DPI Online Roundtable – ‘Opposition’s Perspective on the Political, Social and Economic Effects of COVID-19 in Turkey’ with Ali Babacan, Leader of the Democracy and Progress Party

On 13 October 2020, DPI hosted the sixth in its series of roundtable meetings engaging political parties from Turkey. Entitled ‘Opposition’s Perspective on the political, social and economic effects of COVID-19 in Turkey’, we were delighted to welcome Ali Babacan, Leader of the Democracy and Progress (DEVA) Party, who shared his newly formed party’s perspective on the current political situation in Turkey as well as their vision and strategy for the Kurdish resolution process. As a former key figure in previous AK Party governments – he held posts as Minister of Economy and Minister of Foreign Affairs – Mr Babacan’s new political party was keenly awaited at the beginning of 2020 and this DPI roundtable provided participants the platform to discuss DEVA Party’s vision and strategy in terms of the challenges and opportunities facing democratisation and normalisation in Turkey at this difficult time.

Mr Babacan addressed a range of topics in his presentation, including problems that Turkey is facing at this present time, which have only been deepened by the Covid-19 pandemic. In particular, Mr Babacan discussed issues surrounding freedom of thought, human rights and rule of law. Referring specifically to the Kurdish issue to illustrate his point, Mr Babacan highlighted that both collective and individual rights must be preserved, stating that the Kurdish language is one such example. When responding to questions over the approach he and his party would take to solving the Kurdish issue, Mr Babacan highlighted that regional dialogue and diplomacy would be a key. Another major challenge facing Turkey at this moment in time is the economy. Mr Babacan stressed that economic recovery and security can only be achieved when fundamental rights are protected throughout the country as this leads to greater investment and stability.

In discussing the prospects for the future in Turkey, participants discussed the possibility of alliances being formed amongst opposition parties. In response, Mr Babacan stressed that, whilst alliances should never be disregarded, to consider them at this stage would negate the raison d’aitre for the establishment of the Democracy and Progress Party.

The online roundtables form part of a larger series of activities in the context of the project ‘Supporting inclusive dialogue at a challenging time in Turkey’, supported by the EU, and the Irish and Norwegian governments.