Towards calmer waters: A report on relations between Turkey and the European Union

October 10, 2005 - nr.9
Summary

Relations between Turkey and the European Union have been a chapter of misunderstandings, dissatisfaction and confusion. Moreover, the issue of Turkeyís possible membership of the European Union (not only the prospect of membership but also the unease about it) has placed a great strain on the relations, particularly in recent years. This is because the opening up of Central and Eastern Europe means that Turkey has once again been obliged to take a step back.

 

This report is intended to help clarify relations between Turkey and the European Union and to put them on a sounder footing. The Advisory Council notes that there is no convincing reason why Turkey should in principle be rejected as a possible member of the European Union, but it also points out that Turkish membership is still a long way off. Turkey is, after all, still evolving towards a plural, democratic society. The present shortcomings of the system distance Turkey from the European Union and its Member States. It is important to note in this connection that Turkey has armed forces that play an important political role as the guardian of Kemalism. The exercise of power by the state is still not subject to sufficient control by parliament and by a free press, and can still not be scrutinised sufficiently in public debate. This is because the free institutions of civil society have not yet been adequately developed in Turkey (see I, II and
VI.3.5).

Turkey still has a long way to go before it can fulfil the conditions regarding democracy, human rights, treatment of minorities, the rule of law and the free market economy, as laid down in the Copenhagen criteria, since this will have a far-reaching impact on Turkish domestic politics. The Advisory Council considers it advisable to state this plainly so that the relations between Turkey and the European Union are not constantly over-shadowed by a ìpossible future membershipî and/or recognition as a candidate State, given the disappointments and misunderstandings to which they have given rise in recent years (see III and VI.1).

This can be illustrated by the Cologne European Council in June 1999, at which Turkey was once again not designated as a candidate State. In the opinion of the Advisory Council, recognition of Turkey as a candidate State will remain too much a political step of symbolic value unless it is accompanied by a deepening of cooperation at a practical level. Ultimate Turkish membership of the European Union should be the conclusion of a process in which Turkey and the European Union mentally accept each other as partners and have the opportunity to draw closer together through practical cooperation. It would benefit relations between the European Union and Turkey if they were both to acknowledge that this will be a long drawn-out process (see I, VI.1 and VI.2).

As against this, the European Union should, when elaborating the European strategy, show itself to be a more reliable partner than hitherto and treat Turkey in a clear and businesslike manner. The Advisory Council believes that economic cooperation should be accorded priority since more constructive cooperation and integration is possible in this field than has been achieved so far. The regular report on Turkey of november 1998 of the European Commission may provide a good basis for this. The Advisory Council formulates numerous policy proposals for giving effect to economic cooperation with Turkey, for example strengthening of the customs union, promotion of trade and the free movement of capital, including measures to curb inflation. If the European Union is prepared to engage in this cooperation, it will also fulfil the expectations aroused in Turkey by the conclusion of the association agreement of 1963 and the customs union of 1995 (see IV and VI.3.2).

The European Union should give priority to fulfilling its obligations under the customs union. If Greece refuses to accept that its veto of these funds has now become counter-productive, the other fourteen countries should make financial resources available at national level - in other words outside the formal framework of the EU - in order to compensate Turkey for the default of the European Union. The Advisory Council requests the Netherlands Government to promote this. To obviate any misunderstanding, the Advisory Council considers that the Netherlands too should offer this financial compensation to Turkey in its bilateral relations. It should be noted that Turkey is not eligible for funds in connection with the enlargement of the European Union. Nor is it any longer eligible under the ORET programme (Development-related Export Programmes). This is why the Advisory Council believes that this compensation could mark the start of a Turkey facility: i.e. financial resources that can be used by the Netherlands Government to intensify relations with Turkey (see V.3 and VI.3.1).

The Advisory Council starts from the premise that Turkey is a country of importance to the European Union. It is a regional power which continues to be of strategic significance both from a political and economic viewpoint and from the viewpoint of security policy. In this respect Turkeyís membership of NATO is important, although the Advisory Council would not view relations with Turkey in the context of the European Union in terms of risks to the cooperation within NATO, as mentioned in the request for advice. Although the Turkish government feels aggrieved by the course of the debate on Turkeyís candidacy for membership of the European Union it has taken the position that no political link should be made between the two - i.e. relations with the EU and relations with NATO. What is much more important is to involve Turkey as closely as possible in the consultations on European security. As the consultations on this subject start to assume a more prominent position within the European Union Turkey will wish to be involved in a pragmatic way. The Advisory Council regards Turkeyís involvement as necessary in order to allow for the possibility of European-led military operations and as an opportunity for involving Turkey more closely in parts of the second pillar (II.2 and V.3.4).

The European Union should be sensitive to the fact that Turkey is an important regional power and that this entails dilemmas and difficult decisions for Ankara. Turkey is trying to pursue a multi-dimensional foreign policy, which involves intensifying its contacts in the region in order to supplement its traditional orientation towards the United States and the European Union. In the opinion of the Advisory Council there are no regional structures for cooperation that could at present provide Turkey with an alternative to cooperation with the West. In cultural terms Turkey serves to some extent as a role model for other countries in the region since it is a secular state with an Islamic past. The European Union should both support Turkey financially by making MEDA funds available again and also encourage it to strengthen its regional cooperation. This would also be in Europeís interest, given the growing economic importance of the countries around Turkey (see II.2 and VI.3.4).

In view of the requirement that a democratic, plural political system be developed the Advisory Council makes proposals aimed at ensuring that Turkey observes the international human rights conventions to which it has consigned. These proposals relate not only to the European Union but also the Council of Europe and the OSCE (see III and
VI.3.6). The current trial of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan is a case in point (V.1).

In the AIVís view, thinking similar to that on which the Stability Pact (the Balladur Plan) of March 1995 was based could be a valuable addition to the Copenhagen criteria when it comes to relations with Turkey and the complex of relations between Turkey, Cyprus and Greece. Under the Stability Pact accession negotiations with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe that were interested in joining the European Union were made conditional upon their own efforts to resolve their problems, particularly border problems, with neighbouring countries and to resolve problems involving minorities. The Advisory Council starts from the premise that the European Union must no longer be prepared to import conflicts that offer no prospect of a solution. The Advisory Council considers that Cyprusís membership is not on the agenda at present. Its accession at this juncture would, after all, mean that a conflict which offers no prospect of a solution and in which the use of force cannot be excluded, would be imported into the European Union. The Advisory Council notes that the intention behind the European Unionís decision to embark on accession negotiations with Cyprus has hitherto been frustrated. The negotiations have not yet induced the parties concerned to make an effort to bring closer a solution to the conflict. On the contrary, the accession negotiations and the manner in which they are being conducted have now themselves become a subject of disagreement. In the AIVís opinion, the accession negotiations with Cyprus should not in these circumstances produce a tangible result (see V).

Suggestions are made at various places in this report for the further development of relations between the Netherlands and Turkey. The Advisory Council notes in particular that the Netherlands should pay more attention to the possibility of exchanges at numerous levels and of bilateral visits at the political level and to encouraging a dialogue between Dutch and Turkish non-governmental organisations. The basis for such dialogue could be laid by holding periodic Turkish-Dutch conferences (modelled on the German-Dutch conferences) on topical themes, which could be attended by both government officials and representatives of NGOs (see VI.3.8).

Advice request

No. 9, July 1999


Foreword

Turkey is a country of varying worlds. It is located not only geographically but also politically and culturally at the meeting point of Europe (the Balkans), Central Asia and the Arab world. The great majority of the country (Anatolia) is situated in Asia, but Istanbul, the best known Turkish city and the economic and commercial hub of the country, lies in Europe. Turkey is a Mediterranean country, but its Black Sea coastline is almost as long. In the 1920s Kemal Atatürk founded a modern Turkish state modelled on European lines in an effort to reduce its dependence on the European countries. In short, Turkey is a variegated palette, a country that cannot easily be put in any of the usual geographical, political and cultural categories that help to make sense of the international landscape. As a country of varying worlds modern Turkey is therefore prey to tensions, for example between its European and its Middle Eastern identity, between modernisation and the traditions of its Ottoman history, and between democracy (or rather the efforts to achieve democracy) and authoritarian rule. Owing to the interplay of such disparate forces Turkey can be described, to borrow what T.S. Eliot wrote about the currents in the straits near Istanbul, as ìthe still point of the turning worldî.

Relations between Turkey and the European Union (and its Member States) have had their ups and downs over the years. In recent years the possibility of Turkeyís membership of the European Union has introduced an element of tension into these relations, certainly since the Luxembourg European Council in December 1997, where Turkey felt that it had been treated differently from other candidates for membership. The request for advice that has occasioned the present report demonstrates the wish of the Netherlands Government to review relations with Turkey. The report is intended to contribute to this review. The basic premise of the report is that relations between Turkey and the European Union would benefit if less emphasis were to be put on the debate about membership since it has given rise to misunderstandings, dissatisfaction and confusion. Hence the title of the report: ìTowards calmer waters: a report on relations between Turkey and the European Unionî.

The Advisory Council on International Affairs adopted this report at its meeting on 2 July 1999. The report was prepared by the Councilís íTurkeyí Committee under the chairmanship of Dr. B. Knapen. As issues in the fields of European integration, human rights, peace and security and, to a lesser extent, development cooperation all play a role in the relations with Turkey, the íTurkeyí Committee consisted of members of all four standing committees of the Advisory Council. These members were: Professor
P.R. Baehr (Human Rights Committee), Professor G. van Benthem van den Bergh (Peace and Security Committee), Ms D.J.M. Corbey (European Integration Committee), Mr T. Etty (Human Rights Committee), Lieutenant-General G.J. Folmer (retd.) (Peace and Security Committee), Dr M. van Leeuwen (Peace and Security Committee), Mr F.D. van Loon (Development Cooperation Committee), Professor R. Rabbinge (Development Cooperation Committee) and Mr P. Scheffer (European Integration Committee). Mr F. van Beuningen (head of staff of the Advisory Council) acted as secretary to the Committee, and was assisted by the trainees Ms C.T. Aalbers, Ms K.M.M. Boeije and Ms E. Erygit.

