Working Paper. Is There a Puzzle? Gözde Yilmaz. Compliance with Minority Rights in Turkey ( ) - PDF

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Working Paper Is There a Puzzle? Compliance with Minority Rights in Turkey ( ) Gözde Yilmaz No. 23 January KFG Working Paper No. 23 January 2011 KFG Working Paper Series Edited by the Kolleg-Forschergruppe

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Working Paper Is There a Puzzle? Compliance with Minority Rights in Turkey ( ) Gözde Yilmaz No. 23 January 2011 2 KFG Working Paper No. 23 January 2011 KFG Working Paper Series Edited by the Kolleg-Forschergruppe The Transformative Power of Europe The KFG Working Paper Series serves to disseminate the research results of the Kolleg-Forschergruppe by making them available to a broader public. It means to enhance academic exchange as well as to strengthen and broaden existing basic research on internal and external diffusion processes in Europe and the European Union. All KFG Working Papers are available on the KFG website at or can be ordered in print via to Copyright for this issue: Gözde Yilmaz Editorial assistance and production: Farina Ahäuser, Corinna Blutguth, Julia Stark Yilmaz, Gözde 2010: Is There a Puzzle? Compliance with Minority Rights in Turkey ( ), KFG Working Paper Series, No. 23, January 2011, Kolleg-Forschergruppe (KFG) The Transformative Power of Europe Freie Universität Berlin. ISSN (Print) ISSN (Internet) This publication has been funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). Freie Universität Berlin Kolleg-Forschergruppe The Transformative Power of Europe: The European Union and the Diffusion of Ideas Ihnestr Berlin Germany Phone: +49 (0) Fax: +49 (0) Is There a Puzzle? 3 Is There a Puzzle? Compliance with Minority Rights in Turkey ( ) Gözde Yilmaz Freie Universität Berlin Abstract The Helsinki Summit in 1999 represents a turning point for EU Turkey relations. Turkey gained status as a formal candidate country for the EU providing a strong incentive to launch democratic reforms for the ultimate reward of membership. Since 2001, the country has launched a number of reforms in minority rights. Many controversial issues, such as denial of the existence of the Kurds, or the lack of property rights granted to non-muslim minorities in the country, have made progress. Even though the reforms in minority rights may represent a tremendous step for the Europeanization process of Turkey, the compliance trend in minority rights is neither progressive nor smooth. While there is a consensus within the literature about the acceleration of reforms starting in 2002 and the slow down by 2005 in almost all policy areas, scholars are divided into two camps regarding the continuing slow down of the reform process or the revival of the reforms since I argue, in the present paper, that the compliance process with minority rights in Turkey is puzzling due to the differentiated outcome and the recent revival of behavioral compliance. I aim to shed light on the empirical facts in the least-likely area for reform in the enlargement process. Through a detailed analysis of minority-related reform process of Turkey being an instance of ongoing compliance, the paper contributes to the literature divided on the end result of Europeanization in the country recently. The Author Gözde Yilmaz is a PhD student at the Berlin Graduate School for Transnational Studies. She holds a Master in International Studies and European Integration from the University of Birmingham and a Bachelor in International Relations from Hacettepe University in Ankara, Turkey. Her main fields of interest are EU enlargement, European Neighbourhood Policy, EU-Turkey Relations, EU-Ukraine Relations as well as Turkish Politics. 4 KFG Working Paper No. 23 January 2011 Contents 1. Introduction 5 2. The EU and Minority Rights Any Standards of the EU on Minority Rights? The Demands of the EU from Turkey in Regard to Minority Rights 8 3. Minority Rights in Turkey Prior to the Reforms Compliance with Minority Rights in Turkey: Formal Rule Adoption and Behavioral Adoption : Preparation Phase : Progress as the Acceleration of Reforms Formal Rule Adoption Behavioral Adoption : Slow down of the Reform Process Formal Rule Adoption Behavioral Adoption : Revival of the Reform Process Formal Rule Adoption Behavioral Adoption So What is Left? Is there a Compliance Puzzle with Minority Rights in Turkey? 30 Literature 32 Is There a Puzzle? 5 1. Introduction 1 The Helsinki Summit in 1999 represents a turning point for EU Turkey relations. Turkey gained status as a formal candidate country for the EU providing a strong incentive to introduce democratic reforms for the ultimate reward of membership. Since 2001, the country has launched a number of reforms in minority rights. Many controversial issues, such as denial of the existence of the Kurds, or the lack of property rights granted to non-muslim minorities in the country, have made progress. 