Why more funding will not resuscitate Turkish civil society

The diversion of European Union funds from Turkish government projects to civil society organisations (CSO) may not have the intended effect due to government repression, the Washington Post said.

“Since the 2013 Gezi protests, and particularly in the post-July 2016 coup period, this repression has become increasingly selective, targeting CSOs perceived as ‘politically motivated,’ such as those working on human rights monitoring and minority rights,” the paper said.

One way in which foreign governments have been getting around this is by funding semi-political groups such as environmentalist, LGBTI groups, women’s rights groups and electoral monitoring, it said. But, “Turkey’s civil society has become fragmented and weak compared with the participatory and diverse civil society of the late 1990s and early 2000s.”

A new set of civil society organisations funded by the government and largely intended to provide grassroots support for its policies has also sprung up, the paper said.

With a situation in which no civil society organisations can directly challenge the government on important political and civil rights issues, while many others exist merely to deflect and channel societal discontent away from the government, international funding will be an inefficient channel for democracy promotion, it said.