Reports : TESEV

SOME QUOTES FROM SEVERAL TESEV REPORTS :

Media Content: The Regulatory Framework and Court Decisions (p.35)

« Article 25 of the constitution guarantees freedom of expression and protects individuals from state interference on expression of their opinions. Article 28 protects freedom of the press and imposes on the state a positive obligation to undertake the requisite measures to ensure the exercise of this freedom. The constitution guarantees the right to declare or disseminate opinions individually or collectively and to access and share information and opinions without state interference.

What lies beyond this liberal façade, however, is a framework where nationalism, statism and cultural conservatism emerge as the supreme values looming over individual rights. The exercise of fundamental freedoms is subject to compliance with; inter alia, national security, national unity and state secrets.

The constitution entrusts the state with the duty to make sure that citizens act and think in accordance with the ideals of Atatürk, the values of the nation and the morals of the family. Article 41 identifies the family as the ‘foundation of the Turkish society’ and tasks the state with taking measures to protect ‘the peace and welfare of the family’ and to protect children against all kinds of abuse and violence. Article 58 allots the

duty to protect the youth against abuse, exploitation and ‘bad habits’ such as alcoholism, drugs and gambling to the state, and as well as the responsibility to raise young people in accordance ‘the principles and revolutions of Atatürk.’ Making note of this ‘state- centrist approach,’ the Council of Europe (CoE) Commissioner for Human Rights pointed out the pervasive recognition ‘that the letter and spirit of the present Turkish Constitution represent a major obstacle to the effective protection of pluralism and freedom of expression’ (Hammarberg, 2011: para. 11). » […]

Executive Summary

Media policy in Turkey has shaped the media-state relationship since the establishment of the first newspaper in the late Ottoman period. While regulations were often employed as an effective disciplinary tool against the press in processes of state formation and modernization, opponent journalists have constantly been suppressed by state and non-state actors who claimed to act in the name of ‘state interests’.

The coup d’état in 1980 and the concomitant economic liberalisation changed the ownership structure of the media sector with the entry of new investors. Following the abolishment of state monopoly on broadcasting in the 1990s, big conglomerates expanding through vertical and horizontal mergers have dominated all fields of the media. The high concentrated market structure in the media was made possible due to the inadequacy of legal barriers to cross- mergers, as well as the lack of measures that would prevent media conglomerates from participating in public tenders in other sectors of the economy. The shortcomings of the regulatory framework to promote press freedom and diversity in the media has encouraged big corporations to regard themselves as legitimate political actors that can bargain with the government.

Media ownership was restructured following the economic crisis in 2001. Big media groups, which had investments in the financial and banking sectors, were particularly affected by the crisis; some being completely wiped out of the market, while others were seized by the state. Shortly after the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi- AK Parti) came to power in 2002, the mainstream media was reconfigured ideologically as either ‘opponent’ or ‘proponent’ to the government.

Notwithstanding the limited positive effects of the EU accession process on media freedom, there are dozens of ECtHR judgments regarding freedom of expression and freedom of the press waiting to be executed by the Turkish state. Journalists who are powerless vis-à-vis the owners and political power are particularly affected by the political polarisation in the media. The structural obstacles to unionization and the lack of solidarity in the profession lead to labour exploitation, low quality content and violations of media ethics.

The lack of a strong pro-democracy social movement; the ideological conservatism of the judiciary; the institutional weakness of the parliament; and the lack of democracy within political parties render the government – and future governments – too powerful vis-à-vis the society and the media. On a positive note, however, there is a growing awareness on the need for social monitoring of the media. In the absence of a widely accepted and established self- regulatory framework, various non-governmental organizations and activist groups started to watch the media in order to expand the culture of diversity and to reduce discrimination, racism and hate speech.

Culture: (p.15-16)

« In recent years, Turkey has not just become more politically and economically active in the Middle East but culturally as well. The popularity of Turkish television series and holidaying in Turkey has become far more apparent. Thus the 2010 survey included questions about television and holidaying to understand this phenomenon.

Turkey as a destination has become more popular. Between 2007 and 2009, the number of tourists arriving from the surveyed countries increased from between 25% to 55% depending on the country.

Since 2009, Turkey has lifted visa requirements with Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria in both directions as well as for Saudi Arabian citizens. Indeed, comparing the number of tourists arriving from these four countries in the month of July 2010 to July 2009 reveals the impact of this policy: there was a 32% increase in the number of tourists from Jordan, an 88% increase from Lebanon, a 133% increase from Syria and a 59% increase from Saudi Arabia.

