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…”
“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.”