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Afghanistan

Public Policy Research Organization


Patterns of State-Civil Society Interactions in


Turkey: Retrospect and Prospects

August 2015

Project Report

Acknowledgements


The funding for this research was provided by Oxfam Novib as part of the project, Citizens First, and
collaboration between Oxfam Novib, Peace, Training and Research Organization (PTRO), and
Afghanistan Public Policy Research Organization (APPRO).

About the Researchers


This paper is based on the original research by Aylin zman and Berrin Koyuncu Lorasda with
additional desk research by Saeed Parto. Aylin zman is Professor of Political Science and the Chair of
the Department of Political Science and International Relations at TED University in Ankara, Turkey.
Berrin Koyuncu Lorasda is Professor of Political Science at the Department of Political Science and
Public Administration and Director of Graduate School of Social Sciences, Hacettepe University, Ankara,
Turkey.

About APPRO
Afghanistan Public Policy Research Organization (APPRO) is an independent social research organization
promoting social and policy learning to benefit development and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan.
APPRO is a non-profit, non-government organization, headquartered in Kabul, Afghanistan, with satellite
offices in Herat, Mazar-e Sharif, Jalalabad, and Kandahar. APPRO is a founding member of APPRO-
Europe. APPROs mission is to provide insights on how to improve performance against the
development milestones set by the Afghan government and international donors. APPRO conducts
applied research, carries out evaluations, and provides training on policy analysis, Monitoring and
Evaluations, advocacy, and research methods. For more information, see: www.appro.org.af

Contact: mail@appro.org.af

Cover Photo: Hanife zata

APPRO takes full responsibility for all omissions and errors in this report.


2015. Afghanistan Public Policy Research Organization and Aylin zman and Berrin Koyuncu
Lorasda. Some rights reserved. This publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or
transmitted only for non-commercial purposes and with written credit to APPRO and the authors.
Where this publication is reproduced, stored or transmitted electronically, a link to APPROs website at
www.appro.org.af should be provided. Any other use of this publication requires prior written
permission which may be obtained by writing to: mail@appro.org.af



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List of Abbreviations
AKDER
AKP
APPRO
CSO
CEDAW
ECLN
EU
GONGO
GREVIO

KADEM
KA-DER
KASAD-D
KSGM
LGBT
ICLN

HD

MAZLUMDER
MOR ATI
TACSO
THK
TOBB

TRK-
TSEV
TSAD

Ayrmcla Kar Kadn Haklar Dernei/Association of Women Against


Discrimination
Adalet ve Kalknma Partisi / Justice and Development Party
Afghanistan Public Policy Research Organization
Civil Society Organization
Convention on the Elimination of All Types of Discriminations Against Women
European Civil Liberties Network
European Union
Government Organized Non-Governmental Organizations
Group of Experts on Action Against Violence Against women and Domestic
Violence
Kadn ve Demokrasi Dernei/Woman and Democracy Association
Kadn Adaylar Destekleme Dernei / The Association for the Support and
Training of Women Candidates
Kadn Salklar Dayanma Dernei/Women Health Providers Association
Kadnn Stats Genel Mdrl / The Turkish General Directorate on the
Status of Women
Lezbiyen, Gay, Biseksel, Transgender ve Interseks Birlii /International Lesbian,
Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association
The International Center for Not-for-Profit Law
nsan Haklar Dernei / Human Rights Association
nsan Haklar ve Mazlumlar iin Dayanma Dernei / Human Rights and
Solidarity Association for the Oppressed
Mor at Kadn Sna Vakf / Purple Roof Womens Shelter Foundation
Technical Assistance to Civil Society Organization
Trkiye nsan Haklar Kurumu / National Human Rights Institution of Turkey
Trkiye Odalar ve Borsalar Birlii / The Union of Chambers and Commodity
Exchanges of Turkey
Trkiye i Sendikalar Konfederasyonu / Confederation of Turkish Trade Unions
Trkiye nc Sektr Vakf / Third Sector Foundation of Turkey
Trkiye Sanayici ve Adamlar Dernei / Industrialists and Businessmen
Association of Turkey

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Table of Contents
1. Introduction................................................................................................................... 4
2. Objectives...................................................................................................................... 4
3. Methodology ................................................................................................................. 4
4. State-CSO Relations and Good Governance.................................................................... 5
5. State-CSO Relations in Turkey A Historical Overview................................................... 8
State-CSO Relations: 1923-1980 ................................................................................................ 8
State-CSO Relations: 1980-2002 ................................................................................................ 9
State-CSO Relations: 2002-Present ...........................................................................................11
6. Current State-CSO Relations in Turkey ......................................................................... 12
7. Key Findings................................................................................................................. 20
8. Conclusion ................................................................................................................... 21
Implications for Afghanistan.....................................................................................................21
Recommendations ...................................................................................................................22
For Governments......................................................................................................................... 22
For CSOs....................................................................................................................................... 22
For International Donors ............................................................................................................. 23
References....................................................................................................................... 24
Appendix 1: Profiles of CSOs Used as Case Examples ....................................................... 27
KA-DER (The Association for the Support and Training of Women Candidates).........................27
MOR ATI KADIN SIINMA VAKFI (Purple Roof Womens Shelter Foundation).........................28
HD (Human Rights Association) ...............................................................................................29
MAZLUMDER (Human Rights and Solidarity Association for the Oppressed).............................30
Appendix 2: Legal Framework Governing CSOs In Turkey................................................. 31
Appendix 3: CSO Interview Questions.............................................................................. 35
Appendix 4: Expert Interview Questions .......................................................................... 36

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1. Introduction
This paper examines the patterns of state-civil society interaction in Turkey with a specific focus on
rights-based civil society organizations (CSOs) active in the fields of womens and human rights. The
CSOs within the scope of this research comprise KA-DER (Association for the Support and Training of
Women Candidates), MOR ATI (Purple Roof Womens Shelter Foundation), MAZLUMDER (The Human
Rights and Solidarity Association for the Oppressed), and HD (The Human Rights Association). (See
Appendix 1 for a synthesized overview of these CSOs).

The research sought to examine the key features of state-civil society interface and conduct a qualitative
analysis of the roles CSOs play in the mode of governance in Turkey and the implications for policy
options to strengthen state-civil society interactions toward good governance in Afghanistan and other
developing or emerging democracies.

2. Objectives
The objectives for this research were as follows:
Establish the formal role allocated to CSOs by the Government of Turkey
Establish the actual role of CSOs in government decision/policy making process in
Turkey with a focus on the experiences of womens and human rights CSOs
Define the key features of the mode of governance in Turkey regarding the interface
between CSOs and government
Identify gaps or inconsistencies between the place of CSOs in governance in law and
practice
Assess implications of the findings for CSOs in Turkey as an overwhelmingly Muslim-
populated country
Generate specific and practical recommendations for governments, international
donors, and CSOs on how to strengthen existing links between CSOs and governmental
authorities and develop additional links to facilitate good governance.

3. Methodology
This research focused on selected womens and human rights CSOs namely KA-DER, MOR ATI, HD, and
MAZLUMDER. CSOs, for the purposes of this research, refers to entities defined according to the
Turkish law as associations and foundations. The rationale underlying the preference of these particular
CSOs is twofold. First, although the rights-based CSOs constitute only 1.28 percent of the associations
and foundations in Turkey, their political visibility and interface with governmental authorities is much
higher compared to other CSOs engaged in sports, development and housing, development of religious
services, promotion of professional solidarity, work, health services, and education.1 Second, the focus
on CSOs engaged in the protection and promotion of womens rights and human rights, as opposed to
CSOs in general, is more relevant to Afghanistan as a Muslim country and thus likely to result in practical

1

TSEV, 2011: 18

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recommendations for Afghanistan, given the currently alarming state of affairs of women in
Afghanistan.

To meet the above objectives, this research is based on:
Document review: a review of Turkeys legal and regulatory environment pertaining to CSO activity,
review of the broader literature on state-CSO interface, review of media reports on state-CSO
relations, and documents and information from the websites of the four CSOs (KA-DER, MOR ATI,
MAZLUMDER, HD) selected for this research.2
Semi-structured interviews: with key informants from the four selected CSOs and selected relevant
governmental authorities as stakeholders of the selected CSOs.3
Analysis of data from secondary and primary sources.

This report is organized as follows. The next section provides and overview of state-CSO literature.
Section 5 sets the context for state-CSO interface in Turkey. Section 5 provides a historical overview of
state-CSO relations in Turkey since the founding of the Republic. Section 6 analyzes the data from
interviews with key informants to highlight the key current (2014-2015) characteristics of state-CSO
relations in Turkey. Section 7 summarizes the key findings from the research. Section 8 concludes with
implications for Afghanistan, followed by recommendations for improving state-CSO relations.

4. State-CSO Relations and Good Governance


There is a general consensus among international aid organizations and CSOs, particularly in less
developed countries, that linkages between CSOs and formal governmental bodies including the
legislature are necessary ingredients of good governance and against corruption. Good governance may
be defined as the totality of mechanisms and arrangements that ensure access to information about
service entitlements and standards prescribed by the law, granting voice to beneficiaries regarding

2

The selected CSOs:


KA-DER: An Istanbul-based women's rights association with the major aim of raising awareness on equality
between women and men to counter male domination in social and political life.
MOR ATI: An Istanbul-based women's rights foundation that aims to offer legal and practical support for
victims of violence and to strengthen the struggle against domestic violence.
MAZLUMDER: An Ankara-based association that aims to defend and promote human rights both at the
domestic and international levels.
HD: An Ankara-based association with the mission to struggle against and prevent all kinds of human rights
violations based on race, language, religion, sex and political stance.
3
The selected state stakeholders:
For KA-DER and MOR ATI:
Republic of Turkey, The Ministry of Family and Social Policies (T.C. Aile ve Sosyal Politikalar Bakanl) - state
department with a mission of social policy formation and implementation for increasing the welfare of the
individual, family and the society.
The Turkish General Directory on the Status of Women (KSGM, Kadnn Stats Genel Mdrl) a sub-
department of the Ministry of Family and Social Policies with a mission of policy formulation and
implementation for the attainment of gender equality.
For MAZLUMDER and HD:
National Human Rights Institute of Turkey (THK, Trkiye nsan Haklar Kurumu)
For all the four CSOs:
Republic of Turkey, The Ministry of European Union (T.C. Avrupa Birlii Bakanl) state department with a
mission of policy formulation and implementation regarding EU-Turkey relations.
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design and implementation of service programs, and providing citizens with grievance redress
mechanisms and tools to demand accountability from service providers through such means as third
party monitoring, public hearing, and social audits, citizen report cards, public expenditure tracking
surveys, access to information laws and tools, and community score cards.4

Box 1: Principles of Good Governance
Transparency implies openness and visibility, and should apply to almost all aspects of the conduct of
governmental affairs. It is the foundation upon which both accountability and participation are built.
Information in the public domain is the currency of transparency and, together with open and visible
decision-making processes, signals that there is really nothing to hide. Transparency facilitates good
governance; its absence provides cover for conflicts-of-interest, self-serving deals, bribery, and other forms of
corruption.

