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Mother of all coups

Sixty years ago this week, on Aug. 19, 1953, a US and British-backed coup overthrew Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh. According to many historians and political analysts, the takeover can be considered the mother of all CIA-led or inspired coups and has had an enormous impact, into the present day, on the relations between the US and the countries in the region. Mossadegh, an elderly aristocrat, was elected prime minister in 1951 and set out on a project of nation-building and modernization. Part of that plan was to end the control of Iran's oil reserves by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC), now known as BP (British Petroleum), owned by the British government, which refused Iran any significant share of the high profits. The AIOC was nationalized, a step that infuriated London and Washington, and together they organized the overthrow of Mossadegh. The British got back their oil company and the Americans, led to believe that Mossadegh's rule could eventually lead to a communist takeover in Iran, were happy with having created another bulwark (next to Turkey) against their main enemy at the time, the Soviet Union.

In Iran, the removal of Mossadegh brought to power Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, who ruled the country in an autocratic way with strong backing from Washington until the Iranian Revolution in 1979 that was inspired, among other motives, by a fervent anti-Americanism. One of the reasons why it is still so difficult to solve the issue of Iran's nuclear ambitions is the deep distrust between Tehran and Washington that goes back 60 years.

The coup changed the geopolitical landscape in the Middle East and fueled the struggle for regional domination between the US and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The events of August 1953 also served as a blueprint for a succession of covert US efforts to foster coups and destabilize governments in other countries in the 1950s and 1960s.

It is probably no coincidence that a few days ago the CIA for the first time acknowledged openly that it was behind the 1953 coup. The National Security Archive released classified CIA documents that clearly show the central US role in the controversial overthrow of Mossadegh. As Malcolm Byrne of the Archive explained in Foreign Policy and in an interview with Today's Zaman,

the CIA's role in the coup is not something the rest of the world has not known for many years. Both American and British secret service operatives and many scholars have produced books about the operation, codenamed Ajax. Two American presidents, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, and a British foreign minister, Jack Straw, have publicly admitted that their countries were involved in the coup. But it is the first time the American intelligence community is willing to own up to its role, a gesture their British colleagues are still unwilling to make.

The renewed attention for the coup against Mossadegh is important for historical and political reasons. Stephen Kinzer, known for his excellent book on Turkish politics “Crescent and Star: Turkey Between Two Worlds” but also the author of “All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror,” sees the coup as a short-term victory for the US but a long-term failure. The coup continues to loom large in Iran's national psyche and still poisons relations between Tehran and Washington. In the rest of the region, the 1953 coup d'état is one of the oldest building blocks of the strong antiAmericanism that we have witnessed again in the extremely negative reactions to the wavering US policy in Egypt, where the Americans are blamed by all sides for opportunism and a lack of direction.

One can only hope that the CIA will decide to open up the historical records on other operations that still matter today. Furthermore, the confession on the Mossadegh coup could be part of a wider set of confidence-building measures by the US to clear the way for bilateral talks with the new Iranian president, Hassan Rohani, on the nuclear dossier but also on other matters that Tehran feels strongly about.

History can often be a burden that stops badly needed progress. Removing some of the dark pages or at least being honest about them can be a stimulus to move on and overcome that troubled past. Total failure in Egypt

Fortunately, it does not happen that often: a conflict in which all the parties you hope will prevail, instead fail miserably and all the bad guys come out on top. This is what has happened in Syria over time, where it is now extremely

difficult to see any positive signs because the oppressive, brutal forces have been able to firmly establish themselves. In Egypt, it took only six weeks to get to that point of utter desperation.

We can be brief on the villains that won: the Egyptian army (which refused any compromise, managed to convince most Egyptians that the Muslim Brotherhood needs to be crushed and is deliberately triggering more violence); the anti-reformist Arab autocrats (who were afraid change would come to their countries, as well) and the violent jihadists all over the world (who have another argument to reject electoral democracy and rely solely on armed resistance).

Who was responsible for the key failures? I see three main culprits: the socalled liberal opposition in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and the Obama administration.

What has happened since the July 3 coup is first and foremost the moral and political demise of the supposedly democratic opponents of ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. Because they hated the MB so much, they invited the army to intervene and accepted all the tricks and manipulations of the former Mubarak establishment, hoping that by accommodating the old order, they would get the gradual reforms they had been fighting for all along. But their pact with the devil backfired quickly when the army made it clear their only goal is the reestablishment of a Mubarak-style security state. In a scathing critique of the tactics of the liberal camp, independent analyst Issander El Amrani (known on the Internet and in social media as The Arabist) exposed all the liberal illusions and accused the majority of anti-MB diehards of consciously pushing much of the Islamist camp into becoming outlaws.

The problem is that this maneuver might well be successful because the MB itself was apparently unprepared and -- although it would be extremely difficult under such extraordinary circumstances -- did not manage to come up with a coherent response. The peaceful sit-ins gained them respect, especially outside of Egypt, but after last week's extremely violent crackdown, nobody seems to be in control anymore. The old leadership is in prison, the moderates inside the movement are on the defensive and many young militants are willing to take the bite and resort to counter-violence. It is exactly that last scenario the army is hoping for in order to finish off the MB

Keeping the Muslim Brothers alive For days now. It seems the new government is split between hard-liners who want to crush the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) once and for all. Poor Egypt. Abdel Fattah al-Sissi does not make sense unless the only aim is to play on domestic anti-American feelings. By doing so the American president played right into the hands of both the Egyptian generals and the Islamist radicals in Egypt and elsewhere. First. who are afraid that a violent . While watching the Turkish government again performing its act of self-righteousness on the sidelines. rebuffed all calls to cut off US aid to Egypt. and people like Mohamed ElBaradei. the rest of the world is still wondering what Ankara has done to prevent the current chaos. Till now.” And Turkey? Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan keeps doing what he likes most: occupying the moral high ground without making any distinction between different players. The main foreign actor responsible for the Egyptian catastrophe is without doubt the US government. Poor democrats and reformers in the rest of the Arab world. Europeans and Israelis but largely ignores the deaths of Arabs and Muslims. Egypt's military-appointed government has threatened to forcibly disperse two sit-ins in Cairo where tens of thousands of supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi have been protesting the military coup. all the major newspapers in the US and Europe used several pages to cover the horrors. these moves have been postponed. Hardline militants have long said that a hypocritical Washington obsessively protects the lives of Americans. but at the moment of writing this column nobody is sure what will happen next. Blaming Western media for underreporting on the bloody events in Cairo is both silly and preposterous when that same day. but claiming that therefore Obama is as guilty for the massacres as Egyptian army Gen. Obama refused to recognize the military takeover as a coup and even after the bloody clampdown. As Reuters' David Rohde formulated it pointedly: “Obama's response to the massacres so far confirms the arguments jihadists have used as a recruiting tool for years. Bashing the US administration for the many mistakes it made is one thing. interim vice president and Nobel Prize laureate.once and for all.

the suggestions made by President Abdullah Gül last week. As Chenoweth puts it. based on the results of studies of nonviolent campaigns worldwide. Morsi. Probably only a direct intervention by Morsi himself. and the commitment by both the MB and the government to exercise restraint to avoid further casualties. and other MB leaders. but several seasoned reporters and observers who visited the sit-ins have indicated that many of the participants are not willing to accept a deal that would exclude the reinstatement of Mr. That sounds reasonable to most outsiders. associate professor at the University of Denver. can convince combative MB militants to give up their resistance and concentrate on less confrontational methods to challenge the consequences of the coup. In an interesting article on the website of Foreign Affairs. including the MB. Key elements of such an agreement would be the release of Mr. not bring the systemic change the MB supporters are hoping for. Morsi as president. warned that such a de-escalation might be necessary because the current sit-ins will. It is not clear whether the ongoing efforts by American. prepare enough to maintain nonviolent discipline. In a recent report. the acceptance of all political groups. the International Crisis Group also came to the conclusion that only countries like Qatar and Turkey could act as channels to the Islamists. Any settlement might be a hard sell for MB negotiators who lack the authority of the old MB leadership now in prison. held in detention at an undisclosed location for weeks now. for instance. stimulated and facilitated by outside sympathizers like the Turkish government. “History shows that civil resistance campaigns tend to succeed when they build the quantity and quality of participants. moving them away from their maximalist demands. I called on the Turkish government to be more active in trying to convince the MB to accept a compromise in line with. and skillfully change course under fire to minimize the damage to . In my last column.repression of the peaceful protests will damage the perception of Egypt abroad and might trigger strong reactions from the US. at least temporarily. in the forthcoming elections. the EU and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). European and other diplomats to broker a deal between the government and the MB may also play a role in keeping hopes alive that this confrontation does not end in bloodshed. select tactics that provoke loyalty shifts among ruling elites. Erica Chenoweth. in all likelihood.

That would be extremely significant. in a Foreign Policy article on the return of al-Qaeda on the scene: “The Egyptian military's crushing of the MB. but of course mainly to save Egyptian lives and keep the MB alive as a crucial player in Egyptian politics. not only to repair some of Turkey's damaged image in the region. Again. claim that Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan and his Foreign Minister Davutoğlu have made two crucial mistakes and that Turkey is paying dearly for that with a loss of influence and growing isolation in the region: Turkey has been too tough on Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and too soft on ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi.which has lost confidence in its own ideas and leaders -. organization. it seems clear that some of these elements are definitely missing. All of this takes time. and the time for some outside help in changing strategy has arrived. one of the most knowledgeable American specialists on the Middle East. Ankara’s critics believe that especially Davutoğlu is too much of a liberal idealist who puts human rights before national interests and has forgotten . the Turkish government has been severely criticized over its policies with regard to Syria and Egypt.participants.will be a much weaker firewall against the more extreme groups.” Reading the reports on the sit-ins. and a good deal of strategic imagination. Why is that so important after all the mistakes the Islamists made since winning the elections one year ago? The answer to that question was given by Marc Lynch. A weaker Brotherhood -. is also a boon to the jihadist movement. at home and abroad.” Turkey is right but not effective Over the last couple of weeks. which was al-Qaeda's strongest competitor in the arena of Islamist politics. Especially so-called foreign policy realists. preparation. let's hope Ankara can live up to the expectations and help show the MB a way out of the present crisis.

