Turkey: Not a Model but an İnspiration
Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 25th June, 2011
During a lively discussion over dinner in İstanbul this evening, İ was pleased when a distinguished Turkish newspaper columnist (and former BBC Turkish service employee) from the Journalists and Writers Foundation chrystalised a thought that had been germinating in my own mind for some weeks, namely that Turkey should be seen not as the model for Arab countries currently experiencing an Awakening, but rather as an inspiration. Across North Africa and the Middle East people have seen how Turkey over the past eight years or so has moved towards progressive democracy and a greater respect for human rights, without denying its overwhelmingly Muslim heritage. Of course, Turkey still has a way to go in stifling the worst repressive characteristics of the ancien regime, including nuancing the way the government deals wıth the Kurdish question. However, progress is very real, and by no means only in economic terms. The journalist said that is largely thanks to pressure from the European Union, which is gratifying for those of us who have been involved. But he warned that the EU is losing its leverage over Turkey becaue of the way that the country’s EU accession process has effectively stalled and because of hostility to Turks and indeed to İslam in some EU member states. İt is up to countries such as Britain to overome the negative sway of France and Germany, in particular. And that means also recognising that Turkey is playing and can continue to play a vital role in inspiring some of its Arab neighbours and friends.