Mustafa Sarigül: Liberal democracy can ensure that Turkey's best days lie ahead

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The Independent Online

We are truly at a turning point in Turkey's history. It is an opportunity to become a new Turkey, to shed outdated ideologies, reconfigure inefficient institutions and draft forward-looking laws appropriate to a strong 21st century democracy. The AKP (Justice and Development Party) has paved the way for this kind of reconstruction. They have completed the important task of demolition: they have torn down taboos and questioned old truths. But now it's time for a different team to build a new Turkey. What we need is firm, progressive leadership which can create a common, shared language for a society splintered by religion, ethnicity and gaps in income and opportunity. Turkey needs a new movement that can bring stability to politics and accelerate democratic development.

Turkey's Change Movement, or TDH, was founded to address this need, this necessity. Our movement is not just about saving Turkey from the other guys. It's about creating a totally different Turkey. We want to ensure a change movement built on a lasting foundation to guarantee a better quality of life for our citizens. This foundation is our political philosophy and our values.

Our political philosophy is one based on social justice and total democracy. We aim to forge a Turkey that goes beyond meeting the minimum needs of its people; that gives each citizen a say and ensures that their say is legally protected and freely voiced; that provides them with opportunities to achieve, invent, create, explore; a Turkey that is self-confident and peaceful.

We aspire to a social order based on pluralism and solidarity. TDH sees every individual and every group in society simultaneously as the agent, the subject and the owner of change. We regard secularism, one respectful of all beliefs, as the basis of our democracy and the source of social harmony and an individual's true freedom. We will never, however, use secularism or religion for political ends. Unlike any other party in Turkey, the centerpiece of our political philosophy is the individual citizen. Our government will rest on the principle of respect and trust in our citizens and we believe that our citizens should be directly involved in the making, implementation and oversight of the decisions affecting their lives.

This is an extract from a speech given by the leader of Turkey's Change Movement to the Foreign Policy Centre on Monday