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A Test For Turkey


MILLIYET- Columnist Sami Kohen comments on the sixth European Union harmonization package.
The government seems to be determined to present the sixth harmonization package to Parliament this week. This will be a test for Turkey’s democracy. For the first time, our political leaders will bring a reform to Parliament without first getting the military’s say-so. The military leaders object to certain articles of this package. Obviously Parliament will support it, as will the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The real problem is how the military will react. What will the General Staff’s reaction be? The package will be brought to Parliament before the National Security Council (NSC) meeting to be held at the end of this month, so can the military leaders block it? Or will the commanders reconcile themselves to merely express their opinions and concerns?

Government officials consider Turkey’s taking this brave step necessary for the following reasons:

The sixth harmonization package is one of the legislative measures which Turkey must take to comply with the European Union accession criteria. Turkey has made a commitment which it must meet it as soon as possible. 3. The government has noted the military’s view. However, our political leaders are adopting the reforms and considering their implementation as a requirement of Turkey’s EU strategy. In fact, other reform packages are set to follow this one. Abandoning or making concessions to the package so as to not cross the military would send a dangerous message that our politics are dominated by the military and so put Turkey into a difficult situation in the eyes of both the EU and international public opinion.

Actually, in their latest statements, our military leaders have emphasized the Turkish Armed Forces’ (TSK) devotion to Ankara’s EU bid and tried to dispel certain negative impressions on this issue. However, the General Staff is concerned about certain political reforms, and for this reason it’s questioning the EU’s intentions. This is continuing to be a subject of discussion not only between the military and civilian sectors, but also among some civilian circles with conflicting opinions.

In fact this isn’t about just the harmonization program, meeting the EU’s expectations or paving the road for membership negotiations. Aren’t we always saying that the Turkish people deserve modernization and the democratic rights and freedoms which they have long sought? Even if Turkey had no EU bid, could it give up these reforms? Meeting these criteria is necessary to advance Turkey’s national interests, isn’t it? Accepting and implementing the sixth harmonization package and the coming reform laws is a test for our nation. It is a test of our devotion to democracy and modernization.


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