‘Democracy’s Challenge with Turkey’ debated in Abant Platform

Abant Platform participants are seen during a session of the 34th Abant Platform meeting on Saturday. (Photo: Today's Zaman, Mehmet Yaman)
Abant Platform participants are seen during a session of the 34th Abant Platform meeting on Saturday. (Photo: Today's Zaman, Mehmet Yaman)


Date posted: January 31, 2016

SEVGİ AKARÇEŞME | BOLU

A large group of Turkey’s intellectuals gathered on Saturday in the Bolu province for the 34th Abant Platform meeting to debate the country’s democracy problems, amid criticism of increasing authoritarianism and conflict in the country.

The participants, most of whom are veteran intellectuals from all walks of life, agreed about the unsolved challenges of Turkish democracy, including the Kurdish issue, the debate over an executive presidency and a so-called “Turkish style” Constitution, as well as a heightened level of arbitrary rule.

The meeting’s participants included prominent figures such as former Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay, renowned intellectuals Baskın Oran and Murat Belge, Zaman Editor-in-Chief Abdülhamit Bilici, Zaman columnist Ali Bulaç, Cumhuriyet columnist Aydın Engin, former Foreign Minister Yaşar Yakış, author and publisher Ömer Laçiner, former Justice and Development Party (AK Party) deputy Reha Çamuroğlu and Journalists and Writers Foundation (GYV) Deputy Chairman Erkam Tufan Aytav.

The meeting’s theme is “Democracy’s Challenge with Turkey,” and it focuses on both Turkey’s recent past and the current issues of today.

Çamuroğlu, moderator of one of the panels, stated that Turkey is going through an “extraordinary period” which is not likely to end in an ordinary way. Writer and scholar Murat Belge defined the current period in Turkey as “frightening,” while using the example of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s instruction to local governors not to pay attention to official regulations.

Placing responsibility on the country’s elite, Şahin Alpay, columnist for Zaman and Today’s Zaman, said Turkey now encounters a tutelary system backed by the people, which has replaced the military tutelage of former years.

At the Abant Platform meeting, the representative of each group in society all tended to express their grievances with the state of Turkey. The editor-in-chief of Greek newspaper Apoyevmatini, Mihail Vasiliadis, said the state applied a policy of erosion against non-Muslims in the country.

Kurds on the other hand, such as pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Diyarbakır deputy İmam Taşçıer, listed the Kurdish question as the number one challenge for democracy in Turkey while calling for “collective rights” for Kurds. Another Kurdish politician, Hüda Kaya, urged everyone to pay attention to the atrocities in southeastern Turkey, while sending a warning that violence would soon spread to the West unless people react to the ongoing issues.

A large group of journalists who have been targeted by the government were also in attendance at the meeting. TV journalist Tarık Toros, who was the editor-in-chief of Bugün TV, a station that was taken over by the government live on air in last October, complained about the lack of solidarity among different sectors of society in Turkey when it comes to defending the rights of others.

‘Feb. 28′ mentality is still rife in Turkey

Another sacked journalist, Nazlı Ilıcak, directed attention to the ongoing “witch hunt” against the faith-based Hizmet movement and rejected the assumption that the movement was an ally of the government. “Whomever is the government, that is responsible for mistakes in the past,” Ilıcak cried out in reference to mishaps in some of the controversial legal cases regarding the army over the last decade.

Professor of law Serap Yazıcı on the other hand argued that those who conducted the Feb. 28 post-modern coup in 1997 are still “influential and in charge” because they chose to use Milli Görüş (National View), [a political view from which the AK Party originated] instead of fighting against it.

A dictatorship of the majority is in the making

Political scientist Baskın Oran argued that Erdoğan has been establishing a dictatorship of the majority thanks to the popular support he receives. “He has created the Islamist version of the nation state,” Oran pointed out, while adding that the people in Turkey are now learning how to struggle against an evil that came out of the ballot box.

Another political scientist and former Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Binnaz Toprak, like many other participants, referred to the political culture and said a genuine liberal idea has never took root in Turkey.

An unchecked, personalistic system is desired

Veteran Professor of Constitutional Law, Ergun Özbudun, who in the past chaired a commission set up by the AK Party to draft a new Constitution, said the problem with constitution making in Turkey has nothing to do with Turkey’s inability to do so, but rather with unlawfulness.

According to Özbudun, the present government of Turkey, by asking for a switch to a presidential system, desires a “personalistic rule deprived of all checks and balances.” He also mentioned public opinion polls which suggest that people are against the idea of a presidential system.

