The 'new normal' for Turkey

Published 30.04.2014 02:12
Updated 30.04.2014 09:40

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently offered a statement of reconciliation and condolences to Armenians.The tradition of turning a blind eye to the 1915 incidents and denying them has been irreversibly torn apart by Turkey's top-level authority. Neither the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) nor the Republican People's Party (CHP) have given a reasonable reaction. This 99-year taboo has been imbedded in history.

Previously, mentioning "Cyprus" and "reconciliation" in the same sentence was regarded equivalent to "selling out the country." Today, however, thanks to Turkey's intermediary contributions, we are heading toward the reconciliation of the United Cypriot Federation, which is bi-regional, bi-social and in coherence with EU norms. A large majority of Turkish society views the issue positively.

Following the September 2010 referendum, Gülenists took hold of supreme judicial bodies and Turkey was thrust into a period of unmitigated McCarthyism. Many Kurdish politicians, journalists, writers as well as academics who were proponents of the Peace and Democratic Party (BDP) were arrested as part of the probe into the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK).Anti-Gülenist journalists such as Nedim Şener and Ahmet Şık, along with former Chief of Police Hanefi Avcı, were imprisoned as part of the OdaTV case, which is known as the media branch of the Ergenekon organization.

A number of soldiers who had nothing to do with the coup plan, along with those who were pro-coup, were discharged from the army and sentenced to prison on fabricated evidence.This was all conducted in connection with the coup of the Sledgehammer operation in order to make room for the Gülen Movement's soldiers in military posts. In short, between 2010 and 2013, Turkey was an open prison for those who constituted a threat against the Gülenists.From 2013 onward, we have seen a picture of Turkey where 62 out of the 70 remanded journalists were released. We also witnessed a new Turkey where the majority of detainees in the KCK probes and those who suffered from long periods of detention were released thanks to laws issued by the government. During last year's Diyarbakır rally, Erdoğan said, "I imagine a Turkey which is free from chaos and its prisons are empty."

In 2001, our economy declined because of a verbal clash between former President Ahmet Necdet Sezer and former Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit that was widely covered in the media.In 2013, we survived a popular uprising, a judicial coup and serious terrorist attacks like those in Reyhanlı. Despite all this, the exchange rate is stable, foreign capital inflow is on the rise and we have a good credit rating.In 1999, famous Kurdish singer Ahmet Kaya was severely lynched by the media after he said during an award ceremony that he would film a movie clip for a Kurdish song. He was forced to abandon his country and subsequently passed away abroad. Last week, a television presenter on a neo-nationalist channel was dismissed upon popular reaction, as she did not allow a Kurdish singer to sing in Kurdish.In the new Turkey, the motivation behind public reactions against racism has dramatically changed.

Similarly, last week, it was announced that the first university teaching in Kurdish will be opened. The interior ministry announced that Turkey approved the opening of a party called the Kurdistan Democratic Party. The use of the word "Kurdistan," which has been a point of contention until recently, is now officially being used.

In the 1999 Gölcük earthquake, Turkey experienced a major trauma. Even the civilian rescue crew reached the scene earlier than the official teams. Aside from dealing with its own calamities, Turkey became the fourth country to supply the most humanitarian relief across the globe last year.

It is possible to give further examples. After all, the only party that represents Turkey's democratic transformation and promises further improvements is the AK Party. The most influential factor that convinced the public to embark on this painful change is Erdoğan's open mindedness and persuasiveness.

The EU and the U.S. stood against this potential and adopted the clichés of "authoritarianism."Moreover, they turned their tolerant attitude for the military coup in Egypt into harsh criticism against Turkey's democratization.Only in this way can they reduce their influence on Turkey. Turkey is making good progress on its way to the "new normal."

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