Tag Archives: President Gul

Turkish Universities Furious At Political Interference

Professors at Turkish universities are furious at the decision of President Abdullah Gul of the religious leaning Justice and Development Party(AKP) to ignore recommendations of teh Higher Education Board(YOK) and appoint religious leaning professors to the position of rector of a university. Professor Ural Akbulut, former rector at ODTU, told the Turkish Daily News a university’s recommendation for the post of rector must be respected because college faculty know those on the list and have decided which ones they most highly respect. Professor Kadkri Yamac, former rector of Gazi University in Ankara obtained twice the number of votes as the person who was selected but YOK disregarded the election results and excluded his name from those submitted to Gul.

Business groups like the Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association urged politicians to stay out of the university administration and allow the faculty to make decisions. Most university professors believe President Gul is taking revenge against them for refusing to support his efforts to end the ban on wearing a headscarf in a university.

Turkey Faces New Secular Dispute

Barely a week after Turkey’s Constitutional Court warned the ruling Justice and Development Party(AKP) to be more sensitive to the needs of secular forces within the nation, President Gul created a new crisis by selecting pro-AKP rectors for university positions and turned down faculty nominees who are supporters of secular rights. Professor Mutafa Akaydin of Akdeniz university was rejected. “My defense of secular values of the Republic is seen as a liability. I am paying the price for the headscarf decision.” Education expert Abbas Guciu agreed Gul decisions on rectors smacked of political factors rather than of academic ones. “The prime minister and the president talked a lot about democracy. When I look from exterior, I see a discrepancy between what they said and what is done.”

According to Turkish law universities send the president a short list of the top six candidates and he then selects one. Ordinarily, the person ranked number one is appointed, but President Gul in a direct slap in the face to secular academics, in many cases passed over the secular candidate and appointed the one who is more in tune with the ruling AKP. President Gul has often agreed the person with the highest number of votes should be selected, but apparently what he believed yesterday is no longer true today.

Turkey–New Middle Man Of Middle East?

At the turn of the 20th century, Turkey was usually portrayed as the “sick man of Europe,” but today it is emerging as the new “middle man of the Middle East.” The Turkish government just concluded an important meeting by bringing together the presidents of Palestine and Israel for an extended get together in which President Gul tried to use his influence in resolving some problems. He also urged in his private sessions with Peres and Abbas that Syria should be invited to the upcoming Annapolis conference. Turkey is already attempting to build an industrial zone on the West Bank in order to stimulate economic activity and create jobs for Palestinians. The Muslim Justice and Development Party of Turkey is among the few Muslim political groups which has excellent relations with Israel and seeks to serve as a go between in fostering peace in the region.

The prospect for significant progress at the Annapolis meeting is doubtful. But, Turkey might well be encouraged by the United States to follow up on the meeting by serving as a middle man in negotiation with both sides. It could well be the site of an Israel-Syria meeting to discuss the Golan Heights. Perhaps, Turkish soldiers could serve as a guardian force to maintain peace in that area and end the current impasse between Israel and Syria. They could also guard the Israel-Lebanon boarder and halt Hizbullah initiated raids on Israel.