The results show that respondents saw Turkey as the most popular Middle Eastern destination. Indeed, Turkey was the most popular destination in Lebanon (51%), Iran (50%), Syria (43%), Jordan (41%), Palestine (41%) and Saudi Arabia (26%). Turkey’s nearest rival, Saudi Arabia, was the most popular destination amongst Egyptians only (32%). When asked about holidaying outside the region, France was the most popular destination but Turkey was the second most popular alongside Germany with 9%.

Turkish television series, dubbed in Arabic, are contributing to the visibililty of the country in the Middle East. Today the volume of these exports to the region is around $50 million per annum.

Indeed, television series have become an important part of Turkey’s soft power; the number of people who watch Turkish TV series in the region is very substantial and this has the potential to have a lasting effect on Turkey’s image. The survey results confirm this popularity: 78% of respondents had watched a Turkish TV series. The number of viewers was particularly high in Syria (85%) and Iraq (89%). Indeed, it’s not just the series themselves but Turkish celebrities that are popular in the Middle East: respondents could name no fewer than 15 Turkish TV series and 15 celebrities. Knowledge of Turkey’s television series and celebrities was particularly noteworthy in Iraq. »

 Television Broadcasting: (p.51-52)

« According to data from the Radio Television Supreme Council, there are currently 24 national, 15 regional and 209 local television enterprises on air. The categorization as national, regional and local broadcasting was done in consideration of RTÜK’s terrestrial broadcasting frequencies plan and the licenses granted under said plan. Yet, the developing technology and the widespread usage of satellite receiver systems continue to blur the distinction between local, regional and national broadcasting. For example, a television enterprise established in and broadcasting from the Black Sea region can have its broadcasts reach the national and even international audiences through satellite. Hence, although it may have a local broadcasting licence, it is not possible to regard such a television station as a local broadcaster. Even this change only demonstrates the need for more research and more discussion on the area of local broadcasting in Turkey.

On the other hand, in all of these scales, television is the media channel that has the highest access rate: it reaches more than 98% of those living in Turkey.The daily average spent watching television is 3 hours, going up to 7 hours for stay at housewifes. Cable TV broadcasting services are available in 21 cities, with approximately 1 million 275 thousand subscribers. Türksat A.Ş, the cable company that broadcasts public and private television enterprises, belongs to the state and is a monopoly. The company provides both infrastructure and broadcasting services; hence it also determines the channels that can broadcast on cable. A new draft regulation on the privatization of this service has been submitted to the public by RTÜK. The effective date of the regulation is as yet unknown.

Additionally, there are also two digital broadcasting platforms in the television broadcasting sector, one belonging to the Çukurova Group (Digiturk), and the other to the Doğan Group (D-Smart). DIGITURK has approximately 2 million 200 thousand subscribers, while D-Smart has 1 million 200 thousand subscribers. »

 Print & broadcast medias : (p.30-31)

« The media sector in Turkey is divided into aggregations. The biggest eight of the 15 media groups are Albayrak, Doğan, Çukurova,Ciner, Çalık, Feza, Doğuş and İhlas Groups. All major private television and radio stations, newspapers and periodicals belong to these groups. The Doğan Media Group and Merkez Group also have a monopoly over the distribution of the print media through Yay-Sat and MDP, respectively.

Established in 1980, Doğan Media Group is the largest media holding company in Turkey. The group has eight dailies: Hürriyet, Milliyet, Radikal, Posta, Vatan, Fanatik, Referans and Hürriyet Daily News. Hürriyet and Milliyet have a nationalist and statist position while Radikal has a social-democrat point of view. Posta is a tabloid newspaper and Referans was a financial newspaper that has recently been merged with Radikal. Doğan Media Group also owns the national TV channels Kanal D, Star and CNN Turk and radio channels Radio D, Slow Turk Radio and Radio Moda. The group also owns a digital platform called D-Smart, which includes many thematic and pay-per-view channels. Moreover, the group provides access for all TV channels on Türksat satellite. It has a stake in the cinema and advertising industries through D Productions. Channel Romania D is another investment of the group in Romania. The group also includes Doğan Burda Rizzoli (DBR), a joint venture with the German publishing house Burda and the Italian media corporation Rizzoli. Doğan runs its own news agency, DHA, publishing house, Doğan Kitap, and merchandising company, D&R. […]

Doğuş Media Group was founded in 1999. Its first channel was the news channel, NTV. In addition, the group collaborates with international brands such as CNBC, NBA, Billboard, Virgin, and National Geographic.