In preparing this report members of the íTurkeyí Committee sought the views of policy-makers and experts. The Committee, accompanied by the chairman of the Advisory Council professor R.F.M. Lubbers, also made a fact-finding visit to Ankara and Istanbul

for this purpose in the period from 31 January to 4 February 1999. (A list of the persons and bodies consulted is attached as an annex.) The Advisory Council is grateful to those consulted for their contribution, and takes this opportunity to express its great appreciation of the support it received from the Netherlands Embassy in Ankara and the Consulate-General in Istanbul in organising this fact-finding trip.

Chapter I deals with a question which was not raised by the Government in its request for the report, but which is always close to the surface of political and public debates on relations between Turkey and the European Union. This is the question of whether Turkey could belong to the European Union in view of its cultural and historical background. Chapter II gives a profile of Turkey in terms of its internal political situation and its position in the region. Chapter III deals with human rights and chapter IV with economic developments. Chapter V examines relations between Turkey, Cyprus and Greece and draws conclusions and makes recommendations on the subject. Chapter VI describes recent developments in the relations between Turkey and the European Union and looks ahead at the form these relations could take. It does this among other things by making policy recommendations about the previous chapters. Conclusions and recommendations are printed in italics in the text. However, this does not apply to chapter VI, which consists largely of conclusions and recommendations. Annex I to the report contains the request for advice, annex II the list of persons and bodies consulted, and annex III the list of abbreviations. The report starts with a summary.

The report also has an addendum: ìThe position of the European Union on Turkey: 1959 to the present dayî. This gives a chronological survey of relations between the European Union and Turkey and summarises important documents.


Summary

Relations between Turkey and the European Union have been a chapter of misunderstandings, dissatisfaction and confusion. Moreover, the issue of Turkeyís possible membership of the European Union (not only the prospect of membership but also the unease about it) has placed a great strain on the relations, particularly in recent years. This is because the opening up of Central and Eastern Europe means that Turkey has once again been obliged to take a step back.

This report is intended to help clarify relations between Turkey and the European Union and to put them on a sounder footing. The Advisory Council notes that there is no convincing reason why Turkey should in principle be rejected as a possible member of the European Union, but it also points out that Turkish membership is still a long way off. Turkey is, after all, still evolving towards a plural, democratic society. The present shortcomings of the system distance Turkey from the European Union and its Member States. It is important to note in this connection that Turkey has armed forces that play an important political role as the guardian of Kemalism. The exercise of power by the state is still not subject to sufficient control by parliament and by a free press, and can still not be scrutinised sufficiently in public debate. This is because the free institutions of civil society have not yet been adequately developed in Turkey (see I, II and
VI.3.5).

Turkey still has a long way to go before it can fulfil the conditions regarding democracy, human rights, treatment of minorities, the rule of law and the free market economy, as laid down in the Copenhagen criteria, since this will have a far-reaching impact on Turkish domestic politics. The Advisory Council considers it advisable to state this plainly so that the relations between Turkey and the European Union are not constantly over-shadowed by a ìpossible future membershipî and/or recognition as a candidate State, given the disappointments and misunderstandings to which they have given rise in recent years (see III and VI.1).

This can be illustrated by the Cologne European Council in June 1999, at which Turkey was once again not designated as a candidate State. In the opinion of the Advisory Council, recognition of Turkey as a candidate State will remain too much a political step of symbolic value unless it is accompanied by a deepening of cooperation at a practical level. Ultimate Turkish membership of the European Union should be the conclusion of a process in which Turkey and the European Union mentally accept each other as partners and have the opportunity to draw closer together through practical cooperation. It would benefit relations between the European Union and Turkey if they were both to acknowledge that this will be a long drawn-out process (see I, VI.1 and VI.2).

As against this, the European Union should, when elaborating the European strategy, show itself to be a more reliable partner than hitherto and treat Turkey in a clear and businesslike manner. The Advisory Council believes that economic cooperation should be accorded priority since more constructive cooperation and integration is possible in this field than has been achieved so far. The regular report on Turkey of november 1998 of the European Commission may provide a good basis for this. The Advisory Council formulates numerous policy proposals for giving effect to economic cooperation with Turkey, for example strengthening of the customs union, promotion of trade and the free movement of capital, including measures to curb inflation. If the European Union is prepared to engage in this cooperation, it will also fulfil the expectations aroused in Turkey by the conclusion of the association agreement of 1963 and the customs union of 1995 (see IV and VI.3.2).

The European Union should give priority to fulfilling its obligations under the customs union. If Greece refuses to accept that its veto of these funds has now become counter-productive, the other fourteen countries should make financial resources available at national level - in other words outside the formal framework of the EU - in order to compensate Turkey for the default of the European Union. The Advisory Council requests the Netherlands Government to promote this. To obviate any misunderstanding, the Advisory Council considers that the Netherlands too should offer this financial compensation to Turkey in its bilateral relations. It should be noted that Turkey is not eligible for funds in connection with the enlargement of the European Union. Nor is it any longer eligible under the ORET programme (Development-related Export Programmes). This is why the Advisory Council believes that this compensation could mark the start of a Turkey facility: i.e. financial resources that can be used by the Netherlands Government to intensify relations with Turkey (see V.3 and VI.3.1).

The Advisory Council starts from the premise that Turkey is a country of importance to the European Union. It is a regional power which continues to be of strategic significance both from a political and economic viewpoint and from the viewpoint of security policy. In this respect Turkeyís membership of NATO is important, although the Advisory Council would not view relations with Turkey in the context of the European Union in terms of risks to the cooperation within NATO, as mentioned in the request for advice. Although the Turkish government feels aggrieved by the course of the debate on Turkeyís candidacy for membership of the European Union it has taken the position that no political link should be made between the two - i.e. relations with the EU and relations with NATO. What is much more important is to involve Turkey as closely as possible in the consultations on European security. As the consultations on this subject start to assume a more prominent position within the European Union Turkey will wish to be involved in a pragmatic way. The Advisory Council regards Turkeyís involvement as necessary in order to allow for the possibility of European-led military operations and as an opportunity for involving Turkey more closely in parts of the second pillar (II.2 and V.3.4).

The European Union should be sensitive to the fact that Turkey is an important regional power and that this entails dilemmas and difficult decisions for Ankara. Turkey is trying to pursue a multi-dimensional foreign policy, which involves intensifying its contacts in the region in order to supplement its traditional orientation towards the United States and the European Union. In the opinion of the Advisory Council there are no regional structures for cooperation that could at present provide Turkey with an alternative to cooperation with the West. In cultural terms Turkey serves to some extent as a role model for other countries in the region since it is a secular state with an Islamic past. The European Union should both support Turkey financially by making MEDA funds available again and also encourage it to strengthen its regional cooperation. This would also be in Europeís interest, given the growing economic importance of the countries around Turkey (see II.2 and VI.3.4).

In view of the requirement that a democratic, plural political system be developed the Advisory Council makes proposals aimed at ensuring that Turkey observes the international human rights conventions to which it has consigned. These proposals relate not only to the European Union but also the Council of Europe and the OSCE (see III and
VI.3.6). The current trial of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan is a case in point (V.1).

In the AIVís view, thinking similar to that on which the Stability Pact (the Balladur Plan) of March 1995 was based could be a valuable addition to the Copenhagen criteria when it comes to relations with Turkey and the complex of relations between Turkey, Cyprus and Greece. Under the Stability Pact accession negotiations with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe that were interested in joining the European Union were made conditional upon their own efforts to resolve their problems, particularly border problems, with neighbouring countries and to resolve problems involving minorities. The Advisory Council starts from the premise that the European Union must no longer be prepared to import conflicts that offer no prospect of a solution. The Advisory Council considers that Cyprusís membership is not on the agenda at present. Its accession at this juncture would, after all, mean that a conflict which offers no prospect of a solution and in which the use of force cannot be excluded, would be imported into the European Union. The Advisory Council notes that the intention behind the European Unionís decision to embark on accession negotiations with Cyprus has hitherto been frustrated. The negotiations have not yet induced the parties concerned to make an effort to bring closer a solution to the conflict. On the contrary, the accession negotiations and the manner in which they are being conducted have now themselves become a subject of disagreement. In the AIVís opinion, the accession negotiations with Cyprus should not in these circumstances produce a tangible result (see V).

Suggestions are made at various places in this report for the further development of relations between the Netherlands and Turkey. The Advisory Council notes in particular that the Netherlands should pay more attention to the possibility of exchanges at numerous levels and of bilateral visits at the political level and to encouraging a dialogue between Dutch and Turkish non-governmental organisations. The basis for such dialogue could be laid by holding periodic Turkish-Dutch conferences (modelled on the German-Dutch conferences) on topical themes, which could be attended by both government officials and representatives of NGOs (see VI.3.8).

I The under tone of the debate: history, civilisation and Islam

I.1 The political and cultural debate

Europeís boundaries cannot be precisely defined geographically, politically or culturally. To attempt such a definition in the context of the present report would be to risk becoming bogged down in a semantic, ideological and at times almost mystical debate without prospect of obtaining a workable answer to the question of whether or not Turkey forms part of Europe. By the same token there is no reason to suppose that defining the boundaries would shed light on how relations between Turkey and the European Union should be developed.

There is often a certain discrepancy between the terms used in official documents about relations between Turkey and the European Union and the undertone of the political debate, in which the parties frequently refer back to Turkish history, to the development of Ottoman civilisation and to Islam. These political and cultural aspects of the relations with Turkey are not touched upon in official documents, although they are of definite importance to the political and public debate in Turkey and Europe. This is why this report deals with a question which has not been raised by the Government, but which does play a role under the surface of many political and public debates: namely whether Turkeyís cultural and historical background is such that the country could ever belong to the European Union.

