How about the Cold War mindset at home?
It is very obvious the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government is getting seriously disturbed by the growing international criticism over deteriorating freedom of expression in Turkey, especially after the number of arrested journalists rose to more than 100 recently.
Turkey’s poor record in this field is frequently cited by some very prominent international magazines and newspapers with calls to the government to fix this immediately.
American author Paul Auster’s outcry against this picture and statement that he wouldn’t set foot in Turkey because of imprisoned journalists and writers has become a particular case for senior government members. As usual, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan took the lead role in bashing the writer, describing Auster’s comments as part of an ongoing “ugly and dangerous smear campaign against Turkey.”
He claimed the campaign was initiated by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) with support from foreign circles, making clear how the government interprets these critical standpoints.
In this light, Erdoğan’s address to lawmakers at Parliament yesterday forced us to return to the weird analysis offered by a senior AKP official, Bülent Gedikli, who grouped together international opponents of Turkey into a “Neocon-Ergenekon brotherhood.” For him, the drive against Turkey was aimed at discrediting and unseating the government, by spreading propaganda to show it had become a “civilian dictatorship.”
The anti-AKP team, in the eyes of Gedikli, is coached by Israeli President Shimon Peres and is composed of Nicholas Sarkozy, Angela Merkel, Abdullah Öcalan, Mustafa Balbay and other Ergenekon suspects, as well as Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) leader Selahattin Demirtaş.
“Civilian dictatorship is their watchword. They link everything that is being said and done to a civilian dictatorship. That’s how Paul Auster got involved,” he said.
It is interesting to hear this kind of old-fashioned rhetoric at a time when the Turkish leadership calls on the international community to leave behind Cold War era politics and try to adopt them to a new world composed of new values. Listening to Erdoğan, or reading his deputy Gedikli’s statement, was no different for me from those old days where Turkish leaders were always complaining about the “secret interventions of foreign powers” aiming to prevent Turkey’s development.
As Turkey’s neighborhood passes through this historic moment, it would be a wise move for the government to immediately fix its broken image and to fully respect even the most critical voices. To avoid tags like “civilian dictatorship” or “post-modern tyranny” requires something more substantial than targeting foreign powers, just like in the good old days of the Cold War. This is the rule of the New World Order.