Now that the European Council on Foreign Relations has been formally launched, the world will be hearing a lot more from us. But several months ago, a group of our founding members felt they could not wait for the launch and so joined together in raising their voices in support of democracy in Turkey, at that time in the grip of a constitutional crisis.
In a strongly worded memorandum issued on 27 April, the Turkish military threatened to mobilise against the likely candidature of Abdullah Gul (the then Foreign Minister from the ruling AK party) to the Presidency – traditionally a bastion of Turkish secularism. ECFR’s founding members issued a public statement addressed to those citizens in Turkey that had demonstrated against the army’s intrusion in the process of electing their new President – and invited colleagues and citizens from all over Europe to join them.
After being published in the International Herald Tribune, the Statement was made available on our temporary website for anyone who wanted to lend their support to its message. It was translated into Turkish and was the leading item on television news bulletins including CNN-Turk on the day it was published. It also attracted extensive coverage in several Turkish newspapers including Zaman and Yeni Safak, Radikal, Milliyet, Cumhuriyet, Sabah and Aksam. According to our friends in Istanbul and Ankara it has had a positive impact on an extremely volatile situation. As one seasoned observer noted: “I can say with confidence that the IHT statement has been heard by friend and foe in Turkey. It has been effective in communicating the first order principles”.
On which other issues should Europeans be speaking out?
The European Council on Foreign Relations does not take collective positions. ECFR publications only represent the views of its individual authors.