From the Head Of Turkey Office...

Dr. Hans-Georg Fleck
Dr. Hans-Georg Fleck

Dear Reader,

Dear Colleagues and Friends of the Turkey Office of Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom,

While talking about Turkish-German relations in these days, people tend to have a somewhat optimistic undertone. The “worst days” seem to be behind us. Ahead of us, probably, lies not any “bright future”, but at least less controversial, less emotional and more pragmatic relations – from both sides!

Let us start this introductory with this – for once – positive note. You, personally, might not care that much about “Turkish-German relations”. For us, the staffers of Naumann Foundation, the state of affairs in these bilateral relations is crucial. This year, with several German journalists and NGO activists being imprisoned in Turkey under dubious circumstances and with even more dubious allegations, we felt the impact of these relations on our work in a so far unknown manner and intensity. Concerns for the possibility of further supporting Turkish non-governmental organisations in their efforts to secure democracy, the rule of law, market economy, the secular state, and tolerance towards minorities became stronger by the day. For the first time, we started to discuss matters of individual security. For the first time in my 25-year professional career with the foundation, “cases of emergency” were discussed. Whether these sentiments were justified or hammed – what counts is that the political situation in this country caused these feelings and provoked the profound sentiment of uncertainty. Who is to be blamed for that?

Let us return to the positive note: We continue our work. We continue to offer our cooperation to all those who are willing to engage for basic liberal values in Turkish society and politics. We continue to rely on the ability and strength of the “other Turkey” that has not given up on the European future of this country. We continue to rely on those who stand tall as they see their future and the future of their children in a modern, secular, tolerant, well-educated and open-minded Turkey.

Almost on a daily basis, we realize how much liberal values are challenged, not only in Turkey, but in many parts of the world, even in the US, and – what counts more for a vivid supporter of the European peace project –: even in Europe! We should face these challenges with more than just entering the blame games we are used to from certain politicians and media. The challenges to our liberal democracy in an ever more globalizing world are too profound to just blame anything on “populists” or the producers of fake news. Such an attitude is not far from the absurdity of those who “expose” climate change to be nothing else than the sinister invention of ill-intentioned “greens” or enemies of the free market.

When it comes to the defence of liberal values, the fight has just begun. And it will be a long and exhausting one. The challengers of liberal values are not hard to be found and identified in these days. Cooperation to resist the continuous waves of efforts to delegitimize liberal and universalistic values is needed more than ever. And again: Our foundation will remain at hand to endorse the liberal cause, in Turkey and in many other places around the globe. In this spirit, our foundation will celebrate its 60th anniversary in this year.

Finally, I wish you, your families and friends a peaceful and relaxing end of the year 2017 and a joyful start into the year 2018, hopefully a year of good health and satisfaction for you and your loved ones.

Hans-Georg Fleck