Accountability has both internal and external dimensions. Internal accountability implies probity in how and
why resources are mobilized and used; it involves issues of financial accountability, efficiency, and
effectiveness in the collection of taxes and other revenue, in the creation of public goods, and in the delivery of
basic services. External accountability refers to political leaders responsiveness to citizen needs and
aspirations, including accountability for the overall performance of the economy (sustainable growth and job
creation) and for the level and quality of basic services. Such accountability implies that the institutions
including the civil servicehave the capacity to respond to citizen demands, and that salary levels and other
incentives are consistent with those expectations.

Participation, or inclusion, is important not just on principle, but in practical terms as well. It represents the
demand side of good governance, and implies that people have rights that need to be recognized; that they
should have a voice in the decisions that may affect them; that they should be treated fairly and equally; and
that they should benefit from the protection of the rule of law. The benefits of participation are well
documented. They are particularly important in decisions on the types of investment projects to be done, their
design and implementation, and operation and maintenance. The involvement of civil society organizations,
consumer groups, project beneficiaries, and affected communities in all stages of Bank-financed projects can
simultaneously improve development outcomes and reduce the scope for fraud and corruption.
Source: IEG World Bank (2011) 5


Empowering CSOs to demand good governance through increased transparency, a higher degree of
qualitative participation and the capacity to exert greater accountability from service providers, makes a
difference in the effectiveness and impact of public service delivery (Box 1). Fighting corruption at the
grassroots level thus becomes a twofold priority. First, the empowerment of civil society allows citizens
to exercise their right in making choices and determining the direction of community, state or national
development policy as a whole. Second, citizen engagement and empowerment to demand good
governance using social accountability is likely to lower corruption and hold service providers
accountable.6


4

This definition of good governance is based on Partnership and Transparency Fund (2012), PTF Working Paper
Series No. 4 / 2012: Strategies for Empowering Communities to Demand Good Governance and Seek Increased
Effectiveness of Public Service Delivery, pages 5-7.
5
IEG Working Paper 2011/5, Stefano Migliorisi Clay Wescott, A Review of World Bank Support for Accountability
Institutions in the Context of Governance and Anti-corruption, page 14, available from:
http://ieg.worldbank.org/Data/reports/ieg-gac-accountabilityfinal.pdf
6 Ibid. Page 3.

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State-CSO relations in the context of good governance consist of a set of mutually beneficial
arrangements between CSOs and the state as follows:

Building State Capacity
Participatory policy and budget formulation
Delivering basic services
Training for public service providers in health, education, clean water and sanitation, social safety
nets, and livelihood enhancing programs as well as access to justice.
Delivering civic education and raising citizens awareness about national policies, and their rights and
responsibilities, e.g., voting rights, democratic freedom, rights of access to basic services
Raising citizens awareness about rights and services so that official security and justice institutions
are more accessible and effective.

Building State Accountability
Influencing standard setting, e.g., lobbying for legislation and transparency, adherence to
international commitments on human rights.
Carrying out investigation through monitoring and evaluating government programs through social
audits, community-based program monitoring, citizen report cards, and participatory expenditure
tracking systems.
Demanding answers from state authorities on its performance on policies and plans, and the
development of future policies and plans, through petitioning and public hearings
Applying democratic discourse sanctions, such as protests, boycotts, strikes, or media campaigns,
when state is found to be lacking on delivering on policies and plans.

Building State Responsiveness
Identifying and voicing needs of citizens, including the poor.
Pursuing social inclusion through strategies including advocacy through lobbying reformers within the
government and/or international community, providing empirically based input for policy debates
and policy formation, and initiating social mobilization on key civic issues.7

One of the many pre-requisites of good governance is the existence of a system of checks and balances
among executive, legislative, and judicial pillars of government. As such, good governance requires
democratically elected policy making bodies such as parliaments tasked with developing and protecting
channels of communication with CSOs and spaces within which CSOs can make their contributions,
based on the evidenced needs of their constituents, to the policy making process.

Numerous international aid organizations subscribe to the view that good governance has to be an
integrated component of all development aid interventions. This view holds that without good
governance there is likely to be little or no transparency and accountability by state authorities and
hence no possibility of establishing program impact or sustainability. However, there is also recognition
that promoting and implementing good governance is constrained by limited funding. There is
insufficient funding for investing in human and social capital of CSOs, particularly in evidence-based

Adapted from DfID (2007), CSOs and Good Governance: A DfID Practice Briefing Paper, cited in Overseas
Development Institute (2008), Promoting Good Governance through Civil SocietyLegislator Linkages, available
from: https://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.istr.org/resource/resmgr/working_papers_barcelona/jones.tembo.pdf

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research and advocacy, dissemination and communication with policy actors, and pragmatic
engagement with state authorities.8

Lack of core (sufficient and sustained) funding for many CSOs means dependence on, and competition
for, funding from external sources. The dependence on external (national and international) funds often
results in a loss of autonomy and independence of the CSOs and competition among CSOs for the same,
limited, external funds. The net result of fund scarcity is a weakened basis for collaboration among CSOs
and reduced effectiveness.9

According to OECD many donors are reviewing their development policies based on their own track
records and experience and in anticipation of a new framework for Official Development Assistance
(ODA) after 2015, the target date for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The key questions
emerging from the critical self-assessment by key international donors center on the effective have CSOs
in contributing to development outcomes, the ability of civil society to contribute to changes in
government policies and practices that benefit the poor and marginalized, and the best way in which the
support to CSOs can be most (cost) effectively channelled.10

The remaining sections of this paper draw on secondary sources and primary data collected through
interviews with key informants to provide an overview of state-CSO relations in Turkey, and the extent
to which Turkeys experience may provide insights for state-CSO relations in relatively volatile political
environments.

5. State-CSO Relations in Turkey A Historical Overview


The evolution of state-CSO relations in Turkey can be divided into three distinct but interrelated
periods.11 These three periods are presented in the remainder of this section.

State-CSO Relations: 1923-1980


It is not possible to talk about the existence of civil society in Turkey from 1923 to 1980 since there only
existed an associational life between civil society and the state.12 Due to the strong state tradition,
state-led modernization and national developmentalist approach in economy the dominance and
suppression by the center over the periphery did not make the emergence of a countervailing power to
central authority possible, viewed by some as a prerequisite for the emergence of civil society.13 Under
these conditions there was no space for negotiation between the state and civil society.


8

Some of the key international entities invested in good governance in development are the Department for
International Development (DfID) / UKAid, AusAid, World Bank, UNDP, OECD, Oxfam, Christian Aid, and Save the
Children.
9
Based on ODI (2008), Ibid. Page 7.
10
OECD (2013), Support to Civil Society Emerging Evaluation Lessons, page 2, available from:
http://www.oecd.org/dac/evaluation/Evaluation%20Insight%20Civil%20Society%20FINAL%20for%20print%20an
d%20WEB%2020131004.pdf
11
See Keyman, F. (2006) for additional detail on these periods.
12
Keyman and Gumuscu 2014: 152
13
Heper and Yldrm, 2011: 8
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After transition to a multi-party system in 1946, civil society emerged for a short period of time but was
suppressed, in the second half of the 1950s due to authoritarian tendencies of the Democrat Party.14
The 1960 coup was designed to limit the repressive role of the state by protecting civil society through
the 1961 Constitution.15 Civil society activism and freedom of action flourished to an unprecedented
degree in the 1960s. However, civil society in Turkey in this period was not characterized as an arena for
democratization debates or the emergence of right-based CSOs.16

The period from 1980 to 1983 was characterized as a reversal of the gains made by civil society from the
1960s to the 1980 coup since the coup aimed to empower state vis-a-vis civil society. Severe restrictions
were imposed on CSOs in the aftermath of the 1980 coup.17 The restoration of civil rule in 1983 resulted
in a re-emergence of civil society as an autonomous sphere in Turkey.18

State-CSO Relations: 1980-2002


Since the mid-1980s onwards, political and economic liberalization attempts by the Turkish state and
broader globalization processes have provided a fertile ground for the development of civil society in
Turkey as a vital arena for democratization and emergence of right-based CSOs with CSOs beginning to
challenge the dominance of state-centric model of associational life and advocating a civil society
independent from the state. This period witnessed the emergence of the language of rights and
freedoms, the discourse of individualism, and the idea of participatory democracy in Turkey.19 One
outcome of these developments was the emergence of a politics of identity / difference, exemplified in
expressions of Kurdish nationalism and Islamist tendencies.20

In reaction to these developments, the state began to gradually place limitations on the activities of
some CSOs. Thus, in the 1980s and 1990s the state monitored and curbed CSOs deemed as undermining
the secular and pan-Turkist foundations of the Turkish state. The approach toward other CSOs
continued to remain as indifferent or collaborative.21 The states attitude in this period has been
described as passive-exclusive, passive in the sense that it neither confronted nor promoted civil
society and exclusive in that the state resisted the entry of disadvantaged groups to the official
domain.22 The cases of the Islamist and Kurdish movements and the states approach toward them are
illustrative on this point.

