on strong statements that do not require academic or intellectual content and strength. - The Alevis do not display features of a homogenous structure. With their diverse structures, Alevis have conflicting and differing designs in the different parts of the Anatolian region. However, political interests ensure the emergence of a common Alevi discourse which tends to generate some settings that do not offer realistic arguments on the state, the general Muslim population and the Sunnis as the majority in this country. - Alevis are unable to resolve their inherent and internal problems on their own. Their respect for each other has been eroded. They expect the state to lead in the achievement of unity and cooperation between different groups. - A bitter debate on whether Alevism could be considered a form of Islam is emerging as the non-negligible criterion of the reality. This provocative discourse eventually created a wall of separation between the Alevis. Today, every Alevi is forced to give an answer to this question, and the groups feel they are obliged to identify themselves based on the answers provided to such questions. In the meantime, it is interesting to observe that arguments suggesting that Alevism is not part of Islam and should be considered as a separate faith are attracting greater attention and interest from the media. Writers with secular, leftist and ultranationalist motives and backgrounds try to make this tendency more visible and acceptable; they even try to present this argument as the mainstream assumption among the Alevi community. This tendency has become so strong that those who consider Alevism part of Islam are forced to act timidly. The failure to
goal of these meetings was to create a fertile ground where the parties would come together and discuss resolving the issue and to initiate a process of negotiation in accordance with the requirements of participatory democracy. Taking grounded and lasting steps for a long-term solution would be better for visible progress. First, Alevi groups were invited to the workshops based on the differences in their discourses rather than their organizational diversities. The different views between the Alevis range from theology to history and from perceptions of daily life to their expectations for the future, and conflicts between their views are also visible in many other fields. The initiative to get such a diverse set of ideas and views together and meet with the state was a first in many respects. The Alevi opening and subsequent efforts were welcomed by the Alevi people. The general Alevi community, including some marginal groups, views this initiative as a rational and lasting move and considers the government's determination as a positive gesture and historic turning point. The bold steps, the avoidance of a political language and discourse during the entire process, and the exclusion of polemics and determination over a strategy devised to keep the whole process under control have attracted a great deal of attention and support from people. The workshops, the last of which were held in January 2010, helped determine some functional points on how the process is moving. At this current stage, a number of Alevis complain that the state and the government is not paying much attention to their problems; they made visible progress in the process of politicization with their diverse and competing elements; the tensions and problems they are facing as well as their reactions are due to religious, political and economic reasons. It has become evident that the groups claiming proper representation of the Alevis are actually unable to attract the huge support and authority of representation from the Alevi community they claim. Their assertions are based on their media appearances and not on a solid ground. Below I will 95
A key Alevi ritual is semah, the circling dance, performed by selected men and women in a group that can vary in size. The dede plays a seven-stringed lute (saz, baðlama) and sings. During certain parts of the service, the congregation assumes a worship position, kneeling and sitting on their ankles, occasionally bowing their heads to the floor in unison PHOTO: KÜRÞAT BAYHAN
ARTICLE SPRING 2010
Alevi women and men participate together in religious rituals. The headscarf is largely a cultural veil for the Alevi women, and as the Alevi population moves into the city centers the headscarf is also abandoned PHOTO: KĂœRĂžAT BAYHAN
ing on the interests and sensitivities of the Alevi community attract their interest and attention. The discourses of the new generation of Alevis are shaped by the actors relying on these discourses. In fact, TV channels putting emphasis upon the needs and demands of the Alevi community reflect the diverse points of views held by different Alevi groups. - The state is defined by the Sunni identity, and it is argued that the religious practices take place to protect the Sunni identification and orientation. Alevis asking for equal treatment by the state underline the support and attention that the Sunni community receives; some Alevi groups eager to get the same attention are seeking ways to come closer to the state apparatus. - It is apparent that there is a growing international interest in the status of Alevis in Turkey. The special attention from Germany, France and Belgium is also visible. On the other hand, this interest constitutes a framework of reference for use by the Alevis. The Alevi community is now prone to attract the interest and support of the European Union to make sure that their problems are reviewed with a special reference to the influence and security perceptions of the EU. The common ground between the Alevis asking for the resolution of the problem through a reliance on external dynamics and those who ask for consideration of domestic facilities is the fact that they both identify themselves as subordinate to the tutelage of a dominant actor. This should be taken into account. The workshops constituting an important part of the Alevi opening are over. It is now time for the final report to be drafted by the current author, the coordinator of the opening process, and the discussions this report may spark. The report is expected to offer a roadmap on the resolution of the current problems. It will be possible in the coming days to see the progress within the course of the initiative based on the content of the final report. In this way, Alevis will emerge as a group whose presence is acknowledged by the state, whose views and demands are considered and counted by the state actors and whose beliefs and rituals are declared sacred and untouchable.
address the problems of the Alevis and the eagerness of the Sunni majority to hold the monopoly and authority of interpretation take the Alevis towards non-Islamic interpretations where they try to find a new mode of identification. The approaches regarding Alevism as part of Islam are now becoming less influential and effective. The failure to consider and address their problems makes the non-Islam assertions more attractive. - The experiences of Alevis in urban environments usually undermined their authentic-traditional structures. Actually, what inflicted the greatest harm on Alevism was the reckless objections and reactions by the new generations of their faith. The Alevi community that voluntarily participated in the modern education processes experienced the biggest contradiction with their customs. The republican regime's secular policies and curricula as well as the radical-leftist discourses appear to have been influential in this process, which undermined the authority of the religious leaders and the legitimacy of the rituals. For many, Alevism is currently a fabrication built upon raw folkloric materials. Therefore, this construction allows spiritual erosion in the community. A tendency to allow the infiltration of ideological and radical elements takes the Alevis to a discourse of opposition. - The course of the discussions over laicism serves as the major point of differentiation between Alevi groups. For instance, the Alevis call for an authentic version of laicism; they particularly invite the state to become impartial in the provision of religious services; this invitation makes a special reference to the status of the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet); the Alevis further ask for a greater sphere in Turkish secularism for their faith to achieve an equal representation. - Most of the demands of the Alevis may be considered along with the state's policies on secularism because Alevis regard the state's laicism as a setting reinforcing their deprivation. - The primary reasons for the support extended by the Alevi community to these discourses and demands include the visible ignorance of the need of Alevis for a reference and identification. Special initiatives focus96
INTERVIEW SPRING 2010
Esposito: Authoritarian versus democratic politics defines the Turkish debate
A member of the High Level Group of the Alliance of Civilizations, Professor Esposito was in Ýstanbul in March to speak at a conference within the scope of the Alliance of Civilizations Ýstanbul Conferences. PHOTO: ONUR ÇOBAN
ohn L. Esposito believes that the people who subscribe to the ideology of ‘laiklik' in Turkey or in France are often anti-religious and secular fundamentalists and are just as exclusivist as religious fundamentalists in their vision. ‘Under AK Party, both the Turkish society and government have become more representative,’ Esposito says
ÞEYMA AKKOYUNLU John L. Esposito is a renowned professor of international affairs and Islamic studies at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and the founder of the Prince Alwaleed Bin-Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding. Esposito's scholarly work helped bring about not only an understanding between Muslims and Christians but also a better understanding of what Islam is and what is going on in the modern Muslim world. In contrast to Muslim-democracy-skeptics, who accuse religiously motivated Islamic political movements of having secret agendas and using democratic means for their own ends, Esposito is quite hopeful of the future of democracy in Turkey and in other Muslim countries. He is aware of the pains of change, though, and prefers to portray the recent debate in Turkey as a contestation between the old order -- classified by him as the secularist fundamentalists -- and a new order. Personified in the ascendance of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) to power in Ankara -- a move commonly referred to as the periphery mobilizing towards the center -- this new order is characterized, or at least characterizes itself, as being more pluralistic and more inclusive of others, including the
members of the old elite and other religious groups. Esposito warns that the AK Party's success in being truly what they claim they will be should be judged by what they do. Turkish government and society, Esposito says, is opening up with new elites coming in rather than with old elites kept out, and Turkey is moving at a good pace of democratization. He thinks that the old order, where people with religious leanings joining the military or attending university were approached with suspicion, is changing slowly. He adds, however, that there is still more to do on a number of issues, from the headscarf ban to the Kurdish question. A member of the High Level Group of the Alliance of Civilizations, Professor Esposito was in Ýstanbul in March to speak at a conference within the scope of the Alliance of Civilizations Ýstanbul Conferences. The Turkish Political Review asked Professor Esposito about his understanding of what is going on in Turkey and about the pitfalls in the way of Turkish democracy. Where do you see Turkish democracy moving towards? I think that Turkey is moving forward at a good pace in terms of democratization. In the past, there was a legal sense that somehow the military was the protec98
INTERVIEW SPRING 2010
ARTICLE IN BRIEF: An alternative elite group is emerging in Turkey, and Turkey is moving at a good pace in terms of democratization. Certain people speaking to the American audience define the debate in Turkey as a clash between secularists and Islamists, but it is more an issue of democratic versus more authoritarian politics. In the past you might not have been able to get a position in a university if you had a religious profile, but now, one has to move beyond that. The Turkish government is working with the EU, US and Israel independently on the issues that it sees as in its own national interest.
staunchly secular Turk who is at the Washington tor of democracy and therefore could intervene in poliInstitute for Near East Policy (WINEP). This is a very tics. That goes against the whole notion of democracy. I strong pro-Israel think tank. Well, he has an agenda. think what I see unfolding now is a process of capabiliYou could see it not just in his recent article (Esposito is ty. What is being said is that this is going to be a real referring to Soner Çaðaptay and his "What's Really democracy, and you cannot have sectors of the military behind Turkey's Coup Arrests?" published in the thinking of or planning a coup, whether it's an actual February 2010 edition of Foreign Policy), which I coup or a soft coup. Also, if one looks now at the wouldn't allow an undergraduate to publish, because Turkish landscape in terms of positions in society, in he has no evidence. What we normally say in public life government, in security, in the military or in the corpois that you can engage in an argument, but then we say rate world, we see an extended arena where there are "OK, you can put [forward] your argument, but where people from different backgrounds. These people are is your proof?" And that did not occur there. Now I becoming more and more represented. had seen him just before the national elections on pubIn fact both society and government have become lic television in the US. Again he was portraying the more representative because those who are part of the debate in Turkey as a secular versus Islamist one. old establishment are not necessarily kept out; rather, Rather than that, I would see it as an issue of more new people are coming in. Those who were part of the authoritarian versus more democratic. old establishment can still be political That's what the debate is about. players as long as, as in a democracy, I wouldn't make Do people in the West they are able to get votes. The imporlisten to him or to you? this headscarf issue tant thing is that you now have people who were not able to move into ceran issue necessarily When a Western audience hears the world "Islamist," they don't distintain positions before being represented of religious freeguish between mainstream and in those positions. dom. I would frame extremist Islamists, and Islamist means There are still things to be resolved. dangerous. "Secular" in the US means it more in terms of There is this initiative with regard to that there's public space for people the Kurds in the society, but there is basic human rights who believe and who do not believe. still more that needs to be done. There in the society From my point of view, people who are still things to be done about the subscribe to the ideology of "laiklik" in place of other religious bodies in the Turkey or in France are often anti-religious and secular society. For example, the ability of a Christian group to fundamentalists. Before the last election, this particular have its own training seminary or the ability of women person gave an example, again playing to the American who choose to wear a headscarf to attend universities. audience, saying that these people's wives (AK Party You mean religious freedoms? supporters) wear a headscarf and that they don't drink I wouldn't make this headscarf issue an issue necesalcohol. I find this as an American insulting because sarily of religious freedom. I would frame it more in significant numbers of Americans don't drink alcohol. terms of basic human rights in the society. Men and There are American Jews who don't drink alcohol, and women in a democracy have a right to express themsomehow he was trying to portray that as a threatening selves whether verbally or through their dress in any thing. way they want as long as it is not a direct threat to the The other side of the problem is that Turkey has not security of others. If she wants to wear a very short been sufficiently interested or visible in the US. I skirt, that's her business; a long skirt, that's her busiremember having a conversation, 10 or 12 years ago, ness; to wear a hat, that's her business. So why not a with a member of the Turkish Embassy in Washington. scarf or hijab? I said, "Turkey is not visible enough in American socieThere are people in the West who claim that Turkey ty, and Turkey is not interested in being visible." What is passing through a conflict between the secularists she said to me was, "You know the attitude of many and the religious people. What is your position? people in the Turkish government, with a sense of There are two things. One is that many of these peonational pride, is 'Who cares?'" And this kind of converple (who claim a conflict between the secularists and sation has occurred more than once. Their attitude was the religious) have a political agenda. There is a 100
become more pluralistic have to pass through. Part of the problem that Europe had and in a sense that Turkey has is that the older definitions of what constituted a nation were more limited in terms of how pluralistic they are going to be. I mean, in terms of who is a French person or who is a German and here in terms of how does one define Turkish nationalism and what role does religion play in this definition. You had a fear of extreme religious fundamentalism, but you also had extremist secularists who are just as exclusivist as religious fundamentalists in their vision. In my society there are distinctive differences between atheists and believers. One of the problems we had is that as Americans became more religious, atheists have become marginalized. But we have to learn to live together. The challenge in Turkish society is to work out a set of values and attitudes of mutual respect and tolerance. Do you think the traditional elite will adopt this set of values? It is very clear that any elite group grasping economic or political power will have concerns about change. What you see in Turkey is that the establishments of the secular elites were used to defining the norms according to their identity, excluding other possibilities. Now the challenge to them is that you have alternative
almost like "Who cares?" or "Why should we do it?" If you don't address issues like the role of religion in Turkish society, the question of the meaning of secularism or the role of the military, then how do you expect Americans to understand you? They will just see it as a struggle between seculars and Islamists, and in their minds secularist people are good because they believe in an open society and in a secular society, people are free to worship or not to worship. So Turkey is in fact losing a PR campaign? Things are changing. When I first came to Washington in 1993 there was no significant representation of Turks and Turkey even in the universities. Turkish was not taught at Georgetown University, and there was very little visibility of courses on Turkey. The same thing was also true for Johns Hopkins University and others in Washington. Now, for example, at Georgetown we have Turkish language taught and we have courses on Turkey. The idea that you would not have visibility in Washington was very problematic. That is changing. Even Turkish academics and diplomats were rarely coming and speaking to think tanks, but now it is much different, and we have regular programs on Turkey. What additional challenges await Turkey? I think there is a process all societies who want to 101
Esposito complains about the readiness of certain media outlets in Turkey to compartmentalize the society and label the people. He was particularly irritated to find himself being labelled a Gülenist, as he was invited to Turkey by the prime minister, who is claimed to be a close associate of Fethullah Gülen PHOTO: ONUR ÇOBAN
INTERVIEW SPRING 2010
Esposito thinks that there are far more Americans who understand Islam and Muslim cultures than the reverse. “There aren't significant numbers of Muslim scholars who are experts in American studies or in Christianity and Judaism,” he complains PHOTO: ONUR ÇOBAN
elites. They have just as good an education as the traditional elites have. That means power sharing, having a more pluralistic world and tolerating the practices one doesn't like. That also means competition on positions. There is a resistance to change, but they will have to adjust to that. The old elite claims that the newcomers will do just what they did to them: exclusion. Isn't this a legitimate concern? The challenge with new elites is obviously how the new elites will manage power and treat the old elites. When you come to power, if you will in fact follow the very model of your predecessors, then there is a problem. The challenge to those new elites is to show that what they wanted and what they now have is the ability to participate and to take over old positions that were previously closed to them. They have to be able to say that all they want to see is a society that is more pluralistic and a public space open to both belief and nonbelief. Are they going to demonstrate that they are part of the inclusive and pluralistic society with what they have now? That is their challenge. How do you evaluate their score up until now? I think the AK Party should be judged by this question: "Do they live up to the standards of a pluralistic, inclusive, diverse political ideology which their party suggests?" And if their critics espouse an exclusivist and non-pluralistic position going back to the old order, then they should be judged by
that also. Is this government going to take a proactive position on being inclusive of old elites and also of other religions to broaden their space in society? It is very important to see whether or not this government and its policies will remain pluralist. It is a little bit like President Obama trying to signal that he wants to be inclusive and so he appoints people from the Republican Party. The AK Party's core establishment may be religiously oriented, but the party itself identifies as pluralistic. I think the message of the AK Party to the Muslim world, as well as to the West, is that the best way to develop politics in a country, whether we're talking about people of secularly oriented or religiously oriented politics, is to develop it from within the country. If you're going to play a role in society, then you have to become more pluralistic because you're asking the establishment to become more pluralistic. When people ask what the AK Party really is, I would say judge them by what they do, not just by what they say. The WINEP member you mentioned is trying to portray the Gülen movement as a natural ally of the AK Party and is criticizing the movement with the same claims. How do you evaluate the activities of this particular movement in terms of inclusiveness? I was asked a number of years ago by a Turkish academic to co-sponsor a conference on the Gülen movement held at Georgetown. They are much more visible in the US, in Washington. I have been co-editing, more recently, a new book on the Gülen movement and its educational initiatives. I think that the challenge with the Gülen movement will be to assure that its profile remains pluralistic and inclusive. I read an article that says it's suspicious that
members of the Gülen movement are now in the miliThe current government has attempted to work very tary or the police, but I see nothing suspicious about closely and effectively with the EU, US and to a certain that. This suggests that they were not welcomed in the extent with Israel, with the Muslim countries and Iran at military and the police, and this is exclusivism. In the a certain point of independent foreign policy, which is old days you were called politically Islamist or religiousimportant for Turkish nationalism. It is very capable of ly oriented, and if that was known then you might not saying to the US: "We will work with you so far. When be able to hold that kind of position and you might not you ask for cooperation, if we see it as in the Turkish be able to get into top universities. That's more comnational interest, that's fine, but if we don't see it as in mon in the old order than the new order. the Turkish national interest, we will say no!" That is I think one has to move beyond that. When it comes what the Turkish prime minister did with regard to to the university profile, whether you are religious or Israel. On the one hand having relations with Israel, but not, whether you wear a headscarf or a short skirt, the on the other hand speaking out at that Davos meeting. issue is: "Are you academically qualified?" That's what Some people here and there might say that he kind of education is about. And that should lost his temper. Why is it OK when work in every sector of society. There Prime Minister Netanyahu takes a You had a fear of was an old order in Western universihard stance, but not okay when Prime extreme religious ties when it came to studying Islam Minister Erdoðan does the same? fundamentalism, but Erdoðan wants to be inclusive also and the Middle East. Its name was Orientalism. Are things changing in you also had extrem- when dealing with the Iranians. I see American universities also? Turkey as attempting to say: "We will ist secularists who have relations with, to the extent we Yes, they are clearly changing. First are just as exclucan, all the Middle Eastern Muslim of all, it's not that the old order should countries, and we will have relations not exist. They have a perfect right to sivist as religious with the EU and the West. When we exist. But there is a new order. If you fundamentalists in disagree significantly we will say we look at the membership of MESA (the their vision disagree." That's a very important role. Middle East Studies Association) you'll Turkey is no longer saying: "We will see it's far more diverse. It is not domaccept and want all the things you can give us at the cost inated by the white order. There are many people from of threatening our own independence and identity." the Middle East region, who are now citizens in the US and are the dominant order. In my Center for MuslimDo you think this policy can work on the Armenian front also? Christian Understanding at Georgetown, we just hired a The Turkish-Armenian issue is a very, very deepMuslim scholar. If you look at the issue of Palestine seated historical issue. It is like talking about USand Israel, there are prominent scholars who are strong Iranian relations. You can move up to some point, but critics of militant Zionism. There are American Jewish then there is a scratch, and old memories come up. I scholars who support a Palestinian state and therefore think that Turkish-Armenian relations can move two are criticized by strong Zionist Jews or non-Jews for steps back, three steps forward, one step back two steps their position. That diversity exists in America. It exists forward. The acceptance of both sides that you'll not in books we read that are available to students, it exists have a solution to anything unless you really negotiate in positions we take. is important. Negotiation means that parties are never In fact I would say there is much more of a challenge going to totally agree. Each of us has a right to feel that for people in the Middle East by means of diversity. the other is more responsible for the problem, but we There are far more Americans who understand Islam can't come to the solution if each of us feels the other is and the Muslim cultures than the reverse. There aren't totally responsible. Part of the recognition, then, is to be significant numbers of Muslim scholars who are experts able to look and say that people were killed, there were in American studies, or in Christianity and Judaism. atrocities, but there were very legitimate reasons also. It Turkey's new foreign policy is motivated by the ideas is not a black and white situation. One may be tilted of 'peaceful coexistence' and 'zero problems with more to one side than the other, but one has to find a neighbors.' Do you foresee a success story in the future constructive way to move forward to negotiate. of this policy? 103
