ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News
Where are the 47 percent who voted for the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, asked Claudia Roth yesterday, astonished that people are not on the streets protesting despite the fact that only a few days are left until the members of the Constitutional Court gather Monday to discuss the closure case against the ruling party and issue a verdict.
But answering her own question the member of the German Greens said there are some groups that are disappointed with the performance of the AKP, and added, �Probably that's why people have kept their distance from the closure case.�
The AKP has missed an important opportunity for further democratization, according to Roth. �The AKP has a majority, it rules alone. It could have introduced the laws necessary for reforms,� she said in an interview with the Turkish Daily News yesterday.
The AKP was wrong to reduce reforms to just the headscarf ban, said Roth, adding that although the AKP has done more than any other party for democracy and the rule of law in Turkey, there has been a slowdown in the reform process. The chance to introduce a more democratic constitution and the change in the notorious Article 301 were both missed. Limiting freedom of expression is purely cosmetic, according to Roth.
�I don't underestimate the importance of secularism and I also understand the fears of certain women,� she said. �But nothing justifies the closure of the AKP. Banning the party is not at all a solution to those fears and disappointments. How can you ban a party that got half of the votes? And the votes are not just limited to one layer of the society or to a region. It's widespread.�
Instead of banning the party, it's up to the opposition and the rest of civil society to fight for better policies. �Where is the opposition? Where is social democracy? Is Deniz Baykal a social democrat?� asked Claudia Roth, criticizing the leader of the opposition Republican People's Party, or CHP. �Is he even a democrat at all?� Roth, who is an active observer of Turkish politics for more than a decade added, �There is no opposition that is attractive to the people.�
EU cannot remain indifferent to party closure
Roth did not want to speculate on the consequences of the ban for Turkey's accession process to the European Union. �I am too afraid to even think about it,� she said, adding that Europeans are extremely preoccupied with the closure case. �With whom will we negotiate? With the successor of the chief of General Staff?� she asked, adding, �I cannot believe the EU will stand idle in case the party is closed. It cannot continue as if nothing has happened.� She was equally critical of the closure case against the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party, or the DTP. Although she did not want to predict whether the accession negotiations will be suspended as a reaction to the closure cases, she said at least a debate will start on a possible halt to entry talks.
A staunch supporter of �democratic Turkey's� bid for EU membership, Roth said it will be a historic mistake if the party is closed and the accession process comes to a halt.
Prosecutors of Ergenekon are heroes
�There have always been rumors about the deep state,� said Roth, when asked about the waves of detention of more than 100 people accused of being members of the shadowy, ultra-nationalist Ergenekon organization allegedly plotting to overthrow the government. �These prosecutors are heroes,� she said.
�The process is dangerous, since it can have an earthquake effect. But it is also very healthy,� she said. When reminded that some believe the investigation is linked to the closure case and claim it is an attempt to silence the critics of the government, Roth said, �Whenever there is a good development, somehow it is seen as a trick of the AKP,� adding that again it was up to the civil society to oversee the process.
Kidnappings of German tourists not acceptable
Claudia Roth said the kidnapping of three German tourists by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, was unacceptable. �Kidnapping civilians is absolutely not justified,� said Roth. �Asking the German government to change its stance was even stupid. It makes it even more difficult for those who are in solidarity with Kurdish demands for the recognition of their rights.� The German tourists were released after 12 days in captivity.
When asked to comment on the allegations that the kidnapping took place as a reaction to the German government increasing pressure on the PKK, Roth said, �PKK is declared illegal in Germany. So if there is something illegal, the German security forces have to act accordingly.�
Maintaining that the Kurdish issue cannot be reduced to the PKK, Roth said that change is taking place in Turkey's predominantly Kurdish areas as people are fed up with violence. Asked whether the DTP has done enough to distance itself from the PKK and the violence, Roth said: �I appreciate Ahmet Türk. He shook hands with the leader of the Nationalist Movement Party Devlet Bahçeli. He is a real democrat. Together with Akın Birdal, they should be seen as important bridges towards the Kurdish population.