Ankara has hosted two important guests within the last week. One of them was Pope Francis, the leader of the Catholic world, and the other was Russian President Vladimir Putin. Some Western media outlets were unable to cover the visits in an honest manner. As usual, they approached the stories from a chronically orientalist point of view. They turned a deaf ear to the Pope's call for international aid to more than 2 million people who have fled the Syrian civil war and taken refuge in Turkey. They remembered how miserly they have been compared to Turkey, which has spent $6 billion on refugees, and endured the socio-economic problems that come with mass immigration. They belittled Muslim ecclesiastics, who accompanied the Pope during his visit, in order to hide their selfish attitude toward the common problems of humanity.
Their approach to Putin's visit, during which major commercial partnerships were signed, was no different. The German Focus magazine covered the appointment between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Putin with the title "A tsar and a sultan's meeting," while the BBC Turkish news service interpreted these talks as "the summit of precious loneliness." Please do not take my criticisms as a sign of astonishment. We are all too familiar with the sarcastic language used by the Western fascists when it comes to the East, countries they have exploited with wars and massacres for centuries. We are aware that this sardonic tone is the manifestation of a guilty conscience.
After all, it was Europeans who established crematoriums to burn people in the heart of Europe just 50 years ago, and who colonized a vast territory which stretched from South Africa to New Zealand, describing themselves as the empire on which "the sun never sets." So, I advise fellow Western journalists not to turn foreign policy news into a discussion of civilization and peace, and to consider the history of ancient Eastern civilizations, as well as their own past, to avoid falling into disgrace.
They fear the liberation of the East
Erdoğan, who is labeled a "sultan" by some Western media outlets, is a successful politician who has won three general elections, three local elections and two referenda over the past 12 years. He has also taken the presidential office by popular vote. Since he was elected prime minister in 2002, he has indisputably upgraded the country's democratic standards by a considerable degree. He initiated the reconciliation process to end the 30-year domestic conflict with the PKK, even though no politician had dared take this risk before. He increased Turkey's per capita income from $2,000 to nearly $11,000, and has integrated disadvantaged groups into economic policies. He liberated Turkey's foreign policy perspective by removing the imperialist influence.
This reality exasperates those Westerners who want to remember the East as the kind of place depicted in outlandish scenes of "One Thousand and One Nights." That is exactly why the regional moves of Eastern leaders, who act in accordance with their countries' interests rather than the West's trade balance, are stigmatized as a "war alliance," "lonely" and "axis shift."
Does the economic cooperation between two independent countries on their own energy resources have to conform to trade relations that are based on unfair competition and concession? Which of the two is lonelier: Turkey, which is a partner to the policies that are approved by almost 200 states; or those Western countries, which are not welcomed by anyone, with the exception of an alliance of a few states in the Western hemisphere? Moreover, why does everyone have to accept the West's economic and politic paradigms as an "axis?" Was it not the West itself that shifted from the axis of common values of humanity to wars, invasions and colonialism?
If the West does not want to lose the countries it has forced to conform to its economic and political terms, it has to fulfill the essential requirements of relations between equals. The first step is adopting a discourse of dialogue that shows respect for those it addresses, as no one is dependent on the West by nature.