DOSSIER SPRING 2010
Conceptual framework of Turkish foreign policy in AK Party era
ver the last decade, Turkey has been experiencing one of the most important periods in its republican history. Its domestic and foreign policies are praised on regional and international platforms and attract the attention of the international community. The reforms the government introduces make it a more democratic state, whereas its strategy of cooperation, focusing on dialogue with international actors and regional players, polishes its image and increases its prestige. The reason for the emergence of discussions in both domestic and international circles focusing on where Turkey is heading and whether it is changing its axis is the proper appreciation for and comprehension of the current process of globalization by Turkish society, with its wisdom and intelligence. For instance, it did not rely on vicious sentiments such as hatred and revenge in an attempt to recover its losses in the Balkan Wars of 19121913, the war with Russia in 1878 or World War I. Quite the contrary, it embraced noble innovations and notions as well as universal principles, including dedication to democracy, respect for human rights and the protection of religious and cultural identities and diversity earlier than many other nations and dismissed reactionary and ideological discourses that promoted violence. From weak coalitions to strong single-party administration This flexible and constructive approach that Turkish society has developed in the course of events facilitated Turkey's adaptation to the emerging processes and deeply affected the political structure of the country. The transition to a civilian lifestyle in 1983 was surprisingly easy following the military coup staged on Sept. 12, 1980. Voters have also ended the rule and administration of politicians who turned Turkey into a country that had problems with its neighbors and struggled with economic issues subsequent to a visible improvement in the period between 1983 and 1993. In the general elections held on Nov. 2, 2002, the voters brought the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), under the leadership of Recep Tayyip Erdoðan, to power. It was not only the negative impact of poor governance during the administrations of weak coalition governments on the public in the period between 1993 and 2002 that played a determining role in this outcome, but also the accurate interpretation of global trends by the AK Party. Because it pursued a policy meeting the
The drafters of the current Turkish foreign policy design strived to maintain political, economic and cultural cooperation with the Russian Federation, the successor of the Soviet Empire, the second great power in world politics during the Cold War era, without disconnecting from the Western world and ending its full membership status in leading international organizations including NATO and the Council of Europe
and cultural cooperation with the Russian Federation, the successor of the Soviet Empire, the second great power in world politics during the Cold War era, without disconnecting from the Western world and ending its full membership status in leading international organizations including NATO and the Council of Europe. In addition, the void in the international system in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York was keenly observed and bold steps were taken to improve ties with countries in the Balkans, the Middle East and the Caucasus, regions which have a visible Turkish legacy because of longterm Ottoman rule. The Turkish government has sent numerous messages to the administrators of these countries calling for further cooperation instead of rivalry and competition. The Turkish nation's attempt to integrate with the outside world since 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell, as well as the AK Party's international and domestic policies, which improved Turkey's image in the world, have created a connection between the state and the nation. To appreciate the magnitude and extent of the progress that Turkey has made over the last eight years, it will be sufficient to take a look at the recent moves in the field of international diplomacy and the notions coined in this era. 'Self-perception of civilizations' Frequent references by prominent names and government figures, including President Abdullah Gül, Prime Minister Erdoðan, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoðlu and Economy Minister Ali Babacan, to new, original and forceful ideas, such as proactive foreign policy, "rhythmic diplomacy," acting on a larger scale, multidimensional strategy, a policy of zero problems with neighbors, a pivotal country role, Turkish vision and creating order, confirm that the AK Party has a solid and strong foreign policy vision. Undoubtedly, Professor Davutoðlu has made the greatest contribution to this vision. Davutoðlu, the AK Party's top foreign policy designer, combined his academic proficiency with his expertise as the chief adviser to the prime minister and later foreign minister; this combination led to the emergence of a constructive diplomacy focused
demands of the people in Anatolia, the AK Party attracted their support and consolidated its power and position in the general elections held on July 22, 2007. Turkey getting rid of its headaches What factors played the greatest role in the success of the AK Party, a party which came to power during troubled times? What are the reasons for its landslide election victories? In fact, there are a number of answers to these questions; however, it seems that the most important factor behind this success is Turkey's effort to get rid of the "ancient" headaches that have historically prevented it from exploiting its opportunities. The AK Party administration replaced static strategies based on the "fixed parameters" of the Cold War era with new domestic policies emanating from its historic experience. For instance, a number of bold reforms were introduced to facilitate full membership in the European Union, and many legal instruments were created to attain the advanced standards of a democratic regime. Much was done to ensure the enjoyment of the right to assembly, a key principle and requirement of a pluralist democracy. At the same time, the administration of this era also waged a war against clandestine organizations and illegal enterprises, including mobs and terrorist groups that sought to terrorize and intimidate the public and disrupt social harmony. In addition, the foreign policy style pursued by the final Ottoman rulers, who tended to align themselves with great powers in an attempt to protect the interests of the state, was abandoned. Turkey, which allied itself with Britain during its war with Russia, cooperated with Germany in World War I when the British Empire decided it was time to partition the Ottoman state and sought to benefit from NATO's security umbrella under the leadership of the US when the Soviet Empire manifestly threatened its territorial integrity, has this time developed a multidimensional foreign policy strategy. Cooperation rather than rivalry Under said policy, the drafters of the current foreign policy design strived to maintain political, economic 105
Critics of the AK Party often claim that Turkey has turned its back to the EU and the Western World. Turkish PM Erdoðan's hectic travel schedule illustrates that these critiques are unfounded and proves that the government has a multidimensional foreign policy GRAPHIC: Y. EMRE hATUNOÐLU
DOSSIER SPRING 2010
DOSSIER IN BRIEF: The dictionary of Turkish foreign policy contains entries such as proactive foreign policy, rhythmic diplomacy, acting on a larger scale, multidimensional strategy, a policy of zero problems with neighbors, a pivotal country role, creating order and a Turkish vision. This vision foresees a strong economy, a political approach free of tension and quarrels and a worldview in harmony with its culture and history. This vision brought a new style to diplomacy that can be summarized as locating the problems, taking care in settling disputes, establishment of dialogue with the relevant parties, avoidance of thorny issues and an emphasis on the mutually agreed issues.
response to Israeli President Simon Peres in Davos was welcomed not only in Turkey, but throughout the entire world. This historic incident, now famously known as the "One Minute" showdown, proved that Turkey can be a country that can "speak Turkish in its foreign policy" and state its terms if necessary [The author uses the term "speaking Turkish" in its meaning used mainly by Israeli analysts. Turkey's strong language against Syria back in 1998 convinced Syria to expell the terrorist leader Abdullah Öcalan from its soil where he found safe haven till then and many Israeli analysts suggested that Israel should "speak Turkish" to Syria also. (Editor)]. Each move in the field of diplomacy was welcomed by the public in this age of communication and consolidated the ties between the state and the nation. In this way, the young people who constitute a center of power in Anatolia transformed their inherent potential into kinetic energy rather than wasting their strength engaging in political disputes. They spent their time carrying out producTurkey is now cited as a country creating order tion, research and integration with the in its region thanks to its rapprochement with world in an effort to go beyond the limthe near abroad, the policy by which it settles its its of the Misak-ý Milli (National Pact) objectives [Misak-ý Milli is the name of disputes with neighboring countries and maina set of six important decisions made by tains cooperation with its historic rivals. the last term of the Ottoman Parliament. These decisions served as both the legitimacy base and the framework of the War ruptive crises, created an environment where historical of Independence and of the foreign policy decisions in and cultural values are shared with the globalized the following republican era. (Editor)]. world. The AK Party contended that political and ecoOpportunities for cooperation in near abroad nomic stability are the foundations of strength and As a matter of fact, the AK Party administration influence in foreign policy. It successfully dropped polibased its policies on these grounds. The government's cies that might have led to social polarization and secupolicy, focusing on making sure that no problems with rity problems. It remained sensitive to the needs and neighboring countries exist, also known as the "zero demands of the people and stayed away from the traps problems with neighbors policy," broadened Turkey's and plots of politicians who sought to pursue disruptive horizon and vision. This policy, applicable to a vast area policies which relied on society's fault lines. Its focus on inclusive of five seas (the Caspian, Black Sea, resolving the fundamental problems of the Anatolian Mediterranean, Red Sea and Persian Gulf) and five people was rewarded in the election polls. rivers (the Amu, Danube, Nile, Euphrates and Tigris), Reinstitution of former state of affairs unlikely has transformed into intergovernmental strategic coopFrom this perspective, it is actually not surprising to eration meetings. Crucial decisions were made and key witness that the AK Party, which senses the continuous terms were agreed upon in the joint ministerial meetsupport of the nation, has pursued such "radical" and ings held between Turkish and Syrian as well as "fundamental" policies and strategies in domestic and Turkish and Iraqi delegations to ensure economic staforeign affairs. The people trusted their state whereas bility and further development in the region. the latter confirmed through the policies it implementFor instance, the construction of highways and railed that its strength was due to the overwhelming supways was accelerated to remove the issue of geographic port of the nation. Prime Minister Erdoðan's public
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoðan and then-Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül sign the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe in Rome on Oct. 29, 2004
on the resolution of problems and the settlement of disputes. Despite occasional criticism, it became apparent that said notions were not idle and that they bear the signs of a civilization's identity. It is evident that Turkey's recent foreign policy was drafted in line with certain principles and foundations from Davutoðlu's seminal book, "Strategic Depth," published in 2001, as well as his article "Self-perception of civilizations," which appeared in the academic journal Divan in 1997. So, what are these foundations? Turkey-centered strategic vision It is certain that the foundation of the foreign policy strategy pursued by the AK Party government since 2002 refers to a vision of Turkey's role in world politics. The components of this vision include a strong economy, a political approach free of tension and quarrels and a worldview in harmony with its culture and history. This constructive policy approach led to a stable economy, and the economic system, resistant to dis-
Rhythmic diplomacy Turkey's engagement with its near abroad has inevitably required active diplomacy. Undoubtedly, the visible change and transformation in the international system influenced this strategy, which could be summarized as a multidimensional foreign policy style. Instead of being a bystander, Turkey tried to become involved in complicated world affairs and take part in the relevant processes. In other words, it apparently dropped the classical approach of the Turkish foreign policy establishment during the Cold War era, which used to determine its position depending on the attitudes of the major powers. Turkish foreign policy makers replaced the diplomatic approach focusing on the emergence of crisis with a vision stating that it is possible to act together without competing against each other. The intention to prevent a crisis even before its breakout inevitably led to the development of a dynamic and "rhythmic" foreign policy. Utmost attention was paid to make sure that the diplomatic initiatives extended to the near and far abroad were synchronized and designed in a way that they would not overlap each other. Turkey's sincere attempts have led to the impression around the world that Turkey has something to say whenever an important development takes place in the Middle East, the Caucasus, the Balkans, Central Asia and Europe. Country creating order in its region Turkey is now cited as a country creating order in its
barriers, and legislation was introduced to facilitate visa procedures in an attempt to improve commercial ties and ensure that people can travel freely and are able to participate in cultural exchange. In so doing, those who drafted this foreign policy sought to minimize the distance between Van and Tabriz, Erzurum and Baku, Artvin and Batumi, Diyarbakýr and Arbil, Mardin and Mosul, Urfa and Aleppo and Gaziantep and Kirkuk. Interstate ties were further reinforced by moves to initiate relations between communities. A policy of rapprochement with Armenia was introduced to remove the artificial barriers between Turkey and Armenia. The government also took action to create consultation mechanisms between countries neighboring Turkey to minimize the risk of any potential conflict in the region. The summits of countries neighboring Iraq held under the auspices of the Turkish foreign policy establishment prevented the partition of Iraq, which was invaded by the US in 2003. Turkey also served as a mediator to settle disputes between Israel and Syria and acted responsibly to help Lebanon attain political stability and prevent another civil war in the country. Turkish diplomats further pursued a fairly active diplomatic style during the war between Russia and Georgia in 2008 to ensure that this local conflict did not transform into regional warfare. In an attempt to prevent another war in the Balkans, a tripartite mechanism was established with the participation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia. 107
DOSSIER SPRING 2010
Russia simultaneously. New diplomatic style Another of Turkey's surprising moves which was in contradiction with its classic foreign policy style has been its ability to create common spheres of interest with countries that were once considered to be inherent threats to its security and territorial integrity. The improved relations with Syria, which provided safe havens for PKK militants in the past, and Russia, a historic rival, were maintained without disconnecting from the US and European countries. By pursuing multidimensional diplomacy instead of the one-dimensional foreign policy style applied in the Cold War era, Turkey contributed to the enhancement of ties between the East and the West as well as the North and the South. Turkey, which became involved in a number of regional and global disputes including the ethnic and sectarian conflicts in Iraq and the rows within NATO, offered a new diplomatic style for the relevant parties to alleviate the tension. As the new style -which could be summarized as Another of Turkey's surprising moves which was in locating the problems, taking care in contradiction with its classic foreign policy style has settling disputes, the establishment been its ability to create common spheres of interest of dialogue with the relevant parties, with countries that were once considered to be inher- the avoidance of thorny issues during negotiations and an emphasis on ent threats to its security and territorial integrity the mutually agreed issues -became successful, Turkey's status in the international arena was raised further. Interestingly, oriented policies became more popular. It did not introTurkey's higher profile in its region and in the world duce tighter security measures, restricting the enjoyled to another global political development. It created ment of fundamental freedoms, despite the fact it has fertile ground for nations and states that have suffered been at war with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) the imperial and colonial ambitions of great powers, terrorist organization since 1984; quite the contrary, it experienced a crisis of identity, had problems expressintroduced shining and bold reforms expanding the ing themselves with regard to European countries and sphere of liberties and human rights. This courageous been uneasy with being on the periphery of the interattitude was rewarded in 2004 when the EU started national system to act more confidently. The mental membership negotiations with Turkey. transformation in Anatolia changed the language of Moves by Germany and France, reluctant to see politics and Turkey's reliance on constructive diplomatTurkey become a member of the EU but also worried ic moves and the dismissal of the Cold War mentality that Ankara could part ways with Brussels, to slow influenced the policies pursued by global and regional down the negotiation process were successfully aborted actors. by the strategy of zero problems with neighbors. In so Global vision doing, Turkey has proven that the argument suggesting Relations with great powers constitute the other that the EU will share borders with an unstable region dimension of the Turkey-centered vision. At a time is unsubstantiated. Turkish foreign policy makers when the international system is being recreated and signed strategic partnership agreements with Russia in rebuilt, Turkey has proven that it is willing to contribute response to those who offer a privileged partnership to the future shape of this system and the entire world. with the EU system. Turkey showed that it is possible It paid attention to the relations between the permato pursue balanced relations with the US, the EU and region thanks to its rapprochement with the near abroad, the policy by which it settles its disputes with neighboring countries and maintains cooperation with its historic rivals. Inspired by the experience of Germany and France, which, despite their historic rivalry, worked together to lay the foundations of the European Union, Turkey preached the idea that the countries in its region could do the same. It also promoted the idea that cooperation with countries that were formerly enemies, such as Russia and Greece, was possible, cooperation which would resemble the friendly relations with Syria, Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan and Georgia. The question to be asked at this point is that where does Turkey's confidence come from? It would be correct to seek the answer to this question in the stylistic moves of Turkey's diplomacy. Turkey did not follow the trend of the rest of the world in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, when security-
that ruled in Eurasia. When trying to show that it can make economic, political and cultural contributions to the future shape of the world, Turkey relies on constructive language and proves through its own policies that global and regional actors could settle their disputes and resolve their problems by creating joint spheres of cooperation. The new Turkish foreign policy style attracts attention because of its efforts to achieve intercultural and interfaith dialogue and dismisses the notorious "Clash of Civilizations" thesis advanced by American political scientist Samuel P. Huntington in 1993. It also argues, without categorically opposing European civilization, which has historically monopolized definitions of civilization, that every culture is entitled to contribute to the universal culture. A vision of civilization Most importantly, Turkey has repeatedly made it clear that a new world order is not possible if coercive measures are employed. It suggests that at a time when communication is growing, the real foundation of power shouldn't be warfare, it should be convincing people; by creating a triangle of freedom, security and welfare, many problems can be solved. Turkish foreign policy makers argue that the world needs a new order but that the people also need an international system that considers the needs and demands of human beings. If a new order is to be created, it should embrace all peoples, races, nations, communities, cultures and civilizations. It further notes that all civilizations have cognizance and self-awareness and it is impossible to destroy them. Turkey argues that the Atlantic-centered international system created after World War II is not just or fair and that the new order must be pluralistic and participatory. It further asserts that an order dismissing diversity, failing to internalize different cultures and values and unable to create a synthesis out of regional zones of civilization and maintain ties with other peoples, nations and civilizations will not last long.
nent members at the UN Security Council -- the US, China, Russia, Britain and France -- and it also secured membership in the G-20, which acts together with the G-8. Recently, new responsibilities were added to the already existing ones created by Turkey's membership in NATO and the Council of Europe. It started negotiations for full membership with the EU and was elected as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. During this administration, a Turkish scholar, Ekmeleddin Ýhsanoðlu, was elected secretary-general of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). To fight Islamophobia, which has become a serious problem globally following the Sept. 11 attacks, Turkey and Spain jointly proposed the Alliance of Civilizations initiative. Turkey also has observer status other intergovernmental organizations, including the Organization of American States (OAS) and the African Union (AU). To improve relations with the Arab League and institutionalize these relations, an agreement was signed to create a Turkish-Arab Cooperation Forum in 2007. The strategic dialogue mechanism established with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) was institutionalized one year later. Policies were devised to ensure rapprochement with distant lands including the Indian subcontinent, the Pacific region, Africa and Latin America and to seek out additional business and investment opportunities. Embracive style In conclusion, over the last eight years, Turkey has actively contributed to the international system, which has been going through a great transformation since 1989. In this process, Turkey relies on using original diplomatic language instead of using the terms of others. It abandons the Cold War strategies, based on the classical enemy concept, and puts an emphasis on the argument that global problems may be settled through reliance on policies focusing on dialogue and conciliation. When arguing that this Turkey-centered vision could contribute to the concept of globalization, Turkey makes reference to its historical experience. It frequently recalls that Turkey was one of the eight multinational empires of history (Great Britain, Russia, AustriaHungary, France, Germany, China, Japan and Turkey)
READ ALSO: Ahmet Davutoðlu, Stratejik Derinlik: Türkiye'nin Uluslararasý Konumu, Küre Yayýnlarý, Ýstanbul: 2001. Ahmet Davutoðlu, "Medeniyetlerin Ben-idraki," Divan Dergisi, 1997/1, p.11. 109
As part of its newly assumed role as an order-creating country Turkey hosted and facilitated several meeting between conflicting countries in and around the Middle East. Turkish President Gül brought Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas together in Ankara on Nov. 13, 2007 PHOTO: ALÝ ÜNAL
CINEMA SPRING 2010
Gang movies or the illegal protagonists of the screen hat has been happening since the start of the Ergenekon investigation has already been covered in a number of movies. The venture of illegality does not recognize any cultural or geographic limits and boundaries. And most of the time, cinema serves as a brilliant mirror thanks to which we can understand what is really happening.
"Now the whole world stands on the brink, staring down into bloody Hell, all those liberals and intellectuals and smooth-talkers... and all of a sudden nobody can think of anything to say." Watchmen (2009)
crimes or criminal enterprises attract a great deal of attention from viewers, moviemakers and producers have favored productions of this genre, even during the early years of cinema. For instance, 40 movies about gangs and crimes were screened in 1910. The total number of productions in this genre in the history of world cinema is stunning: 87,000. A new culture that became dominant in the US with the arrival of a new wave of migration after the end of World War I created new forms of crime. Because crime changed in form, the notion of "gang" was also influenced by this change. Cinema, viewed as a reflection of real life on the screen, internalized this change in a very short time. The first gangster films Gangster films, the first of which was produced in 1930, reached their peak in 1972 when the seminal film "The Godfather," referred to as the first epic gangster movie, was screened. In the history of American moviemaking, the issue of crime becomes particularly popular in times when the country suffers from political or economic crises or turmoil. The reason is plain and simple: Every country considers itself responsible for upheavals in those times and exerts efforts to set things right. Moviemaking is the simplest way to do this because cinema is the most popular visual art.
