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Turkey - GOVERNMENT
TURKEY'S POLITICAL SYSTEM faced four distinct but intertwined challenges in early 1995: accommodating the disaffected Kurdish ethnic minority; reconciling the growing differences, expressed with increasing stridency, between the secular elite and groups using traditional Islamic symbols to manifest their opposition to the political status quo; establishing firm civilian control over the military, which had a long history of intervening in the political process; and strengthening weak democratic practices and institutions. Turkey displays the trappings of a Western-style democratic government: a legislature whose deputies are elected by secret ballot, multiple and competitive political parties, and relatively free news media. However, Turkey also is a country where, on three occasions since 1960, military coups have overthrown elected civilian governments. The most recent military government, which seized power in September 1980, governed for three years. During the period of military rule, strict limits were imposed on personal and political rights and liberties. Political parties were banned, and prominent civilian politicians were barred from participating in political activity for up to ten years. The military justified its intervention on the premise that it was returning the country to the principles of Kemal Atatürk (see Atatürk and the Turkish Nation, ch. 1).
The supervised restoration of civilian rule began in November 1983 with National Assembly elections for which every candidate needed to obtain military approval. A civilian government with Turgut Özal as prime minister was formed after Özal's Motherland Party (Anavatan Partisi--ANAP) won a majority of the seats in the new assembly. Özal worked with the president, General Kenan Evren, a leader of the 1980 coup, to reestablish the primacy of civilian authority. By November 1987, martial law decrees had been repealed in most of Turkey except Istanbul and the predominantly Kurdish provinces of the southeast, and the military refrained from interfering in the selection of candidates for National Assembly and local elections.
The strengthening of democratic practices, however, was hindered by a lack of consensus within the political elite on the issue of granting cultural freedom and local government autonomy to the country's Kurdish minority. The Kurdish question began to reemerge in 1984 after the Kurdistan Workers' Party (Partiya Karkere Kurdistan--PKK) initiated armed struggle against the state by attacking rural police posts in southeastern Turkey. The military's inability to suppress the militant PKK, combined with the international media attention generated in 1988 by the arrival of tens of thousands of Iraqi Kurdish refugees fleeing chemical weapons attacks by their own government, made the Kurdish situation a leading topic of public discourse. Özal, whom the National Assembly elected president in 1989, became the first prominent politician to acknowledge openly that the Kurds were not merely "mountain Turks" but a separate ethnic group whose culture merited respect. Kurdish politicians opposed to the violent tactics and separatist ideology of the PKK responded by participating actively in the Social Democratic Party (Sosyal Demokrat Parti--Sodep) and the Social Democratic Populist Party (Sosyal Demokrat Halkçi Parti--SHP). Following the October 1991 National Assembly elections, a group of SHP-aligned Kurdish deputies, who previously had formed the People's Labor Party (Halkin Emek Partisi--HEP) to promote the full equality of Kurds and Turks within Turkey, organized themselves as a separate parliamentary party. However, many Turkish leaders were unable to distinguish between a separate Kurdish political party and a Kurdish separatist movement, and they campaigned to have the HEP banned and its members arrested, even though HEP deputies enjoyed parliamentary immunity. In a severe blow to democratic procedures, seven Kurdish deputies were arrested in March 1994; they were sentenced to long prison terms in December after being convicted of "crimes against the state."
During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the intensification of the PKK insurgency in southeastern Turkey tended to enhance the status of the military as the guardian of the country's territorial integrity and security. Consequently, Turkish politicians tended to treat the armed forces cautiously, apparently as part of a strategy to dissuade senior officers from initiating yet another coup. Civilian wariness was evident in the government's acquiescence to a number of extrajudicial measures that violated basic due process rights, for example, military censorship of news coverage of operations against the Kurdish guerrillas. In 1993 and 1994, scores of Turkish journalists whose reportage was perceived by the military as endangering state security were detained for trials in special military courts. The military also forcibly deported more than 150,000 Kurds from some 850 villages in the southeast. Most of the evicted villagers subsequently resettled in the cities of western Turkey, where as many as one-half of the country's Kurdish minority was estimated to be residing in 1994. The presence of so many Kurds in Ankara, Istanbul, Izmir, and other large cities has contributed to a transformation of the Kurdish situation from a regional problem to a national one, whose characteristics include increasing ethnic polarization between Kurds and Turks.
Another cause of polarization is the ideological competition between Turkey's elite, which is imbued with the secular philosophy of Atatürk, and a new generation of grassroots leaders, influenced by Islamic ideas. Islamic political activists began organizing in 1983, after the government authorized the formation of political parties, and subsequently founded the Welfare Party (Refah Partisi--RP; also seen as Prosperity Party). Its candidates competed in both national and local elections, campaigning in middle- and lower-class urban neighborhoods with a consistent message. They blamed the country's economic and political problems on the alleged indifference of secular leaders to Muslim values. The Welfare Party steadily increased its share of the popular vote, and won more than sixty seats out of a total of 450 in the 1991 National Assembly elections. In nationwide local elections held in March 1994, Welfare Party candidates won 19 percent of the total vote, placing the party third behind the ruling True Path Party (Dogru Yol Partisi--DYP) of President Süleyman Demirel and Prime Minister Tansu Çiller and the main opposition Motherland Party. The Welfare Party's electoral successes included winning the mayor's office in Ankara, Istanbul, and twenty-seven other major cities, as well as in 400 smaller municipalities, including almost all the towns in the Kurdish provinces of the southeast.
In early 1995, Turkey was still in the process of trying to redefine its regional foreign policy in the wake of the two major international developments on its borders during 1991: the Persian Gulf War fought by the United States-led international coalition against Iraq and the unexpected collapse of the Soviet Union. Turkey's de facto participation in the Persian Gulf War--Ankara permitted United States aircraft to use a Turkish air base for bombing missions over Iraq--helped to strengthen ties with the United States, a fellow member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO--see Glossary). However, the aftermath of that same war--hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Kurds trying to flee into Turkey following the collapse of their uprising against the Iraqi government--was one of the factors that contributed to the intensification of the Kurdish problem within Turkey. The military efforts to suppress the PKK and the political efforts to silence Kurdish political leaders prompted international human rights organizations to accuse the Turkish government of systematic human rights violations. These charges complicated relations with the European Union (EU--see Glossary), an economic organization that Turkey aspired to join as a full member, because several EU countries opposed Turkish membership on grounds that the country's practice of democracy fell short of EU standards. In addition, Turkey and its neighbor Greece, an EU state and a member of NATO, had failed to resolve their dispute over the status of Cyprus and their conflicting offshore claims in the Aegean Sea.
The consequences of the Soviet Union's dissolution potentially are more promising for Turkish diplomacy than the consequences of the Persian Gulf War. The fifteen countries that replaced the Soviet Union include five Asian states whose peoples speak Turkic languages. Özal and his successor as president, Demirel, promoted Turkey as a political and economic model for these Turkic-speaking countries. In keeping with this role, they sought to expand Turkey's influence through numerous bilateral agreements pertaining to cultural and economic relations. However, the long-term success of Turkey's efforts is not assured because both Iran and Russia are trying to extend or maintain their respective influence in Azerbaijan and Central Asia. Initially, Turkish leaders seemed to welcome the prospect of competition with Iran for influence in the region, and they confidently asserted the superiority of their secular state over Iran's Islamic model. By the end of 1993, however, Turkey--perhaps out of concern about Russian intentions--began to stress the need to work with Iran through multilateral regional arrangements such as the Economic Cooperation Organization.
<"73.htm">President, Council of Ministers, and Prime Minister
<"75.htm">Provincial and Local Government
<"78.htm">Political Developments since the 1980 Coup
<"80.htm">True Path Party
<"81.htm">Social Democratic Populist Party
<"84.htm">Democratic Left Party
<"85.htm">Political Interest Groups
The government of Turkey functions in accordance with the constitution of 1982, which was drafted and adopted during the period of military rule following the September 1980 coup. The National Security Council (NSC--see Glossary), composed of the commanders of the army, navy, air force, and gendarmerie, and headed by the president, established a Consultative Assembly in June 1981 to draft a new constitution. This assembly consisted of 160 members, forty of whom were appointed directly by the NSC and the remaining 120 selected from a list of about 10,000 names compiled with the aid of provincial governors. In July 1982, a fifteen-member constitutional committee of the Consultative Assembly produced a draft that subsequently was amended by the Consultative Assembly and the NSC. The constitution was submitted to a public referendum on November 7 and approved by 91.4 percent of the voters; 91.3 percent of the registered electorate cast ballots. A factor in this high turnout was Provisional Article 16 of the constitution, which stipulated that registered voters who failed to vote would lose their electoral rights for five years.
The 1982 constitution replaced the constitution of 1961, which also had been drafted following a military coup (see The Armed Forces Group and Interim Rule, 1960-61, ch. 1). Under the 1961 constitution, an elaborate system of checks and balances had limited the authority of the government; the powers of the president were curtailed, and individual rights and liberties were given greater emphasis. In contrast, the 1982 constitution expands the authority of the president and circumscribes the exercise of individual and associational rights. The 1982 constitution also limits the role and influence of political parties, which are governed by more detailed and restrictive regulations than under the 1961 document. For example, political parties are required to obtain a minimum percentage of the total vote cast before any candidates on their lists can qualify for seats in the National Assembly. The 1982 constitution also provides for the enactment of electoral laws to regulate the formation of parties and the rules for their participation in elections.
Article 2 of the 1982 constitution stipulates that the Republic of Turkey is a "democratic, secular, and social state governed by the rule of law," respecting human rights and loyal to the political philosophy of Kemal Atatürk. Article 5 vests sovereignty in the nation, stipulating that it is not to be delegated to "any individual, group, or class." The fundamental objective and duty of the state is defined as safeguarding the independence and integrity of the democratic Turkish nation and ensuring "the welfare, peace, and happiness of the individual and society." The constitution divides the powers of the state among the three branches of government. The legislative branch consists of a unicameral parliament, the National Assembly, composed of 400 members (later increased by amendment to 450) elected to five-year terms. The executive branch consists of the president, who is elected to a seven-year term by the National Assembly, and a prime minister, who is appointed by the president from among National Assembly deputies. The prime minister heads the Council of Ministers, members of which are nominated by the prime minister and appointed by the president. The judicial branch is independent of the legislature and the executive.
Like its predecessor, the 1982 constitution includes a detailed bill of rights covering the social, economic, and political rights and liberties of citizens. According to Article 5, all individuals are equal before the law and possess "inherent fundamental rights and freedoms which are inviolable and inalienable." However, articles 10 through 15 authorize the government to restrict individual rights in the interest of safeguarding the "integrity of the state" and "the public interest." The government may impose further limitations on individual rights "in times of war, martial law, or state of emergency."
Articles 28 and 67 of the 1982 constitution stipulate that the individual is entitled to privacy and to freedom of thought and communication, travel, and association; that the physical integrity of the individual must not be violated; that torture and forced labor are prohibited; that all persons have access to the courts and are assumed innocent until proven guilty; that all Turkish citizens over twenty years of age have the right to vote in elections and to take part in referenda; and that the news media are free and not liable to censorship, except by a court order when national security or the "indivisible integrity of the state" are threatened. According to articles 35, 44, and 46, all citizens have the right to own and inherit property. The state is obligated to provide land to landless farmers or to farmers with insufficient land, and, if the public interest so requires, the state may expropriate private property, provided that compensation is paid in advance.
Articles 49 through 54 of the 1982 constitution pertain to labor. The constitution stipulates that it is the right and duty of all people of working age to work and that all have the freedom to work in the field of their choice. The state is given responsibility to take necessary measures to raise the standard of living of workers, to protect them, and to create suitable economic conditions for the prevention of unemployment. Workers have the right to rest and leisure; minors, women, and people with disabilities are to be provided special protection at work. Workers and employers are free to form labor unions and employers' associations without prior permission, but no one may be compelled to join a union or association. Workers are allowed to bargain collectively and to strike, but not in a manner "detrimental to society." General and politically motivated strikes are prohibited.
According to Article 42, primary education is compulsory and free in public schools. Only Turkish may be taught as the primary language, and all schools must follow the principles and reforms of Atatürk. Education is to be based on "contemporary science and education methods" and is provided under the supervision and control of the state. The state provides scholarships and other means of assistance "to enable students of merit lacking financial means to continue their education."
Article 24 guarantees freedom of religion, provided that the exercise of this right does not threaten the "indivisible integrity of the state." No one may be compelled to worship or to participate in religious ceremonies or rites. Primary and secondary schools are required to provide religious instruction under state supervision and control. Secularism, a primary principle of Atatürk's reforms, is reaffirmed in the provision forbidding "even partially basing the fundamental, social, economic, political, and legal order of the state on religious tenets."
Articles 68 and 69 of the 1982 constitution stipulate that citizens may form or join political parties without prior permission from the government. However, political parties must act according to the principles of the constitution and may be dissolved by the Constitutional Court if that body determines that their activities "conflict with the indivisible integrity of the state." Political parties may not have ties with any association, union, or professional organization. Judges, teachers at institutions of higher education, students, civil servants, and members of the armed forces may not join political parties.
Other articles of the constitution obligate citizens to pay taxes and to render national service in the armed forces or elsewhere in the public sector, grant them the right to petition competent authorities and the National Assembly for redress of complaints, and stipulate that the constitutionality of all laws and decrees is subject to review by the Constitutional Court. To amend the constitution, at least one-third of the members of the National Assembly first must propose an amendment. The actual proposal then must win the votes of a two-thirds majority of all members of the assembly. If the amendment is vetoed by the president, the votes of a three-quarters majority of the members are required to override the veto.
The 1982 constitution also included a set of provisional articles, the first of which stipulated that the chair of the NSC and head of state would become president of the republic for seven years following approval of the constitution in a referendum. Another provisional article stipulated that the NSC would be transformed into an advisory Presidential Council after the formation of a civilian government following elections for the National Assembly. This Presidential Council would function for a period of six years and then be dissolved. Yet another provisional article made permanent a 1981 NSC decree that barred more than 200 politicians from joining new political parties or becoming candidates for a period of ten years. Some of the provisional articles were later rescinded.
Once the 1982 constitution had been approved but before it was implemented, the NSC in April 1983 issued a Political Parties Law (Law No. 2820) that placed further restrictions on political activities. This law, which was intended to regulate the formation of political parties in advance of the November 1983 National Assembly elections, stipulates that political organizations cannot be based on class, religion, race, or language distinctions. To qualify for registration, a political party is required to have at least thirty founders, each of whom must be approved by the minister of interior. New political parties are prohibited from claiming to be continuations of any parties in existence before 1980. The law also requires each party to establish organizations in at least half the country's provinces and in one-third of the districts within those provinces. Political parties are prohibited from criticizing the military intervention of September 1980 or the actions or decisions of the NSC. The Political Parties Law empowers the NSC and its successor, the Presidential Council, to investigate all party members and candidates for office and to declare any unsuitable.
