Mose Apelblat

Surely countries can learn from each-other. Mustafa Akyol, a Turkish columnist and author, illustrates this with the Kurdish issue in Turkey (INYT, July 24). During the civil war in the 90-ies between the Turkish state and the Kurdish PKK, thousands of people were killed and hundreds of thousands displaced.

In the past Turkey faced a terrorist threat. However, since two years the vicious circle of violence has been replaced by a peace process towards reconciliation.

Israel needs also to break the vicious circle of violence in its relations with the Palestinians. But this is a challenge which seems more difficult than the one that faced Turkey. P.K.K. has changed and differs obviously from Hamas. Its objective is limited to autonomy in Turkey and civil rights for the Kurds.

But as Akyol writes, the Kurdish issue is still far from resolved, which shows how difficult even an issue which has been reduced to local and regional self-government is difficult to solve in Turkey.

Take for example the Turkish constitution which is still subject to review. The current constitution declares that the fundamental duty of the state is to preserve the “independence and integrity of the Turkish nation”. The Kurds still don’t have the right to study their mother language or use it as a language of instruction in public schools.

Unfortunately, the Turkish prime-minister is hardly the right person to teach Israel any lessons. More than a year has passed since the Israeli apology for the Mavi Marmara incident and diplomatic relations between the two countries haven´t been re-established yet. Mr Erdogan has missed a chance to mediate in the war between Israel and Hamas.

Learning from each-other doesn’t mean that countries copy or emulate experiences and institutions. Lessons learned need to be adapted to national circumstances.

As regards good governance Turkey can learn a few things from Israel. In the fight against corruption, Israel’s independent judiciary has prosecuted a former prime minister who was sentenced to jail a few months ago.

In every liberal democracy there are also strong checks and balances institutions in the form of the supreme audit institution and the Ombudsman institution. Both are badly needed for Turkey if it wants to accelerate the accession process with EU. In both areas Israel has strong institutions.

To promote transparency and accountability the Turkish state audit would need to carry out performance audits which it has done in the past. The new Ombudsman institution in Turkey would need to strike a balance between independence and accountability in the judiciary system and start investigating complaints against judiciary maladministration.

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