Freedom Research Association is a public policy research organization based in Ankara, Turkey. Founded in August 2014, FRA is strongly committed to human rights, liberty, rule of law, good governance, peace and free markets. FRA is strictly independent from and impartial towards active political actors in Turkey via certain clauses in its internal regulations. It doesn’t accept public funding or contributions from political parties or the government.
Public policy has long been regarded as a technical term by the observers and participants of politics in Turkey. Secondly, country’s major problems about democracy, rule of law and civil liberties occupy too much of the time and energy of public opinion and intellectuals. These two factors create a gap between the policies that affect the lives of millions and the content of the public debate. As a famous example, most Turks know better the US’ Middle East policy than the current problems in the judicial system in Turkey. As the country’s first and only self-acclaimed classical liberal public policy think-tank, FRA has been established by a group of academics, businessmen, human rights defenders, journalists and legal experts in August 2014 to address this gap.
Another important contribution of FRA can be characterized as promoting an evidence-based public policy making approach and public debate in Turkey. FRA relies heavily on analytical tools, good methodology, sound analysis and independent research when creating its public persona. A good example is that, while may be critical in nature, FRA publications don’t address particular persons or institutions, instead they target policies and stances. FRA aims to have a balanced language and tone in its communication, provide fact-based insights to policy makers without involving itself to the heat of everyday political quarrels between actors.
FRA’s approach to change can be summarized into two pillars: short-term institutional development and long-term investment into culture. On one hand, FRA designs and executes programs, seminars, trainings, research, recommendations to make a certain institution/policy better function today. However, we recognize that bad policy or bad implementation is not always rooted in the current structures, but in the overall culture or the lack of capacity. That’s why, as a second trail, FRA invests in educating future liberal experts on various policy issues. One of its recent initiatives, titled Rule of Law Academy, for instance, is an investment into a new cadre of rule of law defenders among future legal experts and practitioners.
FRA operates via its three centers: Center for Civil Liberties, Center for Rule of Law and Democracy, Center for Economic Freedom. These three centers provide timely commentaries, analysis and reports on burning problems of Turkeys with the approach provided above. They also organize conferences, seminars, research roundtables to bring together seasoned politicians, diplomats, lawyers, bureaucrats.
FRA frequently engages in international cooperation and its national/international active partners include – but not limited to – Atlas Network, International Republican Institute, National Democratic Institute, Friedrich Naumann Foundation, Fraser Institute, Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation, Open Society Institute, Property Rights Alliance and Poverty Cure, Checks & Balances Network and 3H Movement.