2 Even though the reforms in minority rights may represent a tremendous step for the Europeanization process of Turkey, the compliance trend in minority rights is neither progressive nor smooth. While there is a consensus within the literature about the acceleration of reforms starting in 2002 and the consequent slowing down by 2005 in almost all policy areas, scholars are divided into two camps, observing either the continuing slowdown of the reform process or the revival of the reforms since The stagnation camp (Saatçioglu 2010; Öniş 2008, 2009; Schimmelfennig 2009) suggests that the reform process in Turkey has stagnated since 2005 without any recent development. In contrast, the revival camp (Oran 2009; Yilmaz 2009) stresses the revival of the reform process by 2008 in one of the most sensitive and the least-likely policy areas for reform: minority rights. Interestingly, these scholars emphasize the intensification of the implementation process by 2008, which is the most problematic area for progress in all policy areas, but especially in minority rights. The assertion of complete stagnation in compliance with all policy areas since 2005 is problematic due to a number of factors. First, scholars who suggest a lack of change in Turkey since 2005 overlook the broad understanding of compliance comprising of both formal rule adoption and behavioral adoption or implementation. To illustrate this point, an analysis of the compliance with minority rights in Turkey since 2008 confirms the slowdown in formal rule adoption, however, without complete stagnation, and most importantly, the intensification of behavioral adoption. Therefore, any conclusion suggesting complete stagnation in the reform process of Turkey needs to differentiate between both formal rule adoption and behavioral adoption (and additionally even discursive adoption). Second, for a more nuanced analysis of the compliance process in Turkey, scholars need to clarify the references they use to judge the process as either slowing down or reviving, which depends on whether they analyze either the demands of the EU or on international demands in regard to any specific policy area. Third, the literature dealing with Turkey needs to justify its conclusions in regard to the compliance process by stating in which policy areas there is progress or slowdown or even revival, and why the conclusions in these policy areas could be generalized across all areas concerned with compliance or the lack of compliance with the specific demands of the EU or any other actor. This paper aims to contribute to the debate in the literature by providing a broad and nuanced analysis of the compliance trend of Turkey in minority rights. I aim to analyze both formal and behavioral adoption in minority rights within the period beginning with the launch of candidate country status to the EU in 1 This paper has been made possible by the comments of Prof. Tanja A. Börzel and an anonymous reviewer, the Kolleg-Forschergruppe (KFG) The Transformative Power of Europe and the time devoted by the interviewees, helping me to map my research. Special thanks to all. 2 For instance, in the 1990s broadcasting in languages other than Turkish used in the daily life of Turkish citizens other than Turkish seemed unacceptable in Turkey. But the country began to broadcast in Kurdish by 2004. 6 KFG Working Paper No. 23 January until I will divide this period into four different phases according to the change in compliance trend with minority rights: as the preparatory phase; as progress; as the slowdown; and as the revival. 3 Such a trend is puzzling because the compliance process with minority rights in Turkey demonstrates several instances of differentiated compliance. In this paper, I consider the problematic issues discussed above and aim to eliminate the problems in three ways. First, I analyze both formal rule adoption and behavioral adoption concerning minority rights in four different time periods. The analysis of both aspects and their division will prove a strong tool to grasp the complete process. Second, I focus on formal rule adoption and behavioral adoption while taking into account the demands of the EU, outlined in progress reports, regular reports, accession negotiations, and Council decisions as the main reference points. Judging the outcome as progress, slowdown, or revival will be subject to the degree of Turkish supply of reforms in response to the EU demands. Finally, minority policy is often regarded as too sensitive or too case-specific, which is usually overlooked in the literature (Liaras 2009: 1). The adoption of minority rules and their implementation is the least-likely area for reform in the enlargement process, not only for Turkey, but also for all candidate countries. 