In terms of womens rights CSOs, the state had an exclusive and repressive attitude in the 1980s. Over
time, this relationship has evolved into an inclusive or passive attitude.23 The 1990s were significant for
the institutionalization of womens movement in terms of both the proliferation in the number and
institutionalization of womens right CSOs such as MOR ATI to KA-DER, and the establishment of a

14

Erdoan-Tosun, 2012: 190-1


Toprak, 1995: 94
16
Keyman, 2006: 26-7
17
Toprak, 1995; Erdoan-Tosun, 2012: 191
18
Erdoan-Tosun, 2012: 192; Toprak, 1995: 92; Keyman, 2006
19
Keyman and ni, 280; Keyman and Gumuscu, 2014: 154-155
20
Gumuscu, 2014:155
21
Kalaycolu, 2002: 261
22
Sunar in Kalaycolu, 2002: 261
23
Kalaycolu 2002: 262
15

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womens policy agency, the KSGM, creating the opportunity for influencing gender policy-making in
Turkey.

Women's rights CSOs in Turkey have made contributions at the macro and micro level. At the macro
level, womens organizations have acted as indicators of the collective capacity of women to determine
the politics of gender in contemporary Turkey.24 In terms of women's rights organizations, civil society
has become more organized and gained more recognition of their identity claims. MOR ATI and KA-DER
as two such organizations are important examples of CSOs speaking and acting for women, though
channels created by themselves rather than the state.25

At the micro level, women's organizations are forces of change working to improve the wellbeing of
women with programs on health, education, and income generating activities.26 The role of international
entities such as the United Nations and the European Union, the signing of Convention on the
Elimination of All Types of Discriminations Against Women (CEDAW) by Turkey, and EU-Turkey accession
negotiations demanding more attention by the Turkish state to gender equality have been critical in this
institutionalization process.27

During the 1980s and 1990s the key challenge for CSOs in Turkey was not the number of CSOs but their
lack of collective capacity to influence the states decision-making processes.28 In part, this was due to a
fragmentation among CSOs. Business, professional, and human rights associations and CSOs were
divided along political and ideological lines.29 For example, there were ideological differences among
human rights associations ranging from the leftist HD to the Islamic MAZLUMDER.30 As a result of this
fragmentation,

rather than [CSO] forming horizontal relations with others and trying to oblige the state to act in a
responsive manner to their group interests, peripheral groups have had vertical relations with the state,
expecting the latter to be responsive to their specific interests.31


Some CSOs such as HD and MAZLUMDER usually take oppositional stances against the state with no
evidence that their actions have a serious influence on the governments political decisions:

.civil society consists of voluntary associations that are better at rivalry rather than mutual cooperation
[with other CSOs while] a mutually rewarding relationship of symbiosis seems to emerge only between
the state and relatively resourceful associations.32


At the same time, local and regional solidarity associations, religious and commercial associations,
overtly political organizations such as the right wing, peace and dialogue initiatives, Marmara Group
Foundation, and the left wing human rights Taksim Solidarity Group have succeeded in attracting the
support of the state. However, the states attitude is entirely negative toward CSOs whose activities

24

Esim and Cindoglu 1999: 178


Arat, 1997: 106
26
Esim and Cindolu, 1999: 178
27
aha, 2011: 8, Sallan Gl 2013: 111
28
imek, 2004: 48; Keyman, 2006
29
Kalaycolu, 2002; imek, 2004: 61
30
imek 2004: 62
31
Heper and Yldrm 2011: 6
32
Kalaycolu, 2002: 257-8
25

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tend to challenge the political status quo, such as human rights organizations and womens
organizations advocating for the right to wear headscarf.33 Fragmentation, polarization, and lack of
tolerance for different views, were thus the defining characteristics of civil society organizations in
Turkey during this period.

With economic and political liberalization processes and pressures starting in the 1980s, the government
allowed interest groups to freely articulate and express their views and interests, perhaps with the
intention of transferring some of the load of the states functions to non-state actors. However, it is not
clear whether and how the government has incorporated views of non-state actors into its policies
since, by and large, CSOs have remained outsiders to the policy making process.34 During the 1990s
womens rights organizations experienced numerous financial and organizational challenges but
continued their work by relying heavily on a volunteer workforce. The only womens organizations with
adequate funds were those funded by religious foundations and organizations. While the widespread
voluntarism indicates high levels of commitment among the women, the lack of funds was, in effect, a
major deterrent to the institutionalization of womens rights CSOs and the continuation of their
contributions to good governance.

State-CSO Relations: 2002-Present


Three events between 1999 and 2002 played key roles in shaping state-civil society relations in Turkey.
First, the Helsinki Summit in 1999 resulted in a deepening of Turkey-EU relations, requiring of Turkey
legal and constitutional changes in terms of democratizing state-society relations. Second, the 2001
economic crisis revealed serious weaknesses in Turkeys political system particularly in terms of
effectiveness, accountability, and respect for democratic values. Third, the national elections in 2002
resulted in the Justice and Development Party (AKP) coming to power and starting a process of putting
in place a new governing structure for Turkish politics.35 These events provided a fertile ground for civil
society organizations to be regarded as indispensable in the process of democratization, a necessary
factor in creating stability in the relations between Turkey and the European Union; and a key indicator
of the modernization and liberalization project of the Turkish state.36

EU funding to Turkey came with conditionalities, particularly on democratization while at the same time
Turkish CSOs were given the opportunity to apply for EU funds.37 CSOs have tried to stimulate a social
life independent of the state, to criticize Turkeys strong state tradition and its top-down approach to
governing society, and to transform a duty-based notion of citizenship into active citizenship with an
emphasis on principles of rights and freedoms.38

The deepening of the relations between Turkey and the European Union has thus resulted in Turkish
civil society becoming an object of structural change and an agent of change simultaneously.39 The
Turkish governments decision to invite several CSOs for consultations about the EU negotiation process
was a significant step toward accepting civil society as an important actor in the states reform process.

33

ibid. page 260


Heper 1991a:18, Heper and Yldrm 2011: 10
35
Keyman, 2006: 31-33
36
Ibid.
37
Altan-Olcay and duygu, 2012: 169
38
Keyman and ni 2008:2801 in ner, 2014:24
39
duygu 2011:384, ner 2014:29, Kubicek, 2011:910
34

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Since 2009 the government has shown a stronger commitment to consulting Turkish CSOs particularly
during the development of the Secretariat General for EU Affairss Communication Strategy.40 However,
CSO representatives were generally dissatisfied with the outcomes of their engagements with the
government because many felt that their views were merely listened to but not taken on board seriously
by the government.41

More than 1,600 CSOs were engaged by the government in the EU-Turkey Civil Society Dialogue
program. However, an assessment by the EU concluded that government-civil society and parliament-
civil society relations in Turkey needed to improve through systematic, permanent and structured
consultation mechanisms at the policy level and as part of the legislative process, and with regard to
non-legislative acts at all levels of administration.42

During its first term, the AKP government (2002-2007) displayed an engaging attitude toward civil
society organizations. AKPs relatively constructive relationship with the womens organizations can be
attributed to pressures of remaining within the EU accession process.43 In addition, womens rights CSOs
in Turkey were positively influenced by transnational womens movements, international development
organizations focusing on the gender aspects of development, and a number of international treaties on
womens rights. In its second term of office, the AKP governments attitude toward womens
organizations became more symbolic while the administration effected constitutional reform allowing
women to wear the Islamic headscarf in public offices. In some ways, it could be argued that the
polarization along secular/Islamic lines, and the governments overt support to Islamist CSOs and other
actors, undermined the collective strength of CSOs with universalist claims such as human and womens
rights and decreased their effectiveness.44

Additionally, the relationship between the AKP government and CSOs began to resemble that of a
patron serving the needs of his/her clients in exchange for electoral support rather than a cooperative
relationship between independent political actors with similar policy goals.45 The net result this
situation was the increased influence of Islamist CSOs on AKP governments policy making and
alienation and ineffectiveness of all other CSOs not closely associated with AKP.46 Some have observed
that Turkish CSOs have remained in their infancy due to political polarization along secular-Islamist lines
and the electoral hegemony of AKP, despite the democratization and EU accession processes.47

6. Current State-CSO Relations in Turkey


The EU accession process has played a transformative role in the evolution of state-CSO relations in
Turkey. Considerable gains have been made by civil society due to a desire by Turkey to join EU.
However, there remain significant structural challenges that hinder the prospects for a constructive
relationship between the state and civil society. There are deficiencies in the legal framework while

40

The Secratariat became the EU Ministry 2011.


Grigoriadis 2009, 634 in ner, 2014: 30
42
EU Progress Report 2013, 11; ner, 2014: 30-31
43
Coar and Onba 2008: 331
44
Keyman and Gumuscu 2014:159; Ozler and Sarkissian, 2011: 378
45
Ozler and Sarkissian2011: 376
46
Keyman and Gumuscu, 2014:160
47
Ibid.
41

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there are gaps between the laws and their implementation. In the political sphere, the mode of
governance, best described as one of state hegemony over society, hampers the development of a
democratic milieu in which a fully functioning, autonomous and independent civil society organizations
can flourish.

A closer examination of state-CSO relations reveals that there are considerable differences between
CSOs and their relations with the state, depending on the area of specialization of the CSO concerned. In
the cases of KA-DER and MOR ATI the interaction by CSOs can be defined as swinging between no
meaningful dialogue and dialogue in a superficial manner. In the cases of HD and MAZLUMDER the
interaction can be characterized shifting from consultative to collaborative dialogue.

Two major roles can be identified for CSOs in Turkey. These are, first, influencing policy making
processes and, second monitoring and controlling state policies and activities. The four CSOs examined
for this research appear to be qualitatively ineffective since they are not taken seriously by public
authorities in the decision making process. As far as the second role of monitoring and controlling, there
is variation between the womens and human rights-based CSOs. While the state authorities do not
consider the outputs and feedbacks provided by KA-DER and MOR ATI as a part of their follow-up roles,
as valuable, they are relatively more receptive toward the feedbacks from HD and MAZLUMDER. The
distant position of the state authorities toward KADER and MOR ATI can be attributed to the
conservative / Islamist view within state organs of the role and status of women in society:

We are in conflict with the state because of their perspective on violence against women.
For us domestic violence is a result of patriarchal structures and gender inequality whereas
the state views this as a social and economic problem.48


The state seems to favor some womens rights organizations more than others. For example, the state
avowedly supports the newly established KADEM (Kadn ve Demokrasi Dernei/ the Woman and
Democracy Association) whose motto is justice rather than equality between women and men. A the
Women and Justice Summit, held in November 2014 and co-hosted by KADEM and the Family and Social
Policies Ministry, President Recep Tayyip Erdoan criticized feminists by stating that he did not believe
in gender equality, which, he argued, was against nature.