Striking a deal with the Syrian Kurds. At the moment there is a lot of speculation about the rise of al Qaeda linked terrorist groups in Syria.that foreign policy should not be driven by principles but by state interests. It is true that by choosing the side of the anti-Assad forces. outmaneuvering the Free Syrian Army (FSA) that is backed by Turkey. radical Salafi financiers. Turkey should . moderate and Syrian origin opposition fighters in pole position. I think Turkey made the mistake by thinking for too long it could influence the extremely oppressive minority regime in Damascus. After Assad refused to introduce reforms and started killing his own people. We move on to Egypt and the military coup against Morsi. I honestly do not see which other options were available to the Turkish government other than supporting the political and military opposition against Assad. France and the UK to be more forthcoming. basically the right thing in both cases. Yes. There Turkey has not always drawn the line very carefully and that explains partly why it has not been very successful in putting the non-jihadist. Let me explain why I fundamentally disagree with this view. On Syria. uniting them against both Assad and the foreign fighters. and still does. Turkey has lost the capacity to act as an honest broker in this conflict. Other analysts claim that the situation on the ground is not so clear and the lines between the different groups are blurred and often depend on local.000 Syrians are being killed and many more flee the country. as I have said before. is both naïve and deeply immoral. Suggesting a “realist” policy of sitting on the fence while 100. It is not easy for Turkey to act effectively in that minefield. sponsored by foreign. we have long passed that point. According to me Turkey did. The key question is not whether Assad can stay around in one way or the other but which forces are going to dominate a post-Assad Syria. also because Ankara has not been able to convince other FSA supporters such as the US. might prove to be one of the most helpful contributions by Ankara in the desired and inevitable downfall of the Syrian dictatorship. But is there anybody out there who realistically believes there is still something to negotiate? In my view. opportunistic choices.

President Gül wrote an interesting piece last week in the Financial Times in which he outlined a scenario that could prevent further bloodshed and keep the MB on board in the transition process. willing to act against any elected government they disapprove of. Why is Turkey not much more active on the other side of the equation? Ankara should be talking to Morsi and his people. Being right is one thing. legal proceedings would be opened against people who were intimately connected with the dirty work of the deep state in Turkey in the 1980s and 1990s and with plans to stage a coup against the Justice and Development Party (AKP) later on. When the investigations started in 2007.have been more critical. now and then. my problem is not with Ankara’s principled position but with the lack of impact on the actual situation in Egypt. it has left many who for a long time supported the trial with feelings of ambivalence and ambiguity. The problem is that these verdicts are part of a package that also includes long sentences for people whose relations with past crimes or more recent coup plots cannot be proven beyond the shadow of a doubt. I was happy that. Ambivalent feelings on Ergenekon The Day of Judgment in the Ergenekon case has arrived. Being effective is another. linked to many murders and other acts of violence in the past. Even after years of growing doubts about the way the trail was progressing. like Kemal Kerinçsiz. about the many mistakes made by the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) leader when he was in office. But was there any other option than strongly condemning the coup and siding with the MB? Again. I am one of those persons. The same applies to the long prison terms for ultra-nationalists with a pro-coup mindset. will spend the rest of his life in prison. We know the EU is doing its utmost to convince the Egyptian army and their civilian puppet government to stop their violent crackdown on the MB. . As was to be expected. Muzaffer Tekin and several of the former high-ranking military officers. It would be good to see Erdoğan and Davutoğlu openly using their moral and political leverage on the MB in similar fashion to supplement the efforts of others and stop Egypt falling into the abyss. at long last. I still believe it is a good thing for Turkey that a shady character like Veli Küçük. trying to move the Islamists out of their understandable mood of anger and self-sacrifice into a more cooperative attitude that will allow them to play a role in the new political setup.

Many correspondents make a direct link with the repression of the Gezi Park protests and the recent firing of journalists and columnists critical of the government. even by AKP critics. the judges and prosecutors did not manage to overcome the decades-old problems of the Turkish legal system: procedural mistakes. The outcome of the Ergenekon trial is presented as further proof of the authoritarian inclination of the prime minister and the stifling of all dissent. unfortunately. The term "witch hunt" pops up in almost every article in the American. despite all the errors in this particular trial. Too many people were arrested and put on trial who were not key players in the planning and performance of illegal acts. especially on the thousands of unsolved murders in the Southeast and the violence used against all of the perceived opponents of the state in those years. unconvincing evidence. The trial should have concentrated on the "big fish. They were not helped by the fact that the government. refused to end the practice of long pre-trial detentions. One can witness the attractiveness of this denialist approach in foreign reporting on this week's verdicts. vague accusations. German and Dutch press.In the last couple of years a number of mistakes have been made in the Ergenekon case that have led to this mixed bag of indisputable villains who deserve to be punished and others whose anti-democratic opinions are often objectionable but which in and of themselves cannot be a reason to put them in prison. have undermined the legitimacy and acceptability of this high-profile trial? The focus should have been on the crimes of the 1990s. the emphasis shifted almost fully to the antiAKP coup plans after 2002. raising suspicions that the main purpose of the trial was to send a warning to AKP antagonists. until recently. it makes perfect sense to investigate Turkey's bloody history of military coups . Only a few reports keep underlining that." whose controversial reputation was widely acknowledged. They have been quite successful in framing the case as a politically motivated campaign against each and every AKP opponent. In many individual cases. The inability and unwillingness to repair these faults and omissions has put the supporters of the Ergenekon trial on the defensive and has made it easy for the opponents to zoom in on the mistakes and basically deny the existence of a deep state and brush aside the good reasons to look into Turkey's dirty past. Instead. What were these errors that.

and often disastrous American interventions in the region. Almost every day a minister or columnist criticizes Western leaders and journalists in general for being hypocritical about the military coup in Egypt and its bloody aftermath. tried to explain the use of conspiracy theories (often part and parcel of an Occidentalist mindset) by the Turkish government in trying to make sense of the Gezi Park protests. leaves no room for nuances and basically reflects a state of mind driven by prejudices and ignorance? I fully agree with Suat Kınıklıoğlu who. I expressed my astonishment and lack of understanding about what seems to be a deliberate campaign to bash the West by Turkish politicians and opinion leaders. I am not surprised that anti-Western feelings are still strong in a country with a long and popular tradition of suspicion about European malignancy. living in a country that for good reasons has gained so much self-confidence in the last 10 years. The term is an inversion of Orientalism.and irregular dark forces. Where does all this ambivalence and ambiguity leave me? I can only hope that appeal courts will be able to sift the wheat from the chaff and that the government has learned the lesson that court cases full of flaws and inaccuracies only damage the image of Turkey abroad and strengthen the opposition at home. the set of stereotyped views on the Western world one can find everywhere in the Middle East and Asia. No distinction is made between the US and Europe or between governments and media. Turkey's urge to bash the West (2) In my previous column. It is the negative tone of . Most importantly: Let's not give up the ambition of bringing before a court those who were responsible for heinous crimes in the past. the label for cliché Western images of the East. still resort to a way of thinking and analyzing that paints the world in simple black and white colors. What amazes me is that so many educated Turks apparently are not able or willing to break with a rude and primitive form of Occidentalism. Why do Turks. He wrote: “My greatest objection to conspiratorial thinking is the lack of self-confidence. now and in the past. coined by the late Edward Said. in one of his latest columns.

a Harvard law professor. . but Brussels has since been involved in serious efforts to find a way out of the political deadlock in Cairo and prevent a further descent into chaos and violence. the EU made the same mistake by not condemning the coup. is both silly and hopelessly old-fashioned. I am sorry to say. It is best to acknowledge that blaming “the West.helplessness that troubles me. Noah Feldman. the Egyptian military was “restoring democracy. the EU has been working behind the scenes with all parties in Egypt to have Mr. are blinded by prejudices or only watch CNN. first of the coup and now of the shooting of unarmed civilians? Media in the West have been at the forefront of accusing their governments of hypocrisy and double standards. Morsi recognized as the poll's winner and was very close to finding a compromise just before the coup. Why is it so difficult for Ankara to welcome these European diplomatic endeavors? Why equate them with the grave negligence of the American government? What really struck me is the criticism in Turkey of Western media and its alleged indifference to what happens in Egypt. the call by Bloomberg news agency on the US government to immediately suspend aid to Egypt or this weeks' Economist editorial that lashes out at both the US and Europe for holding back criticism.” Does that mean there is no reason to harshly criticize the Obama administration for its handling of the Egyptian crisis? The US was clearly wrong in not calling the coup a coup.” without making clear distinctions.” Is this the generally accepted reaction of “the” West? No. It now turns out that since the election of Mr. called it “the ostrich theory of law. “State Department lawyers have concluded that the president can bury his head in the sand. but people who make these claims either do not know what they are talking about. Did they not read the outstanding reporting by The New York Times? Did they miss the excellent and very critical analyses in Foreign Policy and Foreign Affairs. and keep signing checks.” US Secretary of State John Kerry only added insult to injury when he bluntly stated that by ousting elected President Mohammed Morsi. At the start. which allows Washington to continue sending money to Egypt. Morsi in June 2012. it is not. ignore the realities of what happened in Egypt.” According to Feldman.