The 1982 constitution stipulates that elections are to be held on the basis of free universal suffrage with direct, equal, and secret balloting. Ballots are to be sorted and counted publicly under the supervision of judicial authorities. The Supreme Electoral Council, composed of eleven judges elected by the Court of Appeals (also known as the Court of Cassation) and the Council of State from among their own members, has jurisdiction over all electoral proceedings. The Supreme Electoral Council is empowered to rule in cases of complaints concerning the validity of elections and may declare a particular election invalid. The executive and legislative branches of the government are prohibited from exercising any control over the electoral process.
Prior to the first elections under the new constitution, the NSC issued the Electoral Law of June 1983 (Law No. 2839), which stipulates that only parties obtaining 10 percent or more of the total national vote can be represented in the National Assembly. Law No. 2839 maintains the system of proportional representation on a provincial basis, but subdivides the more populous provinces for electoral purposes so that no single constituency can elect more than seven deputies. Each province automatically is assigned at least one seat, regardless of population. These measures work to the advantage of the larger parties and the rural provinces.
The 1982 constitution vests the power to enact legislation in the unicameral National Assembly (Millet Meclis). The first National Assembly, consisting of 400 deputies, was elected in November 1983 to a five-year term. The new Motherland Party headed by Turgut Özal won a majority of seats (211) and formed Turkey's first civilian government since the 1980 coup. In 1987 Özal convinced the National Assembly to adjourn itself one year short of its five-year mandate and hold new elections, a procedure that is permitted under the constitution. Prior to these elections, the assembly approved two constitutional amendments that affected its future structure and composition. One amendment expanded the assembly from 400 to 450 seats. A second amendment repealed the provisional article of the constitution that had banned more than 200 political leaders from all political activity for a ten-year period ending in 1991. This article had permitted the military to retain a degree of control over the electoral process, both at the national and local levels. Its repeal enabled Turkey's best-known politicians, including Süleyman Demirel and Bülent Ecevit, to participate openly in the electoral process. Consequently the National Assembly elections held in November 1987 constituted the first genuinely free balloting in the country since the 1980 coup.
Özal's party won a majority (292 of 450 seats) in the 1987 assembly elections, and he continued to head the government until 1989, when he was elected president. In 1991 the National Assembly again voted to schedule elections one year early. However, as a result of the October balloting, the Motherland Party won only 24 percent of the vote, coming in second behind Demirel's True Path Party, which obtained 27 percent of the vote. Because none of the political parties had won a clear majority, Demirel obtained the agreement of the Social Democratic Populist Party to form a coalition government. The next National Assembly elections are due to be held in October 1996.
Although the constitution stipulates that by-elections to fill vacant seats may be held once between general elections--unless the number of vacancies reaches 5 percent of the total assembly membership--the National Assembly has not scheduled such elections on a regular basis. The assembly holds a convocation following elections, but does not open its annual legislative term until the first day of September. By law, it cannot be in recess for more than three months in a year. Article 93 of the constitution empowers the president during an assembly adjournment to summon the deputies for an extraordinary session, either on his or her own initiative or at the written request of one-fifth of the members.
The National Assembly's powers include exclusive authority to enact, amend, and repeal laws. It also can pass legislation over the veto of the president. The assembly supervises the Council of Ministers and authorizes it to issue government decrees. The assembly is responsible for debating and approving the government's budget and making decisions pertaining to the printing of currency. In addition, the assembly approves the president's ratification of international treaties and has authority to declare war. The constitution stipulates that the assembly can request that the executive respond to written questions, investigations, and interpellations, and can vote the Council of Ministers out of office.
According to Article 76 of the constitution, every Turkish citizen over the age of thirty is eligible to be a National Assembly deputy, provided that he or she has completed primary education and has not been convicted of a serious crime or been involved in "ideological and anarchistic activities." In addition, men are required to have performed their compulsory military service. Members of higher judicial and education institutions as well as civil servants and members of the armed forces must resign from office before standing for election. Article 80 of the constitution stipulates that deputies represent the whole nation, not just their own constituencies.
Articles 83 and 84 of the constitution grant deputies parliamentary immunities, such as freedom of speech and, with some qualifications, freedom from arrest. These freedoms were put to a severe test in March 1994, when the National Assembly voted to strip the parliamentary immunities of seven deputies who had spoken out within the assembly on behalf of civil rights for the country's Kurdish minority. The seven deputies were arrested at the door of the National Assembly building in Ankara and charged with making speeches that constituted "crimes against the state."
Articles 83 and 84 also provide for a deputy to be deprived of membership in the National Assembly by vote of an absolute majority of its members. Furthermore, a deputy who resigns from his or her political party after an election may not be nominated as a candidate in the next election by any party in existence at the time of that resignation.
As was also the case before the 1980 coup, deputies in the National Assembly in early 1995 typically were fairly young, well-educated members of the elite, with as many as two-thirds having college degrees. However, since 1983 there has been a shift in occupational representation away from a predominance of government officials. In the three assemblies elected starting in 1983, a large percentage of deputies were lawyers, engineers, businesspeople, and economists (see The Changing National Elite, ch. 2).
The 1982 constitution vests executive authority in the president, who is the designated head of state. The president ensures implementation of the constitution and the orderly functioning of the government (see fig. 12). The president serves a seven-year term and cannot be reelected. Under a provisional article of the constitution, General Evren, who was chair of the NSC, automatically assumed the presidency when the constitution took effect at the end of 1982. Article 102 of the constitution provides the procedures for electing subsequent presidents, who must be chosen by the National Assembly from among its members. A deputy nominated for the presidency must obtain a two-thirds majority vote of the assembly. If a two-thirds majority cannot be obtained on the first two ballots, a third ballot is held, requiring only an absolute majority of votes. If a presidential candidate fails to obtain a majority on the third ballot, a fourth and final ballot is held, the choice being between the two candidates who received the greatest number of votes on the third ballot. If this procedure fails to produce a winner, new assembly general elections must be held immediately.
When Evren's seven-year term ended in November 1989, the assembly failed to produce a two-thirds vote for any candidate on the first two ballots. Prime Minister Turgut Özal won a majority on the third ballot and became Turkey's second president under the 1982 constitution. Özal died of a heart attack in April 1993 before completing his term in office. In the subsequent assembly vote for a new president, no candidate won a two-thirds majority on the first two ballots. Süleyman Demirel, who had become prime minister in November 1991, garnered the simple majority required for the third ballot and became the country's third president since the 1980 coup.
A candidate for president must have completed secondary education and must be at least forty years old. Articles 101 and 102 of the constitution provide that a presidential candidate can be nominated from outside the membership of the National Assembly if the candidate meets the stipulated qualifications and if the nomination is presented to the assembly in the form of a written resolution that has the endorsement of at least one-fifth of the deputies. In accordance with the requirement that the president-elect terminate relations with his or her political party, both Özal and Demirel resigned as heads of their respective parties following their election to the presidency.
The 1982 constitution gives the president a stronger and more extensive role than did the 1961 constitution, under which the presidency was a largely ceremonial office. The president is empowered to summon meetings of the National Assembly, promulgate laws, and ratify international treaties. The president also may veto legislation passed by the National Assembly, submit constitutional amendments proposed by the assembly to popular referenda, and challenge the constitutionality of assembly laws and cabinet decrees. The president's responsibilities include appointing the prime minister, convening and presiding over meetings of the Council of Ministers, and calling for new elections to the National Assembly. The president also is authorized to dispatch the Turkish armed forces for domestic or foreign military missions and to declare martial law.
The constitution also provides the president with appointive powers that he or she may exercise independently of the Council of Ministers. For example, the president is empowered to appoint the members of the Constitutional Court, one-quarter of the members of the Council of State, all diplomatic representatives, the chief of the General Staff, members of the Supreme Military Administrative Court, the Supreme Council of Judges and Public Prosecutors, the State Supervisory Council, the Council of Higher Education, and all university presidents.
The president may be impeached for high treason at the recommendation of one-third of the members of the National Assembly and removed from office by the vote of a three-quarters majority. Otherwise, Article 105 of the constitution stipulates that "no appeal shall be made to any legal authority, including the Constitutional Court, against the decisions and orders signed by the president of the Republic on his own initiative." The constitution also provides for the establishment of a State Supervisory Council to conduct investigations and inspections of public organizations at the president's request.
The president presides over the National Security Council, a body that contains civilian as well as military members. It should not be confused with the former NSC, an all-military body, which ruled the country following the1980 coup and subsequently became the advisory Presidential Council. The present National Security Council is composed of the prime minister, the chief of the General Staff, the ministers of national defense, interior, and foreign affairs, and the commanders of the branches of the armed forces and the gendarmerie. This body sets national security policy and coordinates all activities related to mobilization and defense. An advisory Presidential Council, composed of the armed forces commanders who had joined Evren in the 1980 military coup and the military government that lasted until 1983, continued to advise the president until 1989. At that time, in accordance with the provisional articles appended to the 1982 constitution, the Presidential Council was dissolved (see Political Developments since the 1980 Coup, this ch.).
The Council of Ministers, or cabinet, is headed by the prime minister, who is appointed by the president from among the elected deputies of the National Assembly. In practice, the president asks the head of the party with the largest number of deputies to form a government. The prime minister then nominates ministers for appointment by the president. Within one week of being selected, each new cabinet must be presented to the full assembly for a vote of confidence; a simple majority is required. If at any time during the Council of Ministers' tenure an absolute majority of the assembly should support a motion of no confidence, the ministers must resign. In the event that no party obtains a majority in National Assembly elections, a coalition of parties is allowed up to six weeks to form a government. If no new cabinet can be formed within forty-five days, the president may dissolve the assembly and call for new elections.
The prime minister supervises the implementation of government policy. Members of the Council of Ministers have joint and equal responsibility for the implementation of this policy. In addition, each minister is responsible for the conduct of affairs under his or her jurisdiction and for the actions of subordinates. In early 1995, the prime minister was Tansu Çiller, the first woman to hold this office. Her cabinet consists of a deputy prime minister and the following ministers: agriculture and rural affairs, communications and transport, culture, education, energy and natural resources, environment, finance, foreign affairs, forestry, health, industry and trade, interior, justice, labor, national defense, public works and housing, and <"69.htm">tourism. Çiller's Council of Ministers also includes a number of ministers of state with cabinet rank.
In the area of national defense, the Council of Ministers is responsible to the assembly for national security and for the readiness of the armed forces. However, the president normally serves as commander in chief of the armed forces. With the president as chair, the cabinet is empowered to declare martial law or a state of emergency and to issue decrees without restriction during such periods.
The 1982 constitution strengthens the role of the Council of Ministers vis-à-vis the National Assembly by empowering the cabinet to issue regulations pertaining to the implementation of laws. However, the cabinet also is weakened in terms of its relationship to the president. The constitution grants the president the right to dismiss any minister upon the suggestion of the prime minister. In effect, individual ministers are subject to removal at the discretion of either the president or the prime minister.
Since legal reforms instituted in 1926, Turkey's judicial system has been based on the Swiss Civil Code, the Italian Penal Code, and the Neuchâtel (Swiss) Code of Civil Procedure. The 1982 constitution guarantees judicial independence and prohibits any government agency or individual from interfering with the operations of the courts and judges. Members of the National Assembly also are not allowed to discuss or make statements concerning pending court cases. Although trials normally are held in open court, the constitution provides that they can be closed "for reasons of public morality or public security."
Headed by the minister of justice, the High Council of Judges and Public Prosecutors is the principal body charged with responsibility for ensuring judicial integrity. This council acts on matters pertaining to the careers of judges, including appointments, promotions, transfers, and supervision. The high council is empowered to remove judges and abolish courts and the offices of judges and public prosecutors. However, judges themselves are protected against arbitrary removal from office by a constitutional provision stipulating that they cannot be dismissed without due cause or retired involuntarily before age sixty-five.
In early 1995, Turkey's legal system consisted of three types of courts: judicial, military, and administrative. Each system includes courts of first instance and appellate courts. In addition, a Court of Jurisdictional Disputes rules on cases that cannot be classified readily as falling within the purview of one court system.
The judicial courts form the largest part of the system; they handle most civil and criminal cases involving ordinary citizens. The two supreme courts within the judicial system are the Constitutional Court and the Court of Appeals.
The Constitutional Court reviews the constitutionality of laws and decrees at the request of the president or of one-fifth of the members of the National Assembly. Its decisions on the constitutionality of legislation and government decrees are final. The eleven members of the Constitutional Court are appointed by the president from among candidates nominated by lower courts and the High Council of Judges and Public Prosecutors. Challenges to the constitutionality of a law must be made within sixty days of its promulgation. Decisions of the Constitutional Court require the votes of an absolute majority of all its members, with the exception of decisions to annul a constitutional amendment, which require a two-thirds majority.
The Court of Appeals (also known as the Court of Cassation) is the court of last instance for review of decisions and verdicts of lower-level judicial courts, both civil and criminal. Its members are elected by secret ballot by senior judges and public prosecutors. Below the Court of Appeals are the ordinary civil and criminal courts. At the lowest level of the judicial system are justices of the peace, who have jurisdiction over minor civil complaints and offenses. Single-judge criminal courts have jurisdiction over misdemeanors and petty crimes, with penalties ranging from small fines to brief prison sentences. Every organized municipality (a community having a minimum population of 2,000) has at least one single-judge court, with the actual number of courts varying according to the total population. Three-judge courts of first instance have jurisdiction over major civil suits and serious crimes. Either of the parties in civil cases and defendants convicted in criminal cases can request that the Court of Appeals review the lower-court decision. The Turkish courts have no jury system; judges render decisions after establishing the facts in each case based on evidence presented by lawyers and prosecutors.
The administrative court system consists of the Council of State, an appellate court, and various administrative courts of first instance. The Council of State reviews decisions of the lower administrative courts, considers original administrative disputes, and, if requested, gives its opinion on draft legislation submitted by the prime minister and the Council of Ministers. The president appoints 25 percent of the Council of State's judges. The other 75 percent are appointed by the High Council of Judges and Public Prosecutors.
The military court system exercises jurisdiction over all military personnel. In areas under martial law, the military also has jurisdiction over all civilians accused of terrorism or "crimes against the state." The military court system consists of military and security courts of first instance, a Supreme Military Administrative Court, an appellate State Security Court, and the Military Court of Appeals, which reviews decisions and verdicts of the military courts. The decisions of the Military Court of Appeals are final.
