To be a model: Turkey's time is now


2 June 2011

By R. Spencer Oliver

Amid sweeping changes to the political landscape in the Mediterranean, the reinforcement of Turkey's commitment to democracy and regional leadership is now more important than ever.

The Arab Spring may very well bring democracy to countries in the Mediterranean and Middle East regions; where for too long regimes have operated without accountability from the people. A revolutionary wave of protests and demonstrations brought down long ruling regimes in the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, or OSCE, partner states Tunisia and Egypt and are ongoing in other countries, such as Libya and Syria.

Historically a key regional power and a well-established democracy, Turkey has the potential to serve as a role model to these countries in transition. As we wait to see if Muslim street protests grow into new political parties, with these elections, Turkey can show them it is possible. In this historic year, we decided to send a full election observation mission to Turkey for the first time.

As observers we remain strictly neutral with regard to the outcome of the election. We will not be there as critics, we will be simply there to observe and assess the conduct of the election on the basis of OSCE commitments, to which all OSCE participating states have freely subscribed. Our concern is thus entirely with the process, not its result.

As the standard bearer of election observation, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly expects the upcoming parliamentary elections will showcase Turkey's continuing effort to strengthen its democratic institutions consistent with its OSCE commitments.

By cooperating together in this observation mission, the OSCE and Turkey benefit from mutual information sharing and relationship building. We hope our presence can further nurture Turkey's democratic standard above and beyond its already impressive state. By working together toward this goal, the OSCE strengthens Turkey's regional leadership.

In order to be comfortable and credible as a role model for Muslim democracies, Turkey needs to further strengthen its own democratic institutions. Yes, Turkey is a stable democracy and, yes, the upcoming elections are expected to be free and well-organized, but some international observers have raised points of concern over past elections.

With its regional neighbors looking to hold their first democratic votes later this year, Turkey should seize the chance to showcase their democracy at its best, offering up a model to a region experimenting with change.

So far, we have always been impressed by Turkey's progress in living up to its OSCE commitments. The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly trusts Turkey will keep strengthening its democratic institutions and that the poll on June 12 will be another benchmark in an upward trend for democracy.



Nat Parry

Head of Communications and Press

Office: +45 33 37 80 55
Mobile: +45 60 10 81 77
Email: [email protected]

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