Turkish reform process does not mean return to pre-Gezi Park era, columnist says

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's pledges to enact democratic reforms in the country do not extend to a return to pre-2013 conditions which led to several upheavals in society, Daily Sabah columnist Burhanettin Duran said on Monday.

Turkey’s stance toward democracy and its wider policies was shaped by 2013's massive anti-government protests, a corruption scandal that forced a cabinet reshuffle, deadly protests against the Turkish army’s inaction during an Islamic State attack on Syria's Kobani in 2014 and 2016's military coup attempt, said Duran, the head of government-linked think tank SETA.

"In other words, there is no new peace process, no return to parliamentarism and no easing on counterterrorism measures, including the release of convicts, in the works," Duran said.

"Ankara will instead improve the quality of judicial proceedings and cope with its results."

Erdoğan promised a series of far-reaching reforms in the fields of economy, democracy and the rule of law on Nov. 13, leading to expectations of the possible release of politicians and human rights advocates from jail, and calls for changes to the presidential system and the revival of efforts to solve Turkey's longstanding Kurdish question.

The Turkish president also declared that there was no Kurdish problem in this country and defended the removal of elected pro-Kurdish party mayors from posts in the southeast.