Monday, December 01, 2008


"AKP can be destructive with the discourse it uses about the Kurdish question. It transforms the non-nationalistic, mild grassroots to nationalism. This nationalism is a disaster for Turkey."
~ Mithat Sancar, Ankara University.

Here's another interview from Taraf's Neşe Duzel. This time she interviews Mithat Sancar, a professor of constitutional theory at Ankara University.

By the way, Taraf has been having difficulty raising revenue, mainly from advertisements, which it needs to continue publication. This seems to be a result of its reporting matters of which the Turkish general staff does not approve. Taraf is taking some steps to maintain itself and I sincerely hope it is able to survive this difficult time. Taraf's staff has consistently worked toward journalistic excellence, something that is, for the most part, completely lacking in reporting from the so-called "civilized" world of the West.

Anyway, without further ado, here is the first part of Neşe Duzel's interview with Professor Mithat Sancar of Ankara University:

Mithat Sancar: "The military is making the Kurdish policies implemented by AKP."

"AKP agreed with the military. The Turkish general staff conveyed it's Kurdish policy to AKP. Başbuğ goes through the gestures of briefing the government, however [he says]: 'You be on the field, but do whatever we tell you to do'".

"There are dangerous calculations. If AKP wins the election in the Southeast, do they think the Kurdish question will end? On the contrary, the dissolution of the Kurds from the system will be deepened. Conflict will be sharpened."

"There is the danger of a hegemonic party in Turkey. AKP is calculating to take the Southeast from DTP, to become the hegemonic party. This is a one-party system in which the other parties exist only in appearance."

"A minister says, 'Clearly there must be forced immigration". My main worry is that there isn't any reaction to these words from neither the Prime Minister nor from the government. Today, AKP's nationalistic vein is greater than ever."

"AKP can be destructive with the discourse it uses about the Kurdish question. It transforms the non-nationalistic, mild grassroots to nationalism. This nationalism is a disaster for Turkey."

Why Mithat Sancar?

Turkey is going through an agitation for the last two years. First, the presidential election, then the general elections, and now the local elections that will be held in four months. Turkey shut itself down inside remarkably. AKP, which gave up on proceeding with the EU process, which also always engages in nationalist enmity. And AKP raised this nationalism to the level of racism. Within this era in Turkey, only "terrorist" incidents did not increase. Also, state violence against citizens exploded. Okay, but what's happened? Only one year ago, when this country was debating about a civil and democratic constitution, now even the chief of the constitutional court is scared to talk about the contstitution. How did this happen? Why did AKP turn into such a fearful and status quo party? Did it have any secret deals not to free society and solve the Kurdish problem in democratic ways? What kind of consequences will such policy changes by AKP have? What did the democratic vein in AKP do? We talked about all this with Professor Mithat Sancar, who is a faculty member of Ankara University's law department. Professor Sancar especially studies constitutional theory, the birth of modern Turkey, the state of law, and human rights.

ND: Last week in Bilkent University there was a symposium organized and the immutable articles in the constitution were debated. Do you think there can be any immutable articles in a constitution?

MS: Yes there may. In the constitutions of many developed countries there are immutable regulations; however, these are generally the articles which guarantee a democratic legal state. For example, in Germany's constitution, the article related to human dignity, human rights, cannot be changed.

ND: What are the articles that are immutable for us?

MS: Indeed, we have an armageddon in the second article of our constitution. This article, that is related to the republic's qualification article, has turned this article into Atatürk's nationalism loyalty principle. It makes Kemalism a constitutional principle.

ND: Developed countries can debate the immutable articles in their constitutions. Can we debate our immutable articles in Turkey?

MS: This is the problem: we cannot debate. In addition, those parts which do not want the immutable articles in the constitution to be changed have more control over this. However AKP did not keep its promise regarding the preparation of a civil constitution.

ND: Which of the other nations' constitutions does our constitution resemble?

MS: Right now our constitution is not a very bad text because a lot of articles were changed. The problem is this: the spirit of this constitution did not change because constitutions convey the spirit of the era in which they were prepared. A constitution that is prepared in a free environment, even if it has some shortcomings compared to today's constitution, if it is backwards compared to today's constitution, it would have potential for more freedom. Because that constitution would carry the era's pluralism and color. In our constitution, however, the ghosts of the "revolutionaries" are roaming. This spirit of the coup sees society as a dangerous focus that must be controlled and any attempts to deepen freedom have backfired.

ND: I had asked which country's constitution does our constitution resemble?

MS: In appearance, in terms of basic institutions, it is no different than western constitutions. Elections are held, parties are founded. In our constitution we have superficial rules for democracy. However, there are no arrangements to deepen freedoms. Because the understanding of the national security mentality hasn't been left yet. Domestically, the military and bureaucratic elites, outside [of Turkey], the US, both of these together imposed a model of a state of national security in Turkey in the 1982 constitution. They defended that Turkey could be ruled by a crippled democracy that is peculiar to Turkey itself. There were several changes in the constitution, but this model never changed. This is a Turkey-type democracy.

ND: In international politics, is there any term called "Turkey-type democracy"?

MS: Of course there is! In the world arena, political science scholars use this term. For instance, for Turkey and Russia they say, "peculiar democracies belonging to the same family". And now, today, AKP is inclined toward the Turkey-type democracy. In the EU, the sides which do not want Turkey's membership are inclined to see a Turkey-type democracy.

ND: Can there be any democracy as a "peculiar" democracy?

MS: There can't be. Peculiar to itself means being far away from universal measures. This is a democracy type which never had an inside to deepen rights and freedoms. There is authoritarian administration. This is a kind of democracy that does not have any inside to deepen justice and freedoms, but is eager for authoritarian administrations. Of course, this is not democracy. This is a monstrosity! Today, AKP is settling for a Turkey-type democracy. There is a coalition between the AKP government, the state elites, and some forces in the EU that a Turkey-type democracy is sufficient for Turkey. That is why the EU is not pushing so hard about freedoms.

ND: Did AKP make a deal with opponents of Turkey in the EU?

MS: The government has not given up the progress of the EU yet. It seems that it wants the EU, but it has an alliance with military, civil, bureaucratic forces not to enhance democracy. The government tells the EU, "Turkey's conditions do not enable us to enact the norms that you want us to enact. Forgive us." The government's alliance with the state elites makes Turkey go far away from the EU's goals. In one way, the AKP government is doing the will of the authoritarian, fascist forces in the right-wing of the EU.

Tomorrow, Part 2.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

so is there a way we can help Taraf stay open and running?