The Turkish daily Radikal will begin publishing some of the pages its weekly magazine supplement in Kurdish. Content includes a feature on Kurdish broadcasting and excerpts from a new novel by a Kurdish author. The first edition will premiere in time for the Diyarbakir Book Fair, which I had the pleasure of attending last year.
Turkey is in a state of flux. Founded in 1923 amidst the ruins of the Ottoman Empire and very much a product of modern nation-state ideology, the emergence of Turkey is one of the great stories of the last century.
Although the Turkish state is still quite strong, an increasingly globalized, albeit incipient, civil society has come to challenge its hegemony and singular notions of "Turkishness." Growing numbers of Turks are demanding human rights reform and a more democratic society. At the same time, politics remains a largely elite affair, minority and cultural rights go largely unrecognized, nationalism remains a potently virulent force, and political stability is still a matter of concern. Unrest in the Kurdish southeast, anti-democratic maneuverings to curb civil liberties and close political parties, repression of political dissent, and a questionable human rights regime raise real concerns for the future of Turkish democracy.
A candidate for accession into the European Union, Turkey stands at a crossroads—will it move toward the postmodernity of Europe, or will it forge an ultimately separate path? Will Turkey provide one of the amazing political stories of the twenty-first century, and what does its political development and changing geopolitics have to say about the future of world politics?
Ragan Updegraff has closely followed Turkish politics for over six years, working as a political consultant, journalist, and analyst along the way. His work has appeared in the Journal of Democracy and the Jerusalem Post, among various other publications, and he has been interviewed by Voice of America, The Guardian, and The Telegraph. In 2009-2010, he was a United States Fulbright Research Fellow and studied the impact that Turkish legal reforms undertaken as part of Turkey's European accession process were having in transforming Turkey's relations with minority groups, in particular its nationalist Kurdish population. He also studied EU assistance to Turkish NGOs working on minority right issues. He continues to closely monitor events in Turkey from Washington, D.C.