Riding Erdoğan's coattails

Published 13.08.2017 21:35

If politicians in a European country start blitzkrieging Turkey then you know that elections are coming in that country soon. The Dutch did that. The Belgians did that. On March 15, they had elections in the Netherlands, and the whole campaign was about issues related to Turkish politics. Internal issues! How should Turks manage their internal affairs! They barred Turkish politicians from attending political rallies in their country. There are hundreds of thousands of Turks with dual citizenship who were going to vote in the Turkish constitutional referendum. But the Dutch government banned pro-reform politicians from addressing Turkish voters and dared to brand President Erdoğan a "Nazi remnant."

The dispute escalated into a diplomatic incident when Turkey's family minister was prevented from entering the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam. The police attacked Turks trying to protect her from the attacking police dogs. Today, it is not easy to say that two countries are in worse times in diplomatic relations.

All this happened because of election difficulties of the ruling party in the country. Anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders was seriously threatening Prime Minister Mark Rutte's centrist party. Rutte was trying to look as tough as Wilders whose election message to all Turks in the Netherlands who agree with Erdogan was as outrageous as this: "Go to Turkey and NEVER come back."

It did not work. Rutte's brute force tactics, using police dogs, dragging a female minister into a police van, wounding several people and calling the president of an ally county names was good enough to beat the fascist opponent. So Wilders was prevented from gaining access to the coalition government at the cost of fueling racism in Holland.

Now, it is Germany's turn. In the Netherlands, liberals and moderate conservatives tried to out-do the racists; in Germany Christian Democrats hope to best the Social Democrats.

A grandmother figure for almost every citizen in Germany, Angela Merkel has held the prime minister's office since 2005 and fears that young voters are fed up with her strong-arm tactics in Europe. She has abused Euro rates, which are too high for new members of the E.U. and too cheap for Germany: Germany increases its exports at the expense of other E.U. members. Everybody in Europe now knows her tricks, and young Germans are going to make her pay the price for dwindling European unity.

What is a grandmother to do? Find a cause that is dear to your major opponent and try to look better at it. German Social Democrats have already stolen a page from their Benelux neighbors' playbook: beat Turkey and its leader Erdoğan; thus, look democratic, liberal and all that jazz being anti-dictator bestows on you! No matter whether the person you call a dictator is a very popular leader in Turkey who in the last democratic popular election received 52 percent of the votes. No matter whether he reversed a military coup by a single call to his people. These are inconvenient facts that should not ruin a perfectly good anti-dictator campaign.

For those who still remember why and how the European Union was created, German hegemony over Europe was exactly what the E.U.'s founding fathers were trying to prevent. Social Democrats know that the only way to take the reins of Germany back from expansionist conservatives is to beat them at their game, which new chairman Martin Schulz says is supporting non-democratic world leaders. Turkey, in this sense, is low hanging fruit with its nationalistic and so-called Islamist government. Again, neither what you call nationalism nor Islamism prevents Turkey from working for regional peace and stability or acting as a perfect member of the international community. These are another set of inconvenient realities and then you have elections in two months.

Hit on Turkey! Accuse it of crimes it never committed. Do not return people Turkey wants extradited as suspects of a coup attempt despite the fact that you know they will be tried in independent courts.

In other words, run for office in Germany on the Turkish president's coattails. You may win the office, but you definitely will lose face.

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