Final Resolutions of the Abant Platform
On the final day of the Abant Platform scholars, journalists and non-profit organization leaders concluded their three day meeting with agreements in five general areas of democratization, foreign policy and the Middle East, the European Union, the Turkish economy and the Turkish media.
Abant attendees felt that the culture of Turkey is at present characterized by a susceptibility to in-group/out-group tension. While accepting that Turkey has made democratic progress many scholars believed there is a need for new democratic institutions in Turkey as well as a new consitution.
Abant Platform scholars stated that while the diversification of Turkish foreign policy is positive, Turkey needs to narrow the gap between the promises it has made to Middle East and North Afican nations and the reality of what Turkey has done in the MENA region.
Many who joined the Abant Platform were of the opinion that the EU is not only about economy but also the EU is about values, standards and democracy for Turkey. The Abant Platform pushed for the final aim of lifting the EU visa requirements for Turkey.
In regards to the Turkish economy Abant Platform thinkers explained that the Turkish economy has made remarkable progress in the past 10 years. However, success has brought problems such as the current account deficit. Many Abant Platform scholars felt that diversification of trade is necessary in order to minimize economic risks.
Abant attendees stated that the Turkish Media has issues related to professionalism, work ethics, freedom of speech, corporate relations and political-cultural influences. However, these problems are not unique to Turkey and need a balanced approach when dealing with them.
The Abant Platform ended on Sunday in the scenic Abant Lake Region of western Turkey.
20-point declaration emerges from Abant meeting
Turkey’s culture is at present characterized by a susceptibility to in-group/out-group tension, the effects of which impede democratization. Authoritarianism and patriarchal hierarchy are aspects of group culture that are reflected at the family level and scaled up to the political level as majoritarian democracy and internally undemocratic institutions. Two basic institutions that reinforce these patterns are family and education.
The development of institutions is important for democratization, for instance, the judiciary, legislative and executive bodies with the appropriate separation of powers, but the culture of people in these institutions can also hinder democratization.
Individual rights cannot be ensured without rule of law because if people cannot rely on the state to act fairly and to protect their rights, they must turn to groups for this. Their rights are then dependent on the group. This is especially important for vulnerable groups such as women.
Turkey needs a liberal democratic constitution effectively protecting human rights. Turkey has made considerable progress in terms of democratization. It should be noted that the transition takes time.
Foreign Policy and the Middle East
The diversification of Turkish foreign policy is positive. The gap between Turkey’s ambitions in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and its capabilities to fulfill them should be narrowed.
The perception of Turkey as a role model in the MENA region is related to its economic success and also political developments. Its ability to carry out this role will also depend on its success in democratization.
Adding new dimensions to Turkey’s foreign policy, including advanced relations with Middle Eastern and other neighbors, does not replace the importance of full EU membership for Turkey.
The period preceding 2015 is a great opportunity not only for Turkey but also for Armenia to rethink how to deal with the events of 1915. European Union
While Turkey’s EU accession process includes reciprocal economic benefits, it is mainly about reciprocal improvements in values, standards and democracy.
We welcome the visa-liberalization process, with the final aim of lifting the visa requirements. This will show that the EU matters in the daily life of the people and will hopefully revive enthusiasm for joining the EU.
The deadlock in Turkey’s accession process is a result of the Turkish government slowing down efforts towards accession and the EU and the EU member states blocking chapters.
Turkey’s economy has made remarkable progress during the past decade. However, success has brought with it serious problems, including the current account deficit. Diversification of trade while maintaining existing partnerships is necessary in order to minimize risk.
The government should continue investing in education and infrastructure, with a special emphasis on innovation, added value and inclusion.
Measuring developmental success with solely economic indicators can be misleading. Inclusive development strategies that emphasize independence, the environment, renewable energy, regional disparities and income distribution should be adopted.
The existing polarization in Turkey’s society has direct positive and negative effects on the media. On the one hand, it allows a rich variety of opinions being reflected in media outlets, strengthening the culture of pluralism and democracy. On the other hand it leads to biased reporting, which creates a lack of trust by the public in the media and a lack of empathy between media groups.
The criminal code and its values are still focused on protecting the interest of the state or organizations and groups rather than on freedom of speech and the rights of individuals, resulting in legal harassment, incarceration and general indifference to victims of harassment.
Problems in Turkey’s media relate to professionalism, work ethics, freedom of speech, corporate relations and political-cultural influences, which for example result in gender discrimination within the profession. However, these problems are not unique to Turkey and they manifest all over the world in different proportions.
Minority newspapers should not be ignored and they should be treated equitably.
Journalism curricula must include classes that relate to fundamental aspects of this profession such as ethics, reporting and responsible media.
Diminished income levels and labor rights in the media sector is making journalism less attractive and causing the loss of qualified people from the sector. It also makes journalists more vulnerable to influence.
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