Participants returned yesterday from the Democratic Progress Institute’s Comparative Study Visit to South Africa, which was hosted by the South African government, and took place from 30th April – 7th May 2013. The aim of the visit was to explore the South African experience of conflict resolution and the transition to democracy. Participants in the visit included Members of Parliament from all of Turkey’s main political parties, Nursuna Memecan, Mehmet Tekelioğlu and Burhan Kayatürk, members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), Sezgin Tanrıkulu and Levent Gök, members of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Nazmi Gür, Ayla Akat and Ertuğrul Kürkçü, members of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), as well as renowned journalists, writers, academics and civil society representatives and members of Turkey’s Wise Person’s Committee; Cengiz Çandar, Bejan Matur, Ahmet İnsel, Havva Kök, Mehmet Asutay, Hatem Ete, Yılmaz Ensaroğlu, Mithat Sancar and Ali Bayramoğlu.
The Participants met with and engaged in discussions with key individuals involved in South Africa’s transition to democracy including Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, Roelf Meyer, formerly South Africa’s Minister of Defence and chief negotiator for the South African government, and numerous other high level key players within South Africa’s government, political parties and democratic institutions, who shared their direct and personal experiences of democratic change within South Africa. Topics covered included disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR), the South African Truth and Reconciliation process, and the Constitution making process in South Africa among others. In addition to these discussions a number of cultural visits were made including visits to Robben Island and Soweto, and a Safari in the Kruger National Park area deepening the participant’s understanding of the political and cultural context of South Africa’s transition.
DPI’s Council of Expert member, Cengiz Çandar said of the visit: ‘It has been extremely valuable and much has been gained by participants in terms of learning and the sharing of experience. Discussion has been lively throughout the week and we hope it will continue after the visit’. DPI Director Kerim Yıldız also stated that ‘the visit to South Africa hosted by the South African government has been very valuable indeed and we hope it will contribute to the current positive developments taking place in Turkey. The roundtable meetings that have taken place with government officials and other experts in areas of DDR, constitution making, women’s role in conflict resolution and negotiation have all been extremely beneficial.’
Previous activities of DPI’s Turkey programme include comparative study visits to the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, as well as roundtable activities on various subjects in Turkey and Europe. It is intended that studies of other relevant situations will take place in future.
Records of all of DPI’s activities including the comparative study visits are available via DPI’s website in Turkish and English: www.democraticprogress.org. DPI news is also available via DPI’s Twitter account (@DPI_UK). For further information please contact Eleanor Johnson at email@example.com