M. NEDĂ?M HAZAR Historians refer to the Lumiere Brothers as the first moviemakers. This is only partially true. True, the Lumiere Brothers, inspired by a Kinetoscope they saw in an exhibition in Paris, shot films; they even invented the first successful projector. However, Edwin S. Porter from the US was the first moviemaker who used different scales and camera angles as fundamental elements of the language of moviemaking and tailored these elements together in different rhythms and forms depending on how the story was evolving. Porter, particularly in "The Great Train Robbery" (1903), relied on close-ups and brief shots in dynamic and tense scenes and innovative techniques by which he laid the foundations of realism in moviemaking. The focus of this first cinematic movie was its narration of a gang robbing a train. Viewers experienced the fascinating combination of the world of gangs and visual art for the first time in this movie. Aware of the fact that movies narrating the story of 110
genre, "Underworld" by Josef von Sternberg is not considered influential or determinative as a gangster movie because it was produced in the silent era. For this reason, "The Public Enemy" and "Little Caesar," where James Cagney and Edward G. Robinson, renowned stars of gangster movies, played the lead roles, respectively, are remembered as the first notable examples of the genre. Cagney's scary and mysterious persona despite his "baby face" had a significant impact on the history of the genre. The simultaneous appearance of Cagney with this persona and Peter Lorre in Fritz Lang's "M," among the first examples of film noir in the history of cine-
The "gangster movie" trend remained influential up until the 1940s; "film noir" gained prominence in 1942, drawing on the troubles of the Great Depression. The "neo-noir" genre was invented in the post-Vietnam era to merge the epic gangster and film noir genres. Of course, the fact that they narrate realistic stories does not necessarily mean that gangster movies depict the real stories of gangsters. Quite the contrary, some examples of this genre produced in the mid-1930s present semi-fabricated stories inspired by the criminal enterprises of the time. Even though it is known as the first example of the 111
The movie â€˜Shooterâ€™ is the story of a triggerman who thought it was legitimate to kill the president for the interests of the fatherland.
CINEMA SPRING 2010
ma, was a coincidence. But it is also a horrible fact because Lorre, who played a criminal in "M," and Cagney displayed similar characteristics, and it was hard to believe that Lorre's character was a murderer. This is in fact something that tells us the mysterious interpretations of the film noir and gangster genres. In the late 1930s, some other examples of the genre inspired by Cagney were produced, including "Angels with Dirty Faces" and "The Roaring Twenties." The former also falls in the sub-genre of "gang movie," which would emerge later. "Angels with Dirty Faces" narrates the story of a protagonist who has a tendency to commit crime and is also preoccupied with a gang of no-good kids who, of course, idolize him. In this period, movies were produced suggesting that American society should be purged of dangerous criminals. 'The Godfather' and the gangster movie's return to the top Gangster movies, supplanted by film noir with the arrival of "The Maltese Falcon" (1942), continued to be made in the subsequent decades, as evidenced by "Dillinger" (1945). However, the actual revival of this genre came only after the introduction of the New Hollywood tradition, also referred to as the American New Wave, in 1967, as first evidenced by "The Godfather," produced in 1972. The movie, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, took the gangster movie genre back to the top and brought it into the modern era. The revival of the genre as a consequence of the end of the film noir era helped "The Godfather" became a masterpiece. The most striking aspect of the movie was its ability to promote its antihero and make us connect with him through a cathartic tie. Its ability to transfer the genre into a colorful era should also be noted. While production of sequels to the movie contributed to Coppola's personal fortune, it also facilitated the emergence of other examples of the genre, including "Once Upon a Time in America," "Goodfellas" and "Casino." However, this tendency also led to the emergence of sub-genres of gangster films, including the "hood film," the gangster movie in black cinema; the "triad film," the Hong Kong version of the genre; the "gang film"; and "noir comedy," which combines comedy and gangster films. "Boyz n the Hood," the first film by John Singleton, may be cited as an example of the first, "A Better
Tomorrow" and "Hard Boiled" by John Woo of the second, "The Outsiders" and "The Warriors" of the third and "Miller's Crossing" of the last. Fantastic gangster movies A greater breakthrough came when a comic was adapted to the screen in "The Dark Knight," thus introducing a fantastic dimension to the gangster film genre. The Joker and his gang, major components of the Batman movies that we are familiar with, are accentuated in the film as the primary protagonists. This inevitably converts the Batmancentered skeleton into a Joker-centered one. Additionally, like Don Corleone in "The Godfather," the movie secured huge financial success with advertisements relying on the captivating image of the Joker. We should also remember that Heath Ledger (the Joker), who was treated like the star of the movie, won an Oscar. So, the gangster movie evolved into a hybrid form: the "fantastic gangster movie." We may take this as an extension of the logic that seeks to make cartoon adaptations and fantastic productions more realistic. However, the character of the Joker, who appeared as an exaggerated protagonist, seems to satisfy the mature viewers of the gangster genre. This actually points to the future direction of the genre because it has become the primary raw material of studios, becoming a genre on its own and not just one of the aforementioned sub-genres. It is only a matter of time now before new movies are produced under its influence. The difference between Cagney's Public Enemy, Marlon Brando's 112
played the police officer, to stardom. Among a rather lengthy list, movies such as "Krallarýn Öfkesi" (The Rage of the Kings), "Sürgünden Geliyorum" (I Am Returning from Exile), "Skandal" (Scandal), "Eþkýya" (Bandits), "Karýþýk Pizza" (Mixed Pizza) and "Fasulye" (Bean) could be considered leading examples of the genre. One interesting detail is that Yýlmaz Güney, known as the forefather of the "revolutionary movie" genre, has directed and written a number of gang movies. Güney, also known as the ugly king of Turkish movies, starred in the movie "Ýkisi de Cesurdu" (Both Were Brave) produced in 1963, which narrated the story of a gang leader in exile; his 1969 film "Bir Çirkin Adam" (An Ugly Man) narrated the story of a hired assassin. In "Aç Kurtlar" (Hungry Wolves), produced in the same year, Güney played a bandit who eliminated a gang. The gang movies Güney starred in also include "Yarýn Son Gündür" (Tomorrow Is the Last Day), "Bana Kurþun Ýþlemez" (I Am Bulletproof), "Benim Adým Kerim" (My Name Is Kerim) and "Kovboy Ali" (Cowboy Ali). On the other hand, we see similarities in the filmography of Cüneyt Arkýn, who became a star in the same period of time. Arkýn, who played the lead role in "urban gang" stories, has become an influential artist thanks to his work as an honorable figure fighting against gangs and corrupt cops as well as all sorts of illegal activities. Sadly, Turkish cinema was unable to achieve realism in narrating stories of gangs and crimes for sev-
Godfather and Ledger's Joker will definitely determine the direction of this transformation. Turkish gang movies: detached from reality The course of Yeþilçam, the Turkish movie industry, is no different from Hollywood. The gang stories narrated by Yeþilçam have always attracted a great deal of attention from viewers and have made their producers rich and popular. However, unlike the products of the movie sectors in other countries, Yeþilçam movies were detached from the reality. Let us take a brief look at this: Refik Halid Karay's novel 1939 "Çete" (Gang) was turned into a movie by Çetin Karamanbey in 1950. The movie, in which Neriman Köksal, Ýhsan Evrim and Orhon M. Arýburnu, the famous artists of the time, played the leading roles, narrated the heroic story of Kýran, who defeated enemy forces in Ýstanbul. Even though it seems to be a kid's movie, "Yumurcak," produced in 1961, features the story of the daughter of a gang leader who disguises herself as a man. The genre was so influential that gang movies were produced even in the early 1970s, when erotic movies were popular and regular movies failed to attract the attention of the viewers. In this period, the genre became an amalgam of gangster films and soft erotic features. The movie "Hem Döðüþ, Hem Seviþ" (Fight and Make Love) directed by Yücel Uçanoðlu, was a soft erotic gangster movie narrating the story of a police officer who was dealing with a gang blackmailing wealthy women using their naked photos. The movie propelled Behçet Nacar, who 113
The movie ‘Swordfish’ is about the relationship between terrorist activities and security council meetings. Every time the council has a meeting terrorist activities increase, and this lays the foundation for the decisions of the council. The civilian members of the council have no other chance but to follow the "orders" of the military men
CINEMA SPRING 2010
DOSSIER IN BRIEF: This dossier tells the story of gang films and protagonists of the screen, both in Western and Turkish cinema. The author claims that the illegality of the underground world does not recognize any cultural or geographic limits and boundaries. Cinema serves as a mirror of what is happening in the real world. The recent history of Turkish TV broadcasting includes several TV series showcasing the underground world, the most popular of which is "Valley of the Wolves."
Valley of Wolves and the hero of the series: Polat Alemdar. The series deals with almost all controversial issues in Turkish politics from the Kurdish issue to Israeli conspiracies.
lowing story is fictional and does not depict any actual person or event." This is a method employed by producers who do not want to face legal problems; however, a fairly different path is followed by some others. For instance, "Z," based on a 1967 novel by Greek writer Vassilis Vassilikos and adapted for the screen by Greek émigré director Constantinos "Costa" Gavras, calls for attention with a striking opening: "Any resemblance to real events, to persons living or dead, is not accidental. It is DELIBERATE." The movie narrates the story of events surrounding the murder of Gregoris Lambrakis, a leftist parliamentarian, in Greece in 1963, even though it makes no reference to a country. The movie casts light on the corrupt actions of the military administration that ruled the country during the period between 1967 and 1974; however, similarities between what happened in Greece and the developments in some other countries were more than visible. And it was pretty easy to draw such similarities with the practices of the military regime in Turkey. More interestingly, it seems that the movie, pro-
eral reasons; above all, there was a huge disparity between the imagination and lifestyle of the producers and the scriptwriters of the time and the realities of the country. Moviemakers were living in an isolated and idealized environment called Yeþilçam, where the realities of their imagined worlds did not come close to their own realities. The number of scriptwriters able to make a connection with reality was quite small. Secondly, the star system of the time did not allow the depiction of such a reality in the movies. Viewers simply would not tolerate seeing their heroes beaten up in a movie. However, European and American moviemakers were still producing new examples of the "deep state," "paradigmatic clandestine enterprise" and "counter-guerrilla" genres. Unlike Yeþilçam productions, these were a real reflection of life. 'Any resemblance to real people and events is purely intentional' There is a cliché disclaimer that we encounter in the epilogues of serials and novels, saying, "The fol114
Do these suckers remind you of anything? duced 50 years ago, narrates the story of contempoWe saw in "Swordfish," one of the most striking rary Turkey: a pro-junta organization, its civilian movies of 2001, how a counterterrorist artificially creextensions and corrupt relations between the media, ated an environment of fear to ensure that the bureaucracy and the judiciary. American government set aside more funds for comWhat has been happening since the start of the bating terror. We also saw in "The Siege" in 1998 Ergenekon investigation has already been covered in that Maj. Gen. William Devereaux (Bruce Willis) a number of movies, including "Z." Through these insisted that under the War Powers Resolution, the films, it is possible to understand some aspects of the authority vested in him by the president superseded structure of the organization, the attitude of the that of courts. Surely, Gen. Devereaux regarded himmedia and the attempts of some lawyers to distort self as some sort of a hero like the Turkish junta the facts as well as political efforts to circumvent members of the Ergenekon terror organization. efforts to resolve the problem. Let us take a look at "The Bourne Identity," a trilogy, narrates the stosome examples that may serve as a guide for reading ries of hit men who die and kill in the name of the Ergenekon properly. homeland and their contribution to global terror. The Reading Ergenekon through the lens of cinema movie depicts the patriotism of these people who kill Grupos Antiterroristas de Liberación (GAL) was a their pals in cold blood for the sake of the country counterterrorist organization that was in Spain and narrates the story of a plan called Operation between 1983 and 1987. The teams assigned by the Treadstone that is somewhat similar to the Cage Spanish government to fight the ETA were referred Operation Action Plan plotted in Turkey. The final to by this title. GAL, which was episode of the series, "The Bourne quite active during the rule of the Ultimatum," was particularly UNDOUBTEDLY, THE Socialist Workers Party, has interimportant because of its ability to MOST IMPORTANT EVENT depict the story of an organization esting similarities to the Ergenekon IN TURKEY'S NEAR PAST organization; the political events in that is more professional than Spain and Turkey back then are also IS THE SUSURLUK ACCIErgenekon. similar. During the period when DENT. IN ITS AFTERMATH, Is it possible to forget "Arlington GAL was active, journalists supportSTATE-MAFIA RELATIONS Road" (1999) by Mark Pellington? ing and promoting further democraThe movie, which attracted a great WERE SANCTIFIED BY tization were threatened, killed or deal of attention because of a POLITICAL PARTIES AS jailed. Director Miguel Courtois superb performance by Tim WELL AS TV SERIES made a movie depicting the activiRobbins as a cold-blooded terrorties of this organization in 2006. The ist, made some stunning commovie narrated a story revealing a number of facts ments on the relationship between the deep state about political assassinations, buried weapons, miliand terror. tary officers hiding the truth and lawyers serving as We learned in "Excellent Cadavers," in which members of the organization. renowned actor Chazz Palminteri played Sicilian We were amazed by "Nikita" (1990), narrating the prosecutor Giovanni Falcone that a brave man could story of a drug addict who was converted into a be a source of discomfort for not only an illegal counterterrorist assassin. The French film was so sucorganizations but also for some core actors of the cessful that it was remade in the US under the title justice system. We saw what could happen to honest "Point of No Return." "The Long Kiss Goodnight," prosecutors in this movie, based on a true story, by Renny Harlin, also narrated the story of a former which offered some insight into the barriers and hit woman who was used in political assassinations. obstacles before the prosecutors investigating the In "Shooter" (2007), an assassin used in a plot Ergenekon case. against the president organized by generals says: Of course, it is perfectly possible to extend the list; "I'm still enough of a sucker, you press that patriot the content could even amount to a book-length volbutton, I'll sit up in my chair and say, 'Which way ume. Obviously, the venture of illegality does not you want me to go, boss?'" recognize any cultural or geographic limits or bound115
CINEMA SPRING 2010
"Yýlan Hikayesi" (Snake Story), "Tatlý Kaçýklar" aries. There are sick individuals and entities who (Sweet Nuts), "Ana" (Mother) and "Alacakaranlýk" view themselves as the true masters of their coun(Twilight). tries, claiming legitimacy in sponsoring illegal activiInfluenced by these productions, many have decidties all over the world. And most of the time, cinema ed to form their own mafia enterprises; the mafia has serves as a brilliant mirror through which we can now become a picture depicting the situation Turkey understand what is really happening. is experiencing, and there are many people deterAnd the TV series… mined to take part in this picture. Slaughtering a With the return of the multiparty system in the man like Polat Alemdar, the main character in aftermath of a three-year military administration "Kurtlar Vadisi," and shooting a gun like "Deli instituted by the perpetrators of the military coup in Yürek" protagonist Yusuf Miroðlu as well as down1980, Turgut Özal asked the Turkish people to use loading the tunes of these productions is now part of their assets and wealth for the sake of economic the daily lives of millions. revival. Turkey moved to a free market economy and In the 1990s, nationalist mafiosos became popular; a was eager to integrate with the world. Back then, the number of people appeared in newspapers and on judicial mechanism did not operate very smoothly, TV shows publicly acknowledging that they were and there were also a number of corporations on the running mafia organizations. Alaattin Çakýcý was the brink of collapse and bankruptcy. Because of legal first known nationalist mob boss in loopholes as well as unenforceable Turkey; in the late 1990s, an interlaws, the amount of debt that had 411 MURDERS, 137 esting conflict erupted between congone uncollected reached a peak, ATTACKS, 175 FIGHTS, ventional mobsters and nationalist and the mafia took the stage to 110 TORTURES, THREE mafia leaders. deliver justice. Mobs and gangs RAPES, 191 HARRASSAfter the capture of Abdullah became a part of daily life and MENTS, 111 ARMED CON- Öcalan and the Nationalist replaced the legitimate judicial Movement Party's (MHP) accession mechanism. FLICT, 174 THREATS to power, the nationalist mafia In the 1990s, clandestine enterAND 149 INDIRECT abandoned its illegal activities. prises emerged to fill the void in THREATS WERE FEAIn the 2000s, mafia leaders who illegal sectors such as check fraud, TURED IN THE VALLEY were sometimes presented as heroes rigging state tenders, stealing, the OF THE WOLVES and sometimes as responsible for all black market, school gangs, auto illegal activities lost their ground and theft, prostitution, human traffickbecame less popular. The domination and reign of ing, labor smuggling, money laundering and many the nationalist mafia, which started with the 1980 others; each mob organization was working like a military coup, was over because of Abdullah Çatlý's separate business enterprise at the time. Reference to death, Çakýcý's detention and Mehmet Aðar's decithe notions of mafia and mobster was commonplace sion to get involved in politics. in the mid-1960s and 1970s; the functions and charThe creative mind, however, acted quickly to rediacteristics of mafia groups emerging in the 1980s rect attention to the appealing and tempting stories were definitively revealed with the Susurluk accident. of the mafia by relying on other means. To this end, The mobster no longer meant a tougher hood, and it TV satisfied the people's thirst for mafias and mobwas no longer possible to do business in mafia-consters. On the one hand, tough guy figures who used trolled sectors without having close ties with illegal to appear in old Turkish movies were used; on the entities within the state. The Susurluk case was like other hand, TV attracted the people's attention by viewing a movie at home, witnessing how the state making reference to the relations between the state had turned into a mafia and how this mafia was and the mafia. After all, these were good guys who positioned within the state. Television in the midwere doing nice jobs for the state; that was the gen2000s featured the life stories of those who died in eral perception. the Susurluk accident; the mafia became part of our The Osman Sýnav factor in Turkish mafia TV series daily life because of TV series including "Deli Yürek" "Deli Yürek" is the first mafia series that was (Mad Heart), "Kurtlar Vadisi" (Valley of the Wolves), 116
brother and Miroðlu even more complicated. There is one big problem: Miroðlu wants to play by his own rules, the first of which states that he does not take any orders. The new guy in the series does not come out of nowhere: He comes from the battlefield, where he was Miroðlu's commander. He was the one who taught Miroðlu how to get out of handcuffs by breaking his thumb and how to kill a guerilla. His name is Bozo. He lives in the mountains. His job is fighting. For this reason, he is really mad about what is happening in urban places, and he views the big brother and Turgay Atacan as useless people who think they are doing something influential. His name is Bozo; for the first time, a Kurdish name is pronounced on Turkish TV. The adventures of the leading figures of the series later include episodes focusing on opposition to Israel, and the series ended with a sentence uttered by Atilla Ýlhan: The last Turkish dreamer was Mustafa Kemal. "Acý Hayat" is an important movie about a worker, produced by Metin Erksan in 1963. The movie was turned into a series about the mafia in the hands of Sýnav. This time nationalism transcends the Turkish and Russian borders and reaches Kosovo; the leading figure of the series bears the name Kosovalý (Kosovar). The series starts with a gun and blood dripping onto a white rose. The leading character in Erksan's "Acý Hayat" is a
broadcast on Turkish TV stations. The series was directed by Osman Sýnav; the first episode was screened in 1998. Sýnav's production was subsequently followed by other similar examples including "Kurtlar Vadisi" and "Acý Hayat" (Painful Life). "Deli Yürek" starts with the return of a sniper to Ýstanbul, his hometown, after the completion of his military service; the newly discharged soldier kills a few people the moment he gets off the bus. This is a scene consistent with the trope of the tough guy's entrance into town. The character Kara Hamit is depicted as a famous mobster in "Deli Yürek," but he has strong ties with the state as well. He is the man of the big brother, carefully and meticulously raised and trained. For some, the big brother in the series represents Aðar, and for some, it's Ýbrahim Þahin. Some argue that it is merely fiction. Kara Hamit, that famous mobster, is killed; this murder, within the overall format of the series, means that the mobster was no longer found useful by the big brother. (The same story is depicted in "Kurtlar Vadisi" -- replacement of a mobster by a figure welcomed and sponsored by the state.) After his death, men loyal to Kara Hamit move to the side of the soldier, Miroðlu. The big brother likes Miroðlu because of his ability and character, and he wishes to work with him. The big brother's daughter falls in love with Miroðlu, and this makes the whole set of relations between the big 117
The movie ‘Eagle Eye’ movie shows us what happens when the deep state loses control of a technology produced solely for it.