I'm asking where is Europe. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan can't get enough of it and again.Turkey's urge to bash the West It seems to be an unstoppable Turkish proclivity: blaming the West for being hypocritical and applying double standards in relation to Turkey and the rest of the Muslim world. who. towards Muslims. a growing number of journalists have been bashing their colleagues in the US and Europe for not calling the military coup in Egypt a coup and for showing no or too little interest in the violent attacks on the deposed Muslim Brotherhood. blame the West in general for having given up on human rights and being biased. and what happened to European values? Where are those who go around giving lessons in democracy everywhere?” A few days ago. We are right in the middle of a new round of this popular national pastime and the focus of attention this time around is on Egypt. disproportionate media coverage. the infamous Sevres syndrome. Turkish politicians and. Turkish Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz condemned the lack of coverage of the killings in Egypt by the foreign media. The Turkish government was totally put off by all this. One explanation for this new outburst of anti-Western feelings is of course the old. as always. on the basis of mistakes made in Egypt. For weeks now. in their eyes. historically rooted aversion to European efforts to split up and weaken the country. and now payback time is here: Let's blame all the arrogant foreigners for getting it wrong on Egypt. surprisingly. over the weekend. One could dismiss both statements as acts of revenge that were to be expected after all the strongly worded declarations from Washington and Brussels on the Gezi Park protests and the attention paid by American and European journalists to these demonstrations. including some in this paper. In the past 10 years one should add to that the rise of Islamophobia in the US and Europe. across the board. lashed out at Europe: “Those who remain silent when Egyptians' national will was massacred now remain silent again as the Egyptian people are being slaughtered. sometimes . What has surprised me more is that this choir of disgruntled politicians has been joined by Turkish journalists and columnists.

if possible. Yes. The government is clearly fed up with this criticism and many Turks have stopped listening because they have given up on the EU. While the US is having growing problems in upholding a tricky balancing act. Does it make sense to blacklist Hezbollah? Last Monday EU foreign ministers agreed to put the military wing of Hezbollah on its terrorism blacklist. But Hezbollah is also the political party that heads the strongest coalition in . EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton was the first to meet ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi in an effort to mediate in the current crisis and include the Muslim Brotherhood in the transition process. in my eyes. But how is it possible that so many educated Turks see no problem in talking about “the” West and make no distinction between. All these deep currents in public opinion partly explain.exaggerated in Turkey but definitively an important new factor in trying to understand popular suspicions about a lack of Western honesty and impartiality. and to a certain extent justify. influence these agendas to the benefit of the Egyptians they so passionately claim to defend? More on that in my next column. in which I will also elaborate on the. Hezbollah is a militant Lebanese Shiite group. But should that prevent Turkish politicians and journalists from trying to understand and. But the last couple of days have shown that it would be a huge mistake to put both in one Western bowl. for instance. both failed to call a spade a spade. puzzling blunder made by many Turks to equate a dubious US government policy with the outstanding reporting by many American newspapers on Egypt. known by most for its fierce and violent fights with Israel. for instance in the field of press freedom. The same applies to the constant stern admonitions from Brussels on Turkey's failures to meet European criteria on democracy and human rights. I agree with the condemnation of both the Obama administration and the EU for not calling the coup a coup. the US and Europe or between governments and media? Let's be specific and take the case of Egypt. It is obvious that Washington and Brussels have different agendas on this issue. the enthusiasm with which many have joined the anti-Western crowd.

000 Hezbollah fighters.” Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said the sanctions would have no influence on his movement because Hezbollah has no investments in Europe. hospitals and other charities.” Most independent analysts don't expect much from the EU decision. have helped the Syrian regime recapture rebel-held territories this spring. The US and Israel have been pushing Brussels for a long time to blacklist the Lebanese group.the Lebanese parliament and runs its own schools. The official arguments to do so now are Hezbollah's alleged involvement in a suicide attack on a Bulgarian bus last year that killed five Israeli tourists and one Bulgarian citizen. Hezbollah did not lose an opportunity to show its anti-American and anti-Israeli ideological commitment and described the EU declaration as “written by American hands. and he added in a rare jocular tone. Washington and Jerusalem welcomed the move although both would like Europe to list the entire group as a terrorist organization because they claim it is impossible and undesirable to differentiate between different wings. Julien Barnes-Dacey from the European Council on Foreign Affairs called it a symbolic stand without real impact as it will allow European officials to continue meeting Hezbollah's political representatives as they currently do as . The EU decision was met with strong reactions. This many-headed character is one of the reasons the EU decided to limit its sanctioning (freezing assets. hindering fundraising and travel bans on the leadership) to Hezbollah's military wing and not to include the whole organization. Around 5. however. Of course. Politically much more important. backed by Iran. is the group's support for Bashar al-Assad. “Its leaders don't take their vacations in Sardinia. in Zionist ink.

Nasrallah officially defended Hezbollah's unbridled support for the Assad regime. When. Taylor from the RAND Corporation made a link between this fear and the EU decision in a remarkable call on the US and Europe to stop openly undermining Hezbollah in Lebanon. Although it may be motivated by selfpreservation and a deeply ingrained survival instinct. So why worry about this EU decision which. Stimson Center wrote in Foreign Affairs: “Hezbollah's embrace of a sectarian agenda is emblematic of the deeper dynamic that is reshaping the region. imperiling Hezbollah and likely marking the end of Lebanon's relative stability.” A few days ago. or in diverting Hezbollah resources and attention away from Syria. Her warning: “The benefits of increasing anti-Hezbollah sentiment in Lebanon. would likely be quickly outweighed by the spread of radical jihadism and a descent into civil war (in Lebanon). at the end of May.part of the European engagement with the Lebanese government and the efforts to help stabilize the country. he did so in a very harsh speech in which he firmly grounded Hezbollah's survival on its alliance with Iran and Syria. it is not going to be very effective? Why would Turkey bother? The reason is Syria -. Julie E.the spillover effects of the horrible civil war there on Lebanon and the growing sectarian divide in the region. Alastair Crooke. observers warned that Hezbollah's aggressive defense of Shiite interests would place the group at odds with the Sunni community in Lebanon and diminish its appeal in the Arab world more broadly. Immediately. According to Taylor. said it was “meaningless” because Hezbollah does not depend on income from EU countries and will keep on deciding itself which of its members will talk to European diplomats. according to many. Lebanon is increasingly becoming an extension of the Syrian battle zone with radical Sunni groups and the Free Syrian Army already specifically targeting Hezbollah interests and the Lebanese army in order to provoke counterattacks. particularly the Levant. As Mona Yacoubian from the Henri L.” . Hezbollah's turn toward sectarianism promises to unleash far more serious challenges. a former British intelligence officer who runs an NGO in Beirut.

is it realistic to expect any substantial progress on well-known stumbling blocks such as final borders.I am not sure whether everybody in Brussels was aware of this scenario last Monday. one would tend to forget that the biggest problem the Middle East is facing is still the unresolved conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. The guidelines are a follow-up to the political decision by EU foreign ministers in December 2012 to make a distinction between the State of Israel and the occupied territories when it comes to EU support. How do we know that this won't be just another “woulda/shoulda/coulda enterprise” as Aaron David Miller called it in Foreign Policy? With no clarity about terms both parties agreed on or commitments made. cynical public “that the decision was made from a position of Palestinian strength -not weakness -. the announcement last week by US Secretary of State John Kerry of the resumption of direct final-status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians did not really get a warm and enthusiastic reception. Starting in 2014. Jerusalem and refugees? Did the Israelis only say “yes” to please the Americans but will they be playing for time as before? And why did Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas agree despite widespread opposition among the Palestinians? According to seasoned and pro-solution Israeli journalist Amira Hass. last week. No EU money to occupied territories With all the current turmoil in Egypt and Syria. Hass thinks the new EU policy allowed Abbas to tell his skeptical. Golan Heights and East Jerusalem will no longer be eligible to receive grants or other financial instruments funded by the EU budget. She specifically referred to the adoption. of new rules for EU funding of activities and projects in the territories occupied by Israel since 1967. For that reason. one of the reasons why the Palestinian leadership went along with Kerry's plans was growing European pressure on Israel. … The .as the EU measure shook Israel from its complacency. institutions based in Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Many in and outside the region have given up on a solution for what seems to be the most intractable and complicated diplomatic and political puzzle ever.

but it seems likely that by the end of this year there will be an EU code on clearly labeling products from settler firms in order to offer European consumers the option to boycott these goods. when the EU states pressured Abbas to give Kerry his consent. “are also sensitive to the notion that.European guidelines have made it clear to Israel that its days of violating international law with impunity are over.” Something needed to be done against the funding of settlement-based activities.” Daniel Levy of the European Council on Foreign Relations believes the EU move also changed the cost/benefit calculations of the Israeli public. That might be one step too far for many EU countries. according to them. can play a role alongside the US in the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. a measure that also makes clear that Europe. unexpectedly. The next step. with the fact that the controversial settlement policy is starting to have negative economic consequences for Israel as a whole. Anti-occupation group Gush Shalom. The reactions to the EU guidelines were predictable. .” Palestinian human rights organizations welcomed the decision after years of just talking. The Europeans. Between Thursday and Friday. confronted. should be the adoption of similar measures by all EU member states and a ban of all products manufactured. One Israeli minister called it a “racist and anti-Semitic” act. according to Levy. Maybe Turkey should join forces with the EU here. they practically signaled that talks were no longer an excuse for Europe not to take diplomatic and economic measures against Israel. through a good division of labor. they are in effect subsidizing the occupation. on the other hand. Levy explained the EU decision to come up with the guidelines as being out of sheer European frustration with the uncompromising attitude of the Benjamin Netanyahu government. grown or packed in the occupied territories. as the largest collective donor to the Palestinian Authority. called it “a bucket of cold water on the head of a drunk. showing that it is willing to go beyond harsh rhetoric and implement measures that concretely punish illegal Israeli manufacturers.