The 1982 constitution retains Turkey's centralized administrative system. Each province is administered by a governor (vagi ) appointed by the Council of Ministers with the approval of the president. The governors function as the principal agents of the central government and report to the Ministry of Interior. The constitution grants governors extraordinary powers during a state of emergency, powers similar to those of military authorities in areas under martial law. The constitution also stipulates that the central administration oversee elected local councils in order to ensure the effective provision of local services and to safeguard the public interest. The minister of interior is empowered to remove from office local administrators who are being investigated or prosecuted for offenses related to their duties.
In early 1995, Turkey was divided into seventy-six provinces (vilayetlar ). Each province was further subdivided into an average of about eight districts, or kazalar , each roughly equivalent in size to a county in a United States state. Each district was segmented into an average of 493 subdistricts, or bucaklar . Each provincial capital, each district seat, and each town of more than 2,000 people is organized as a municipality headed by an elected mayor. Government at the provincial level is responsible for implementing national programs for health and social assistance, public works, culture and education, agriculture and animal husbandry, and economic and commercial matters.
As chief executive of the province and principal agent of the central government, each governor supervises other government officials assigned to carry out ministerial functions in his or her province. Civil servants head offices of the national government that deal with education, finance, health, and agriculture at the provincial level. In each province, these directors form the provincial administrative council (vilayet genel meclisi ), which, with the governor as chair, makes key administrative decisions and, when necessary, initiates disciplinary actions against errant provincial employees.
The governor also heads the provincial assembly and several service departments concerned mainly with local trade and industrial matters. The provincial assembly, which advises and works closely with the provincial administrative council, is elected every five years and, with the governor chairing, meets annually to approve the provincial budget and to select one person from each district to serve on the province's administrative commission. With the governor presiding, the administrative commission meets weekly for mutual consultation. Provincial budgets derive their income from rents, payments for services, fines, state aid, and a 1 percent share of national tax revenues. In most provinces, provincial funds are spent primarily on agricultural and reforestation programs, irrigation, and schools.
Each district in a province has its own administration based in the district seat. The district administration consists of a district chief (kaymakam ), central government representatives, and a district administrative board. The more than 500 district chiefs are appointed by the president upon nomination by the minister of interior. Each district chief is responsible to the governor, serving essentially as his or her agent in supervising and inspecting the activities of government officials in the district. The district in which a provincial capital is located may not have a district chief but instead be headed directly by the governor. Each subdistrict director (bucak mudur ) is appointed by the minister of interior on the nomination of the governors. The subdistrict directors, who number about 40,000, are responsible for law enforcement in the villages. They are assisted by officials in charge of rural security; land titles; vital statistics; schools; and postal, telephone, and telegraph services.
Municipal governments exist in each provincial and district capital, as well as in all communities with at least 2,000 inhabitants. Municipal governments are responsible for implementing national programs for health and social assistance, public works, education, and transportation. Each municipality (belediye ) is headed by a mayor (belediye reisi ), who is elected by the citizens to a five-year term and is assisted by deputy directors of departments and offices. Municipal councils, also elected for five years, vary in size according to each town's population. Municipal councils meet three times a year to decide on such issues as the budget, housing plans, reconstruction programs, tax rates, and fees for municipal services. A variety of municipal standing committees, appointed by the mayor and municipal department directors or selected by municipal council members from among themselves, deal with financial issues and decide on the appointment and promotion of municipal personnel.
The smallest unit of local government in Turkey is the village (köy derneg ), a locality with fewer than 2,000 inhabitants. The principal authority in a village, the headman (muhtar ), is chosen by an assembly of all the village's adults. This informal assembly also makes decisions pertaining to village affairs and elects a council of elders (ihtiyar meclisi ) that includes the village schoolteacher and the imam (see Glossary). The headman supervises the planning and operation of communal projects and services and administers directives from higher authorities. The headman receives government officials, maintains order, collects taxes, and presides at civil ceremonies. The village council supervises village finances, purchases or expropriates land for schools and other communal buildings, and decides on the contributions in labor and money to be made by villagers for road maintenance and other community improvements. The village council also arbitrates disputes between villagers and imposes fines on those who fail to perform the services allotted to them.
Since the early years of the Turkish republic, the civil bureaucracy has played an important role in politics. It became one of the bases of Atatürk's power and was a key instrument of his reform policy, which emphasized adherence to the "Six Arrows" of secularism, republicanism, populism, nationalism, etatism (see Glossary), and reformism (see Atatürk's Reforms, ch. 1). During the 1930s and 1940s, a consistently high percentage of parliament members had a civil service background. However, the power and social prestige of the official elite declined with the emergence of competitive political parties in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Civil bureaucrats generally believed they worked in the service of the entire nation, and they tended to view politicians, especially those affiliated with the Democrat Party (Demokrat Partisi--DP), as being too partisan to comprehend the difference between policies beneficial to the nation and those merely serving special interests. Democrats and their Justice Party (Adalet Partisi--AP) successors did not appreciate these attitudes, and consequently bureaucrats lost credibility and influence among these politicians, who tried, generally with little success, to restrict the autonomy of the civil service.
The military regime that seized power in 1980 was less tolerant of an independent bureaucracy than its predecessor had been in 1960. Accordingly, it took measures designed to reduce the bureaucracy's autonomy and involvement in partisan politics. For example, civil servants lost the right to challenge or appeal decisions made by members of the Council of Ministers or the Council of State. Martial law commanders were empowered to remove or reassign civil servants under their jurisdiction at their own discretion. In April 1981, a Supreme Board of Supervision was established to oversee the bureaucracy. Its investigations resulted in a large number of officials receiving administrative or penal punishments and prompted many senior bureaucrats to leave government service. The tension between the military government and the civil service did not cease with the end of military rule. When Turgut Özal became prime minister at the end of 1983, he proclaimed that streamlining the bureaucracy was part of the fundamental administrative reform he intended to implement. Gradually, however, cooperation between bureaucrats and political leaders was restored; by the early 1990s, it was no longer fashionable to blame civil servants for the country's problems.
In early 1995, the civil service operated in accordance with provisions stipulated in the 1982 constitution and subsequent regulations. For example, civil servants are appointed for life on the basis of competitive examinations and can be removed from their posts only in exceptional cases. They must remain loyal to the constitution and may not join political parties. If a public employee wishes to compete in National Assembly elections, that individual first must resign from government service. All disciplinary decisions pertaining to civil servants are subject to judicial review.
Since the military coup of 1960, Turkish politics have been characterized by two opposing visions of government. According to the "rule from above" view, which has been dominant among the military elite and some of the civilian political elite, government is an instrument for implementing the enduring principles of Kemalism. Thus, if a government fails to carry out this mandate, it must be replaced by those who are the guardians of Atatürk's legacy, which is identified as synonymous with Turkish nationalism. In contrast, the "rule from below" view, which predominates among more populist-oriented politicians and thinkers, tends to regard government as an instrument for protecting the civic rights and individual freedoms of Turkish citizens. Thus, if elected leaders fail in their responsibilities, they should be voted out of office. Supporters of the first view tend to interpret democracy as a political order in which all Turks share common goals and national unity is not disrupted by partisan politics. When they perceive partisan politics as threatening this democratic ideal, they back military intervention as a corrective measure. Those favoring rule from below tend to accept diversity of opinion, and its organized expression through competitive political parties, as normal in a healthy democracy. These two very different conceptions of government have contributed significantly to Turkey's political history since 1960, an era in which periods of parliamentary democracy have alternated with periods of military authoritarianism.
The legacy of military intervention, in particular a general fear among politicians that it may recur, has adversely affected democratic practices in Turkey. For instance, the successor civilian governments have lifted only gradually the harsh restrictions imposed on political rights by the 1980-83 regime. In early 1995, various restrictions on the formation of political parties and free association remained in effect; civilians accused of "crimes against the state" continued to be remanded to military courts for detention, interrogation, and trial.
Immediately following the September 1980 coup, the military government arrested Turkey's leading politicians, dissolved the bicameral Grand National Assembly, declared martial law, and banned all political activity (see Military Interlude, ch. 1). In October 1981, all political parties then in existence were disbanded and their property and financial assets confiscated by the state. In April 1983, the NSC issued regulations for the formation of new political parties--which could have no ties to the disbanded parties--in anticipation of elections for a new single-chamber National Assembly to be held later that year. Subsequently, the ban on political activity was lifted, except for 723 politicians active before the coup who were forbidden to participate in politics. About 500--former deputies and senators of the dissolved Grand National Assembly--were barred until 1986. The remaining group of more than 200 was not allowed to be involved in politics until 1991. In addition to these restrictions, each party had to submit its list of candidates for NSC approval in order to compete in the assembly elections. Although fifteen parties were established by August 1983, the NSC disqualified all but three of them on the grounds that they had ties to banned political leaders such as Süleyman Demirel and Bülent Ecevit. For a variety of other political reasons, the NSC also vetoed several proposed candidates on the lists presented by the three approved parties.
The parties allowed to participate in the November 1983 National Assembly elections were the Nationalist Democracy Party (Milliyetçi Demokrasi Partisi--MDP), headed by retired general Turgut Sunalp, an ally of NSC chair and president Kenan Evren; the Motherland Party, led by Turgut Özal, a civilian who had served in the military government from 1980 to 1982 as deputy prime minister for economic affairs; and the Populist Party (Halkçi Partisi--HP), led by Necdet Calp. The military publicly supported Sunalp's party and expected it to win a majority of seats in the new assembly. However, the elections proved to be a stunning repudiation of the military government: the Nationalist Democracy Party won only 23.3 percent of the total votes cast and obtained only seventy-one of the assembly's 400 seats. Özal's Motherland Party won an absolute majority of seats (211 total); subsequently, Evren asked Özal to form a new government, which took office in December 1983.
The restoration of civilian government did not mean an immediate restoration of civilian rule. Although the NSC had dissolved itself, Evren, as president of the republic, was in a position to veto any policies that might displease the military. In addition, most of Turkey remained under martial law, which meant that military officers retained ultimate decision-making authority at the local level. Although Özal proceeded cautiously to reassert civilian authority, he recognized that easing various military-imposed restrictions was essential to improve Turkey's international image, especially in Western Europe.
Following the 1980 coup, the members of the European Community, which Turkey aspired to join, had frozen relations with Ankara. The pan-European parliament, the Council of Europe, had cited the military regime's record of human rights violations as justification for banning Turkish participation in 1982 (see Foreign Relations, this ch.). To demonstrate his commitment to democracy, Özal allowed three political parties whose participation in the 1983 general elections had been vetoed by the military to contest the municipal elections his government had scheduled for March 1984. All three parties seemed to be obvious continuations of dissolved precoup parties, and they did not try very hard to disguise their ties to banned politicians. For example, the True Path Party had been formed by former members of the Justice Party, and its de facto leader was widely acknowledged to be Süleyman Demirel. Supporters of the old Republican People's Party (Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi--CHP) had formed the Social Democratic Party (Sosyal Demokrat Parti--Sodep) under the leadership of Erdal Inönü, the son of Ismet Inönü, a former president and close political ally of Atatürk. The Welfare Party (Refah Partisi--RP) was headed by Necmettin Erbakan, an Islamic activist whose political views had been irksome to the military since the early 1970s.
The local elections held on March 25, 1984, constituted a further repudiation of the military, with Sunalp's Nationalist Democracy Party obtaining less than 10 percent of the vote. At the level of local politics, Sodep and the True Path Party emerged as the second and third strongest parties behind Özal's Motherland Party, which won 40 percent of the vote. The Populist Party, which had the second largest contingent in the National Assembly, did poorly in the municipal elections, probably because most of its potential support went to Sodep, a party with which it shared ideological affinities, as well as common origins in the old Republican People's Party. Subsequently, in November 1985 a majority of Populist Party deputies voted to dissolve their party and merge with Sodep to form a single party, the Social Democratic Populist Party (Sosyal Demokrat Halkçi Parti--SHP). The local elections and the lifting of martial law in several Turkish provinces had a positive effect on some European governments, and in May 1984, the Council of Europe voted to readmit Turkey as an associate member of the European Community.
Following the 1984 municipal elections, former political leaders challenged restrictions on their activities by appearing at political meetings and making public speeches. Demirel and Ecevit were the most prominent of the leaders who openly defied the bans on political activities. The Özal government was under pressure from the military to enforce the bans but under equal pressure from both domestic public opinion and international human rights organizations to relax the restrictions on the country's former leaders. The government responded with alternating tolerance and legal harassment. Inconsistency also characterized the government's treatment of other democratization issues. For example, by the end of 1987 martial law had been lifted in most of Turkey's provinces, but the number of civilians being tried in military courts actually had increased. In addition, the government was embarrassed by reports published by Amnesty International and similar organizations charging the continuation of systematic torture in Turkish prisons, press censorship, and the denial of civil rights for the Kurdish minority. Although the Özal government dismissed these reports, they tended to complicate already delicate relations with members of the European Community.
In 1986 the expiration of the law banning political activity by some 500 minor politicians of the precoup era served to highlight the anomalous situation of a self-proclaimed democracy that continued to deny the right of political participation to more than 200 major political figures, including former prime ministers and cabinet members. Özal persuaded President Evren and the other senior military officers who supported the ban that the issue should be put to a referendum. The vote took place in September 1987, with a large majority of voters approving repeal. Demirel and Ecevit almost immediately assumed leadership of the parties they had controlled from behind the scenes, respectively the True Path Party and the Democratic Left Party (Demokratik Sol Partisi--DSP), and began campaigning for the National Assembly elections scheduled for November.
The 1987 National Assembly elections were held under the most democratic conditions since the 1980 coup. In contrast to its actions during the 1983 election, the government proscribed no political parties or individual candidates on party lists. From the perspective of the individual parties, the only drawback was the requirement that each must win at least 10 percent of the national vote in order to obtain a seat in the assembly. Parties competing in the elections included the Democratic Left Party, the Motherland Party, the Nationalist Labor Party (Milliyetçi Çalisma Partisi--MÇP), the SHP, the True Path Party, and the Welfare Party (see Political Parties, this ch.). However, only three parties exceeded the 10 percent threshold to qualify for assembly seats. Özal's Motherland Party upheld its dominance in parliament by winning 36 percent of the national vote--slightly less than the 40 percent it had won in 1983--and more than 60 percent of the assembly seats--292 out of a total of 450. Inönü's SHP, a 1985 merger of Sodep and the Populist Party (the latter had won the second highest number of seats in 1983), ranked second with ninety-nine seats. Demirel's True Path Party, which had not been allowed to participate in the 1983 elections, ranked third with fifty-nine seats.
