Monthly Archives: November 2010

A refreshing display of candour by the CHP?

The Wikileaks stuff has it all: the fascinating, the ridiculous, the banal, the scandalous, the tragic, and perhaps most of all, the hilarious.

If the cables are- as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has predictably stated- part of a conspiracy concocted by the US, then they are a post-modern literary masterpiece to put Ulysses and the works of Shakespeare firmly in the shadows.

One group in no doubt as to the cables’ veracity is Turkey’s main parliamentary opposition, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) – despite the fact that US diplomats describe them as ‘no more than a bunch of elitist ankle-biters’ who are ‘winding their merry way to irrelevance’.

“What is important is that what is widely known to be true has now been officially confirmed to be true,” said CHP deputy chairman Oguz Oyan.

It’s just about possible, I’ll concede, that Oyan was referring here not to the US view of his own party, but to the deluge of criticism and corruption allegations directed at the government and its leading lights.

Still, if not, a refreshing display of candour perhaps?

I don’t have a picture relevant to this posting, but thought I’d put this one in on the off-chance that you’d take it as some kind of subtle political commentary. Work away.


Greece Turkey migration

My story and photo essay about illegal immigration into the EU via the Turkey-Greece land border has now appeared on SETimes. You can read it here. The photo essay is also on YouTube, and is available here.

Gibril, a migrant from Darfur, was living in Istanbul when I interviewed him, and was hoping to get into Greece with people smugglers.

The EU’s take on Turkey’s judicial reform

I’d like to highlight an absolutely first rate posting last week by Aengus Collins. I’ve been away and so only saw it recently. In his blog, Istanbul Notes, Collins provides measured, insightful, and well-written analysis of Turkish society and politics, with a particular focus on issues of democratisation. 
Following the Turkish news closely often involves immersing oneself in the paranoid, the hysterical and – sometimes -the downright weird. Reading Collins’ blog is like taking a reality check.
Last week he looked at the European Union’s stance towards the judicial reforms enacted in the recent September 12 referendum, in light of the EU Commission’s latest progress report released earlier this month.
I’ve always found the EU’s strong support of these highly controversial changes to the top tiers of Turkey’s judiciary vaguely troubling. There is a perfectly cogent argument made by many people both here and abroad that the AKP’s true agenda was not democratisation but the consolidation of its own power.
As Collins points out, the Commission continues to view Turkish judicial reform as a matter merely of rolling back the influence of the military. But Turkey is rapidly moving beyond this old military vs civilian dynamic.
Collins writes:

Is it really credible that the only threats to judicial impartiality come from the military? In the Commission’s view, it appears that “civilian”and “impartial” are synonyms. If the military’s influence on the judiciary can be ended, the unspoken argument seems to run, then impartiality will have been achieved.

… the Commission needs to be asking a broader range of questions than it currently seems to be asking. There is more to the healthy functioning of Turkey’s judiciary than its protection from military influences. If the Commission can’t develop a framework in its progress reports to reflect this fact, then it would seem unlikely that the Commission (or the EU more broadly) will wield significant credibility (let alone sway) in the debates currently swirling around the country about the direction in which Turkey ought now to go.

You can read the whole post here.