In December 1989 the then President of the European Commission, Jacques Delors, gave a speech in which, without in fact mentioning Turkey, he described Europe as a product of Christianity, Roman law and Greek humanism. This characterisation went down badly in Ankara, particularly since it was given only a few hours after the then Turkish President Turgut Özal had advocated to the Council of Europe that an accommodating attitude be adopted towards his country on the grounds of the Turkish contribution to the defence of the West against the communist threat, which still existed at that time. In March 1997, on the eve of the Brussels European Council, it was stated at the end of a meeting of the Christian Democrat heads of government of the European Peopleís Party that the ìcultural, humanitarian and Christian values of Europe are different from the values of Turkeyî, and that accordingly Turkey should not be allowed to join the European Union.1 The corollary of this statement is the view that Christianity is the element that binds together the united Europe.2

1 NRC-Handelsblad, 20 April 1997. Following the commotion caused by these statements the then German Chancellor Helmut Kohl disassociated himself from them. In the Netherlands one of the main proponents of such views is the former leader of the Liberal Party (VVD) Frits Bolkestein, who has argued that Turkey is not eligible for membership of the European Union for historical and cultural reasons. Bolkesteinís principal argument is that Turkey, unlike other (European) countries, was never part of the Enlightenment.

2 See for example Powers, J. (1998), Christendom is het bindmiddel van een Verenigd Europa. NRC-Handelsblad, 31/12/98.

A more general basis for views of this kind is provided by the work of the American political scientist S.P. Huntington.3 Huntington expects that conflicts that occur after the Cold War will be mainly between countries that belong to different civilisations. In Huntingtonís view, religion is a central feature of civilisations. The risk of conflict will be greater between states that belong to different civilisations and have a different religious background than between states that share the same civilisation and religion. By the same token, Huntington expects that a common civilisation and religion will promote political and economic cooperation and that a different civilisation and religion will make cooperation difficult and perhaps even impossible. According to Huntington, it is therefore hardly surprising that the European Union does not wish to admit Turkey: it is ìdifferentî.4

According to this way of thinking, rejection of Turkish membership of the European Union is based not on its level of economic development, its domestic political situation, any lack of respect for human rights or the rights of minorities or on any other possible grounds about which a political debate could be conducted. Instead Turkish membership is implicitly excluded or explicitly rejected on the grounds that there is an unbridgeable political and cultural gap between Turkey and the Member States of the European Union. The political and cultural identity of Europe, the European Union and its Member States is described in such a way (the precise mix of history (civilisation), Christianity, humanitarian principles and the ideals of the Enlightenment differs from author to author) as to emphasise the differences with Turkey, which is viewed purely as the heir of the Ottoman Empire and as an Islamic country.

It has naturally not gone unnoticed in Turkey that the question has been raised in Europe whether Turkey - as the heir to the Ottoman Empire and as an Islamic country --can form part of the European Union. Turkeyís rebuttal is that Atatürkís revolution should be regarded as the Turkish Enlightenment. Atatürk emphatically decided to make a break with the past and to found a secular state in an attempt to gain acceptance in Turkey for civil and democratic values. Furthermore, in Turkish eyes Turkey has been European for centuries and has nothing to prove in this regard. To quote the Turkish Foreign Minister Ismaìl Cem:

ìIf ëbeing Europeaní is a cultural fact, then Turkey is a country that shares such values as democracy, pluralism, secularism, human rights and equality between man and woman, all of which constitute the basis of contemporary European culture [...] Turkeyís Europeanness is not something which requires the approval of others; it is an historical, geographical and cultural factî.5

3 Huntington, S.P. (1995), The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. New York: Simon and Schuster.

4 On the subject of relations between Europe and Turkey Huntington writes, ìAsians [...] are determined to exclude Australia from their club for the same reason that Europeans do Turkey: they are different from usî. See Huntington, 1996, p. 152.

5 See the text of the press conference of the Turkish Foreign Minister Ismaìl Cem, Ankara 18 July 1997.

I.2 Negative stereotypes

In his classic history of the Balkans Schevill describes the Ottoman domination of the Balkans and the Turkish advance towards Vienna as follows, ì[...] the Ottoman empire ruled with a Moslem sword, inflicting spiritual wounds upon all Christiansî.6 One of the consequences of the many military conflicts in the past between Christian and Islamic countries is the mutually negative image they have of one another. The poor image of the Turks therefore has a long tradition in Europe, stretching from the cruel, bloody, authoritarian and expansionist ìMussulmanî of the Ottoman Empire to the criminal, drug-dealing and vengeful Turk of the present day. It is lamented in Turkey that the Europeans have been raised on ìthe legend of the Terrible Turkî.

Against this background it should come as no surprise that there are Turks who regard Europe as perfidious and its politicians as unreliable pupils of Machiavelli who conspire against Turkey purely out of self-interest.7 This image can be traced back to the role which the European powers played in the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire (see II.1.1). One of the characters in a novel by the Turkish author Orhan Pamuk refers to the gap between Christian Europe and Islamic Turkey, between West and East, describing them as ìbeing completely opposites, [they] rejected and excluded one another like good and evil, white and black, devil and angel. Despite what some dream-ers thought, it was inconceivable that these two worlds would ever come closer together and be able to live at peace with one anotherî.8

These mutually negative stereotypes contribute to and may even be the origin of the idea that the political and cultural differences between Turkey and the countries of the European Union cannot be bridged.

I.3 No unbridgeable gap

Like many other commentators the Advisory Council on International Affairs (AIV) does not share the view that historical and cultural factors have made the gap between Turkey and the European Union unbridgeable. Unmistakeable political and cultural differences do exist and the arguments set out above underline them and should therefore be taken seriously. The European Union itself consists of Member States whose own differences did not form an obstacle to the creation of the Union. In other words, these gaps could be bridged. Although the question now facing the European Union --namely whether a large country with a predominantly Muslim population can become part of it - is of a different order of magnitude, it does not differ in principle from the question posed by previous enlargements of the Union.

6 Schevill, F. (1991/1921), A History of the Balkans - From the Earliest Times to the Present Day. New York: Dorset Press; this a republication of the book originally published in 1922.

7 Iskenderoglu, B. (1998) ìTurkey vs the Westî, an article in two parts by Birsan, which was published in the Turkish Daily News of 30 and 31 October 1998.

8 Pamuk, O. (1998) Het zwarte boek (The black book) (translated from Turkish by Margreet Dorleijn), Amsterdam/Antwerp: De Arbeiderspers, p. 327.

Between 17 and 21 million Muslims already live in the Member States of the European Union. The accession of Turkey will simply serve to strengthen the trend and mean that Islam and Islamic culture should be accorded a place in Europe. It should, however, be noted in this connection that the scale is different: Turkey is not only an Islamic countr y, it is also a large country. An impression of its size can be gained from some fore-casts that its population will exceed one hundred million in 2015. Other forecasts, however, suggest that the population will grow less fast.

Religion, history and cultural heritage cannot by definition demonstrate that the gap between Turkey and the European Union is incapable of being bridged. The AIV rejects cultural and historical determinism of this kind on the following grounds:

- First of all, it should be noted that some historians argued in the 1970s that Spain too was unsuitable for parliamentary democracy owing to its culture and heritage. Caution should therefore be exercised when making predictions on the basis of a particular interpretation of history, particularly if they are made to support political views and result in self-fulfilling prophesies. Whether history, tradition and culture will have the effect of keeping Turkey and the European Union apart is uncertain.

- The notion that the political and cultural identity of Europe and Turkey are opposites is generally based on the assumption that culture and civilisation are static concepts, constants that are not susceptible to change and that also form a homogenous and sealed whole. According to this way of thinking, cultures are viewed as billiard balls that can collide but not merge.9 If the problem is viewed in this way the only possible conclusion is that it is insoluble.

- What this view of civilisations and cultures overlooks is that they evolve by processing new influences and elements from other civilisations.10 For example, Delft and Iznik ware have influenced one another, the concept of the garden shed originates in Turkey and we also acquired the habit of drinking coffee from the Turks. After the Turks had been defeated for the second time at Vienna in 1683 and were therefore no longer regarded as a threat, a veritable craze for things Turkish swept over Europe. As the Ottoman Empire formed part of the European balance of power, it was described in its twilight years as ìthe sick man of Europeî. Today, in 1999, the success of the Turkish pop singer Tarkan, whose records are high in the hit charts, is evidence that Turkey and Europe share elements of their culture. From the Crusades to the Silk Route and right down to the arrival of Turkish ìguest workersî, Turkey and the countries of Europe have a shared history. Indeed, it could be argued on the basis of Turkeyís association agreement with the European Union and its membership of the Council of Europe, NATO and the OSCE that it is already part of the European (or European-Atlantic) community of shared values.

9 For the wording see Van der Staay, A. (1997), Anti-Huntington, Internationale Spectator, 51, no. 7/8, July/August, p. 374.

10 McNeill, W. (1991), The Rise of the West: a History of the Human Community. Chicago, University of Chicago Press.

- Even if religion and history are not immediately seized upon to prove the existence of an unbridgeable gap, reference may still be made to traditions supposedly derived from the Islamic culture of Turkey such as family honour and blood feuds. However, these also occur in other Mediterranean regions such as Italy and France, where there is a Christian tradition. Here too, therefore, Turkey does not differ from a number of Member States of the European Union. This also puts into perspective the assertion that cultures within the European Union are homogenous.