CINEMA SPRING 2010
Terör" was canceled because of the military's objeclaborer at a shipyard. His name is Mehmet, and he tions. The series was launched again under a differfalls in love with a manicurist. A rich man gets ent title by the Doðan Group after some "minor" involved in the story of the shipyard laborer and the modifications. It is argued that the content of the manicurist; the rich man starts a love affair with the series was dramatically changed by these modificagirl. "Acý Hayat," still remembered by the older gentions and that domestic clandestine organizations eration in Turkey, was remade by Sýnav in 2006, this were replaced by fictional international enemies in time as a TV series. Kenan Ýmirzalýoðlu played the the series. lead role in the series. A number of rumors and conspiracy theories were 'The Valley of the Wolves' generated with regard to the series. At the same "Kurtlar Vadisi," a product of Sýnav's intelligence time, however, some real developments also took and creativity, replaced "Deli Yürek" and captivated place. The National Intelligence Organization (MÝT) all of Turkey. A number of renowned dramatic drafted a report on "Kurtlar Vadisi"; some parts of actors, including Ýstemi Betil as well as rising stars the report were reprinted in newspapers. The report Necati Þaþmaz and Özgü Namal, took part in the argues that Raci Þaþmaz, the scriptwriter, and Sýnav, project. The series attracted a great deal of public the director, received the information they used in attention, becoming the most popular show on TV. the series from a top official at a Sýnav left the project after episode gendarmerie intelligence unit. The 55; however, Show TV continued IN THE HISTORY OF same report also underlined that to broadcast the series. In 2006, AMERICAN MOVIEMAKSýnav is a nationalist affiliated with the Doðan Group purchased all ING, THE ISSUE OF CRIME the youth branches of a nationalist broadcast rights to the series, BECOMES PARTICULARLY party and has close ties with Aðar. despite the fact that it was the show's greatest critic when the POPULAR IN TIMES WHEN The report further argues that convicted killer Nuri Ergin dictated the broadcast rights were held by THE COUNTRY SUFFERS characters appearing in the proShow TV. The group spent TL FROM POLITICAL OR duction, that the series actually 475,000 per episode for rights to ECONOMIC CRISES OR narrated the story of convicted the series, the greatest amount TURMOIL mob boss Çakýcý and that ever offered for such a transfer. Abdülkadir Þaþmaz, a renowned The series, which used to start figure of the Kadiri Order, played an influential role with the announcement, "This is a mafia series," in its making. Soner Yalçýn, who served as adviser to changed this slogan after its move to Kanal D; the the production, and director Sýnav described the allenew channel preferred a quotation from a novel by gations as baseless, while scriptwriters Bahadýr Kemal Tahir: "It is the law to eat up those who are Özener and Raci Þaþmaz did not make any comment no longer considered wolves." or statement. The series, which lasted for 97 episodes, ended Normalization of the mafia and state-mafia relations with a finale guest-starring Sharon Stone and Andy Undoubtedly, the most important event in Garcia. However, the series continued with the spinTurkey's recent past is the Susurluk accident. In its offs "Kurtlar Vadisi Terör" (Valley of the Wolves aftermath, state-mafia relations were glorified by Terror) and "Kurtlar Vadisi Pusu" (Valley of the political parties as well as TV series. This glorification Wolves Ambush); only one episode of the former was particularly promoted and supported by violence was shown on TV. The movie "Kurtlar Vadisi Irak" and nationalism. The mafia has been exonerated by (Valley of the Wolves Iraq) was produced while the "Kurtlar Vadisi." While the mafia is supposed to be series was on break. Despite the fact that the movie something that the state must deal with, the series was clearly offensive to Americans, public figures polished a mafia character deliberately raised and such as Emine Erdoðan, the prime minister's wife, sponsored by the state throughout the first 55 and the late Muhsin Yazýcýoðlu, a nationalist party episodes. Polat, as presented in the series, has acted leader, went to see the movie, hinting at their supto protect the state's interests by relying on a mafia port for its message. discourse and method, and the viewers are implicitly According to some urban legends, "Kurtlar Vadisi 118
up to expectations, is now likely to be remembered as a polynomial riddle because of its unresolved mysteries. "Saðýr Oda" was a crime drama produced by a controversial figure, a former Maoist who served as journalist affiliated with ultranationalist circles in the past and was so intimate with the state that it sent the ID card of JÝTEM founder Cem Ersever to his address. "Saðýr Oda" picked an interesting theme, saying: "During World War II, Adolf Hitler seized the gold of the Jews and converted it into gold bullion. Aware that they would lose the war, the Nazis handed the bullion to people they trusted. One of these people was a Turk." The series was perceived as an imitation of "Kurtlar Vadisi." Even though the producers hired the director of "Kurtlar Vadisi," the series did not receive much attention.
asked to view this as normal. The series is presented as a party program equipped with some nationalist elements and sentiments. The mafia used the word homeland 128 times, nation 142 times, the national flag 240 times, sacrifice 144 times, country 164 times, honor 123 times, army 255 times, map 313 times, religion 299 times, them (Jews, Americans, Russians and Kurds) 513 times and crescent 117 times in the first 55 episodes of the series. These figures are even more interesting: 411 murders, 137 attacks, 175 fights, 110 incidents of torture, three rapes, 191 incidents of harassment, 111 armed conflicts, three bombings, four kidnappings, 174 threats and 149 indirect threats were featured in the first 55 episodes of "Kurtlar Vadisi." "Saðýr Oda" (The Deaf Room), which failed to live 119
“GAL” is about the internal structure of a prototype of the Turkish Ergenekon (upper right). “The Bourne Identity” is about a spy educated as a counterguerilla who found himself amidst dirty affairs of the state (upper left). “The Traitor” is about forcing people to become traitors (right)
CARTOONS SPRING 2010
Cartoon Review Dominant elements in this autumn's Turkish cartoons were the Sledgehammer plot , the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors, the Constitution and the low-chair treatment the Turkish ambassador to Tel Aviv received from the Israeli deputy foreign minister
ILLUSTATION: DAGISTAN ÇETÝNKAYA
A majority of Turkish cartoonists have stylized the internal contradictions of the Turkish high judiciary, the intimate relations between the pro-junta elements within the military and the high judiciary, the threat the Sledgehammer plan poses to the judiciary, the constitutional amendment package, the judicial and military pressure on the media and, of course, the closed-door policy of the continental EU states for Turkey's membership. While Osman Turhan of the Zaman daily depicted the high judiciary as sitting on an army combat boot (1), Ercan Akyol of the Milliyet daily had an opposing view of the relation between the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government, the high judiciary and the proposed constitutional amendments. Akyol depicted the proposed amendments as a US-tailored AKP constitution used to destroy the castle of the high judiciary (2). Salih Memecan of the Sabah daily, on the other hand, had a quite positive and anti-military view of the constitutional amendment package. His cartoon (3) depicted Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoðan caricatured as a sheriff, shaking the military elements off of the Sept. 12 Constitution. "It's time, already!" read the caption on the cartoon.
CARTOONS SPRING 2010
4- ALPEREN KÖSEOÐLU, AKSÝYON, 18 JAN, 2010
5- HASLET SOYÖZ, MÝLLÝYET, 20 FEB, 2010
1- OSMAN TURHAN, ZAMAN, 14 FEB, 2010
Alperen Köseoðlu's cartoon (4) making fun of the lower chair treatment Turkish Ambassador to Israel Ömer Çelikkol received from Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon shows how the cartoonist regards Turkey's new role in Middle Eastern politics. Haslet Soyöz of the Milliyet daily played with the idea of Lady Justice committing suicide with the sword of judicial power and abandoning her scales (5). Latif Demirci, of the Hürriyet daily, depicted Prime Minister Erdoðan's head carved in place of Theodore Roosevelt at the US's Mount Rushmore National Memorial (6). In the caption US President Barack Obama tells Erdoðan that "they loved him very much." "You are indulging me, Mr. President!" Erdoðan replies.
2- ERCAN AKYOL, MÝLLÝYET, 6 APR, 2010
3- EMRE ÖZDEMÝR, TODAY’S ZAMAN, 10 JAN, 2010 122
6- LATÝF DEMÝRCÝ, HÜRRÝYET, 12 APR, 2010
7- SALÝH MEMECAN, SABAH, 27 JAN, 2010 123
REPORTS SPRING 2010
Think tank tracker
lmost all scholars of Turkish domestic and foreign politics agree that Turkey is changing. The argument is not about the existence of change, but about its nature. These changes are not happening in foreign policy only; domestic policy is also changing. One can read all about this in reports and papers published by think tanks that deal with Turkish politics.
ERDOGAN A. SHIPOLI Almost all scholars of Turkish domestic and foreign politics agree that Turkey is changing. The argument is not about the existence of change, but about its nature -- whether it is positive or negative. There are several arguments that stand behind the changes that have been made in Turkey, but it is obvious that these changes came with the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government in the framework of European Union integration and active Turkish engagement in its neighboring regions. Moreover, the voice of the new social elite and rising middle class asking for more democracy pushed these changes to be even bolder. Changes in domestic politics In domestic politics Turkey has undergone many revisions of previous state policies, including the Kurdish initiative, the Alevi initiative, the Roma initiative -- all of which the government included in a common framework called the "democratic initiative," a revision of the role of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) in Turkish politics, etc. These new revisions have received many criticisms but have nonetheless helped Turkey change into a more democratic country and
thus gained the backing of a majority of the population as well as world powers. When reading about Turkish domestic policy changes from reports and papers of Turkish think tanks, the focus from the beginning of this year has mainly been on the Alevi initiative and the role of the TSK. I believe most of the "issues" Turkey has long faced -- such as the Kurdish issue, the Armenian issue, the Alevi issue, etc. -- are all constructed to serve a certain group of elites in Turkey. These issues have been "securitized," whereby certain leaders or interest groups label an issue a security matter. This process helps them preserve their power as they label existential threats to the public, the nation, the state and their interests, and in this way ask for permission to use extraordinary means to fight against national threats, and in the case of Turkey, to preserve Turkey's security, unity and sovereignty. Bekir Günay and Gökhan Türk, the authors of the Ankara-based Wise Men Center for Strategic Studies' (BÝLGESAM) report no. 22, published in 2010, suggest that the start of the Alevi initiative must begin with understanding how this issue is constructed and then 124
For the Alevi initiative, the authors of the report give several suggestions, but the more striking and easiest to fulfill are: the categorization of problems the government will address and the immediate engagement with priority issues; the identification of common values and the promotion of these values as the common values of civilization; the promotion of a common cultural heritage and the idea that differences are a wealth, not a reason to separate; discouraging the use of "others" while encouraging the use of "we." Decisions that will be made to stabilize the issue will concern the people, while Parliament will play a key role in this. In order to achieve these goals, the report suggests, among others, that the government work on raising awareness of the symbolic, ritual and spiritual values of Alevis among the population in an objective way, and that it put together a common historical commission comprising academics in the field who will research contested issues between Sunnis and Alevis and then publish these results so that the people can have access to objective information on what the two groups are really about. The problem with this report is that the authors consider some issues to be very easy to fix and thereby
deconstruct it by breaking down prejudice that has been associated with it. I agree with the authors when they say that on many occasions, including the attacks associated with Maraþ, Çorum and Madýmak, terrorism has been used to make the Alevi issue a problem in Turkey so that it can then be constructed as a security issue. The first suggestion that the authors make, and that I agree with, is that the government shall decide on whether it wants to continue its new foreign policy engagements and be an important international actor, or expend its energy on domestic issues. To be able to use its energy in foreign policy, the Turkish government seeks to democratically solve domestic issues as soon as possible. The domestic issues that Turkey faces now, like the Kurdish, Armenian and Alevi issues, and the role of the military, are issues that have dissolved many governments. The AK Party government, with its active foreign policy, will also not take a step back from its democratic initiatives and will once and for all, without losing too much energy, solve the country's domestic problems, together with the society, before again fully focusing on foreign policy. 125
The relationship betweent the Turkish military and the civilian government has been a common subject for think tank reports. This photo summarizes the nature of the relationship, with the chief of General Staff frowning and the Prime Minister Erdoðan smiling. PHOTO: ALÝ ÜNAL
REPORTS SPRING 2010
claims in his article "2000'li yýllarda asker ve siyaset" underestimate the problems that are ingrained in peo(The military and politics in the 2000s), published by ple's minds. Their suggestion that research carried out the pro-government, Ankara-based Foundation for by this commission enter school textbooks is, I would Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA) think say, a utopian suggestion so long as other obstacles tank's Analiz journal. The author categorizes the before this issue remain. The other suggestions offered actions of the military into two tendencies: the tendenin this report, such as the position of "master" (dedelik) cy to preserve the status quo under any circumstances, in Alevi belief achieving the prominence it deserves, including the use of undemocratic means; and the tenwherein masters (dedes) are able to offer traditional dency to work on a strategy of what he called "coninterpretations of customary laws and are trained in trolled change," making changes controlled by the militheological schools, as well as the suggestion to have tary that will best serve the interests of the military. both Alevi and Sunni students visit mosques and Scholars who deal with Turkish politics know that one cemevis (Alevi houses of worship) are other ways for of the main actors in Turkish politics are the Turkish the government to control their lives and internal Armed Forces (TSK). The army's power grew after the affairs. I think the problem with religious associations in 1940s and reached its peak with the May 27, 1960 miliTurkey stems from the fact that the government has tary coup. The new changes taking place in Turkey too much influence and control over them. So suggesthave diminished the power of the army, and the goving ways on how to arrange their internal affairs will ernment justifies making these solve no problems. Having students changes by saying they are part of the visit each other's places of prayer THE PROBLEM WITH criteria for EU membership. This is might be a good suggestion, but it RELIGIOUS ASSOCIAwhy, although not always openly, should remain optional because putTIONS IN TURKEY many circles in the TSK oppose the ting it in the curriculum serves no EU and the changes it is bringing in purpose other than to anger, control STEMS FROM THE Turkish politics. and force people to do something FACT THAT THE GOVThe author of this article, Demirel, they might not like to do. In their last ERNMENT HAS TOO claims that one of the problems is the suggestion the authors propose that lack of knowledge inside the TSK on the Directorate of Religious Affairs be MUCH INFLUENCE what the EU will bring in and what it independent and include all beliefs OVER THEM will take away. One of the forces while maintaining an equal distance behind the AK Party government's from all. I think that in a secular self-confidence is that it won 47.5 percent of the vote. regime, issues of belief should be left to civil society, not But what are these domestic changes that Turkey has to state institutions. made during the last decade? Many reports and scholThe steps that the government took for the demoars agree that a new middle class is emerging together cratic initiative, although important for democracy and with a rising number of educational institutions, which the unity of people living in Turkey, have been attacked give an opportunity to people from various backby several circles of the political and military elite. grounds to become educated and urbanized. The rising Especially regarding the Kurdish issue, the main opponumber of diverse media outlets has brought Turkey sition parties, and sometimes the smaller opposition out of a media monopoly and thus paved the way for parties, stood against the initiative. They claimed it different political views to get media coverage. Also, a would take Turkey into a dead-end while separating shifting of the wealth distribution from the main cities the ethnicities even further. In contrast, government to Anatolia has been shown to be very important for officials claim this project will unite all minorities and integrating the people living there and raising their people living in Turkey. standard of living. On the other hand, the changes Turkey has underChanges that have taken place in the social realm gone since 2000, at home and abroad, have caught the have affected changes in the military-politics relationmilitary unprepared. These changes are the result of ship and increased the power of elected politicians Turkey's firm determination to fulfill EU criteria and the over military personnel. Although I agree with new rising demand for democracy that came with the Demirel when he says these changes were legitimized new AK Party government. This is what Tanel Demirel 126
has already been lost with the new Turkish political realities. The second tendency, what Demirel called "controlled change," is backed by those who think that by being stubborn, the TSK can damage itself and Turkey in general. So, to get the best from politics, the TSK is to initiate some changes that it will control. What pushed the TSK towards this change is the April 27, 2007, e-memo. After this intervention, the AK Party went to the ballot box and won 47.5 percent of the vote. This showed the TSK that it is damaging itself by being stubborn when it comes to its traditional methods of dealing with politics. Change to the social structure, the bureaucratic structure and the structure of the army pushed TSK leaders to think of other ways to react. Nonetheless, there is a common ground between scholars and reports, namely, that this so-called "controlled change" is a defense measure taken by the TSK. But, it is also important to note that the TSK has opened itself to discussion on taboos in Turkey, such as terrorism, the Kurdish issue and foreign enemies. These openings to discussion have resulted in milder talk by generals when referring to terrorists, who are no longer labeled by their minority identities. Instead, the TSK tries to listen and understand their families' problems and demands. This friction with the military and politics has resulted in the rise among the general public of both those who criticize the TSK and those who support it. Demirel gives several suggestions on how to cope with this friction between the military and politics as well as how to raise public awareness about the role of the military and the role of the politicians. During these three months, most of the reports and papers published by think tanks in Turkey addressed the changing role of the TSK in Turkish politics as well as the Alevi opening that the government is dealing with. Many scholars think the EU's silence on these developments may jeopardize these developments and are therefore asking the EU to get more involved in helping the Turkish government in this democratiza-
with the EU negotiation process, I think it is obvious now that there is a push from the bottom up by the general public and towards more democracy and the rule of law. This rising pressure does not leave room for the government to retreat or for a military intervention to take place. If we go back to Demirel's categorization of the TSK's actions and tendencies, we see that the TSK's first self-appointed duty is the "guardianship" of the Republic of Turkey and its principles. Although the TSK sees itself as the guardian of the Turkish Republic, the problem lies in that it sees itself not only as a guardian in the military sense, defending Turkey from foreign threats, but also as a guardian against domestic and foreign threats, including intervening against demands coming from the people if they think these demands conflict with the principles of the republic. This is not something new in Turkey. We can see that Turkish politics is full of securitizations, starting with Cyprus, the Kurdish issue, the Alevi issue, the secular or religious regimes, etc. Similarly, reports issued by think tanks in Turkey during the first quarter of this year have recognized that the TSK has tried to overcome government policies by speaking up against their priorities. These security moves, which I termed securitization moves, are the best arguments of what Demirel calls the TSK's "guardianship tendency." In his article Demirel refers to a retired chief of General Staff, Doðan Güreþ, who has said: "There is a risk of separation in Turkey. This is what the US and the EU want." With this tendency, the army also holds the right to decide on the principles of the republic, laid down by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. The new balances in Turkish politics seem to have angered the military staff, claims Joshua Walker, of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, who says that with the rise of the AK Party and democratization in Turkey, pro-American secularists have turned antiAmerican and "anti-everything." This leaves room for the US to speak up because there is no fear of losing Turkish military support, as the weight of the military
The BÝLGESAM repost suggests that the position of "master" (dedelik) in Alevi belief should achieve the prominence it deserves, wherein masters (dedes) are able to offer traditional interpretations of customary laws and are trained in theological schools. For the first time in Republican history Alevi masters are seen as partners in the Alevi Initiative run by the government. PHOTO: ALÝ ÜNAL
REPORTS SPRING 2010
priority list is the same as that held by the Balkans. tion process. Many scholars also interpret the changes Although Turkey is present in peacekeeping missions in Turkish domestic politics with optimism but ask for and economic and trade agreements as well as cultural domestic and international support for the Turkish govactivities in the Balkans, it does not play as active a role ernment on the Kurdish initiative in particular and the as in the Middle East. democratic initiative in general. Cengiz Candar claims in his article in Analiz that the Changes in Turkish foreign policy new economic ties formed between Turkey and Reports and papers released by think tanks in Turkey regional countries have increased Turkish self-confialso focus on the change in the country's foreign policy. dence about being a regional player. He also claims Not just in Turkey, but on the international platform that not only does Turkey possess the hard power of also, scholars and academics are writing on the changes engagement but that what makes Turkey critically that Turkey has made to its foreign policy. There is, important in the Middle East is its soft power. This in without a doubt, a shift from passive and closed foreign turn, he says, makes Turkey a rising power in the policy to an open and active one. Middle East. Turkey has signed about 100 agreements While international think tanks such as the with Syria and Iraq in less than a month. These agreeWashington Institute for Near East Policy, known for ments address a number of fields, from security to the its pro-establishment Turkish politics, criticizes the environment and from transport to trade, showing that Turkish government for shifting its focus from the West Turkey is active in all spheres in the to the East, reports and publications Middle East. Candar says these agreeby SETA and BÝLGESAM claim that THE PRESTIGE THAT ments and the prestige that Turkey Turkey is engaged in a two, or even TURKEY HAS GAINED has gained in the Middle East give it four, front foreign policy. In fact, the potential to break the established Turkish government officials have IN THE MIDDLE EAST balance in the Middle East, where we underlined several times that there is GIVE IT THE POTENhave Iran on one side and Israel on no shift of focus in Turkish foreign TIAL TO BREAK THE the other. policy; rather it is a broader engageMost of the discussion in reports ment of Turkish foreign policy that ESTABLISHED and papers put out by think tanks are incorporates the Middle East, Africa BALANCE IN THE on the role Turkey is playing in relaand Asia without in any way taking REGION tion to Israel, the US and Iran. In this its eyes off the West. respect, Walker, a postdoctoral fellow The main architect of the new in the Transatlantic Academy, an initiative of the Turkish foreign policy, Foreign Minister Ahmet German Marshall Fund, in his brief article published in Davutoðlu, labels this new policy "zero problems with the SETA Policy Brief, points out that what the world neighbors." Özdem Sanberk, a retired ambassador, is now discussing is not "where" Turkey stands, but said in his speech at the London School of Economic, "what" Turkey is in terms of its identity. The US delivered on Dec. 4, 2009, and published in understands the importance of Turkey in any region BÝLGESAM's 2010 report, that these new engagements the US is involved in, and this is why it now considers by Turkey in neighboring countries are new openings Turkey a very important strategic partner. The US that are in the best interest of Turkey and serve to staknows that the Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan questions bilize the region. cannot be solved solely through military engagement He claims that Turkey's interest is to have stability in but that regional actors must play an important role in the region and that this can be secured if there is secuany solution -- and Turkey has the capacity to play a rity, independence and domestic stability in countries critical role by engaging in the solution, a fact that puts surrounding Turkey. Furthermore, he claims that it is in Turkey at the top of the US allies list. Turkey's interest if its neighbors prosper in terms of In addition to this, the AK Party government has the trade and economy because new markets will open up support of the US when it comes to the changes it is for Turkish products. Although the retired ambassador making in domestic policy, including its fight against also claims that Turkey is similarly interested in all the underworld, i.e., Ergenekon. This support is given regions around Turkey, I do not agree that the place because the US needs a strategic partner to help it held by the Middle East on the Turkish foreign policy's 128
Turkey's ties with other Middle Eastern powers, international organizations and the US. Because of this mal-intent, some try to label Turkey a country that has turned its back on the West. More fire was thrown at the crises, according to some, when Turkey started flirting with Iran at a time when the US and its NATO allies in Europe were criticizing Iran over its nuclear program. What many writers in think tanks argue is that when we analyze the Israeli and Turkish actions together, we can see that Israeli policies towards Turkey are chaotic and unorganized, whereas Turkey is following a more consistent and well-organized policy towards Israel. One of the indicators is statements made by Israeli officials, who have clashed with each other, on the Turkish role in the negotiation process between Syria and Israel. Domestic and international think tanks suggest that Israel will understand and accept Turkey's new power as a key actor in the Middle East, and thus cooperate accordingly. They also put forward that Israel will work together with Turkey in order to settle the problem of settlements, Jerusalem and disputes with Syria and Lebanon, as well as the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The same goes for Turkey. Turkey will understand that its relations with Israel influence the whole region and that these relations must improve in order for Turkey to play a key role in the stabilization of the region and for it to resume mediation efforts between parties in the region. In conclusion, what the reports, papers and articles written on Turkey by Turkish or international scholars and published by various think tanks say is that Turkey has undergone a change in foreign policy. Some see this change as a shift towards the East while distancing itself from the West, whereas others simply consider this a multidimensional foreign policy in which EU membership remains a priority, but not the only foreign policy issue. This new active policy has been labeled differently by different groups, with some calling it "Islamic" and others "neo-Islamic." Some have also termed it "neo-Ottoman," but the government calls it a policy of "zero problems with neighbors."
