ANKARA; Increasing transparency brings Turkey `unreal’ face to light

Sunday’s Zaman, Turkey
Aug 9 2009

Increasing transparency brings Turkey’s `unreal’ face to light

As Turkey has grown more transparent and embraced a relatively free
atmosphere to discuss the deficiencies of state and private
establishments, we have come to realize that many of those
establishments do not indeed work as they are supposed to.

Analysts believe recent developments have shown that Turkey is far
from the position the world espouses on a number of issues.

`Indeed, what has recently transpired has proven that Turkey stands in
a much different position from the rest of the world. We have smoothed
over the cracks so far. Now it is time to face up to our deficiencies
and problems. Even if a certain group strongly opposes such a move, we
should head forward with great determination,’ stated Ã`mit
Fırat, a prominent Kurdish intellectual.

It was with the ongoing probe into Ergenekon — a clandestine
terrorist organization accused of plotting to overthrow the government
— that the nation started to fully realize for the first time that
the military was engaged in activities not related to national
security or the territorial integrity of the country.

The probe exposed plots by some senior members of the Turkish Armed
Forces (TSK) to interfere in politics and take full control of the
state through coups d’état. The military stood, however, as the
country’s most trusted institution according to various opinion polls
conducted in the past.

The Ergenekon investigation showed that the military was interested
more in engaging in politics than in pondering ways to protect the
country against outside threats. `In our country, a certain group
insists on returning Turkey to its atmosphere of the 1930s, when
policies determined by the military used to rule the society. It is
what we call the pro-status quo mindset. However, the world has turned
its face to international integration. And Turkey has to fall in step
with that trend,’ Fırat noted.

According to Mehmet Metiner, a columnist at Star daily, recent
discussions on Turkey’s prominent establishments, including the TSK
and the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), have shown
that Turkey has serious problems with the structure of its state.

`The anti-democratic role of the military in the state system is well
known by many. However, we should realize that many other
institutions, among them the HSYK and the Higher Board of Education
[YÃ-K], have controversial structures. I believe the Turkish state
is in urgent need of restructuring,’ Metiner stated.

The columnist stressed that the needed restructuring cannot be
achieved through partial moves.

`For instance, the current Constitution should be completely
changed. It is a compilation of laws which place the state above
individuals and nullify the rights and freedoms of individuals before
the state,’ he noted.

Metiner also touched upon recent debates over the structure of the
HSYK, which were stirred up after a recent attempt by one of its
members to replace judges and prosecutors conducting Turkey’s top
judicial cases.

Most analysts said the controversial attempt has revealed that the
judiciary is weakened by members of the judiciary themselves. They
also called for a restructuring of the HSYK, which could be achieved
through the establishment of an institution to monitor the modus
operandi of the board.

`It is very apparent that the judiciary is not independent in our
country. Judicial bodies are more bound to ideologies than the rule of
law. This shows that Turkey is a state of ideologies. Thus, this state
needs a complete restructuring. We may not succeed with this as a
whole but may start from one side,’ Metiner added.

Developments in the past few years have also shown that the Turkish
media does not stand at a position it is supposed to. Some press
organs favor anti-democratic acts and side with clandestine
organizations against the government. For example, some news stories
either consciously do not find their way into some newspapers or are
presented to readers in a very different style, which generally ends
up as misinformation.

The third indictment into Ergenekon, a clandestine gang charged with
plotting to topple the government, suggested that the gang had members
in prominent press organs, which enabled it to dissipate its
propaganda very easily.

Similarly, Ergenekon had many members from universities, including
academics and rectors. Most of them are currently in jail pending
trial on charges of aiding an illegal organization attempting to
destroy the government or blocking it from performing its duties.

The close links between senior academics and the terrorist
organization have revealed that universities have turned into
institutions which work to produce the desired atmosphere for
anti-democratic attempts.

Analysts believe Turkey will face troubling times as it fights to
restructure its fundamental establishments and institutions.

`Some circles insist on living in the 1930s. When you gear up for a
change, they strongly oppose it. This is the result of being
pro-status quo. However, Turkey has discovered its problems. It can no
longer return to the past. We have to get rid of all disorder and
injustice. We will face Ergenekon, the Kurdish problem, the Cyprus
issue and the Armenian question, but in time,’ Fırat stated.

Metiner agreed, adding that all who attempt to change the structure of
an existing body or institution are faced with a strong reaction from
supporters of the status quo.

`State bodies should be restructured. The state should get rid of any
unit which supports anti-democratic initiatives,’ the columnist noted.

09 August 2009, Sunday