By Gareth Jenkins (vol. 5, no. 3 of the Turkey Analyst)
Most international attention has focused on the more than 100 journalists who are now in jail in Turkey as a result of what they have written or said. But more pernicious – and ultimately much more corrosive to freedom of expression – is the widespread self-censorship and the climate of fear, which extends well beyond the media into Turkish society at large. Yet it would be a mistake to hold the government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan solely to blame. The underlying problem goes much deeper and is considerably older than the AKP government. Indeed, it could be argued that the main responsibility for the deteriorating state of freedom of expression in the country lies with the Turkish media itself.
By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 4, no. 23 of the Turkey Analyst)
Internal and external dynamics no longer compel Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to transcend his democratic limits. It was the confluence of a particular set of external and internal dynamics that worked to ensure the Turkish Islamists’ conversion to democracy. These dynamics are no longer at work. Instead, as Turkey’s strategic value – and Erdoğan’s international fame – has soared in the wake of the Arab revolutions, traditional Turkish state authoritarianism is being offered a new lease on life.
By Gareth H. Jenkins (vol. 4, no. 21 of the Turkey Analyst)
On November 1, 2011, a court in Istanbul formally charged 23 suspects with membership of the Union of Communities of Kurdistan (KCK), an umbrella organization controlled by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and ordered that they be imprisoned pending trial. The suspects included Professor Büşra Ersanlı, a respected academic from Istanbul’s Marmara University, and Ragıp Zarakolu, a prominent publisher and human rights activist. The decision to arrest Ersanlı and Zarakolu is another blow to already fading hopes that the AKP government’s new appetite for confrontation will be replaced by a desire to solve the Kurdish problem through dialogue and conciliation.
By Richard Weitz (vol. 4, no. 21 of the Turkey Analyst)
Turkish government representatives insist that they want to develop good ties in all directions, and consider these relations non-exclusive. Turkish officials describe their country as a bridge among these neighboring blocs and civilizations. They emphasize their newfound commitment to convey Western liberal democratic values to the newly emerging democracies that are slowly displacing the traditionally authoritarian countries of the Middle East. Turks would ideally like their country to become a diplomatic and energy bridge that connects Europe to the Middle East, Iran to the West, and the Black Sea to the Mediterranean in ways that would enhance Ankara’s leverage by making Turkey a pivotal state and an indispensable partner to its neighbors.
By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 4, no. 20 of the Turkey Analyst)
The members of the constitutional reconciliation commission in the Turkish parliament that convened last week have been instructed to draft a constitution that enshrines liberty. It is also officially recognized that the new constitution of Turkey needs to be societal compact that reflects the pluralism of society. However, it is still a political tradition that puts the state above society that is the dominant force. The rulers of Turkey continue to adhere to the age-old Turkish political axiom that the state knows best, circumscribing true participatory democracy.
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.