Signs from the government to international onlookers

Signs from the government to international onlookers

It was up to me to calm my daughter who lives abroad when she called me crying on the night of the coup attempt. I told her, “Unfortunately, we grew up amid coups, like all other developing countries. We will overcome this also…”

Well, we are the children of a generation who, besides the military coups in Turkey, heard and read about the horrendous stories of the junta in Chile and Argentina.  

After spending two long days in front of the TV, I was watching BBC International before I wrote this piece. The anchor was saying to their reporter in Istanbul, in astonishment, “After the coup attempt on Friday, the country seems to have gone back to normal. There are 300 deaths and everybody is back at their jobs.” 

As the head of the Capital Markets Board, Dr. Vahdettin Ertaş emphasized, all the institutions were fully functioning and people were back at work on Monday after the huge chaos experienced on Friday. Ertaş also said the positive perception of the foreign investor was continuing. Meanwhile, Akfen Holding Executive Committee head Hamdi Akın reminded people of the previous coups Turkey experienced, saying, “Those who did not invest after those coups [feel] regret now. The same thing will happen now; investments will increase.”  

Back to how the outside world is viewing the coup attempt, the BBC reporter in Istanbul’s central Taksim Square said, “This morning the square is back to normal but it was filled with protestors chanting slogans against the coup attempt until [the] late hours of last night who had taken to the streets upon the president’s [Recep Tayyip Erdoğan] call.”

The reporter said, “Turkey was already a highly segmented country. Now, a wave of arrests has started and the reinstallation of capital punishment is being discussed.” 

The BBC anchor was again astonished and asked, “How can the reinstallation of the death penalty be discussed while Turkey is in the process of accession to the European Union?” The reporter in Taksim said it seemed Turkey had lost its reputation of being a safe haven in the Middle East when all the developments are viewed, including the coup attempt. 

We do have some tough business ahead. It is even more difficult to recreate this “safe haven” perception than to overcome the trauma of the attempted coup. 

Those circles that try to draw foreign investors to Turkey are also pointing to the “safe haven” phenomenon. For instance, the general manager and founding partner of Tanto Capital, Ozan Özkural, told a television channel, “In this period when even the developed markets are going through an uncertainty, the international investor is seeking a safe haven in the long run.” He said investors abroad in the U.S. and the EU have called since the coup attempt and stated they appreciated that the tradition of democracy prevailed. “Messages coming from the [Turkish] government from now on are important. Are they [going to be] polarizing or will they be unifying?” he said. 

This aspect is very important. Will the government unite a society which looks “extremely segmented,” also when viewed from abroad? 

Istanbul’s Taksim Square was closed down for all activities due to security reasons. For instance, was the opening of this square to masses who rushed upon Erdoğan’s call to fill the country’s squares a unifying or separating sign for society? 

What kind of signs are these that after the coup attempt, the death penalty and individual armaments have been brought to the agenda?