Turks start to expect more from Gül

Turks start to expect more from Gül

As of this week at least three professional groups in Turkey have been expecting President Abdullah Gül to turn down bills approved recently by the Turkish parliament with the majority votes of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) for the future of their careers. They are diplomats, engineers, including architects and city planners and medical doctors.

At least two of them are expressing their protestations and demands openly through their unions.

The Turkish Union of Chambers of Engineers and Architects (TMMOB) made another call to Gül on July 18 not to approve the article in an omnibus bill by the government which takes the union’s authority to control the technical qualities for projects as a non-governmental professional body and gives it to the Environment Ministry, thus government itself. TMMOB considers the bill as a punishment by the government because of their support for the Gezi Protests in order to stop the government plan to turn a park in Taksim Square of Istanbul, into a building complex.

Turkish Union of Physicians (TTB) also called on Gül to annul two other articles of the same bill forcing medical doctors (and dentists) to share private information of patients with the authorities in a digital environment; they say it would be a violation of patient rights and a grave mistake for the profession.

The diplomats do not raise their voice in order to show their discomfort because of another article in the same bill for two main reasons. First they don’t have a union and secondly they are trained to see themselves as the owners and also the loyal servants of the Turkish state apparatus. But when they talk in confidentiality, they complain that the article about Turkish foreign service personnel in the same omnibus bill with the engineers and doctors would ruin the centuries-old Turkish foreign ministry tradition, since it suggests the political appointee could be appointed to career posts in the upper echelons of the ministry following their service as ambassadors outside of Turkey. That is why retired diplomats in the opposition parties, like Faruk Loğoğlu and Osman Korutürk of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) speak for their professional rights and say that they would take the case to the Constitutional Court if President Gül would not turn it down.

All three professional groups complain about different parts of the same bill that was voted for in the early hours of July 11, after which the Parliament went into summer recess. The result is accumulation of more tension between the Erdoğan government and active layers of Turkish society and turning of eyes to President Gül as the source of power who can avoid more confrontation. The Constitutional Court might work overtime in the coming months if Gül approves the bill, failing expectations of members of three important groups of Turkish people as the country approaches an election season where Turkey will have local and presidential elections in 2014 and parliamentary elections in 2015.