The issue of tolerating criticism

The issue of tolerating criticism

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said, “We should overcome artificial tensions and move over to constructive criticisms,” adding that he asked for appointments from opposition parties to discuss the new constitution and reforms for parliamentary internal regulations.  

No doubt this is a positive attitude.

Turkey is facing very serious problems; the southeast of the country is burning; people have had to abandon their houses. We have problems with our neighbors as war is continuing on our doorstep. To solve all the problems, everybody should be able to talk with each other. 

The political tension that has been continuing for years must be abandoned; a civilized environment of debate must be adopted.

But, before anything else, it is necessary that one should be tolerant about criticism. Until now, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has not fared well on the issue of tolerating criticisms. Every criticism was perceived as “a show of animosity.” The efforts to create a one-voice media environment are an extension of this. 

The first political actor that will be able to create a “constructive environment of criticism” suggested by the prime minister is, for this reason, the government. What makes a criticism constructive is nothing more than that the addressee listens and takes into consideration the concerns stated in the criticism.

The mentality of “I am the majority, I will do whatever I wish, the way I want to,” should be abandoned and one should become a “pluralist.” 

It is up to the prime minister himself to create the environment he wants. 

Betrayal, traitor and constructive criticism 

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, who has asked for appointments from party leaders to enter “the period of constructive criticism,” has said Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş’s comments in Moscow, in which he said, “It was a mistake to down the Russian plane,” are “treason and betrayal of this nation.”

In order to create the much-yearned for “environment free from artificial tensions,” first of all, I would like to remind the prime minister that criticism should not be evaluated as “treason.” We should erase the concepts of “traitor-treason” from our political debate dictionary, so that we have enough tolerance to listen to what people want to say. 

The downing of the Russian plane is a situation that can be criticized for a variety of reasons. 

In consequence, Turkey is suffering serious economic damage because of it, we have lost position in the Syrian issue because of it and we are almost at war with a country led by a temperamental autocrat.  

All these things should have been foreseen. 

Why is it treason to discuss whether or not a violation of borders could have been averted through other means? When the matter is national security, everybody should have a say. Also, it should not be forgotten that domestic politics and foreign politics are no longer possible to separate from each other.

If we accept that the leader of a party who has been able to win enough seats in parliament to form a group can have a say on these matters, then we can de-escalate artificial tensions. Instead of challenging this statement of Demirtaş under the concept of “treason,” it would have been a more precise and “constructive” stance to explain once more why the Russian plane was downed and try to convince people.