Has the Turkish military been subjugated, and is a liberal order emerging in Turkey?

SILK ROAD FORUM with Halil M. Karaveli

Senior Fellow with the Turkey Initiative at the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program Joint Center

Tuesday, March 16, 2010, 12:00-14:00


The recent arrest of dozens of Turkish military officers for alleged coup plotting (including several active duty and retired generals and admirals) suggests that Turkey is experiencing a historic shift in power from the military to the civilian leadership. However, the dynamics that underpin the confrontation in Turkey are generally poorly appreciated. Although recent events are indeed historic, they nevertheless do not necessarily augur a break with historical continuity. It is by no means clear that state authoritarianism and nationalism are about to be abandoned. What is at issue, and who are the parties, in the current confrontation? Are the highest echelons of the General staff locked in conflict with the AKP government, or is there actually a convergence of interests between them? Like other insurgents to state power before them, are the renegade ultranationalists within the military being dealt with jointly by the state institutions, including the General staff? Is the confrontation in Turkey in essence between a “secularist” military and an AKP government that seeks to reverse age old statist authoritarian traditions usually associated with the military? Or, alternatively, is it ultimately about who controls, rather than reforms, that state?

Halil M. Karaveli is a Senior Fellow with the Turkey Initiative at the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program Joint Center. From 1991 to 2007, Mr. Karaveli served as editorial writer at the Swedish daily Östgöta Correspondenten. His publications include Turkiet – en nygammal stormakt? (Turkey – a reborn great power?), Swedish Institute of International affairs (1993) and Landet mellan öst och väst – en historisk-politisk översikt (The country between East and West – a historical and political overview), in Turkiet – Bro eller barriär mellan Europa och Asien (Turkey – Bridge or Barrier between Europe and Asia) (1997). Mr. Karaveli has published widely in Swedish press, including essays in the leading Swedish dailies Dagens Nyheter and Svenska Dagbladet about Turkey’s Kurdish question, Kemal Atatürk’s legacy, Europe’s Islamist challenge and Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk. Mr. Karaveli has in particular stressed the importance of secularism as a lever for democratization, most recently in the policy journal Europe’s world. His op-eds have also been published in the Turkish press.

Location: ISDP, Västra Finnbodavägen 2, Stockholm-Nacka. For a map and directions, please go here.

To attend: RSVP to Ms. Martina Klimesova at mklimesova@isdp.eu