The Albayrak Group was established in 1952. Until 1982, it was active only in the construction sector. The group began publishing the daily Yeni Şafak in 1995. Having liberal and left-wing columnists who do not belong to the Islamic community the paper has emerged from, Yeni Şafak “offers a relatively broader perspective especially about the controversial issues.” Since 2007 it has been running TVNET, a news channel.

Ciner Holding was an active company in the automotive and energy sectors under the name of Park Holding. In 2002, the company entered the media sector. In September 2007 Ciner Publishing Holding was founded; it currently owns Habertürk.com, Habertürk Radyo, Habertürk TV, Ajans Habertürk and Gazete Habertürk. The company holds international TV and radio channels such as Bloomberg TV and Bloomberg HT Radyo. The Turkish language editions of Marie Claire and Maison, belong to Ciner Group as does the recently closed Newsweek, FHM, Food and Travel, GEO, and Mother and Baby.

Çukurova Holding currently publishes the Akşam, Güneş, Tercüman newspapers and Alem magazine and owns the Show and Sky Turk TV stations. Turkcell, the leader in the GSM industry, as well as Digiturk, which broadcasts the national football league matches, also belong to this group.

The Turkuvaz Group belongs to Çalık Holding. In December 2007 the group bought the Merkez Medya Group from Ciner Holding and became the proprietors of the newspapers Yeni Asır (Izmir), Sabah, Takvim, Günaydın and Pas Fotomac, the weeklies Bebeğim ve Biz, Sinema, Home Art, Yeni Aktuel and Gobal Enerji, as well as the television station ATV. […] »

« Turkey’s Image in the Arab World »written by Carnegie Middle East Center Director Paul Salem draws upon the survey to look at how Turkey is and should be responding to recent events in the region.

(p.6-7)
« […]Questions 20 and 21 indicate the influence of soft power. A full 78% of respondents in the Arab world and Iran report that they have watched Turkish soap operas. Indeed these TV programs have taken the region by storm, with Turkish TV stars becoming pop idols among young and old, men and women. The impact of watching hours of these Turkish soap operas cannot be underestimated as they have the effect of creating attachment, understanding, and affection for Turkish identity, culture, and values among wide regional publics. Like Egyptian TV and cinema created a prominent cultural place for Egypt in previous decades, Turkish television has made similar inroads in Arab (and Iranian) popular culture. This has been complemented by a wave of tourism to Turkey in which Arabs and Iranians from various classes and walks of life have visited Turkey and become familiar and attached to its towns and cities, history and monuments, culture and people. Turkey is identified in the survey as the most popular tourist destination (35% put it as their first choice; followed by 19% for Saudi Arabia; and 13% for Lebanon.)[…] »

« Challenges to Turkey’s Soft Power in the Middle East »written by the Dean of Graduate School of Sciences in METU Meliha Benli Altunışık questions how Turkey exercises its soft power in the Middle East, an issue that has become all the more relevant as a result of the Arab Spring.

Turkey’s attractiveness : (p.2)
 » […] Finally, in recent years Turkey has become a source of attraction because of its cultural products. Since 2004 Turkish TV series have become quite popular in the Arab world. 78 percent of the respondents said yes to the question of whether they have ever watched a Turkish TV series in the TESEV poll. The popularity of these series has led to an increase in the numbers of visitors to Turkey from the Arab countries. The increase in human-tohuman interaction has facilitated learning from each other and started to shape images of the “other” in more positive ways.[…] »

 

« Turkey has a star role in more than just TV drama » – The National

The President, Sheikh Khalifa, and his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul at a ceremony in the capital during the Turkish leader’s visit last month. Mustafa Oztartan / Turkish Presidency Press Office / AP Photo. Source : The National

by Thomas Seibert

« During a recent visit to the UAE, Abdullah Gul, Turkey’s president, was confronted with an unexpected request.

« Please tell us how the Turkish soap operas on television will end. Otherwise, we will not be able to pry our women away from their TV sets, » Mr Gul quoted his Emirati hosts as saying last week.

Turkish television series have long been popular in the Middle East. Yet they are one reason why Turkey topped a recent poll of most admired nations in the region.

In the survey, carried out by the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (Tesev), 78 per cent of those polled in 16 countries the Middle East had a very or somewhat favourable opinion of Turkey. The UAE was second with 70 per cent.

In the case of Turkey, respondents said it was a regional model because of its democratic system, economic development and Muslim identity. Three-out-of-four of those surveyed also said they had seen a Turkish television soap – a testament the country’s expanding influence, said Gokce Percinoglu.

