[email protected]

December 09, 2012, Sunday

For a freer Turkey

Rapid changes may create vertigo. This is because there is the risk of falling from a cliff while trying to create progress. Steep rises may result in illusions and hallucinations. Every change that does not have a firm footing will face trouble ahead. For instance, the actors involved in the change may be haunted by enthusiastic fancies. Those who seek to disrupt the stability from the outside may adulate the processes of change in order to make them hit rock bottom.

The guarantee of change is common wisdom and conscience. People/groups should come together and ponder on problems of today and the future and make plans without prejudices. Fear from the views of opposing camps makes you unable to manage change well. The key is to adopt a sincere approach to diverse ideas and use them to boost Turkey's dynamism.

The Zaman daily's “Ortak Akıl Toplantısı” (Common Wisdom Meeting) offers a venue for discussing the most crucial topics with the utmost freedom. As you may remember, a very noteworthy meeting on the financial crisis had previously been held to discuss concrete suggestions to escape from the chaos. The common wisdom meeting on the Kurdish issue, on the other hand, was published both as a series of articles and as a book.

One of the most effective common wisdom meetings was held to discuss a bill on Turkish trade laws. That meeting was truly a good opportunity as the groups who would directly be affected by the bill were able to express them freely. In attendance as the guest of honor, Customs and Trade Minister Hayati Yazıcı and his team did the right thing by taking into consideration the criticisms and suggestions voiced by the stakeholders. Thanks to their interest, certain plans that might have introduced wrong policies into our business life were reassessed. Changes and new arrangements were made.

On Saturday, another vital meeting was held by the paper. Higher Education Board (YÖK) President Professor Gökhan Çetinsaya was the guest of honor at this meeting which was also attended by rectors, board of trustee heads and academics of various universities. The representatives of many civil society organizations (CSOs) were also there. The high-profile participants who had examined the YÖK bill in painstaking detail provided a good example of discussing one of the most fundamental issues in the country in a civilized manner. Everyone freely voiced their opinions, trying to be more constructive and pave the way for positive developments. The end result was another typical common wisdom meeting from the Zaman daily. There were criticisms, proposals and observations. Everyone had a unique perspective about the YÖK bill. From their vantage point, everyone was certainly referring to a certain fact. The crucial thing is to bring these pieces together and assemble the big picture.

The brainstorming session on the YÖK bill offers us a mind-blowing landscape. The Zaman daily will share the results of this important meeting that assessed a crucial topic in the context of dynamics of change. The minutes of the meetings, titled “As the YÖK law is being amended, how should we reorganize our universities?” will be published as a book and sent to all the parties concerned. To ponder on and discuss the YÖK bill means not only discussing the future of our universities, but also putting the spotlight on the future of science, art and intellectual life in our country. I hope these common wisdom meetings will be another quest for reflection.

As Ergenekon trial nears end

As the case against a clandestine organization nested within the state trying to manipulate and overthrow the democratically elected government is nearing its end, pro-Ergenekon groups have stepped up their efforts to discredit the lawsuit, creating confusion in the minds of people and distorting facts. Those who were complaining about the “lengthy trial processes” or “the arrests being used to penalize the defendants” are now in a hurry. They hold press conferences and show up on TV to say, “The trial is being conducted hurriedly.” However, there are hundreds of documents of evidence in the case files of the Ergenekon trial. Meanwhile, they resorted once again to a specific type of black propaganda campaign which they once used to try and discredit the Ergenekon trial, but failed. Thus, they attempt to defame Fethullah Gülen, a well-respected Turkish-Islamic scholar, by bringing back onto the agenda a trite accusation which had been voiced many times before in connection with Tuncay Güney in the past, which had been refuted. They should not beat around the bush. The place to settle accounts is in court.

Meanwhile, the main opposition party's tough test with Ergenekon continues. The Republican People's Party (CHP) is unable to make up its mind. On one hand, the party exhibits democratic reflexes but on the other, it cannot or does not take steps to change the party's “pro-coup” image. Last week, the party's leader criticized a “former Maoist” group, saying: “When did you emerge as Atatürkist? Weren't you pro-Apo [an abbreviation used for jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan]?” But, several days later, he partnered with that group to visit Silivri prison. What urges the CHP to partner with a shady “former Maoist and pro-Apo” group?

Previous articles of the columnist