April-June 2010 (Volume 12, Number 2)
Insight Turkey, Volume 12, Number 2:
- TURKEY AND ARMENIA: OPPOSING POSITIONS
- DEBATING DEMOCRATIC INITIATIVE
- KURDS, ALEVIS AND NON-MUSLIMS ENGAGED
Turkey’s Constitutional Amendments: Between the status quo and Limited Democratic Reforms
Insight Turkey, Vol. 12, No.2, 2010, pp. 1-10
This article deals with debates surrounding the package of constitutional amendments proposed by AK Party deputies. The proposal consists of 27 articles; its general aims are to improve human rights standards, strengthen the rule of law, make the prohibition of political parties more difficult, and increase the democratic legitimacy of the judiciary. With regard to the last objective, the proposal suggests changing the composition and function of the Constitutional Court and the High Council of Judges and Public Prosecutors (HSYK). Among other innovations in the proposal are the introduction of a provision for constitutional complaint and the establishment of an Ombudsman. The article concludes that the proposal, despite certain deficiencies, is on the whole a positive step in the process of democratization. It should not, however, preclude the need for a totally new liberal and democratic constitution. [Read full text]
The Turkish-Armenian Debacle
Insight Turkey, Vol. 12, No.2, 2010, pp. 11-19
Turkey and Armenia signed two protocols on October 10, 2009 at Zurich University in Switzerland, with a view to opening a new chapter in bilateral ties, as well as improving the troubled relations between Turks and Armenians in general. But the signing ceremony in Zurich had started inauspiciously. The problem turned out to be the seemingly intractable issue of Nagorno-Karabakh, which cast its shadow over the process at the outset. After Karabakh, the second key issue that emerged was a ruling by the Constitutional Court of Armenia, which said that the protocols in question could not stop the government of Armenia from pursuing its duty of trying to get international recognition for the genocide allegedly perpetrated by Ottoman Turks against Armenians. These two topics effectively blocked the process enshrined in the protocols. But how could these problems not be foreseen? What were the two governments expecting in this respect when signing the protocols? [Read full text]
Prospects for Normalization between Armenia and Turkey: A View from Yerevan
Insight Turkey, Vol. 12, No.2, 2010, pp. 21-30
Since Armenia’s independence in 1991, its three successive presidents have invariably expressed their country’s readiness to normalize relations with Turkey without preconditions. This is despite unsettled historical issues between these two nations, namely the issue of the 1915 Genocide of Armenians by Ottoman Turkey, and the disappointing record of the last two decades in which Turkey sealed its borders to Armenia and failed to establish diplomatic ties with it. Should ratification fail, it will be very hard for the two countries, and especially for Armenia, to continue with normalization. By spring 2010, mistrust of Turkey grew significantly even among those political circles in Armenia that were originally very pro-rapprochement and argued in favour of it in discussions with nationalists and Diaspora actors. Armenian society’s perspective on relations with Turkey is again moving closer to that of the Diaspora. [Read full text]
Russia and Turkish-Armenian Normalization: Competing Interests in the South Caucasus
Insight Turkey, Vol. 12, No.2, 2010, pp. 31-39
Following the 2008 Georgia war, Russia reasserted itself as the main power in the Caucasus. The war shattered the old status quo and Moscow sought to make good use of the shifting geopolitical landscape to enhance its strategic footprint in the region. Russia’s policy in the Caucasus has been an example of a subtle balancing act: it appeared to have encouraged Turkish-Armenian reconciliation while at the same time skillfully exploiting the suspicions that this process aroused in Azerbaijan and seeking to put an additional pressure on Georgia. Now, as Turkish-Armenian normalization seems to have hit a snag, Moscow can safely distance itself from what increasingly looks like a failure. After all, having deftly played all its “partners” off against each other, Russia appears to have secured its objective: both Armenia and Azerbaijan tend to lean more on Russia, while Turkey’s relations with the two Caucasus countries has deteriorated. Moreover, Ankara’s ties with Washington became frayed, too, which, from Moscow’s perspective, isn’t bad either. [Read full text]
Turkish-Armenian Protocols: An Azerbaijani Perspective
Insight Turkey, Vol. 12, No.2, 2010, pp. 41-47
This commentary addresses Azerbaijan’s position prior to and in the aftermath of the Turkish-Armenian Protocols signed in October 2009. It critically analyzes Azerbaijan’s reactions to the Protocols, Turkey’s diplomatic initiatives, and its perception of Turkey’s position in this process. By signing the protocols, Turkey did nothing in practice against Azerbaijani interests except to reiterate the interdependence between any Turkish-Armenian rapprochement and Armenia’s move on the NK settlement. The commentary argues that the inexperienced Azerbaijani administration failed to manage Azerbaijani society’s reactions to Turkey’s signing of protocols with Armenia. It also discusses the consequences of a possible opening of Turkish-Armenian border for Azerbaijan and the region, and concludes that the way out of the frozen conflicts is contained in Turkey’s proposal for a Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform. [Read full text]
A Key to “Democratic Opening”: Rethinking Citizenship, Ethnicity and Turkish Nation-State
Insight Turkey, Vol. 12, No.2, 2010, pp. 49-69