withdraw its forces from Iraq. With Turkey's new engagements in the south and east, including Syria and Iran, it has shown that it can help stabilize the region because its regional prestige is highly valued, Walker claims. But, moreover, the author also notes that this new prestige, and the new engagements, has not made Turkey turn its back on the EU, and under no circumstances has Turkey abandoned its EU membership priority. The author also sees it as a responsibility for the US to help Turkey find a lasting solution for the country's Kurdish question. Among other issues, Israeli-Turkish relations have also been keeping the think tanks' agendas busy. SETA's Ufuk Ulutaþ explains that Turkish-Israeli relations have, ever since the establishment of the Israeli state, been tense from time to time and very cooperative at other times. The peak in good relations was reached during the "soft coup" of Feb. 28, 1997, and was characterized by heavy military cooperation. But what has been seen and discussed as of late is tension in Turkish-Israeli relations. This came about as a result of Israeli attacks on Gaza and Lebanon in 2006, 2008 and 2009. Many scholars say that following this latest rise in tension it will be impossible to return relations between the two countries to where they were before. The zenith of the tense relations occurred at the World Economic Forum at Davos, where Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoðan walked off the stage after a harsh exchange with Israeli President Shimon Peres, on Jan. 29, 2009. This was followed by various small incidents in Israel and Turkey, with the biggest one being the humiliation of the Turkish ambassador to Israel, Ahmet Oðuz Çelikkol, on Jan. 12, 2010, by Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon in response to a Turkish soap opera's criticism of Israel's actions in Palestine. Turkey recalled its ambassador, and relations have remained tense ever since. This is a lost opportunity for Israel and the Middle East, as Turkey was a serious mediator in talks between Israel and Syria. Some writers claim that those who undermine Turkey's power in negotiations and stability in the region are doing so only to break 129
Turkey has signed roughly 100 agreements with Syria and Iraq in less than a month. These agreements address a number of fields including the abolishment of the visa regime between Turkey and Syria. In the photo at left, the Turkish and Syrian foreign ministers symbolically lift a border the Turkish Syrian border PHOTO: ALÝ ÜNAL
OBITUARY SPRING 2010
My artist friend and comrade-in-arms Þakir Eczacýbaþý died at age 81
akir Eczacýbaþý was a person who deserved to be called a friend of the arts. He busied himself with grand dreams and wasn't willing to confine himself to being just one thing. Had he just been a photographer, he could have been the best. But he also wanted to hold festivals. His greatest service to art was the role he played in the establishment of the Ýstanbul Foundation for Culture and Art
ARA GÜLER Þakir Eczacýbaþý was born in Ýzmir in 1929. For others, he may be one of Turkey's great industrialists, a friend of the arts, a publisher, journalist, man of cinema and perhaps a photographer thanks to me, but for me he was a wonderful comrade-in-arms. Our lives intersected not because of our shared professions but because of the shared profession of our fathers. My father was a pharmacy owner in Ýstanbul's Beyoðlu district and produced Silva colognes. Þakir's father, Ferit Bey, also produced a series of colognes. The most well known of these was Altýn Damlasý. When I was sent to Ýzmir by my newspaper, my father would be sure to send cologne to Ferit Bey along with me. And on my way back, I would bring cologne from Ferit Bey. I met Þakir while conveying cologne back and forth between the two families. After finishing Robert College in Ýstanbul, he had gone to London and studied pharmacology. His older brother, Nejat Bey, had studied chemistry in Germany. During the Democrat Party (DP) period, the government had begun an incentive program to aid the development of Turkish industry. In order to expand his father's profession, Nejat Bey took out a loan from the state and estab-
lished the Eczacýbaþý factory. The real friendship between Þakir and me was born when he started participating in the literature discussions of Sebahattin Eyüboðlu while working at his factory in Levent. Þakir was a pharmacist by training but had the spirit of an artist. We busied ourselves with literature. Yaþar Kemal had come from Anatolia -that's the kind of a group we were a part of. Þakir had brought together the literature lover within him and the pharmaceutical production that he was forced to conduct at his older brother's behest with a periodical called Týpta Yenilikler (Innovations in Medicine). It was a medical journal, but it was more interested in financing than medicine. We were publishing the advertisements for the new medicines produced by Eczacýbaþý. The magazine was actually essentially a literary magazine. I took photographs for it. As it was, Þakir had earlier prepared the Vatan daily's arts page together with Tunç Yalman. He also served as the magazine's editor. He was an editor with a fine gift and a frequent touch. One day, he had hemmed and hawed too much about photographs I had taken. In situations like that, I swear and say, "If you know so much, 130
ILLUSTRATION: YUNUS EMRE HATUNOÐLU
OBITUARY SPRING 2010
vals. A rising financial ability wasn't the only thing then do it yourself." Þakir went and got a Leica camfueling Þakir's interest in cinema. In 1965 he founded era. We started taking pictures together, roaming the Turkish Cinémathèque Association and served as Ýstanbul street by street. Sometimes we'd walk for its president for 10 years. The reason for this was his kilometers. I remember how exhausted we'd be after acquaintance with Henri Langlois, who was, like hima day of walking all around the Golden Horn step by self, a native of Ýzmir. A member of Turkey's Greek step. This went on for years. In time, he became a community, Langlois founded the very good photographer. He knew that Þakir was a man to Cinémathèque Française and died in photographs began with people. He talk about. At times France. The opening of the world's secdid something that had been tried in we grew angry with ond cinémathèque, in Ýstanbul, was due the West in the 1940s but was to the acquaintance between Þakir and unknown in Turkey, and began intenone another, even Henri Langlois. Þakir Eczacýbaþý was a tionally taking blurry pictures. In this fought. He loved to condition, the photographs resembled curse when he spoke. person who deserved to be called a paintings. These efforts of his would But I have nobody to friend of the arts. As it was, putting out Innovations in Medicine constituted an become the books "Anlar" (Moments) fight with anymore. important contribution to the settling of (1983), "Türkiye Renkleri" (Colors of May God shower an Turkey, 1997) and "Kapýlar abundance of mercy artistic thought in Turkey. After bidding farewell to his days of journal publishPencereler" (Doors Windows, 2001). upon his soul ing, he had thematic photo-almanacs But Þakir wasn't one who could be published. These almanacs, published under the title satisfied by photographs alone. Honestly, neither was "Eczacýbaþý Colour Photograph Almanacs," contained I. In the early 1960s we entered the cultural films busiframes captured by young Turkish photographers and ness. Þakir himself was not directly involved in this introduced their work to a wider audience. He also process. With one of the films, Sebahattin Eyüboðlu had two books prepared, "Türkiye: Bir Portre" was the director. I was the art director of the others. (Turkey: A Portrait) and "Ýstanbul Görüntüleri" The production director was a Frenchman, Pierre Biro. (Images of Ýstanbul) to which select writers and phoThese films were to win awards at international festi132
was no understanding that cinema was an art. Cinema-going was for amusement. Þakir brought to the cinema the knowledge of the art involved. He did the same for photography. In this way, he performed a beneficial service for Turkey and for Turkish art. Of course, his greatest service was the role he played in the establishment of the Ýstanbul Foundation for Culture and Art (ISKV). This foundation, for which he served as the executive board president from 1993 until his death, organizes five yearly international art festivals in Ýstanbul. While doing all of this, he didn't just ensure financing -- money doesn't handle everything. That was what the Ministry of Culture was never able to understand. The foundation would perhaps have been founded much earlier but for not being able to come to agreement with the then-minister of culture. More recently, Þakir was unable to come to the opening of the Þiþhane building that he had constructed as the foundation's new headquarters because two days prior to the opening, on Jan. 24, 2010, he had passed away, at the age of 81. Þakir was a man to talk about. At times we grew angry with one another, even fought. He loved to curse when he spoke. But I have nobody to fight with anymore. May God shower an abundance of mercy upon his soul.
tographers of ours participated. The two compilations that he published, one called "Gülen Düþünceler" (Laughing Thoughts), of Bernard Shaw's works, and another called "Tutkular, Acýlar, Gülümseyen Deyiþler" (Passions, Pains and Smiling Sayings), of Oscar Wilde's works, also invoked significant reaction. Due to these efforts, he received France's Medal of Art and Education Cavalier and Turkey's Medal for Exceptional Service. Þakir did many things. He took an interest in everything. He busied himself with grand dreams and wasn't willing to confine himself to being just one thing. Had he just been a photographer, he could have been the best. But he also wanted to hold festivals. This was over, and then it was a music festival. That ended, and then a jazz festival… French writer Edmond Rostand has a play called "Cyrano de Bergerac." Sabri Esat Siyavuþgil had translated its final sentence as "His name is Cyrano de Bergerac. … As I said, 'I'll become everything,' nothing was able to become of anything." Þakir had that kind of a desire, to become everything - but it would be an injustice to say that nothing happened when it came to Þakir. Things happened. For example, he taught us that art was something important. He taught us a new appreciation for art. In the past, people also used to go to the cinema, but there 133
Þakir Eczacýbaþý and Ara Güler made photo-walks at the streets of Ýstanbul. They were photographed by Selahaddin Sevi in one of their latest photo-walks at the fishmarket of Beþiktaþ, Ýstanbul. PHOTOS: SELAHATTÝN SEVÝ
SURVEYS SPRING 2010
MetroPOLL: AK Party foreign policy backed by public
s Turkish public becomes more aware of domestic and foreign policy issues and the government becomes more dependent on the public’s views, opinion polls have become a means to formulate and sometimes influence political decisions. Recent opinion polls reveal that the government has the support of the nation on its foreign policy orientation and legal reforms
BETÜL AKKAYA A MetroPOLL opinion poll conducted in January 2010 found that more than 56 percent of participants support the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government's foreign policy. Nearly 33 percent said they do not think the AK Party government is successful in foreign affairs, while 10 percent said they find the government's foreign policy "very unsuccessful." There were recent suggestions by some commentators that Turkey's expanded presence in the foreign policy arena signifies a shift in foreign policy orientation. Ankara has consistently rejected such arguments, calling them reminiscent of a Cold War mentality. The survey also found that the Turkish public is reluctant to lend support for ongoing governmental efforts for settlement of the Kurdish question. Only 38.7 percent of respondents said they support the initiative while a full 53.8 percent of respondents said they do not support the initiative at all. Turkey's Kurdish question has existed since the first years of the republic, but it turned violent in 1984 after the establishment of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). More than 40,000 civilians and security forces have been killed in clashes so far.
In addition, more than 55 percent of respondents said they believe there is a group within the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) that seeks to stage a coup. Thirty-six percent said there is no such group, while 8.9 percent declined to comment. Respondents were also asked about the possibility of the TSK staging a coup d'état. Only 26.9 percent said such a possibility exists. An overwhelming 62.2 percent said the armed forces could not stage a coup. More than 10 percent said they had no idea. Unemployment decreases public support for ruling party
An opinion poll conducted by the SONAR Research Group in January 2010 showed that increasing rate of unemployment has decreased the public support for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party). According to the survey, if parliamentary elections were held today, 29.5 percent of the respondents said they would vote for the AK Party. More than 27 percent said they would vote for the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), while around 20 percent said they would vote for the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). 134
and 8.7 percent said they would vote for the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). Only 3.3 percent said they would choose the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) in the elections. Poll verifies public view on existence of pro-coup faction within military According to a separate opinion poll by the MetroPOLL, more than 55 percent of respondents believe there is a group within the Turkish Armed Forces that seeks to stage a coup. The poll was conducted in January 2010. However, 36 percent said there is no such group, while 8.9 percent declined to comment. The Turkish military has recently become the center of mounting criticism due to its protective stance toward many of its members who are accused of working to overthrow the democratically elected government. Asked about the possibility of the TSK staging a coup d'état, only 26.9 percent said such a possibility exists. An overwhelming 62.2 percent said the armed forces could not stage a coup. In addition, a crushing 66.2 percent said yes when asked whether they believe in the existence of
The participants were also questioned about the most important problems of Turkey. More than 67 of the respondents pointed to increasing rate of unemployment as Turkey's most challenging issue. More than 35 percent said it was the government's efforts to settle the Kurdish question. Public not willing for early elections, poll shows
A survey conducted by the Konsensus Research Company in January 2010 suggested that a considerable portion of the Turkish public is unwilling about early parliamentary elections. A total of 71 percent said they would not like the government to head for early elections. Twenty-eight percent, on the other hand, expressed their desire for early elections. The survey also showed that the public is pretty undecided about which political party to vote for if early elections were to be held. While 25.9 percent said they did not decide yet over which party to vote for, 24.9 percent said they would vote for the Justice and Development Party (AK Party). Slightly more than 14 percent said they would vote for the Republican People's Party (CHP) 135
Recent opinion polls reveal a clear support for Turkey's ruling AK Party by means of its domestic and foreign policy decisions. The AK Party would also win a clear majority if general elections, due next year, were held today, an opinion poll found in early March. PHOTO: KÜRÞAT BAYHAN
GRAPHIC: ABDÜLKERÝM KESKÝN
SURVEYS SPRING 2010
deputies on Feb. 2 when he poked fun at news reports covering the Gülhane Military Academy of Medicine's (GATA) refusal to allow the prime minister's wife, Majority disapproves of treatment of PM's wife Emine Erdoðan, to enter the hospital to visit a patient An ANDY-AR Center for Social Research survey conin 2007 because she wears a headscarf. Osman ducted in late January and early February revealed that Durmuþ angered AK Party deputies when he said: an overwhelming majority of the Turkish public con"How dare you not allow the wife of a prime minister demns the treatment of the prime minster's wife when who is accepted as a prophet to enter GATA? Who do she was denied entry to the Gülhane Military you think you are?" The incident led to a skirmish Academy of Medicine (GATA) due to her headscarf. between AK Party and MHP deputies. The main question of the survey concerned the Ýstanbul residents believe Turkey recent debate over the treatment of Prime Minister needs a new leftist party Recep Tayyip Erdoðan's wife, Emine, at GATA when A separate MetroPOLL opinion poll in February she wanted to visit an ailing thespian in 2007. More found that Ýstanbul residents believe Turkey needs a than 60 percent of respondents said they disapprove new leftist party to meet the political demands of leftof the decision to deny Emine Erdoðan entry to oriented voters in the country, as existing political parGATA because she wears the Islamic headscarf. ties that define themselves as "leftist" Among the participants, 61.2 percent fall short of satisfying their voters. MetroPOLL: 78.7 said they disagreed with the treatAccording to the poll, more than 55 ment of Erdoðan, while 13.5 percent percent of Turks percent of respondents said Turkey is said they approved of the move. believe that Turkey in need of a new leftist political party When asked whether they agree needs judicial reform. while 38.2 percent said the existing with the arguments suggesting leftist parties meet the country's that GATA acted intentionally A full 69.8 percent needs. Asked whether Turkey needs a when it denied Erdoðan entry thinks that Turkey new party on the right, only 37.2 perbecause she wears the headscarf urgently needs a new cent responded "yes." Approximately and that GATA might have let her 56 percent, on the other hand, said constitution in if she was somebody else, 64.3 "no." The highest call for a new rightpercent of respondents agreed, wing party came from Nationalist Movement Party while 18.2 said they disagreed with this statement. (MHP) supporters, at 45.3 percent. Only 28.4 percent The respondents were also asked about a controverof Justice and Development Party (AK Party) supportsial headscarf ban that is in place at universities and ers said such a party was needed. public buildings in the country. A total of 50.2 percent One of the questions included in the poll examined of respondents said they were against the ban, 18.6 respondents' perception of the CHP. Asked whether percent said they were in favor of it and 11.3 percent the CHP is a leftist party, 53.7 percent said it is, while said they partially supported the ban. 16.9 percent said it is not. The remaining 29.3 percent Poll: Ýstanbulites disapprove of declined to comment. parliamentary fistfight Public does not want early elections, Andy-Ar finds MetroPOLL conducted an opinion poll among resiAccording to a survey by the Andy-Ar Center for dents of Ýstanbul in February 2010 over their percepSocial Research in early March, the Turkish public does tion of a recent parliamentary fistfight between not want to head to the ballot box for snap elections. deputies from the Justice and Development Party (AK Nearly 43 percent of respondents said they do not Party) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). want early elections while 35.4 percent said they do. The participants of the survey expressed strong disapOf the respondents, 71.3 percent voiced the counproval of a brawl in Parliament. Twenty-nine percent try's need for a new constitution, while only 11.4 perof respondents said the MHP was responsible for the cent opposed the drafting of a new constitution. fistfight, while 20.4 percent pointed to the AK Party. Nearly 60 percent said Turkey urgently needs judicial More than 26 percent said both parties were at fault. A reform, with 65.4 percent stressing that the judiciary is full 21.7 percent declined to comment. neither independent nor impartial in Turkey. A MHP deputy drew the indignation of AK Party the deep state in Turkey. Only 23 percent said no, while 10.8 said they had no idea.