The murder of a young woman, zgecan Aslan, who was stabbed and then burnt in a minibus while
resisting a rape attempt on her way home in February 2015, added to the tension between rights-based
womens organizations and AKP. Most of the rights-based womens organizations participated in
protests against the incident and criticized AKPs policies and discourse about the place and status of
women in Turkey. Some argue that the states overt stance disfavoring gender equality paved the way
for the increase in cases of violence against women and hampered efforts by civil society to address this
problem:

Erdoan is constantly making propagandist statements such as 'women and men are different by nature'
or 'motherhood is the sacred role of women'. We are facing a political violence here.49



48
49

MOR ATI, 21 November 2014


Interview with ex-chairperson of KADER and activist, Hlya Glbahar, on BBC, available from:
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-31538538

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Thus, despite the legislative provisions by the state and political achievements by CSOs there remain
serious limitations in Turkey for a mode of governance that entails pragmatic and equitable engagement
between the state and CSOs. The key deficiency in state-CSO relations is the gap between aims and
objectives of formal legislation and policy on the one hand and active implementation of formal
legislation and policy on the other. A review of the legislation pertaining to CSOs in Turkey reveals that
there are no major deficiencies at the formal, legal level. (See Appendix 2 for a synthesis of pertinent
legislation). The key challenge remains the full and transparent implementation.

The four CSOs engaged for this research stated that there was a lack of systemic interaction between
CSOs and public authorities on policy development. This lack was attributed to legal and political
structural factors. First, there is an inherent vagueness in the legal framework for systemic state-CSO
relations, the definitions for associations and foundations, and their legitimate place in the policy
formulation process:

We are bound by the Law for Foundations, which is very restrictive. [For example,] we have experienced a
very difficult auditing process [required by the law] during which a lot of our human resources were
allocated to the process... and we are not exempt from the tax. (MOR ATI).


Secondly, there is a gap between the law and its practice. For example:

For us, what is significant is not the committees or institutions, it is the rules which matter. If we establish
institutions without defining the working rules properly, there will not be any use for those institutions.
The problem in Turkey is that the rules are not set clearly. Even if the rules are set clearly, they are not
applied properly. (MAZLUMDER).


The stanbul Convention (The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combatting violence
against women and domestic violence) was ratified by the AKP government on 12 March 2012 and came
into force on 1 August 2014. The General Director of the KSGM stated that they are very proud of
Turkey being the first country that ratified the Convention as a sign of sincerity, courage and willingness
to combat violence against women. The ratification, according to KSGM, constituted a model for even
the European countries in terms of facilitating close relations among women's rights based CSO's and
how they each dealt with violence against women.

However, there are concerns about major discrepancies between the provisions of the Law (no. 6284)
adopted on 8 March 2012 to protect family and prevent violence against women and its implementation
since the government has not made any serious attempts to involve womens rights CSOs in the
process.50

The stanbul Convention Turkey Monitoring Platform, founded by 85 women's rights CSOs and LGBT to
monitor the implementation of the Convention, criticized the exclusionary practice and top-down
manner of the Ministry of Family and Social Policies for excluding the Platform from the nominee
process. Instead, the government has appointed six public officials and nominees from three CSOs
known to have organic ties with the government, namely AKDER (an association established to fight
against discrimination against headscarved women), KADEM (Smeyye Erdoan, the daughter of the
President Tayyip Erdoan, is one of its founders and member of the Governing Board), KASAD-D (Sare
Davutolu, the wife of the prime minister Ahmet Davutolu, is member of the Governing Board).

50

MOR ATI

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The Platform including KA-DER and MOR ATI questioned the legitimacy of the GREVIO (Group of
Experts on Action Against Violence Against women and Domestic Violence) and declared that they
would not recognize it.51 The response from the Deputy Minister of the Family and Social Policies, after
evaluating the protest by the Platform, was that the protest as an ideological reaction.52 This approach
by the government is viewed by the critics as evidence of a lack of sincere political will to address
womens rights issues:

We cannot talk about rule of law in this country. The stanbul Convention is the first international
document and a perfect text placing serious obligations and sanctions on the state. [The Turkish]
authorities are proud to be the first to sign the Convention without any reservations. However, the state
has used the Convention as a tool for its PR, for cleaning up its bad reputation internationally for failing to
protect women...the [government] is not sincere...the government is really authoritarian [and wants to]
organize every sphere of the daily life. It presents a wonderful law, as if it is a gift to women. But at the
same time, the state also creates an institutional environment that forces women into family life. (MOR
ATI)


All four CSOs engaged for this research pointed to problems regarding their autonomy vis-a-vis the state
at different levels. One of the major issues, particularly with CSOs registered as foundations, is the
auditing process, considered by the state as a supervisory mechanism. CSOs with a foundation status
continue to be subject to disproportionate state attention and supervision affecting their operations and
consuming the CSOs already scarce resources. Affected CSOs view this degree of interference by the
state as a disabling factor undermining the emergence of and autonomous civil society in Turkey.
Taxation plays a significant role in limiting the work of CSOs. CSOs complain that high taxation rates eat
into their revenues from membership fees, and deprive employees of the affected CSOs from having
insurance expenditures and other benefits.53

Lack of funding and state restrictions on international funding for Turkish CSOs are critical factors in
preventing Turkish CSOs from gaining autonomy. For example, HD, a CSO that largely operates on the
basis of international funds, complains that it is obligated to obtain permission from the state
authorities for receiving funds from abroad. HD states that the same concern applies to raising funds
from the public.

Neither HD nor MAZLUMDER take state funds as a means of maintaining their distance from the state
since, they argue, the state is responsible for most of the human rights violations in the country. Citing
similar reasoning, MAZLUMDER and some other CSOs rely exclusively on funds from the United Nations,
despite the fact that from time to time operations are adversely affected by lack of funds or delays in
release of funds:

Why not take funds from the states? Because, the states are responsible for most human rights violations.
If you are funded by institutions that violate rights, you will be faced with pressure to meet their
expectations. They either censor your words or want you to close your eyes [to rights violation by
them] (MAZLUMDER)


Womens right organizations also try to keep their distance with the state in terms funding:

51

www.wwhr.org, 29 December 2014


.A.E, 13 January 2015
53
This complaint was made by HD and MOR ATI
52

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We know what we do and we are very clear about our position vis--vis the state. For example, one of our
project proposals was accepted by the Under Secretariat of Treasury, which is one of the channels of EU-
funding through the [Turkish] state. Before, there was no such thing but now, as we are working in the
womens rights field, we are attached to the Ministry of Family and Social Policies as the benefiting
institution and we realize that [the Ministry] requires us to put the Ministrys logo on the publications
related to our research. (MOR ATI)


Despite these reservations, there is broad agreement among CSOs that coexistence with the state is
inevitable:

[CSOs and the state] need each other. At MOR ATI, we perceive [ourselves] as the
addressee of the state in terms of its relations with the feminist movement. Because
neither stanbul Feminist Collective nor the Socialist Feminist Collective go to state
meetings. Thus, we have to be at these meetings to remain involved in the process [and]
to be sure that the decisions about women are taken for the improvement of womens
situation. [For example] the state needs our experience about the [womens] shelters.
(MOR ATI)


The attitude of the state toward womens right-based CSOs is viewed by some as increasingly
adversarial:


Or,

Recently we are in a constantly complaining situation. But it is the state, which has pushed us into a
position of grumbling continuously. (MOR ATI)

We always have had an adversarial relationship with the state. But now there is no
relationship. Although the state never wants to hear us, we still consider the state meetings
and our relationship with the state as very important. However, we have decided not to
attend the meetings of the state. We decided to suspend our relations with the state after
the abortion law. (MOR ATI)


The government official interviewed after the interview with MOR ATI claimed that the concerns by
womens rights CSOs about not having constructive relations with the government were untrue and that the
government maintained a collaborative relationship with womens organizations, particularly for developing
policy.54

The human rights CSOs interviewed reported that they had issue-based cooperation with the public
authorities, albeit sometimes antagonistically:

The major problem that we experience is that we see the glass as half empty. This is the
mission of human rights advocates... As we show the empty part, sometimes we can be
seen to be antipathetic....[but] the government has to get used to this...


Also,


54

Interview with KSGM

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At the local level, our colleagues are always in touch with governors, security directors, and
public prosecutors. However, sometimes this relationship turns antagonistic. Instead of
recognizing their own defects and accepting criticisms positively, the government
authorities turn against our colleagues. Between 2009-2013 fifteen of our colleagues were
arrested... (HD and MAZLUMDER)


All CSOs interviewed complained that communication between CSOs and public authorities was
becoming less and less structured. There is no meaningful dialogue with the state, particularly in the
third (current) AKP term. This change is said to be due to three interrelated factors. First, the current
Minister for Family and Social Policies is not as responsive to womens rights or as accessible as the
previous minister.55 Second, the increasing hegemony of conservative ideology within the state is less
sympathetic to secular concerns about womens rights and issues than before. Third, the move toward a
more traditionalist, conservative ideology by the state has driven a wedge between CSOs aligned with
the conservative mind-set and the other CSOs, with the state more responsive to the former.

According to one womens rights CSO:

The state and us, we each know what we stand for and what our positions are. But there are
deep differences between us and the state regarding the problem of violence [against
women]. While we take [violence against women] as a gender inequality problem, AKPs
approach is based on a patriarchal perspective which holds that strengthening the
institution of family is the way to fight violence against women... We cannot have effective
communication with any government that doesnt relate violence to gender inequality
(MOR ATI)


Also,

As we all know today, the governments should recognize the power of CSOs in the political
system and take their views or invite them to the meetings. ... The government acts as if it is
engaging with CSOs and taking their opinions into consideration. But they are not sincere...
For instance they send us an invitation with an expired date. This is not due to AKPs
disorganization. It is intentional (KA-DER, A)


Human rights CSOs stated that their communication with state authorities was mostly ad hoc but
collaborative and that they felt no constraints in their attempts to contact state authorities.56 All those
interviewed stated that on different occasions, the state authorities ask for opinions of CSOs though the
state does not necessarily take on board those opinions. Consultative communication, albeit in a
tokenistic manner, appears to be the most common type of communication between CSOs and the state
in Turkey. For example, the establishment of THK, with a legally defined responsibility to organize
regular consultative meetings with human rights CSOs, is considered to be a constructive attempt both
by IHD and MAZLUMDER. However, there are concerns over the composition and the appointment of
THKs members for being highly political.