The four years following the 1987 elections witnessed the political comeback of Demirel, who had been prime minister at the time of the 1980 military coup. Following the takeover by the armed forces, he and other members of his government had been arrested. His Justice Party and all other parties subsequently were forcibly dissolved. During Demirel's eleven-year exclusion from politics, his former protégé, Özal, emerged as the country's most prominent civilian politician. Because Özal had been a rising star in the Justice Party prior to the coup and had been chosen to take charge of the government's economic reform program, Demirel resented Özal's initial cooperation with the military and his later establishment of the Motherland Party, which competed directly with the True Path Party for the allegiance of former Justice Party supporters. Consequently, once the ban on his political activities was lifted, Demirel campaigned tirelessly against Özal and the Motherland Party. Demirel's persistent criticism of Özal's policies probably was an important factor in the major electoral setback suffered by the Motherland Party in the March 1989 municipal council elections. The Motherland Party's share of the popular vote fell to 22 percent--compared with 26 percent for Demirel's True Path Party--and it lost control of several municipal councils, including those in the country's three largest cities: Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir. Whatever satisfaction Demirel may have derived from his party's electoral edge over the Motherland Party, the True Path Party nevertheless did not receive the largest plurality of ballots. That distinction went to the SHP, which obtained 28 percent of the total vote (see fig. 13).
Encouraged by the results of the municipal council elections, Demirel devoted the next two-and-one-half years to building up his party for the National Assembly elections. His goal was for the True Path Party to win a majority of seats, a victory that would enable him to reclaim the post of prime minister from which he had been ousted so unceremoniously in 1980. Özal may have provided unintentional support for Demirel's efforts when he decided at the end of 1989 to be a candidate for president to replace General Evren, whose seven-year term was expiring. Because Özal's Motherland Party still controlled a majority of seats in the assembly, his nomination was approved, albeit on the third ballot. However, in accordance with the constitution, Özal had to sever his political ties to the Motherland Party upon becoming president. Because he had been so closely identified with the party and because none of its other leaders, including Yildirim Akbulut, who succeeded Özal as prime minister in November 1989, had achieved national prominence, Özal's departure tended to weaken the Motherland Party politically.
The decline--at least temporarily--of the Motherland Party was demonstrated in the October 1991 National Assembly elections. The party received only 24 percent of the total vote and won only 115 seats. In comparison to four years earlier, these results represented a severe defeat. However, the Motherland Party remained a serious competitor in the political arena, falling only from first to second place in terms of overall parliamentary representation. Whereas the True Path Party emerged from the elections with the largest number of votes and the greatest number of assembly seats, its overall performance--27 percent of the total vote and 178 assembly seats--was less impressive than Demirel had hoped and insufficient to give the party the 226 seats needed for parliamentary control. For Demirel to become prime minister, it would be necessary for the True Path Party to form a coalition with the Motherland Party--a very unrealistic prospect--or at least one of the three other parties that had obtained 10 percent or more of the total vote and thus qualified for representation in the assembly. The three parties were the SHP, eighty-eight seats; the Welfare Party, sixty-two seats; and the Democratic Left Party, seven seats. In November 1991, Demirel announced a DYP-SHP coalition government, with himself as prime minister and SHP leader Inönü as deputy prime minister. Thus, eleven years after being overthrown by the military, Demirel returned as head of government. More significantly, in May 1993 the National Assembly elected Demirel president of the republic following the unexpected death of Özal.
The Welfare Party and other parties also perceived the Motherland Party's weakness and shared Demirel's hope of benefiting from it. The Welfare Party built steady support in middle- and lower-class urban neighborhoods by focusing on widespread dissatisfaction with government policies and attributing official abuses of authority to the failure of leaders to adhere to traditional religious values. It had received 10 percent of the total vote in the 1989 municipal council elections and won control of several small town councils. In the October 1991 National Assembly elections, the party obtained 16.9 percent of the total vote and won sixty-two seats. Its base in the assembly provided the Welfare Party with a strong platform from which to criticize the DYP-SHP coalition government, which Welfare Party leaders accused of being as insensitive on issues of social injustice and civil rights abuses as its Motherland predecessor. In the March 1994 municipal elections, the Welfare Party demonstrated its ability to draw some of the support base of the DYP, whose share of the total vote fell to 22 percent. In contrast, the Welfare Party won 19 percent of the total vote--placing it a very close third after the DYP and the Motherland Party. Its mayoralty candidates won in both Ankara and Istanbul, the country's two most secular cities, as well as in scores of other cities and towns.
Prior to 1950, the Republic of Turkey was essentially a one-party state ruled by the Republican People's Party, which had been created by Atatürk to implement the Six Arrows of Kemalism. Although there had been abortive experiments with "loyal opposition" parties in the mid-1920s and in 1930, it was not until 1946 that the CHP permitted political parties to form and contest elections, albeit in a politically controlled environment. The Democrat Party was founded in 1946 by CHP members who were dissatisfied with the authoritarian style of the CHP but who otherwise supported the party's Kemalist principles. The DP emphasized the need to end various restrictions on personal freedom so that Turkey could become a democracy. Reform of laws governing political parties and electoral activities--measures that would enable the DP to compete on an equal basis with the CHP--were enacted prior to the 1950 parliamentary elections. Consequently, those elections were the first free ones since the founding of the republic in 1923. The DP won a large majority of seats in the assembly and thus took over the government from the CHP.
The DP retained control of the government throughout the 1950s, a period during which it enacted legislation that restricted news media freedom and various civil liberties. As the DP steadily became less tolerant of dissent, the CHP gradually moved in the opposite direction, abandoning its authoritarian stance and becoming an advocate of civil rights. The DP's efforts to suppress opposition to its policies provoked a political crisis that culminated in a May 1960 military coup. The DP subsequently was dissolved, but the Justice Party, which was established in 1961, was widely perceived as its successor and attracted most of its supporters. In the 1961 parliamentary elections that led to the restoration of civilian government, the Justice Party won the second largest number of seats and thus established itself as the principal competitor of the CHP, which had won a plurality of seats. In the subsequent nineteen years, the rivalry between the Justice Party and the CHP remained a significant feature of Turkish politics. Although both parties proclaimed their loyalty to Kemalist ideals, they evolved distinct ideological positions. Süleyman Demirel, who became leader of the Justice Party in 1964, favored economic policies that benefited private entrepreneurs and industrialists. In contrast, Bülent Ecevit, who became leader of the CHP in 1965, believed in a form of democratic socialism that included government intervention aimed at regulating private business and protecting workers and consumers. The views of these two men and the positions of their respective parties became increasingly polarized after 1972.
The inability of either the Justice Party or the CHP to win parliamentary majorities and the refusal of both Demirel and Ecevit to cooperate politically necessitated the formation of numerous coalition and minority-party governments. These governments proved ineffective at devising policies to cope with Turkey's economic and social problems, which became steadily more serious throughout the 1970s. Various groups on the extreme right and the extreme left formed illegal political organizations that resorted to violence in pursuit of their objectives, which for certain groups included the overthrow of the government. The apparent inability of governments--whether dominated by the Justice Party or by the CHP--to control increasing terrorism in urban areas contributed to a general sense of insecurity and crisis and served as the catalyst for the 1980 coup. Blaming politicians for the country's political impasse, the military sought to end partisan politics by dissolving the old parties and banning all activity by the politicians deemed responsible for the crisis. Although the formation of new parties was authorized in 1983, none was allowed to use the name of any of the banned parties from the precoup past. Nevertheless, most of Turkey's existing parties in early 1995 were transparent continuations of earlier parties.
<"80.htm">True Path Party
<"81.htm">Social Democratic Populist Party
<"84.htm">Democratic Left Party
In January 1995, the True Path Party (Dogru Yol Partisi--DYP) was the senior partner in Turkey's coalition government. It was a continuation of the Justice Party, and its leader from 1987 until 1993 was Demirel. Because Demirel was barred from political activity prior to late 1987, his close associate, Hüsamettin Cindoruk, became the party's titular chair when the True Path Party was established in 1983. However, Demirel was the driving force behind the party, raising money and campaigning on its behalf despite being banned from political action. Demirel promoted economic policies similar to those he had advocated as leader of the Justice Party, updated, however, to reflect changing economic conditions resulting from international political developments between 1989 and 1991.
The True Path Party's rise from political pariah to ruling party was gradual. In 1983 the military government prohibited the party's participation in the parliamentary elections, effectively shutting it out of the legal political process. However, a gain of thirty-five seats in the National Assembly resulted in 1986 when the Nationalist Democracy Party dissolved itself and most of its deputies joined the True Path Party. Subsequently the party won fifty-nine seats in the 1987 parliamentary elections, and Demirel returned to the National Assembly as a deputy for the first time since the military coup. The party's performance four years later was even more impressive: the True Path Party tripled its representation to 178 seats and emerged from the 1991 elections with a plurality in the assembly. Demirel, who had served three times as prime minister before the 1980 coup and twice had been deposed by the military, succeeded in forming his fourth government by negotiating a coalition agreement with the SHP.
When the Demirel government assumed office in November 1991, it faced several political and economic challenges. Two important political issues eluding resolution were the increasing militancy of Kurdish demands for civil rights and the growing stridency of the confrontation between religious and secular elements of society. Although the True Path Party had no sympathy for Kurdish aspirations, its SHP partners tended to support cultural freedom for the Kurds and had a relatively strong political base in the Kurdish provinces. However, the SHP's ability to influence overall government policy on the Kurdish issue was limited because the military had assumed de facto decision-making authority for matters pertaining to southeastern Turkey and expected that civilian politicians would accept this role. There was also no consensus among either True Path Party or SHP leaders on how to handle Islamist aspirations. Whereas some True Path Party members believed it was possible to accommodate Islamist concerns, militant secularists opposed any concessions to those whom they termed "Islamic fundamentalists."
After President Özal suffered a fatal heart attack in April 1993, Demirel decided he wanted to be president. In accordance with the constitution, which mandated that the president be nonpartisan, Demirel resigned as the True Path Party's secretary general in May, after the National Assembly had elected him president. In June 1993, the party's deputies in the assembly chose as their new leader Tansu Çiller (b. 1946), the first woman to head a Turkish political party. Çiller, who had done graduate studies in economics in the United States, put together a new DYP-SHP coalition government that was approved by the assembly in July 1993, enabling her to become Turkey's first female prime minister.
In early 1995, the junior partner in the Çiller government was the Social Democratic Populist Party, known by the Turkish acronym SHP, for Sosyal Demokrat Halkçi Parti. The SHP was one of several parties formed since 1983 that presented itself as an heir to the CHP. In fact, the SHP leader, Erdal Inönü, was the son of Ismet Inönü, a close associate of Atatürk and a cofounder of the CHP. The SHP had been created in 1985 when Inönü's Sodep (disqualified by the military from participating in the 1983 parliamentary elections) merged with Necdet Calp's Populist Party, which had been allowed to take part in the 1983 elections and had won the second largest number of assembly seats.
The decision to join the True Path Party in a coalition government brought to the fore the internal divisions within the SHP. Civil rights activists, both Turkish and Kurdish, opposed the SHP's participation in the government because they associated Demirel with government abuses of human rights during the late 1970s and doubted his willingness to terminate martial law in the Kurdish provinces. Consequently eighteen SHP deputies resigned from the party and, led by Ahmet Türk, established the People's Labor Party (Halkin Emek Partisi--HEP) in 1990 as a separate group in the National Assembly, although they agreed to continue voting with the SHP on certain issues. Because the HEP emphasized civil rights issues, its primary appeal was among Kurds, and a majority of the party's executives were Kurdish. The alliance with the HEP enabled the SHP to broaden its support base--the urban working-class neighborhoods of western and northeastern Turkey--to include the Kurdish areas of the southeast. Meanwhile the security situation in the southeast deteriorated as guerrillas affiliated with the PKK intensified attacks on government sites and personnel as part of a proclaimed effort to create a separate Kurdish state.
Many Turkish leaders, both civilian and military, tended not to distinguish between the HEP, which was committed to working for civil rights within the political process, and the PKK, which aimed to overthrow the political system through armed struggle. When the military initiated proceedings against HEP founders in 1992 for allegedly promoting "separatist propaganda," the HEP deputies accused the SHP of not actively protecting them from official persecution. The Constitutional Court outlawed the HEP in 1993 and its successor, the Democracy Party (Demokrasi Partisi--DEP), the following year. These developments, plus the arrest of DEP deputies in the National Assembly in March and June 1994, adversely affected the SHP's image, especially among its Kurdish supporters. Consequently the SHP did very poorly in the 1994 municipal council elections--virtually all SHP incumbents in the cities and towns of southeastern Turkey lost. It remained unclear in early 1995 whether the SHP could regain the confidence of its Kurdish base. A failure to do so would diminish the SHP's chances in the 1996 parliamentary elections to maintain its status as the third largest party in the National Assembly.
In early 1995, the Motherland Party (Anavatan Partisi--ANAP) was the main parliamentary opposition party, after having served as the governing party from 1983 to 1991. Turgut Özal founded the Motherland Party in May 1983, and his personality and energy were instrumental to the party's subsequent success. Even after Özal officially resigned as party leader in 1989 to become president, his influence--and that of his wife and brothers--continued in Motherland Party affairs. For example, Özal handpicked his successor as party leader, Yildirim Akbulut. However, after Akbulut proved ineffective, both as party chair and as prime minister, Özal pressured him to resign in June 1991. In anticipation of the forthcoming parliamentary elections, Özal approved the younger and more dynamic Mesut Yilmaz as Akbulut's successor. Yilmaz campaigned energetically, used his position as prime minister to woo voters with incentives such as wage increases for public-sector employees, and performed well against other political leaders in Turkey's first-ever televised political debate. However, the Motherland Party's total share of the national vote in the October 1991 balloting fell by 12 percent compared to 1987, and the party won sixty-three fewer assembly seats than its rival, the True Path Party.
The Motherland Party's policies and constituency were similar to those of the True Path Party, but the intense personal rivalry between Demirel and Özal had precluded political cooperation between the two parties prior to Özal's death in 1993. The president's death represented both a major loss and a potential opportunity for the Motherland Party. The party's cohesion had depended on the force of Özal's personality, and in early 1995 it was unclear whether Yilmaz would succeed in transforming the Motherland Party into an effective organization based on a coherent political program and ideology. In addition, because the party's past electoral strength had derived from Özal's own popular appeal, it was not evident what long-term impact his death would have. Despite Yilmaz's relative youth and limited political experience, he appeared to be the party's chief asset, and even before Özal's death he had been trying to chart a course independent of the party's influential founder. Nevertheless, many members were dissatisfied with Yilmaz's leadership; in late 1992 and early 1993, more than fifteen Motherland Party deputies, citing differences with Yilmaz, resigned from the party in a move that reduced its overall strength in the National Assembly to fewer than 100 seats. More than fifty former deputies, including five founding members of the party, also resigned to demonstrate their opposition to Yilmaz. Yilmaz now faced the challenge of developing a new party identity that would appeal to a broader constituency; otherwise the Motherland Party would expend all its energies competing with the ideologically similar True Path Party.
