Eternal Recurrence a la Turca


Turkish Daily News Friday, May 18,2007,

Orhan Kemal Cengiz

“It is not easy being a Turk,” says Elif Safak in her column (12 May TDN) Yes it is indeed especially difficult sometimes. I believe currently we are going through one of those times. Turkey is a deeply divided society more than ever now andit is difficult to understand who advocates what. The situation must even bemore confusing for “out siders”. Actually it is not only difficult forforeigners to understand Turkey but it is also difficult for us, Turks, to explain ourselves in a universally understandable language. No political or ideological identity in Turkey corresponds to its universally conceived meaning or definition, and so for Turks, there is no easy way to explain what political or ideological affiliations they have. Therefore we Turks, always have to give lengthy explanations as to how our remarks should be understood. It is not possible for us to explain our ideas without using footnotes and side box explanations.I too have the same difficulty shared by most Turks nowadays. After this long introduction I can try to explain my point of view on recent developments in Turkey. Once again Turkey is suffering a major political crisis. It seems tome that there is no easy solution, no shortcut to get out of this self induced crisis. Once again we face the same dilemma. Whenever the army interferes in the political process in Turkey, it creates quite the opposite effect from what it intends. Then it feels obliged to interfere once again to correct the “wrongful results” of its previous intervention. This is the eternal recurrence of Turkey. We see the same movie again and again. AKP will be stronger thanever after this election and the tension will rise again to a point, who knows,which may lead to another coup. The Constitutional Court gave a judgment (on the quorum requirement), which is highly questionable and difficult to explain from a legal point of view. After the judgment everyone took a deep breath believing that we had overcome a new coup d’état. We have a saying inTurkey; “We saw death and compromised with malaria.” We Turks have always been made to feel that we have to choose between two evils. We did it once again andwere happy to be saved from a military intervention by a highly debatable judgment from the highest court in Turkey. We are in our eternal circle again;we gave up on one thing to save another. I would like to finish this article with Martin Luther King’s magnificent words: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tiedin a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects allindirectly.”

Q & A

Divorce in Turkish Law Accordingto the Civil Code, a person can present a case for divorce if his or herspouse has:• Committed adultery (Article 161) (Adultery is not a crime but it is one of the grounds for divorce in Turkey)

• Plotted against his or her life, or treated him or her very badly or in a way that is severely detrimental tohis or her honor (Article 162)

• Committed a humiliating crime orled a dishonorable life, so that the plaintiff cannot be expected to livetogether with the defendant (Article 163)

• Deserted the family home (Article 164)

• Become incurably insane so as to render living with him or her intolerable (Article 165) The provisions I citedabove are specific divorce grounds. The general and most frequently applied ground for divorce in Turkey is incompatibility of the spouses. In other words, spouses can divorce if “The marriage has irretrievably broken down and the spouses cannot be expected to go on living together” (Article 166). The competent court for a divorce or separation case is the Court of First Instance (Asliye Hukuk Mahkemesi) in the region of domicile of either one of the spousesor in the last place where they lived together for at least six months (Article168).

The law protects the personal legal status which a woman obtained in marriage (i.e. nationality). On divorce, woman’s surname automatically reverts to the one she had before her marriage. If that surname is not her maiden name and if she wishes to revert to her maiden name, she may do so with the judge’s permission. If she wishes to retain her ex-husband’s surname, she needs to prove to the judge that this is in herbest interest and will not be to the detriment of the ex-husband. (Article173).

“Lawyers have a lot of power to decide whether a marriage ends in divorce or not. People who are thinking about getting a divorce are very vulnerable,” says Jeffery Leving, a lawyer in Chicago, U.S. I think the situation is no different in Turkey. See you nextweek.