4 Moreover, minority issues are closely related to a number of areas such as identity and citizenship, or national security, and therefore, represent a vital indicator for compliance. As a result, any improvement in the area could be evaluated as a strong indicator of the Europeanization process. I argue that the compliance process with minority rights in Turkey is puzzling due to the differentiated outcome and the revival of recent behavioral compliance. I aim to shed light on the empirical facts in the least-likely area for reform in the enlargement process. Through a detailed analysis of minority-related reform process in Turkey as an instance of ongoing compliance, the paper contributes to the literature divided on the outcome of Europeanization in the country recently. The first part of the paper focuses on the conceptualization of minority rights in the EU and international arena and the demands of the EU towards Turkey in regard to minority rights. In the second part, I clarify the situation of minority rights in Turkey prior to the launch of reforms. In the third part, I analyze the compliance trend of Turkey in minority rights by dividing the process into four periods. The fourth part provides an evaluation of the process. 3 The periods are derived from an empirical analysis of the minority-related reform process in Turkey. 4 This is due to country-specific factors such as the country s sensitive situation triggered by ethnic conflict with the Kurdish armed movement PKK. Is There a Puzzle? 7 2. The EU and Minority Rights 2.1 Any Standards of the EU on Minority Rights? International standards for minority rights were mostly shaped in the 1990s. However, there is still no consensus on the definition of minorities, as neither the United Nations (UN), nor the Council of Europe (CoE), or the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) as the active organizations for the protection of minorities, clarified it within their documents. Yet, the definition of Francesco Capotorti (1979) has been widely accepted by the international community, including the EU. Capotorti defines minorities on the basis of four characteristics (objective characteristics as the first three, and a subjective characteristic as the last): being a group of citizens who are different from the majority on the basis of race, religion or language; being a relatively small group; being non-dominant; determined to protect their identity, which differs from the majority s. After clarifying the definition of minorities accepted in the international arena, the EU standards for the protection of minorities need to be mentioned. The protection of minorities has not been put under the jurisdiction of the EU for member states. Therefore, the EU leaves the issue of minority rights to the member states. However, the principles of respect for minorities and the protection of minorities have become a part of the EU enlargement policy since the 1993 Copenhagen Summit by the explicit reference to minority protection in the Copenhagen Criteria. As a result, double standards in minority rights have been a highly debated issue due to the EU s differential treatment of the issue concerning member and candidate states (Schwellnus 2001: 3). The protection of minorities has been defined as a precondition for accession to the EU by the Copenhagen Criteria, the Maastricht Treaty, the Europe Agreements, and the Amsterdam Treaty. The definition of the issue as a precondition for enlargement was a result of the increase in ethnic and religious tensions in Europe after the end of the Cold War (Kurban 2008: 272). The security concerns of the EU, due to the transition process of the post-communist countries (e.g. the violent disintegration of the former Yugoslavia or any potential conflict in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE)) played a vital role for the inclusion of minority rights into the Copenhagen Criteria (Sasse 2008: 847). Moreover, in that process, the CoE and OSCE prepared a series of international documents providing positive rights to minorities. Being a member of the two aforementioned organizations, the EU has expanded its boundaries of enlargement policy to include minority rights (Kurban 2008: 272). In spite of the increased attention of the EU to minority rights, the Union has still not established its own minority standards (Toggenburg 2000; Schwellnus et al. 2009). Despite the principle of non-discrimination, which is a part of acquis communautaire for the adoption by candidate countries, being a highly developed standard, minority rights remain a vague issue within the Union (Schwellnus 2005: 51). There is no minority standard for the internal acquis or within the EU member states; this compels the EU to refer to different European organizations minority rights standards such as the CoE or OSCE (Schwellnus 2005: 56). Since the EU considers protection of minorities only as a part of the Copenhagen Criteria, the impact of the EU on minority rights remains in the domain of enlargement policy. First of all, the Union expects candidate countries to join the CoE and comply with the standards of human and minority rights of the CoE (Ram 2003: 34). Second, the EU expects candidate countries to sign two main documents for minority 8 KFG Working Paper No. 23 January 2011 protection: the Council Directive 2000/43, comprising of the principle of non-discrimination, and the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. The latter document, which entered into force in 1998, was the first legally