The Welfare Party (Refah Partisi--RP), which had received only 7 percent of the total vote in the 1987 parliamentary elections and thus had not qualified for assembly seats, was the main electoral surprise in the 1991 balloting. Nearly 17 percent of the electorate voted for the Welfare Party, enabling it to win sixty-two seats in the National Assembly. The Welfare Party was widely considered an Islamic party. Its leader, Necmettin Erbakan, had been identified with Islamic political activism since the early 1970s. He was the founder in 1972 of the National Salvation Party (Milli Selamet Partisi--MSP), which became the third largest party in parliament in 1973. The MSP openly supported a religious political agenda calling for the restoration of traditional "morals and virtues" and a reduction of economic ties to the Christian countries of Western Europe. In 1974 the MSP gained a measure of political legitimacy by participating in a CHP-led coalition government. In fact, Turgut Özal briefly was a member of the MSP in the 1970s and was at one time an unsuccessful candidate on its parliamentary list.
Following the 1980 coup, the military not only dissolved the MSP, along with other political parties, but also prosecuted Erbakan and other MSP leaders for violating a law forbidding the use of religion for political purposes. When new political parties were authorized in 1983, Erbakan founded the Welfare Party on a platform stressing themes similar to those espoused by the defunct MSP. The ruling generals--and most civilians--perceived the Welfare Party as a continuation of the MSP. It was therefore disqualified from participation in the 1983 parliamentary elections. However, the party did sponsor candidates in the 1984 municipal elections and since then has steadily expanded its support base.
The Welfare Party's strength is in middle- and lower-class urban neighborhoods and in the Kurdish areas of the southeast. This strength was first demonstrated during the municipal elections of 1989, when the party's candidates for mayor won in five large cities and 100 towns. The 1991 parliamentary elections provided further evidence of the Welfare Party's growing popularity and its ability to consolidate an electoral base. Inspired by the party's achievements in 1991, Welfare Party activists, including a new generation of university students, campaigned tirelessly to recruit new supporters. As a result of these efforts, the Welfare Party's share of the total vote increased to 19 percent in the municipal elections of March 1994. The symbolic importance of the 1994 balloting because of its religious implications, probably exceeded the actual significance of the party's turnout. Tayyip Erdogan, the Welfare Party's candidate for mayor of Istanbul, and Melih Gokchek, its mayoral candidate for Ankara, both won. In addition, Welfare Party candidates for mayor won in twenty-seven other cities and in 400 towns, including almost all of the predominantly Kurdish municipalities in the southeast.
The Welfare Party's electoral appeal stems from the popularity of its call for a return to traditional values--widely interpreted as meaning Islamic morals and behavior. Its slogans are sufficiently vague with respect to specific policies to attract diverse support. Thus, self-identified Welfare Party loyalists range from professionals who dress in expensive Western fashions and interpret Islam liberally to individuals, especially women, who adopt a contemporary version of traditional Islamic dress and give Islam a fundamentalist interpretation. Whereas the Welfare Party has adopted certain well-defined positions, such as opposition to Turkey's goal of full membership in the European Union, its adherents tend to hold divergent views on most economic and political issues. However, they share a common interest in religious practices such as daily prayers, fasting during the Islamic holy month of Ramazan (Ramadan in Arabic), avoiding behavior harmful to others, and reading the Kuran (Quran in Arabic). Furthermore, the Welfare Party's emphasis on common religious bonds tends to bring together, rather than to divide, Turkish-speaking and Kurdish-speaking Muslims and has impressed secular Kurds who have become disillusioned with other political parties.
The Democratic Left Party, known by the Turkish acronym DSP (for Demokratik Sol Partisi), was the smallest parliamentary party in January 1995. Because the party received almost 11 percent of the vote in the 1991 elections, DSP leader Bülent Ecevit and six other party officials took seats in the National Assembly. Ecevit considered the DSP the legitimate successor to the CHP, which he headed prior to the 1980 coup. When the DSP was founded in November 1985--with Ecevit's wife serving as chair because he remained barred from political activity--Ecevit made known his low opinion of the SHP, which also presented itself as the heir to the CHP, and its leader, Erdal Inönü. Ecevit's personal animosity toward Inönü prevented DSP-SHP cooperation, even though the parties had similar programs and appealed to the same constituency. In both 1987 and 1991, Ecevit spurned efforts by Inönü and other SHP leaders to persuade him to join an electoral alliance. Ecevit condemned the SHP's participation in the Demirel and Çiller governments as evidence that the party had abandoned social-democratic principles and betrayed the working class.
The decades following World War II saw a proliferation of interest groups that evolved into increasingly active and politically conscious associations. The growth of these groups was part of a general trend toward a more politicized and pluralistic society. This trend resulted primarily from factors such as the advent of multiparty politics, economic development and the accompanying expansion of opportunity, and improvements in communications (see Mass Media, this ch.). Increasing urbanization, rising literacy rates, rapid industrial expansion, and the exposure of hundreds of thousands of Turkish guest workers--most from villages and lower-class urban areas--to new ideas and customs in Western Europe also contributed to the politicization of the populace. As a consequence, a growing number of voluntary associations sprang up to promote specific interests, either on their own, through representatives in parliament, or through the cabinet and senior bureaucrats. These associations enabled various social groups to exercise a degree of influence over political matters. The activities of groups such as labor unions, business associations, student organizations, a journalists' association, and religious and cultural associations promoted public awareness of important issues and contributed to a relatively strong civil society.
The autonomy of civic groups vis-à-vis the state has been a persistent political problem since 1960. During periods of military rule and martial law, the independence of such groups often was circumscribed (see Crisis in Turkish Democracy, ch. 1). Following the military takeover in September 1980, for example, strict limits were placed on the political activities of civic associations; some of these restrictions remained in force in early 1995. For example, the 1982 constitution, like that of 1961, affirms the right of individuals to form associations but also stipulates that the exercise of this right must not violate the "indivisible integrity of the state." Furthermore, associations are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of language, race, or religion, or from trying to promote one social class or group over others. Civic associations also are forbidden to pursue political aims, engage in political activities, receive support from or give support to political parties, or take joint action with labor unions or professional organizations. In addition, legislation enacted in 1983 prohibits teachers, high school students, civil servants, and soldiers from forming associations, and bans officials of professional organizations from participating actively in politics.
By dint of the influence it has exerted on politics since the early days of the Turkish republic, the military constitutes the country's most important interest group. Atatürk and his principal allies all were career officers during the final years of the Ottoman Empire. Although Atatürk subsequently endeavored to separate the military from political affairs, he nevertheless considered the army to be the "intelligentsia of the Turkish nation" and "the guardian of its ideals." By the time of Atatürk's death in 1938, the military had internalized a view of itself as a national elite responsible for protecting the Six Arrows of Kemalism. Prior to 1960, the military worked behind the scenes to ensure that the country adhered to the guidelines of the Kemalist principles. However, in 1960 senior officers were so alarmed by government policies they perceived as deviating from Kemalism that they intervened directly in the political process by overthrowing the elected government and setting up a military regime. The military saw its mission as putting the country back on the correct path of Kemalism. Believing by October 1961 that this goal had been achieved, the officers returned to the barracks, whence they exercised oversight of civilian politicians.
The 1960 coup demonstrated the military's special status as an interest group autonomous--if it chose to be--from the government. On two subsequent occasions, in 1971 and 1980, the military again intervened to remove a government it perceived as violating Kemalist principles. The 1980 coup resulted in a longer transition period to civilian government and the imposition of more extensive restrictions on political rights than had the earlier interventions. At the start of 1995, some fourteen years after the coup, senior officers in the armed services still expected the civilian president and Council of Ministers to heed their advice on matters they considered pertinent to national security. For instance, the military defines many domestic law-and-order issues as falling within the realm of national security and thus both formulates and implements certain policies that the government is expected to approve.
College teachers and students have acted as a pressure group in Turkey since the late 1950s, when they initiated demonstrations against university teaching methods, curricula, and administrative practices that they alleged resulted in an inadequate education. The violent repression of student demonstrations in the spring of 1960 was one of the factors that prompted that year's military coup. In 1960 both teachers and students generally were held in high public esteem because the universities were viewed as the centers where the future Kemalist elite was being trained. During the 1960s and 1970s, however, the universities became the loci of ideological conflicts among a multitude of political groups espousing diverse political, economic, and religious ideas. As students became progressively more radicalized and violent, armed clashes among rival student groups and between students and police increased in frequency and magnitude. By 1980 the military regarded the universities as a source of threats to Kemalist principles.
One of the aims of the military government that assumed power in 1980 was to regain state control over the universities. The regime created a Council of Higher Education, which was intended to provide a less autonomous, more uniform system of central administration. The regime purged ideologically suspect professors from the faculties of all universities and issued a law prohibiting teachers from joining political parties. Student associations lost their autonomy, and students charged with participating in illegal organizations became subject to expulsion. A cautious revival of campus political activity began in the 1990s, mainly around foreign policy issues. However, as of early 1995 the government's possession of the means and will to punish campus activists appeared to be intimidating most faculty and students.
The legalization of unions under the Trade Union Law of 1947 paved the way for the slow but steady growth of a labor movement that evolved parallel to multiparty politics. The principal goal of unions as defined in the 1947 law was to seek the betterment of members' social and economic status. Unions were denied the right to strike or to engage in political activity, either on their own or as vehicles of political parties. In spite of these limitations, labor unions gradually acquired political influence. The Confederation of Turkish Trade Unions (Türkiye Isçi Sendikalari Konfederasyonu--Türk-Is) was founded in 1952 at government instigation to serve as an independent umbrella group. Under the tutelage of Türk-Is, labor evolved into a well-organized interest group; the organization also functioned as an agency through which the government could restrain workers' wage demands (see Human Resources and Trade Unions, ch. 3). The labor movement expanded in the liberalized political climate of the 1960s, especially after a union law enacted in 1963 legalized strikes, lockouts, and collective bargaining. However, unions were forbidden to give "material aid" to political parties. Political parties also were barred from giving money to unions or forming separate labor organizations.
The labor movement did not escape the politicization and polarization that characterized the 1960s and 1970s. Workers' dissatisfaction with Türk-Is as the representative of their interests led to the founding in 1967 of the Confederation of Revolutionary Workers' Trade Unions of Turkey (Türkiye Devrimçi Isçi Sendikalari Konfederasyonu--DISK). DISK leaders were militants who had been expelled from Türk-Is after supporting a glass factory strike opposed by the Türk-Is bureaucracy. Both Türk-Is and the government tried to suppress DISK, whose independence was perceived as a threat. However, a spontaneous, two-day, pro-DISK demonstration by thousands of laborers in Istanbul--the first mass political action by Turkish workers--forced the government in June 1970 to back away from a bill to abolish DISK. For the next ten years, DISK remained an independent organization promoting the rights of workers and supporting their job actions, including one major general strike in 1977 that led to the temporary abolition of the military-run State Security Courts. By 1980 about 500,000 workers belonged to unions affiliated with DISK.
Following the 1980 coup, the military regime banned independent union activity, suspended DISK, and arrested hundreds of its activists, including all its top officials. The government prosecuted DISK leaders, as well as more than 1,000 other trade unionists arrested in 1980, in a series of trials that did not end until December 1986. The secretary general of DISK and more than 250 other defendants received jail sentences of up to ten years. Meanwhile, the more complaisant Türk-Is, which had not been outlawed after the coup, worked with the military government and its successors to depoliticize workers. As the government-approved labor union confederation, Türk-Is benefited from new laws pertaining to unions. For example, the 1982 constitution permits unions but prohibits them from engaging in political activity, thus effectively denying them the right to petition political representatives. As in the days prior to 1967, unions must depend upon Türk-Is to mediate between them and the government. A law issued in May 1983 restricts the establishment of new trade unions and places constraints on the right to strike by banning politically motivated strikes, general strikes, solidarity strikes, and any strike considered a threat to society or national well-being.
The government's restrictions on union activity tended to demoralize workers, who generally remained passive for more than five years after the 1980 coup. However, beginning in 1986 unions experienced a resurgence. In February several thousand workers angered by pension cutbacks held a rally--labor's first such demonstration since the 1980 coup--to protest high living costs, low wages, high unemployment, and restrictions on union organizing and collective bargaining. A subsequent rally in June drew an estimated 50,000 demonstrators. Since 1986 workers have conducted numerous rallies, small strikes, work slowdowns, and other manifestations of dissatisfaction. By the early 1990s, an average of 120,000 workers per year were involved in strike activity. Türk-Is has mediated these incidents by bailing detained workers out of prison, negotiating compromise wage increase packages, and encouraging cooperative labor-management relations.
The Turkish Trade Association (Türkiye Odalar Birligi--TOB) has represented the interests of merchants, industrialists, and commodity brokers since 1952. In the 1960s and 1970s, new associations representing the interests of private industry challenged TOB's position as the authoritative representative of business in Turkey. Subsequently the organization came to be identified primarily with small and medium-sized firms. The Union of Chambers of Industry was founded in 1967 as a coalition within TOB by industrialists seeking to reorganize the confederation. The Union of Chambers of Industry was unable to acquire independent status but achieved improved coordination of industrialists' demands. By setting up study groups, the union was able to pool research on development projects. In addition, the union organized regional Chambers of Industry within TOB.
Business interests also were served by employers' associations that dealt primarily with labor-management relations and were united under the aegis of the Turkish Confederation of Employers' Unions (Türkiye Isveren Sendikalari Konfederasyonu--TISK). This confederation was established in 1961, largely in response to the development of trade unions, and was considered the most militant of employers' associations. By the end of 1980, TISK claimed 106 affiliated groups with a total membership of 9,183 employers. Although membership in TISK was open to employers in both the private and public sectors, it was primarily an organization of private-sector employers. When the military regime took power in 1980, labor union activities were suspended, but TISK was allowed to continue functioning. Employers supported the subsequent restrictive labor legislation, which appeared to be in accord with TISK proposals.
Another representative of business interests, the Turkish Industrialists' and Businessmen's Association (Türk Sanayiçileri ve Is Adamlari Dernegi--TÜSIAD), was founded by the leaders of some of Turkey's largest business and industrial enterprises soon after the March 1971 military coup. Its aim was to improve the image of business and to stress its concern with social issues. At the same time, TÜSIAD favored granting greater control of investment capital to the large industrialists at the expense of the smaller merchant and banking interests usually supported by TOB. TÜSIAD's leaders also were concerned with the widening economic inequalities between regions and social classes and opposed TISK's extreme antilabor policies, which they perceived as jeopardizing Turkey's chances of entering the European Union.
