Corruption hurts Turkey most

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

“The fact that Turkey lags so far behind when it comes to the fight against bribery and corruption seriously lowers Turkey’s status before the EU,” argues Zeynep Gögus, the president of Brussels-based NGO TR Plus Centre for Turkey in Europe and EURACTIV Turkey’s publisher, in an interview with Today’s Zaman, a Turkey-based English daily.

Turkey’s launch of its Third National Programme on EU reform on 1 September 2008 constitutes “a big step” in the country’s fight against corruption – “the area that hurts Turkey the most” – by blocking the road to membership, argues Gögus. 

Despite the launch of the programme, Turkey must “increase transparency at every level of public administration,” she argues, describing the anti-corruption drive as “an umbrella issue”. 

Among the anti-corruption measures proposed in the national programme is an inspection mechanism for the public administration, while another is designed to increase the accountability of the military via new regulations and legal changes and by auditing the expenditure of the Turkish armed forces, the NGO activist explains. In addition, it proposes to “change the Court of Accounts to check all military spending,” she says. 

Gögus stresses the need to reorganise Turkey’s civilian-military relations, an area in which reform has already begun. But she insists that “it is not right to compare Turkey with any other state in the EU” due to differences in its social model and “psychological and behavioural factors in society”. What’s more, Gögus describes the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) as a “serious” problem, impacting negatively on Turkey’s progress towards EU accession. 

Turkish people tend to be sceptical towards the EU because Turkey is a “closed society” and “open to misinformation”, yet she has faith in future generations, who are likely to benefit from a new education system. Nevertheless, she says a “mentality revolution” is needed. 

Gögus says that Turkey “lags behind” when it comes to women’s political rights, while there is “a huge problem with women’s participation in the labour force”. Indeed, she stresses that “Turkey’s primary role has still been seen as a homemaker”. 

Gögus concludes that “all institutions in Turkey [including banks, companies and civil society groups] should carefully watch what is being done in Turkey regarding harmonisation with the EU” as it is “beneficial for them and beneficial for the public”. 

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