ANKARA: Is A New Turkey On The Way?


Cuneyt Ulsever

Turkish Press
July 24 2008

HURRIYET- A number of people have taken upon themselves the task of
making a new Turkey, along the following lines:

1. Their aim is to turn Turkey into a Middle Eastern country which
has a mixture of conservative values and democratic principles. If
they succeed, we could become the dominant country in the region.

2. But this doesn’t mean breaking off from the West. On the contrary,
Turkey would mover closer to the West and act as a bridge. It would
also be in US interests to create a Turkey which is a member of the
European Union and also conservative.

3. This conservative Turkey would not be expected to break off from
secularism. Secularism is in the nation’s blood. The aim is to stop
Kemalism from acting as a nationalist ideology which issues harsh
criticisms and to remake the image of modern Turkey into one where
the influence of Islam is seen everywhere.

4. The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) acts with the duty of protecting
and safeguarding Kemalism as the established order, but its authority
of taking roles and duties upon itself would end.

This Turkey would also be expected to solve its problems with its
neighbors (Armenia and Greece), find a final solution to the Cyprus
issue, take northern Iraq under its protection, work to protect
Iraq’s territorial integrity, and help Israel solve the Syrian
and Palestinian issues. The most important expectation from Turkey
is to calm down Iran, and if this doesn’t work, to help the West,
particularly the US, in case of a possible attack.

The Constitutional Court will start deliberations on the closure case
against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) next Monday,
and the Supreme Military Council (YAS) will meet a few days later. For
months we’ve been arguing over who will stay and who will go. I guess
those who support or have adapted themselves to the above model will
stay or rise, and those who can’t will have to go.

So what do I think about this model prepared for Turkey by foreigners?

1. It will become the dominant country in the Middle East, but I
sincerely hope it doesn’t break off from the West (the EU and US).

2. I hope the TSK’s authority of taking roles onto itself will end.

3. I long for a Turkey which makes peace with its neighbors.

But the concept of a Turkey which has a mixture of conservative values
and democratic principles concerns me, for two reasons:

1. Not only certain supporters of Islamic rule, but also some other
people suggest that we forsake the principle of secularism so Islamic
forces in the West and the Middle East adopt democracy.

2. I don’t think the US or the EU has directly suggested that Turkey
give up secularism, but I can’t guess how far National View and
similar groups will go or even if they would go farther than the
AKP government.

If a Turkey which has become conservative makes certain concessions
from its domestic dynamics, democracy and secularism, the West wouldn’t
be terribly disturbed by this, because we all know that if you try to
mix conservatism and democracy, you have to make concessions from both!