Turkey has recently been mired in crisis in many areas from the economy to foreign policy, the law to human rights and democracy to the judiciary. Cumhuriyet asked intellectuals how the crisis is to be exited.
The common thrust in the ensuing replies was of the need for a return to true democracy, the restoration of the rule of law and the respecting of human rights. The replies were as follow:
Prof. Dr. Korkut Boratav: The economic crisis will not be solved through heroics
There is a serious economic impasse facing Turkey. This impasse has two dimensions. The first is an environment which is troubling the international financial order. Imbalances are being caused by this. A net cash outflow from Turkey has started. The second is the tension in international political relations, especially with the US. I do not know how these two dimensions of the tension are to be solved. But, the first dimension, that is the dimension involving the environment of economic crisis, cannot be fobbed off with heroics and talk of patriotism. It will be solved through a correct diagnosis of the conditions of very severe eternal economic dependence that afflict Turkey and the measures that must be taken to counter their causes; with economic logic. I perceive no effort to make this analysis among the ruling party. The economy is thus being dragged uncontrolled into a black hole. A serious economic diagnosis does not appear possible with the staff of today’s governing entity. The democratisation of Turkey is the shared problem of the whole of society and the people. This is our general problem. In my view, Turkey is currently at an advanced stage in the drift towards fascism. The forces that are dragging Turkey towards fascism must be combatted.
Former European Court of Human Rights judge Rıza Türmen: Restoring the rule of law
It is clear how things stand just now. There has been a regime change in Turkey. All power has been concentrated in a single hand under this regime change. Parliament has been rendered functionless. This has also rendered the opposition functionless. A fantasy world has been created in which reality is concealed and people are not told the truth. A perception of enemies within and enemies without has been created. As far as the opposition is concerned, the most important course of action is to tell the people the truth without entering this fantasy world. An atmosphere of nationalism is being created. Those who remain outside it are said to be traitors. There is no need to unite under an oppressive, tyrannical regime.
This is not democracy
Quite the reverse, the oppressive regime must be combatted. The struggle for democracy must be waged. Wholesale pessimism and hopelessness gripped half the people following the elections. It must not be forgotten that Turkey is being governed by a regime that is unwanted by half the people. The name of this regime is not democracy, either. There is a gradual distancing from democracy. Here, of course, there is a need to be able to inspire fresh hope and start the fight for democracy. There is a need to enable the hopelessness that gripped the people following the 24 June elections to be turned into fresh energy, the energy to fight for democracy. It is half the people who will do this. There is a crucial need to enable political parties and civil society organisations to act alongside them.
The people must be the subject of the struggle
There is a need, on the one hand, to enable the fight for democracy to be established in horizontal unity, that is among civil society organisations and parties, and, on the other hand, for the waging of a struggle in vertical unity from the base up. Peoples’ assemblies from neighbourhood to neighbourhood will be the components of this struggle. The people must be ridded of the mindset of despair and despondency and essentially turned into the subject of the political struggle. There is a need for an active citizenship approach.
The ruling body must bring down the walls
There is a ruling body that is dragging Turkey to the precipice. There is a need in the face of this for the people to be told the truth and to be capable of smashing the fantasy world and initiating a wave of bottom-up struggle. The ruling body must return Turkey to democracy and, abandoning these fantasies, tell the truth and tell things as they are. There must be a return to real democracy, a restoration of the rule of law and a respecting of human rights. This is what is called for. But, Turkey is gradually moving away from this. The ruling body is trying to stay on its feet with an ever more oppressive regime as its crutches. Politics in Turkey must be removed from the axis of war and brought into alignment with peace. There is need for peace within and peace without. There is need for compromise not polarisation. The ruling body must bring down the walls. The forces of democracy must not just be a resistance, but at the same time the founders of a new democracy. They must not just criticise, but set forth an alternative, too. We need a pluralistic, participatory democracy.
Politician Ahmet Türk: Human rights for development
Basically, the economy and democracy are two institutions that feed one another. It is impossible to exit the economic crisis without democracy. The environment that engulfs countries in the world that do not adopt democracy as the basis is a given. It is impossible to succeed in economic development without human rights and democracy. It is fundamentally wrong to think that all decisions will be correct in a country governed by a single person. Institutional and social matters must be passed through a very broad filter and placed before society. No policy is being implemented today that that will deal with society’s demands and society’s troubles. Here, the president alone holds sway over all decisions. In democratic countries, economic and social compromise are impossible under a single person’s governance. And this gives rise both to economic crisis and also the creation of a large alienated section within society. It is impossible to develop this country and imbue it with contemporary values with a logic that brands half of society friends and half enemies. This is a regime and democracy problem. Make as many price rises as you like and conduct privatisation – it is to no avail. You cannot wriggle out. What is important is implementing democracy, pluralism and democratic policies.
Journalist and author Altan Öymen: Parliament is where the solution is
Our country’s current problems are in vary large and very varied arenas. You mentioned them, too: in the economic arena, in the political arena, in the foreign policy arena, in the law and justice arena, in the human rights arena... These are just the main headings of our problems. There are also “sub-headings” beneath these headings whose number is too great to enable them to be listed here. It is impossible to seek and find solutions to all of them from a single centre and with a decision and implementation mechanism to be operated by a single person. Moreover, that mechanism that is tied to a single person has also been set up very recently. There are those appointed within it who have not yet had the opportunity to become mutually acquainted. The organisational principles and working conditions of the former ministries and other state institutions have been changed. No tests were even made as to how these are to function.
Stripped of its powers, but...
In such an environment, the sole political organ that that has experience as an institution of governing the country and has at times in past periods been capable of facing up to major problems like today’s and surmounting them is the Turkish Grand National Assembly. Certainly, parliament has - under the most recent constitutional amendment and the harmonisation laws or decrees - been stripped of a large portion of its powers, and these have been transferred to the Presidency. But, parliament is nevertheless one of the basic institutions of the state and maintains its existence, even under very arduous conditions.
Everyone should seek the solution in parliament. Parliament should abandon its summer recess and/or other recesses and be summoned to assume its duties. Potential solutions to all the problems we have listed should be debated together with all political parties, commissions and general committees and using means for inter-party discussion. There should at least be an endeavour at this time, in the face of specific developments that have assumed very dangerous proportions, for realistic measures to be taken in response to today’s multifaceted crisis by means of inter-party discussion and establishing contacts with civil society organisations.
Task will fall to the opposition
Yes, bringing parliament into play is only possible given the approval of the two parties that form the governing majority. In fact, it is also in those two parties’ interest for parliament to come into play. But, the chance of those two parties grasping this fact is slender. If this chance, that is the chance of the ruling parties working together with the other parties, does not come to fruition, the task will fall to the three parties that acted together in the last general election. Those parties must come back together and discuss the ways of solving today’s problems. The local elections are before us. They must endeavour to impress the seriousness of the situation on the entire electorate prior to those elections. And let the result of those elections serve as a warning message to the current ruling body for it to sort itself out, examples of which have been seen in the past.