Monitoring and controlling state activities and policies are regarded as major functions for CSOs by
those interviewed for this research. CSOs monitor and report on womens and human rights abuses,
investigate abuse cases, prepare reports and/or submit press releases to raise public awareness, and

55
56

KA-DER
HD and MAZLUMDER

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inform the state authorities. CSOs also formulate solutions for various rights abuse cases and propose
policy options to the relevant state authorities, though their proposals are seldom taken into on board
by the state. For example:

There was an attempted attack by a mob on the HDP office in Fethiye [a town in the South
Aegean coast] before the local elections. We managed the issue as follows: people
complained to us about the attack, we established a committee with the heads of the
relevant state departments, informed the Ministry of Interior Affairs and the local
authorities, investigated the attack, communicated [our findings] to both the targets of the
attack, the witnesses, and state authorities such as the district governor, Mayor, and public
prosecutor. We prepared our report and delivered it to the relevant state departments. We
transmitted our demands concerning the attack to the Ministry of Interior Affairs and
Ministry of JusticeBut, [our recommendations were not taken on board by the
authorities]. We are not satisfied with only detecting problems. We also want our
suggestions to be used in finding solutions.


Rights-based CSOs rely heavily on the media in their awareness campaigns and thus insist on the
importance of independence among various media:

As far as our sector is concerned, media is the major means for us to disseminate
information regarding human right issues. We do not have staff everywhere in the country.
[Often] our information on human rights abuse in far-flung regions comes through the
media. When we hear of violation cases through the media we apply to the state authorities
for more information on the cases. We cannot talk about a civil society without an
independent media.


Monitoring by CSOs takes place also through attending meetings organized by government authorities,
particularly on such key issues as violence against women:

It is important to recognize successes and failures of the government. To attain women's
rights, the legal ground constitutes the basis but [civil society] must remain actively involved
in the process of deliberation and interpretation of the legal codes pertaining to womens
rights to compensate for the deficiencies in the legal system and ensure that the existing
laws are properly implemented. (MOR ATI).


There is, however, increasing frustration among womens rights CSOs that they cannot accept their role
as consisting of only making complaints and being restricted to a position of perpetually criticizing the
government:

Most of our time and labor are spent on monitoring what the government does not do and
expressing our concerns to the public. ... For example, we have been following the
implementation of Law No.6284 [on prevention of violence against women]. We sent a lot
of petitions and letters to the Ministry of Family and Social Policies requesting more
information on the number of women applying to the shelters, those who were given
shelter and those who were not given any form of support. [We needed this information] to
see what does and does not work in the system. We managed to get some information due
to our persistence but the information is not at all useful. (MOR ATI)


All of the CSOs within the scope of this research underlined the positive impact of the EU accession
process on CSOs in Turkey:
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Before the EU accession process, people used the concepts such as charity organizations
and foundations instead of civil society... During the mid 1990s, for example, the concept of
civil society was totally unknown...The EU projects in Turkey have been significant in terms
promoting the concept of civil society and the appreciation of the concept more broadly
within the society. (KA-DER).


The CSOs interviewed pointed to the positive impact of the EU accession process on both the state and
the CSOs. The process has been a catalyst for the state to recognize the significance of CSOs in
governance, particularly in the human rights sphere, as stakeholders in the policy making process:

... We, the nine to ten human rights-based CSOs, are regularly invited to the Ministry about
progress reports every year. While we are talking, they are taking notes with and paying a
lot of attention to what we say. That makes us feel psychologically satisfied about our
interaction with the state authorities. [In our experience] most of our opinions and insights
are reflected in the reports by the government. (MAZLUMDER).


Similarly,

As you know, the negotiations for Turkeys full membership of the EU started just after 1999. During that
negotiation process, IHD had a close relationship particularly with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We were
continuously giving advice to the ministerial authorities on what to do and government authorities were
taking our advice seriously because they recognized that they would be unable to manage the
negotiations relaying solely on the state officials...that they needed a critical eye other than the ones in
power...(HD)


This positive view of state-CSO relations is confirmed by high government officials who attach utmost
importance to constructive state-CSO relations as a pre-requisite of the negotiations for joining the EU.57
In retrospect, however, this positive sentiment from the state authorities and CSOs was short-lived.
With the strengthening of the AKP government domestically and a relative cooling off in the accession
process, some CSOs are once again suspicious of the governments true intentions in its engagement
with CSOs:

The EU resolutions/sanctions set up the parameters governing AKPs policies regarding
CSOs. Just after forming the first government, AKP appointed a vice chairperson responsible
for CSO affairs... Similarly when KSGM was established as a directorate, they appointed a
vice director responsible from CSO affairs... At this point I dont even know the name of this
person and whether this position still exists. (KA-DER).


As for EU funding, it is mostly welcomed by Turkish CSOs with the exception of MAZLUMDER in
terms of its positive effects both on the scope of CSO activities and security on financial issues. However,
at the same time, there are concerns that EU and other funding are likely to result in the
commercialization of the CSOs. For instance, MOR ATI was critical of how the current mode of funding
for EU projects was encouraging some Turkish CSOs to become focused on making money. While stating
its concerns along similar lines with MOR ATI, KA-DER draws attention to the transformative
implications of EU funding and some of the dilemmas for Turkish CSOs:


57

This positive outcome was confirmed by the Minister for EU Affairs, Ambassador Rauf Engin Soysal, on
December 4, 2014, for example.

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The idea of paid, salaried civil society, connotes something different than civil society... Actually, EU
shows up to be a sector in itself. In my opinion, it is a sector of employment. Through the funds, the CSOs
too have created such a sector. In the previous era CSOs operated solely on the basis of voluntarism in
Turkey. There were no payments... Without voluntarism in CSOs the essence of CSO work no longer
exists. On the other hand, particularly in the Eastern societies like ours, it is hard to be serious enough
[about voluntary work] without professionalization. It is really very hard to ensure the balance...(KA-DER).

7. Key Findings
A key finding from this research is that, to date, state-CSO relations have not become fully
institutionalized and are far from stable. It should be noted that institutionalization in this context does
not refer to the level of professionalization of the CSOs. Rather, it refers to the rules and regulations
which have set the official parameters for the state-civil society interaction and the difference in rules in
writing and rules in practice.

Another finding is that the interface between the state and CSOs is mostly vertical with some CSOs
having direct and ongoing communication with state authorities while others have little or no relations
with the state. In addition, there are ideological rifts between rights-based CSOs with some having
adopted an Islamist approach, and rewarded for this by the state, while others have maintained a
secular approach resulting, in some cases, in exclusion from state-CSO interactions. Also, some secular
CSOs want to keep their distance from to the state for the sake of preserving their autonomy. They
consider this distance as necessary for being qualitatively effective in the decision and policy making
processes as well as in terms of performing their monitoring roles.

Lack of state funds for non-conformist, autonomous CSOs limits the effectiveness these CSOs due to
cash flow and fund shortage issues and, therefore, lessened ability for systematic intervention in policy
making processes.

The laws and the legal framework governing CSOs, particularly those with a foundation status, are
serious impediments to the autonomous-functioning of CSOs. The laws and regulations thus often serve
as tools for the government to control rather than regulate the CSOs.

Despite these weaknesses in state-CSO relations, there is an inevitability for both the state and CSOs to
co-exist and interact constructively in the making of policy. Despite this need for co-existence, the
relations between state authorities and CSOs are by and large of an adversarial nature, oscillating
between project-based cooperation and outright antagonism, depending on the issue in question. The
adversarial nature of relations is also, in part, a product of the centralized tradition of governance in
Turkey since the founding of the republic and a perhaps over exaggerated concern about national
security particularly in relation to human-rights as they pertain to Turkeys significant ethnic minorities.
Of late, the move by the state toward an Islamist identity and ideology has additionally constrained the
work and spheres of influence of womens and human rights-based CSOs.

The state authorities have maintained their approach of engaging with CSOs in matter of policy,
particularly in light of the pre-requisites set as part of the EU accession process. There is some
collaboration between the state and CSOs on specific policies though there are concerns by CSOs that
their contributions are often not taken on board by state authorities.

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In the case of human rights-based CSOs, relations with state authorities may go beyond consultation and
turn into full collaboration. The common concern for right-based CSOs is to have participative
communication with the state and thus to be recognized as full stakeholders in the decision and policy
making process. In current circumstances, the common contention of the CSOs, in contrast to the
statements of the state authorities, is the indifferent attitude of the state toward CSOs. This discrepancy
of views on state-CSO relations raises serious questions about mutual trust and willingness by either
party to engage constructively.

The EU accession process has been a milestone for state-CSO relations in Turkey, notably in terms of the
improvements in the legal framework. The EU accession process has created a political impetus for
taking substantial steps toward democratization and promotion of rights, particularly in the previous
terms of AKP. However, due to the increasing repressive practices of the government particularly in the
aftermath of the Gezi incident in May 2013, the EU Turkey relations have deteriorated. The
deterioration witnessed in the relations between the state authorities and CSOs on the one hand and
between Turkey and EU on the other is likely to have serious negative implications for the collective role
of CSOs to be played in Turkeys attempts to move toward good governance.

8. Conclusion
Civil society organizations in Turkey have gone through distinct but related periods of evolution, the
most significant one of which started with the EU accession process in 1999 and gaining impetus in the
2000s. To satisfy the requirement of accession, the Turkish government took a number of significant
steps to allow CSOs to thrive and play an active role in governance. Since the early 2000s until the 2011
General Elections the state-CSO relations improved qualitatively. However, since 2011 there has
emerged a tendency by the government toward authoritarianism, an outcome of which has been a
deterioration state-CSO relations. The current political climate in Turkey can be described as
ideologically polarized with the government favoring and establishing Islamist CSOs while neglecting or
excluding secular CSOs. The result has been a fragmentation of CSOs as an interdependent group of
actors.

