Hostage democrats of Ankara…

Hostage democrats of Ankara…

Once upon a time, there was a famous saying: There are judges in Turkey. Is it still valid? I cannot answer that question, as the answer might land me in prison on grounds of insulting the Turkish judiciary. At a time when judges loyal to the absolute ruler are ordering arrest of other judges loyal to an imam or at least “independent” from the dictate of the elected almighty ruler, I trust Turkish justice as much as anyone with some brains might.

Did you read in the news? Turkey’s “retiring” Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan made such a remark that if it was made by any of the opposition leaders the tall, bald, bold man yelling at everyone would be so enraged that at least some of the priceless glass specially manufactured for the extravagant palace would shattered. Since “our Babacan” made those remarks, the aides probably kept the issue away from the attention of the tall man in order to avoid his wrath.

What did Babacan say? Nothing extraordinary in a normal democracy but, of course, since Turkey is a peculiar, advanced democracy, it was rather explosive: “As water and bread are requisite for everyone, so are justice and law.”

Years ago, during a discussion about international relations with former President Süleyman Demirel, he said, “Look, in international politics, two issues are very important: Rule of law and law of the powerful. When rule of law is supreme, everything is all right. But most often rule of law is pushed aside by the law of the powerful and the powerful starts dictating everyone about what fits best its own interests.” At the time, I was discussing the developments in Iraq after the American occupation with Demirel.

Now Babacan warned the rulers of Turkey (Was he not one of them? Confusing is it not?) that to consolidate democratic governance and sustainable economic growth, the notion of justice and supremacy of law were requisite.

“Democracy can stay on its feet only if next to it there is sound system of law. The more we are successful in the field of justice, the more our democracy will be consolidated. The more we are successful in democracy, the stronger and more successful our democracy and economy will be. If this situation continues poorly, I am afraid later we will crave even our present level of democracy and economy,” said Babacan at the monthly Bab-i Ali meeting in Istanbul.

Was it enough? No, Babacan continued. “Whatever we achieve in the field of economy, whatever great things we say we achieved for the good of Turkey, if, in the meantime, some questions have surfaced regarding to what degree Turkey as a state respects the rule of law, that is itself a great problem. This is a problem for our economy and democracy.”

Babacan is on his way out. He is not a candidate and after June, he will not be in Parliament. Will he retain his portfolio as the super minister in charge of economy? He will probably not, as he already declared he will return to business. He, for the past twelve-year-rule of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), has been the much trusted and appreciated captain of the economy ship that sailed through many challenges successfully. The overall growth rate of Turkish economy over the past years has been outstanding, although this year it had a rather despicable performance.

Perhaps Turkey would have been a far better country if, instead of some people with inflated egos, a man like Babacan occupied a justice seat in government.

“The justice system of a country must be in conformity with the universal norms of justice. Justice must perform in line with the constitution and laws but also far more importantly, in conscience. Laws have a text and a spirit. That is why conscience is very important. We aspire to a country that upholds universal norms of law,” Babacan said…

Reading what Babacan said, what else I can say other than how sad that such ministers were held hostage of some macho absolute ruler complex. Being a “hostage democrat” must be a very painful psychological condition.