This article focuses on the ongoing process of transition in Turkey from a “homogeneous national identity”, which produced a notion of “equality as sameness”, to a “multiculturalist democracy” that requires a new constitutional system that has a conception of “equality in difference”. The organization of this paper is as follows: First a brief evaluation of the Kemalist foundations of the Republic will be provided to establish how the official ideology in Turkey conceives of state-society relations. An evaluation of the persistence of this official ideology under the multiparty political system is provided in the second part. The final part of the paper concentrates on the rising public presence of the Kurdish problem, which is forcing Turkish politics to change its constitutional identity, most notably aided by the process of change driven by EU reforms. The article concludes with a call for the inevitability of a radical change in Turkish constitutional identity to include a public recognition of multiculturalism through an acceptance of linguistic and other cultural rights, but leaves open the question of how this change will be realized. [Read full text]
The “Democratic Opening” in Turkey: A Historical/Comparative Perspective
Insight Turkey, Vol. 12, No.2, 2010, pp. 71-90
This article aims to analyze the process of AKP’s democratic opening in an historical and comparative perspective with respect to various other experience of transition to democracy in Southern Europe, Latin America and Eastern Europe. With the current democratic opening, first labeled as “Kurdish opening,” and continuing with a large constitutional reform package, the AKP seems to be engaged in a huge task of deeply transforming the post-1980 regime. Comparing with the experiences in Southern Europe, Latin America and Eastern Europe, the consolidation of a new democratic regime introduced by the democratic opening in Turkey will be a governmental enterprise: a matter of political maneuver to reach a compromise among the various sections of the governing elite with the opposition; a matter of institution building to create channels of mobilization for societal demands; and finally a matter of timing. [Read full text]
The CHP and the “Democratic Opening”: Reactions to AK Party’s Electoral Hegemony
Insight Turkey, Vol. 12, No.2, 2010, pp. 91-108
The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government has initiated a number of democratic opening initiatives to tackle with the Kurdish question, the Alevi question, the Roma question, and the minorities question. This paper focuses on the reaction of the main opposition party, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) to the initiative. It seeks to explain the CHP’s reaction through the concept of “electoral hegemony”, which refers to a situation where one party becomes an uncontestable actor in the electoral process, which, while weakening the possibility of the opposition parties winning elections, also weakens the faith and trust of their supporters that these parties could govern Turkey through winning elections. It is argued that the CHP’s reaction to the democratic opening initiative is in fact directly related to its need to respond effectively to the electoral hegemony of the AK Party, and that it has developed its response through the concept of sovereignty which has always been integral to its historical identity as the main carrier of the state-centric Turkish modernity. [Read full text]
The Militarization of Secular Opposition in Turkey
Insight Turkey, Vol. 12, No.2, 2010, pp. 109-123
Turkey under the pro-Islamic Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has represented an opportunity to go beyond the Orientalist modernization framework and produce “value” by countering the culturalist arguments that foreclose the possibilities of democratization in modernizing Muslim countries. The secular opposition, however, has reproduced the logic of the February 28 process and has therefore immobilized and forced the AKP into a struggle to survive, both as a political party and as the elected government of the country. It is this power struggle that has come to epitomize the democratization debate and the democratization process in Turkey. In this context of an impoverished democratization debate, it remains to be seen whether and to what extent the AKP can accomplish the task of revitalizing the constitutive capacities of politics in Turkey. [Read full text]
Turkey’s Radical Right and the Kurdish Issue: The MHP’s Reaction to the “Democratic Opening”
Insight Turkey, Vol. 12, No.2, 2010, pp. 125-142
Turkey’s current government’s ‘democratic opening’ project has led to a series of political discussions regarding the cause and resolve of the Kurdish issue. One major consequence of this debate has been the polarization of opinion between conservatives, represented by the ruling Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, AKP) and nationalists, represented by the Nationalist Action Party (Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi, MHP). This study elaborates on the major reasons for MHP’s opposition to AKP on the ‘democratic opening.’ In doing so, the study examines the historical, ideological distinctions between the two parties and their perception of ethnic and linguistic differences in Turkish society. AKP comes from a political tradition that has been relatively more accommodating towards such differences. On the contrary, MHP has roots in an ethno-nationalist and mono-culturalist ideology, which can be observed in its denial of the identity component of the Kurdish issue. [Read full text]
The AKP and the “Alevi Opening”: Understanding the Dynamics of the Rapprochement
Insight Turkey, Vol. 12, No.2, 2010, pp. 143-164
The AKP government has undertaken a series of steps to understand and respond to Alevi identity-based claims. Popularly known as the “Alevi opening” process, the initiative is the first systematic effort to deal with the identity-based discontents of the Alevis. This step is also part of the broader policy of “democratic opening,” which intends to address the burning problems of various identity groups (the Kurds, Alevis, religious minorities and the Roma people) in Turkey. This study provides an analytic background for understanding the governing AKP’s “Alevi opening”, which was launched in the summer of 2007. More specifically, the issues that are discussed are the Alevi claims, the obstacles to the fulfillment of these issues, and the methods and the processes of the ongoing “Alevi opening”. In order to provide a holistic analysis, the political, legal, psychological as well as cultural dynamics of the Alevi issue are emphasized here. At the end, a set of policy recommendations are formulated that are consistent with the analytic perspective. [Read full text]
