Unlike Rod Nordland of The New York Times or Dion Nissenbaum of the Wall Street Journal, who have recently been barred entry to Turkey, some foreign journalists still report from here. The other day, I was asked by one of those foreign colleagues how I viewed the general situation in the country. I told him that we were very much like travelling on a bus, and the brakes weren’t working. The bus is speeding downhill and ahead there is a concrete wall. The driver has no intention of doing something to slow it down. A collision is imminent and unavoidable. “That’s how I see the current situation in this country, is that clear?” I asked him.
A Greek friend, the other day, sent what he called an article about a confidential EU report. Its contents were terrifying. How could a “confidential report” that a European claimed was written by the EU’s intelligence-sharing unit, Intcen, come up with the claim that contrary to what the Turkish government has been saying, the failed coup of July 15 was not ordered by exiled cleric Fetullah Gülen. The alleged document reportedly further asserted that the post-coup purge of supposed Gülenists led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was “designed to deepen his grip on power.” Equally shocking was the assessment in the alleged document that “It is likely that a group of officers comprising of Gülenists, Kemalists, opponents of the AKP and opportunists were behind the coup. It is unlikely that Gülen himself played a role,” the document said.
If the Intcen report was written by the EU’s spies operating in Turkey, they probably know how things evolved better than ordinary Turks. Yet the report was apparently written with the aim and intention of finding an excuse of why Europe acted so late in protesting the coup attempt and showing solidarity with the elected government of the country.
In a free country, such reports, plot theories, allegations and counter-allegations might be considered normal. When such a report goes public or reaches Turkish government officials, I seriously worry about the path of relations between Turkey and the EU in an already-troubled situation.
My Greek friend, who sent the article, was of course trying to tell me that tomorrow in Cyprus some people might torch down a mosque, bomb an important place or an Atatürk monument and blame it on the Greek Cypriot fascist hordes, the Elam. He was trying to tell me that it would not be the first time such provocative actions were undertaken by the Turkish deep state or as he said “the deep AKP.”
Naturally, unless there are very strong and concrete evidences, particularly after all that we have been through in this country since 2007, I would not buy any accusation or counter-accusation. Some officials in Turkey, for various reasons, have unfortunately developed excellence in forging and manufacturing en masse evidence that might send any innocent individual to gallows. The Ergenekon, Sledgehammer and other thriller court cases, lives vanished in prison rooms because such fabricated cases were all products of the Fetullah Gülen-infected police and intelligence network of this country. The government of the time, of course, cannot wash its hands and put all the blame on the Gülenists. Whatever was done was done through their “vindictive” and “pious” collaboration, aimed at taking revenge from the secularists. Times have changed and now Gülenists have filled the prisons. Naturally, no one should act vindictive and contrary of what they did in the past, the democratic society of Turkey must demand justice prevail.
Justice, one of the brakes of the bus heading to a wall, has long been problematic in this country. Probably the first thing Turkey ought to do is to undergo a massive judicial reform and establish judicial independence.
Is that what is wanted now? Unfortunately the constitutional “reform” package negotiated in parliament calls for an increase in presidential control over the Judges and Prosecutors Council – which will no longer will be a high council once the reform is completed.
Checks and balances constitute another important brake of the bus. In the new system, Erdoğan wants to eliminate the place for checks and balances either. The president will at the same time be the leader of the ruling party. He will be the chief executive. He can even dissolve parliament. How could a parliament inspect him? It will be the all-powerful president who will make the candidate lists for the parliamentary or regional elections. Thus, after 66 years, Turkey will move back to a one-party rule that it was compelled to abandon when it wanted to join NATO.
He and the parliament, which will be under his control, will appoint all members of the Judges and Prosecutors Council as well as the Constitutional Court and other high courts. The judiciary will also be under his control. And he will be the chief executive. Thus, the separation of powers will vanish and the powers will be monopolized.
Can we still describe such a governance model as democratic governance? What do we call regimes that have one strong leader who controls the government, legislation and the judiciary?
Does it not look like Turkey is heading toward a premeditated crush?