This research shows that state-CSO relations in Turkey have not yet become institutionalized, i.e., stable,
based on mutual dependencies, and predictable. There is consultation and communication between
CSOs and the state but CSOs complain that their contributions to the policy process are usually
overlooked by the government.

Implications for Afghanistan


A crosscutting goal for the reconstruction process in Afghanistan has been to establish an economically
sustainable, socially vibrant, and stable society. The development of a civil society and active roles by
civil society organizations has thus been an important aspect of the reconstruction process. The findings
from the research on state-CSO relations in Turkey have thus particular significance for womens and
human rights-based CSOs in Afghanistan.

One of the projections from the Turkish case for Afghanistan is the involvement of the international
donor community as an external impetus to create a civil society in Afghanistan. The findings from the
Turkish case suggest strongly that external funding and assistance to domestic CSOs is a knife-edge
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process unless the process is internalized by the state authorities and the society at large. That is, while
international donor funds have been crucial to the emergence and sustenance of the bulk of the CSOs in
Afghanistan since 2001, continued blanket funding for choice CSOs, e.g., womens rights organizations,
is likely to effectively transform civil society-oriented non-state entities to funding-oriented enterprises
whose main goal is to remain financially liquid by securing project, core, or other types of funding from
international donors.

The Turkish case also underlines the risks associated with Islamic conservatism, whose practical
interpretation and implications in Turkey have been to drive a wedge between secular and religious
CSOs while nurturing an autocratic political structure for the state. Within the context of reconstruction
and support for civil society in Afghanistan, particularly in the fields of womens and human rights,
caution will need to be taken to address attempts to marginalize CSOs based on the degree of their
belief in fundamentalisms including strict or inaccurate interpretations of Islamic values.

The findings from this research point to the need for much better coherence between formal rules, e.g.,
laws and regulations, and rules in practice as a pre-requisite for upholding the rule of law and moving,
ultimately, toward good governance. This research has also highlighted the key role to be played an
independent media and respect for religious, cultural, and political differences.

Recommendations
For Governments

State authorities should provide an enabling legal and political environment based on the rule of
law, adherence to fundamental democratic principles, clear procedures, and shared spaces for
dialogue and cooperation for a sustainable civil society.
State authorities should not discriminate against CSOs that do not share state-dominant
ideology.
Medias independence must be safeguarded through legislation, applied without prejudice and
irrespective of ideology.
CSOs should be engaged from across the full spectrum of civil society without exception and
without preferential treatment
Womens and human rights CSOs should be protected and nurtured based on universal values
rather than the arbitrarily defined traditional or other values.
Respect for and defense of womens and human rights should become institutionalized through
early and later education curricula changes and provisions.
Respect for and defense of CSOs more generally should also become institutionalized through
changes in education curricula.
Protected spaces should be created by state authorities for CSOs to encourage free expression
by CSOs and opportunities for state and non-state actors to engage with civil society.

For CSOs

The complicated relationship between state and civil society in terms of mutual dependency
should not prevent CSOs from preserving their autonomy from the state. CSOs should remain
guarded against attempts at coercion by national and international funding sources.

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CSOs must continually explore opportunities for establishing cooperative networks and
associations as a means to share knowledge and increase capacity for advocacy and other forms
of engagement with government policy making authorities.
As much as possible, CSOs should link up with international and transnational CSOs working in
the same sectors.
CSOs should find a balance professionalism and voluntarism, and fund-dependency and
autonomy.
CSOs should make every attempt to prevent a weakening of pluralism and ideological tolerance
which can result in fragmentation, polarization, and ineffectiveness.
CSOs should seek alliances and common causes with the media, traditional civil society entities
including cultural or religious organizations, research organizations and think-tanks, and private
sector on the condition that the common cause is subscribed to by all parties, regardless of their
value systems or beliefs.

For International Donors

The international donors should keep the balance between the political and cultural specificities
and universal values as a means to avoid orientalist or ethnocentricist approaches to
intervention and funding.
The international donors should ensure the security of CSOs by practicing do no harm in their
funding and intervention approaches.
The international donors should support mechanisms that enhance new legislature-CSO
relations and collaboration.
The international donors should prioritize funding CSOs and CSO-related projects that are most
likely to contribute to the institutionalization CSOs in (good) governance.
The international donors should, selectively and rotationally, provide core funding for CSOs to
increase the potential for autonomy and creativity by the funded CSOs.
The international donors should continue to support service delivery functions of CSOs,
particularly of womens and human rights CSOs, in health and education programming and such
initiatives as womens and childrens shelters operated by rights-based CSOs.
The international donors must lead in knowledge accumulation, knowledge sharing, and
research on state-CSO relations, working closely with local, recipient country CSOs.

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23

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- TSEV (2006). Civil Society in Turkey: An Era of Transition (Istanbul: TSEV Yaynlar).
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18.12.2014.

CSO Websies:
- www.ihd.org.tr
- www.ka-der.org.tr
- www.mazlumder.org.tr
- www.morcati.org.tr

CSO Interviews
- Interviews with current and former chairperson of KA-DER, Gnl Kahramanolu and idem Aydn,
21 November 2014, stanbul.
- Interview with a volunteer from MOR ATI, Esen zdemir, 21 November 2014, stanbul.
- Interview with chairperson of MAZLUMDER, Ahmet Faruk nsal, 26 November 2014, Ankara.
- Interview with chairperson of HD, ztrk Trkdoan, 01 December 2014, Ankara.

Expert Interviews
- Interview with the Director of KSGM, Glser Ustaolu, Ministry of Family, KSGM, 20 November 2014,
Ankara.
- Interview with the Deputy Minister Consultant of Family and Social Policies, 20 November 2014,
Ankara.
- Interview with Undersecretary of the Ministry for EU Affairs Ambassador Rauf Engin Soysal, 05
December 2014, Ankara.
- Interview with chairperson of THK, Dr. Hikmet Tlen, 23 December 2014, Ankara
- Interview with Deputy Minister of Family and Social Policies, 13 January 2015, Ankara.

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26

Appendix 1: Profiles of CSOs Used as Case Examples


This section provides a synthesized overview of the four rights-based CSOs used as case examples in this
research. These are: KA-DER, MOR ATI, MAZLUMDER and HD

KA-DER (The Association for the Support and Training of Women Candidates)
KA-DER was founded in March 1997 in stanbul by a group of feminist women with the goal of achieving
an increase in womens representation at least from around % 4-4,5 to % 10 (Arat, 2008: 409) in the
parliament. The principles of the Association is stated as to be against any kind of discrimination, keep
equal distance to all parties, to work with all of women branches of the parties and female
parliamentarians to achieve gender equality (www.ka-der.org.tr). For this reason, they have been
supported by women professionals ranging from academics to journalists with different ideological
backgrounds. KA-DER is significant for being the sole women's association targeting to increase the
number of women in politics and in decision making positions so as to the achieve equal representation
of women and men. To emphasize its significance, Yeim Arat, an academic specialized on womens
studies in Turkey stated that it was the only women's organization that Bill Clinton met during his visit in
Turkey in 1999 (Arat, 2008: 409).

Moving from the belief that different experience and capabilities of women should also be reflected in
social and political issues, KA-DER works to eliminate social, economic and cultural obstacles women
politicians face and encourage women to become candidates for national and local elections, forces the
government and political parties to enact positive discrimination in laws and by-laws to secure equal
representation for women, organizes training programs for women candidates and campaigns to attract
attention to women candidates during the election periods, strengthen cooperation and collaboration
among women in political parties, to have them and the womens movement act in cooperation on
issues concerning women (www.kader.org.tr)

KA-DERs relations with the state in terms of struggling for womens equal representation in politics is
questioned by some feminists who challenged the Associations achievements realized by cooperating
with the state. As Tokta and Diner claim, in fact, working with the state and denying its support in the
name of the feminist cause (2011:50) lead to cliques within the womens movement and KA-DER is not
an exception.

KA-DER declared that, on the basis of certain criteria stated in their principles, they would support
women candidates. These criteria are: being conscious of womanhood and sensitive to womens
problems, attaching importance to womens solidarity, working to alleviate all kinds of discrimination
against women, having innovative projects that will lead the society further, defending human rights,
democracy and the constitutional state, attaching importance to the strengthening of the civil society,
going against all kinds of fanaticism and racism, and behaving honestly (www.ka-der.org).

KA-DER promoted 30% quota for women in 2003. One of the most attractive campaigns of KA-DER was
organized before 2007 elections by publicising the photographs of women artists and businesswomen
with moustaches and ties and asking "is it mandatory to be male to enter the parliament?" In 2011, In
terms its organizational structure, KA-DER is stanbul-based association with 8 branches in cities and 8
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representatives in 2010 (www.ka-der.org.tr). Its funding is based on EU grants and donations. It does
not accept state funding.

MOR ATI KADIN SIINMA VAKFI (Purple Roof Womens Shelter Foundation)
MOR ATI, one of the oldest and established CSO aiming to end violence against women, was founded
in 1990 in stanbul by a group of feminist following the Campaign against Domestic Violence in 1987
and purple needle campaign against sexual harassment in 1989. Its significance lies in its being the first
autonomous shelter for victims of domestic violence in Turkey (www.morcati.org.tr). On average, 2,000
women apply to MOR ATI for shelter each year
(https://zenodo.org/record/13026/files/Turkey_WP5_FinalReport.pdf). Due to its prominent principle of
establishing solidarity between women, the main purpose of MOR ATI is to spread struggle against and
end domestic violence against women and children by questioning gender inequality and by building
womens self-esteem and confidence. They stated this as: We support a womans process in decision-
making without judging her or putting pressure on her (www.morcati.org.tr). For MOR ATI, violence
against women is among worlds most widespread of human rights violations (Mor at, 2014).

MOR ATI provides shelter and legal and psychological support for women who are subjected to
violence, organize workshops to train municipalities and other womens organizations about violence
against women, publish brochures to inform women about violence and watch reports on the practice
and law-making process of the government concerning violence against women. Based on the
experiences of women subjected to violence, the feminist volunteers are working to develop policies to
combat violence against women and share them with the state agencies such as KSGM.

