Prestige bestowed by Gezi

Prestige bestowed by Gezi

The European Union is finally opening a new chapter of negotiations after a 3-year-long impasse.

It would be good to put the Progress Report issued just before this decision and Hürriyet’s interview with the EU’s former representative to Turkey, Marc Pierini, on Oct. 22, side-by-side, given both of them contain vital commentary on the matter.

Both the report and the interview praise the Gezi Park demonstrations in terms of the society being able to exercise basic democratic rights.

This is not too much of a surprise as it was not only the EU or Pierini but every democratic country that adopted a similar stance before the Gezi demonstrations.

The demonstrators raised the bar of democracy so high that there was a level of prestige that was added to Turkey. It is no wonder that President Abdullah Gül is so proud of the demonstrations.

However, Prime Minister Erdoğan and a significant segment of the government did not take notice of this “prestige”, instead turning a blind eye and completely ignoring it.

The anti-democratic, repressive stance they adopted against the demonstrators made their own international prestige inversely proportional with the Gezi demonstrators.

The conservative, socialist, social democrat and liberal groups in Europe who supported the AKP, experienced profound disappointment and began to rethink how they view the Erdoğan administration.
The image of Erdoğan, who said, “We have difficulty holding the 50 percent at home,” who announced his discomfort with women’s clothes, among the European community suddenly changed.

As a result, the violence exerted against the Gezi demonstrators postponed the opening of a new chapter, with the help of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s insistence.

Meanwhile, Merkel, who our EU chief negotiator Egemen Bağış wished would “fish together with Sarkozy” and who CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu wrote in reference to her, stating, “On the contrary, open all the chapters,” has won a new election victory.

This reality should be seen that it has been the Gezi demonstrators that have changed Merkel’s stance.
For this reason, the government, if it is sincere in its EU target, should make some sharp turns in its anti-Gezi policies. Otherwise, if they insist that “[the] opening of a chapter is the result of the democratization package,” they will only be fooling themselves.

The EU knows that there is a “Gezi” mark also in the democratization package.

Anybody who reads the Progress Report correctly would see this and do whatever is necessary.

Otherwise, even a simple demand such as “Do not issue the Progress Report during Bayram” will continue to be rejected.

 Again, why, really, was the “Do not issue at Bayram” demand not accepted?

Well, there is no reasoning left for this demand anymore. Because, I’m sure these guys are saying, “Those who rose clouds of dust to show some respect to religious values and asked the report not to be issued during the Bayram, did go and raid ODTÜ on evening during Bayram, cutting down trees [located on the site].”

Maybe some of them are saying, “The EU won’t be able to see what’s happening anyway” and fool themselves as they did about the violence inflicted on the Gezi demonstrators.

Hints of this seemed to be present at the prime minister’s Tuesday speech at the Parliament group meeting.

Erdoğan is holding the power of the state in his hands, while the ODTÜ student is holding only a sapling.

Şükrü Küçükşahin is a columnist for daily Hürriyet in which this piece was published on Oct. 24. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.