‘Gezi was Turkey’s Europeanization,’ says former CDU politician

‘Gezi was Turkey’s Europeanization,’ says former CDU politician

ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
‘Gezi was Turkey’s Europeanization,’ says former CDU politician

Polenz also spoke on the current refugee crisis in Turkey. REUTERS photo

The participation of civil society in the Gezi protests is a barometer of how Europeanized Turkish society has become in the last 15 years, according to an outgoing German politician.

While many analysts have criticized the disproportionate response of the state and the police, former Christian Democratic Union (CDU) politician Ruprecht Polenz said the incidents demonstrated the desire of a strong civil society to deal with state authorities on an equal footing. 

Polenz, who held the chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, did not run in the Sept. 22 elections, but instead became a senior fellow at Sabancı University’s Istanbul Policy Center and Mercator.

Polenz also expressed admiration for Turkey as it hosts more than 500,000 Syrian refugees. “This is a huge challenge and we all have to be very grateful for the country having been able to cope with it so far,” Polenz recently told the Hürriyet Daily News. Polenz said that when Turkey looked to geostrategic realities, its potential choice of a Chinese firm for an anti-missile defense system would appear ridiculous. 

“As a neighbor, Turkey is in a special situation. It should avoid any step that would draw Turkey into the civil war in Syria,” he said. “We decided to send Patriots as a strong political signal that Turkey can rely on NATO and that if there is any attack from Syria, NATO is on Turkey’s side.” At the same time, the deployment was also designed as a signal to Turkey “not to act alone, but cooperate with NATO,” Polenz said.