Today's Zaman, Turkey
Jan 2 2008

2008 to be a reform year

by Fatma Disli

Much has been said about the year 2007. While some said it was a
brilliant and thrilling year, others said it was disappointing and
full of nightmares. But it is over now, and we have a newly born year
in front of us. There are various expectations from the new year, but
there is almost a consensus that this year needs to see the
expeditious implementation of reforms that were delayed due to the
political turmoil that haunted the country last year. There are also
expectations that the government will shed some light on a number of
attacks that were committed against non-Muslim citizens in 2007 that
damaged Turkey's image in the international arena.
Zaman's Mümtaz'er Türköne predicts that 2008 will be dominated by
major reforms in all fields, which he thinks will be facilitated by
the drafting of a new constitution. `Radical reforms are a must for
the year 2008. Most importantly, the society is expecting these
reforms. There is a government in power that received the vote of one
out of every two voters. The presidency is ready to pave the way for
reforms. We have many reasons to boost our expectations for the year
2008,' says Türköne. `Humans live as long as they harbor hope. Our
hopes are raised by the settled stable environment in the country.
Turkey now needs to make the major reforms it has delayed for years,
and it needs to rid of obsolete institutions,' he adds.

Radikal's Hasan Celal Güzel expects a newly written constitution to
be the most significant development of the new year. He believes that
the adoption of a democratic and pro-freedom constitution will be the
start of a new period in Turkey. In the foreign policy area, he
suggests that Turkey should launch a new action plan. He advises that
it should further develop its recently improved relations with the US
and Central Asia. In general, he urges engaging in intense relations
with all of Turkey's neighbors as well as the Middle Eastern
countries. He also strongly recommends speeding up reforms to
accelerate the EU accession process. `2008 should be a year of
reforms. The reforms that were blocked by the outgoing president
should be completed this year,' he contends. For Turkey's fight
against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) terrorists, Güzel
notes that the cross-border operations that were launched in late
2007 should also continue in 2008 along with social and economic
measures for the country's southeastern region aimed at rooting out
the social base of the PKK.

Referans' Cengiz Çandar hopes that the government will crack down on
the organizations and gangs who target non-Muslims in Turkey in 2008,
recalling the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink and
the murders of three Christians at a publishing house in Malatya last
year, which still remain unexplained. `I call on all the newspapers
in Turkey to spare space for this issue on their front pages every
day and wage a democratic campaign. I call on all the nongovernmental
and business organizations to keep this issue hot on their agenda in
an attempt to get concrete results. No matter what you do, you cannot
save the honor and dignity of being a Muslim and Turk as long as you
don't stand up for the rights of our non-Muslim citizens and expose
the perpetrators of the crimes committed against them,' he says.