World Bulletin/News Desk
"We want to be a first-class democracy," Turkish Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Ali Babacan said while attending a luncheon at influential American think-tank The Chicago Council to speak on Turkey's targets for 2023.
Noting rapid developments in democratic rights and freedoms, Babacan referred to Turkey's recently announced democratization package, which addresses many amendments to political and minority rights in the country, as an example of how progress would continue.
However, "this does not happen overnight, we are advancing step by step,'' he said at the event to which he was invited by The Chicago Council Chairman Lester Crown.
In response to a question on detained journalists in Turkey, Babacan indicated that none were arrested for their journalism, but for being members of armed, illegal organizations.
“Being a journalist does not give anyone the right to commit crimes in other areas, he said, in explaining that he had examined court records given how often he was asked about this issue.
Arguing that Turkey had undergone a “silent revolution” of the last 11 years, he stressed the reforms which had been pursued in the banking system, social security policies, health care system amid much criticism along the way.
Addressing the Gezi Park protests incidents this summer, he said the world had not assessed the events accurately as the tension arose not from environmentally sensitive persons, but from illegal organizations which violently exploited the events. Despite the police initially exceeding their authority, they overall did their duty of the police in a manner similar to experiences in other EU countries and the United States, Babacan stated.
Regarding the Kurdish issue, he said the government had been doing its part to legally protect all ethnic identities, including the Kurdish language and identity. Explaining the history of the PKK organization, he said it had embraced a Marxist-Leninist ideology before shifting its focus to the Kurdish ethnicity after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
In terms of the country's solution process for resolving the Kurdish issue, Babacan noted 80 percent of east and southeast Anatolia - densely populated by people of Kurdish descent – supported the process the government had undertaken by meeting with jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan.Last Mod: 26 Ekim 2013, 11:50