- Generally speaking, it is fair to say that arguments can be derived from history and culture both to support and to oppose Turkish membership of the European Union. It is all a matter of assessment, of weighing up the data and determining what importance to attach to interpretations of past and present. The fact that Turkey is ìdifferentî could, for example, be just as easily used to justify the conclusion that it should accede to the European Union without delay, since this could contribute to the solution of the problems facing Turkey. Although it is by far not certain that a Turkey with close links to Europe based on the prospect of possible accession would be quickly able to solve its problems, the encouragement, criticism and help of the European Union might well facilitate this.

I.4 Conclusion

The answer of the Advisory Council on International Affairs to the question of whether the European Union should in principle be prepared to accept Turkish membership is in the affirmative. In the view of the Advisory Council Turkey cannot be refused simply because it is ìdifferentî, in other words because of its Islamic character and Ottoman history. Furthermore, closer relations between Turkey and the European Union could in principle promote the stability and prosperity of all countries concerned. However, Turkey should be set conditions that apply in general to countries that wish to join the European Union. As is common knowledge, these conditions relate to democracy, human rights, the treatment of minorities, the rule of law, the free market economy and the ability to fulfil the obligations of membership as laid down by the European Union in the Copenhagen criteria.11 Given Turkeyís political culture, these criteria will clearly present a high hurdle that will not easily be cleared. But this does not detract from the AIVís conclusion that there is no decisive reason why Turkey should be rejected in principle as a possible member of the European Union.

11 During the European Council meeting in Copenhagen (June 1993) the following criteria for accession were formulated:

- stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities;

- the existence of a functioning free market economy and the capacity to cope with competitive pressure and market forces within the EU;

- ability to take on the obligations of membership, including adherence to the aims of political, economic and monetary union;

- the EU must be able to absorb the new members without any adverse impact on the process of European integration. It is evident from the European Commissionís report on relations with Turkey (the Regular Report from the Commission on Turkeyís progress towards accession) that Turkey does not fulfil the Copenhagen criteria at present.

II Turkey: a profile

II.1 The domestic political situation in Turkey 12

The factors that have had a decisive influence on contemporary Turkish politics are, first, the foundation of the secular state of Turkey by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in 1923 and, second, the introduction of democracy and a multi-party system after the Second World War, the operation of which has since been interrupted by three military coups.

II.1.1 Kemalism

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk founded the Turkish state in 1923 in the course of the struggle to shake off domination by the European countries and avoid dependence on them. After the First World War the Ottoman Empire had been partitioned among the victors, especially France and Britain, in the Treaty of Sèvres (1920). Little more was left of the Ottoman Empire than a rump state in the north of Asia Minor (Anatolia). The Treaty of Sèvres also provided that the straits in the vicinity of Istanbul should be internationalised. Furthermore, parts of Turkeyís territor y were assigned militarily to European countries (including Greece, Italy and France), another part was to be transferred to Armenian control and the region of Kurdistan was granted autonomy and given the possibility of applying to the League of Nations for full independence within a year. Atatürk succeeded in channelling Turkish anger about Sèvres into political and military resistance. His victory in battle over the Greeks in 1922 paved the way for the foundation of the Turkish state a year later. Turkey was therefore literally recaptured from the European countries. The humiliation at the hands of the European countries in the Treaty of Sèvres is still an affront to the Turkish psyche. Turkish independence was recognised internationally in the Lausanne Treaty of 1923.

To modernise the state on the basis of the European model, a state ideology that would later become known as Kemalism was developed under the rule of Atatürk. This was largely a reaction to the countryís Ottoman past. According to this ideology Turkey should be secular and not theocratic, nationalist (Turkish) and not multi-ethnic. The interests of the people as a whole should prevail over group interests (minorities) and there should be a republic with a president rather than a sultanate with a hereditary head of state. Social and economic stagnation and rigid traditional structures should be replaced by constant change and modernisation. And all of this should take place in a strong state that is assigned the leading role in the reforms designed to transform Turkey into a vigorous, independent and economically flourishing state.

Secularisation focused not only on the state but also on the fabric of society. In particular, efforts were made in the 1920s to replace religious symbols with symbols of a modernised society. The population had less difficulty in accepting the abolition of the caliphate than the suppression of expressions of Islam in daily life. The effect of the reforms should not, however, be overestimated. ìThe reforms barely touched the life of the villagers, who constituted the great majority of the population.î13 Nonetheless, this repression resulted, unintentionally, in the politicisation of Islam, which has thus been the main vehicle for opposition to the Turkish state from the 1920s to the present day.

12 The publications of Professor E.J. Zürcher have been consulted for section II.1, in particular Zürcher, E.J. (1995), Een geschiedenis van het moderne Turkije (A history of modern Turkey). Nijmegen: Sun.

13 Zürcher (1995), p. 237.

Under Atatürkís rule the objective was to make Turkey into a powerful state that would never again be the pawn of European powers as it had been in the days of the Ottoman Empire. With this aim in mind Atatürk modelled Turkey in military, economic and political terms on the Ottoman Empireís European conquerors. Following the collapse of this multicultural and multinational empire and the abolition of the Islamic caliphate in 1924, the notion of a Turkish nation rooted in history replaced Islam as the determinant of the new nationís identity. The aim of this process of îTurkificationî was to establish social and political cohesion in a new state, in which population groups of entirely different origin had been brought together largely by the vagaries of history. Ottoman history made the Turkish regime sensitive to the countryís waning power and loss of population groups and territor y. This is why it used Turkification as a means of creating political and social coherence, of creating a nation. This resulted in state-imposed uniformity. The first half of this century the process was strengthened by forced migration on a large scale, in which minorities (including Greeks and Armenians) were compelled to leave Turkey. This had been preceded by the massacres of Armenians at the end of the First World War. Likewise, Turkish minorities in other countries were obliged to uproot and move to the new Turkey. As recently as the 1950s many Greeks were driven out of Istanbul. These ethnic cleansings avant la lettre and the consistent process of Turkification continued right down to the present day have been largely responsible for obscuring the religious, ethnic and cultural differences between the different groups of the Turkish population.

The efforts to create a uniform Turkish identity based on the Western model included the introduction of the Latin alphabet and the Gregorian calendar, the ìpurificationî of the language by the purging of Arabic and Persian influences, and the introduction of rules favouring Western-style dress. Even today the Turkish state does not recognise minorities, with the exception of a few religious minorities (the Greek Orthodox, Armenian Christian and Jewish minorities). The Turkish government believes that to recognise other differences between population groups (Turkeyís minorities include Alawites, Syrian Orthodox Christians, Laz, and Kurds) would mark the start of the slide down the slippery slope of social and political discord. The frantic efforts to cling on to a uniform Turkish identity means that even today it is virtually impossible to overcome social and political differences. Just how much of an obstacle Turkification may be to membership of the European Union is evident from the fact that Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit is still not prepared to accept the Copenhagen criteria in public since Turkey does not have any minorities, only Turkish citizens.14 Kemalism has thus created its own minorities problem, since it takes the view that issues connected with minorities do not exist and therefore cannot be discussed.

Academic research in the national archives into Turkeyís past is still subject to restrictions even today, certainly as regards the decline of the Ottoman Empire and the treatment of minorities. The political culture of Turkey is characterised by historical myopia and a distorted approach to its own past. If Turkish historians were to acknowledge the inherent weaknesses of the Ottoman Empire, this could help the Turks to rid themselves of the feeling that they are a misunderstood nation whose greatness outsiders wrongly fail to appreciate. Above all, Turkey must come to terms with its own past, especially its treatment of Armenians and Greeks.

14 Die Zeit, 25 March 1999, no. 13.

The treatment of other minorities, particularly the Kurds, is an additional factor. By abandoning the historical myths of offended honour and victimisation and contradicting the stereotypes so easily accepted, in short by coming to terms with the past, Turks could contribute to the establishment of a plural, democratic political culture in their country.

II.1.2 The role of the state and the military in Turkish domestic politics

In the absence of a social class capable of undertaking the development and modernisation of Turkey, the task fell to the state bureaucrats and the military as the best organised and most experienced administrators. This put both these groups in extremely strong positions. This was particularly true of the armed forces, which acquired an almost unassailable position in Turkey, enabling them to put a marked stamp on domestic politics. The Turkish military intervened in the political arena by staging coups in 1960, 1971 and 1980 because they considered that the Kemalist heritage was in jeopardy. And on each occasion they handed back power to a civilian government on condition that the political debate should be conducted within the framework of Kemalist state ideology.

The constitution, drawn up by the military rulers who had carried out the 1980 coup, provides that the armed forces are charged with safeguarding the integrity of the Turkish state and ensuring that Kemalist state ideology and the secular character of the Turkish state are maintained. This gives the army every opportunity to act as anchor of the ship of state, a self-imposed duty which is the result of its unique role in the formation and development of Turkey. The way in which the military have justified their emphatic presence both on stage and offstage in Turkish politics has tended to vary over the years, ranging from dealing with ìenemiesî such as communism to combating Islamic fundamentalism.

To illustrate the circumstances in which the Turkish military felt obliged to act, the Advisory Council will briefly examine the situation in Turkey in the late 1970s. During that period armed communist groups had ìliberatedî parts of Turkey, over which the Turkish authorities had thus lost control. A famous or, rather, infamous example was the town of Fatsa on the Black Sea, where preparations had supposedly been made to invite the Soviets on the opposite shore to enter Turkey. In the same period Erbakan and his Islamic supporters were greatly impressed by the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979 and tried to emulate it by creating an Islamic free zone in the city of Konya. Whether this loss of control by the Turkish authorities and the street war that raged between leftists and rightists was sufficient justification for a military coup will probably remain a matter of dispute for a long time. However, the chaotic situation in Turkey at that time was partly due to the irresponsible conduct of civilian politicians. This is why the military still justify their role on the political stage by reference to the populism, abuse of power, cronyism and fraud of the politicians. However, the other side of the coin is that as long as the military are prepared to assume the role of stabiliser, civilian politicians can permit themselves this kind of behaviour. After all, they need not feel responsible for the stability of the Turkish political system.