GRAPHIC: ABDÜLKERÝM KESKÝN
SURVEYS SPRING 2010
poll showed a decrease in the public support to the More than 35 percent said they would vote for the constitutional changes after the content of the reform AK Party if parliamentary elections were held next package was revealed from 66 percent to 48 percent. Sunday. Slightly more than 19 percent voiced support Several different opinion polls have been conducted to for the MHP while 17.8 percent would support the learn what the nation would do in the event of a refCHP. More than 6 percent said they would vote for the erendum. According to a recent survey conducted by TDH and 5.1 percent said they would vote for the BDP. MetroPOLL: Turks strongly back legal PollMark of 5,039 people before the content of the reform, new constitution package was announced, 41.5 percent of respondents A MetroPOLL survey in late February showed that said they would say yes to the government's constitu78.7 percent of respondents said Turkey needs judicial tional reform package if it goes to referendum, while reform. A full 69.8 percent of respondents said Turkey 28.2 percent said they would decide according to the urgently needs a new constitution, the poll found. content of the package. Almost 60 percent of the The AK Party government plans to bring a reform respondents in the same survey also said Turkey package to Parliament by the end of March in a bid to needs a new constitution. restructure Turkish judiciary and replace the current Poll shows Turks dislike opposition's position on coup probe Constitution. Many segments of society agree that the A new MetroPOLL survey has shown that Turks are current Constitution falls short of meeting the highly disturbed by a position taken by opposition demands of today's Turkey. party leaders against an ongoing probe into an alleged Asked whether they would vote in favor of judicial military plot to overthrow the AK reforms if a referendum were held, 66 Party government. According to the percent said yes. Twenty-seven perFifty-six percent of poll, 70.4 percent of respondents discent, however, said they would vote participants support approve of the position of CHP against such reforms. Almost 51 perthe government's forleader Deniz Baykal on the cent of respondents said recent develSledgehammer plot probe. The plot opments in the country had undereign policy. Thirtywas allegedly drafted by members of mined their confidence in the judiciThree percent do not the military who intended to stage a ary, while 35.3 percent said recent think the government coup. Around 21 percent of respondevelopments had no impact on their is successful in foreign dents said they approve of Baykal's confidence in the judiciary. affairs and 10 percent position on the probe. The CHP In a follow-up poll made on March leader has alleged on various occa24, MetroPOLL surveyors found that finds its foreign policy sions that the probe is an attempt by the support of the public for the judi‘very unsuccessful’ the AK Party to undermine the TSK. cial reform continued even after the A full 61 percent of respondents said they do not agree government disclosed its new reform package, which with the position of MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli on the would amend 26 articles of the current Constitution. suspected plot. Only 27.8 percent lent their support to The poll showed that a majority of the Turkish public Bahçeli on the issue. According to the MHP leader, the is critical of the two biggest opposition parties' immeSledgehammer probe is part of a smear campaign by diate rejection of the package. According to the poll a the ruling party against the armed forces. full 61 percent of respondents said the Republican Poll shows AK Party would win clear majority People's Party (CHP) was wrong in its disapproval of Turkey's ruling AK Party would win a clear majority if the package even before its content was revealed. general elections due next year were held today, an When asked whether they agreed with the Nationalist opinion poll stated early March. The poll, conducted Movement Party (MHP), which says the package by the Konsensus polling firm, showed the AK Party should be delayed until a new Parliament is formed with 39.6 percent of the vote. In the last election in after next parliamentary elections, 56.1 percent replied 2007, the AK Party, which was first elected in 2002, that they did not while 36 said they do. The poll was won 46.6 percent of the vote. The main opposition carried out with a representative sample of 1,010 peoCHP would garner 23.1 percent and the MHP 16.5 ple in 31 provinces in Turkey. Despite the public critipercent, the Konsensus poll stated. cism of the opposition parties' rejectionism the new 138
columns (ATK) convened again and reached the same conclusion: "It was the product of Çiçek's hand." Some people still didn't believe it. After the Gendarmerie General Command's Criminal Investigation Department connected the final dot, the General Staff Ekrem Dumanlý, Zaman, March 4, 2010 was obliged to admit that the document was authentic. So what was the benefit of putting up a front? The Sledgehammer plan, the Action Was there any need for Chief of General Staff Gen. Plan to Finish Off the Justice and Ýlker Baþbuð to say it was just a "piece of paper"? Development Party (AK Party) and Should we be criticizing those who misinformed Fethullah Gülen and the Cage Baþbuð or those who damaged their reputation by Operation Action Plan, all of them have giving an unnecessary defense? This issue goes back the same qualities: the idolization of to whoever Çiçek reports to. It goes back to the senior power, the inappropriate utilization of that power and official whom Çiçek can visit in his office at any time. a hatred of the public and democracy. The issue isn't about a colonel who has been caught It is an audacious, aggressive and arrogant mentalired-handed; rather the issue is about a confrontation ty that considers "everything acceptable." According with a particular mentality. The authenticity of this to those who have this mentality, the state is always at person's signature has been confirmed several times, "risk and in danger." It is for this reason that the yet a politician comes out and says he wants a "fin"domestic threat" warrants any and every "action" gerprint" as proof. Come on, people, that is carried out against it. How have a heart. Some military personelse can you explain the reason for THE NOTION OF nel who try to make themselves framing someone for a crime they DOMESTIC THREAT more powerful by constantly prehave not committed? It isn't enough WAS TARGETING ONE senting the state and regime as being for them that citizens pay their taxes, under threat and some civilians who respect the law and are miles away GROUP OF PEOPLE from "coercion and violence." They YESTERDAY, AND IT IS are at their disposal think it is legitimate to set up a conspiracy against a wanted to secretly place weapons in TARGETING A DIFFER- segment of society. This is the mindhomes, prove that the Ergenekon ENT GROUP TODAY. set that plans incidents to intimidate investigation was just a plot by setleftists, rightists, religious people, ting up traps for the police, ambush BUT THE MENTALITY Alevis and Kurds. We need to recona political party and remove it from IS STILL THE SAME sider the bloody May 1 of 1977, repower and carry out assassinations evaluate the Kahramanmaraþ incito incite conflict between Alevis and Sunnis. dents that led to sectarian violence and rethink the Those who seized every opportunity to dilute coup political assassinations that led to public unrest from allegations are increasingly shocked as the authenticithis perspective. ty of the documents is being confirmed one by one. Is Meanwhile, the court has approved the indictment there any other man in the history of Turkish law that that goes back to the document signed by Çiçek and has as many criminal reports on his record as Dursun mentions the incidents that occurred in Erzincan. In Çiçek? Reports including police crime lab reports, fact, the indictment was accepted despite pressure gendarmerie crime lab reports, Scientific and from the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBÝTAK) (HSYK) not to do so. The prime suspect is 3rd Army reports and forensic reports. Before the original copy Commander Gen. Saldýray Berk. The information and of the document was discovered, some people started documents included in the indictment against one of an outcry over the document being a "photocopy." the army's top commanders is humiliating. The alleThen when the original copy came out, they started gations against Erzincan Chief Public Prosecutor Ýlhan clinging to the lie that a machine that reproduced wet Cihaner, who is accused of being a member of signatures had been invented in America. But that Ergenekon, are bloodcurdling. I wonder if the HSYK didn't hold either. The Council of Forensic Medicine
ILLUSTRATION: YUNUS EMRE HATUNOÐLU
An invitation to the truth
people yesterday, and it is targeting a different group today. But the mentality is still the same. Expressing one's reaction with statements such as "I feel like I have been deceived" is far from convincing. In order for people to believe your sincerity, you need to apologize to your colleagues, whom you turned into targets for the armed forces. Do not forget that a trap that is set up for certain people today will be set up for other people tomorrow. Those who want to use weapons purchased with taxpayer money against the people, saying, "I will crack down on Ýstanbul," do not know that Ýstanbul will "crack down" on anyone who tries to crack down on it. In the end, even if people plan conspiracies against others, the public conscience is the ultimate court.
members, who prompted a crisis by directly intervening in the investigation, are ashamed as well. According to the indictment, the state's commanders, prosecutors and intelligence officers put their heads together and tried to plan a conspiracy against the people. It is a terrifying situation. One needs to be blind not to see the truth. Unfortunately, there have always been some people who have taken it upon themselves to protect the state and who abuse their power to set traps for the nation. It is an inhumane decision to act is if nothing has happened after all the information and documents that have been exposed. We are confronting an issue that is beyond politics. The notion of "domestic threat and domestic enemy" was targeting one group of 141
columns SPRING 2010 expanded the sphere of threats to include reactionaryism, a fabricated threat not claimed in other countries. The official documents focusing on internal security in the 1960s and 1970s make reference to fundamentalist threats along with separatist and destructive activities. Internal threats and reactionaryism have been cited in the National Security Council's (MGK) final declarations as priority threats since 1988. However, the declarations did not provide any definition of reactionaryism. This move created two interrelated situations. Above all, this model confirmed that the state had an ideology and that the state was acting with the motive of protecting this ideology. However, the state cannot have an ideology. The state has a constitutional framework and principles. And this, in its broadest sense, refers to democracy and fundamental rights and freedoms. The threat against this is countered by the security establishment and the judiciary. Anything beyond this bears a different meaning. That meaning points to the state's direct interference in politics and democracy. What does reactionaryism -- or any other similar notion -- mean? Who makes the decision on how to define this term? Currently, the state defines what is right or wrong, what is constitutional or unconstitutional and what is antidemocratic via the MGK's declarations and instructions. In such a case, is it possible to talk about democracy and politics, the practiced form of the first? Put aside the practices introduced by EMASYA, practices that are not acceptable even in a non-democratic environment, put aside democracy, the notion of internal threat itself means that an organization of the state is beyond politics and democracy (whether this institution is constitutional does not make any difference since each institution must be constitutional; what matters most is how that institution has became constitutional and under what circumstances). Nobody should fool themselves. The military did not go back to their barracks after staging military coups in Turkey; subsequent to the coups, they amended the Constitution, thus making themselves an upper-level decision-making mechanism. The snowball created within that understanding has become the avalanche we are coping with today. Democracy is hard to achieve.
Threatening the internal threat Hasan Bülent Kahraman, Sabah, Feb. 2, 2010
Even though I am not fond of the exaggerated descriptions such as "silent revolution," I dubbed the developments that started with the Ergenekon trial and the "cosmic room" search as such a revolution. Now I note Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoðan's move to abolish the Protocol on Cooperation for Security and Public Order (EMASYA) and dismiss the notion of internal threat as an extension of this revolution. In so doing, Turkey may start a process of genuine civilianization and democratization. I would like to set this debate aside and focus on the notion of internal threat. The Peace of Westphalia, signed in the 17th century, noted that states are defined by their borders and that states are classified as enemies and friends in terms of external relations. The states perceived their enemies as external threats. Internal enemies and internal threats were not included in this framework. The distinction between internal threats and external threats started with the arrival of the Cold War. The Western world presented itself as the free world and declared the Eastern Bloc to be the general and big external enemy. The commonly held argument back then stated that the methods of warfare had dramatically changed and the prevalent ideology of the Eastern Bloc would penetrate the free world through underground groups operating in these countries under the pretext of democracy. These enterprises were regarded as components of the internal threat or enemy. The critical point to underline here is the transformation of the threat from an armed enemy into an ideology. Such a general framework was unquestionably recognized by the military in Turkey. It was even manifest that the military was considered the party authorized to make decisions with regard to this matter. Socialism and communism were already the recognized imminent threats. The military 142
arrived. In March, a junta within the Naval Forces drafted a plan called the Cage Operation Action Plan. The plan sought to create a fertile environment for a military coup by plotting assassinations, massacres, kidnappings and the overall destabilization of Turkey. (Taraf, Nov. 19, 2009). In April 2009, a new plot was disclosed: the Action Plan to Fight Reactionaryism. The plot was sponsored by Col. Dursun Çicek and prepared at the General Staff. The plan sought to topple the AK Party administration and wipe out the Gülen movement by fabricating links between the movement and arms. (Taraf, June 12, 2009). The indictment prepared in connection with the plot indicated that the Action Plan to Fight Reactionaryism was to be first implemented in Erzincan. The following excerpt from an indictment in which 3rd Army Commander Gen. Saldýray Berk is the prime suspect is quite interesting: "The Action Plan to Fight Reactionaryism was drafted by Col. Dursun Çicek and was first to be implemented in Erzincan. To this end, a clandestine enterprise led by Saldýray Berk, who works in affiliation with the Ergenekon armed organization, carried out illegal activities. It has become evident that the enterprise attempted to plant guns, drugs and illegal documents in the schools and institutions of the Fethullah Gülen movement in an attempt to justify a call for a series of operations against these places and to make sure that the movement is considered an armed terror organization. The statements undersigned by Dursun Çicek in a document and the handwritten statements of military officer Ersin Ergut, who works at the Erzincan Provincial Gendarmerie Command's Intelligence Department, confirm each other, and this confirmation is the primary proof of said argument." Think for a moment that these are all real and are links of a chain. They are not fabricated or imagined, unlike some counterarguments. The unease of the military with the AK Party administration has become evident with these incidents. Our military has long suffered from a vicious habit and illness, the roots of which can be traced back to the Ottoman era: a pro-junta and pro-coup attitude. This is a rather serious illness, and it does not suit democracy and the rule of law. This is the problem that we are experiencing today.
Getting rid of the pro-coup, pro-junta tendencies Hasan Cemal, Milliyet, March 4, 2010
The Balyoz (Sledgehammer) coup plan was prepared in late 2002 and early 2003; the coup plans, hinted at by the undersecretary of the National Intelligence Organization (MÝT) then, were plotted by the 1st Army. Currently, 36 military officers, including retired Gen. Çetin Doðan, the commander of the 1st Army back then, are currently under arrest in connection with the Sledgehammer coup. A report that was drafted by a senior major appointed by the military prosecutor as an expert has been in newspaper headlines. The Sledgehammer coup plan was followed by other coup plans bearing interesting names including Sarýkýz (Blonde Girl), Ayýþýðý (Moonlight), Yakamoz (Sea Sparkle) and Eldiven (Glove). All the details of these plans are in the journals of Adm. Özden Örnek, then-commander of the Naval Forces. Hilmi Özkök, the chief of General Staff at the time, was notified about these plans, which have not yet been denied. In addition, the MÝT undersecretary also informed related authorities about these plans back then. The plots and activities to topple the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government have continued in the aftermath of 2004 as well. The Çankaya wars waged to circumvent the road to the presidency laid the foundations of the path toward the Ergenekon case. The path was lengthy and full of obstacles, including the 367 quorum debate and the April 27, 2007 memo, but the attempts failed. The military memo was countered by a warning from the people, who extended a huge amount of support to the AK Party, which received 47 percent of the vote in the subsequent general elections. This was a big disappointment for the military. A judicial coup was plotted to prevent the rise of the AK Party; a case was filed with the Constitutional Court demanding its dissolution. The AK Party barely survived the case in the summer of 2008. It did not stop there. The year 2009 143
columns SPRING 2010 and with whom? Should it seek a consensus with the conservative CHP, asking for the continuation of the military order and the appellate judiciary taking orders from the General Staff? Should it consult with the Constitutional Court, which issued controversial rulings on some recent thorny issues? Take a look at the CHP, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the appellate judiciary as well as the papers and the TV stations supporting these actors; do you notice any criticism urging for the expansion of the sphere of liberties? [...] They do not, they will not. They just want to prevent any changes. The appellate judiciary is engaged with political affairs instead of minding its own business. As a consequence, the whole judicial system is in a total collapse. Our paper features a new report today [March 24, 2010]; the appellate judiciary would try to prevent such legal scandals if it were really concerned with legality and legal affairs, but they do not even care. A placard was displayed at a demonstration in Diyarbakir. The holders of the placard were sent to court. Eventually, both were tried in the Diyarbakir courthouse but in different courtrooms. The result? The defendant holding the left side of the placard was sentenced to a six-year jail term whereas the holder of the other side was acquitted. Should we call this law and legality? Shall we call it justice delivered by the impartial and independent judiciary? Is it possible to imagine such a judiciary? Above all, the appellate judiciary should monitor its affairs and take a look at what is going on in the judicial system, but they do nothing about it. Does the CHP, which argues that it protects the independence of the judiciary, show any interest in this? Is it opposed to the HYSK taking orders from the General Staff? No. The CHP's concern is not justice, legality, liberties or Turkey; its primary concern is sustaining the domination of the minorities in the country. Seeking consensus with these actors is a waste of time; just ignore them. This order will be changed; this legal order will be changed. The judiciary and the military will step out of the political domain. This will happen tomorrow, if not today. But this country will eventually enjoy justice, the rule of law and liberties. This will happen through integration with people rather than consensus with those who dream of the old regime.
