Game of thrones
It was great to listen to the lectures on the “new Turkey” and “advanced democracy” from the prime minister. Definitely, all his rhetoric was very much in keeping with the expectations of his political mentor of the grotesque palace and abundant slush funds. Listening to him, it is possible to be carried away with the delusion that the political Islamist clan ruling Turkey has decided not only to adhere to the principles of universal democracy, but to carry Turkey to an “advanced” one.
There is a nice Turkish saying. “Ayinesi iştir kişinin, lafa bakılmaz” might best be translated into English as “a tree is known by its fruit” or “actions speak louder than words.” If in a country the practice of “accreditation” and sheer discrimination against some sections of the media has reached the dimension of banning two parliamentary reporters – one of them has been serving as legislative reporter for the past 28 years – is it possible to believe in what the premier said?
It hurts for all Turkish people to see foreign institutions putting Turkey in the list of “not free” countries as regards press freedom. It is indeed sad to hear national parliaments, the European Parliament resolution or the pope politically describe the 1915 events as “genocide” as if they were historians or that any international court described those events as such. Obviously, regarding those countries that criminalized denying the Armenian charges, Turkey is far freer and in this country, “technically” anyone can support or deny those claims. Yet, there is a very strong peer pressure pumped up by the “official Turkey.” Thus, in this country, there is still no real atmosphere of freedom to publicly advance support for the Armenian charges.
Indeed, nothing will change if Turkey moves from conceding “immense trauma was experienced in Anatolia during those years” and “we apologize for the sufferings of Armenians” position to a probable “genocidal developments happened, Turks, Armenians, Kurds perished in those years, we regret what was experienced” position. Did Turks, Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians and Greeks not perish during those years? In order to say this country has become a real democracy – forget about an advanced one – is there not a need to make peace with its past? Mistakes and successes, victories and defeats… they are all ours, are they not? And of course that “our” must include Turks and all non-Turks without discrimination.
Alas, the subject the country is occupied with were not these according to the premier under orders from his political mentor; he was boasting of his party’s will to move Turkey into a “Turkish-style presidential system” so that the country could advance in stability. If, of course, “advanced democracy” is not indeed “democracy of the selected” or if somehow a new definition was brought to the word, what the Turkish media is experiencing can only be an introduction to the Turkish-style police state.
How can this writer and some others dare to talk about Turkey heading toward a police state while policemen are routinely taking other policemen under custody – after all, 28 cops were detained in Istanbul yesterday. It might appear paradoxical, but that is how security and public order is devastated in a country. Confidence in the government, police and bureaucracy has eroded. The “parallel state” claims created a clan of obedient bureaucrats – as was demonstrated in the army of top civil servants seeking parliamentary candidacy from the ruling party – and policemen hunting some other bureaucrats and policemen.
Recorded unemployment has exceeded 11 percent. Women and rural Turkey is mostly not included in these figures. Unemployment for people in the 18-to-25 age range has exceeded 25 percent. The budget deficit has expanded by 34.4 percent, exceeding 6.8 billion Turkish Liras, while the dollar exchange rate has reached a dramatic 2.71 liras.
These are alarming figures. The nation will not vote taking into consideration the “precious isolation” of the country, the resolutions condemning Turkey or the remarks of the pope. The budget deficit, rampant current accounts problem, the dollar exchange rate, rising unemployment and the cost of living reaching unbearable levels will have an impact, however, on the Turkish absolute ruler’s game of thrones. The distribution of votes, number of parties that succeed in overcoming the anti-democratic 10 percent electoral threshold will also have an impact, but the election result will be shaped by the situation of the pockets.