In Turkey, tensions soared on 11 and 12 March when tens of thousands of people took to the streets and gathered to mourn the death of Berkin Elvan. He died after being in a coma for nine months. Last June he was hit on the head by a tear-gas canister while going to buy bread during the protests against the prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He was a symbol for the police brutality that, among others, caused the Gezi-protests of last year to escalate. These protests started as a relatively small environmentalist movement to save Istanbul's central Gezi Park but evolved into a nationwide wave of protests against Erdoğan, who is seen as increasingly authoritarian.
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has given a warning that his government will block social media networks YouTube and Facebook, which feature in the growing corruption scandal. “If necessary” he would ban them, suggesting that “he would not sacrifice the Turkish people” to the two websites. Both platforms were used to spread the leaks of alleged phone calls between Erdoğan and his son in which they discuss how to hide vast sums of money. The Prime Minister dismisses those phone calls as being a fake montage by his rivals, which he deems ‘vile’ and ‘immoral’. After the local elections on 30th of March, he warned, new steps will therefore be taken to tighten the government’s grip over the internet.
Today, Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul signed into law a widely contested bill tightening the governments hold on the judiciary. The new law gives the minister of Justice greater control over the independent Supreme board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) responsible for appointing and overseeing the members of the judiciary. Critics of Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan say the new law is designed to tighten Erdogan’s grip over the country.
On Thursday 13 February, at least 12 protesters were arrested in Ankara when marching to parliament. Nearly 2,000 people were demonstrating against a bill tightening control of the internet. The protests turned violent as police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd. This was not the first round of protests: immediately after parliament approved the controversial bill on 16 January, people went to the street in Istanbul and Ankara. In Istanbul, the riot police then also took action after some protesters used firebombs. With plastic bullets, tear gas and water cannons, they tried to control the protesters.
De combinatie Turkije en de Europese Unie is een moeilijke en dat is het eigenlijk ook altijd geweest. Waren de Europeanen reeds bang voor het Ottomaanse gevaar dat al in 1529 voor de poorten van Wenen lag en in 1683 de stad zelfs geruime tijd belegerde, ook nu is de verhouding nog steeds niet zoals gehoopt. Het frappante is dat Turkije al in 1952 lid van de NAVO werd, traditioneel gezien als het opstapje naar lidmaatschap van de Europese familie. Erg vreemd was dat lidmaatschap van de NAVO overigens niet: de organisatie wilde Turkije maar wat graag binnen de club halen om zodoende de Sovjetdreiging het hoofd te kunnen bieden. De strategische ligging van Turkije, de historische haat tussen de Turken en Russen, maar ook puur het feit dat er weer een groot land aan ‘onze’ westerse kant kwam te staan, waren voldoende redenen om Turkije zonder al te veel problemen toe te laten tot de Noord-Atlantische Verdragsorganisatie.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, making his first visit to Brussels in five years, faced sharp criticism from European Union leaders on January 21 over a crackdown on the judiciary and the police. A draft bill of Erdogan’s ruling AK Party, which would give the government greater control over the appointment of judges and prosecutors, has raised alarm in Brussels. EU leaders urged Erdogan to redraft the law, saying the bill is contrary to the European constitutional norms on the separation of powers.
Turkey's hopes for a new constitution, meant to improve democratic freedoms and to further distance it from the era of military coups, suffered a setback on November 18th when a cross-party commission admitted it has failed in drafting a new charter.
On June 17, five Turkish unions, including the Confederation of Public Workers union(KESK) and the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DISK), said they will go on strike in support of the forced eviction of hundreds of demonstrators at Taksim square in central Istanbul. The total number of the five unions amounts up to nearly 800,000, including doctors, engineers and dentists.