Insight Turkey Volume 15 No 4


Fall 2013 Volume 15 No 4

 

 

Insight Turkey Volume 15 No 4, 2013

 

COMMENTARIES

Gezi Park Revolts: For or Against Democracy?

ATİLLA YAYLA


Insight Turkey, Vol. 15 / No. 4 / 2013, pp. 7-18

ABSTRACT The anti-government protests in Turkey emerged as a legitimate and even necessary reaction against police brutality to evolved into violent revolts targeting Prime Minister Erdoğan. Since the initial protests, commentators sought to make sense of the phenomenon with reference to the Gezi youth. A closer examination, however, would reveal the Leftist-Kemalist aura of the protests that came under the tutelage of Taksim Solidarity, an umbrella organization of left-wing associations, and the Republican People’s Party. Meanwhile, the general public kept its distance from the violent demonstrations. Not only AK Party supporters but also many liberals and secular-minded democrats found the developments alarming. While the protests marks a step forward for Turkey‘s once-apathetic opposition groups, their failure prevented a revival of authoritarianism. [Read more]

 

Political Culture and National Identity in Conceptualising the Gezi Park Movement

TAHİR ABBAS

Insight Turkey, Vol. 15 / No. 4 / 2013, pp. 19-27

ABSTRACT This essay interprets the Gezi Park protests that began as a local resistance to government plans to level a public park but quickly escalated into a national outburst against government policies. How did the local events receive endorsements from different communities with otherwise ideological and cultural conflicts? This paper argues that political disenfranchisement intersected with society’s aspirations with regard to dichotomies between conservatism and secularism, localisation and globalisation, and nationalism and majoritarianism. [Read more]

 

Ergenekon: An Illegitimate Form of Government

MARKAR ESAYAN

Insight Turkey, Vol. 15 / No. 4 / 2013, pp. 29-40

ABSTRACT On August 5th, 2013, an Istanbul court reached its verdict in the Ergenekon coup plot trial, handing down various prison sentences to 247 defendants, including the former Chief of Military Staff and several high-ranking members of the military’s command. Although the Supreme Court of Appeals has yet to make a final decision on the 6-year legal battle, the Ergenekon trial has already become part of the country’s history as a sign that anti-democratic forces, many of whom date back to the final years of the Ottoman Empire, no longer have free reign. Notwithstanding its limited scope and other shortcomings, the court’s decision marks but a humble beginning for Turkey’s acknowledgement of the dark chapters in its history, as well as a challenging struggle to replace the laws of rulers with the rule of law. [Read more]

 

Democratization and Relations with the EU in the AK Party Period: Is Turkey Really Making Progress?

PAUL KUBICEK

Insight Turkey, Vol. 15 / No. 4 / 2013, pp. 41-49

ABSTRACT This brief commentary assesses the progress made by Turkey under the Justice and Development Party (the AK Party) toward European Union (EU) membership and democratization. While it acknowledges positive steps, it notes that the goals of EU accession and democratic consolidation remain elusive. One consideration is that the expectations or “goalposts” for both have moved so that, relative to the objectives of those supporting democratic freedoms and Europeanization, progress in Turkey has still been rather modest. While the democratization package of September 2013 offers some hope for democratization, it remains difficult to see substantial progress in terms of joining the EU. [Read more]

 

A New Challenge for Turkey: Civil War in Syria

NURŞİN ATEŞOĞLU GÜNEY

Insight Turkey, Vol. 15 / No. 4 / 2013, pp. 51-59

ABSTRACT The Arab Spring gave rise to a variety of transitions in the Middle East. Although initial developments in Tunisia and Egypt created optimism, tragic events in Egypt, Syria, Tunisia and elsewhere revived fears about a return to authoritarian governments, failed states and civil war. With no foreseeable change in the UN Security Council with regard to Syria, the country’s neighbors, including Turkey, face the risk of instability. Although a recent agreement between the US and Russia marked a major step toward destrying the regime‘s chemical stockpile, it fails to address the conflict itself. As such, spillover effects continue to threaten Syria‘s neighbors. This paper highlights the critical nature of the situation and the international community‘s role in finding a solution. [Read more]

 

Military, Political Islam, and the Future of Democracy in Egypt

A. KADİR YILDIRIM

Insight Turkey, Vol. 15 / No. 4 / 2013, pp. 61-68

ABSTRACT Egypt’s democratization efforts require domestic and international considerations: Domestically, the country must focus on the economy at the expense of the military’s political role: While military involvement in politics is crucial to democratization, improvements in this area represents an outcome, not the cause, of the process. Discussions should concentrate on protecting lower- and middle classes, generate prosperity and create common ground between democracy and class interests. At the international level, Egypt requires countries to support democratization efforts and condemn extra-democratic actions. Meanwhile, the prominence of Islamists causes concerns for Western governments with regard to the Peace Treaty and Israel’s security. [Read more]