taking advantage of the fact that last year the island's status as a protected area and historical site was abolished. Former minister Günay called the new plans “a disrespect to the memory of the coup victims. Fatin Rustu Zorlu. the plan was strongly supported by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who considers Menderes to be one of his political idols. As Fehim Taştekin. military coup. In 2011. it will go to court. The project got a warm welcome. on Imrali Island. 17. Menderes. suites. Hasan Polatkan. wrote on the Al-Monitor website: “Yassıada is the symbol of the sorrows of Turkish democracy. The local municipality has filed objections against the plan. but it was Yassıada that lived on in Turkish memory as the symbol of mourning.” similar to Robben Island in South Africa. It seems the state-led plan for a museum has been replaced with a profit-oriented private sector investment project. Originally. together with the late President Turgut Özal. 1961. and finance minister. It is the island where Prime Minister Adnan Menderes and his aides stood trial following the May 27. Yassıada is not just an island off the coast of İstanbul. his foreign minister.” Politically very sensitive were the reactions of the relatives of the men that were sentenced . before being sent to the gallows. cafes and restaurants. revealed details of the planned museum that showed historical sites being renovated and repaired. could easily turn into a kind of Gezi Park scenario in which badly communicated government plans for a highly symbolic spot meet with widespread resistance. fearing that the island's natural and historical fabric is in danger and has already announced that. but that joy has now been replaced by indignation after Radikal revealed that the latest development plan for the island includes the construction of touristic facilities like a hotel. then minister of culture and tourism. if necessary. Ertuğrul Günay.” For years there have been plans to transform the remaining buildings in which the trial took place into a “Freedom and Democracy Museum. were executed on Sept.Yassıada and the lessons from Gezi Park It looks as if the discussion on the future of Yassıada. 1960. columnist at the Radikal daily. the place where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for so many years. a small island in the Sea of Marmara.

* Show that. I would advise another line of action that takes into account the lessons learned from the disastrous handling of the Gezi Park protests that. a fleet of protesters will set sail for the gallows. you will organize a referendum in which different alternatives for Yassıada will be presented and immediately start adopting the legislation that will make such a referendum feasible. with the mayor of the Princes' Islands (who belongs to the Republican People's Party (CHP)) and representatives of concerned civil society organizations and try to work out a compromise based on the old Günay plans in which all new construction would be limited to facilitating the proper functioning of the museum. * Announce that. has damaged the image of Turkey in general and the prime minister in particular. whether the government likes it are not. in case you do not reach a consensus.” So there we are again: The government is contemplating controversial plans for a politically emblematic place. you have understood the growing criticism on the concretization of İstanbul for commercial purposes. accusing Erdoğan of profiteering and urging that Yassıada remains “an island of mourning. before it is too late. What to do? Cynics and AKP skeptics will probably say the prime minister is in no mood to give in to the protests and will try to bulldoze all opposition against the disputed project. My three suggestions for the AKP government: * Sit together. one of the other uninhabited small islands close to Yassıada. by doing so. On Sunday. accused of giving in to the infamous construction sector and in danger of antagonizing both locals and the family of one of the Justice and Development Party's (AKP) ideological models. Reverse that trend and start on Yassıada. Let's see whether the government has regained its capacity to learn from previous mistakes or .

I believe it does not make any sense to compare this . It was just one of the endeavors by the RT anchorwoman to compare Gezi Park to the peaceful demonstrations against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that were not successful and. RT. The all too obvious RT attempt to link Turkey to Israeli attacks on Syria reminded me of an interview I recently gave to RT on the Gezi Park protests and the Syria policy of the Turkish government. reported on its website that Israel had used a Turkish military base to launch one of its recent air strikes against Syria. an attitude that contrasts sharply with the soft tone always used by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in his conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin. turned into the current bloody civil war. Turkey's Syria policy was wrong and unsustainable. In other words: Davutoğlu. indirectly. in my view. from the start. “The ones who claim this want to damage Turkey's power and reputation. Why is Erdoğan so soft on Putin? A few days ago. strongly criticized Moscow. although my host definitively did not appreciate my comparison with Putin. taking into account that RT is directly linked to and funded by the Russian government. The reaction of Turkey's top diplomat was surprisingly harsh.whether we will soon get into Gezi Park part two. in the end. On the first point I partially agreed. the mishandling of the protests by the Turkish government. secondly.” Davutoğlu said. It was evident from the start of the prerecorded interview that the presenter had a clearly defined agenda that she wanted me to confirm: Firstly. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu reacted immediately and denied the claims. previously known as Russia Today. Although I have criticized. is the present day icon of authoritarian leadership. saying they were complete lies. The point I strongly disagreed with was the suggestion that the protests against Erdoğan and his confrontational style and policies might turn into armed resistance similar to what we saw in Syria in 2011 and 2012. and is part of a larger effort to improve the image of Russia abroad. who. the reaction of the Turkish government to the demonstrations showed that Prime Minister Erdoğan was turning into an authoritarian leader and.

bad coups . accusing the bloc of hypocrisy. the Turkish prime minister admires the heavyhanded tactics of the Russian president in suppressing domestic dissent? That might also explain the nomination of Yiğit Bulut as Erdoğan's new chief advisor. Ankara is targeting an internationally recognized government that is trying to defend itself against terrorist assaults. for the terrorist attack in Reyhanlı that killed over 50 people. But why is he so uncharacteristically silent. again. among other things. What we did not hear was a strong condemnation by Erdoğan of Putin's strategy to actively support a regime that Ankara holds responsible. including the situation in Syria. according to Moscow. Russia. and one can be sure he will do his utmost to prevent his two favorite authoritarian leaders from turning against each other. that the two leaders differ fundamentally on how to deal with Damascus. deep down. Erdoğan had a point when he criticized the EU after Brussels failed to label the Egyptian military's takeover of the government as a coup. As I wrote last Sunday. Double standards? What double standards? Good coups. To take the argument one step further: I consider coming up with these artificial similarities as a deliberate attempt to defend the repressive actions of the Assad regime and its main backer. be it through RT propaganda or the deliveries of arms? Is it really only because of Turkey's dependence on Russian oil and gas? Or are Erdoğan's critics correct when they claim that. Erdoğan spoke on the phone with Putin on a range of issues. The biased questions of the RT interviewer underlined the Russian strategy to frame Turkey's Syria policy as misguided and illegal because.blunder with the systematic and violent repression of any dissent by the Syrian regime. and to delegitimize the anti-Assad policy of the Turkish government. now and in the past. when it comes to the Russian strategy to structurally undermine and damage Turkey's vital interests in the region. Bulut is known to be a big fan of both Erdoğan and Putin. The conversation did not attract much media attention because it was evident. at least in public. A few weeks ago.

Washington does not want to lose the leverage on Cairo it believes the US has because of the billions it donates for military equipment and debt forgiveness. Turkey and Tunisia were the exceptions when they spoke out strongly against the takeover by the army. Apparently. As many observers formulated it that day: It looks like a coup.” fully aware of the fact that there is a legal requirement that forces the US to suspend aid to countries where the military has deposed a democratically elected government. That was it. So although Erdoğan definitely has a point on the EU's feebleness in the case of .To be honest. I did not expect a long debate on the question of whether or not this power grab should be labeled a coup. where broadly shared bad memories of coups d'état are combined with a deeply rooted indignation about perceived European double standards. That condemnation went down well in Turkey. it smells like a coup. The problem with such outspoken self-righteousness is that it easily backfires: The current Sudanese ruler Omar Hassan al-Bashir. when the Egyptian military overthrew President Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood (MB) government on July 4. it acts like a coup. indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court but a good friend of the AKP government. The African Union reacted quickly by suspending Egypt's membership. So who would seriously want to challenge that observation? It turned out that most governments in the region and beyond did. In Ankara it even led to a common declaration by all four parties in Parliament. The US administration expressed its concerns. worries that a powerful condemnation would put the EU funds for Egypt (already under attack for a lack of accountability) in danger and little love lost for Morsi and the MB. came to power 24 years ago after staging a military coup against the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi. It is probably a mix of diplomatic cautiousness pushed too far. The EU declaration was weak as well for reasons that I still fail to understand fully. a rare act of unison. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan immediately jumped on the European failure to speak out against the coup and accused Brussels of hypocrisy. but kept avoiding the term “coup.

