Concluding Conference: Good Governance of the Security Sector in Turkey

CESS, in cooperation with the TOBB University of Economics and Technology in Ankara, and the Ar? Movement, organised their concluding conference on ‘Good Governance of the Security Sector in Turkey’ on 14 December 2012 in Ankara. The conference brought together a group of distinguished academics, parliamentarians and staffers, journalist and representatives of NGO’s working in the area of the security sector. The conference formed the final part of a multi-year programme on good governance in Turkey, sponsored by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

The objective of the conference was to discuss and examine the structures, processes, values and attitudes that shape decisions about security in Turkey and to contribute to the promotion of accountability, transparency and the rule of law in this area. The meeting opened with an overview of major theoretical discussions in civil-military relations.

Apart from theories by renowned academics such as Huntington and Janowitz on the topic of civil-military relations, the Turkish case was discussed in more detail. Though no one-fits-all approach was recognized by the panel, several essential principles of security sector governance were brought to the fore. The most fundamental requirements for the establishment of democratic civil-military relations are political control of the military by the constitutionally designated authorities; civilian management of the security sector; legislative oversight of the security sector; judicial control of the security sector; and, public control of the security sector. 

The second panel focused on the improvements and challenges of democratic control of the armed forces in Turkey. The historical role of the Turkish military in politics was discussed, and the speakers underlined that in the last decade, there have been considerable improvements in the area of democratic control of armed forces in Turkey. Despite these improvements, several shortcomings were underlined, among others in the area of legislative oversight, but also with regard to the military’s closed culture and its detachment from society. The lack of cooperation and trust between civilian and military authorities was emphasized as another deficiency. 

The third and fourth panels discussed the process of constitution-making in Turkey. The importance of a new constitution was highlighted, with an emphasis on an inclusive, balanced and liberal basis and a well-defined role for the armed forces. Participants in the discussions argued that the political process is now caught in a deadlock. The view was brought to the fore that the process of demilitarization in Turkey has unfortunately not been accompanied by a process of democratization.

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