 

Insights for Egypt’s and Tunisia’s Islamists from Turkish Experience of Democratic Transition

AHMET UYSAL

Insight Turkey, Vol. 15 / No. 4 / 2013, pp. 69-76

ABSTRACT Turkey is achieved a viable combination of Islam, democracy and development. After prolonged periods of political instability and interruptions in democratic rule, the Islamic-leaning AK Party government overcame the hurdles preventing it from reaching power in the early 2000s. It achieved a significant degree of democratization and economic growth without oil or foreign aid and repeatedly won elections ever since. As such, the party’s success offers important lessons for Islamists in Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco. The lessons of the Turkish experience are especially relevant in dealing with the opposition and democratization, as well as achieving stability and growth. [Read more]

 

 

ARTICLES

Euro-Turks in the Contemporary European Imaginary

RAYMOND TARAS

Insight Turkey, Vol. 15 / No. 4 / 2013, pp. 79-94

ABSTRACT Do perceptions of Muslim communities differ among receiving European societies? Are attitudes towards Euro-Turks more critical than other groups? Do Euro-Turks feel marginalized and recognize social distance from the majority? This paper presents data from cross-national research projects to assess the social distance between national majority and Muslim minorities, in particular Euro-Turks. It also considers the extent to which religion, ethnicity, and culture help shape Islamophobia and anti-Turkish attitudes. Social distance is not treated as a proxy variable for discrimination or exclusion, but it serves as an indicator of the possible marginalization of Euro-Turks. Further, increasing social distance between majority and minority Muslim groups may also serve as a reliable indicator of a Europe in crisis, confronting its multiple conflicting identities. [Read more]

 

Constitutional Amendments Under the Justice and Development Party Rule

VAHAP COŞKUN

Insight Turkey, Vol. 15 / No. 4 / 2013, pp. 95-113

ABSTRACT Turkey’s 1982 Constitution does not reflect the values of modern constitutionalism. Originally, the Constitution maintained a state-centered, authoritarian character and failed to meet society‘s expectations. Pro-reform parties sought to replace the Constitution to address various societal demands. The AK Party also identified the drafting of a new Constitution as a primary objective and attempted thirteen amendments. There were two main motivations behind the amendments: Turkey‘s EU membership bid and frequent constitutional crises. In this sense, the amendments promoted individual rights and liberties in Turkey. The Constitution today is a legal text that underwent major changes over the years to establish more effective safeguarding mechanisms for individual rights and liberties. Turkey’s need for a new constitution, however, remains alive. [Read more]

 

The Turkish Economy During the Justice and Development Party Decade

ERDAL TANAS KARAGÖL

Insight Turkey, Vol. 15 / No. 4 / 2013, pp. 115-129

ABSTRACT During the 1990s, political uncertainties in Turkey had negative effects that left the economy vulnerable to public and foreign debt due to high inflation, high budget deficit and high current account deficit. Coalition governments failed to address these problems. Following its rise to power in 2002, the AK Party developed a new perspective for the economy, politics and foreign policy collectively referred as the New Turkey. The government emphasized fiscal discipline, structural transformation and privatization. During this period, Turkey rapidly recovered from the negative effects of the 2001 financial crisis and reached a steady growth rate. The country also survived the 2008 global crisis with minimum damage. The government seeks to meet its targets for the centennial of the Republic’s establishment. [Read more]

 

Civil-Military Relations During the AK Party Era: Major Developments and Challenges

MÜGE AKNUR

Insight Turkey, Vol. 15 / No. 4 / 2013, pp. 131-150

ABSTRACT The remarkable transformation of Turkish civil-military relations since the AK Party’s rise to power has not led to total democratization in this area. Although EU reforms reduced the military‘s formal and informal powers and trials about contemporary and historic coup cases might indicate that the military has been subordinated to civilian authority, achieving democratic civil-military relations would require a balance of power between civilians and the military: While the military must relinquish its role as the country’s guardians, civilians must work to regain the trust of military officers that they lost through the Ergenekon and Balyoz cases. Perhaps then Turkish civil-military relations can reach a democratic level, promoting democratic consolidation in the country. [Read more]

 

Turkey’s Education Policy During the AK Party Era (2002-2013)