The armed forces play their political role mainly by wielding influence behind the scenes. During the last three years, however, the General Staff has issued statements on a frequent basis.15 These are generally regarded as warnings to the politicians not to stray from the Kemalist path. The changes to the school system and the strict observance of the rule prohibiting the wearing of shawls in public buildings are just two of the matters with which the military have concerned themselves in recent years. It is therefore no exaggeration to say that the political profile of the military is now higher than at any time since they returned power to the civilian government in 1983.

The National Security Council is the political body through which the military exercise their influence. Besides the chief of the General Staff and the commanders-in-chief of the armed forces (army, air force, navy and gendarmerie), the Council consists of the President, the Prime Minister and the Ministers of Defence, Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs. Although little is known about the process by which decisions are taken in the National Security Council, it seems safe to assume that the power of the military in relation to the civilian politicians is such that there is no real democratic control of the armed forces, if only because the possibility of military intervention casts a shadow over the National Security Council. The chief of the General Staff - the highest military officer in Turkey - is accountable to the Prime Minister, but acts autonomously in practice. He, and not the Minister of Defence, is in control of the armed forces.

Since the early 1990s the armed forces have concentrated their efforts within Turkey on combating the political Muslim elements which are seen as posing a threat to the secular character of the political system. This is despite the introduction of a certain degree of Islamification since the 1980 coup. Islam was at that time viewed as an effective antidote to the communist poison. In 1997 Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, the leader of the Islamic Welfare Party, was obliged to resign as a result of the actions of the military. The Welfare Party was banned a year later and Erbakan was denied the right to take part in the elections of 18 April 1999. After the fall of the Yilmaz government in October 1998 the senior officers of the armed forces expressly warned that the leader of the Vir tue Party, the successor to the Welfare Party, should not be given the responsibility of forming a transitional government to organise the elections of 18 April 1999. By playing this political role the military have put an important stamp on Turkeyís political culture: the Kemalist elite - civilians and military - tend to view political relations in terms of enemies, of internal and external threats to Turkish integrity, to unity or to secularism.

In summary, the military can be said to play a stabilising role and, in doing so, to adhere strictly to the letter and the spirit of Kemalism. However, their involvement has contributed to the closed nature of the Turkish political system, which is hardly compatible with the efforts to achieve a plural, open democracy in Turkey.

II.1.3 Kemalism under pressure

After the Second World War the Turkish state introduced a multiparty political system and permitted private enterprise. This was prompted by the widespread resistance in Turkey to the dictatorial regime of the then government. Other factors were the example set by American capitalism and plural democracy and the conditions attached to Marshall aid for Turkey. The state authorities also relaxed their position on Islam somewhat in this period.16

15 This happened most recently on 8 January 1999. A document entitled ìCurrent Issuesî was circulated on the occasion of the opening of the press centre of the General Staff. The stated purpose of the document was to remove misunderstandings about the Turkish political system, the actions of the armed forces and the observance of human rights, but it soon lapsed into a long tirade about the lack of under-standing towards Turkey and a not terribly successful attempt to expose abuses in other countries.

As time went on, the liberties (civil, economic and religious) granted by the authorities began to undermine the Kemalist foundation of the Turkish state, particularly since the state ideology proved incapable of providing an answer to the political and economic problems facing society. The shortcomings of Kemalism were implicitly recognised in the 1980s and early 1990s in the policy of the prime minister Turgut Özal, who later became president. This can be seen as an attempt to achieve a Turkish-Islamic synthesis combining political democratisation, economic change and a nationalist, Turkish perception of Islam. Özalís ideal was that every Turk should have ìa laptop and the Koranî. However, this synthesis did not succeed because the political strength of Özalís movement ebbed away, not least owing to suspicions of bribery and fraud.

Since the Özal era, the Turkish political system has been plagued by instability. In barely eight years Turkey has had more than ten governments. This has been due not only to political differences of opinion but also to a fragmentation of the political system in Turkey caused by other factors. First of all, there is the variegated political landscape. A large number of political parties contested the elections of 18 April 1999. There were two centre-right parties (the Motherland Party and the True Path Party), both of which obtained fewer votes than had been expected. On the ultra-right of the political spectrum is the Nationalist Movement Party, which performed better than expected in these elections and obtained 18% of the votes. There are also two centre-left parties, one of which - the Democratic Socialist Party (DSP) of Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit --obtained 21.5% of the votes and is generally regarded as the winner of the elections of 18 April 1999. The party was aided in achieving this electoral success by the arrest and imprisonment of Öcalan, the leader of the Kurdistan Workersí Party (PKK). The other centre-left party - the Republican Peopleís Party (CHP) - has now disappeared from parliament as it failed to reach the electoral threshold. There is also Fazilet (the Islamic Party of Vir tue), which is the successor to Refah (the Welfare Party) that was banned in January 1998. During the 1990s the Islamic parties have steadily managed to increase their number of votes, partly aided by the fragmentation to the left and right of them. Despite obtaining over 20% of the votes Fazilet unexpectedly failed to become the largest political party in the elections of 18 April 1999. However, the mayors of a number of important cities, including Istanbul and Ankara, are members of Fazilet. The Kurdish party HADEP did not reach the electoral threshold. But, then, the mayors of almost 40 towns in south-eastern Turkey are members of HADEP.

The election results described above led to the formation of a coalition government under Prime Minister Ecevit in May 1999. The coalition consists of the Democratic Socialist Party, the Nationalist Movement Party and the Motherland Party. The first two of these parties in particular are expected to adopt a nationalist course, although the Nationalist Movement Party is likely to be more radical about this than the Democratic Socialist Party of Prime Minister Ecevit. This will evidently have an impact on government policy.

16 On this point see Zürcher (1995), p. 254 ff.

Other factors contributing to the fragmentation of the Turkish political system are:

 

  • the extremely varied nature of Turkish society

     

    It is as though there is not one Turkey but several: besides the modern Turkey there is the Turkey of the large state corporations, the Turkey that is in the process of industrialising and rural Turkey. A factor of importance in this connection is the mass exodus from the country to the city, which is rightly regarded as a social revolution: each year approximately half a million people move from rural Anatolia to settle in the towns and cities, especially Istanbul. The situation is exacerbated by the huge numbers of migrants jammed together in the shanty towns (gecekondus - liter-ally ìhomes built overnightî) on the edges of the cities. These conditions are conducive to unpredictability and instability.

     

  • the great emphasis on persons rather than programmes

     

    The military coups in the past and the subsequent bans on political parties have been largely responsible for depriving todayís parties of strong enough roots in society. Time and again the old politicians have returned as a result of popular pressure, whereas the ìoldî political parties have remained banned. As a result, political parties as the sources of ideas and political positions have been subordinated to the cult of personality around political leaders and have done little to develop programmes that offer any prospect of reconciling political and social differences. The leaders have in their turn dug in their heels and, owing to the rivalry between them over many years, are at best able to form fragile coalitions. Often the only way in which the younger generation of politicians can climb higher is by forming a new party, thereby causing further fragmentation of the political system.

     

  • the public interest is of insufficient concern

     

    The emphasis on persons rather than programmes is reflected in the failure of the political parties to concern themselves sufficiently with the public interest; instead these parties have mainly become instruments representing private interests. Accusations of nepotism, fraud and bribery are rife. Politicians and officials, including the police, gendarmerie and prison officers, are increasingly suspected of having close ties with organised crime (there are no charges of this kind against the military). These accusations are levelled in particular against the Turkish political class, with the result that public confidence in the political and government system is waning.

    Moreover, Turkey still has few non-governmental organisations capable of functioning as a counterweight to the political parties. Where such organisations do exist (for example, the employersí organisation Tusiad and a few trade unions and human rights organisations) their activities are regularly thwarted by the state. Indeed, the state makes it virtually impossible to function for the human rights organisations in particular. The public interest is still insufficiently embedded in a ìcivil societyî capable of producing political and social decisions that enjoy wide support, helping to establish a political agenda, and so forth. Civil society is not yet sufficiently developed in Turkey.

    The process of globalisation too is having an impact on Turkey, thereby putting further pressure on the Kemalist foundation of the Turkish state. Economic markets are international, the media and other forms of communication cross frontiers, and people have become much more mobile. In short, Turkey can no longer shut itself off from external political, economic and cultural influences.

    II.1.4 The political role of Islam

    Kemalist state ideology has endeavoured to offer the Turkish population a national and secular alternative to the Ottoman and Islamic identity. The political and economic elite in the towns and cities in western Turkey have adopted this new identity to the extent that representatives of this elite may be regarded as the exponents of Kemalism. However, Kemalism has much less significance for the rest of the population.

    It is no exaggeration to say that there has been a resurgence of political Islam, certain-ly since the early 1990s. The Turkish state has also provided the scope for this resurgence, since the invocation of Islam as a source of inspiration for the practice of politics is no longer treated as subversion. The Islamists have become an increasingly dynamic force for social change, aided by financial support from Turkish emigrants in Europe. The Islamic movement now seems to have acquired roots in society, not only because of the growing religious awareness in society but also because it has provided facilities in areas in which the Turkish authorities have failed to perform. Examples are (affordable) education, health care and housing, as well as clean drinking water in the summer and coal in the winter for destitute families. Gradually a parallel Islamic society has evolved, including its own market for books, audio cassettes, newspapers, television, etc.

    99 per cent of Turks are Muslims, for the most part Sunnites. The great majority of them are moderate in their faith. The Alawites, who constitute about a third of the population, are adherents of a faith that combines Shiite beliefs with other religious elements. There are different views in Turkey about the role which religion should play in relation to the state and within society:

     

  • First of all, there are the Kemalists who wish to maintain the status quo. They support the control of Islam by the Directorate for Religious Affairs and feel at home in this form of secularism. Those of a more liberal frame of mind advocate the separation of church and state, although they are not dissatisfied with the status quo.