« TV series form a part of Turkey’s soft power, » said Ms Percinoglu, an analyst at Tesev, an independent think tank.

Not all Turks were impressed with the survey’s findings.

They said that the country’s high favourability ratings across the region – like the much-touted « Turkish model » – were both soft and misleading.

On the one hand, maintaining Turkey’s positive image depended on democratic progress in the country, they said. On the other hand, its reputation is tarnished by limits on media freedom and a hardening of fronts in the long-running Kurdish conflict.

« More democratisation is the biggest chance for Turkey » to keep improving the favourable perception of the country in the region, Mensur Akgun, a co-author of the Tesev study, said. « But a military intervention or authoritarian tendencies of a civilian government would be risks. »

The government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister, has been accused of overseeing the arrest of about 100 journalists and an increasing number of university students and of abandoning efforts to solve the Kurdish conflict by democratic means. The government rejects the accusations.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the secularist opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), wrote in Monday’s Washington Post that Turkey under Mr Erdogan could not be a model for the Middle East.

« Turkey today is a country where people live in fear and are divided politically, economically and socially. Our democracy is regressing in terms of the separation of powers, basic human rights and freedoms and social development and justice, » Mr Kilicdaroglu said.

The Tesev poll was conducted by telephone and by in-person interviews between October and December last year among 2,323 people in the UAE, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Tunisia, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Yemen and Libya.

According to the survey, 77 per cent of respondents thought Turkey had a positive effect on peace in the Middle East. Another 71 per cent thought Turkey should play a bigger role in the region, 67 per cent said Turkey was a « successful combination of Islam and democracy », and 61 per cent of people in the Middle East considered Turkey a possible model for the region.

Support for the Turkish model is highest in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt, Tesev said, three countries that overthrew their long-time regimes during the Arab Spring and were visited by Mr Erdogan last year. Support for Turkey is lowest in Syria, reflecting deteriorating ties between Ankara and Damascus over the violence of Syrian government forces against protesters.

The main reason people regard Turkey as a model are its democratic system (32 per cent). Its strong economy (25 per cent) and its identity as a Muslim country (23 per cent) were also at the top of the poll.

While political and economic factors play vital roles in Turkey’s image, the poll also found strong cultural influences, especially its soaps. Murat Yetkin, a columnist, wrote in the newspaper Hurriyet Daily News that Turkish soaps were so popular in the Middle East « because they show that to live a modern and open life in a modern society is possible », adding that « Turkish soap operas give messages of hope that a modern political, social and economic life can be lived by Turks, as well as by Arab viewers ».

The role of cultural factors such as television shows was hard to quantify, « but the influence is there », Mr Akgun said.

For Zayed University students, that seems indisputable.

When Mr Gul, Turkey’s president, met them during his recent visit to the UAE, they asked about Muhtesem Yuzyil, or Magnificent Century, a Turkish TV series about the life of Suleiman the Magnificent, an Ottoman sultan of the 16th century.

« They are all following that show, » he later told reporters. »

Source : The National

« Arabs wants to see the modern Turkey » – Hürriyet Daily News

« The Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV) released the results of a survey yesterday in Istanbul, about how Turkey was perceived across the Middle East and North Africa. The survey was carried out between Oct. 19 and Dec. 15, 2011 among 2,323 people in 16 countries, namely Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Tunisia, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, the UAE, Yemen and Libya.[…]

That explains why the Turkish President was subject to questions about Turkish TV serials by the leaders of United Arab Emirates earlier this week during his visit. As he was trying to tell them about the strength of Turkish banks in order to attract more investment, his counterparts wanted to know how the serials would end, because their wives watching the series’ at home were wondering – as if Gül would know about this in advance.

Turkish soap operas are so favorable in the world of the Arab Spring because they show that to live a modern and open life in a modern society is possible. They tell stories about Istanbul, Ankara, Antalya. They tell the stories of ordinary Turkish people who can go to Friday prayers and observe their religion freely – like people in Cairo, Baghdad and Tehran – but they can also get social, with men and women together, dancing, falling in love, flirting and even drinking alcohol from time to time.

That is why Turkish soap operas are considered a social catalyst, whereas Al-Jazeera is considered the political catalyst in the media dimension of the Arab Spring.

