Erdogan's reforms - how does the West see it?

A bid to appease his critics in the run up to local elections and with aim of forwarding peace process with Kurds - the democratisation reforms are received as step in right direction by most

Erdogan's reforms - how does the West see it?

World Bulletin/News Desk

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's democratic reform package has a mixed reception from the foreign press. Most picked up on the lifting of the headscarf ban in state institutions and education in Kurdish language in private schools as the key areas of reform.

 "Erdogan eases headscarf ban as Kurds say reform plan falls short" was the Bloomberg Businessweek headline. Kurdish human rights lawyer Sezgin Tanrikulu also quoted, says the reforms "fail to amend anti-terror laws and other legislation used to jail Kurdish politicians."

Most of the press linked the introduction of the Kurdish language reforms to the peace process with the outlawed PKK, and its political wing, the BDP. Some of the other reforms include the llifting of restrictions on using Kurdish alphabet and place names which will be able to revert back to their orginal Kurdish place names.

Noting that Erdogan and his party face a series of elections over the next two years - local elections in mid March and general elections in 2015 - the Washington Post says it is unclear if the reforms will go far enough to "appease his critics, energize his conservative base and help restore momentum to peace negotiations with a Kurdish minority that has been seeking more autonomy".

Co-chairwoman of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, Gultan Kisanak also expressed disappointment in Washington Post article saying the package was aimed more at "political concerns than expanding democracy".

Italy's La Stampa newspaper went with the headline;  "It's Erdogan's modernization. Yes to headscarf in governmental agencies. No to student oath in schools"  (referring to the banning of nationalist chant in primary schools) and said Turkey took its first step down a democratization path. 

The Italian daily added  "So, last tabu on turban falls, too" commenting that it could create an earthquake in secular world and that headscarf wearing women could become candidates in next parliamentarians elections.

Saying the package includes new regulations for Kurdish citizens, the news stated nearly 15 million Kurds living in Turkey might have expected to hear 'more' from the premier.

Italy's La Repubblica newspaper quoted Erdogan as "This is a historical moment. It's an important development" and commented that announcement of the democratization process was delayed for many times and that PKK's Kurdish rebellions protested it. 

The BBC stated that Erdogan planned to lift the ban on wearing headscarf in public institutes a long time ago and added those reforms had been expected for a long time.

Meanwhile, populist German newspaper 'Bild' headlined "Erdogan wants to lift the headscarf ban" and gave information on what the package would bring to Turkey.

Tagesspiegel newspaper stated Erdogan "shook the modern bases of Turkey" saying ethnic minority groups and small parties had the chance to benefit from the reforms of the package.

Spiegel Online on its website published "Erdogan's progress: Turkish officer can wear headscarf" stressing the lifting of the ban does not include all occupations (it excludes police officers, army personnel, judges and prosecutors). 

Die Welt newspaper also touched upon the lifting of headscarf ban, noting more rights for Kurds and religious Muslims were in the package and that headscarf ban was removed in state offices.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 01 Ekim 2013, 17:22

Muhammed Öylek