E. Tatli, M
Turkey’s Civil-Military Relations from the perspective of Turkey’s EU Aspiration.
Under the scope of the EU, militaries are distinct from civilian power, but they are indisputably subordinated to civilians, as well as completely depoliticized. Because Turkey’s CMR practices do not conform to this outlook, many believe that Turkey cannot acquire EU membership, due to the poor quality of her democracy, especially from the CMR perspective, since the army has excessive political power.
On the other hand, most of the Turks believe that Turkey has been governed by a sui generis democracy for almost ninety years. To underpin this view, they refer to her long-lasting memberships to many democratic international organizations, such as her about six-decade-year membership to NATO, which also requires some certain democratic criteria to be met. Besides, some also argue that democracy in Turkey should ineluctably be different from the western practices, as her population is Muslim in 99.8%, and the first condition of democracy, secularism, has not yet been sufficiently internalized by her politicians and people. Because of this, Turkey, like most other Muslim majority countries, is constantly vulnerable to the threat of sharia. With the contributions of her unfavorable geography, they claim that her democracy should be distinct from traditional western democracies in order to contain threats arising from those factors.
What makes the issue even more complex and interesting is that this odd model is perceived as normal by not only the military but also the majority of the civilian elites. Although the anti-militarist looking Justice and Development Party has recently gathered about fifty percent of all popular votes, most Turks seem to have no problem with this military flavored democracy, according to public surveys. This is in part because they view their army as the “Founder of the Republic” and “Savior of the Nation,” but also because more educated Turks believe that Turkey has tried a brand new democratization model during a time when the wall separating mosques and politics necessarily erects and the democratic culture of devout people sufficiently flourishes. They also persistently emphasize that unless simultaneous democratization of other civilian institutions accompany the reformation in CMR, as well as a genuine separation of powers, is achieved, Turkey could slide to an authoritarian regime with an Islamist autocracy.
As noticed, the role of TAF in Turkish politics and society differs from the traditional roles and liberal-democratic practices outlined by the EU, while its intervention in the political realm differs from the Southeast American, Asian and African Juntas that demonstrate their hunger for power by directly ruling their countries for years. Furthermore, there seems to exist a considerable gap between the perceptions of the EU circles and Turkish Elites, as well as the majority of Turks.
Thus, to shed light on all aspects of the problem this dissertation attempted to analyze cultural and historical roots of the CMR that is considered one of the major obstacles that Turkey must overcome to realize her EU membership goal.
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