     

     

  • Second, there are the moderate Islamises. They wish to weaken the secular character of Turkey. The adherents of this view come mainly from a relatively new economic elite, most of them from eastern Turkey, where they have prospered as a result of the trade with Central Asia and the Middle East.

     

     

  • Finally, there is a small group of Islamic fundamentalists. They reject the Turkish political system and wish to model it on that of Iran or Saudi Arabia.17

     

    17 For a description of these fundamentalist movements see Franz, E. (1997) Religion un Gesellschaft in der Türkei: Laizismus contra Islamismus in Gesellschaft un Politik. In: Döpman, H.D. (Hrsg.), Religion un Gesellschaft in Südosteuropa. Munich: Südosteuropa-Gesellschaft, pp. 299-307. Fundamentalism in general, in other words not specifically in relation to Islam, can be defined as ìa tendency within religious movements in which one element, peculiar to religions, is elevated to the status of absolute truth, namely the belief in the objective character of the truth and its recognisability. [...] However, fundamental movements press the claims to truth to ever greater heights and present their religion as a closed model that has peremptory and detailed rules governing all areas of life. [...] Intolerance is an essential element of fundamentalismî. This description comes from Stefan van Wersch, Islamic fundamentalism and Dutch foreign policy (Internationale Spectator, vol. 49, no. 10, October 1995), p. 531.

    The moderate Islamises presently have the upper hand in the Fazilet party. Its ideology focuses on traditional Turkish values and rejects western consumerism. For the supporters of Fazilet, Islam provides a source of identity, legitimacy and power, but above all holds out the prospect of better times. Fazilet representatives have functioned satisfactorily in local government. They also appear to be less susceptible to corruption, nepotism and other unethical practices than representatives of the secular parties.

    It is often suggested that the more radical Islamic movements pose an acute threat to the Turkish state and social order. The adherents of Kemalism are all too ready to invoke this spectre in order to mobilise forces to combat Islam in the political arena.

    It is important to note in this connection that the introduction of the free market economy under Özal had led to the establishment of a far-reaching capitalist system that has already widened the gap between rich and poor to a frightening extent. Kemalism is still failing to provide an adequate solution to the problem of the increasingly large group of economically disadvantaged people. The question is whether this is creating circumstances, given the further politicisation of the Islamic movement, in which radical Islamist groupings can flourish.

    II.2 Turkey in the region

    II.2.1 Strategic and regional significance

    During the Cold War little was said about the strategic importance of Turkey. Turkey was (and still is) a member of NATO and associated with the European Union (formerly the European Community), and was therefore part of the West. The prime aim during the Cold War was to close ranks against the ideological antipode on the other side of the Iron Curtain. The strategic importance of keeping Turkey stable and Western-oriented explains the accommodating attitude towards the lack of democracy and the violation of human rights and the rights of minorities.18 The fact that these and other issues are now being raised more emphatically indicates that the political climate facing Turkey has indeed changed since the end of the Cold War.

    Turkey has remained an important strategic partner of the United States even since the end of the Cold War. This is mainly because of American policy with regard to the Middle East, the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Russian Federation. For example, Turkish air bases are essential to control of the air space over Iraq (Operation Provide Comfort) and also play a part in air operations over Serbia (ìlittle Yugoslaviaî). NATOís southern flank has also become more important to the United States. The recent intensification of contacts between Turkey and Israel is being welcomed and encouraged in Washington. Turkey concluded a military cooperation agreement with Israel in February 1996. Since then the United States, Israel and Turkey have conducted joint military exercises. The United States is also a major arms supplier to Turkey, although the Turkish military are now aiming to step up domestic arms production in order to avoid being vulnerable to embargo. Turkey also views relations with the United States as an alternative to relations with the European Union.

    Since the Luxembourg European Council of December 1997 when Turkey considered that it had not been recognised as a candidate for accession to the European Union, it has made greater efforts than in the past to establish a multi-dimensional foreign policy.

    18 Zürcher, E.J. (1998), Turkije: ouwe vrijster of begeerlijke bruid (Turkey: old maid or desirable bride?). Internationale Spectator 52, no. 5, p. 273.

    To supplement the traditional focus on the United States and the European Union, Turkey is intensifying its contacts in the region. Since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Turkey is re-establishing historical ties with numerous neighbouring countries which formerly belonged to the Soviet Union. First of all the aim is to provide Turkey with alternatives to the European Union. By now Turkeyís foreign policy interests extend beyond the European Union to the whole of Eurasia. Turkey believes that the process of strengthening political ties with one country or group of countries helps to strengthen ties with others too. The better its relations with the European Union, the better will be its relations with the countries of the Middle East, the Caucasus, the Russian Federation, the countries of Central Asia, the Balkans and so forth. As regards Turkeyís efforts to establish a multi-dimensional foreign policy it should be noted that the opening towards Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Arab and Islamic world are being hampered by lack of funds. To a certain extent Turkey (as a secular state with an Islamic past) functions as a role model for related states in Central Asia (particularly states related by language). Through the intervention of the Turkish government, Turk-menistan, for example, has switched from the Cyrillic to the Latin alphabet.

    Turkeyís position in the region can also be illustrated by reference to the following points:

    - Turkey has close ties with Israel. In an attempt to remove the impression of an anti-Arab alliance it also maintains intensive contact with Jordan.

    - There is rivalry between Turkey and Syria, which has been reflected among other things in Syrian support for the armed insurgence of the Kurdistan Workersí Party (PKK). In response Turkey increased military pressure on Syria in the autumn of 1998 in an effort to end its support for the PKK. The most striking result of this pressure was that the leader of the PKK, Öcalan, was no longer able to hide on Syrian territor y and is now in a Turkish prison following an odyssey through Europe and Africa (Kenya). It also appears that Syria has ended its support for the PKK.

    - The traditional enmity between the Persian and Ottoman empires is still apparent in a certain rivalry between Iran and Turkey. How great this rivalry is depends on the extent to which Iran endeavours to export its theocratic political system to other countries following the 1970 Islamic revolution.

    - Although military operations against the Kurds in northern Iraq were conducted joint-ly in the past, they are now a source of irritation to Iraq and, to a lesser extent, to Syria. Turkeyís support for the American and British air operations over Iraq is also not conducive to an improvement of relations between the two countries.

    - There is disagreement with Syria and Iraq about the use of water from the Rivers

    Euphrates and Tigris, which flow from Turkey into Iraq and Syria. As Turkey has constructed dams in the upper reaches of both rivers for the purpose of irrigation and energy generation, it has for a number of years controlled the supply of water to Iraq and Syria.

    Turkey is an associate member of the Western European Union (WEU). Although it is not yet a member of the European Union, it still wishes to become a full member of the WEU since it will then be fully involved in consultations on security in Europe. As WEU consultations on European security (or aspects of European security) become

    increasingly significant in the European Union, Turkey wishes to be involved in them in a pragmatic way. It once again became apparent at the NATO summit in Washington in April 1999 that unless Turkey is involved in the consultations and decisions it will not be prepared to make available NATO resources on a regular basis to European countries for military operations. Turkey will examine from case to case whether NATO resources can be made available and wishes to be involved in the relevant consultations in good time. The Advisory Council views Turkeyís participation as necessary in order to facilitate European- led military operations and as a way of involving Turkey more closely in the second pillar (or parts of it) of the European Union.

    Although the Turkish government feels aggrieved by the course of the discussions on Turkeyís membership of the European Union, it has hitherto taken the position that neither bilateral relations nor NATO may suffer as a result. This is why the Turkish government is making a careful but rather artificial distinction between its relations with the European Union and its relations with the Member States of the Union. It is also not Turkeyís intention that the European Unionís attitude towards Turkey should harm Turkish relations with members of NATO which are also EU Member States.

    The economic aspects of Turkeyís strategic position have become more important since the end of the Cold War. Turkey can play a key role in the supply of energy from East (Central Asia) to West (Europe). Turkey also wishes to become a major hub for the supply of energy from the region of the Caspian Sea and parts of the Middle East (oil and gas). As a result of its geographical position Turkey provides an alternative route for the pipelines of the Russian Federation from the Caspian Sea basin to Europe. From Turkeyís point of view, the most important pipeline to be constructed is that between Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, and Ceyhan, a seaport in south-eastern Turkey that is accessible to supertankers. The question is whether the huge investment required for the construction of such a pipeline will pay off in view of the present low oil prices. In addition, recent forecasts of oil reserves in the region of the Caspian Sea indicate that the expectations of the early 1990s must be adjusted downwards. The instability in south-eastern Turkey on account of the armed struggle with the PKK has also made industry wary, although the level of military activity seems to be declining.

    Turkey participates in a number of regional cooperative arrangements such as the Organisation of Islamic States, the D(development) 8 and the South-Eastern Cooperation Initiative. The Black Sea Economic Cooperation, which is in the course of being set up, seems very promising. However, as it is not yet in existence this regional organisation does not constitute an alternative to cooperation with the United States and the European Union (and its Member States). In the view of the Advisory Council, the European Union should both support Turkey financially by making MEDA funds available (again) and encourage it to strengthen regional cooperation. The Advisory Council recommends that the Netherlands Government promote this approach. This would be in the interests of both Europe and the Netherlands in view of the growing economic importance of the countries around Turkey.

    II.2.2 Turkish foreign policy and Islam

    The Islamic tradition has played some role in Turkish foreign policy for some years and not merely, as is sometimes supposed, since the advent of the Erbakan government. The military regime that was in power from 1980 to 1983 was the first Turkish government to send a head of government to the periodic conference of the Organisation of Islamic States. This was a matter of necessity since the government was endeavouring

    to get financial support and credits following the decision by Western governments to cut off financial support after the military coup.19

    Turgut Özal, as Prime Minister and as President, underlined the Islamic orientation of Turkish foreign policy, based partly on his domestic Turkish-Islamic synthesis. He presented Turkey as a ìnatural bridgeî between East and West. In its foreign policy Turkey has tried right down to the present day to act as a springboard for relations with countries in the region. It should be noted that Turkey has attached much greater significance to its role as intermediary than have other countries, which generally prefer to establish contact directly with one another. Nonetheless, more and more foreign companies are setting up branches in Turkey partly for the purpose of creating an opening to the Central Asian market.