binding agreement on minority rights that requires the promotion of equality and conditions for the preservation of minority cultures and identities (Ram 2003: 35). Third, the Union monitors the protection of minorities in candidate countries by clarifying measures, specified for each country, to develop and adopt developing minority rights (Toktaş 2006: 2). To summarize, minority protection has not developed as an EU rule and it remains a highly contested issue due to its nature, remaining within the sovereignty of the member countries. Moreover, EU conditionality in minority rights varies across candidate countries depending on the degree of their minority problems. Therefore, it is difficult to generalize the demands of the EU in regard to minority rights. The next section will focus on the demands of the EU from Turkey in minority rights. 2.2 The Demands of the EU from Turkey in Regard to Minority Rights Although minority policies and practices are different in each EU member state, the EU clearly sets some guiding principles for minority protection in the enlargement process (Toktaş 2006: 13). The EU s requirements for minority protection are subjected to the same political conditionality that the accession to the EU is subject to. The demands of the EU are clarified as country-specific measures for adoption by candidate countries in the regular reports, progress reports, and Council decisions, which set the priorities for the Accession Partnerships. The EU s priorities in minority protection, consistently demanded from Turkey between 1999 and 2010, include the ratification of the CoE Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities; removing the ban on broadcasting and education in languages other than Turkish and ensuring its implementation; the elimination of the limited interpretation of the 1923 Lausanne Treaty; resolving the problems in the Southeast of the country, both culturally and socio-economically (including the problems of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)) and the Kurdish issue; resolving the problems of non-muslims and their foundations, such as granting property rights or removing the ban on training clergy and opening the Halki seminary for the training; 5 and eliminating the problems of non-sunni minorities (Alevis) (European Commission 1999, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009). While analyzing the compliance process of Turkey, these priorities in minority rights need to be carefully considered. Set by the EU, they constitute the base for minority-related reforms in Turkey. In order to judge Turkey s compliance, I examine whether the demands in minority rights mostly pressured by the EU are dealt with or not by Turkey in the accession process. I also analyze how the specific demands of the EU change during the four time periods by dividing them into demands in formal rule adoption and behavioral adoption. First, from 1999 to 2001, the EU placed significant emphasis on the Kurdish question in regard to minority rights. The Union emphasized the necessity to find a civil solution to the problem and also to provide democratic rights to the Kurds, such 5 The Halki Seminary is the training college for priests, which was closed by a decision of the Turkish Ministry of National Education on the grounds that the Seminary did not have enough students to continue to operate. Since then, it has not been re-opened. Is There a Puzzle? 9 as broadcasting in Kurdish (European Commission 1999: 14, 2000: 18). Moreover, the underdeveloped political and economic situation of the Southeastern part of the country populated by the Kurds was a reference to the development of minority rights in Turkey (European Commission 1999: 14, 2000: 18). The period shows the EU s tendency of equating the Kurdish issue in Turkey with minority rights, in order to provide a civil solution to the 30 year Kurdish-Turkish conflict. During the second period, between 2002 and 2004, the EU continued to focus on the problems of Southeast Turkey by stressing the need to lift the emergency rule in this part of the country, the solution to the problem of IDPs, and the village guard system. Moreover, the EU widened its demands to include the implementation of the rules adopted in this period, such as the broadcasting in and learning of the different languages and dialects traditionally used by Turkish citizens in their daily lives, the measures in regard to the freedom of religion adopted in the area of property rights, and the construction of places of worship (European Commission 2002, 2003, 2004). The problems of non-muslim religious communities in the country included the legal personality and property rights of their foundations, the training of clergy, minority schools and their internal management, the restrictions on the exercise of cultural rights, and the restrictions on broadcasting in other languages (for television, four hours per week, while not exceeding 45 minutes per day; for radio, five hours per week, while not exceeding 60 minutes pe
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