Turkey officially has been a secular state since 1924. Atatürk viewed attachment to religion as an impediment to modernization and imposed rigorous restrictions on the practice of Islam (see Secularist Reforms, ch. 2). Until the late 1940s, the separation of mosque and state was rigidly enforced by the authoritarian, one-party government. However, secularism remained an elite ideology, whereas Islam, the nominal religion of 98 percent of the population, continued to be a strong influence on most of the people, especially in rural areas and lower-class urban neighborhoods. The advent of competitive politics in 1950 enabled religion to reacquire a respected public status. Initially the Democrat Party, then most other parties, found it politically expedient to appeal to religious sentiments in election campaigns. As the government gradually became more tolerant of religious expression, both public observance of religious festivals and mosque construction increased. In addition, there was a resurgence of voluntary religious associations, including the tarikatlar ( sing., tarikat --see Glossary). Prior to 1970, however, religion was not a political issue.
The formation of the MSP in 1972 as Turkey's first republican party to espouse openly Islamic principles inaugurated the politicization of the religious issue (see Retreat from Secularism, ch. 2). The MSP attracted a following by providing an Islamic defense of traditional values that were eroding as a consequence of the economic and social changes the country had begun to experience in the late 1960s. In effect, religion became a vehicle for expressing popular discontent. The inability of the major political parties to agree on policies to counteract this discontent tended to enhance the influence of minor parties such as the MSP. Indeed, in 1974 the main exponent of Kemalist secularism, the CHP, invited the MSP, by then the third largest party in parliament, to join it in a coalition government. Its participation in the government provided the MSP, and the Islamic movement more broadly, with an aura of political legitimacy. Subsequently, the MSP sponsored an Islamist youth movement that during the late 1970s engaged other militant youth groups--both socialists on the left and secular nationalists on the right--in armed street battles. In the mosques, numerous voluntary associations were formed to undertake religious studies, devotional prayers, charitable projects, social services, and the publication of journals. Even the minority Shia (see Glossary) Muslims organized their own separate groups (see The Alevi, ch. 2).
The 1980 coup only temporarily interrupted the trend toward increased religious observance. Initially, the military regime arrested Erbakan and other MSP leaders and put them on trial for politically exploiting religion in violation of Turkish law. However, the senior officers, although committed to secularism, wanted to use religion as a counter to socialist and Marxist ideologies and thus refrained from interfering with the tarikatlar and other voluntary religious associations. Furthermore, the generals approved an article in the 1982 constitution mandating compulsory religious instruction in all schools. When political parties were allowed to form in 1983, Özal's Motherland Party welcomed a large group of former MSP members, who probably were attracted to the party because Özal and some of his relatives had belonged to the MSP in the 1970s. One of Özal's brothers, Korkut Özal, held an important position in the Naksibendi tarikat , the oldest and largest organized religious order in Turkey.
The military regime was preoccupied with eliminating the threat from "communists," a term freely applied to anyone with socialist ideas. Thousands of persons lost jobs in state offices, schools, and enterprises because they were perceived as "leftists," and leftist organizations virtually disappeared. Religiously motivated persons assumed many of the vacated positions, especially in education, and Islamic groups filled the political vacuum created by the state's successful assault on the left. At the same time, the policies of neither the military regime nor its civilian successors effectively addressed the economic and social problems that continued to fuel popular discontent.
Without competition from the left, the religious orders and the religiously oriented Welfare Party enjoyed almost a monopoly on the mobilization of discontent. One tarikat , the boldly political Fethullahçi, actually tried to recruit cadets in the military academies. By 1986 the increasingly vociferous and militant activities of religious groups had forced on the defensive the concept of secularism itself--a bedrock of Kemalist principles for sixty years.
In 1987 the military had become persuaded that what it called "Islamic fundamentalism" was a potentially serious threat to its vision of Kemalism. In January 1987, President Evren publicly denounced Islamic fundamentalism as being as dangerous as communism. Initially, the secular political elite, with the exception of the SHP, was not persuaded by his arguments. Özal, then prime minister, seemed to support the Islamic wing of his party, which was pushing for the repeal of the remaining laws restricting religious practices. The True Path Party characterized the trend toward religious observance as a healthy development and stressed freedom of practice. However, as clandestine religious groups began to carry out attacks on noted secularists in the late 1980s, True Path Party leaders became concerned, and then alarmed, by the influence of Islamism (sometimes seen as fundamentalism).
The Welfare Party disassociated itself from violent attacks by both organized and unorganized religious fanatics, but such attacks increased in both frequency and severity in the 1990s. The most sensational attack occurred in July 1993, when a mob leaving Friday congregational prayers in the central Anatolian city of Sivas firebombed a hotel where Turkey's internationally renowned author, self-proclaimed atheist Aziz Nesin, and dozens of other writers were staying while attending a cultural festival. Although Nesin escaped harm, thirty-seven persons were killed and 100 injured in that incident. Several weeks before the attack, Nesin's newspaper, Aydinlik , had published translated excerpts of British author Salman Rushdie's controversial 1988 novel, The Satanic Verses , which many Muslim religious leaders had condemned as blasphemous. Following publication of the excerpts, the newspaper's offices in Istanbul and other cities were attacked by groups of Islamic militants.
Turkey's religious revival has foreign policy implications because the tarikatlar tend to link with religious groups in other Muslim countries. Saudi Arabia, for example, has been an important source of the extensive financial support that has enabled the tarikatlar to proselytize and to operate charitable programs that enhance their political influence. Turkish political leaders also fear the influence of neighboring Iran, where an Islamic government replaced the secular regime in 1979, and since 1987 have tended to blame incidents of religious violence on Iranian agents. However, Turkey's religious activists are Sunni (see Glossary) Muslims who tend to display suspicion and prejudice toward Shia Muslims--who make up more than 90 percent of the Iranian population--and there has been scant evidence to support the existence of significant ties between the Turkish Sunni and Iran.
At least 15 percent of Turkey's population consists of ethnic and religious minorities. The Kurds are the minority group with the greatest impact on national politics. Since the 1930s, Kurds have resisted government efforts to assimilate them forcibly, including an official ban on speaking or writing Kurdish. Since 1984 Kurdish resistance to Turkification has encompassed both a peaceful political struggle to obtain basic civil rights for Kurds within Turkey and a violent armed struggle to obtain a separate Kurdish state. The leaders of the nonviolent struggle have worked within the political system for the recognition of Kurdish cultural rights, including the right to speak Kurdish in public and to read, write, and publish in Kurdish. Prior to 1991, these Kurds operated within the national political parties, in particular the SHP, the party most sympathetic to their goal of full equality for all citizens of Turkey. President Özal's 1991 call for a more liberal policy toward Kurds and for the repeal of the ban on speaking Kurdish raised the hopes of Kurdish politicians. Following the parliamentary elections of October 1991, several Kurdish deputies, including Hatip Dicle, Feridun Yazar, and Leyla Zayna, formed the HEP, a party with the explicit goal of campaigning within the National Assembly for laws guaranteeing equal rights for the Kurds.
Turkey's other leaders were not as willing as Özal to recognize Kurdish distinctiveness, and only two months after his death in April 1993, the Constitutional Court issued its decision declaring the HEP illegal. In anticipation of this outcome, the Kurdish deputies had resigned from the HEP only days before and formed a new organization, the Democracy Party (Demokrasi Partisi--DEP). The DEP's objective was similar to that of its predecessor: to promote civil rights for all citizens of Turkey. When the DEP was banned in June 1994, Kurdish deputies formed the new People's Democracy Party (Halkin Demokrasi Partisi--HADEP).
The PKK initiated armed struggle against the state in 1984 with attacks on gendarmerie posts in the southeast. The PKK's leader, Abdullah Öcalan, had formed the group in the late 1970s while a student in Ankara. Prior to the 1980 coup, Öcalan fled to Lebanon, via Syria, where he continued to maintain his headquarters in 1994. Until October 1992, Öcalan's brother, Osman, had supervised PKK training camps in the mountains separating northern Iraq from Turkey's Hakkâri and Mardin provinces. It was from these camps that PKK guerrillas launched their raids into Turkey. The main characteristic of PKK attacks was the use of indiscriminate violence, and PKK guerrillas did not hesitate to kill Kurds whom they considered collaborators. Targeted in particular were the government's paid militia, known as village guards, and schoolteachers accused of promoting forced assimilation. The extreme violence of the PKK's methods enabled the government to portray the PKK as a terrorist organization and to justify its own policies, which included the destruction of about 850 border villages and the forced removal of their populations to western Turkey.
In March 1993, the PKK dropped its declared objective of creating an independent state of Kurdistan in the southeastern provinces that had Kurdish majorities. Its new goal was to resolve the Kurdish problem within a democratic and federal system. The loss of PKK guerrilla camps in northern Iraq in October 1992, following defeat in a major confrontation with Iraqi Kurdish forces supported by Turkish military intervention, probably influenced this tactical change. At the same time, Öcalan announced a unilateral, albeit temporary, cease-fire in the PKK's war with Turkish security forces. The latter decision may also have reflected the influence of Kurdish civilian leaders, who had been urging an end to the violence in order to test Özal's commitment to equal rights. Whether there were realistic prospects in the spring of 1993 for a political solution to the conflict in southeast Turkey may never be known. Özal suffered a fatal heart attack in April, and his successor, Demirel, did not appear inclined to challenge the military, whose position continued to be that elimination of the PKK was the appropriate way to pacify the region. Fighting between security forces and PKK guerrillas, estimated to number as many as 15,000, resumed by June 1993.
In early 1995, Turkey's other minorities--Arabs, Armenians, other Caucasian peoples, Circassians, Georgians, Greeks, and Jews--tended toward political quiescence. Arabs, who are concentrated in the southeast to the west of the Kurds and north of the border with Syria, had demonstrated over language and religious issues in the 1980s. Because most of Turkey's Arabs belong to Islam's Alawi branch, whose adherents also include the leading politicians of Syria, Ankara's often tense relations with Syria tend to be further complicated.
The Armenian issue also adds tension to foreign affairs. The 60,000 Armenians estimated to be living in Turkey in the mid-1990s had refrained from attracting any political attention to their community. However, along with Armenians residing in Lebanon, France, Iran, and the United States, the Republic of Armenia, which borders Turkey's easternmost province of Kars, has embarrassed Turkey with highly publicized annual commemorations of the Armenian genocide of 1915-16--which the Turkish government denies ever occurred (see World War I, ch. 1). The Turkish government also condemns as harmful to overall relations the periodic efforts by the United States Congress and the parliaments of European states to pass resolutions condemning the mass killings. Various clandestine Armenian groups--of which the most prominent is the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA)--have claimed responsibility for assassinations of Turkish diplomatic personnel stationed in the Middle East and Europe. Such assassinations have continued to occur in the 1990s. Unidentified Turkish government officials frequently have leaked reports to the news media accusing Armenia, Lebanon, and Syria of allowing Armenian terrorists to receive training and support within their borders.
The Turkish news media consist of a state-operated radio and television broadcasting system and privately owned press and broadcasting operations. Newspapers are not subject to prior censorship, but a 1983 press law restricts them from reporting information deemed to fall within the sphere of national security and prohibits the publication of papers that promote "separatism." Violations of these restrictions result in the closing down of newspapers and the prosecution of journalists. Except for official press releases, most reports on military operations in southeastern Turkey and almost all accounts of public speeches calling for Kurdish cultural rights prompt state prosecutors to come before security courts calling for judicial investigations of possible press law violations. Amnesty International has documented the detention of scores of journalists who wrote independent articles about conditions in the southeast during 1991-92; in some instances, journalists were injured during interrogations or held for prolonged periods without access to attorneys. Twenty-eight journalists were tried and sentenced to prison in the first six months of 1993 alone. Many of them worked for the Istanbul daily Ozgur Gundem , which has regularly featured stories on conditions in the Kurdish areas and has carried interviews with both PKK guerrillas and Turkish soldiers. In an apparent attempt to halt publication of such articles, the government arrested the newspaper's editor in chief, Davut Karadag, in July 1993 and charged him with spreading separatist propaganda. Subsequently, editors at Medya Gunesi, Aydinlik , and other newspapers were detained on similar charges.
The publication of materials thought to offend public morals is also grounds for suspending a periodical or confiscating a book. The Censor's Board on Obscene Publications has responsibility for reviewing potentially offensive material and deciding on appropriate action. The weekly Aktuel frequently questions the value of, and need for, such a board in a democracy, using biting satire to deliver its message. In 1993 the editor of the weekly and one of its freelance columnists were arrested and charged with insulting the board.
In 1994 there were more than thirty daily newspapers in Turkey. The mass-circulation dailies are based in Istanbul and are distributed nationally. These include the country's largest newspaper, Hürriyet (Freedom), which has a circulation of more than 850,000, and three other papers, each with daily circulations ranging from 200,000 to 300,000: Günaydin (Good Morning), Tercuman (Interpreter), and Milliyet (Nationality). A smaller paper, Cumhuriyet (Republic), is influential because it is read widely by the country's economic and political elite. In all, more than a dozen dailies are published in Istanbul. Nine dailies are published in Ankara and three in Izmir. Other major cities, including Adana, Bursa, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Konya, and Mersin, have at least one local daily newspaper. In addition to the newspapers, twenty weeklies and a variety of biweekly, monthly, bimonthly, and quarterly journals also are published.
The main news agency in Turkey is the official Anadolu Ajansi (Anatolian Agency), founded by Atatürk in 1920. Its primary function is to issue news bulletins and printed information within the country and for distribution abroad. As do most newspapers, Turkish radio and television depend on the agency as a primary source of domestic news. In 1994 it had regional offices in Turkey's major cities as well as correspondents throughout the country. It also had foreign correspondents in all major world cities. In addition to the Anatolian Agency, several private agencies serve the press.
The government of Turkey began radio broadcasting in 1927. Atatürk and his colleagues perceived radio as a means to promote modernization and nationalism and thus created a Bureau of the Press Directorate to oversee programming and ensure that it served national goals. In 1964 the government established the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (Türkiye Radyo Televizyon Kurumu--TRT) to expand radio facilities and develop public television. Subsequently, the transmission power of radio stations greatly increased, as did the number of licensed receivers. (The government required purchase of a license for ownership of radios, and later of televisions.) By 1994 almost the entire nation had radio coverage, with thirty-six transmitters beaming a total power of 5,500 kilowatts to an estimated 10 million receivers. TRT also broadcasts programs abroad in Turkish and in several foreign languages, including Arabic, Bulgarian, Greek, and Persian.
Television developed more slowly than radio, mainly because the government considered it a luxury. Television broadcasting began through a technical-assistance agreement between Turkey and the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany). With the aid of the equipment and technical personnel provided under this agreement, TRT inaugurated the country's first public television station in Ankara in 1968. Gradually new stations were opened in Istanbul, Izmir, and other cities. Investment in television facilities accelerated after 1972, and during the following decade television replaced radio as the country's most important mass medium. By 1994 the estimated number of television sets--10 million--equaled the number of radio receivers.
