By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 2, no. 16 of the Turkey Analyst)
The determination of the Turkish government to muzzle critical media is the clearest sign to date that Turkey is drifting towards semi-authoritarianism. Contrary to the expectations of its liberal supporters, the AKP is not about to dismantle statism. Fusing statism and religious conservatism, the AKP could be introducing a semi-authoritarian model more comprehensive and potentially more enduring than the defunct Kemalist model.
By Gareth Jenkins (vol. 2, no. 15 of the Turkey Analyst)
It is nearly five years since Turkey’s ruling party passed a substantive package of reforms to comply with EU norms. The few reforms demanded by the EU which have been passed in recent years appear to be more the product of a convergence with the AKP’s perceptions of its own interests than a response to the requirements of the accession process. As Turkish officials try to come up with a formula to avoid a “train crash” in December 2009, their main concern is no longer to move the accession process forward; it is simply to keep it alive.
By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 2, no. 14 of the Turkey Analyst)
The AKP government’s “Kurdish opening” is a promising initiative in principle. Turkey can ill afford to postpone the search for a new societal concord. However, the scope for a resolution of the Kurdish issue is extremely narrow. Recognizing that Kurdish nationalism will have to be further accommodated, the Turkish state seeks a way to do so without endangering the unitary state. Furthermore, the AKP’s effort to reconcile the ethnic division of Turkey will be hampered by the fact that the governing party enjoys scant credibility as a uniting force.
By Svante E. Cornell (vol. 2, no. 12 of the Turkey Analyst)
After two decades of deep tensions with Iran, the AKP government has largely rebuilt relations with Turkey’s historical rival and neighbor. Yet its responses to the Iranian crisis – in which Prime Minister Erdoğan was embarrassingly among the first to congratulate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad upon his highly questionable re-election – appears to question the foundations of this rapprochement. Moreover, it indicates the limitations of Ankara’s newly found “zero-problem” foreign policy, which appears to mean that Turkey has no opinions on the basis of either interests, values or principles in its neighborhood.
By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 2, no. 12 of the Turkey Analyst)
Once again, commentators raise the question whether there is a risk of a military coup in Turkey. There is no reason at all to believe that the General staff entertains any such thoughts. However, recent developments have nevertheless provided a reminder that the military’s position remains delicate. The Chief of the General staff, General Ilker Başbuğ, is in fact engaged in an awkward battle on two fronts, against old coup habits in the military, and against the challenge posed by the Islamic movement of Fethullah Gülen.
The Turkey Analyst is a publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Joint Center, designed to bring authoritative analysis and news on the rapidly developing domestic and foreign policy issues in Turkey. It includes topical analysis, as well as a summary of the Turkish media debate.