A month or so has passed since the Turkish elections, which have given the regime in Ankara and its strongman Erdoğan yet another victory. This time, though, those in Turkey as well as abroad who were opposing the regime (at various degrees and for different reasons) seem to have scaled down their criticism.
While the regime has got the green light to consolidate and entrench its positions, the naysayers give the impression of having swallowed the harsh reality. Erdoğan’s New Turkey is now being dealt with via the age-old practice of realpolitik.
Let’s start with the country itself. Back in September 2014, former Prime Minister Davutoğlu said: “For us, our citizens are divided politically into two: Those who vote for the AK Party today and those who might vote for the AK Party tomorrow. AK Party supporters and potential AK Party supporters. There is no third group, no adversary.” And added: “one day everybody will be an AK Party companion”.
Although the so-called Turkish opposition, composed of apples, pears and all sorts of other components, still pretends to exist as a bloc, its voters are busy looking for arguments and excuses to co-exist with the regime. We should bear in mind that a sizeable portion of these voters have political views not very different than those of the regime’s constituencies, especially when it comes to equal citizenship for Kurds, Alevis and other groups at odds with the majority “Sunni, Turk, Straight, Males”.
This “survival strategy” is exacerbated by the disintegration of the “opposition bloc” who are chronically incapable of promoting an appealing alternative political proposal. Actually, the opposition parliamentarians who were elected on May 14 are more than happy with their seats and salaries and don’t really care about their constituencies.
Thus, the ultimate motto for any citizen from now on is “survival at any cost. Or in other words, becoming at ease with a fascist regime. This obviously strengthens the regime as people are ready to compromise.
Abroad, the coexistence strategies are manifold. The West has been toying with Ankara’s regime for some time now, at least since 2015 when the Syrian refugee crisis burst out.
None of Turkey’s former allies in the West are now pursuing any democracy talk with Ankara. The few mumblings of the recent years on the necessity of obeying democratic standards, European values, etc… are now totally inaudible. In line with the universal “zeitgeist,” democracies are busy finding ways to open new chapters of collaboration with the totalitarian regime in Ankara.
One of these cynical initiatives is the conclusion on Turkey at the recent European Council of 29-30 June: “Recalling its previous conclusions on the EU’s relations with Türkiye, including those of June 2021 and the March 2021 Statement, and in light of the recent elections in Türkiye, the European Council invites the High Representative and the Commission to submit a report to the European Council on the state of play of EU-Türkiye relations, building on the instruments and options identified by the European Council, and with a view to proceeding in a strategic and forward-looking manner”.
During recent years several attempts of the kind have been initiated by the European Commission, but it is probably the first time that the top decision making body, the EU Council, has called upon the Commission including the High Representative, to reflect upon a new partnership with totalitarian Turkey.
A similar call was issued early June to the Commission by the European Parliament, which “Considers, in view of all the above, that in the absence of a drastic change of course by the Turkish Government, Türkiye’s EU accession process has lost its purpose and will not endure much longer in the current circumstances; recommends, in that case, starting a reflection process to find an alternative and realistic framework for EU-Türkiye relations in substitution for the accession process; calls on the Commission, therefore, to explore possible formats for a mutually appealing framework through a comprehensive and inclusive process”
The High Representative Borrell had in 2020-21 some inconclusive initiatives towards Ankara which were called the “positive agenda.” The EU, eager to build on a new relationship, and with the prospect of membership hopefully gone, was desperately looking for ways to “normalize” with Turkey.
Ridiculous self-congratulatory meetings were held between the Turkish Foreign Minister and Borrell which yielded zero results. At the time, the EU party was still trying to introduce a word or two on Human Rights and democracy. Obviously that was a non-starter, as the Turkish regime couldn’t accept those conditions. Turkey could not defer to European standards, norms, values and principles as long as its very existence was defined precisely by their outright rejection.
So now that a full-fledged realpolitik prevails, it is almost certain that the new “roadmap” to be drafted by Brussels will contain no demands at all for democratic reform.
As for individual Member States, let’s remember how they raced to congratulate Erdoğan for his re-election—in doing so, legitimizing a rigged election. Today, they are ready to cooperate with totalitarian Ankara, however antidemocratic and bellicose the regime’s deeds are.
Very recently at the NATO Summit at Vilnius they have boldly demonstrated their readiness to waive arms embargoes that were initiated because of the invasion of Syrian territories. This was the ultimate decision of at least three Western countries, including Canada and Sweden.
Finally, the West will not only be supporting Erdoğan politically and militarily; they will continue to finance big infrastructural projects and continue to invest in Turkey. The recent cooling down of capital inflows in the form of FDI (foreign direct investment) is expected to take off again. That’s the way the West’s cynical appeasement policies go towards dictators…until they end up with Putin’s Russia.
The views and opinions expressed above are the author’s and do not represent those of the Free Turkish Press.