TRT had a constitutionally mandated monopoly on radio and television broadcasting prior to 1993. It financed its operations through limited allocations it received from the government's general budget and income derived from radio and television license fees. TRT news presentations and documentaries tended to avoid controversy; television viewers often criticized the programs as dull. Dissatisfaction with public television prompted proposals beginning in the late 1980s to amend the constitution to permit private, commercial broadcasting. Opposition to private broadcasting came from the military and other groups that feared loss of government control over programming. It was not until 1993 that the National Assembly approved legislation to authorize private radio and television in tandem with public broadcasting. Even before their legalization, however, private stations had begun to broadcast programs, many of which disturbed officials in the national security bureaucracy. For example, in the summer of 1993 the State Security Court opened an investigation into a public affairs program of a private Istanbul channel, charging that the program had spread separatist propaganda by including Kurdish guests.
Turkey began reevaluating its foreign policy in 1991, when the United States-led war against Iraq and the collapse of the Soviet Union totally upset patterns of international relations that had been relatively consistent for more than forty years. Both of these developments intimately affected Turkey because the former Soviet Union was its neighbor to the north and east, and Iraq its neighbor to the south. Political instability has plagued both these regions since 1991, causing some Turkish national security analysts to fear possible negative consequences for their own country. However, other Turks believe that the international changes since 1991 offer their country a unique opportunity to reassert its historical role as a bridge between two regions in which it has had only a marginal presence since 1918.
Since the end of World War II, Turkey had regarded the Soviet Union, the superpower with which it shared a 590-kilometer frontier, as its principal enemy. Fear of Soviet intentions was powerful enough to persuade Turkish leaders to join the United States-European collective defense agreement, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), in 1952. Participation in NATO made Turkey a partisan on the side of the West in the Cold War that dominated international politics for more than forty years. Turkish suspicions of the Soviet Union gradually eased during the era of détente that began in the 1960s, paving the way for several bilateral economic cooperation agreements in the 1970s. However, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 revived Turkish concerns about Soviet expansionism and led to a cooling of relations that lasted more than five years. Beginning in the mid-1980s, Turkish fears again eased. Ankara and Moscow concluded a number of agreements, including plans for a pipeline to carry natural gas from Soviet gas fields to Turkey. Economic and diplomatic ties between the two countries were being expanded when the Soviet Union dissolved into fifteen independent nations.
For Turkey the practical consequence of the Soviet Union's demise was the replacement of one large, powerful, and generally predictable neighbor with five smaller near neighbors characterized by domestic instability and troubling foreign policies. Like most states, Turkey perceives Russia as the principal inheritor of Soviet power and influence. Turkish officials likewise share in the widespread uncertainty over Russia's role in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), formed at the end of 1991, and thus try to avoid policies that might antagonize a traditional adversary. Diplomatic contacts with Russia and the CIS have focused on the renegotiation of numerous Soviet-era economic and technical cooperation agreements that were in force when the Soviet Union was dissolved. Turkey also has initiated multilateral discussions with the five states that now border the Black Sea--Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, and Romania--on an economic cooperation project originally proposed before the demise of the Soviet Union. The inaugural meetings of the new group called for ambitious plans to increase trade among member states, encourage labor mobility, and establish a development bank.
In Transcaucasia and Central Asia, regions where Turkey is most keen to project its influence, Ankara has tended to defer to Moscow whenever such a course seems prudent. Turkey's efforts to make its presence felt in nearby Transcaucasia have been limited not so much by Russia as by the political realities that emerged in Transcaucasia itself after December 1991. All three new countries in the region--Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia--share land borders with Turkey; thus political and economic leaders view them as natural partners for trade and development projects. Both President Özal's Motherland Party and Prime Minister Demirel's True Path Party embraced the idea of expanding ties with Azerbaijan, an oil-producing country whose people speak a Turkic language closely related to Anatolian Turkish.
Almost all the major parties have expressed reservations about an independent Armenia, probably on account of the historical bitterness between Armenians and Turks. In the mid-1990s, the revival of Ottoman-era animosities seemed inevitable because Armenia and Azerbaijan had become independent while fighting an undeclared war over the Azerbaijani province of Nagorno-Karabakh, whose ethnic Armenian majority has been trying to secede. Turkey adopted an officially neutral position in the conflict, although its sympathies lie with Azerbaijan. Popular opinion against Armenia became especially intense in 1992 and 1993, when military successes by Armenian forces caused tens of thousands of Azerbaijani refugees to enter Turkey. Turkey responded by applying temporary economic pressure on Armenia, such as closing the transborder road to traffic bringing goods into the landlocked country and cutting Turkish electrical power to Armenian towns. However, Turkey's membership in NATO and the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (from January 1995, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe), its concerns about overall regional stability--adjacent Georgia was engulfed in its own civil war in 1993--and fears of unpredictable Iranian and Russian reactions all combined to restrain Turkey from providing direct military assistance to Azerbaijan.
Disappointment over the inadequacy of Turkish support was one of the factors that prompted the 1993 coup against Azerbaijan's staunchly pro-Turkish government. This unexpected political change in Baku represented a major blow to Turkish policy. The new regime in Azerbaijan was not only cool toward Turkey but also determined to cultivate friendlier relations with Iran and Russia. These developments provoked opposition deputies in Turkey's National Assembly to accuse the Çiller government of having "lost" Azerbaijan. As of late January 1995, Ankara's political influence in Baku still was limited, although Turkey's overall cultural influence in Azerbaijan seemed strong.
Turkey's policy in Central Asia has proved more successful than its Transcaucasian policy. As with Azerbaijan, a feeling of pan-Turkic solidarity has prompted Turkish interest in expanding ties with the countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. In April 1992, in his first year as prime minister, Demirel traveled to the region to promote Turkey as a political and developmental model for the Central Asian states. He explicitly represented Turkey not only as a successful example of what an independent Turkic country could achieve but also as a more appropriate model than the Islamic alternative offered by Iran, which he perceived as Turkey's main rival for influence in the region. Subsequently, Turkey concluded numerous cultural, economic, and technical aid agreements with the Central Asian states, including non-Turkic Tajikistan. Turkey also sponsored full membership for the Central Asian countries and Azerbaijan in the Economic Cooperation Organization, a regional trade pact whose original members were Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey. In practice, however, Turkey lacks adequate economic resources to play the pivotal role in Central Asia to which it aspires. Because Iran also has insufficient capital for aid to and investment in the region, the anticipated rivalry between Iran and Turkey had failed by the mid-1990s to develop into a serious contest. By the time President Özal followed Demirel's trip with his own tour of the region in April 1993, Turkey recognized, albeit reluctantly, that Russia, rather than Turkey or Iran, had emerged as the dominant political force in Central Asia, and that this situation would prevail indefinitely. Nevertheless, the new countries have professed friendship toward Turkey and welcomed its overtures. In response, Turkey has reoriented its policies to focus on strengthening bilateral cultural ties and encouraging Turkish private entrepreneurs to invest in the region. As of early 1995, Turkey enjoyed close diplomatic relations with the four Turkic republics of Central Asia and good relations with Persian-speaking Tajikistan.
Closely related to the dissolution of the Soviet Union was the collapse of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe. This development had positive consequences in terms of Turkey's relations with Bulgaria, which borders the Turkish province of Thrace. Relations between Turkey and Bulgaria had been badly strained between 1985 and 1989 as a result of Bulgaria's campaign of forcibly assimilating its Turkish minority, estimated at 900,000 and comprising approximately 10 percent of the country's total population. Efforts by Bulgaria's ethnic Turks to protest government policies requiring them to change their Turkish and Muslim names to Bulgarian and Christian ones, end all Islamic teaching and practices, and stop speaking Turkish in public had led to increasingly severe repression. This repression culminated in the summer of 1989 with a mass exodus of an estimated 320,000 Turkish Bulgarians, who fled across the border into Turkey during a seven-week period in July and August. The exodus overwhelmed Turkey's refugee facilities and provoked an international crisis as well as an internal crisis within Bulgaria that contributed to the fall of the communist government. Subsequently, Bulgaria's new democratic government repealed the controversial assimilation decrees and invited those who had fled to return home. Relations between Turkey and Bulgaria steadily improved during the early 1990s, and the two countries have concluded several bilateral trade and technical assistance agreements. A similar spirit of cooperation was evident in the agreements signed with other East European countries, in particular Hungary and Romania.
In contrast to the generally positive evolution of relations with Bulgaria, the international politics surrounding the disintegration of Yugoslavia proved frustrating for Turkish diplomacy. The plight of the Muslim population of Bosnia and Herzegovina during the civil war that followed Bosnia's 1992 declaration of independence aroused popular sympathy in Turkey and support for interventionist policies to help the Bosnian Muslims. Although the government supported the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping force in Bosnia and an auxiliary NATO military role, Ankara criticized these efforts as inadequate. In the mid-1990s, Turkey favored firmer measures against Bosnian Serbs and the government of Serbia, which Turkey, like other countries, had accused of providing military aid and other assistance to the Bosnian Serbs. However, as of early 1995, Turkey was not prepared to take unilateral steps in Bosnia that might antagonize its NATO partners.
Relations with ...
<"88.htm">The Middle East
<"90.htm">The United States
Turkey shares borders with three major Middle Eastern countries: Iran, Iraq, and Syria. Turkey ruled much of the region during the Ottoman Empire, but between 1945 and 1990 Turkish leaders consciously avoided involvement in various Middle Eastern conflicts. President Özal broke with that tradition in 1990 when he sided with the United States-led coalition confronting Iraq following its invasion and annexation of Kuwait. To comply with the economic sanctions that the UN imposed on Iraq, Özal closed down the two pipelines used to transport Iraqi oil through Turkey to the Mediterranean Sea. Although Turkey did not formally join the military coalition that fought against Iraq, it deployed about 150,000 troops along its border with Iraq, which caused Baghdad to divert an equivalent number of forces from the south to the north of the country. Furthermore, Turkey authorized United States aircraft to use the military air base at Incirlik for raids over Iraq. A likely motive for Turkish support of the war against Iraq was a desire to strengthen ties with the United States and other NATO allies at a time of considerable uncertainty--at least in Turkey--about post-Cold War strategic relations.
The Persian Gulf War's main consequence for Turkey was the internationalization of the Kurdish issue. Following Iraq's defeat by the United States-led coalition at the end of February 1991, Iraq's Kurdish minority, which constituted approximately 15 percent of the approximately 19 million population, rebelled against the government of Saddam Husayn. Government forces repressed the rebellion within three weeks, precipitating a mass exodus of almost the entire Kurdish population of northern Iraq toward the Iranian and Turkish borders. Unable to deal with the refugee flood, Turkey closed its borders in April after more than 400,000 Kurds had fled into Hakkâri and Mardin provinces. Turkish soldiers prevented about 500,000 more Kurdish refugees on the Iraqi side of the border from crossing over to Turkey, forcing them to remain in makeshift camps; an additional 1 million other Kurds fled into Iran. The humanitarian crisis and the international publicity surrounding it posed a major dilemma for Turkey, which was reluctant to absorb hundreds of thousands of Kurdish refugees. Furthermore, Turkey opposed the creation of permanent refugee camps, believing such camps would become breeding grounds for militant nationalism, as had happened in the Palestinian refugee camps established during the war that followed Israel's creation in 1948.
Turkey's preferred solution to the Kurdish refugee crisis has been for the Kurds to return to their homes in Iraq with guarantees for their safety within a political environment that would encourage their integration into a united Iraq. Negotiations with Britain, France, and the United States produced an agreement in June 1991 to establish an interim protected zone in northern Iraq in which all Iraqi military activities would be prohibited. Turkey would permit its allies to use the Incirlik Air Base for armed reconnaissance flights over the protected zone. The interim period originally was intended to last for six months but could be extended for an additional six months at the discretion of the National Assembly. Although the agreement created a de facto safe haven in Iraq's three northern provinces and prompted a majority of the Kurdish refugees to return home, it did not resolve the political problem between the refugees and the Iraqi government. On the contrary, Baghdad responded by imposing a blockade on the north, effectively making the Kurds economically dependent on Iran and Turkey. The Western powers saw Iraq's attitude as justifying prolongation of the safe-haven agreement; as of January 1995, it was still in force.
Turkey has opposed the creation of an autonomous Kurdish government in northern Iraq. However, Iraq's intransigence toward the UN after the Persian Gulf War and the determination of the United States to limit its involvement in the safe-haven zone to air patrols made the formation of a local administration inevitable. Turkey reluctantly acquiesced after Iraqi Kurdish leaders reassured Ankara that an autonomous government would not pursue independence for the Kurds but would cooperate with all Iraqi opposition groups to create a democratic alternative to Saddam Husayn's regime. Following elections for a representative regional assembly in May 1992, an autonomous government claiming to operate in keeping with the Iraqi constitution was established at Irbil. Turkey has accepted this government as the de facto authority in northern Iraq, but has not recognized it as a de jure provincial government. Turkey has made its continued cooperation with this autonomous government contingent on the Kurds' support of Iraq's territorial integrity and their assistance in controlling PKK camps in northern Iraq.
The Kurdish issue also assumed an important role in Turkey's relations with both Iran and Syria beginning in 1991. Ankara was concerned that Damascus and Tehran might exploit the Kurdish issue to put pressure on Turkey to compromise on other issues over which there were deep disagreements. For example, although Turkey had enjoyed relatively close political and diplomatic relations with Iran for more than fifty years following the establishment of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, these ties were strained after 1979 when the Iranian Revolution brought to power an Islamic theocratic regime that frequently cites secular governments such as Turkey's as an evil that Muslims should resist. Although bilateral trade remained important to both countries throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, their economic ties have not prevented the regular eruption of tension. One source of intermittent friction has been the presence in Turkey of thousands of Iranians who fled their country during the 1980s because they opposed the religious government, preferred not to live under its puritanical legal codes, or wanted to evade military service during the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88). Tehran has periodically protested that Ankara allows "terrorists" (i.e., members of various Iranian opposition groups) to reside in Turkey. Turkish security officials in turn suspect that Iranian diplomats in Turkey have been involved in assassinations of Iranian opposition leaders and also have assisted some of the militant Turkish Islamists who began resorting to violence in the late 1980s. With respect to international concerns, Turkey resents Iran's criticism of its membership in NATO, distrusts Iran's alliance with Syria and its cooperation with Armenia, and perceives Iran as a competitor for influence in Azerbaijan and Central Asia. Above all, Turkish leaders believe that Iran supports the PKK and even provides sanctuary and bases for it in the area of northwest Iran that borders Kars, Agri, Van, and Hakkâri provinces.
Turkish suspicions of Iranian support for the PKK probably originated in 1987, when Iran strongly protested Turkey's bombing of Iraqi Kurdish villages that Ankara claimed were bases for PKK guerrillas. At the time Iran condemned this violation of Iraqi sovereignty, Iran and Iraq were at war, with Iranian forces occupying parts of southern Iraq. Iran's protest may have been prompted by the fact that the area Turkey bombed was controlled by an Iraqi Kurdish opposition group to which Iran was allied. This group not only helped Iran by fighting against Saddam Husayn's regime but also cooperated with Iran to suppress Iranian Kurdish opposition. From Turkey's perspective, however, this same Kurdish group was too friendly toward the PKK.
