Defence Budget Oversight on Agenda in Ankara

On 13-16 March, CESS and its Turkish partner the ARI Movement co-organised a High Level Seminar and Training Workshop in the Good Governance in Turkey Programme. This event took place in Ankara and dealt with Financial Accountability and Budgetary Transparency of the Defence Sector. The High Level Seminar was attended by over 60 persons from all parties interested in this issue. The training course which was spread out over 3 days saw an average of 30 participants, with the crisis simulation seeing the highest participation of the whole programme. 

The High-Level Seminar saw a diverse range of speakers from Turkish parliamentarians and members of the Turkish Court of Accounts to academics and former and current Dutch officials from NATO and the Dutch Court of Audit. A lively and open debate regarding the transparency of the military budget in Turkey and the broader role of the military took place. This debate was regarded as being of crucial significance in a country that is undergoing profound democratic change. The rapporteur of the High Level Seminar concluded that Parliament and the Court of Accounts can successfully oversee the defence spending if they have the necessary constitutional powers, the desire to fulfil the task, a clear division of labour, a system of mechanisms to deal with non-compliance, a culture of accountability and internal financial control and there are no revenues outside of the budget.   

The three day training course consisted of a series of in depth interactive sessions aimed at stimulating debate on the democratic oversight of the defence budget in Turkey. These included presentations by Simon Van Driel on parliament’s review of the defence budget in the Netherlands, Bauke Snoep on financial integrity and corruption in the MOD, and Mervyn Harvey on defence reform and the defence budget. For many of the participants the highlight of the training was a crisis simulation on a parliamentary inquiry of misspending of a defence budget. This scenario allowed the participants to experience the many challenges of holding the government to account in defence procurement and  investigating accusations of corruption. 

The conference aimed to raise awareness of the importance of democratic oversight of the defence sector with regard to Turkey and how important this process is in the overall democratization process. CESS and its various partners hope to continue to assist Turkey in what is a crucial and challenging part of the democratic process.          

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