Judiciary should mind its own business Ahmet Altan, Taraf, March 24, 2010
The appellate judiciary has recently made a number of statements on the proposed constitutional amendments. All have been political. You may think that these are some politicians talking. They make statements supporting Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal's arguments; they assert that the judiciary will lose its independence if the draft amendments become law. We may hear their arguments as if the judiciary were really independent, but the argument that the judiciary is genuinely independent does not sound right. What the CHP and the appellate judiciary really want to preserve is the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), which appoints the judges and the prosecutors. They want the current structure and composition of this institution to be maintained. Why are they so eager to preserve it? This institution relieved the prosecutor who drafted the indictment in connection with the assassination plotted by the "good guys" in Þemdinli of his duty. Did it make this decision "independently"? No. The HSYK, which files lawsuits against us [the Taraf daily] demanding a huge amount of compensation, will not be able to prove its independence regardless of how many charges it files. It should be noted that former Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaþar Büyükanýt admitted in a TV broadcast that he gave the order for the removal of the prosecutor from office. Is it possible to imagine a judicial institution receiving orders from the General Staff? Both the CHP and the appellate judiciary want to preserve the dependence of the HSYK on the military -- as confirmed by Büyükanýt -- instead of its independence. They are seeking to undermine the will of the people and take control of political activities in cooperation with the military. Their actual goal is to ensure their dominance is sustained. [...] The media gives advice suggesting that the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) should seek consensus to create a new constitution. What consensus
Erdoðan-Davutoðlu Avni Özgürel, Radikal, Feb. 7, 2010
Time is passing; a whole year has passed since I published an article with the same title. Ahmet Davutoðlu was not foreign minister back in February 2009; he was serving as the chief adviser to the prime minister and held the title of ambassador. Back then I wrote: "There is no other adviser in our history who influenced the course of politics and convinced the leader to handle the dominant notions and principles of international relations from a different perspective. I could even argue that there has been no foreign minister in our republican history like Professor Ahmet Davutoðlu." I further argued that the comments suggesting that Recep Tayyip Erdoðan was attempting to reverse the course of Turkey's traditional foreign policy design, the guiding principles of which were laid out by Atatürk, the founder of the republic, by following the advice of Davutoðlu were simply wrong. [...] Following the rejection of the motion in March 2003 seeking to provide free passage for American troops to Iraq via Turkish territories, the leading figures of the Turkish press directed their criticism at Davutoðlu. "Take a look at the current situation created by some strategy experts; they turned Turkey into an ordinary and weak actor in the current developments in the near abroad. Now they are attempting to justify their theories by arguing that Turkey is one of the 30 allies of the US. Enough is enough! Save your brilliant ideas and claims of a historical mission for yourself! Sadly, the only historical opportunity that appeared in such a sensitive period of time and your attempt to convert theory into practice proved too costly for Turkey. Unfortunately, Turkey is becoming the first victim of post-Saddam era," wrote Ertuðrul Özkök, [then] editor-in-chief of the Hürriyet daily. This is not a lone example. Back then we had prominent colleagues and experts on Middle Eastern affairs who mocked Davutoðlu by asking, "Are you the one who knows these affairs best, given that there are a number of think tanks in the US where leading strategists work?" A year has
passed since these statements. Now, Davutoðlu is a star in the eyes of his former critics. He is a star, but there are still attempts to present the foreign policy design framed by Davutoðlu and Erdoðan as an endeavor seeking to create an alliance and cooperation with the Arab and Islamic world alone. A summit between Turkey, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina was unimaginable until recently; Davutoðlu achieved this. Croatia has stated its wish to participate in a similar meeting. Up until recently, Bosnia's membership in NATO was not a subject deemed worthy of attention or consideration by the Western world. Today, Bosnia's membership in NATO is under discussion, and this will secure its territorial integrity. NATO, which has not endorsed any policy not approved of by the US till now, had to back up despite the obvious reaction from Washington. Ankara achieved visible outcomes in the aftermath of a process of negotiation on Bosnia's NATO membership -- for which the Hungarian delegates noted that they felt that Hungary is a country whose opinion counts thanks to Turkey's active diplomacy -- despite analysts arguing before the process that Ankara would not be able to attract the support of even a single country for Bosnia's acceptance into NATO. [...] Undoubtedly, what makes Davutoðlu strong at the negotiation table is the support extended to him by Erdoðan. If Turkey is not a country complying with instructions forwarded by the US and its allies behind the closed doors of diplomatic fora anymore, this is mostly due to Erdoðan's brave and active attitude to frame the content of political action. Last week [the end of January 2010], I was in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. President Nursultan Nazarbayev is working hard to make his country a rising star and a role model for Central Asian countries. It is possible to observe the outcomes and results of the emerging style of Turkish diplomacy there as well. A Kazakh national will serve as the president of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and Kazakhstan holds the chairmanship the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) thanks to Turkey's initiatives. This means that the Turks of the Central Asian region will start assuming greater roles in international politics. Is this insignificant?
chronicle SPRING 2010
PHOTO: ALÝ ÜNAL
JANUARY January 3 - 5 ‘Cosmic search' judge receives death threats Judge Kadir Kayan received a threatening letter and an envelope containing bullets due to his investigation into an apparent military plot to assassinate Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arýnç.
January 11: Turkey, Lebanon abolish visa requirement Turkey and Lebanon signed an agreement to lift visa requirements for their nationals in a bid to boost trade, tourism and economic cooperation. January 12 - 15 Erdoðan awarded Faisal prize Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoðan won the 2010 King Faisal International Prize (KFIP) for service to Islam.
Military launches probe into 'action plan' colonel The General Staff launched an investigation into Col. Dursun Çiçek whose signature was found on a military plot detailing a plan to undermine the government and a faithbased group. January 17: Bardakoðlu expresses support for Halki Seminary reopening The head of Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate, Ali Bardakoðlu, has said debates surrounding a Greek Orthodox seminary will be resolved within the framework of religious freedom.
January 18: Pope gunman released after three decades in jail Mehmet Ali Aðca, who shot and injured Pope John Paul II and killed a Turkish journalist, was released from prison after more than 29 years behind bars.
January 22: HRW calls democratization initiative 'most hopeful indication' in 2009
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has praised the democratization initiative, noting that it was committed to ensuring the human rights of Kurds in Turkey in its World Report 2010. January 28: Barzani urges Turkey's Kurds to support gov't initiative Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani has encouraged the Kurdish people of Turkey to support a governmental initiative to settle the Kurdish question.
January 21: ‘Cosmic' search finally ends after 26 days A civilian search of the Special Forces Command's Tactical Mobilization Unit facilities as part of an investigation into an alleged military plot to assassinate Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arýnç ended.
January 31: Cage looms large on EU's radar screen The EU is closely following a secret plan allegedly drafted by some military officials to intimidate Turkey's non-Muslims, a report has revealed.
Top court annuls law on military tribunals The Constitutional Court overturned a reform package that requires civilian courts to try members of the military in peacetime.
FEBRUARY February 2: European court rules against religion box in ID cards Listing religions on identity cards is in violation of human rights, the top European human rights court has ruled.
Fourth indictment demands life sentence for 5 naval officers Ergenekon prosecutors have completed a fourth indictment in case. The new document demands life sentences for five naval officers. January 19: OSCE: Turkey blocking 3,700 Web sites, reform needed Europe's main security and human rights watchdog said that Turkey was blocking some 3,700 Internet sites for "arbitrary and political reasons" and urged reforms to show its commitment to freedom of expression.
PHOTO: TURGUT ENGÝN
January 8: Erdoðan calls expectations for early elections a 'dream' Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoðan has termed expectations for early elections as merely a "dream," underlining that the next elections would not be held before 2011.
Diplomacy a la Lieberman: Insult to ambassador shaking ties Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon was seen telling cameramen to film him sitting on a tall chair and Turkish Ambassador Oðuz Çelikkol on a lower chair during a meeting. Ayalon's move angered Turkey, with President Abdullah Gül asking Israel to offer an apology for the scandal.
PHOTO: KÜRÞAT BAYHAN
January 5: Davutoðlu warns Bulgaria over compensation demands Turkey warned that Bulgaria's reported demands for compensation for displaced people in the early 20th century might harm bilateral ties.
January 20: Yet another subversive plot against AK Party exposed A Turkish daily exposed an alleged military plan to topple the government. Titled the Balyoz (Sledgehammer) Security Operation Plan, the plot included subversive plans such as bombing mosques during Friday prayers and crashing a Turkish jet.
February 4: Gov't finally does away with covert military protocol The Interior Ministry has announced that the Protocol on Cooperation for Security and Public Order (EMASYA) has finally been quashed. The controversial protocol empowered the military to intervene in social incidents on its own initiative.
Turkish FM calls for 'Eurasian union' Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoðlu has called for the establishment of an EU-like union encompassing the Eurasia region. February 5: Ergenekon suspect sentenced to four years in prison Lt. Col. Mustafa Dönmez was sentenced to four years in prison and expelled from the military on charges of concealing equipment belonging to the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK). February 8: Council of State once again rules against ending coefficient system The 8th Chamber of the Council of State has once again ruled to retain a system that uses a lower coefficient to calculate the university admission examination scores of graduates of vocational high schools. February 10: European Parliament urges immediate pullout from Cyprus Members of the European Parliament endorsed an annual report on Turkey's progress in 2009, which calls on Turkey to immediately begin the withdrawal of Turkish troops from the northern part of the island.
chronicle SPRING 2010
February 12: Armenian gov't authorizes Sarksyan to rescind signature from Turkey protocols The Armenian government approved draft amendments to the country's Law on International Agreements, paving the way for Armenia to recall its signature on two protocols signed with Turkey. February 14: Ergenekon probe to shed light on anti-Ecevit plot A suspected plot to remove former Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit from office through a fake medical report is set to be investigated as part of the Ergenekon probe.
February 21: Artists pledge support for democratic initiative Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoðan hosted the country's leading artists for a breakfast at Prime Ministry to request their support for the democratic initiative.
February 16 - 17 Ergenekon probe heats up with testimony of two admirals The interrogation of Adm. Kadir Saðdýç and Adm. Mehmet Fatih Ýlðar marks the first time two commanders with the rank of admiral testify to civilian prosecutors.
February 22: Former force commanders detained in largest Ergenekon wave A total of 49 retired and active duty military officers were detained as part of the investigation into the Sledgehammer and Cage plans. Among them were former commanders of the land, air and naval forces. Seven of the generals were later arrested.
Erzincan prosecutor arrested in Ergenekon probe Police arrested Erzincan Chief Public Prosecutor Ýlhan Cihaner on charges of "membership in a terrorist organization." After the arrest, the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) stripped four Erzurum prosecutors of their powers.
February 24: Top brass debates state of military after wave of arrests Chief of General Staff Gen. Ýlker Baþbuð gathered generals at an extraordinary meeting to discuss the position of the armed forces in the wake of detentions of military officers.
February 19: Baþbuð assigned officers to Arýnç's house, recording says Some military officers who were detained last year on suspicion of an alleged plot to assassinate Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arýnç were on a mission assigned to them by Chief of General Staff Gen. Ýlker Baþbuð, according to a voice recording.
February 28: Thousands gather calling for an 'early finale' to Feb. 28 period Tens of thousands of people throughout Turkey denounced the Feb. 28, 1997 unarmed military coup d'état on its 13th anniversary with mass rallies, calling for an end to the influence of the postmodern coup, which was intended to last for "a thousand years."
PHOTO: MEHMET YAMAN
February 15: Olmert: Turkey acted responsibly, fair in Syria-Israeli talks Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Turkey acted with responsibility and fairness as a mediator in the indirect peace negotiations between Israel and Syria.
March 1: Government speeds up work for visa-free travel to Europe Prime Minister Erdoðan has said the government is planning to make the improvements necessary for all Turkish citizens to be able to travel to European Union member countries without a visa. PM vows to bring reform package to Parliament by end of March Prime Minister Erdoðan has said that the AK Party plans to submit a comprehensive constitutional reform package to Parliament by the end of March. March 2: General Staff acknowledges authenticity of coup plot The General Staff has announced that new evidence has been acquired pointing to the authenticity of an alleged plot against the AK Party and the Gülen movement. General, prosecutor named as terror suspects in indictment An indictment into jailed Erzincan Public Prosecutor Ýlhan Cihaner accuses the prosecutor and Third Army Commander Gen. Saldýray Berk of terror charges. March 4-5 PKK receives heaviest blow in Europe The Belgian police launched orchestrated raids on premises suspected to belong to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and detained dozens of senior members of the outlawed group. Police also halted the broadcast-
ing of the Roj TV, a mouthpiece of the PKK. US committee passes Armenian resolution The House Foreign Affairs Committee voted to brand the killings of Armenians by Ottoman forces during World War I as "genocide." Turkey responded by recalling Ambassador Namýk Tan to Ankara for consultations. Turkey recalled its ambassador from Sweden on March 11 after the Swedish parliament took a similar move. March 8: 41 dead as strong quake strikes Elazýð A powerful earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6 hit eastern Turkey on Monday, killing 41 people and knocking down houses in six villages.
PHOTO: KÜRÞAT BAYHAN
PHOTO: ALÝ ÜNAL
February 11: NGOs launch concerted effort to promote new constitution A newly formed organization calling itself the Civilian Solidarity Platform (SDP) calls for the replacement of the Constitution with a new one. The platform is made up of 350 civil society groups.
March 10: Gov't advances reform bill on minors despite opposition Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin met with opposition parties to ask for their support for legal amendments to improve the condition of minors who are jailed for participation in illegal demonstrations. The planned bill received support -albeit partial -- from the MHP, but the CHP claimed that such a regulation will pave the way fort he retrial of the terrorist head, Abdullah Öcalan.
March 11: Police discover munitions-laden truck in Turkish capital Ankara police discovered a munitions-filled truck in Ankara, which later turned out to be carrying weapons belonging to the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) to a military facility in the Turkish capital. March 12: Abant Platform convenes to discuss democratization The Abant Platform convened in Ankara with the participation of individuals from every segment of the society to discuss recent governmental efforts for a more democratic Turkey in a meeting titled "Democratization for a New Societal Consensus." March 14: PM Erdoðan meets with Roma in festive atmosphere Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoðan met with nearly 10,000 Roma in Ýstanbul as part of a government initiative to find solutions to problems faced by the ethnic minority with a festive atmosphere.
March 16: Venice Commission: Lausanne doesn't limit Bartholomew's right to 'ecumenical' title An advisory body to the Council of Europe has stated that it sees no reason, including the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, for Turkish authorities not to address the Fener Greek patriarch by his historical and generally recognized title, which is "ecumenical."
PM's Armenian deportation remarks draw ire locally and abroad Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoðan's remarks about the possible deportation of undocumented Armenian workers from Turkey after US and Swedish lawmakers passed resolutions branding the World War I-era killings of Anatolian Armenians as genocide have sparked reactions both in Yerevan and in Ankara. 28 detained in new Ergenekon wave The National Police Department detained 28 individuals in raids across nine provinces as part of the Ergenekon probe.
3 admirals, 30 other suspects accused of gang membership in Cage indictment An Ýstanbul court has started examining an indictment against suspects linked to a subversive plan called the Cage Operation Action Plan that calls for jail sentences of up to 15 years for three admirals on charges of membership in a terrorist organization. The document also seeks lengthy prison sentences for 30 other defendants on similar charges.
March 19: Court accepts Cage indictment, first hearing due in June An Ýstanbul court ruled to accept an indictment against suspects linked to the Cage plan that calls for jail sentences of up to 15 years for three admirals on charges of membership in a terrorist organization. The suspects will stand trial on June 15.
March 18: Gov't takes major step to remove Sept. 12 coup legacy The AK Party finalized its work on the constitutional reform package. The package contains strong steps to confront the remnants of Sept. 12, 1980 coup period.
March 21: Democratic initiative yields peaceful Nevruz No major incidence of violence erupted in Turkey during Nevruz celebrations of this year, particularly thanks to the government's democratization project, also known as the Kurdish initiative.
PHOTO: KÜRÞAT BAYHAN
PHOTO: MEHMET YAMAN
March 22: Gov't visits opposition seeking support for constitutional reforms The AK Party had talks with opposition parties on the constitutional reform package to ask for cooperation on the planned changes to the Constitution. March 26: Socialist leader Schulz: Package is a step closer to EU and its values The leader of the Socialists in the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, has said the latest proposal to amend the Turkish Constitution is a step closer to the European Union and its values. March 29: Gül hosts jurists, political scientists to discuss constitutional reform President Abdullah Gül met with prominent Turkish jurists and political scientists at the Çankaya presidential palace to exchange views on the government's plans to amend the Constitution. March 30: Constitutional reform package submitted to Parliament The government submitted the constitutional reform package to
Parliament, the last-minute changes to which make it possible for military top brass to be tried by a civilian court.
APRIL April 1: Pakistan and Turkey vow to cooperate in trade, condemn terrorism Pakistan and Turkey agreed to enhance their strategic partnership by signing several accords on investment, agriculture and planning during President Abdullah Gül's visit to Pakistan.
April 14: Prosecutors complete indictment on anti-government plot Civilian prosecutors have completed an indictment regarding a suspected military plot against the AK Party and the faith-based Gülen movement. The indictment points to former Ýstanbul Mayor Bedrettin Dalan as the prime suspect in the alleged plot.
Sledgehammer probe receives severe blow with releases Twenty-eight suspects in the investigation into the Sledgehammer coup plot have been released, in what has been seen as a major blow to the probe into retired and active duty military officials who allegedly plotted a coup d'état.
April 18: Erdoðan takes up democratic initiative with prominent writers Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoðan met with Turkey's leading writers and figures of the world of literature to talk about the government's democratic initiative program, which seeks to expand the cultural rights of minorities, and particularly Kurds.
April 8: Military's cover-ups might have led to deadly mine blast The Van Chief Public Prosecutor's office has revealed that a land mine explosion which killed seven soldiers last year was caused by mines planted by the Turkish military.
April 19: Constitutional amendment marathon begins with tension There was tension in Parliament as deputies started discussing AK Party 30-article amendment package. The debate and voting processes are expected to take 15 days.
PHOTO: KÜRÞAT BAYHAN
April 11: EU chides judicial, military interventions in plot probe The European Union did not mince words about the Turkish judiciary and military in its March report. Strongly criticizing judicial and military interventions into ongoing judicial investigations, the 100-page report argues that Chief of General Staff Gen. Ýlker Baþbuð's remarks will impact the outcome of ongoing trials.
dictionary of Turkish politics
THE DICTIONARY OF TURKISH POLITICS IS A CONSTANTLY EVOLVING AND EXPANDING DICTIONARY. WITHOUT KNOWING THE RECENT ENTRIES INTO THIS DYNAMIC DICTIONARY AND WITHOUT TAKING THE SHIFTS IN THE MEANINGS OF ALREADY EXISTING ENTRIES INTO CONSIDERATION IT IS ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO HAVE A GRASP OF WHAT IS GOING ON IN TURKEY. THE TPR PRESENTS 12 NEW ENTRIES IN THIS DICTIONARY.
ction Plan to Fight Reactionaryism An alleged military plot devised by the General Staff Operations Division's Information Support Department against the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the faith-based Gülen movement. A wet signature belonging to Col. Dursun Çiçek appears on the document. A copy of this document was first made public on June 12, 2009 by the Taraf daily. The military prosecutor's office launched in investigation but discontinued the probe, saying the document was not prepared in any department of the General Staff. Chief of General Staff Gen. Ýlker Baþbuð referred to the document as a "piece of paper" in his initial statements. The original document was sent to the Ýstanbul Prosecutor's Office by an anonymous sender. The authenticity of the signature has been confirmed by the Ýstanbul Council of Forensic Medicine (ATK), the Ýstanbul Police Crime Laboratory and the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBÝTAK).
PHOTO: ALÝ ÜNAL
PHOTO: TURGUT ENGÝN
DICTIONARY SPRING 2010
Cage Operation Action Plan
Balyoz plan The Balyoz (Sledgehammer) plan is a military coup plot allegedly prepared by a number of military staff in cooperation with civilian elements in bureaucracy, the judiciary, the media and business circles. The plan, which seems to be the work of the Ergenekon terror organization, aimed to bring chaos to Turkey as a result of an economic downturn and public terror, leading to a military intervention in politics. The 5,000page plan was disclosed by the Taraf daily, and the authenticity of the documents has been certified. The commanders of ground, air, naval and gendarmerie forces in the year 2003 were all involved in the preparation of the plan. Former 1st Army Commander Gen. Çetin Doaðan, retired Gen. Engin Alan and retired Col. Altan Batýbay are among the 50 retired and active military officers who are accused of taking part in preparing the Balyoz plan. The plan included creating an economic recession, blowing up mosques during Friday prayers, setting off explosives in a submarine displayed at a museum during a visit by young students, turning stadiums into open-air prisons to hold people who challenge coup troops and overthrowing the government.
Another military plot made public by the Taraf daily on Nov. 19, 2009 that had Turkey's non-Muslims as its main target. The Cage plan included plots to assassinate non-Muslim community leaders and place bombs in the offices of minority newspapers to discredit the AK Party government. The Cage plan, allegedly prepared by a group inside the Turkish Naval Forces, was exposed during a police raid on the office of retired Maj. Levent Bektaþ as part of a probe launched after the discovery of a large arms cache in Ýstanbul's Poyrazköy district in April 2009 within the framework of the investigation
into Ergenekon, a clandestine organization accused of plotting to overthrow the government. Bombing museums visited by children and putting the blame on religious groups was also one of the steps the document listed to carry out the Cage plan. Lt. Col. Ercan Kireçtepe, whose signature appears on the document, was arrested during April's Poyrazköy investigation. Adm. Kadir Saðdýç was to operate the cells that were going to carry out the assassinations. 153
Cosmic room The name used to refer to facilities of the General Staff where archived documents that are classified as state or military secrets are kept. A limited number of individuals have authority to access the cosmic room, which includes detailed plans that lay out a strategy during a potential war situation. In December 2009 a search was carried out based on a warrant issued by the Ankara 11th High Criminal Court in the cosmic room of the Special Force Command as part of an investigation into an alleged assassination attempt against Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arýnç. On Dec. 19, 2009 two officers of the Tactical Mobilization Group of the Special Forces Command were detained after being captured as they stood watch near Arýnç's house in Ankara's Çukurambar neighborhood. The search of the cosmic room was conducted by civilian judge Kadir Kayan. It lasted 26 days.