    It was for the reasons described above that Erbakan wished to emphasise the Islamic nature of Turkish foreign policy in the period from 1996 to 1997. In this connection he was unable to ignore the domestic political situation, in particular the position of the military. Under his government cooperation with Israel was therefore extended to include arms production. Nonetheless, Erbakan emphatically sought to present Turkish foreign policy as Islamic, for example by visiting Iran and Libya.

    19 Franz, E. (1997), pp. 306 and 307.

    III Human rights in Turkey

    III.1 General20

    Chapter II described the statist tradition and authoritarian traits of the Turkish political system and the policy of Turkification. It is the lack of a plural, democratic system that distances Turkey from the European Union (and its Member States). After all, many countries, both in Europe and in Latin America too, have recently switched to such a system. Under a plural, democratic system, not only are free elections held regularly but also all power exercised by the state is subject to scrutiny by parliament and by a free press and can be judged in open public debate. If necessary, the authorities can be called to account for their actions before an independent court. It is respect for human rights that contributes to the development of the free institutions of civil society. It was noted in II.1.3 above that this has not yet evolved sufficiently in Turkey.

    As indicated in chapter II the Turkish military have imposed the following limitations on political debate, which are explicable in the light of the history of the Turkish state and Kemalism:
    1. The territorial integrity and unity of Turkey may in no way be jeopardised. Nor does the Turkish state recognise minorities, with the exception of religious minorities (see II.1.1). Those who nonetheless portray themselves as a minority (or as the representative of a minority) undermine the unity of Turkey and are accused of separatism.

    2. The secular character of the Turkish state is not open to discussion. Secularism is laid down in articles 2 and 3 of the constitution. State control of religion may not be queried.

    The vulnerable groups in Turkey are those whose political aims do not come within this framework, for example those who regard themselves as a minority and actually proclaim themselves as such (mainly the Kurds), those who question the relationship between church and state (a section of the political Islamises), those who champion the rights of these groups (in general the representatives of human rights organisations) and those who publicly report on them (journalists). By way of illustration it should be noted that even before the elections of 18 April 1999 the public prosecutor in Ankara had instituted an investigation into the pro-Kurd HADEP party on account of its ties - or alleged ties - with the PKK. In the run-up to the elections dozens of representatives of this party were imprisoned. Similarly, a representative of Fazilet (the Islamic Party of Vir tue) wore a headscarf at the inauguration of the new parliament after the elections of April 1999. A complaint was then filed against this party on the grounds that she had infringed the secular character of the Turkish state.

    20 For a description of human rights in Turkey, the following have been consulted: Zwaak, L. (1998),

    Turkey and the European Convention on Human Rights, in Castermans-Holleman, M., Van Hoof,
    F. & Smith, J. (eds.) The Role of the Nation-State in the 21st Century: Human Rights, International Organisations and Foreign Policy. The Hague/Boston/London: Kluwer Law International, pp. 209-228; Zwaak,
    L. (1998) Human Rights News: Council of Europe. Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights, vol. 16, no. 4, pp. 506-524; Poulton, H. (1998), State before Freedom: Media Repression in Turkey, London: Article XIX, Amnesty International (1998), 1998 Yearbook, Amsterdam, pp. 408-412, Amnesty International (1998), Concerns in Europe, January- June 1998: Turkey. AI INDEX:EUR 1/2/98, pp. 62-65, and U.S. Department of State (1999), Turkey Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1998 (Washington).

    It is mainly representatives of the groups described above who are subjected to the repression of the Turkish authorities. Journalists may also practise self-censorship, especially in reporting on the Kurdish issue and Islamic fundamentalism. Those who commit violations of human rights are mainly in the security services, i.e. the police, above all the special arrest and anti-terrorism squads, the prison authorities, the gendarmerie and, in south-eastern Turkey, the village watches. Such violations are insufficiently punished by the courts.

    Turkey has been a party to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms since 1954, although it is not a party to the Conventionís Sixth Protocol concerning the abolition of the death penalty. In addition, Turkey is a party to the Council of Europeís European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and to the UN Convention against Torture. Turkey has also ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. In short, there are sufficient grounds on which to tackle Turkey about its actions, for example in relation to the arrest of over 2,000 Kurdish activists in February 1999, the events in the aftermath of the arrest of PKK leader Öcalan and the refusal of the Turkish authorities to allow Akin Birdal, the chairman of the Human Rights Association, to come to the Netherlands to receive an award (the Geuzenpenning) in March 1999.

    Like the majority of Member States of the Council of Europe, Turkey is not a party to the Councilís Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. As mentioned previously, Turkey recognises only religious minorities.

    The following section will examine major violations of human rights. It should be noted in advance that the Turkish legal system has a number of structural defects, such as regular interference from government authorities and a considerable shortage of judges. On the other hand, the Turkish government recently changed the composition of the state security courts by abolishing the requirement that one of the three judges should be from the armed forces. Although this positive development contributes to the independence of the judiciary, it does not alter the fact that the state security courts can still meet in camera and accept in evidence reports of police interrogations conducted without defence counsel being present. The link with human rights violations by the security services is obvious. The Advisory Council considers that the Turkish government should now be urged to remedy other defects of the legal system following the changes to the composition of the state security courts. In particular, the role of these courts should be scaled down. It should be noted in this connection that the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has ruled that the state security courts are not in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights.

    III.2 The European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and

    Fundamental Freedoms

    Turkey was one of the first countries to become a party to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which it ratified in 1954, but it did not recognise the right of individual petition until January 1987. Turkey has recognised the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights since 1990. It has regularly made use of the possibility under Article 15 of the Convention to derogate from its obligations ìin time of war or other public emergency threatening the life of the nationî. The emergency which was proclaimed in 1987 and is still in force in six provinces in south-eastern Turkey entails among other things limitations on the

    freedom of the press and the power both to expel people from the area who pose a threat to public order and to detain people incommunicado for 30 days.

     

    The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe passed a resolution in 1995 calling on the Committee of Ministers to suspend Turkeyís membership of the Council unless it improved its human rights policy and the treatment of the Kurdish minority (Recommendation 1266, 1995). The Committee of Ministers has not yet acted on this recommendation, but has decided to keep the issue of Turkey on its agenda.

    The European Court of Human Rights regularly hears cases against Turkey. Major grounds on which the Court ruled in 1998 that Turkey had been in breach of its obligations were unlawful deprivation of life, deprivation of the right to effective legal redress, the right to petition, the right to effective legal protection and the right to a fair hearing within a reasonable time, and failure to guarantee adequately the right to freedom of expression. Incidentally, none of these cases caused Turkey to reconsider its member-ship of the Council of Europe.

    III.3 European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or

    Degrading Treatment or Punishment

    Turkey was the first country to ratify the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (in February 1988). The European Committee against Torture published three reports in the 1990s (in 1992, 1996 and 1999) in which it noted that torture was practised systematically in Turkey. The Committeeís most recent report deals with its visit to Turkey from 5 to 17 October 1997 and, unlike its previous reports, was published on 23 February 1999 with the consent of the Turkish government. The Committee reported that it had received full cooperation from the Turkish authorities, with the exception of a few instances involving the deliberate provision of incorrect information. The Committee endorsed the view of the Turkish authorities that the situation in Turkey was improving. It was particularly pleased with the Prime Ministerís circular of December 1997. The Committee felt that if this were to be implemented in full, it would mark a turning point in the human rights situation in Turkey. Nonetheless, the Committee noted that torture still occurs in Turkey and that, despite improvements in the rules and regulations, their implementation was deficient, particularly in police stations and prisons.

    III.4 Freedom of expression

    Freedom of expression is subject to many restrictions in Turkey. Often this is connected with ìthe separatism in the south-eastî (i.e. the PC) and with the maintenance of the secular character of the Turkish state. Article 13 of the constitution provides for statutory limitations on fundamental rights and freedoms in order to ensure the indivisible integrity of the state, its territor y and nation. Article 14 states that none of the constitutional rights and freedoms may be exercised for the purpose of undermining the indivisible integrity of the state and its territor y and nation. It is on the basis of these articles that political parties are declared unconstitutional and banned, either because they pose a threat to the secular nature of the state or because they question the unity of state and nation, regardless whether or not this is accompanied by calls for the use of force.

    Turkish legislation contains a wide range of provisions that can be used to curb the freedom of expression. Articles 158 and 159 of the Criminal Code contain penalties for insulting the institutions of state. Article 312 of the Criminal Code provides for sentences ranging from 6 months to 2 years for those guilty of ìopenly inciting others to break the lawî and sentences of between 1 year and 3 years for ìincitement to hatred based on class, race, religion or religious sectî or incitement to hatred between different regions. The latter article is used against leftist activists, Islamises and people who raise the Kurdish issue.

    What is also important in this connection is the 1991 Anti-Terrorism Act. This contains a very broad definition of the term terrorism. Section 6 of the Act makes it an offence to write about ideas which the government may view as a threat to the state, including ideas that can cause damage to ìthe indivisible integrity of the stateî and endanger ìthe existence of the Turkish State and Republicî. Other legislation which imposes limitations on the freedom of expression are the Press Act of 1950 and the Act for the Protection of Atatürk of 1951. According to the information of the Turkish Committee for the Protection of Journalists, 25 journalists were imprisoned at the end of 1998 for articles they had published. Legislation intended to relax to some extent the curbs on freedom of expression and to facilitate the prosecution of those who commit human rights violations was laid before parliament in 1998, but has not yet been dealt with.

