Saturday, July 25, 2009

Socialist International Condemns CHP Opposition to Military Courts Reform

The Socialist International (SI) has condemned the CHP's opposition to recent legislation requiring civilian courts to try military officials who pose threats to national security, constitutional violations, organizing armed groups and attempts to topple the government in peace time. The CHP had supported the legislation during its passage, but after claimed it had been duped by the AKP. The SI has released a statement quoted from in Today's Zaman:
The Council of the Socialist International … condemns in the strongest terms the coup d'état against the government of President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales in Honduras,” inspiring people on the streets in Turkey to carry banners with the message “The CHP can now join the government in Honduras,” accusing the party of aligning itself with coup supporters. The SI defines itself as an “association of political parties and organizations which seek to establish democratic socialism.” Therefore, political parties affiliated with the SI should by definition be social democrats and should never inspire this kind of public criticism.
Click here for full article.

This criticism from TDZ is not new, and is echoed not only by TDZ, but by leftist Turkish intellectuals and critics who actually have a stake in the SI and have long criticized CHP's inconsistent policy positions alongside its SI membership. (See, for just one example, Baskın Oran's call in 2008 that the CHP be expelled from the SI.) The SI, for its part, has also long been critical of the CHP. This July, CHP leader Deniz Baykal did not go to the SI's summit in Greece. Former vice-chairman of SI, Baykal lost his seat to Iraq's Jalal Talabani.

The SI, unlike some conservative entities in Europe, has long been supportive of Turkey's accession to the European Union. However, in a rather bizarre twist for outsiders of Turkish politics, the CHP has often opposed efforts to pass important political reforms required for Turkey to come into harmony with the EU's Copenhagen criteria for membership. The CHP opposed cosmetic reforms to Article 301, amendments to Turkey's law on foundations, and reforms pertaining to expanding the cultural rights of Turkey's Kurdish minority. It might be said that the CHP would be more supportive of these reforms if they were not the party in opposition, but the CHP's political positions and nationalist rhetoric is all that most people hear. The generation of this opposition rhetoric seems to be more the priority of Baykal's CHP than any effort to work with the AKP on developing substantive policy to move Turkey all the closer to satisfying the EU's political criteria for membership. For another socialist European leader's take on the CHP, German Foreign Minister Frank Walter-Steinmeier's recent comments. TDZ columnists Klaus Jurgens and Orhan Kemal Cengiz, neither leftists, echo familiar criticisms of the CHP regarding the inconsistensy of its policy positions with the SI platform.

I have posted rather frequently on the state of the Turkish left on this blog, and would refer to my previous posts for more information on the political context in which CHP's conservative political positions are taken. Not since Bülent Ecevit's DSP has there been a powerful Turkish party on the left that has addressed traditional social democratic concerns like the expansion of neoliberalism rather than focus on the preservation of Turkey's traditional nationalist/laicist regime. See also Ron Marguille's article from 2007 on the state of Turkish socialism in response to the AKP's neoliberal moderate Islamism.

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