Erdoğan Destroying Turkey?


Oh no, don’t please pin all ills on Erdoğan!

Erdoğan started to change and gradually become unrecognizable: more authoritarian, unpredictable, unreliable for Turkey’s allies, more disrespectful of the separation of powers. In that sense, there is a strong sentiment that Erdoğan is destroying the modern Turkey he contributed to making.

Erdoğan started to change and gradually become unrecognizable: more authoritarian, unpredictable, unreliable for Turkey’s allies, more disrespectful of the separation of powers. In that sense, there is a strong sentiment that Erdoğan is destroying the modern Turkey he contributed to making.

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Wednesday, March 2, 2016 – Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is not destroying Turkey, but the Syrian crisis is destroying all of the Middle East, including Turkey. Erdoğan has started to change and has gradually become unrecognizable: more authoritarian, unpredictable, and unreliable for Turkey’s allies, and more disrespectful of the separation of powers. In that sense, there is a strong sentiment that Erdoğan is destroying the modern Turkey he contributed to making. (…)

The risk is not a collapse of the Turkish state but a return to the 1990s. Under former president Turgut Özal, Turkey was full of confidence and dynamism. By the middle of the decade, the country was bogged down in intractable problems, not least the Kurdish issue and strained relations with the West. Though the fractious coalition cabinets of the time have long faded from memory, there is now a nagging feeling of déjà vu. And it can get much worse if Turkey’s economy falls prey to politics as back then.(…)

With Turkey’s highly polarized politics, it sometimes seems attractive to pin all ills on Erdoğan, but one should not forget that almost 50 percent of voters elected his party. With the head of state increasingly caught in his own worldview with few people in his inner circle able to criticize his course, the main danger for Turkey is that Erdoğan is the sole arbiter for many political decisions. The fact that most policymaking seems to hinge on Erdoğan’s ideas and his easily offended personality creates tangible risks for the country, especially for its increasingly irrational foreign policy.(…)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is increasingly perceived as yet another leader corrupted by a long stint in power. Today, to eliminate checks, he controls the military and the judiciary and interferes with civil society and the media. He justifies these antidemocratic tendencies by pointing to electoral success. Yet, these policies contrast with Erdoğan’s early days, when his premiership served as a hope for Islamic democracy (…)

There are negative developments with regard to the rule of law—especially concerning the freedom of the media. The deterioration of press freedom seems to be part of a broader trend in the direction of more presidential and authoritarian rule.(…)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan gave the world the first taste of his experiment with soft Islamism. Since then, he has baffled friends and foes, alternating between promises and threats while driving the country toward an authoritarian regime. Europe and the United States are much less inclined than in the past to question Erdoğan’s abysmal civil rights record.

This foolish attitude gave Erdoğan an excuse to play the Ottoman autocrat, using proud national Turkish traditions to his advantage. The result is a wild, violent theater in which terrorists hatch their plots and deploy their weapons, foreign powers try to twist Turkey to their own interests, and the moderate opposition has an ever-smaller role to play.(…)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan responded by saying he would “neither obey nor respect” the highest court’s ruling. Let that sink in for a moment. These words summarize the deep trouble Turkey is in. A clear message to the world confirms that neither the rule of law nor the separation of powers is respected in Turkey.

This dangerous, negative spiral can be stopped only by the people in Turkey themselves. No outside entity can determine the country’s fate, but the EU must at least stand by its principles and not compromise them as it did in the November 2015 deal on refugees. (…) [Read the full Q&A]

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