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NURAY MERT

NURAY MERT > ‘Failing state’

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I don't know which is the best way to put it; is it “Turkey is going to be a failing state” (if not a “failed state”), or “Turkey’s politics are in a failing state?” Until recently, I termed it “sliding toward authoritarian politics,” “a democracy deficit” and "a governability crisis"; but nowadays, it seems the problem is more grave.

The Gezi events showed us the extent of social polarization and of increasing authoritarian measures, but also the enforcement of an authoritarian understanding of politics. After all, the permanent narrowing of the limits of freedoms and rights, as well as the imprisonment of journalists, demonstrators, civil activists and the like, turned out to be the rule rather than the exception. In addition, the debate on “the trust concerning the impartiality of state institutions” has been intensifying for some time, and includes trust in the justice of the judiciary.

Nevertheless, it was only after the emergence of the clash within the ruling coalition among “the conservatives,” namely between the Fethullah Gülen movement and the ruling party, that the outline of authoritarian politics has become more visible and undeniable. The exposure of a secret document from the 2004 National Security Council (MGK) by a journalist (close to the Gülen movement) not only further ignited the fight among the conservatives, but also revealed (or confirmed) that “security,” “intelligence” and indeed “the judiciary” were mere tools of political control, and that the fight was all about the control over these power centers.

As they accuse each other, following the arguments of pro-government and pro-Gülen journalists and supporters, we have started to face up to the unabashed revelations of “arbitrary rule” and injustice in this country. Responding to accusations from the Gülen movement that “the government agreed to suppress the movement by signing a MGK document in 2004,” government politicians have confirmed that the Gülen movement monopolized some sections of the security services and judiciary with the government’s approval. Just a few years ago, those who claimed that the Gülen movement had a monopoly over the security services (namely journalist Ahmet Şık and ex-intelligence member Hanefi Avcı) were arrested. The latter is still in jail. Moreover, the recent fight and debate invoked a controversy over the Ergenekon trials, especially in the case of ex-Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ, who is also in prison.

Furthermore, as the fight went on, it was revealed that when a journalist feared for his judicial security after hearing that he was going to be detained, the way forward was to play the role of a pro-government journalist. Then, it was revealed that a prominent journalist could “interfere and rescue” his friend from a possible judicial assault (see Hayko Bağdat, Taraf, Dec. 10 and Cem Küçük, Yeni Şafak, Dec. 2). No worries, says the pro-government journalist (Cem Küçük), adding that the present state of the judiciary is problematic (supposedly because it lacks universal norms and is partisan) and “it is a must to deal with this after local elections” ("yerel seçimden sonra mutlaka yargıya el atılması şart"). Still, he does not need to say “who will deal with the judiciary and how.”

On top of everything, the government is proposing a new “State Security Law Draft,” according to which it will only be the prime minister and his team of five who will decide on "what is a state secret." Even the judiciary will not be able to access information concerning state secrets for 50 years. Last but not least, reports by the Court of Accounts were not submitted to the Parliament during the annual budget talks this past week. Moreover, the government prepared a draft law to abolish all auditing, which means no financial accountability.

No transparency, no accountability, no wisdom, no shame: Call it a portrait of “a failing state” or “the failing state of Turkish politics.” It is up to you.

December/16/2013

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