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December 30, 2012, Sunday

Year-end evaluations

The start of a new year is an opportunity for columnists to make an evaluation of the past year and to set goals for the next.

 And looking back at 2012, Turkish columnists lament that we have had yet another year in which we started with great expectations and ended up disappointed instead. As Radikal's Akif Beki put it, if you were to take 2012 out of Turkish history, it would not be noticed as there have not been any radical measures taken regarding curbing the military's power in politics or major democratic reforms in the past year.

Milliyet's Hasan Cemal, in his observations about 2012, says the influence of the government over the media has never been as great. And it has grown further over the year, he notes. Furthermore, the trials concerning the Ergenekon and Sledgehammer coup plans, which were greatly applauded before, have become less trusted due to the excessive length of the suspects' periods of detention and other legal shortcomings. These trials were a source of pride for Turkey both in 2011 and 2012; yet, it does not change the fact that we should be extra careful about being fair to the suspects even though they are accused of having staged or having attempted to stage a coup. As for the Kurdish issue, it still remains to be the most troubling issue facing the country, Cemal complains. We keep calling on terrorists to lay their arms down and calling on Kurdish citizens to take the government's side in the fight against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK); yet, we fail to offer more rights to Kurds in return. And what marks 2012 the most, according to the columnist, is Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's arrogance and seeing himself as above reproach.

This year started with the lingering pain of a fatal mistake, Zaman's Mustafa Ünal says, referring to the Uludere incident, in which 34 villagers were accidentally killed in a military airstrike in Şırnak's Uludere district in December 2011. A year has passed since the botched airstrike; yet, neither the details of the incident have been revealed nor has the pain of the Uludere people been alleviated. Probably, the biggest achievement of the year was the blow dealt to the PKK. Successful operations against the terrorist organization turned 2012, which the PKK formerly announced as its “final year,” into a year of defeat for the PKK. As for the biggest disappointment of the year, Ünal points to the plan to complete work on a new constitution being drafted for Turkey.

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