Stating that the government eliminated judicial independence in Turkey, Professor Özbudun expressed his concern over the separation of powers in the suggested executive presidential system. Many AK Party officials have been referring to the system they would like to introduce as a “Turkish style presidential system,” details of which are unknown to the people.

The Abant Platform saw extensive participation from a wide range of scholars, civil society representatives, journalists and politicians. Former Minister of Foreign Affairs Yakar Yakış, Former Minister of Tourism and Culture Ertuğrul Günay, author Perihan Mağden, HESA President İbrahim Cerrah, and columnist and professor Mehmet Altan were among the names on the program.

Organized by the GYV, Abant Platform has been a main forum bringing together independent intellectuals to discuss Turkey’s key social and political issues.
The Abant Platform says it “was established on the premise that dogmatic biases dominant for a long time in Turkish political life are the foremost permanent obstacles hindering democratic development.” Since 1998, it has held regular meetings for the purpose of discussing and establishing solutions to critical problems in Turkey.

Source: Today's Zaman , January 30, 2016


Related News

Turkey’s Purge Could Cause a Massive Brain Drain

The purge by the Turkish government has led to the arrest of thousands, including many academics. In addition to the purge, the government has invoked military law, set curfews and limited social media.

How Erdogan is covering up the corruption scandal

In a blunt violation of Turkish laws and ethical norms, authorities removed nearly 100 police chiefs, who were either involved in the graft raids or pose a possible risk to the government. Two additional prosecutors were appointed to supervise the case, a move mostly interpreted by experts as an attempt to control the judicial process. The government has launched an unprecedented witch-hunt in public institutions and continues to purge any bureaucrat it believes could be cooperative with prosecutors in the graft investigation. Four ministers whose names were linked to these investigations refused to step down despite calls from the opposition.

12-year-old claims asylum with UN as father caught in Erdogan’s anti-Gülen dragnet in Saudi Arabia

The 12-year-old T.K. has claimed asylum with the United Nations (UN) office in Saudi Arabia alone after his/her father was detained by Saudi officials as part of what many say President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ever-growing witch-hunt against the Gulen movement that has spread to overseas in the recent past.

Once They were Brothers – Bir Zamanlar Kardeştiler

Kanter himself has faced legitimate threats from Erdoğan’s government. In 2017, Kanter escaped Turkish agents in Indonesia while working at a basketball camp for his foundation. He was detained in Romania for several hours and Turkish authorities had already cancelled his passport, making him a stateless man. Eventually, he was able to return to the United States, but not without a Turkish arrest warrant and a four-year prison sentence.

Gülen’s latest book launch celebrated at İstanbul forum

Journalists, politicians and writers gathered together for a forum in İstanbul on Tuesday to mark the launch of renowned Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen’s latest book, “Yaşatma İdeali,” (The Ideal to Let Others Live). The event, organized by the Journalists and Writers Foundation (GYV), was held at the Ceylan Intercontinental Hotel. Among the participants of the […]

Why Erdogan Snubbed Biden

What is going on in Turkey right now reminds me very much of the last few scenes in the first Godfather movie, where Michael Corleone is settling all of the Family’s outstanding business. Corleone is seen in church renouncing “Satan and all his works” while he participates in the baptism of his nephew—shortly before garroting the baby’s father, Carl.

Latest News

This notable Pocono resident has been living here in exile since 1999

Logistics companies seized over Gülen links sold in fast-track auction

That is Why the Turkish Government could Pay 1 Billion Euros

ECtHR rules Bulgaria violated rights of Turkish journalist who was deported despite seeking asylum

Fethullah Gülen’s Message of Condolences in the Wake of the Western European Floods

Pregnant woman kept in prison for 4 months over Gülen links despite regulations

Normalization of Abduction, Torture, and Death in Erdogan’s Turkey

Turkey’s Maarif Foundation illegally seized German-run school in Ethiopia, says manager

Failed 2016 coup was gov’t plot to purge Gülenists from state bodies, journalist claims

In Case You Missed It

US Sees No Need to Choose Between Partnership With Turkey, Gulen Extradition

Handcuffed justice

Niagara Foundation Ohio Award Ceremony gathers a large attendance

Erdoğan and Gülen: The Marriage of Convenience

Can a Post-Coup Turkey Get Along with Europe?

Fethullah Gülen speaks at UN

3-month-old with oral disease also under arrest as parents imprisoned over coup charges

Copyright 2021 Hizmet News