” Egyptian lessons for Turkey (2) Despite some fundamental differences between Egypt and Turkey. Saudi Arabia. After the military started arresting dozens of MB leaders and cracking down on pro-Morsi media. and it's not democracy.Egypt's coup and he gets away with his selective memory on Sudan's recent history at home. As Marc Lynch. The conservative Gulf states would like to buy a new Mubarakism and a final end to all of this Arab uprising unpleasantness. Morsi's administration. specialized American academics expressed clearly why this ongoing dispute is important: “Coups are bad for democracy. On the website The Monkey Cage. and Egypt's path towards (or away from) democracy will likely hinge upon strong international pressure to return to elections and respect the electoral outcome as soon as possible. for instance by blocking energy supplies. these discrepancies are not lost on seasoned diplomats in Europe. the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait promised no less than $12 billion support to the new regime in Cairo. the recent events in Egypt have also revealed several remarkable similarities between the way in which the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has reacted to the massive protests that started in İstanbul's Gezi Park and the efforts of the . The Turkish government bashing the US and the EU also contrasted sharply with the deafening silence coming from Ankara on the explicit welcoming of the military coup by the rich Arab monarchies. professor at George Washington University. The New York Times published a breaking story that seemed to show that powerful groups and individuals related to the old Mubarak regime had done their utmost for months to undermine Mr. the influential Associated Press news agency decided to change course and began calling the military overthrow a coup.” Curious to know what Erdoğan's take is on that. international responses to coups matter. especially in the US. put it in Foreign Policy: “It's pretty clear what the counter-revolutionary Gulf monarchs expect for their generosity. Or will we not hear about this because the common interests in the fight against Bashar al-Assad in Syria are too big at the moment? The good thing about a free press is that the debate on “Yes or No Coup” continues. causing power cuts and long lines at petrol stations.

It seems the AKP critics are correct who claim that the party is unwilling to change strategy and will try to win next year's elections by relying on its core constituency and by sticking to the successful electoral formula of the last decade. the best example of a post-Islamist party. to Turkey. especially a new generation of reformers. and they will keep on doing so in the future for one simple reason: After ruling Turkey for more than 10 years. The mishandling of the Gezi Park protests continues. no softening of policies that have caused unnecessary unrest. could be labeled as political Islamists. Opinion polls and . They did so in the past 10 years. No opening to political opponents. might be possible as well. an underestimation of the fear of Islamization. the failure to distinguish between acts of revenge by old foes and legitimate demands for a more inclusive democracy. particularly after 2014. Many political Islamists in North Africa and the Middle East. the violent repression that still goes on. So what will the AKP's answer be? At the moment it's clear the ruling party is in no mood to question its own shortcomings. There are several reasons to believe another outcome. That will matter in the first place. in the case of the MB. in one way or the other. and the void created by the lack of an attractive political alternative. The $1 million question is how the AKP and the MB are going to respond to the opposition they have been facing recently or. the media are still under pressure and the hunt for foreign scapegoats is ongoing. the AKP is way ahead of all movements and parties in the region that. That assessment could well be true and it is most probably the course of action that Erdoğan and the people around him prefer. of course. In my previous article I specified four of these parallels: a majoritarian approach to democracy. will further develop. will follow closely how the AKP. But the reaction of the AKP will also have a huge impact on the wider Muslim world.Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in Egypt to cope with the strong opposition in Egyptian society against its rule that eventually resulted in the military coup of last week. But it is not the whole story. Let's start with the lessons Turkey's ruling party should draw from both Taksim and Tahrir.

Will the Egyptian Islamists abandon the political game. much attention has been paid to the repercussions this forceful removal of a democratically elected Islamist leader will have on other Islamist movements in the region. Will we see more of the same or will there be an AKP 2. policies of the current AKP leadership.0 will also influence how the MB 2.0 that has realized a new. thinking that Islamists will never be permitted. more prosperous and democratic Turkey needs a new. inward-looking movement? Or will they learn from the mistakes they made while in power. will be elected as president under the present constitutional rules.0 will look like. What we do know is that among the candidates several are known for their more moderate approach and conciliatory style. anyway. to a large extent. albeit with a less rigid and more pragmatic modus operandi? Gezi Park has forced the AKP to make up its mind. to a certain extent. whether one likes it or not. repression and regret among Islamist activists. inclusive. less confrontational way of governing? The shape and substance of the AKP 2. The future of Turkey's democracy.many private conversations have convinced me that a considerable group of AKP voters are unhappy with the style and. the West or both. resort to underground. by the old domestic secular elites. Nobody can be sure who will take over as prime minister in October 2014. Many realize that. continue to believe electoral democracy will bring huge benefits to Egypt and therefore try again in next year's elections. Egyptian lessons for Turkey (1) After the military coup against Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood (MB). Informed observers like Shadi Hamid from the Brookings Doha Center are afraid it will deepen the already powerful narrative of persecution. be determined by the outcome of the internal AKP struggle for dominance and direction in the post-Erdoğan period. sometimes violent resistance and remain an authoritarian. to rule Muslim . The coup in Egypt has made the result of that rethinking crucial for the rest of the region as well. will. in all likelihood. Some of them might be tempted to give up on electoral democracy altogether. the Erdoğan era inside the AKP will come to an end next year when the prime minister.

the army. Other Islamists will draw the conclusion. Morsi and the MB failed miserably in repairing the many problems of the Egyptian economy. the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) plays a key role. they will very likely do their damnedest to cement their power by fair means of foul. not . let me try to outline another possible course of events in which Turkey and. Crush your opponents could well be their motto. unlike their Egyptian colleagues. put it: “In his last speech as president. In Turkey. Or. Morsi kept going on about his ‘legitimacy' and was foolish enough to think that the people who had voted him into power are going to keep him there when two of every five Egyptians continue to live on less than $2 a day. 2. In Egypt. This profound divergence between the two counties should. at least under its current leadership. more specifically. their opponents will use non-democratic means to oust them. is still alive and kicking. has a 60-year history of free and fair elections that have created a functioning parliamentary democracy that. 3. Turkey. unlike Egypt. Still. let me preempt part of the criticism by stressing some of the fundamental differences between Egypt and Turkey that should create some caution in drawing parallels and in formulating lessons learned. Turkey's booming economy has been the basis of the AKP's victory in three consecutive elections. Before coming to the lessons that Turkey could learn from the events in Egypt. The AKP is another political animal than the MB. EU-inspired reforms in the last 10 years have strengthened democracy in Turkey in a way Egyptians can only dream of. With all mutual sympathies on display these days. despite four military coups. 4. Abbas . editor-in-chief of Al Arabiya English. however. has lost both the capacity and the legitimacy to intervene and stage a military coup against an elected government. So if they are allowed to come to office. as The Economist formulated it.majority countries after winning elections. a traditional Islamist movement that has not gone through a exhaustive reform process. the fact remains that Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Abdullah Gül created the AKP as a post-Islamist party while the MB is still.”. as Faisal J. I'll mention four: 1. that “if they win elections.” It is hard to disagree with all these pessimistic scenarios.

severing all ties with Yugoslavia in June 1991. on the other hand. or the AKP and the MB. No distinction is made between. 3. There is no attractive political alternative. Brussels seems to have made up its mind and has started delivering on its 2003 promise that the future of all Balkan countries lies inside the EU. Winning more than 50 percent of the votes was interpreted as a license to do whatever they deemed necessary without any proper consultations with opponents. The new member of the EU family got a mixed welcome. According to seasoned Balkan observer and analyst Tim Judah. Croatia's accession proves that the EU's enlargement policy is still working and that there is no need to reinvent the wheel. The fear of a creeping Islamization of state and society. although often exaggerated. should have been taken more seriously and not be discarded beforehand. those forces that. 4. Croatia was forced to tackle some of the main obstacles on its road to the EU. Egyptian and Turkish citizens that simply strongly disagree with the political project of the ruling party. on the one hand. Combined with the decision last Friday to start membership talks with Serbia no later than January 2014 and open the way for Kosovo to get closer to the EU. exist and. either because the opposition is too weak (Turkey) or hopelessly divided (Egypt). have nothing in common and that therefore what happens in Cairo will not and should not have any consequences for Ankara or the other way around. such as . the last few days mark a big moment for the Western Balkans. European institutions called Croatia's accession a historic step. Stop comparing Turkey with Croatia On Monday. manipulated by old domestic foes and their foreign supporters. A deeply rooted fear of a backlash created the impression that all opposition to their rule was. 22 years after Zagreb declared independence. After years of doubts and hesitations. no doubt. Croatia became the 28th member of the European Union. 2.lead to the conclusion that Turkey and Egypt. Let me underline four similarities on which I will elaborate in my next article: 1. and still is. The AKP and the MB have both shown a majoritarian approach to democracy in which only election results count. Because of EU pressure.

were of a totally different nature than those Turkey is facing. the problems Croatia had to cope with -revamping a statist post-communist economy. And in most places. Although the tendency to draw analogies between Turkey and Croatia is understandable. the accession of big countries like Spain or Poland has always been more complicated and controversial than. In this case it goes without saying: Turkey's membership will fundamentally change the EU. One. Judah is calling on the EU to now turn its attention to the six remaining Balkan countries that are waiting at the door. none of the Balkan Six will be ready to join for so long that there is plenty of time to use the process to make sure they are fit to accede. if not all. but the overall unenthusiastic reception of Croatia's accession. many Europeans would prefer the EU to remain closed to further enlargement for the foreseeable future. for instance. at least at the moment. but Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia. Croatia's accession won't. unlike with Turkey. that process is yielding results. or those who compare Croatia with Bulgaria and Romania. here is a simple thing to remember. Judah: “To those skeptical about further enlargement. It is true that all these objections are temporary or can be resolved in time. also in EU membership talks. it didn't make much sense from the start. size matters. are stuck. Two. every move forward or backward in Turkey's EU adventures has been compared to Croatia's fortunes. One should add to those doubts general enlargement fatigue resulting from the current economic crisis and the resistance in public opinion against large-scale immigration from new member states. for instance in the Netherlands. Turkey has always had a special relationship with Croatia's EU accession process for one simple reason: The two countries started their journey on the same day in October 2005. albeit in sharply diverging positions: Montenegro and Serbia have a clear membership perspective and Kosovo and Albania seem able to move forward. Three.high-level corruption. After Croatia. dealing with rampant corruption and building a new state after a war of secession -. for several reasons. In the past. that an overstretched EU will become unmanageable. for different reasons. Since then. that of Portugal or Slovenia. . is a clear sign that. countries that were admitted too quickly in 2007 and have since fanned fears that the EU had imported lawlessness and graft into the bloc.” I'm not sure Judah's conclusion will convince those Europeans who are afraid. as The New York Times put it.