ZAFER ÇELİK and BEKİR S. GÜR

Insight Turkey, Vol. 15 / No. 4 / 2013, pp. 151-176

ABSTRACT The AK Party has been a leading reform actor with particular emphasis on education. AK Party governments implemented educational reforms to increase access to education, improve the quality of education and democratize the education system. Some challenges, however, persisted: Turkey still lags one year behind the OECD average PISA 2009 indicators. This article focuses on the educational policies of the AK Party governments during the last decade. The AK Party’s education reforms and policies will be examined through the lenses of access, quality, governance, finance, and democratization of education. The current problems and challenges of Turkey’s education system will also be discussed. [Read more]

 

After Gezi: Moving Towards Post-Hegemonic Imagination in Turkey

ALİ MURAT YEL and ALPARSLAN NAS

Insight Turkey, Vol. 15 / No. 4 / 2013, pp. 177-190

ABSTRACT This paper discusses the conflict between the AK Party government and the Gezi activism with reference to hegemony, power-resistance dichotomy, local/metanarratives and the carnivalesque. The AK Party‘s 11-year rule revolutionized center-periphery relations in Turkey. The party pioneered the democratization process until the 2011 elections but took an authoritarian turn afterwards –which gave rise to the revolts. However, the protests mobilized a heterogeneous group, some of whom maintained militarist and partiarchal metanarratives while others took a libertarian stance. This paper highlights the fragmentation of discourses under the “Gezi Spirit” as well as among AK Party supporters. [Read more]

 

Kyrgyzstan: In Search for Stability

Y. EMRE GÜRBÜZ

Insight Turkey, Vol. 15 / No. 4 / 2013, pp. 191-205

ABSTRACT In the last two decades, Kyrgyzstan has searched for stability while swinging on a pendulum between democratic reforms and suppression of democracy. Political changes in Kyrgyzstan started with the liberal democratic promises of President Akayev in 1990 and President Bakiyev in 2005, but they both ended with disillusionment. The state’s capacity had to be reestablished in the post-Soviet period, which was sought to be institutionalized by authoritarian measures. The failure of the authoritarian path proves that the people of Kyrgyzstan are more open to a parliamentary democracy, where the multiplicity of interests in society can be represented. Stability, however, does not only rest upon the representation of different groups’ interests but also on increasing economic resources to redistribute wealth across society. [Read more]

 

 

BOOK REVIEWS

 

Debating Security in Turkey: Challenges and Changes in the Twenty-First Century

EBRU CANAN-SOKULLU, Reviewed by Mustafa Kibaroglu, Insight Turkey, Vol. 15 / No. 4 / 2013, p. 207

Turkey’s European Future: Behind the Scenes of America’s Influence on EU-Turkey Relations

NATHALIE TOCCI, Reviewed by Yaprak Gürsoy, Insight Turkey, Vol. 15 / No. 4 / 2013, p. 210

The Emergence of Modern Istanbul: Transformation and Modernisation of a City

MURAT GÜL, Reviewed by Esra Akcan, Insight Turkey, Vol. 15 / No. 4 / 2013, p. 212

Reforming the European Union: Realizing the Impossible

DANIEL FINKE, THOMAS KÖNIG, SVEN-OLIVER PROKSCH, and GEORGE TSEBELIS, Reviewed by Senem Aydin-Düzgit, Insight Turkey, Vol. 15 / No. 4 / 2013, p. 215

A Muslim Mystic Community in Britain: Meaning in the West and for the West

TAYFUN ATAY, Reviewed by Ali Murat Yel, Insight Turkey, Vol. 15 / No. 4 / 2013, p. 217

Writing Muslim Identity

GEOFFREY NASH, Reviewed by Mohammad Siddique Seddon, Insight Turkey, Vol. 15 / No. 4 / 2013, p. 219

Muslim Youth: Challenges, Opportunities and Expectations

FAUZA AHMAD and MOHAMMAD SIDDIQUE SEDDON, Reviewed by Dr. John Mattausch, Insight Turkey, Vol. 15 / No. 4 / 2013, p. 221

Church, State, and the Crisis in American Secularism

BRUCE LEDEWITZ, Reviewed by Laura R. Olson, Insight Turkey, Vol. 15 / No. 4 / 2013, p. 223

Jews: The Making of a Diaspora People

IRVING M. ZEITLIN, Reviewed by Harvey E. Goldberg, Insight Turkey, Vol. 15 / No. 4 / 2013, p. 225

Habermas and European Integration: Social and Cultural Modernity Beyond the Nation-State

SHIVDEEP GREWAL, Reviewed by Ünal Eriş, Insight Turkey, Vol. 15 / No. 4 / 2013, p. 227

Foreign Policy after Tahrir Revolution: (Re)-Defining the Role of Egypt in the Middle East

MEHMET ÖZKAN, Reviewed by Muzaffer Şenel, Insight Turkey, Vol. 15 / No. 4 / 2013, p. 229