On the last afternoon of 2020, Turkey’s president promised that his people that things will probably change.
“We’re in the process of organizing reforms which will strengthen our economy and increase the caliber of our democracy, rights, and freedoms,” Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stated at the center of a speech published to the presidency’s site.
“We’re making the final adjustments to our detailed reform programs and, God willing, will put them before the country together with the New Year”
It’s not the first time lately which Erdoğan has spoken of reform, amid the possibility of European sanctions and speculation of an early election in the summer of 2021.
In November explained Turkey found itself”not someplace else nowhere else but in Europe. We look to construct our future with Europe”.
However, after years of being clarified by European politicians as an autocrat and developing anxieties of censorship and human rights abuses in the nation, the Turkish president’s detractors have strong doubts.
Erdoğan could say his suggestions will be undergoing”final alterations”, but few outside his inner circle far understand what they comprise.
Along with the president’s frequently combative language at the end of 2020 — after he spoke of reforms lead many to complete sweeping change isn’t likely.
The scale of the job ahead is exemplified by two problems: lengthy detentions before diagnosis, and media freedom.
Mass detentions before diagnosis
A reality that faces Turkey since it passes 2021 is that tens of thousands of opponents of the authorities are still in jail, many having spent decades awaiting trial on terrorism charges.
Human Rights Watch states prosecutors in Turkey”frequently open terrorism investigations into individuals for peacefully exercising rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and association”.
One notable case is of Selahattin Demirtaş, the charismatic Kurdish politician that stood from Erdoğan in two presidential elections and has since been held in prison because 2016.
The Turkish government maintains Demirtaş stands accused of terrorism concerning incidents dating back a long time.
His fans retort the accusations are politically motivated.
Last week, Europe’s top human rights court agreed ordered Turkey to release him stating that his detention was”stifling pluralism and restricting freedom of political debate”.
However, Erdoğan denounced the verdict as”political” and said the European Court of Human Rights has been”conflicted in itself”.
He also takes a similar perspective with the event of this dominant philanthropist Osman Kavala, that had been on the brink of being published in February when a court acquitted him of organizing a set of anti-government protests at Istanbul in 2013, simply to become re-arrested hours afterward for alleged participation in the 2016 coup effort.
Waning press freedom
Three occasions in December alone aided exemplify just how much tougher it is nowadays for Turkish journalists to hold their government to account.
On December 23, the exiled reporter Can Dündar was sentenced to 27 years in prison on espionage and terror-related prices for a 2015 narrative accusing Turkey’s intelligence agency of illegally sending weapons to Syria.
Dündar stays in exile in Germany.
Two days later, on Christmas Day, rolling news station Olay TV announced it was shutting down after only 26 days in the atmosphere.
Staff reported the station’s owner was driven by government officials to prevent giving air time to the pro-Kurdish HDP.
Dündar’s certainty and Olay TV’s closing contrasted with all the less-prominent arrest of Ufuk Çeri, a journalist for the information community Medyascope, who had been detained while covering a demonstration by employees at a bankrupted airline owned by the household of Turkey’s tourism ministry.
Çeri says that he had been held for 24 hours before being published on December 11 with no charge.
New elections and sanctions
But there’s speculation that the Turkish president’s reform program might be a real attempt to win supporters before an early general election in the summertime.
Opinion polls indicate Turkey’s political and economic issues imply that assistance for both Erdoğan’s Justice and Development (AK) Party is at a long-term decrease.
In the last year, a former prime minister and a former economy minister have broken off to form moves of their own, eating in the AK Party’s conventional, conservative-minded voter foundation.
Many opposition politicians have sought to unite around the notion of broadening Turkey’s executive presidency system, among Erdoğan’s trademark reforms which were approved in a contested referendum in 2017.
Greece, Cyprus, and France are some of the EU members calling for punitive measures — a decision may be obtained as early as March.