Those same years. European liberal and secular conservatives. Conservative ambiguity on Turkey From the moment Turkey became an EU candidate country in 1999. Some of them remained loyal friends of Turkey. began to dissolve. Let's therefore stop making comparisons that. Most on the left valued the efforts by successive Turkish governments to introduce European-style reforms and changed from Turkey skeptics into supporters of Turkey’s EU accession. changed sides and started speaking out strongly against Turkey’s EU membership.hardly anybody has any doubts about Croatia's European vocation and there is no popular sentiment against the country in the rest of Europe based on historical. as there is in the case of Turkey. combining their old strategic rationale with new arguments based on the growing economic importance of Turkey as an emerging market. this predictable right-left split. Others on the right. however. rooted in the Cold War. had a hard time adjusting to the new realities. not to be confused with the Christian Democrats. cultural and religious prejudices and misperceptions. He is still very visible in the . After Turkey got the green light to start its journey toward full membership. The EU should be blamed for many things when it comes to its dealings with Turkey since the start of the membership negotiations in 2005. leader of the Dutch conservative Liberals in the 1990s and European commissioner between 1999 and 2004. Many of them were staunch defenders of Turkey in the ’80s and ’90s because they considered the country to be a vital part of NATO and a key Western ally in a troubled region. One of the most prominent representatives of the latter group was and is Frits Bolkestein. negative Turkish perceptions that make the country the eternal victim of Europe's bad intentions. Favoring Croatia is not one of them. strengthen established. the left was very critical of Turkey because of the massive human rights violations after the 1980 coup and the bloody war between the Turkish military and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). inevitably. secular conservatives in Europe have had a problem deciding how to position themselves.

this argument lost its value and attractiveness. After Romania and Bulgaria. Everybody agreed that the situation was totally mishandled. From then on. Should the stalled EU negotiations be stopped forever because Turkey had demonstrated. But there was no unanimity on the best way to react. What remained was the often implicit hint at the problems related to Islam and its presumed incompatibility with democracy. the arguments of Bolkestein and his fans against Turkey’s accession have shifted from principled to pragmatic. like Turkey. and for that reason would never be able to subscribe to the values and principles on which the EU is based. These self-acclaimed advocates are always uncomfortable when they hear that the groups they . Bolkestein and other conservatives focused much more on the size of Turkey and the difficulties of adjusting the EU to the accession of such a big country. Turkey featured prominently. For a long time. I was asked to speak on the borders of Europe. One could witness the liberal conservative ambiguities on Turkey again at the Bolkestein seminar last week. there was the part of Europe that went through the Enlightenment. The interesting thing is that over the years. became EU members in 2007. Bolkestein’s main argument was based on a historical and cultural dividing line inside Europe. On the other side of this imagined border were the countries that did not have this experience. On one side. again. So. politically and geographically. according to him. This time it was the issue of how to react to the recent protests and the heavy-handed reaction of the Turkish government. referring to police brutality and incomprehensible conspiracy theories. of course. a seminar was organized in Amsterdam to discuss some of the issues that Bolkestein has always been very candid about.public debate in the Netherlands on how to assess Turkey. Last week. it was not a European country? Or would that be punishing the demonstrators who took to the streets advocating core European values such as freedom of assembly and speech? It reminded me of the dilemma faced by those in Europe who pretend to defend the rights of the Kurds or non-Muslim religious minorities in Turkey and therefore often call for suspension of the talks in order to punish the government for a lack of reform on these issues. countries that share the same Ottoman history with Turkey.

According to Zürcher. who wanted to find an appropriate follow-up to the celebrations of 400 years of Dutch-Turkish diplomatic and trade relations last year. For that reason.claim to fight for are the staunchest supporters of Turkey’s EU membership and don’t want this prospect to be put in danger because they are convinced EU accession is still the best guarantee that. one day. Starting from this week. Two other people were awarded as well: successful Dutch-Turkish businessman Turgut Torunoğulları and famous Dutch composer Theo Loevendie. each year the Friendship Award will be given to three people who have contributed to a better understanding between Turkey and the Netherlands and the strengthening of the friendship between the two peoples. Then there is a second group of so-called friends of Turkey that claims to have the best of intentions but keeps overloading the country with an endless . They try to present the “real” Turkey and don't want to hear anything negative about the country they love. Atilay Uslu and Ahmet Taşkan. they are not the ones who are able or willing to criticize the Turks when. Friends of Turkey Two days ago I received the first Dutch-Turkish Friendship Award. One comes from those who have strong personal or business ties to the country and are irritated by the many misunderstandings and misperceptions about Turkey that keep popping up in the media in the Netherlands and other parts of Europe. He distinguished between three kinds of friendship for Turkey related to Turkey's quest for EU membership. The term reminded me of an article written by renowned Turkey expert Erik-Jan Zürcher some years ago. mistakes are being made. these groups will be able to enjoy their full rights. inevitably. comes in many different guises. Of course I was proud to be among the first three Friends of Turkey. friendship. similar to love. The prize was an initiative by two Dutch-Turkish businessmen.

is: Turkey is very different from the rest of us and basically does not belong in Europe or the EU. Over the last couple of weeks. sometimes at the same time. Slamming the door in Turkey's face now. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and several of his ministers have shot themselves in the foot repeatedly. The third group in Zürcher's article consists of those who defend Turkey's right to apply for EU membership but.list of criticism mixed with a certain dose of hypocrisy and double standards. these same friends should also stand up against the easy and predictable conclusions of many so-called experts in Europe who want Turkey-EU accession talks to be stopped because this has finally shown (“We told you so”) that Turkey does not belong in Europe. the ruling party will only return to its reform agenda if the EU engages it. as some former friends suggest. Besides. I belong to this group of “true” friends who have no hidden agenda and combine pleasant and unpleasant messages. For the genuine friends of Turkey. I agree with all those who stated over the last couple of days that breaking up would be the worst response to the demands for more European-style democracy and freedoms that we can hear all over the country. According to Zürcher. Their message. I can only hope that I received my award because of this type of friendship. we are definitely going through some tough times. will only give a boost to those within and outside the ruling Justice and . in good times and in bad. On the other hand. They fail to understand the reasons why so many Turks took to the streets to express their frustrations and tried to portray them as the manipulated victims of dark domestic and international forces that want to block Turkey's rise by creating unrest and instability. It is especially the real friends of Turkey who should strongly criticize the government for its total mishandling of the situation and tell Turkey's leaders that their worn-out and outdated conspiracy theories undermine Turkey's credibility in the rest of the world. in dealing with the protests in Gezi Park and many other places in Turkey. often implicitly. criticize the country for its decisions and policies that go against this stated aim.

Development Party (AK Party) who cherish a new round of splendid Turkish isolation.

Being a true friend of Turkey is not always easy. It requires stamina and stubbornness in the face of superficial judgments and short-sighted opportunism. But I am sure that the organizers of the Friendship Awards will find three new ones in the Netherlands next year. Will Turkey pull the plug?

It would be an understatement to say that today we are facing an unprecedented breach of trust between Turkey and the EU. Ever since the first round of police brutality in and around Gezi Park, the Turkish government and EU institutions have been in a war of words that has spiraled totally out of control. First, Stefan Füle, the EU Commissioner responsible for enlargement, who made it clear Turkey should respect the rights of its citizens to demonstrate peacefully, was lambasted by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a very rude way.

The thing that really caused several ministers to foam with anger was a resolution of the European Parliament that expressed deep concern at what was called “disproportionate and excessive use of force by the Turkish police in its response to the peaceful and legitimate protest in Istanbul’s Gezi Park.” It was a blunder from the parliament not to refer to those demonstrators that were not so peaceful, but the reactions of the government were, again, disproportionate and excessive. The prime minister said he did not recognize the EP, and some of his colleagues said it was none of the parliament’s business. All seemed deliberately to have forgotten that it is the task of the EP to follow each accession process critically, and if deemed necessary, to express its opinion. If Turkey does not recognize that right, it might as well step out of the whole process because, for sure, this resolution will not to be the last one.

It looked as if Egemen Bağış, Turkey’s chief negotiator was preparing the ground for such a radical move when he told some EU countries “to get lost.” It was an incendiary reaction to the speculation that Germany might block the opening of a new chapter in the upcoming week. Everybody knows that

potential step from Berlin is motivated by electoral opportunism. But there is also the misguided calculation that sending this message will encourage and strengthen protesters in Turkey. Unfortunately, the opposite is true: It will invigorate all those in and outside the government who reject any foreign interference, and it will weaken the demands for more European-style democracy in Turkey.

After all this EU bashing, some observers think the Turkish government has had enough of it and might be asking for a formal suspension of the accession talks.

Just to prevent any misunderstanding, let me tell you what the consequences will be if an angry Turkey indeed opts for a temporary stop to the talks. No such scenario is foreseen in the Negotiating Framework, the set of rules on the basis of which Turkey and the EU are negotiating about full membership. The only option mentioned in that document is when the EU decides to suspend the talks in the case of a “serious and persistent breach” by Turkey of the principles on which the EU is founded.