MOR ATI is organized on local basis centered in stanbul. Since 2009, it operated three shelters in
stanbul by the support of local government. MOR ATI organizes activities in other cities with other
womens organizations and municipalities. As aha states, it operates in line with generally accepted
principles in the feminist movement such as not creating and producing hierarchy, working on a
voluntary basis, sharing authority and responsibilities alternately, making decisions collectively and
working for solidarity among women (2011:7). MOR ATIs administrative board is known as the
Collective MOR ATI because all decisions are taken collectively. The foundation does not have a
determined head; leadership is rotating.

In terms of funding, the Foundation operated its activities by the support of ili Municipality, European
Commission Delegation of Turkey, and volunteers. To keep its independent status, MOR ATI does not
prefer to cooperate with the state. It also establishes links with the European Union for EU-based grants
(https://zenodo.org/record/13026/files/Turkey_WP5_FinalReport.pdf).

Besides the achievements, the Foundation experiences financial problems and organisational problems
due to the frequent turnover of existing volunteers. Additionally, being in NGO status sometimes
prohibits MOR ATI from acting independently, making it subject to certain restrictions once in a while
when it is forced to follow certain regulations and official procedures, as with any other NGO
(https://zenodo.org/record/13026/files/Turkey_WP5_FinalReport.pdf).

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HD (Human Rights Association)


HD was founded in 1986 by the initiative of intellectuals, members of various professions including
doctors, journalists, lawyers and the relatives of political prisoners, the missing and the arrested people
in the aftermath of the 12 September 1980 military coup detat (Kuruluundan Bugne HD, 2001: 1-2)
Attempting to rectify the consequences of the coup, the association took immediate action against
capital punishment, torture, unhealthy conditions in the prisons and prosecution processes as well as
campaigned for amnesty. Moreover, HD took active role in the establishment of Human Rights
Foundation of Turkey (1990), an organization that specifically focused on the physical and psychological
treatment and rehabilitation of torture survivors (nen, 1996: 732, 734). While mainly engaged with
defending the rights of the oppressed socialists and worked within the dominant paradigm of the left
during its early years of establishment (Kanar, 2006: 142), HD focused on the Kurdish problem and
took action to support the rights of the Kurds in the region starting with the 1990s (Beiki, 2006: 122;
Arslanel & Hamdemir, 2011: 29-31).

Currently, HD is one of the most powerful CSOs working in the field of human rights in Turkey with its
wide spectrum of issues ranging from all kinds of discriminatory acts, racism, lost people, unidentified
murders, womens issue, prisoners rights, torture, living conditions in prisons, and particularly the
human rights violations against the Kurds and refugees (www.ihd.org.tr)

As stated in the regulation of the association, the major aim of HD is to work for human rights and
freedoms. Departing from the principle of the universality and indivisibility of human rights, it defends
the rights of the oppressed individuals, sex, class, and people/nation and fights against any
discrimination based on ethnicity, language, religion, gender and political stance. The association is
against torture; considers the right to self determination of nations as a human right; defends fair
adjudication, right of defence, freedom of speech and freedom of belief (HD Tz, m. 2/b)

Alongside the general managerial board and district managers, the commissions that operate both in
the branches and headquarters play a significant role within the organizational structure of HD. The
major activities of the association consist of following up the human rights violations; informing the
public, political and state authorities regarding the violations through reports and press statements;
organizing conferences, congresses, panels; publishing books and reports; organizing meetings,
demonstrations and campaigns; cooperating with other national and international human rights
associations; and organizing training sessions on human rights. HD publishes yearly reports on human
rights violations (www.ihd.org.tr; 17. HD Olaan Merkez Genel Kurulu alma Raporu, Kasm 2012-
Kasm 2014)

HDs main sources of funding are membership fees, donations of members and supporters. The
association also receives international funding mostly on the bases of projects (Interview with HD, 01
December 2014, Ankara; IHD Tz, m. 40)

HD is a founding member of Human Rights Joint Platform (nsan Haklar Ortak Platformu), established in
2005, a national umbrella organization for Turkish human rights organizations and works in cooperation
with EU as well as many associations at the world scale (HD 20 Yanda, 2006: 32).

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MAZLUMDER (Human Rights and Solidarity Association for the Oppressed)


MAZLUMDER, established in 1991, is the second largest human rights association active in Turkey. Based
in Ankara, the association has 27 branches in various regions throughout Turkey
(http://www.mazlumder.org/main/pages/hakkimizda-biz-kimiz/65).

The association was founded by lawyers, writers, publishers and businessmen most of whom were
known with their Islamic and nationalist political identity. The major motive underlying the
establishment of MAZLUMDER was the inspiration of its founders to form an alternative association that
would engage with the violation of human rights of the Islamic social segments as well. Since HD was
primarily watching and working on the violations of rights of the leftist segments. Hence, during its early
years of establishment, MAZLUMDER mainly engaged with the religious rights of the Muslim
community, with a particular focus on the rights of the women discriminated for wearing head scarf
(aylak, 2008: 131; see also Arslaner & Hamdemir, 2011: 35-37). However, the founders of the
association were also sensitive to the oppression of the other segments such as Kurds and the leftists, as
made explicit in the first campaign of the association held for supporting the mistreatment of a leftist
prisoner. Throughout the years, the focus of the association intensified as to comprise such issues
ranging from human rights violations of non-muslim communities, Armenians, and particularly, Kurds,
womens issue, lost people, unidentified murders, prisoners rights to violations against refugees. The
motto is declared as On the side of all the oppressed (mazlum); against all the oppressors (zalim)
(www.mazlumder.org.tr; Tarihe Tanklmz 2011-2013)

The major goal of MAZLUMDER is to fight with the all kinds of political, economic, social, legal,
psychological, cultural obstructions not in conformity with human dignity and justice and thus limit
human rights. Though prioritizing the human, the association, targets to struggle for the protection of
the nature of all the creatures. In this context, MAZLUMDER aims to struggle against all kinds of torture,
denigration and rape without taking into account the religious, ethnic, cultural, and gender backgrounds
of neither the oppressors nor the oppressed and provides all kinds of financial and legal assistance to
the oppressed and victimized for enhancing cooperation (Mazlumder Tz, article 3).

Alongside the central and local managerial bodies, MAZLUMDER carries out its activities through various
commissions and committees specialized in particular areas of human rights violations. The major
activities of the association consist of watching human rights violations in Turkey and in the world;
informing the public, political parties, international organizations, states and the other related bodies
regarding the violations through reports, press statements and the web; publishing books and reports;
organizing meetings, demonstrations and campaigns; cooperating with other national and international
human rights associations; and giving legal, financial and moral support to the oppressed individuals and
their families (www.mazlumder.org.tr).

The funding of MAZLUMDER comes from membership fees and donations of the members and
supporters (Mazlumder Tz, article 47). The association prefers not to take any donations/funds
from states, EU, or international organizations (ner, 2014: 35).

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30

Appendix 2: Legal Framework Governing CSOs In Turkey


Turkey has a dynamic civil society with CSOs working in a variety of sectors. The legal context is a very
significant dimension for the operation and effectiveness of the CSOs as well as their relationship with
the state alongside the cultural, political and economic dynamics. The legislation governing the CSOs has
been improved within the wider context of the reforms aimed to promote democratization carried out
in the afterwards of Turkeys EU candidacy in 2003. However, there are still problems both regarding the
implementation, interpretation as well as limitations of the legislation. In this report, CSOs are limited
to associations and foundations. The legal framework concerning civil society in Turkey is provided on
the basis of freedom of association and freedom of assembly.

The major laws governing the sector are schematized in the below table developed on the basis of
TSEV Civil Society Monitoring Report 2012. (Sivil Toplum zleme Raporu, 2012: 11; TSEV, Vakf ve
Dernekleri lgilendiren Yasal Mevzuat ve Dier Konular)

Table 1- National Legislation Governing the CSOs
Context

Constitution 1982

Articles 33-Freedom Association;



Article 34- Right to Hold Meetings
and Demonstration Marches
General provisions governing CSOs Articles 101-
117
Specific provisions governing

associations
Specific provisions governing

foundations
Provisions for collection of aid

activities other than donations and
membership fees
Provisions of conditions for

holding of meetings and
demonstrations
Provisions regulating CSO-public

institutions relationship

Civil Code (No: 4721; Date: 2001)


Associations Law (No: 5253: Date:
2004
Foundations Law (No: 5737; Date:
2008)
Law on Collection of Aid (No: 2860;
Date:1983
Law on Meetings and
Demonstrations (No: 2911;
Date:1983)
Law on Relations of Associations and
Foundations with Public Institutions
(No: 5072; Date: 2004)
Penal Code (No: 5237; Date: 2004)
Law on Misdemeanors (No: 9337;
Date: 2005)
Press Law (No: 5187; Date: 2004)
Tax Laws
Law on Tax Exemption for
Foundations (No: 4962; Date: 2003)
Income Tax Law (No:193; Date: 1961)
Corporate Tax Law (No: 5520; Date:
2006)
Property Tax Law (No. 1319; Date:
1970)
VAT Law (No: 3065; Date: 1984)

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Foundations

Legislation

Associations

Articles 56-100


Penalty provisions
Penalty provisions

Provisions regarding printed


materials
Tax Provisions

31


The freedom of association is guaranteed in the Article 33 of the Constitution, promulgated in 1982
following the military coup dtat. The article stating that Everyone has the right to form associations,
or become a member of an association, or withdraw from membership without prior permission is
broadly in line with the international standards. Yet there still exist many issues particularly due to the
limitations provided in the relevant laws as well as the regulations and mandates regarding the CSOs.

In the Article 56 of the Civil Code an association is defined as a society formed by the unity of at least
seven real persons or legal entities for realization of a common object other than sharing of profit by
collecting information and performing studies for such purpose. Foundations on the other hand, as
defined within the frame of the Article 101, are charity groups in the status of a legal entity formed by
real persons or legal entities dedicating their private property and rights for the public use.

