April 21, 2008
As a true transition country Turkey is full of puzzles.
Its elitist secular bourgeoisie, including the military, blocks internal reforms and is lukewarm about an eventual EU membership. It defends its privileged place in Turkish society. The more religious middle class is the driving force behind overdue political and social changes, which an Islamic party pursues vigorously. It is also in favour of joining the EU.
A public prosecutor accuses the ruling party of violating the Turkish constitution, in particular the “sacred secularism”, and an “independent” constitutional court accepts to hear the case, though all critical observers, domestic and international, agree that the case rests on very slim evidence.
Turkey finds itself at a crossroads. An emerging middle class, strongly attached to religious values, is challenging the prerogatives of generals and high officials who keep defending their positions as the presumable heritage of a secular state!
And the rest of Europe favours the ‘religious’ over the ‘secular’! It has understood who stands for reforms and who only pretends to do so. For Brussels, a condemnation of President Gül or Prime Minister Erdogan is out of the question. It would be the end of accession negotiations and, worse, of political stability in Turkey.Author : Eberhard Rhein