Machiavelli lives on…
Turkey has a very intense agenda. The “court-appointed” castration of the Feza Group, two more newspapers and a news agency, along with magazines and a publishing company, has produced, all of a sudden, the most committed and hard-line supporter of the absolute ruler. But Europe has another preoccupation: The existential risk posed to the “club of democracies” by some bare-foot Easterners, the Syrian refugees.
It was difficult to understand how the bizarre situation of freedom of expression and media freedom in Turkey managed to appear on the menu of the Turkish-EU summit alongside some other desserts. Pledging to give Turkey a handful of bucks while contracting it to shoulder the burden of the refugee crisis was, of course, a major success for EU leaders. Turkey will agree to take back all those who cross the Turkish landmass or sail aboard perilous, flimsy boats to the Greek islands. In return, it will get some cash. What else? Europe will generously accept some refugees.
Turkey’s Liberal Democrat Party leader, Cem Toker, interpreted the deal as follows: “We agreed to get back the unskilled, beggar refugees and allow Europe to select and take doctors, engineers, academics and give Turkey some money...”
The burden of the refugees cannot be estimated taking into consideration only the hopeless, present-day situation. Even if the bright idea of the Turkish president to build a new city inside Syria – which naturally will bring with it the much desired aerial as well as land protection by the allies of that area – the refugee challenge will continue to tax everyone. Turkey today has almost 3 million Syrian refugees. Will building a city in Syria help decrease that figure? Will Syrian refugees agree to go back and live there at gunpoint?
The Turkish government has been striving to see Kilis awarded the Nobel Peace Prize because it has been hosting a Syrian refugee community bigger than its own population. The issue is indeed a major demographical challenge that might place Turkey in a very difficult situation tomorrow. Well, this country is a society of refugees. No one can ignore that today’s Turkish society was produced with emigrants from all corners of the shrinking and dissolving Ottoman Empire. This aspect of Turkish society helped it cope with this enormous challenge so far. But, how long can the Syrian refugees, with no immediate prospect of returning to their homeland, continue to live in Turkey without proper “refugee status” as “guests” of Turkey, since Turkey does not accept refugees from the “East?” The changed demography will definitely eventually become a very serious challenge for domestic security, which has already been facing a vicious threat: separatist Kurdish terrorism.
Obviously Europe was “perfectly right” to pay the Turks and wash its hands of the refugee problem as much as possible. But, can Europe turn its back on the worst-ever media situation in Turkey? Can it suffice in issuing some electronic messages condemning the government for silencing yet another critical media group by censoring it with court-appointed trustees?
Did the European Union politicians and executives meeting the Turkish premier abandon the very norms and values on which the European Union was built on? Obviously not, but no one is letting in Turkey; Turks will perhaps only enjoy visa-free travel to Europe as early as later this summer. Will they really? In any case, if Turkey is not going to become a full member of the club any time soon, what would be wrong in turning away attention from the fundamental requirements of EU accession, such as freedom of expression, for some time?
Neither Niccolò Machiavelli nor his famous “Prince” can be blamed of course for the “the employment of cunning and duplicity in statecraft,” as obviously the interests of Turks cannot come prior to the interests of the European peoples. There ought to be a difference between tweeting messages of solidarity with Turkish journalists who still insist on remaining as newspeople rather than joining the propaganda machine of the sovereign power.
The situation in Turkey is not sustainable. Either through an “implosion” or an “explosion,” the Turkish political landscape will be reshaped. While all hopes appear to have been pinned on the “implosion” probability, that is, a party emerging out of the ruling Justice and Development Party, many people are pondering the “explosion” probability, that is, whether any of the almost dead center-right parties might be given a new breath of life or a new party might be established. Obviously, there is the “tall man” factor and the Turkish electorate, like the European Union, has an appetite for talking on nasty issues a lot while worshiping the powerful at the end of the day.
As such, Machiavelli lives on…