Turkish soap operas give messages of hope that a modern political, social and economic life can be lived by Turks, as well as by Arab viewers. It is a message of hope. […] »

Source : Hürriyet Daily News

« Series boost Turkish ‘soft power’ in region  » – Hürriyet Daily News

A Palestinian man holds a photograph depicting the lead characters of a Turkish soap opera in Ramallah in this file photo. AP photo. Source : Hürriyet

« Turkish soap operas are being watched in over 20 countries, creating revenues as well as supporting the ‘soft power’ of Turkish diplomacy.

Turkish TV series, such as the hugely popular ‘Magnificent Century’ and ‘Forbidden Love,’ are breaking viewer records in the Middle Eastern and North African countries, bringing in much-needed foreign currency while raising Turkey’s clout in the region through the promotion of the Turkish lifestyle.

Turkey earned more than $60 million only this year from exporting TV series. More than 100 Turkish TV series have been watched in over 20 countries this year.

“We have begun to be broadcast in the Balkan countries this year,” said Fırat Gülgen, chairman of Calinos Holding, which makes 80 percent of TV series exported from Turkey, as he spoke to the Anatolia news agency Dec. 10. Gülgen said TV series are exported to many Central and Eastern European countries including Serbia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Romania, Poland and Hungary. In the Far East, buyers include Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, Japan and Vietnam.

Gülgen said prices for an episode of a given series ranged between $500 and $ 15,000. A TV channel in Japan has also prepared a documentary about Turkish soap operas, he said, adding that the documentary focused mainly on the effects on tourism and export. […] »

Source : Hürriyet Daily News

Author : Hatice Utkan / hatice.utkan@tdn.com.tr

« The soft power of Turkish television » – SES Türkiye

Songul Oden (right) and Ayca Varlier play in the Turkish soap opera "Noor", which has been a huge hit in the Middle East. (Reuters). Source : SES Türkiye"

By Cigdem Bugdayci for Southeast European Times in Istanbul – 23/07/11

The success of television series outside Turkey signals a re-branding of the country’s image.

The popularity of Turkish television series, from the Balkans to the Middle East, has brought Turkey to an international audience, and is subtly transforming the image of the country abroad.

Since 2001, 65 Turkish television series have been sold abroad, bringing in over 50m dollars to the booming Turkish television industry. Turkish actors and celebrities are now well-known figures in some countries and scenes of Istanbul have drawn tens of thousands of tourists.

According to Izzet Pinto from the film distribution company Global Agency, Turkish series are quite a novelty for a public very much used to watching only American or Latin American TV productions.

« The TV series are a big commercial opportunity for Turkey, » Pinto tells SETimes.

However, more than the millions of dollars in sales, the emergence of Turkey as a popular brand is equally significant. In the Balkans and Middle East, regions traditionally wary of Turkish influence, the soft message of television holds the power the country to re-market itself.

According to a recent Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation report entitled « The Perception of Turkey in the Middle East 2010 », 78% of the respondents said they have watched a Turkish TV series. The report states that the series have become an important part of Turkey’s soft power by creating a lasting influence on Turkey’s image in the region.

Although unplanned, the spread of Turkish television falls neatly into the soft-power strategy of Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu as outlined in his seminal 2001 book « Strategic Depth ».

Davutoglu advocates a pro-active and multi-dimensional foreign policy that sees Turkey’s shared history and culture with former Ottoman lands as a strategic advantage — forming one prong of Turkey’s soft-power strategy.

However, the appeal of Turkish television, mixing emotionally rich images with a sense of well-kept traditionalism, has also received criticism from some conservatives in Turkey who feel the basis of family is being threatened through images of sultry kisses, adultery stories, murder and crime.

According to AKP deputy from Istanbul Halide Incekara, Turkish TV series don’t represent the Turkish family and morals. « The TV series hurt the image of Turkey abroad as they are so full of corrupt storylines and unacceptable behaviors, » she tells SETimes.

On the other hand, Orhan Tekelioglu, a communications professor from Istanbul Bahcesehir University, told SETimes that it is not possible to make any claims on the popularity of TV series without additional research. However, he points out there is actually a strong tendency for the « protection of the family » in the series, which has its roots in the Turkish modernization process.

Tekelioglu also interprets the news about the international spread and success of TV series in the Turkish press in a different manner, telling SETimes, « The sales from the TV series are greeted with ‘hails of victory’ as if coming from ‘an army campaign’ — this must be what they call neo-Ottomanism. »

Source : SES Türkiye

 

« After Mubarak: Is Turkey a model for the Middle East? » – SETimes.com

By Justin Vela for Southeast European Times in Istanbul — 11/02/11

In the wake of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s resignation and the continuing protests against ruling regimes throughout the Middle East, a debate is under way about whether Turkey’s path should stand as an example for Muslim governments.