But that is not what we are talking about here because it would be Turkey pulling the plug, not the EU. Nobody knows for sure what to do in that case as there are no prescribed procedures. It is obvious that the negotiations would be stopped temporarily until Turkey decides to come back to the table. It is also clear that some EU member states that have always been against Turkey’s EU membership would be very happy if Turkey would walk out now. In case Turkey one day decides it wants to resume the accession talks, these same countries will use every procedural trick in the book or politically motivated excuse to postpone such a resumption indefinitely or make it extremely unattractive for Turkey to do so. In other words: If Turkey walks out now, it will most probably be forever.

I am sure the EU opponents in Turkey and the Turkophobics in Europe will be delighted. Their dreams would finally come true because Turkey’s leaders got carried away and lost their temper. However, on behalf of all those who would consider this to be the nightmare scenario that would slow down democratic reforms in Turkey even further and cause unforeseen economic and financial instability, may I ask one simple question: Is it too much to ask for some common sense and anger-management in Ankara?

Erdoğan is fighting the last war

With so many people standing still these days, we might as well spend some time to reflect on the reasons why the ruling party and especially Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan are so manifestly on the wrong track in their assessment of the Gezi Park protests. It makes sense, of course, to compare Erdoğan with other leaders such as Margaret Thatcher and Helmut Kohl, who, after having been in power for a long time, lost the capacity to “read” their societies in a proper way. It is equally true that the same qualities (stubbornness, unyielding commitment) that helped the Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader push through major reforms in the past (like reducing the political role of the military) are now working against him.

The thing that struck me most, however, in Erdoğan's speeches over the weekend was the impression that when the prime minister is talking about Gezi Park and the thousands of demonstrators all over Turkey, he is “fighting the last war.” Generals are notorious for their tendency to use the strategies and tactics of the past to achieve victory in the present. According to me, that is exactly what Erdoğan is doing now: sticking to old and, one must admit, often successful game plans and grand designs, not recognizing that conditions have changed.

Erdoğan's rise to power is inextricably connected with changes in Turkey's society and economy in the 1980s and 1990s that challenged the old power structures and created new spaces for conservative businessmen, media and politicians. The self-made man from Kasımpaşa is the most successful among a new generation of pious Muslims who went into politics, especially after he realized that, in order to reach his goals, he had to moderate his policies and rhetoric. Still, since he became Istanbul mayor in the 1990s, his battle has been with the old elite and their representatives in politics and society, knowing that he could count on the support of the downtrodden and marginalized plus the growing middle classes and new business elites who shared his social conservatism and economic liberalism. His sympathies have always been with like-minded companies that rose with him and not with the old and established ones like the Koç family.

at the back of Erdoğan's mind there was always the fear that. Gezi referendum could be game changer . the old elites will try to strike back at him and his party because. as a result of his own policies. they can't stand being ruled by a so-called Black Turk that does not respect their views or lifestyles. In his perception of reality. deep down.That struggle has made him the most successful politician since Atatürk and brought Turkey a lot of gains that are often overlooked these days. more democracy and less paternalism. What we end up with is a mix of worn-out conspiracy theories and a political vision based on the fights of the past. Erdoğan needs to change his mental framework that served him well in the past but is not suited for the present and the future. It is tragic to see the man who contributed considerably to Turkey's journey towards a mature democracy is now stumbling somewhere halfway through because he is unable to understand that. Listening to Erdoğan. There is a new generation out there that has profited from the economic boom of the past 10 years. What they want now is more freedom. But. Their demands have hit a chord with many Turks who have felt overpowered by the AKP leader for a long time. he is also prone to believe that his old foes in Turkey are being assisted by their traditional allies abroad and in the international media. one day. In order to understand all this. As is every Turkish citizen. apparently. I think it is obvious that he is convinced the people who went out on the streets to protest him are being manipulated by the same old forces he has been fighting his whole political life. Like it or not. they want to undermine and eventually destroy the new Turkey he has been building. they take that for granted. Turkey has changed. nobody even considers calling the army to intervene and we have never been closer to a solution for the Kurdish problem. The country has become more prosperous since the AKP came to power.

When violence erupts once more. It resembles responses from authorities in the rest of Europe that were confronted with similar resistance against plans that went through the regular democratic procedures but triggered opposition among large parts of the population that felt excluded from the decision-making process. At the moment of writing this column. it is also hard to predict the reactions at the pro-government rallies that will be held over the weekend in İstanbul and Ankara. albeit belated. A new round of fighting at Gezi Park and the negative impact that might have on protests elsewhere in Turkey would cast a shadow on a deal that I consider as a major victory for the protesters and an important. . in this country we have seen too many examples of this disrespect in the past. the real victory for the protesters is the guarantee they got from the government that even if the court rules in favor of the administration’s plans. a referendum will be organized in İstanbul that will allow the inhabitants of this city to express their views on the development of the park. The government has appealed an earlier decision by a court to suspend the implementation of its barracks project. an agreement was reached on how to get out of the deadlock after three weeks of fierce antigovernment protests that have rocked the entire nation. but playing by the rules of the book should not be considered a concession. concession by the government. No. we might again face ugly scenes in the center of İstanbul because the government made it clear it won’t tolerate further occupation of Gezi Park. When they don’t. It is only normal in a country that claims to be based on the rule of law that the government respects the legal procedures and does not simply sweep them aside and do whatever it wants. Remember the plans for the Stuttgart train station some years ago. The crucial element in the Friday morning agreement is not the promise by the government to put on hold their plans to raze the park until an appeals court reaches a decision and to give up on them when the appeal fails. It would be a major mistake to underestimate the significance of this pledge that introduces a whole new element in Turkey’s often painfully slowly evolving democracy. True. we don’t know whether the majority of the activists who are still occupying the park will accept the deal.After a last-minute meeting between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and representatives of the Gezi Park demonstrators in the early hours of Friday morning.

show that what we witnessed in Gezi Park was not a step into the abyss but the birth pains of a more mature Turkish democracy. It would. at the moment. that the prime minister himself was planning to meet some representatives of the Gezi Park occupiers on Wednesday. that İstanbulites will not be asked to agree or disagree with the original government proposal. Still. I got the impression that he was making a distinction between the original occupiers of Gezi Park on the one hand and the radical and sometimes violent groups in Taksim on the other. even more striking. On Monday. On top of that. In this case that should mean. Instead. I fully realize that. ‘We told you so' It is high time that some serious Erdoğanologists get together and try to make sense of the Gezi Park policies of the prime minister. One example: The outcome of the popular vote will only be accepted if there is no manipulation with the question posed. I sincerely hope that. They should use the links they established in Ankara last Friday to convince the government that a referendum is not an instrument the authorities can use as it pleases them. the Gezi Park demonstrators will put enough creativity and commitment into preparing the referendum that might come. independent of how the current protests end. however. Last weekend. as I am writing this column. all moderation seemed to have evaporated during several speeches in which Erdoğan blamed the entire protest movement around the country on subversive powers in and outside of Turkey. the police have just removed banners and barriers from Taksim Square but seem intent on . formulated by the proponents of each plan. in another remarkable twist. it would be an enormous missed opportunity if the Gezi Park demonstrators fail to make proper use of the referendum on offer. Now. That is understandable after so much police brutality. Listening to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last Friday.Holding a plebiscite is a good way to reach a decision but only under certain conditions. above all. many protesters might think this does not concern them or these considerations are not valid in Turkey. in my view. there should be a reasonable period of time to campaign and preferably an agreement on equal access to free publicity. Not only İstanbul but also the rest of Turkey would profit from this experiment with local self-governing. they should be given two options: Plan A (the barracks) and Plan B (a park). frustration and tears. reason seemed to have returned when it was announced that the government had invited a group of wise people to try and formulate a compromise and.

with those occupiers who are willing to contemplate a compromise solution? You don't need to be a rocket scientist to know how that trade-off will look: keep and expand Gezi Park. It is true that I have been supportive of several AKP reforms in the past. calculating that this strategy will pay off in next year's elections? Or has he understood that he can't bully his way out of this problem and has to strike a deal. Some have come to this conclusion only recently. as some claim. albeit reluctantly. the time of reckoning has begun. decided to go for a scenario of further polarization. cancel the building of the barracks. it seems. dismiss those responsible for the police brutality and formulate a more inclusive policy for future construction projects. less polarized and more democratic period in Turkey's history. especially those that pushed back the role of the army and gradually improved the situation of Kurds. Now. I had defended many of the AKP's reforms before and for that reason I should be considered an eternal “collaborator” of the ruling party (to use one of the more mild descriptions). The latter group seems to be especially invigorated by the recent events and is now blaming those who supported some of Erdoğan's policies in the past. naively. They are convinced that Erdoğan is an autocratic leader who wants to continue as an all-powerful president and is only interested in the 50 percent of the population who support him. One example: In the last 10 days I have been receiving many e-mails and tweets accusing me of being a hypocrite and an opportunist because I support the Gezi Park occupation and have criticized the government's handling of the situation. They were telling me all the while how awful the AKP has always been but I. or the confirmation of a trend toward more authoritarian leadership without checks and balances. while many others have always looked at him this way. did not want to listen to their advice. Only time will tell which direction the Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader is heading and whether the Gezi Park occupation is the start of a new. How do we make sense of all these contradictory remarks and initiatives? Has Erdoğan. For many Turks this is not a real question. According to these critics.not touching the peaceful demonstrators inside Gezi Park. These were based on democratic principles. and I still believe that any party that respects these fundamentals should be .

