Europe failed the litmus test

Europe failed the litmus test

There is growing anger with Europe in Turkey, and not just among supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, but also his bitter detractors. The feeling is that Europe, which is supposedly keen on speaking up for democracy and human rights, has forsaken Turkey.

Erdoğan is angry over Europe’s lukewarm stance against the July 15 failed coup attempt and lack of visible support for the democratically-elected government that foiled it. 

Can Dündar from daily Cumhuriyet, who stands at the opposite end of the scale to Erdoğan, is angry with European governments for their lack of support when he was in prison for publishing a story on illegal arms shipments by the government to anti-Bashar al-Assad forces in Syria.

Dündar wrote to German Chancellor Angela Merkel while in prison, asking her not turn a blind eye to pressures against the free media in Turkey for the sake of the EU’s refugee deal with Turkey. The letter fell on deaf ears. In the end it was self-interest and not values that motivated Europe, which needs Erdoğan’s support, given its nightmare of being flooded by illegal migrants.

European criticism of the current roundup in Turkey of alleged supporters or sympathizers of the coup attempt – which many say amounts to a witch hunt – also appears shallow given the belated response to the coup attempt itself. 

Europe’s problem centers on the personality of Erdoğan, who has become its bête noire. The impression many Turks got from the half-hearted support Turkey got after the coup attempt was that Europe had hoped secretly this attempt would end Erdoğan’s rule. 

Europe’s criticism of the ongoing dragnet against alleged coup plotters and their sympathizers also appears to be based on the dislike of Erdoğan, rather than a genuine concern about democracy in Turkey. 

European governments have to realize that this will have a lasting effect on their ties with this country.

Erdoğan, whose hand is much stronger now, is saying these ties will continue, but there will be no love in them. 

Put another way, Turkey is unlikely to do Europe anymore favors unless it sees the money upfront. Merkel’s long standing desire to see “Turkey out of the EU but anchored to Europe” is also in danger. 

Analyses and commentary in the West by some self-declared “Turkey experts,” much of which is less than intelligent (to put it politely), is merely pouring more fuel on the fire. These “analysts” are revealing with what they say or write that they would have wished this coup attempt had succeeded. There are even irresponsible “commentators” who are arguing that the coup should have succeeded but failed because Erdoğan was not killed outright.

These people felt no need to consider that Erdoğan is ultimately an elected leader, and that the coup, if it had succeeded, would have ended democracy in Turkey for sure. The merciless way the coup plotters fired on citizens and bombed parliament seems not to have woken these “brilliant minds” to what would have happened if the coup had succeeded.

The coup plotters were opposed by a heavily armed police and thousands of people (many of them Erdoğan supporters) taking to the streets. This showed that this would not be the “clinical coup” that got rid of a despised leader but would have ignited a protracted civil war.

Unabashed Western supporters of the foiled coup attempt found no need to consider that the only winner of this outcome would be groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), for which a new front, just on the doorsteps of Europe, would have been opened, and that Europe would have faced an even larger refugee crisis.  

On reading some of the Western “analysis” now, one is sorely tempted to ask how stupid some people can get. Europe failed its litmus test at a crucial moment in history, and proved Erdoğan right in the eyes of his supporters regarding “Western treachery.”

To distance themselves from Erdoğan, European officials used to say, “We are not dealing with Erdoğan, but Turkey.” They’ll have to deal with Erdoğan now.