The Alevi Opening: Concept, Strategy and Process
Insight Turkey, Vol. 12, No.2, 2010, pp. 165-178
The Alevis, with their varied discourses, are in the midst of a deep intra-comunial debate as to how they will sustain their historical identity, institutional structure and rituals. This study analyzes the problems of Alevis that are mainly shaped along the processes of rapid modernization and social transformation. It also explains the parameters of the ongoing “Alevi Opening” with a focus on the logic and outcomes of the Alevi workshop series. These workshops that brought together the government and the representatives of the Alevi community can be viewed as an effort to learn, understand, and deliberate problems of Alevi citizens. In this framework, the Alevis were brought together to conceptualize and formulate their arguments and ideas into a coherent discourse. The Alevi workshops are therefore an attempt to ease the acceptance of Alevism by all sections of the society and to accelerate the realization of a profound process of empathy. [Read full text]
Kurdish Political Movement and the “Democratic Opening”
Insight Turkey, Vol. 12, No.2, 2010, pp. 179-192
There has long existed a Kurdish political movement with its illegal, legal, and semi-legal aspects of it. All of Turkey wants peace but most people in the Southeast want this peace not “despite the PKK” but with “the PKK’s consent and participation.” While the Kurdish political movement wanted the government to shoulder all the weight of the opening, they also had serious responsibilities. It became clear very quickly that the important personalities of the movement were not very enthusiastic in facing these responsibilities. The Kurdish political movement has distanced itself from the opening process and, at times, appeared against it. Parallel to this, there have been changes in the state’s perspective and even, to some degree, “return to the old state line. The discussion of “who is the counterpart?” impeded the process as much as, if not more, the opposition parties’ obstructions. [Read full text]
Reimagining Minorities in Turkey: Before and after the AKP
Insight Turkey, Vol. 12, No.2, 2010, pp. 193-212
This article analyzes the changing concept of “minority” in today’s Turkey. Minorities have been historically conceived as a “problem” by the Republican regime and a threat to the “purity” of the nation. For a long time, the term “minority” was commonly associated with the non-Muslim communities of Lausanne. Still now, non-Muslim communities are seen as passive elements in nation-centric conspiracy theories. However, the age-old definition of minority in Turkey is being challenged by a transformation on a global scale. Within this process, not only are political regimes, bureaucratic structures and nationstates being re-shaped, but social and cultural perceptions, and values and norms are also transforming. Given this context, it is insightful to focus on the AKP to understand the changing face of Turkey and vice versa. In this new setting, to what extent can the AKP, so far a reluctant reformer, satisfy the demands of non-Muslim citizens and address the problem of democracy? Turkey, it seems, is on the brink of another wave of change and the non-Muslim minorities are located at its center. [Read full text]
“Democratic Opening”, the Legal Status of Non-Muslim Religious Communities and the Venice Commission
Insight Turkey, Vol. 12, No.2, 2010, pp. 213-222
This article deals with a recent opinion adopted by the Venice Commission at its meeting on March 12-13 concerning the legal status of non-Muslim religious communities in Turkey and the right of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Istanbul to use the title “ecumenical.” On the first issue the Commission points out the difficulties that arise from the lack of legal personality for such communities, especially in matters related to access to courts and property ownership. The Commission urges Turkish authorities to attend to this problem by choosing from the many models of legal personality for religious groups practiced in European countries. On the second point, the Commission observes that the title ecumenical is a spiritual and ecclesiastical matter, and not a legal one. It concludes that unless Turkish authorities actively interfere with the use of such title by the Patriarchate, the simple refusal of the use of this title by Turkish authorities does not amount to a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. [Read full text]
Prospects for Democratization in Iran: Policy Implications
Insight Turkey, Vol. 12, No.2, 2010, pp. 223-240
The breakdown or modification of the Islamic Republic, though not imminent, is increasingly conceivable. However, in the event that the regime were to fall, Iran is bereft of many of the social and economic requisites for a stable democracy to emerge. About 80% of the Iranian economy is in the hands of the state, the private sector is dependent and feeble, and the 70% of the Iranians that are under the age of 30 are neither propertied nor middle class. This has implications for US policy, made all the more urgent by the timeline imposed by the looming nuclear issue. Rather than experiment with ineffectual and counter-productive attempts at democracy promotion, this study suggests that a policy of long-term international diplomatic and economic engagement is the best available tool for transforming Iranian society and politics in such a way that a transition to a sustained and stable democracy and, by implication, a resolution of Iran’s nuclear issue, becomes more likely. [Read full text]
Mesut Özcan, Harmonizing Foreign Policy: Turkey, the European Union and the Middle East
Avebury: Ashgate, 2008, 208 pp., ISBN 9780754673705.