Democratic initiative (Kurdish initiative) This is an initiative to expand the freedoms of the Kurdish population in Turkey. The project, which was started and planned by the AK Party, aims to solve Turkey's long-standing Kurdish problem. This initiative
The name given to a memorandum that was published on the official Web site of the General Staff of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) on April 27, 2007, warning the government to stop alleged Islamist activities. Later, the chief of General Staff of the time, retired Gen. Yaþar Büyükanýt, said he had penned the memorandum. It was largely seen as
The Dersim Rebellion, Onur Öymen ("Don't let mothers weep") In a parliamentary session on the government's democratic initiative, Republican
an attempt to intervene in the presidential election process to block the presidency of Abdullah Gül. It is viewed as the most intrusive act of the military in politics since the Feb. 28, 1997 unarmed military intervention that had brought down the then-government in power.
Secret witness A secret witness for the Ergenekon case code-named "Munzur" was reportedly offered a bribe by a Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy from Izmir, Ahmet Ersin, to withdraw his testimony. "Munzur" testified against Col. Çiçek, whose signature was on a military plot against the AK Party government and the faith-based Gülen movement. Ersin has also been accused of meeting with another secret witness, "Fýrat," who he asked to withdraw his testimony. "Fýrat" claimed that he was given the opportunity to meet with Supreme Court of Appeals Chief Prosecutor Abdurrahman Yalçýnkaya and the court's president, Hasan Gerçeker, who would dismiss any future criminal action against him if he retracted his testimony in the case. Erol Tinastepe, another CHP deputy, has
PHOTO: KÜRÞAT BAYHAN
also been accused of meeting with "Munzur." Lawyers from the Erzincan Bar Association and the Universal Jurists' Platform have filed criminal complaints against Ersin, accusing him of pressuring secret witnesses to recant their testimony. Nearly 20 secret witnesses have provided valuable information to prosecutors in the Ergenekon trial.
Ergenekon The name given to an investigation that was launched with the discovery of 27 hand grenades in a shanty house in Ýstanbul's Ümraniye district on June 12, 2007. The house belonged to Oktay Yýldýrým, a retired noncommissioned army officer currently under arrest in relation to the case. Documents jointly labeled "Ergenekon-Lobby" were also seized in Ümraniye during police raids. These documents revealed that the organization called itself "Ergenekon." The investigation is now known as the Ergenekon terror organization investigation. Nationalist circles have been unnerved by the nomenclature used by the members of the organization and the probe, as Ergenekon is the name of an ancient legend that explains how the Turkish nation came into being.
The term refers to Col. Dursun Çiçek's wet signature that appears on the original copy of an alleged military plot against the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government and the faithbased Gülen movement. The plot in question, titled the Action Plan to Fight Reactionaryism, was exposed by the Taraf daily last year. Even though Col. Çiçek denied that his signature was on the paper, the tests conducted by the Ýstanbul Council of Forensic Medicine (ATK) and the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBITAK) contradicted his denial. The ATK report states that the signature on the paper had been compared to and matched with 20 other signatures known to belong to Col. Çiçek, all signed on different dates. Chief of General Staff Gen. Ilker Baþbuð attracted much criticism for referring to the document as a "piece of paper" and accusing the Taraf daily of working to undermine the armed forces.
norms. Some say the claim that there is neighborhood pressure on the secular segments of society is at the same time neighborhood pressure on the religious segments of the same society. Thus we "become" what we are. According to him, the meaning of neighborhood pressure, or societal pressure, is an "eye" that is skeptical toward "individualism" or "differentiation." A study supported by the Open Society Institute (OSI) and Boðazici University aimed to show the harmful effect of neighborhood pressure on secularists in the Anatolian region. The case study concluded that many secular people living in Anatolia felt obliged to pretend to be "religious" in order to secure their jobs in public offices or bids in public tenders. The study was criticized, with people saying that it was not objective because the people interviewed were only secularists and opponents of the AK Party. "Mahalle baskýsý" is difficult to define, but many claim that although it might exist in society, it is not related to the AK Party coming to power.
Neighborhood pressure (Mahalle baskýsý) The term "neighborhood pressure" (mahalle baskisi) was coined by Professor Serif Mardin. He claims that neighborhood pressure is a mechanism that society uses to "make" its members. Through neighborhood pressure, the society constructs the
PHOTO: MUSTAFA KÝRAZLI
PHOTO: TURGUT ENGÝN
brought up many discussions among the political elite and the public in Turkey, and while the interior minister calls the initiative a "national unity project," the opposition parties in Parliament do not support the government on the initiative. In order for public skepticism to decrease and the AK Party to win support for the democratic initiative, a series of conferences under the title "Turkey meetings" were organized across the country. The idea of the "Turkey meeting" was to inform the public about the initiative. As part of the democratic initiative (Kurdish initiative), the government launched a state-run Kurdish TV station and issued a pardon for PKK terrorists who did not take part in armed fights with the Turkish army. The initiative's reforms, which include easing restrictions on Kurdish language and culture, are also important for advancing the country's application for membership in the EU, according to the Copenhagen criteria.
People's Party (CHP) Deputy Chairman Onur Öymen delivered a speech praising the violent suppression of the 1938 Dersim Rebellion. Öymen asked: "Did mothers not weep during the Dersim Rebellion? Nobody said 'Don't let mothers weep' at the time, nobody said 'Let's stop the fight'." His words were a retort to the democratic initiative's unofficial motto, "Don't let mothers weep" to emphasize the importance of ending the separatist terrorism of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Öymen's words caused widespread reaction in Tunceli, the town where the Dersim Rebellion took place. Posters depicting Öymen as Adolf Hitler were put up in the streets of Tunceli, an overwhelmingly Alevi town in the East.
PHOTO: ALÝ ÜNAL
PHOTO: KÜRÞAT BAYHAN
DICTIONARY SPRING 2010
BOOK REVIEW SPRING 2010
Exclusive dualities and lack of class dimension in the politics of economy
Galip L. Yalman, Transition to Neoliberalism: The Case of Turkey in the 1980s, Ă?stanbul: Ă?stanbul Bilgi University Press, 2009. 432 pages.
the picture presented via a duality has the advantage of claiming itself as inevitable, trans-historical and even natural. But an absolute perception of dualities may also blur the inescapable relations and interactions between the two ends of the suggested duality. In fact there is a great deal of confusion about the nature of state-market relations, stemming from the fact that they are usually conceived as separately existing, if not always antagonistic, entities. This conception has given way to diametrically opposed modes of explanations that purport to account for the same historically specific phenomena. The Jan. 24, 1980 stabilization program widely accepted as the turning point of the Turkish economy was nothing but the initial step for necessary structural adjustments, which were to be seen repeatedly throughout the 1980s as well as the following years. Also, the rhetoric of structural adjustment as a prescription for the problems of the Turkish economy would remain more or less the same, with an added dimension of frequent reference to corruption of public economic enterprises and a celebration of the new market-directed system and export-oriented economy. Nevertheless, the reason behind the long life of this rhetoric in Turkey was the temporary failures in realization of the project of adjustment. The state was responsible for these failures since the state was expected to be the main actor in this process. This was a paradoxical role for the state as it necessitated an anti-state state. The state itself was expected to display a decisive will to leave the realm of economy to market agents for the sake of the liberal ideals of the public good. In this context, the unacceptably strong Turkish state was seen as the main structural,
EMRE BARCA In his Transition to Neoliberalism: The Case of Turkey in the 1980s, Galip L. Yalman criticizes overdependence on state/market and state/society dualities in explaining societal transformations that (should) take place in different parts of the world. In fact "state" and "market" have come to symbolize not only alternative strategies of capitalist development but also rival premises upon which dominant classes in different capitalist countries have attempted to build hegemonic strategies so as to maintain various forms of the state and/or regimes. Yalman treats both ends of this duality as myths: the myth of the state that signified the defeat of rational thought, and the myth of the market as a self-regulating entity. Yalman's critique of these conventional dualities is based on the absence of a third, but strategic, concept, i.e., class. The insertion of class into the conceptual framework radically changes the orientation of the theoretical debate. Of course, Yalman garners the actual data for his theoretical alternative from the transformations of the Turkish economy, particularly in the 1980s. Operating with non-synonymous supplements such as state versus civil society, totalitarianism versus free world or political versus economic rationality, the dichotomous logic of state/market and state/society is a central theme in the history of liberal discourse. But this dichotomous logic is not as clear and explanatory as it claims. Needless to say, the clarity manifested by binary oppositions is only possible in certain historical conditions since they are necessary for the presentation of politics as the ideal resolution of real conflicts. In this sense, as an ideological investment,
economy. Defining an autonomous state that is traditional obstacle against adjustments of the 1980s immune to classes and particularly to the bourand the reason behind the stillborn character of free geoisie, the economic rationale orders the state to market and civil society, but on the other hand, taklimit itself vis-Ă -vis the interest-seeking groups for ing the central role in the duality, the state was the sake of a stable economy and a wealthy society. responsible for the anti-state policies on the way to Nonetheless, in this ideal picture of clear-cut and a new economy. hierarchical dualities, it is hard to understand the Indeed, the state tradition's major role in Turkey's material reason behind the state's self-limitation, if social formation is a subject to be considered both as we assume that the state is an unnecessarily powerone of the primary forces of success and, at the same ful, pure present and autonomous being. The analytime, one of the weakest characteristics. What is at sis of class, with such an established position, makes stake here is not putting into question the centuriessense only in "the end of history." But Yalman long history of state tradition in Turkey, but the shows, at least for a critical understanding of the implication of this dichotomous logic that tends to state and market and their interrelations, how a seriassume that the state is a pure present, all-powerful ous account of class is still indispensible, since social and autonomous being in accordance with any class is not only an entity defined by economy: "In appearance of dualities within Western metaphysics. other words, it is crucial to recogMoreover, from light and dark to nize that classes are formed by the good and bad, from masculine and The judgments of collective struggles which forge the feminine to white and black, these unity of their positions as class dualities assume a hierarchical order international finansubjects, which are by no means in themselves. In this picture, the cial markets on the 'independent' from the processes state would be a hierarchically dark creditworthiness of of state formation." (p. 17) power, although paradoxically it has Third World counAnother significant concealment the central role of any development, operated by this duality seems to even in this new configuration in tries seem to deterbe the international and global which it was ordained to limit its mine the fate of aspects of structural adjustments own power. their economies, and the subsequent policy changes. Yalman spares a whole chapter which are unpreIgnoring not only the historical (State and Market: A Critical aspect of the concepts and cateEvaluation of the Empiricist and pared, vulnerable gories of state, market and society Subjectivist Approaches) on this and unstable but also history itself, these duality where he emphasizes the accounts have recourse to internaconcealment of a third concept, i.e., tional relations, mostly in daily and technical analyclass, which seems to have become only an insignifises. Neither the mystical stories of globalization told cant chapter in the textbooks of social sciences. by the experts nor an unquestioned antiInsisting on the policy changes predicted and impleAmericanism circulated in the public can provide an mented by the rhetoric of structural adjustment, understanding of the hand-to-hand relation of globYalman tries to understand the dynamics of societal alization and liberalization. It is interesting to see transformations with a certain reference to class how this duality and the rhetoric of structural interrelations rather than the aforementioned dualiadjustment make these forces visible and invisible at ties. This would require taking into account the the same time. What is at stake here is not to stress social and economic practices in a historical perspecthe significance of the global character of the tive, for human actions do have a historical and International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World material aspect irreducible to their conceptuality. Bank (WB) but to critically approach the analyses The dualities in question tend to work without any that tend to interpret the policy reforms as almost reference to inequalities of wealth and to social entirely domestic and as if they should be necessariclasses with conflicting material interests and conly enforced top down by modernizing bureaucrats ceal the concept of class, which is not tantamount to who have a famous history of reform in Turkey. In interest groups in the analysis of the politics of 157
BOOK REVIEW SPRING 2010
BOOK REVIEW SPRING 2010
Insight Turkey delves into the depths of Turkish politics
lack of a civil society. Leaving aside further discussion of this typically orientalist identification, it has to be emphasized that civil society had to be reduced to market agents since it is almost nonexistent in any oriental society. In these accounts of democratization necessarily complemented by economic liberalization, the democratization should begin from the economic realm and aim to empower the weak market agents against the powerful political (statist, if not authoritarian) rationality. As it is seen above, Galip L. Yalman's efforts to understand the transition of Turkey from a so-called state-centered system to neoliberalism in the period of the 1980s include not only the history of the different sides of this societal transformation but also a rigorous critique of the classical understanding particularly dominated by the differing but supplementary dualities mentioned above. Emphasizing the missing concept of class and focusing on the relations between the state and the bourgeoisie, Yalman stresses the significant role of the politics of economy in restructuring the state in Turkey. In this sense, as we repeatedly discuss the contemporary societal and political transformations of Turkey via the concepts of state, military intervention, judicial power, bureaucracy, elitism, center-periphery and so on, Yalman's approach displays what is missing in our analyses: class. Despite the theory-dominated content of the book, 71-page bibliography of the work alone makes it worth keeping on the bookshelves of people interested in economics, liberal theory and the history of the Turkish economy.
this context, the global mapping, which excludes some parts of the world such as Africa and the Middle East, has assigned the goal of development and structural adjustment to Turkey as well as to some Third World countries. The judgments of international financial markets on the creditworthiness of these countries seem to determine the fate of their economies, which are unprepared, vulnerable and unstable. Indeed, the discourse of globalization has claimed that liberalization is not only in the interest of the wealthy Western countries, but also of the developing countries. Nonetheless, it is hard to understand the pressures of rapid policy changes over these countries at the international level. Although it is one of the model debtors of these international economic institutions with its gradually increasing foreign debt, one can see the traces of this sort of vulnerability in the economic crises in the post-1980 period of the Turkish economy. As the new configuration of the state/market duality requires, the responsibility of these crises encumbered only the degenerated institutions and enterprises of the powerful state in the discourses of media experts and politicians. It is not surprising to see the ideological investment that presents democratization and liberalization as necessary, complementary, if not synonymous, elements, for the wealth of the nation as well as of the world, Yalman observes. In this manner, as the descriptions of the sui generis state of Turkey imply, the political reality of Turkey is defined by the 158
MÜZDELÝFE BÜÞRA KAÇAR uarterly academic journal Insight Turkey covers topics concerning the current situation in Turkish domestic and foreign policy in its 12th volume. An article by Emrah Uslu from Yeditepe University draws a picture of the Turkish political scene in 2009. It analyzes the leading matters in Turkey as civilian-military relations, the Kurdish question, the issue of conservative social networks and the Ergenekon investigation by placing them against the consequences and implications of the 2007 national elections. This article claims that the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) was formerly allied with liberal intellectuals and the EU by pursuing the EU reform process to restrict the power of the military. With the fact that the AK Party gained a high percentage of the Kurdish vote in 2007, a common ground was found between the military and the governing party to cooperate on the Kurdish question. The author assesses the domestic political developments of 2009 as the year of opportunity for approaching the Kurdish question but a lost year for bridging the secular and conservative gap. An article by Kýlýç Buðra Kanat from Syracuse University examines the changes in Turkish foreign policy and answers the question whether these changes are an indication of turning away from the West. The author agrees that there is a transformation in Turkish foreign policy but says the differences are
not aimed at de-Westernizing. It indicates that the structure of foreign policy making has changed in the direction of a more civil, transparent and participatory process. The cultural and regional dimensions of Turkey's EU accession are addressed in an article by Elizabeth Shakman Hurd of Northwestern University. The article suggests that doubts about the Turkish candidacy derive from secularism and these hesitations make obvious European apprehension over religion, particularly Islam. The author concludes that for Turkish accession to the EU to succeed, not only must Turkey achieve European standards but also Europe must redefine itself and modify standards to allow for multiple ways of life. Another article in the journal written by Adam Balcer of the Demos Europa Centre for European Strategy and Piotr Zalewski of the European Stability Initiative probes Turkish accession to the EU in terms of the latest members of the EU. The article claims that the EU's newest members will play a crucial role in Turkey's accession if Turkey educates the new member states' elites and ensures that they remain persuaded over what might be a long and arduous negotiation process. From the EU-10 perspective, increased cooperation with Turkey might create positive results in a number of policy areas, including immigration, energy security, trade and foreign affairs.
'Dersaadet: Ýstanbul, The Gate to Bliss'
book that appeared in Paris 100 years ago titled ‘Déri Sé'adet ou Stamboul, Porte du Bonheur’ by Adolphe Thalasso has recently been published in Turkish and English by Ýstanbul Kültür A.Þ., the Ýstanbul Municipality's publishing house. The Turkish-English edition is called ‘Dersaadet: Ýstanbul, The Gate to Bliss.’ A Levantine born in Ýstanbul, Thalasso tells us of the lives of Ýstanbul's inhabitants of the 19th century. Illustrations by royal artist Fausto Zonaro accompany the writings of Thalasso. Some of the illustrations scattered throughout the text are preliminary studies for his well-known paintings, and some leave the impression that they were created exclusively for the book. 159
INTERVIEW SPRING 2010
Last word with Henri Barkey
Prof Henri J. Barkey thinks that the current contestation in Turkey is between the society and the military and not between the AK Party and the military. He observes that Turkish society has always resisted the military’s political role. “The military should have already understood this resistance,” Barkey says.
MESUT ÇEVÝKALP How do you see the latest contention in Turkey? Some people regard them as a contestation between the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the military, but I tend to see them as a contention between society and the military. This is not something new. Who came to power in the democratic elections in 1965 after the coup in 1960? The Justice Party (AP), i.e., an extension of [Adnan] Menderes. In 1980, Kenan Evren urged to the people not to vote for [Turgut] Özal's party, but the people carried him to power. The military should have already understood this resistance. So you say that nothing has changed? What is new is Turks' increasing resistance to military and judiciary conceptions of politics. The resistance comes from a more diverse population, a strengthening civil society and other unlikely characters, the most important of which is Taraf, a small daily newspaper that has decided to take them on. Why is the military so uneasy about this process? In the military, you say "yes, sir" whether something is right or wrong. The military has never been questioned in Turkey. They have always had the last word. But now the military is being questioned, and this is something difficult to accept. Where will this change take Turkish democracy? In Turkey, many politicians governed with the secure knowledge that they had the tanks behind them in case they messed things up. For this reason, politicians in Turkey have grown lazy and more importantly irresponsible. As Turkey steers away from military tutelage, its democracy will develop and people will start to question the politicians as well. Some see this as a secularists vs. Islamists struggle. This is a change against the pro-status quo elites, not against secularists. Proponents of the change are not conservatives only. There are also some liberals, civil society groups, some segments of the media and for the first time universities. Arrayed against them is a mentality best encapsulated by the extremely statist, extremely pro-status quo Republican People's Party (CHP). Some of the liberals could not position themselves properly in this struggle. Why? Actually, all of the liberals are against the status quo, military tutelage and statism, and they want change, but
they cannot find in the AK Party what they are looking for. How is the AK Party deficient? There were both good and bad consequences of the Ergenekon process. For instance, you cannot explain in the West how [Mustafa] Balbay was kept in jail for one year without charging him. On the other hand, children who throw stones are jailed on charges of being terrorists. The AK Party failed to change this archaic and suffocating legal system even though it has been in power for almost eight years. How will the latest arrests made under the Sledgehammer (Balyoz) probe affect the process? It is too early to tell whether these arrests will solidify the attitudes of hard-line officers who are itching to topple the government, or that the era of coups and other forms of unconstitutional attempts at overthrowing the system is over. All signs do point to the latter; there is still a significant threshold to cross and that is the expected change in military command in August. Don't you think that there are big defects in explaining the Ergenekon process to the world? I am not sure it is the job of the government per se to explain the Ergenekon case although if it is causing consternation a better job could have been done through the Justice Ministry. The main problem is the government's attitude to the media in general; the perception that it is locked in a struggle with Doðan media is a terrible image to project. How can it be changed? First, the judicial reform must be implemented. The judicial reform may turn out to be an opportunity that will settle many issues both in terms of the EU process and Ergenekon and the government changing the misconceptions about itself. What would be the worst mistake the AK Party could make? Unless Turkey manages to devise a new constitution to replace the one imposed by the military in 1982, it will face increasing instability and likely become prone to erratic foreign policy behavior. *Henri J. Barkey is a nonresident visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a professor of international relations at Lehigh University. 160