We are witnesses of a historic development. After the unsuccessful coup of the military to sustainably change the political system in Turkey, president Recep Tayyip Erdogan is going through a worrying phase of „strengthening“ his power. In this week’s edition of the English Breakfast I would like to take a moment and reflect on what is happening before our very eyes. Of course, this is from my perspective and resonating my beliefs. But as a European citizen, I have the right to think about these developments out loud.
We have to clarify one thing right away! Democracy is not only to give the people a voice through elections and let them choose in which direction to go as a country, it is also about respecting certain principles. One, the political system needs to be separated in executive, judiciary and legislature. Two, there needs to be a healthy and active press as some sort of a fourth power. Yes, it is going to make some political leaders uncomfortable, but in any democratic system a healthy and investigative press helps the people understand political procedures beyond the information that is provided by the system.
Now, one could argue that the Turkish president in charge is looking to unify the democratic powers in one person, him. Controlling the military, controlling what is happening in parliament and sure as hell controlling the executive. And even if this were the people’s will, it is not democratic. To understand that aspect makes all the difference between a mature and immature democratic system.
Offended by a hypocrite!
As an Austrian, I am offended by the latest comments of Turkey’s president saying that Austria represses Erdogan’s sympathizer. We are not the ones putting the political opposition in jail - starting with judges and State Attorneys. We trust in our jurisdiction and believe that both the jurisdiction and the executive need to be separated. We have a free and healthy press and do not shut down newspapers that might not be in line with government positions. And finally, we protect the right to demonstrate for everyone, not only for our supporters.
Europe needs to reconsider …
The European Union needs to reconsider its partnership with Turkey regarding the migration crisis. From a humanitarian standpoint, I have serious troubles co-operating with a government that ignores the political standards we believe in. We also mentioned our concerns when Russia annexed the Krim. Also, the reintroduction of the death penalty would bring an end to Turkey’s ambition towards a EU membership. But right now, it seems that this is not on the political agenda anyway.
Don’t call it a democracy!
Whatever Turkey is going to do in the future is not our business. If it choses the path it is on to be right, so be it. But do not call it a democracy when basic requirements are not met. Before trying to destabilize foreign countries by absurd political statements, Turkey’s president should get out of his reality distortion field. For instance, he called the German MPs of Turkish origin who unanimously declared the war crimes committed by the Ottoman Empire against the Armenian people as genocide, „genetically not Turkish“. He even suggested genetic testings for those MPs to prove that they are not Turkish. Also, to use religion as a justification of an authoritarian policy is unacceptable. The last time we did that, we all know what happened …