Leaping backward 13 years in the war of norms

5 May 2017 7 years old
Leaping backward 13 years in the war of norms

(İhsan Çaralan, Evrensel, 27 April 2017)

Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) decided to put Turkey on “political and legal monitoring”. The resolution was passed with 113 votes, with 45 against and 12 abstaining.

“The absence of European standards in the functioning of Turkey’s democratic institutions” was presented as the reason for PACE’s “monitoring decision”.

Turkey, a founding member of PACE, was put on “monitoring” status after the 12 September 1980 coup d’état, but was “removed” from this status in 2004!

Resultantly, Turkey attained the notoriety of being the “first country to be put back on political, legal monitoring” after being removed from this status.

PACE’s decision, which represents a “turning point” in the struggle for democratisation in Turkey, was received with the following disparagements by government representatives: “everyone is our enemy”; “they don’t want a strong Turkey”; “the alliance of crusaders” and “we have no obligation to adhere to this decision”.


The pro-government and pro-capital media did not react to PACE’s decision in the conventional manner. It could be said that they were not much bothered by it.

The pro-government newspapers did their utmost to belittle this decision; the daily Hürriyet, which leads the way when it comes to defending the government, had as its headline “to be continued” – referring to the bombing of Kurdish areas in Syria and Turkey – and PACE’s decision was a subheadline.

Of course, there are reasons behind PACE’s decision having such a reception. They are:

  • PACE’s decision was expected;
  • Turkey did not deserve this decision;
  • There are a lot of individuals in the upper echelons of the state that are content with this decision! They are evaluating PACE’s decision with the following expressions: “PACE has pushed Turkey 13 years backwards” and “13 years leap backwards” – as if PACE had given this decision out of the blue.


PACE removed Turkey from the “monitoring process” in 2004 owing to promises made and certain steps taken to “broaden democratisation and freedoms”. In the preceding years, a handful of initiatives taken in harmony with this goal notwithstanding, AKP and its governments have acted in accordance with the tactic of “one step forward two steps back”. Thus, in the previous years, AKP and its governments, with the stimulation of President Erdoğan, in opposition to western “norms of democracy and liberty”; introduced the hypothesis of “autochthon and national norms”. By doing so, it initiated “a war of norms”.

On the eve of the 7 June general election, the “autochthon and national” campaign that was unleashed by President Erdoğan with the slogan of “I want 400 autochthon and national MPs” had continued with the following norm expressions: “autochthon and national academics”, “autochthon and national trade unionists”, “autochthon and national university”, “autochthon and national economy”.

When the norms cultivated with human rights, democracy and liberty –  all of which have been nourished with the struggle of the working classes and peoples of the West in the past 500 years – fell in conflict with the products of the AKP, their ideologues and propagandists by propagating the view that “these are norms of the west and crusaders, our autochthon and national are important” aimed to promote “Turkish-type presidential system”, “Turkish-type Presidential Government System”, which in essence is nothing but the propagation of “one-party, one-man regime”. Relatedly, the point we are at today isn’t merely “Turkey delinking from one or a few of the European norms”; on the contrary, the authorities that govern Turkey, by divorcing Turkey from “western norms” are attempting to impose an arbitrary regime that is an amalgamation of the jihadism of the middle ages and the chauvinist, nationalist “autochthon and national norms”.

We are at a point wherein PACE via its decision has indicated that it is aware of the confrontation presented by means of “autochthon and national norms”. Hence, despite PACE giving the impression of monitoring Turkey, in reality, the AKP government “has leaped Turkey 13+[1] backward”. PACE’s decision is an allusion to this state of affairs.


Chiefly because the rulers of Turkey, AKP government and the imposers of the “autochthon and national norms”, want to govern Turkey:

– eternally under Anti-Terror Laws and State of Emergency,

– by controlling the judiciary,

by silencing the media through imprisoning journalists,

by “we want capital punishment” cries in public domains,

by conducting a referendum under the State of Emergency and which is recognised as fraudulent by the public,

Putting the country under the grip of “one-party, one-man regime” entailed that Turkey bawled for monitoring.

Deriving from the state of affairs in and the goals imputed to Turkey after PACE’s decision it wouldn’t be unfair to the architects of both, namely the Palace and the AKP representatives that are acting as the nucleus cadres for the Palace-oriented one-man regime, to conclude that they are content with the decision. This is because by means of PACE’s decision they rid themselves of the chains of “European norms”. For sure, the issue of to what extent the European governments defend/protect what is entitled as “European norms” and the question of what is the actual reason for the “monitoring decision” can be critiqued and debated. These matters will be discussed at length in various forms in our paper and in this column. The conclusion to be drawn from today’s piece is that the conditions that are in the making could be used by pro-democracy forces for the furtherance and defence of democracy and liberty.

[1] The 13+ is used denote a leaping backward of more than 13 years.

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