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Erdoğan increasingly behaves like Putin

4 Oct
Written by Marc Guillet
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OpEd in: Het Financieele Dagblad

Unopposed Turkish’ ruling party AKP chose Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan again as party leader. That says a lot about the adoration of his followers, but also a lot about the way he manages his party. Like a sultan, who tolerates no criticism and insists on respect, loyalty and harmony.

Several critical journalists have been dismissed or are in custody. At the party congress he again showcased his vision of liberal democracy. Newspapers and broadcasters of the opposition were denied access. Previously he criticized Ümit Boyner, president of the main business association TÜSIAD, to mind her own business after she asked the government for less polarization and more accountability.

Erdoğan, the charismatic politician, who turned Turkey into a dynamic and confident country, tried to pose again as an exemplary democrat in an emotional, two and a half hour, speech. But the opposition knows what that his promises are worth. After the Islamist-rooted AK Party again won the general elections in June 2011 with a landslide of 50% of the vote to form a third-consecutive majority government, Erdoğan promised more democracy and more cooperation with the opposition. The opposite happened.

Erdoğan likes to polarize and behaves increasingly like the authoritarian Russian President Vladimir Putin. He is currently in his third and final term as Prime Minister. In 2014 he hopes to be elected as president, with more powers than that of the current president Abdullah Gül. Many liberal analysts fear that in that scenario a further deterioration of the Turkish political climate: from a weak democracy with an intimidated press, a weak parliament and a politically driven judiciary, to a system with Russian characteristics.

The AK Party, a coalition of religious right, nationalists and advocates of a liberal market economy, made many reforms to meet the EU criteria between 2002 and 2010  The ambition to become a member of  the EU dropped to number 60 on the AKP’s 63-point to-do list for 2023. It is obvious what Erdoğan dreams of: an Erdoğan-democracy and a role for himself as the leader of the Islamic world.


There are 2 comments

  1. Good and fair observations. One point is very critical and requires further elaboration: “Erdoğan … turned Turkey into a dynamic and confident country” Confident or falsely inflate the national ego – a tactic successfully employed in the past by many, most notably by Hitler and Ronald Reagan.

    Most recent and simplest example to illustrate this: Upon being criticized by being US-centric, ICANN, as a tactical move to look more global, opens up two hubs; one in Istanbul and another in Singapure.

    Now look at the (translation of) the headlines in Turkish papers on April 26, after cabinet minister Binali Yıldırım’s press conference.
    AKŞAM: “The Capital of the Internet: Istanbul”
    STAR: “The Boss of the Internet: Istanbul”
    HURRİYET: “Istanbul is becoming the Center of the Internet”
    POSTA: “The Center of the Internet: Istanbul”
    MİLLİYET: “Istanbul is the Central Base of the Cyberspace”

    Note that, I did not even include the pro-government newspapers!

    This Turkey which is announced to be the “boss, center, capital,…” of internet has not even submit any view for the forthcoming WTPF meeting in Cenevre (May 14) organized by International Telecommunication Union (a UN agency). ITU requested views months ago, and listed them as they arrived. Many leading countries, NGO’s and corporations submit their views and were listed in ITU site on the internet. None from Turkey! I wrote articles and made press releases. Upon which, only last week the minister Yıldırım’s office asked some NGO’s to comment on my criticisms and submit their views!

    This is an ongoing process in our media: inflating the people’s ego and (knowingly or not) flattering the government deeds at the same time.

    If you check international rankings of influential leaders and countries, you won’t see RTE or Turkey. But in Turkey, most people are “confident” that we command the global decisions!

    And then there is “confidence” versus unabashed “arrogance” of the PM Erodğan and some other cabinet ministers…

  2. Boy! I shouldn’t have written so fast. So many grammatical mistakes…:)

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