Abant Platform: perspectives on Turkey

İhsan Yılmaz
İhsan Yılmaz

Date posted: June 28, 2012

Ihsan YILMAZ  June 22, 2012

The Abant Platform, being an innovative institution, has now initiated a new discussion forum which, as far as I am aware, is a first in Turkey. We will be discussing different perspectives on Turkey together with non-Turkish academics, diplomats and journalists working in the country. For three days, we will focus on topics such as “Democratization, Turkey’s Democratic Transformation,” “Turkish Foreign Policy and the Middle East,” “Turkey’s EU Journey,” “Turkey’s Economic Development” and “Perspectives on Turkish Media.”

The lively debates and discussions show that once again Turkey is gradually and steadily being monitored by international observers, audiences and students of Turkey with an increasing number of plural perspectives. This in turn will help Turkey’s democratization and consolidation of its democracy in the long run, among other benefits.

As I have written here before, until recently, foreign observers usually receive their background information from “White Turks.” It was only White Turks who could travel abroad and could study in foreign universities. Only White Turks were appointed as diplomatic personnel. The Turkish media was owned by White Turks and they only appointed White Turks as foreign correspondents. Foreign observers who came to Turkey would only socialize with White Turks, who were the only ones who knew foreign languages. Suffering also from an Orientalist bias, generally speaking, these foreign observers have always sympathized with “the White Turks’ burden” and their “civilizing mission” and tolerated their undemocratic practices as these pro-modernity White Turks were trying to civilize the savage masses who, if given the opportunity, could turn Turkey into another Iran.

After the 1980s, “Black Turks,” or those who were not Laicist, Atatürkist, Sunni, Turk (LAST), to use my terminology from a previous column, as a result of mainly the former Prime Minister Turgut Özal-era reforms also started learning foreign languages, establishing business contacts with foreign countries, receiving education in foreign universities and thanks to their growing media outlets, started appointing Black Turkish foreign correspondents. More and more Black Turks started working for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, especially during the Ahmet Davutoğlu era of Turkish foreign policy. The EU progress reports with their more or less objective reporting have also contributed to the process of understanding Turkey more accurately with plural viewpoints.

This Abant gathering shows that non-Turkish academics, diplomats and journalists could also serve to understand Turkey more accurately. I must say that I am more optimistic about academics than journalists since, with all due respect, I still find their work, with honorable exceptions, biased, inaccurate and non-objective. It seems to me that academics feel more comfortable to be more accurate about what is really going on in Turkey.

Discussions in Abant so far have shown that these non-Turks in Turkey have a better understanding of Turkey — its dynamics, simmering, creative and sometimes destructive tensions, institutions and agencies. Since they will be seen as more objective observers of Turkey in international forums, they will serve Turkey’s more accurate evaluation abroad. More importantly, Turkey will greatly benefit from their constructive criticism. All groups, institutions, parties, communities and individuals can benefit from their criticism, insights and feedback.

I thank the Abant Platform for organizing this event which will hopefully help Turkey move towards greater democratization, transparency, critical evaluation and more accurate understanding by the international world.

Source: Today’s Zaman http://www.todayszaman.com/columnistDetail_getNewsById.action?newsId=284345

Related News

Or is it Gülenophobia?

Turkey’s frequently changing agenda has recently been dominated by one issue: An İstanbul prosecutor overseeing an investigation into a Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)-linked terrorist organization has asked the Ankara Prosecutor’s Office to hear the testimony of National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Undersecretary Hakan Fidan and has obtained arrest warrants for four other MİT agents. MERVE BÜŞRA […]

Turkey and the “forgotten” Zaman journalists in jail

Two years of the seizure of his newspaper and his sacking, the former bureau chief of Zaman newspaper in Brussels, Selçuk Gültasli, visited the EFJ-IFJ headquarter to deliver a special briefing on “the desperate situation of Zaman journalists and media workers in jail” in Turkey.

BBC report: Women with younger-than 6-months-old babies in jail in Turkey

Hundreds of women are in pretrial detention in jails across Turkey with their infants, some of them less than six months old, due to a state of emergency declared after a failed coup last year, a BBC Turkish report said on Friday.

Germany takes Gülenists off watch list, conducts counterespionage against Ankara – report

German police have removed the Gülen movement, which Ankara designates a terrorist organisation, from its ‘dangerous’ and ‘to be followed’ watch list, Sözcü newspaper reported, citing a domestic security report from the  country’s Southwestern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg.

Detainees ‘beaten, sexually abused and threatened with rape’ after Turkey coup, Human Rights Watch claims

In a 43-page report published on Tuesday, the human rights group said a “climate of fear” had prevailed since July’s failed coup against President Tayyip Recep Erdogan and the arrest of thousands under a state of emergency.

Gülen’s lawyer: Targeting overseas Turkish educators breaks law

Nurullah Albayrak, the legal representative of Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, in a written statement on Wednesday spoke out against a front-page story in the pro-government Star daily that published the photos of 160 educators at Turkish schools overseas that are affiliated with the faith-based Gülen movement, saying the daily is breaking the law and violating those individuals’ human rights by depicting innocent people as criminals.

Latest News

Fethullah Gülen’s Condolence Message for South African Human Rights Defender Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Hizmet Movement Declares Core Values with Unified Voice

Ankara systematically tortures supporters of Gülen movement, Kurds, Turkey Tribunal rapporteurs say

Erdogan possessed by Pharaoh, Herod, Hitler spirits?

Devious Use of International Organizations to Persecute Dissidents Abroad: The Erdogan Case

A “Controlled Coup”: Erdogan’s Contribution to the Autocrats’ Playbook

Why is Turkey’s Erdogan persecuting the Gulen movement?

Purge-victim man sent back to prison over Gulen links despite stage 4 cancer diagnosis

University refuses admission to woman jailed over Gülen links

In Case You Missed It

Volunteer doctors to perform surgeries in Mali under leadership of Kimse Yok Mu

Turkish PM heads to Brussels for tough talks with EU

Excitement of Turkish Olympiads felt in Ethiopia

Erdoğan’s AKP runs out of steam, then what?

Why is the Turkish PM Erdoğan having difficulty?

Reflections on Hizmet Movement at conference in Taiwan

Ministry of Education denies authorizing raid on Gülen-inspired schools

Copyright 2022 Hizmet News