While some secular Turks regard the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) as populist and Islamist, Western observers in Turkey view the country’s model as desirable, now that Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah announced they back Egypt’s protesters.

Today’s Zaman pundit Mumtaz’Er Turkone argues that the ordinary people gathered at Tahrir Square in Cairo are the people in power in Turkey. « Egypt is traveling towards the position Turkey has attained after a long and adventurous quest for democracy. »

« On the one hand, Ankara and Prime Minister Erdogan have increasingly spoken of Turkey’s desire to see democracy flourish and justice prevail in the Middle East, » writes Yigal Schleifer.

But Erdogan’s call for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to « satisfy the people’s desire for change », he argues, was at odds with Turkey’s close support for the autocratic regimes in Syria and Iran. The embattled Mubarak finally heeded that call and stepped down on Friday (February 11th).

Schleifer concludes that the turmoil could give Ankara another chance to put forward « the ‘new Turkish model’ — democratic, Islamic, economically vibrant and rapidly shedding the influence of the military — as one for other countries to emulate ».

But Turkey must first overcome the critic’s argument it is not an Arab country. « The best (and perhaps only) way to do this is to emphasise its Islamic identity, which may explain why in his parliament speech, Erdogan used a distinctly religious tone in his appeal for Mubarak to step down. »

Author and blogger Jenny White discusses a new Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV) survey showing trends that may help explain Turkey public’s opinion on the debate.

More than 65% of respondents said they « felt Turkey could be a ‘model for the region' ». Asked why, 15% listed Turkey’s Islamic background, 12% Turkey’s strong economy and 11% its democratic government.

Another 10% listed Turkey’s stance in support of Palestinians and Muslims.

Of the ones who rejected the idea, 12% listed Turkey’s secular political system as the reason, while additional 10% the country’s ties with Western nations.

Journalist Frederike Geerdink argued that events in Egypt could actually strengthen Turkish democracy. 

« As I write this, news is coming in that Egyptian state TV is claiming that countries which once occupied Egypt are now plotting against it. Besides the USA, Britain and Israel, of course Turkey was named — well, the Ottoman Empire is long gone, but we see the point. Erdogan has spoken out against Mubarak, basically saying that he should listen to the voice of the people and step down immediately. « 

Geerdink argues the so-called « Ergodan effect » may have even contributed to the uprising in Egypt.

« A democracy with a majority Muslim population daring to speak out against the USA and against Israel, that is rather remarkable. Besides that, Turkey has a rapidly growing economy, and is pushing through democratic reforms while under a so-called mildly Islamic government. » 

Should the Middle Eastern countries remodel after Turkey, they will « make Turkey’s democratisation process stronger », she concludes, proving that a majority Muslim population and democracy really can go together.

 

Source : SETimes.com

« The Perception of Turkey in the Middle East: Soap Opera Diplomacy? » – CIPE

« Given the Ottoman Empire’s history in the Middle East, Turkey’s secularism upon the founding of the republic has left many with a less than favorable perception of the country among Arab states. However, the tide seems to be changing. Anyone who has lived in the Middle East or at least visited an Arab household has witnessed the predominance of a soap opera culture that engrosses men, women, and children alike. One of the most popular soap operas in the Middle East currently is in fact a Turkish series entitled Gumus (or Noor in Arabic), and it’s safe to say that it has helped “conquer hearts and minds in the Arab world.”

It’s not just the striking good looks of the lead characters that appeals to the Arab viewers; the series also tackles contentious norms that a male-dominated region would otherwise sweep under the rug. The show’s courage in taking on these issues has struck a chord with audiences beyond Turkey, providing a fine touch of cultural diplomacy to complement the Turkish government’s broader initiatives.

The German Marshall Fund held a roundtable discussion April 21 on a recent survey released by the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV, a former CIPE partner) that measured the perception of Turkey among seven Arab nations: Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Iraq. Indeed, this “newfound positive image” is also demonstrative of Turkey’s shift in its foreign policy priorities since the 1990s and its ongoing efforts to be an influential player in the region (as seen in the globe-trotting Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s numerous trips to the region). Turkey’s growing role as a mediator in the region and Prime Minister’s Erdogan’s heated exchange with Israeli president Shimon Peres at Davos in support of Palestinians following the 2008 Gaza war have slowly led to a warming of opinion for the nation of 72 million. […] »

Complete TESEV report (p.15 for cultural analysis)

Source : CIPE