This complex intertwining of domestic and international Kurdish politics continued to cause misunderstanding between Turkey and Iran for more than five years. However, beginning in 1992, Turkish and Iranian views on the Kurdish issue gradually converged as Iranian Kurdish opposition groups initiated operations in Iran from bases in territory controlled by the Kurdish autonomous authority in northern Iraq. Iran not only ceased protesting Turkish actions in Iraq, but it even followed Turkey's example in bombing opposition bases in Iraq. During 1993 Iran also responded favorably to Turkish proposals pertaining to security cooperation in the region along their common border and joined Turkey in affirming opposition to an independent Kurdish state being carved out of Iraq.
Syria joined Iran and Turkey in declaring support for the territorial integrity of Iraq, and representatives of the three states met periodically after 1991 to discuss mutual concerns about developments in northern Iraq. Nevertheless, Turkey has had serious reservations about Syria's motives; some Turkish officials believe that if an appropriate opportunity presented itself, Syria would use the Kurdish issue to create a Kurdish state in parts of both Iraq and Turkey. Such pessimistic views stem from Syria's long support of the PKK. Turks believe that Syria permits the PKK to maintain a training base in Lebanon--where Syrian troops have been stationed since 1976--and allows PKK leaders to live freely in Damascus. Tensions between Turkey and Syria actually had been accumulating long before the eruption of the PKK "dispute" in 1984. Like Iraq, Syria was an Ottoman province until 1918. Subsequently, it was governed by France as a League of Nations mandate. In 1939 France detached Hatay (formerly Alexandretta) province from Syria and ceded it to Turkey, an action bitterly opposed by Arab nationalists. Syria thus became independent in 1946 with an irredentist claim against Turkey. The Arab-Israeli conflict soon developed as another source of Syrian antagonism toward Turkey, which extended diplomatic recognition to Israel in 1948. Syria's staunch Arab nationalists also condemned Turkey's participation in NATO and other Western defense arrangements during the 1950s and 1960s.
Turkey's adoption in 1974 of a more evenhanded policy toward the Arab-Israeli conflict failed to impress Syria. Much to Turkey's disappointment, Syria supported the Greeks in the conflict between the Greek and Turkish communities on the island of Cyprus. By the mid-1970s, Turkey was convinced that Syria was facilitating Armenian terrorist operations against Turkish diplomats abroad. Given the coolness and mutual suspicions that have characterized their relations, neither Syria nor Turkey was prepared to be sensitive to the other's interests. One reflection of this attitude was Turkey's decision to proceed with plans for a major dam project on the Euphrates River, apparently without adequate consultation with Syria. The Euphrates rises in the mountains of northern Anatolia, and Syria's territory is bisected by the river before it enters Iraq on its way to the Persian Gulf. Upon completion of the project, Turkey demonstrated the way control of the flow of water to downstream users in Syria could be used for political purposes, provoking a minicrisis in already tense relations. Thus the dam became yet another source of tension between the two countries.
Turkey's relations with other Arab countries, including Iraq prior to 1990, have been more positive than those with Syria. In early 1995, trade seemed to be the most important aspect of overall relations. Ankara had hoped that its support of the United States-led coalition in the Persian Gulf War would produce economic rewards. In fact, some Turkish business interests won contracts for construction projects in the Persian Gulf region, albeit not to the extent anticipated. Turkey's regional exports prior to 1990 had gone primarily to Iraq and secondarily to Iran. The loss of the Iraqi market because of Turkish compliance with sanctions initially represented a severe blow to export-dependent businesses and probably contributed to an economic recession in 1991. Beginning in 1992, however, Turkey gradually increased the level of its exports--particularly processed food and manufactured goods--to Kuwait and other Persian Gulf states. Although the prospects for expanding trade with Egypt and Israel appear limited because Turkey and these countries export similar products that compete in international markets, Turkey, nevertheless, has consolidated its political ties to both countries. Since 1992, for example, Israeli and Turkish investors have undertaken several joint-venture development projects in Central Asia. Turkey also imports most of its oil from Middle Eastern countries, particularly Libya.
Since 1963, when it was accepted as an associate member of the European Community (EC), Turkey has striven for admission as a full member of that body, now called the European Union (EU--see Glossary), the association of fifteen West European nations that comprises the world's wealthiest and most successful trading bloc. The Özal government, which had formulated its economic policies with the goal of meeting certain EC objections to a perceived lack of competitiveness in Turkish industry, formally applied for full membership in 1987. Much to Turkey's disappointment, the decision was deferred until 1993--or later--on grounds that the EC could not consider new members until after the implementation of tighter political integration scheduled for the end of 1992. The unexpected end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union actually delayed integration by one year, primarily to allow time for the EU to adjust to West Germany's absorption of East Germany. The new Demirel government, which strongly supported Özal's goal of joining the EC, was disappointed in 1992 when the EC agreed to consider membership applications from Austria, Finland, Norway, and Sweden without making a decision on Turkey's long-standing application. By then it seemed obvious that the EC was reluctant to act on Turkey's application. In fact, most EC members objected to full Turkish membership for a variety of economic, social, and political reasons.
The principal economic objections to Turkish membership center on the relative underdevelopment of Turkey's economy compared to the economies of EC/EU members and Turkey's high rate of population growth. The latter issue is perceived as a potentially serious problem because of free labor movement among EU members and the fact that Turkey's already large population is expected to surpass that of Germany--the most populous EU member--by 2010. Closely related to the concern about there being too many Turkish workers for too few jobs is the social problem of integrating those workers into European culture. Throughout Western Europe, the early 1990s witnessed a rise in anti-immigrant feeling directed primarily against Muslim workers from North Africa and Turkey. For the most part, EU governments have not developed policies to combat this resurgence of prejudice.
The political obstacles to EU membership concern Turkey's domestic and foreign policies. Because the European body prides itself on being an association of democracies, the 1980 military coup--in a country enjoying associate status--was a severe shock. The harshness of repression under the military regime further disturbed the EC--many EC leaders knew personally the former Turkish leaders whom the military put on trial for treason. The EC responded by freezing relations with Turkey and suspending economic aid. A related body, the Council of Europe, also expelled Turkey from its parliamentary assembly. The restoration of civilian rule gradually helped to improve Turkey's image. In 1985 Germany's prime minister signaled the EC's readiness to resume dialogue with Turkey by accepting an invitation to visit Ankara. The following year, the EC restored economic aid and permitted Turkey to reoccupy its seats in European deliberative councils. Nevertheless, frequent veiled threats by Turkey's senior military officers of future interventions if politicians "misbehaved" did not inspire confidence in Europe that democracy had taken permanent root in Turkey. As late as 1995, some Europeans remained apprehensive about the possibility of another military coup, a concern that was shared by various Turkish politicians.
EU members have also expressed reservations about Turkey's human rights record. Amnesty International and Helsinki Watch, two human rights monitoring organizations supported by the EU, have reported the persistence of practices such as arbitrary arrests, disappearances, extrajudicial killings, torture in prisons, and censorship. The Turkish Human Rights Association, itself subject to harassment and intimidation tactics, has prepared detailed chronologies and lists of human rights abuses, including the destruction of entire villages without due process, and has circulated these reports widely in Europe. The documented reports of human rights abuses, like the coup rumors, sustained questions about Turkey's qualifications to join a collective body of countries that have striven to achieve uniform standards for protecting citizen rights.
In terms of foreign policy, the main obstacle to EU membership remains the unresolved issues between Turkey and EU member Greece. The most serious issue between the two countries is their dispute over the island of Cyprus, which dates back to 1974. At that time, Turkish troops occupied the northeastern part of the island to protect the Turkish minority (20 percent of the population), which felt threatened by the Greek majority's proposals for unification with Greece. Years of negotiations have failed to resolve a stalemate based on the de facto partition of Cyprus into a Turkish Cypriot north and a Greek Cypriot south, a division that continues to be enforced by a Turkish force estimated at 25,000 troops in early 1995 (see Conflict and Diplomacy: Cyprus and Beyond, ch. 1).
Following the November 1983 declaration of independence of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus--a government recognized only by Turkey in early 1995--Greece persuaded fellow EU members that progress on settling the dispute over Cyprus should be a prerequisite to accepting Turkey as a full member. Despite Ankara's position that such an obvious political condition was not appropriate for an economic association, once the EC agreed in 1990 to consider an application for membership from Cyprus, diplomatic efforts aimed at convincing individual EC members to veto the condition became futile. Since 1990 Turkey has supported UN-mediated talks between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders that are aimed at devising procedures for the island's reunification. As of January 1995, these intermittent discussions had made little progress, and the prospects for a resolution of the Cyprus problem appeared dim.
Equally as serious as the Cyprus issue is Turkey's dispute with Greece over territorial rights and interests in the Aegean Sea. Although both Greece and Turkey are de jure allies in NATO, their conflicting claims brought them to the brink of war in 1986 and 1987. A fundamental source of contention is exploration rights to minerals, primarily oil, beneath the Aegean Sea. International law recognizes the right of a country to explore the mineral wealth on its own continental shelf. Greece and Turkey, however, have been unable to agree on what constitutes the Aegean continental shelf. Turkey defines the Aegean shelf as a natural prolongation of the Anatolian coast, whereas Greece claims that every one of the more than 2,000 of its islands in the Aegean has its own shelf. The issue is complicated further by Greece's claim to the territorial waters surrounding its islands. Turkey rejected Greece's attempts to extend its six-nautical-mile territorial claim around each island to twelve nautical miles on grounds that such a move would enable Greece to control 71 percent, rather than 43 percent, of the Aegean. Thus, it would be impossible for Turkish ships to reach the Mediterranean Sea without crossing Greek waters.
The issue of the right to control the airspace over the Aegean appears similarly intractable. Greece, which was granted control of air and sea operations over the entire Aegean region by various NATO agreements, closed the Aegean air corridors during the 1974 Cyprus crisis and only reopened them early in 1980 as part of the compromise arrangement for Greek reintegration into NATO. Disputes over the median line dividing the Aegean into approximately equal sectors of responsibility remain unresolved. In addition, Turkey refuses to recognize the ten-mile territorial air limit decreed by Greece in 1931; this line extends from the coast of Greece's mainland as well as from its islands. These unresolved issues contribute to the tensions over Cyprus and mineral exploration rights in the Aegean Sea.
Prime Minister Özal recognized the potential of Greece to block Turkish admission to the EC even before his government formally submitted its application. Thus, early in 1987 he attempted to defuse tensions by initiating a meeting with his Greek counterpart in Switzerland--the first meeting between Greek and Turkish heads of government in ten years. Their discussions resolved an immediate crisis over oil drilling in the Aegean and established channels for further diplomatic discussions. In June 1988, Özal accepted an unprecedented invitation to visit Athens, the first state visit by a Turkish leader in thirty-six years. Although Özal's initiatives did much to clear the political atmosphere, leaders in both countries remain unable to overcome their mutual suspicions. Thus, no progress has been achieved in resolving outstanding differences, although both countries are showing more restraint in their rhetoric and actions. Beginning in 1989, dramatic political developments in Eastern Europe and the Middle East caused Turkey and Greece to focus their attention beyond the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.
In early 1995, Turkey's most important international relationship was with the <"http://worldfacts.us/US.htm"> United States. Turkey's association with the United States began in 1947 when the United States Congress designated Turkey, under the provisions of the Truman Doctrine, as the recipient of special economic and military assistance intended to help it resist threats from the Soviet Union (see Politics and Foreign Relations in the 1960s, ch. 1). A mutual interest in containing Soviet expansion provided the foundation of United States-Turkish relations for the next forty years. In support of overall United States Cold War strategy, Turkey contributed personnel to the UN forces in the Korean War (1950-53), joined NATO in 1952, became a founding member of the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) collective defense pact established in 1955, and endorsed the principles of the 1957 Eisenhower Doctrine. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Turkey generally cooperated with other United States allies in the Middle East (Iran, Israel, and Jordan) to contain the influence of those countries (Egypt, Iraq, and Syria) regarded as Soviet clients.
The general tendency for relationships between nations to experience strain in the wake of domestic and international political changes has proved to be the rule for Turkey and the United States. The most difficult period in their relationship followed Turkey's invasion of northern Cyprus in 1974. In response to the military intervention, the United States halted arms supplies to Turkey. Ankara retaliated by suspending United States military operations at all Turkish installations that were not clearly connected with NATO missions. The Cyprus issue affected United States-Turkish relations for several years. Even after the United States Congress lifted the arms embargo in 1978, two years passed before bilateral defense cooperation and military assistance were restored to their 1974 level.
During the 1980s, relations between Turkey and the United States gradually recovered the closeness of earlier years. Although Ankara resented continued attempts by the United States Congress to restrict military assistance to Turkey because of Cyprus and to introduce congressional resolutions condemning the 1915-16 massacre of Armenians, the Özal government generally perceived the administrations of President Ronald Reagan and President George H.W. Bush as sympathetic to Turkish interests. For example, Washington demonstrated its support of Özal's market-oriented economic policies and efforts to open the Turkish economy to international trade by pushing for acceptance of an International Monetary Fund (IMF--see Glossary) program to provide economic assistance to Turkey. Furthermore, the United States, unlike European countries, did not persistently and publicly criticize Turkey over allegations of human rights violations. Also, the United States did not pressure Özal on the Kurdish problem, another issue that seemed to preoccupy the Europeans. By 1989 the United States had recovered a generally positive image among the Turkish political elite.
The end of the Cold War forced Turkish leaders to reassess their country's international position. The disappearance of the Soviet threat and the perception of being excluded from Europe have created a sense of vulnerability with respect to Turkey's position in the fast-changing global political environment. Özal believed Turkey's future security depended on the continuation of a strong relationship with the United States. For that reason, he supported the United States position during the Persian Gulf War, although Turkey's economic ties to Iraq were extensive and their disruption hurt the country. After the war, he continued to support major United States initiatives in the region, including the creation of a no-fly zone over northern Iraq, the Arab-Israeli peace process, and expanded ties with the Central Asian members of the CIS. Özal's pro-United States policy was not accepted by all Turks. United States use of Turkish military installations during the bombing of Iraq in 1991 led to antiwar demonstrations in several cities, and sporadic attacks on United States facilities continued in 1992 and 1993. Nevertheless, among Turkey's political elite a consensus had emerged by January 1995 that Turkey's security depended on remaining a strategic ally of the United States. For that reason, both the Demirel and Çiller governments undertook efforts to cultivate relations with the administrations of presidents George H.W. Bush and William J. Clinton.