Turkey’s Bumpy Road to Democracy: The Current Issues and Challenges Ahead for Freedom of Expression ASLI TUNÇ* “One of the most beautiful things to do is to paint darkness, which nevertheless has light in it.” Vincent Van Gogh Introduction Turkey is definitely a land of remarkable contradictions. On one hand, the Turkish economy has expanded by nearly nine per cent in 2010 while other European countries have come through the financial crisis indebted, stunted and broke; the inflation is currently in the low single digits and real interest rates close to zero1. Turkey has become a forceful player in regional affairs; and long taboo subjects, such as the role of the military in the public life and the past agonies of minorities in recent Turkish history have started to be discussed openly. On the other hand, on the part of the ruling political party, the Justice and Development Party (AKP), there appears to be a disturbing increase in intolerance for any kind of opposition. Efforts, by pro-government officials on the judiciary and among the security forces, to muzzle the critics of AKP, are quite visible; and, with many legal cases and threats against journalists, the country is ranked 138th out of 178 countries in the “world press freedom index” issued by the Paris-based advocacy group Reporters Without Borders2. Thus, in spite of the initial enthusiasm and optimism of the liberal elite about the attacks on the military establishment, this optimistic atmosphere seems to have vanished as the country’s new Islamist conservative elites showed themselves quick to use the same methods as their enemies to maintain power. * Associate Professor, School of Communications, İstanbul Bilgi University. 1. Financial Times, Special Report on Turkey, “Time to Make Most of the Lime Lİght, ”Delphine Strauss, June 28, 2011, p.1-4. 2. http://en.rsf.org/press-freedom-index-2010,1034.html.
Published on Feb 16, 2012
A Publication based on the International Conference organised at the European Parliament/Brussels by Dr. ELENI THEOCHAROUS, Member of the Eu...