Discussions about democracy with ALT

April 20th, 2014   Countries and Regions | Education | Human rights | Ideology | News | Turkey
Deltagare under konferensen

Deltagare under konferensen

Association for Liberal Thinking (ALT) is one of the leading think-tanks in Turkey and attracts students from all over the country to its seminars. The base is in Ankara, but April 11-13 2014, a number of students and university professors met in Istanbul to discuss the core values of democracy. The conference was organized together with Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation and inspired by the book Principles for a Free Society, exclusively written by Dr. Nigel Asford for the Foundation.

At the conference, Turkish and Swedish lecturers were mixed. Bekir Berat Özipek, professor of political science and one of the founders of ALT, spoke about human rights and democracy. Cennet Uslu, professor, specialized in freedom of speech, gave a speech on rule of law, and philosophy professor Alim Yilmaz analyzed the concept of tolerance.

Conference with ALT in Istanbul April 11-13

Conference with ALT in Istanbul April 11-13

Invited from Sweden were Mattias Svensson, author and editor of the magazine Neo and Evelina Lorentzon, risk analyst at e-commerce company Klarna. Mattias Svensson talked about freedom and Evelina Lorentzon had a session on why market economy creates wealth.

Over the last year, Turkey has faced numerous challenges. A resolution process with PKK, initiated by the government is ongoing to stop the military operations and the terrorist acts for more than a year. That is accompanied with the launch of democratization debates and several reforms which challenged the 90 year repressions and the bureaucratic establishment remaining the fundamental barrier before civil society and competitive democracy. In the meantime, AKP, the ruling party has been shaken by corruption scandals and Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan restrictions on freedom of speech has led to worldwide criticism – Erdoğan shut down both Twitter and Youtube.

In August 2014, there will be presidential election in Turkey and it is still unclear how the power between the President and the Prime Minister will be distributed. The local elections, held in March, showed that the support for AKP remains strong, but some people argue that it is rather the consequence of a lack of strong opposition.

Despite, or because of the uncertainty of the development in Turkey, discussions about democracy have never seemed more relavant.

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