The ‘New Turkey’ and its new prime minister
It is rather difficult for me to write about the new prime ministerial candidate, Ahmet Davutoğlu, since he is a classmate from university years and an old friend. Despite the differences of political views that we had from the beginning, I have always regarded him as a very kind and valuable person. I remember him as a bright student in university classes and as a civilized person. We have seen each other from time to time on many occasions after university and when he became foreign minister, he kindly invited me to accompany him on one of his Middle East visits which started in Cairo and ended in Tehran, then again during one of his visits to Syria. He appreciated my passion for a closer relationship with Middle Eastern countries, and I always appreciated his passion for realizing this ideal. Obviously we had different views on domestic and foreign policy, yet I have never doubted his good intentions.
I think his foreign policy line failed in many respects, besides I never shared his enthusiasm for the revival of Ottoman power. Moreover, I turned out to be “an enemy” of Justice and Development Party (AKP) rule because of my criticisms of authoritarianism and, after all, he is a part of that political project.
It is a pity that Turkey is no longer a country where political disagreements do not hinder civilized human relations; otherwise, I would happily congratulate him on his new post. Besides, there is a danger of being seen as trying to make it up with the new prime minister. Far from it, I am very determined to keep up my “persona non grata” position if it is the price to pay for political criticism. It means you can take my words as objective remarks in earnest; no, Davutoğlu is not an “Islamist zealot” as he is being portrayed by some. In fact, he is neither a fanatic, nor a genius as he is described respectively by his critics and admirers. He is an ambitious politician with an ambitious political mission and his dream is to revive Islamic civilization under the leadership of a powerful Turkey as the heir to the Ottoman Empire. He believes that the new political settlement under AKP rule and Erdoğan’s leadership and his premiership will achieve that goal.
I think and hope that he will not further encourage those AKP supporters who favor political tension and confrontation. Besides, since he is keen on his intellectual persona and his “civilizational” mission, I think he will try to elevate the level of political discourse and debate. Nevertheless, since Erdoğan will also be in charge, as “supreme leader,” it will be a difficult task. Besides, Davutoğlu is not expected to be an ordinary prime minister, as nothing is considered “ordinary” any more since the AKP turned into a “revolutionary party” which promises to transform Turkey into the “New Turkey” by turning everything upside down. The new era under the supreme leader is being defined as the end of the old regime and the beginning of the new one. No revolutionary change can be realized by ordinary means, let alone democratic means, so therefore Davutoğlu will be in charge of a radical change, and indeed he is eager to play that role in the name of his civilizational mission.
“Grand projects” are always pursued in the name of extraordinary achievements, but often fail not only their architects, but also the whole population whose fate is in the hands of those grandees who never question their right to decide for the whole society. This is the problem concerning the new prime minister of New Turkey; otherwise, he is an excellent person in my view.