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June 2000 Prepared for FOREIGN POLICY REVIEW, CALIFORNIA - page 12 / 17





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Co-operation is expanding into new areas like ballistic missile defense. Turkey's deployment of F-16's for the Kosovo crisis underscored the U.S. interest in finding ways to ensure that the Turkish armed forces use the same equipment as the U.S. military.

The Turkish-U.S. strategists are concerned about the new European defense strategy, which was adopted during the December 1999 EU Summit in Helsinki. By establishing the capacity to field military forces of up to 60,000, and the political and military structures needed to direct them, the EU leaders have finally moved to create a proper security arm. It is less than a European army is, but the nucleus will be there and it will have far-reaching implications for the character of the EU. No matter what the verdict on their full membership candidacy, Turks remain unhappy about the European Security and Defense Identity (ESDI). Ankara and Washington believe that ESDI could marginalize Turkey’s role in European defense in the future.


Human Rights and Democracy

A consensus has emerged among Turks that their standards of democracy, human rights, and rule of law should be on a par with the highest standards internationally. It is a source of concern to many of them -- as it is to their friends in the U.S. and elsewhere. The current Turkish government is giving high priority to human rights and the expansion of democracy. A generation ago Turkey was an overwhelmingly agricultural country. Today it is an industrial one with average economic growth of 5 % a year over the last three decades. Majority of Turkish people lives in urban areas. One interesting sign of this is the existence of 20 national and 300 local TV channels, and over 1,000 local private radios around the country. When a society moves towards becoming an advanced industrial economy as fast as Turkey does, there is always a price to be paid. The social costs can be high. Institutions,

laws, rules often lag behind18.

Many of Turkey’s legal arrangements were made several generations ago for a traditional agricultural society. They basically derive from the Napoleonic code. Since then the world has moved on and so has the Turkish society. Many other countries have gone through a parallel legal administrative revolution in the course of their journey into Europe, moving away from the Napoleonic system designed to regulate a centralized agrarian society. Turkey’s similar transition occurs in a part of the world where democracy is relatively a recent phenomenon. That is why although changes are being made, they do not always happen at the speed, which everyone would wish.

Turkey is seen as a model for Islamic countries for the sake of its democracy and modernization. Of course, some circles try to subvert its secular regime, but it has been solidly entrenched, and its influence is becoming wider in the world. There are, today, a greater number of Islamic countries progressing towards democracy or practicing a degree of democracy than a decade or two earlier. Turkey's example has played an important role in this respect, because the Turkish experiment has proven that Islam can be compatible with modernity, with secularism, and with democracy.

The issue of democracy and human rights surfaced in President Clinton's statements in Ankara, but the criticism was carefully candy-coated as the U.S. president spoke of "an impressive momentum in the last few years" and expressed hope of "continued progress, especially in the area of freedom of expression." The Americans, who focus mainly on

18 “Latest Developments Regarding Human Rights in Turkey”, Mesut Senol, p.130-142, Perceptions, December 1998- February 1999, Volume III No.4.

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