Is the AKP burning bridges with USA, NATO, EU?

The systemic pattern of cementing an oppressive rule at home and obstinately pursuing a “my way or the highway” foreign policy, while seeming to smooth over the element of the “ungovernability” of Turkey, actually points out one simple fact: Through one erratic move after another, the country, in essence, is exposing its deepest identity crisis ever since the foundation of the republic.

In many senses — and it is certainly to be a subject for historians — it is comparable to the time between 1908 and 1922 during which we witnessed a severe disruption of democratization by the brutal nationalists, the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), which by one erroneous and adventurous act after another led the Ottoman rule through a multi-frontal war and to total collapse.

These days what we see, again, is how a group of incompetent and flunkey politicians in Cabinet positions keep busy carrying fire to what many at home and elsewhere see as a policy of impotence.

A great part of this not-so-unrecognizable exercise is to force wide open the gaps between what has identified Turkey for more than nine decades and the current rulers’ mentality, which is most certainly to be described as isolationism fed by provincialism.

For months now we have been watching how the powerfully dominant Justice and Development Party (AKP) is trying to carve Turkey’s key affiliations up, such as the existential alliance with the US, its membership in NATO and the vital perspective of the EU.

The latest in turn is a statement by Volkan Bozkır, who is Turkey’s EU minister and — at least on paper — Turkey’s chief negotiator with the European Commission, bashing EU Rapporteur Kati Piri because she, with a delegation, visited Diyarbakır — for months the epicenter of clashes, deaths, destruction and unrest.

“It is meaningful that this delegation did not feel the need to visit Ankara, but went directly to Diyarbakır, where the intensive fight against the terrorist organization the PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party] is in progress and also met with organizations overtly supporting the PKK terrorist organization.”

“It is also interesting that Rapporteur Piri, who served very well the PKK’s perception management operation through her visit to Diyarbakır, does not mention in her report at all the sewage systems and basements transformed into arsenals by the PKK, the continuous attacks on our security personnel…”

Bozkır added:

“It is obvious that Rapporteur Piri … cannot comprehend the most vital issue of Turkey and also lost her neutrality over Turkey’s issues … Should Rapporteur Piri insist on this approach of hers, it will be highly difficult for her to find counterparts to talk to in Turkey, other than the organizations she visited in Diyarbakır.”

These are, to say the least, utterly harsh words coming from a chief negotiator, whose job should actually be the opposite: to smooth out the rifts and conflicts with the EU.

No one has any idea whether Bozkır foresaw the upcoming Kurdish crisis with the peace talks negotiations table turned deliberately upside-down by the AKP, or warned his president or prime minister of it (most probably not).


Statements like this are like someone running to the bridge between Ankara and Brussels with gelignite in his hands.

In this sense, Bozkır’s statement reflects a consistent scuppering of universal rules by his government and does not differ from the ongoing moves to tear down Turkey’s allies’ confidence, such as the one between US President Barack Obama and Erdoğan.

Yes, it is a rapidly deepening identity crisis of Turkey, whipped up by provincial incompetency represented by the government.

As Gökhan Bacık put it astutely on Monday:

“The whole mechanism of the state is itself in crisis. There is no longer a functioning state mechanism in Turkey. But there is one point beyond all these factors. In one sense, Turkey is exhausted. Turkey has for decades tried all strategies to overcome its major problems. In this trial, Kemalists, Kurds and Islamists have tested their approaches. All have failed. Thus, the real crisis of Turkey is the failure of the country to provide an alternative policy. Turkey is thus repeating itself, in a kind of vicious circle. There is no actor with the capacity to offer a reliable alternative exit strategy. That is why for many Turkey is a hopeless case.”

About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar has been an award-winning Turkish journalist, whose professional activity spans nearly four decades. In December 2013, Baydar co-founded the independent media platform, P24, Punto24, to monitor the media sector of Turkey, as well as organizing surveys, and training workshops. Baydar wrote opinion columns, in Turkish, liberal daily Ozgur Dusunce and news site Haberdar, and in English, daily Today's Zaman, on domestic and foreign policy issues related to Turkey, and media matters, until all had to cease publications due to growing political oppression. Currently, he writes regular chronicles for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, and opinion columns for the Arab Weekly, as well as analysis for Index on Censorship. Baydar blogs with the Huffington Post, sharing his his analysis and views on Turkish politics, the Middle East, Balkans, Europe, U.S-Turkish relations, human rights, free speech, press freedom, history, etc. His opinion articles appeared at the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Svenska Dagbladet, and Al Jazeera English online. Turkey’s first news ombudsman, beginning at Milliyet daily in 1999, Baydar worked in the same role as reader representative until 2014. His work included reader complaints with content, and commentary on media ethics. Working in a tough professional climate had its costs: he was twice forced to leave his job, after his self-critical columns on journalistic flaws and fabricated news stories. Baydar worked as producer and news presenter in Swedish Radio &TV Corp. (SR) Stockholm, Sweden between 1979-1991; as correspondent for Scandinavia and Baltics for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1980-1992, and the BBC World Service, in early 1990's. Returning to Turkey in 1994, he worked as reporter and ediytor for various outlets in print, as well as hosting debate porogrammes in public and private TV channels. Baydar studied informatics, cybernetics and, later, had his journalism ediucatiob in the University of Stockholm. Baydar served as president of the U.S. based International Organizaton of News Ombudsmen (ONO) in 2003. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at University of Michigan in 2004. Baydar was given the Special Award of the European Press Prize (EPP), for 'excellence in journalism', along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel in 2014. He won the Umbria Journalism Award in March 2014 and Caravella/Mare Nostrum Prize in 2015; both in Italy. Baydar completed an extensive research on self-censorship, corruption in media, and growing threats over journalism in Turkey as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
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