    III.5 Disappearances and extrajudicial executions

    The Turkish authorities have acknowledged their involvement in the killing and disappearance of Kurdish activists in the south-east of the country. Little has been done to find and try those guilty of these offenses. If journalists report these incidents, they run a great risk of being prosecuted for ìinsultingî the armed forces. According to Amnesty Internationalís information, at least 9 people ìdisappearedî and 20 people were killed in circumstances suggestive of extrajudicial execution in south-eastern Turkey in 1997. Amnesty International also reports that ìarmed opposition groupsî (by which it probably means the PC) intentionally and arbitrarily killed prisoners and civilians. The U.S. State Department too reports ìwidespread abusesî by the PC, including the murder of noncombatants.

    According to the U.S. State Departmentís information, extrajudicial executions also occur in areas other than the south-east. It refers in this connection to deaths in custody due to torture and the excessive use of force, ìmysterious murdersî and disappearances. Although the number of disappearances does seem to be declining according to the figures published by human rights organisations in Turkey, some 30 cases were still reported in 1998. In only a few cases those responsible for these abuses were convicted. The U.S. State Department refers in this connection to a ìclimate of impunityî. For more than 3 years a group known as the ìSaturday Mothersî holds a silent weekly demonstration in Istanbul in order to induce the authorities to provide information about the fate of their relatives who have disappeared. Since May 1998 more and more of these demonstrations have been interfered with by the Turkish police.

    III.6 Status of women

    Although Turkish legislation generally accords women a position equal to that of men, culture and customs are still major obstacles to the realisation of this equality in practice. Women are still employed mainly in Turkeyís large casual sector and work in family businesses in such sectors as agriculture, commerce and the hotel and restaurant trade. Through their work women contribute to the family income. Although the law provides for equal pay for men and women, discrimination certainly still occurs both in business and in the public service. This also applies to job promotions.

    Marital abuse was made a criminal offence in Turkey in January 1998. Nonetheless, it is still ver y common and few complaints are filed. This is because such abuse is regarded first and foremost as a private matter that should be kept within the family and is of no concern to outsiders. The same is largely true of domestic violence against wives. Another problem is that of the murder of women suspected of adultery. This still occurs in rural areas and in the suburbs of the major cities. Such murders are committed in order to save the honour of the family, and again, they are seldom reported. There are few facilities in Turkey for looking after women who are disinclined to have their fate determined by traditions and customs. Indeed, there are few womenís organisations in Turkey and those that do exist have insufficient freedom. It is reasonable to expect the Turkish government to ensure that no obstacles are put in the way of these organisations that would prevent them from representing the interests of women.

    III.7 Employee and trade union rights

    There is every reason to focus on employee and trade union rights in Turkey as they have been seriously and systematically violated over a long period. The rights in question are freedom of association, the right to bargain collectively, freedom from discrimination in employment and occupation, and the banning of child labour. Turkey has been criticised by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), especially since the military coup of September 1980, for the extent to which it has violated employee and trade union rights. The constitution of November 1982 contains a number of provisions that are at odds with the standards of the ILO. This also applies to the legislation based on these articles that deals with the trade unions and collective bargaining. Although the legislation in question has been slightly amended in recent years, it is still in principle contrary to the standards of the ILO.

    The conditions in which trade unions must function are downright bad. They are documented in the report of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions on the social policy of the Turkish government, which was drawn up for the World Trade Organ-isation in 1997.21 The IAOís annual International Labour Conference criticises Turkey almost every year for serious violations of Convention No. 98 (right to collective bargaining) and Convention No. 111 (discrimination in employment and occupation). In 1997 there was also criticism following the first report of the Turkish government on the application of Convention No. 87 (freedom of association and protection of right to organise), which had been ratified in 1993.

    Turkey has ratified five of the ILOís seven human rights conventions. The Minister of Employment and Social Security stated at the plenary session of the International Labour Conference in June 1998 that the National Assembly had approved the other two conventions, namely Convention No. 29 (forced labour) and Convention No. 138 (minimum age).

    21 See the text of the application by Turkey of ILO Convention 98 (collective bargaining) in the report of the Committee of Experts of the ILO at the eightieth session of the International Labour Conference in June 1997, the summary of the discussion in the Commission for the application of conventions of the Conference with the Turkish government on the basis of this text, and finally the text on Turkey in the Annual Survey of Violations of Trade Union Rights for 1997 of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions.

    Once Turkey has ratified the seven conventions of the ILO it will be required to report to the International Labour Office every two years. The ILO Committee of Experts will then express its opinion on the legislation and implementation every two years. When Turkey has ratified all seven ILO Conventions it will actually have made more progress in this respect than some Member States of the European Union. Not all Member States have ratified all seven ILO conventions.

    After a difficult start and following pressure from the ILO, there has now been some improvement in the Turkish legislation implementing the ILOís human rights conventions. Regular dialogue between the European Union and Turkey on this subject will have to focus in particular on the application of the legislation, certainly if the European Commission and the Member States involve employers and employees in this process. This form of dialogue is in keeping with the tripartite nature of the ILO and with ILO Convention No. 144 (on tripartite consultations about international labour standards), which has been ratified by 14 Member States of the European Union (Luxembourg is the sole exception) and by Turkey. There are various ways in which the European Union could help Turkey to improve its track record in this respect, for example by providing training for and arranging exchanges of civil servants and specialists of employersí and employeesí organisations, and by drawing this subject to the attention of multinationals which are based in Member States of the European Union and have branches in Turkey.

    III.8 Conclusion

    Generally speaking, the serious shortcomings with regard to democracy and respect for human rights have created a gap between Turkey and the European Union. The aim must be to try to bridge this gap. Turkey must show that it is serious about drawing closer to the European Union and about putting the standards and values that have been incorporated in its legislation into practice. The legislation has on the whole been improved in recent years. For now it is necessary to convert words into action. Implementation is the problem, partly because the legislation is still not fully the product of a political and public debate. Chapter VI makes recommendations for the strengthening of democracy and respect for human rights in the context of a political agenda for Turkey and the European Union.

    IV The economic outlook

    IV.1 Outline of Turkeyís economy

    Turkeyís economy has expanded rapidly since the Second World War. The industrial and service sectors have grown strongly since the 1960s, reaching a share of GNP of 24.8% and 55.1% respectively in 1997 (compared with 16% and 36% in 1960). Agricultureís share of GNP declined over the same period from 42% in 1960 to 14.2% in 1997. Nonetheless, agriculture continues to provide work for some 40% of the active population.

    The import substitution model was replaced in the 1980s by an open economy with a reduced role for the State and a greater role for market forces. Since then Turkeyís economy has become more open and able to compete internationally, and international trade has gained in importance. Indeed, it has been among the worldís fastest growing economies since 1980, although the growth has been cyclical (stop-go) with periods of very fast growth being followed by periods when the economy has grown little, if at all, or even shrunk. In addition, the growth has been concentrated in a number of regions, mainly in the north and west of Turkey. This has created great (regional) disparities in income. Below is a brief description of the Turkish economy, with particular reference to the Copenhagen criteria, namely the existence of a functioning market economy and the capacity to cope with competitive pressure and market forces within the Union.22

    IV.1.1 A functioning market economy

    Turkeyís economy has the features of a market economy since there are functioning institutions, including a statutory framework geared to the operation of the market, a dynamic private sector and liberalised regulations on trade. The Turkish economy is an open economy geared to the world market and has the capacity to adapt to international developments. Estimates put the size of the informal economic activities at a third of that of the registered economy.

    Turkey is suffering from the economic crises in the Russian Federation and Asia. These have had an impact on world trade in general and hence on Turkish exports too (according to some estimates, Turkish exports to the Russian Federation were down by 35% and to Asia by 43% in 1998). A large part of the trade with the Russian Federation consists of what is termed ìsuitcase tradeî, in other words informal trade. This is estimated to be worth around 8 billion dollars, i.e. in excess of half of the registered trade with the Russian Federation. Another reason why the growth of the Turkish economy has declined is lack of investment. Nonetheless, the Turkish economy still has so much scope for further growth that the present slackening of the rate of growth does not change the medium-term outlook.23

    The European Commission concluded in its Regular Report that Turkey had not attained the degree of macroeconomic stability required to participate in the internal market and not interfere with its smooth working.

    22 The Advisory Council has based this description on the Regular Report on Turkey of the European

    Commission of November 1998.

    23 Economic Outlook of the Turkish Economy as of January 1999 - Tusiad.

    It cited as structural problems the public sector deficit, the poor tax collection system and the lack of investment, particularly foreign investment. The continuing public sector deficit (9.5% of GNP in 1997) is also a major cause of the rampant inflation. This was above 50% in 1998 and rose as high as 90% in some months. The interest rate was around 50% in 1998. The constantly high rate of inflation is a serious problem. It dislocates the economy and causes injustices that affect the weaker groups in particular. The rate of inflation and the expectation that it will remain high is one of the main reasons why the financial sector functions poorly and why foreign investment is lower than expected. If the Turkish authorities could curb inflation, this might boost the already substantial rate of economic growth. There are in fact indications that inflation has actually increased in the first half of 1999.

    The main heads of expenditure in the public sector budget are defence (6 billion dollars), social security (6 billion dollars) and debt servicing (between 3 and 4 billion dollars). It appears that the public sector budget deficit is increasing in 1999. The total public sector debts amounts to 37% of Turkish GNP.

    Attempts to restructure the economy still further have failed because of the political instability in Turkey. Successive coalition governments have failed to find a solution to the problem of the ongoing budget deficits or to the defects of the tax system. Although the Yilmaz government did make some improvement in this connection, its fall and the limited elbowroom of the transitional government under Ecevit have meant that major legislation (including legislation on the banking system, reform of the social security system and privatisation) has not been completed.

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