Insight Turkey, Vol. 12, No.2, 2010, p. 241
Ömer Taşpınar and Philip H. Gordon, Winning Turkey: How America, Europe, and Turkey Can Revive a Fading Partnership?
Washington: Brookings Institution Press, 2008, 115pp., ISBN 9780815732150.
Kılıç Buğra Kanat
Insight Turkey, Vol. 12, No.2, 2010, p. 242
Justin McCarthy, Esat Arslan, Cemalettin Taskiran and Ömer Turan, The Armenian Rebellion at Van
Salt Lake City, UT: University of Utah Press, 2006, pp. 266, ISBN 0874808707.
Insight Turkey, Vol. 12, No.2, 2010, p. 244
Robert Olson, Blood, Beliefs and Ballots: The Management of Kurdish Nationalism in Turkey, 2007-2009
Costa Mesa, California: Mazda Publishers, 2009, 249 pp., ISBN 9781568592756.
Güneş Murat Tezcür
Insight Turkey, Vol. 12, No.2, 2010, p. 247
E. Fuat Keyman and Ziya Öniş, Turkish Politics in a Changing World: Global Dynamics and Domestic Transformations
Istanbul: Istanbul Bilgi University Press, 2007, 342 pp., ISBN 9786053990055.
Insight Turkey, Vol. 12, No.2, 2010, p. 249
Amyn B. Sajoo, Muslim Modernities: Expressions of the Civil Imagination
London: I.B. Tauris & Co., Ltd., 2008, 274 pp., ISBN 9781845118723.
Robert W. Hefner
Insight Turkey, Vol. 12, No.2, 2010, p. 251
Olivier Roy, The Politics of Chaos in the Middle East
New York: Columbia University Press, 2008,160 pp., ISBN 9780231700337.
Insight Turkey, Vol. 12, No.2, 2010, p. 253
Ussama Makdisi, Artillery of Heaven: American Missionaries and the Failed Conversion of the Middle East
Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2008, 262 pp., ISBN 9780801446214.
Thomas S. Kidd
Insight Turkey, Vol. 12, No.2, 2010, p. 257
Ahmad S. Moussalli, U.S. Foreign Policy and Islamist Politics
Florida: University Press of Florida, 2008, 225 pp., ISBN 9780813031491.
Gema Martín Muñoz
Insight Turkey, Vol. 12, No.2, 2010, p. 259
W. Taylor Fain, American Ascendance and British Retreat in the Persian Gulf Region
New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008. 283 pp., ISBN 9780230601512.
Ramazan Hakkı Öztan
Insight Turkey, Vol. 12, No.2, 2010, p. 261
Mark R. Cohen, Under Crescent & Cross: The Jews in the Middle Ages
Oxford: Princeton University Press, 1994, 296 pp., ISBN 9780691139319.
Insight Turkey, Vol. 12, No.2, 2010, p. 263
Cemil Koçak, Geçmişiniz İtinayla Temizlenir (Your History is Carefully Cleaned: Historian as an Autopsy Expert)
Ankara: İletişim Yayınları, 2009, 558 pp., ISBN 9789750506352.
Insight Turkey, Vol. 12, No.2, 2010, p. 266
W.A.R. Shadid and P. S. van Koningsveld, Islam in Nederland en België
Leuven: Peeters, 2008, 282 pp., ISBN 9789042921009.
Michael S. Merry
Insight Turkey, Vol. 12, No.2, 2010, p. 268
Erik Fossum, Johanne Poirier, and Paul Magnette, The Ties that Bind: Accommodating Diversity in Canada and the European Union
Brussels: P.I.E. Peter Lang, 2009, 362 pp., ISBN 9789052014753.
Insight Turkey, Vol. 12, No.2, 2010, p. 271
Peter Linebaugh, The Magna Carta Manifesto
Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008, 352 pp., ISBN 9780520260009.
Jeffrey Edward Green
Insight Turkey, Vol. 12, No.2, 2010, p. 274