Under the relevant legislation the associations are required to register to the Department of
Associations at Ministry of Interior Affairs. The Foundations on the other hand are registered by the
courts based on the initial review of the General Directorate of Foundations affiliated to the Turkish
Prime Ministry. Although the registration process of the associations was simplified under the new law
of Associations (2004) and being implemented consistently, still the process is considered to be
complicated and slow working. As for the foundations, the registration process is burdensome and
expensive. The minimum capital requirement for establishing a foundation is set up as 55,000 Turkish
Liras/ 22,000 $ for 2015.

Although, under the Article 33 of the Constitution, the right of freedom of association is guaranteed for
everyone, certain discriminatory restrictions are stipulated which are further specified through the
relevant laws and regulations. In this context, the freedom association of some groups such as security
forces, public officials, children, and individuals with mental disability or disorders are either limited or
restricted. In addition, for foreigners, residence permit is required for founding or joining an
association in Turkey (TACSO58, February 2014: 6). The associations may form federations (minimum 5
associations) or confederations (minimum 3 associations). Yet, it is required that the member
associations should be working in the same field of activity which limits the possibility of the
establishment of a wide scale cooperation among the CSOs. (Trkiyede Derneklerin rgtlenme
zgrl nndeki Engeller, April 2010: 33-34).

Another limitation regarding the freedom of association comes to the agenda due to the ambiguity of
some principles employed in the legal framework, such as general morality, Turkish family structure,
national security, and public order. Although these terms are widely used in the relevant laws,
including the Constitution, they are not concretely defined. This leads to arbitrary and inconsistent
interpretation of laws by the state authorities and discriminative practices particularly with respect to
rights-based associations. For instance, on the basis of the Turkish family structure, two LGBTI
(International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association) associations faced closure
requests. In addition, court cases concerning the closure five human rights associations, particularly
engaged with the Kurdish issue are pending (EU Turkey 2014 Progress Report, October 2014: 54).


58

TACSO is a project funded by the EU to "increase and improve the capacity and actions of CSOs as well as their
democratic role" (www.tacso.org).

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32

The freedom of assembly is guaranteed in the Article 34 of the Constitution and Law on Meetings and
Demonstration. As it is the case for freedom of association, the relevant article of the Constitution
stating that Everyone has the right to hold unarmed and peaceful meetings and demonstration
marches without prior permission is compatible with the International legislation. However, certain
obstacles remain which do not comply with the requirements of the European Convention of Human
Rights (ECHR). For instance, the legislation provides the state officials almost unlimited authority for
intervention. The notification of the authorities before the meetings/demonstrations is mostly
implemented in such a way that it de-facto turns into a permission. Both the time frame as well as the
places allowed for demonstrations and meetings are very limited (TACSO, February 2014: 7).

In addition, the meetings can be postponed, banned or intervened if they are regarded as posing threat
to the principles of national security, public order, public health, and public morals. The
ambiguity regarding these principles open the way for the authorities to restrict the practice of freedom
of assembly.

Finally, although Law on the Prevention of Terrorism Acts and Law on Misdemeanors do not directly
govern CSOs, they pose limitations for freedom of assembly as well as freedom of association. The
human rights activists as well as CSO activists holding meetings and demonstrations that the state
authorities considered as related to the terrorist organizations/activities are usually targeted and
prosecuted by the laws in question (ICLN, NGO Law Monitor: Turkey, July 2014: 6). The funds granted to
CSOs that the activists are associated with could also become the targets of the accusations under the
Law on the Prevention of Terrorism Acts. At certain instances, the EU Funds and project-based funds
provided by EU member states are investigated within the context of the criminal charges (TSEV, Civil
Society in Turkey: An Era of Transition, 2006: 11). In addition, in numerous demonstrations opposing the
government policies, the security forces are inclined to use excessive force on the bases of Anti-Terror
Law. Protests relating to Gezi events as well as numerous Kurdish issue related gatherings are exemplary
in this context (Turkey 2014 Progress Report, October 2014: 54).

As for the financial aspect, the taxation system signifies a demanding process both for the associations
and foundations. In principle, the CSOs are exempt from corporate tax but are required to pay other
taxes. In order to get additional tax benefits, the associations are required to obtain public benefit
status and the foundations need to acquire tax-exempt status. (TACSO, February 2014: 17). . Yet,
since the public benefit associations and tax-exempt foundations are defined within the context of
different regulations, the criteria, conditions and application procedures differ for each organizational
form. While hinting at the lack of a comprehensive policy, such a consideration set the grounds for
unjust taxation conditions (ECNL, Assessment of The Legal Framework for Cooperation between the
CSOs and the Government in Turkey, 1 March 2006: 12). In addition, the process is highly difficult and
considered as politicized, as the Council of Ministers is the sole authority granting the statuses. The
number of foundations (as of August 2013) and associations (as of January 2014) that had tax-exempt
statuses, were only %5.09 (241) and only 0.41% (404) respectively (TACSO, February 2014: 17).

Finally, there is no overarching legal framework defining principles, mechanisms and obligations
regarding the relationship between the CSOs and the public institutions. The lack of legally structured
cooperation/participation mechanisms result in the use of personal connections, which in fact leads to
an unequal set up among the CSOs concerning their access to public institutions. This process confines
the initiative of cooperation to the public authority and hinders the formation of consistent policies
among the public institutions concerning their relationship with the CSOs (TSEV, Sivil Toplum
Kurulular ile Kamu Sektr likileri Sorunlar-Beklentiler, December 2013: 4).
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There are certainly some piecemeal initiatives taken during the EU accession process for the
improvement of cooperation between CSOs and public institutions, yet at a very limited scale. As for the
participation of the CSOs to the decision making process at the central level, the Regulation on the
Procedures and Principles of Drafting Legislation adopted in 2006 foresees the draft legislation to be
sent to the related ministries, public institutions and organizations. However, as specified under the
regulation, the participation of the relevant CSOs is limited with consultation, acting as discretionary
bodies. The CSOs are required to evaluate the drafts within 30 days; a lack of feedback on the other
hand is considered as an affirmative opinion. At the local level, some provisions are introduced to
provincial administration and municipality laws for promoting the participation of CSOs to the processes
of decision making decision making, strategic planning and service delivery. Yet the initiatives are far
from enabling the CSOs participation as obligatory partners (TSEV, Active Participation in Civil Society:
International Standards, Obstacles in National Legislation, Recommendations, February 2014: 122-23).

Another step regarding the improvement of the relationship between the CSOs and the state has been
the establishment of THK in 2014. As stated in the Article 3 of Law on National Human Rights Institution
of Turkey, No: 6332, THK has a public legal personality, administrative and financial autonomy as well
as a special budget. Article 4 states that the institution is authorized to carry out activities for
protection and development of human rights as well as for prevention of violations; to fight against
torture and ill-treatment; to review the complaints and applications and to follow up the results thereof;
to take initiatives with a view to solving issues; and to conduct researches and studies for monitoring
and evaluation of the developments in the field of human rights. The Human Rights Board, the decision
making body of the institution, is composed of the representatives of the CSOs working in the field of
human rights and human rights experts. However, although THK is designed as an autonomous body,
the election process of the Board members is a focal point of criticism; particularly on the part of the
CSOs since 7 out of 11 members are elected by Council Ministers among the eligible candidates
submitted by the Institution.

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Appendix 3: CSO Interview Questions


1. What are your views regarding the legal framework governing the CSOs in Turkey?
2. Do you think that your relationship with the government/public authorities is an
institutionalized relationship?
3. Could you describe the channels of your communication with the government/public
authorities? Do you experience any problems during the communication process? For example:
lack of communication/blockage/favoritism...etc.
4. Could you evaluate the governments approach towards the civil society in Turkey? How would
you elaborate on the position of the CSOs in Turkey; are they considered as threats or
democratic elements that should be supported, particularly in your sphere of interest/activity?
5. Considering your sphere of interest/activity, on which topics do you think the
government/public authorities are in a collaborative relationship (or conflictual relationship)
with the CSOs in Turkey?
6. Do you observe/experience any disparities between the CSOS legally defined status and their
practical position in terms of their relationship with the state? Could you provide some
examples?
7. What are the roles of CSOs in the decision and policy making processes in Turkey? What is the
significance of the participation of CSOs to these processes particularly in your area of
specialization?
8. How do you evaluate the relationship between the government/public authorities and CSOs
particularly in the field of women/human rights? Would you consider the relationship as
cooperative?
9. Could you tell us about the practical implications of the participation of CSOs working in the field
of women/human rights to the decision and policy making processes in Turkey?
10. Do you think that your organization can make a change in the political/administrative
processes?
11. Do you think that the European Union accession process caused a shift in your relationship with
the government/public authorities?
12. What would be your suggestions concerning the regulation of the State-CSO relationship in
Turkey?
13. What could be your recommendations for the Afghanistan case taking into consideration the
experiences of CSOs during their interface with the government/public authorities?

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Appendix 4: Expert Interview Questions


1. What are your views regarding the legal framework governing the CSOs in Turkey?
2. As a public institution, how would you consider your relationship with the CSOs? Could we talk
about an institutionalized relationship?
3. Could you describe the channels of your communication with the CSOs? Do you experience any
problems during the communication process? For example: lack of communication / blockage /
favoritism...etc.
4. How would you evaluate the relationship between the government/public authorities and CSO
in Turkey, particularly in your field of expertise?
5. Considering your institutions sphere of interest/activity, on which topics you have a
collaborative relationship (or conflictual relationship) with the CSOs?
6. Do you observe/experience any disparities between the CSOS legally defined status and their
practical position in terms of their relationship with the state/your institution? Could you
provide some examples?
7. What are the roles of CSOs in the decision and policy making process, particularly in your
institutions field of expertise?
8. How do you evaluate the relationship between the government/public authorities and CSOs
particularly in the field of women/human rights? Would you consider the relationship as
cooperative?
9. Could you tell us about the practical implications of the participation of CSOs working in the field
of women/human rights to the decision and policy making processes in Turkey?
10. Do you think that the CSOs can make a change in the political/administrative processes in your
particular area of your expertise?
11. Do you think that the European Union accession process had an impact on your relationship
with the CSOs?
12. What would be your suggestions concerning the regulation of the State-CSO relationship in
Turkey?
13. What could be your recommendations for the Afghanistan case taking into consideration the
experiences of CSOs during their interface with the government/public authorities?

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Photo: Murat Erkman

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