Talking to Turkish friends. It is also true that for the last three years. would not have been organized at all. The worrying thing about these accusations flying around is that. The scene was dominated by urban youth and young professionals -. apparently. many AKP opponents are not willing to make the same distinction and are determined to bash any proposal from the ruling party. on questions that have to be answered independent of the outcome of the present demonstrations. Let me concentrate. Walking around Taksim and in Gezi Park last Thursday. past experiences in other European countries: the combativeness of traditional May 1 festivities. with the notable exception of the September 2010 referendum and the present Kurdish settlement initiative. the relaxed and positive atmosphere of pop festivals and the counter-culture sentiment of the squatter’s movement in the ‘80s. . the impression I got was a mix of some of my personal. such manifestations would either not have been tolerated or.backed. I am convinced that Turkey will only get out of this crisis in a better democratic shape when both the prime minister and his adversaries realize that their country will lose out when the gap between the two sides is cemented instead of bridged.although marginal leftist groups and some Republican People’s Party (CHP) supporters were doing their utmost to make their mark on the place. I have repeatedly criticized the same party for watering down these standards and the AKP leader for shifting to a confrontational style that divides the country. it was clear that this was a first and very exciting experience for most Turks. The point is not whether I will continue to differentiate between good and bad AKP policies -. especially outside of the park. even more probable. What will happen with the spirit of Gezi? It is quite a challenge to write about the current wave of protests in Turkey sparked by the Gezi Park occupation at a moment (Friday morning) when the situation probably differs radically from the moment of publication of this column (Sunday morning). In the past. therefore.I will.

According to Kardaş. It seems. one that is more inclusive. “The AKP needs to develop an alternative language of politics. foster pluralism through policies embracing different segments of society and avoid the appearance of imposing certain ideological or lifestyle choices on the . manipulations of the deep state or violent attacks by terrorist groups.and to develop innovative approaches that appeal to new generations. Şaban Kardaş of TOBB University in Ankara tried to answer both. It is clear in which direction Kardaş would like the ruling party to move. One of the results of the economic and social progress the ruling party rightfully prides itself on is a structural transformation of Turkish society and the rise of a new generation of urban youth and young professionals who express demands and expectations that are hard to meet within the old paradigms of the existing parties. independent youngsters who want to have a say in how their lives are run -.a bottom-up social movement where people are unhappy with the practices of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and especially the provocative style and social engineering policies of the prime minister. Kardaş calls on the AKP to move beyond fighting battles of the past -. we should try to answer two questions: Where does this new social mobilization come from and how likely is it that “the spirit of Gezi” will survive the end of the current protests? In a paper for the German Marshall Fund.What is taking place in Gezi and Taksim is obviously not orchestrated by one of the traditional actors like the trade unions. for the first time in recent Turkish history. symbolized by the emergence of what The Economist pointedly described as “the new young Turks. including the ruling party. … Societal peace and economic and political stability require the government to better analyze trying to dismantle the bastions of the Kemalist establishment -.” Before jumping to conclusions that might prove to be too optimistic or too romantic. It suggests a new phase in the development of Turkish society. Many liberals are extremely excited about what they perceive as the rise of a new generation of well-educated. the AKP might be a victim of its own success in the economic modernization of Turkey. tolerant toward dissent and avoids legislating morality. and it has gone beyond the classic dichotomies of Turkish politics such as the secular versus Islamist divide. away from its attachment to majoritarian democracy. that dissatisfaction with a ruling party is not being expressed via threats of a military coup.

or one of the traditional powers. 2) The political leadership has turned into some sort of dictatorship that is out of touch with the worries and concerns of many citizens. Turkey should not be compared with Egypt. it does not. What interests me here is not whether this assessment makes sense or not. to compare Turkey in 2013 with Egypt in 2011 and Taksim with Tahrir. That support is based on a booming economy and the feeling that Turkey is now in much better shape in all fields than it was 10 years ago. three times. in open and fair elections. All over the international media one could find this inclination. They are here to stay. The question that will remain after the dust has settled in Gezi Park is what will happen with the spirit of Gezi. after the first day of skirmishes in Taksim Square: “Should these protests be seen as the beginning of a Turkish Spring.” he said. in Turkish politics? Erdoğan should realize that perceptions matter It was the first question I got on Dutch radio on Saturday morning. So forget about these lazy comparisons. The main elements of this approach are based on similarities -apart from the obvious ones like protesters in a central square and police brutality in removing them -. and he is still the most popular politician around. a first instinctive the perception that: 1) The legitimacy of the current government has seriously eroded in the eyes of large parts of the population. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been elected. According to me. and he was not the only one.broader public. what most media outside of Turkey did . Unlike Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Will it float around freely but frustrated? Or will it be captured and translated in new policies by a new player. by the way. which is. I agree with Kardaş’s analysis of the new generation that started the protests and his expectation that they are not going to disappear after the end of the current protests. like the ones we have seen in the Arab world before?” The question clearly reflected the framework the journalist was using to look at Turkey.

One can argue that this perception is only partly true. many foreign observers have started looking at Erdoğan as a modern-day sultan who does not accept any form of criticism. more importantly. Apparently. The basic mistake made by Erdoğan since his re-election in 2011 goes beyond individual measures or particular blunders: He did not care what the effect of his growing tendency to preach and promote his personal opinions would be on the 50 percent of non-AKP voters and on the outside world. We have been witnessing the results of that attitude for more than a week now: incomprehension abroad and. That just shows that Erdoğan did not get the message. not the reality. perceptions are as important as facts for those abroad or among the 50 percent of Turks who will never vote for the ruling party.once they realized things were more complicated than they had originally thought. Compared to two years ago. like Mubarak. in the end. . has lost support in society and.but. what is important here is the perception. however. It does not help to claim that people were misinformed about actual policies because they were misled by Twitter. an almost total alienation from half of the population at home. or that it is an exaggeration and distortion based on selective observations in which the views of Justice and Development Party (AKP) opponents are overvalued and those of the “silent conservative majority” not sufficiently taken into account. He keeps thinking he can bluff or bully his way out of situations he does not like. is that these parallels were drawn in the first place. Again. or that there is still strong support among the other half of the population. What matters. These objections might all be true -. has therefore become vulnerable to massive street protests. or that he can simply dismiss opposing views that he despises. there has been a clear shift in the way Erdoğan is seen outside Turkey: He has gone from a strong and successful political leader who brought prosperity and more democracy to the country to an authoritarian politician who is trying to impose his conservative values and lifestyle on the rest of Turkish society.

Perceptions matter.” Although most Turks tend to deny this uncomfortable truth. Soner Çağaptay of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy wrote an interesting article for the Foreign Affairs magazine in which he suggested that the protracted civil war in Syria might bring Turkey and the US closer together.Fortunately. he realizes the power of perception and called for moderation and consultation. which would have negative consequences for the Turkish economy and Turkey's standing in the world. One can only hope that in the next few days. In other words. Çağaptay definitively has a point. Ankara must face the fact that. President Abdullah Gül has understood better. Until now. “Turkey needs the US and NATO to maintain its security and continued economic success in a troubled region. Turkey was not able to get European support for the creation of safe areas or to convince Brussels to put pressure on Washington to establish a . Is the Syrian war bringing Turkey and the EU closer together? Last week. Erdoğan better start changing them instead of ignoring them. What interests me is whether his assertion could also be applied to relations between Turkey and the EU. Although he probably does not agree with all the recriminations flying around. it would cement the split in Turkish society that is at the root of the current showdown. Above all. According to Çağaptay. will the Syrian war bring Ankara and Brussels closer together as well? There is no easy answer there. A new round of violent clashes could also quickly destroy the hard-won stability in recent times that so many Turks cherish. Turkey’s position on Syria has been indisputably tougher and more determined than the European combination of noncommittal declarations and an unwillingness to get involved too much or too soon. as the author puts it. it is clear now that Turkey does not have the “soft power” to decisively influence events in Syria and does not have the military means to bring down the Bashar al-Assad regime or to fully protect the country from all the spillover effects of the conflict next door. other AKP leaders will manage to convince Erdoğan that another round of harsh accusations and police brutality at Taksim and elsewhere will only strengthen already existing negative feelings at home and abroad.

no-fly zone. Spain and Sweden and contains proposals to strengthen Europe’s capacity to protect its vital interests: peace. be bridged if and when the United Kingdom and France start using the possibility of delivering weapons to the Syrian rebels after it turns out. and its accession will bring significant mutual benefits. that the Geneva conference co-sponsored by the US and Russia produces no results. among many other things. That gap between Turkey and the rest of Europe might. ideas on the future of Europe are not produced by the usual suspects in Berlin. Paris. Well-coordinated operations by the UK. 1 onwards. It is also surprising to see that despite the tradition of Swedish neutrality. From Aug. Without waiting for accession negotiations to be completed. Poland. wellbeing and shared values. including for . Paris and Ankara in Syria would be exactly the kind of cooperation that was promoted last week by a report called “Towards a European Global Strategy: Securing European Influence in a Changing World. One of the key recommendations of the report focuses on the need for the EU and Turkey to work together more closely in the short term. the report pushes. It reads: “There are powerful reasons why Turkey needs to be an integral part of Europe’s future. the EU and Turkey should agree an enhanced political partnership encompassing (but not limited to) deeper cooperation in the area of foreign and security policy. for more effective cooperation between the EU and NATO and for smaller groups of EU member states to take the lead in starting and implementing EU policies in the field of foreign and security policies. London or Brussels but by four think tanks from three medium-sized powers inside the EU plus Sweden. Ankara has been pushing for an end to the EU’s arms embargo for a long time and must be happy with the result of last week’s EU summit. however. as many expect. London and Paris can no longer be restricted by the rest of the EU. It is obvious that Turkey will play a major role in getting British and French weapons into Syria and into the hands of the moderate wing of the Syrian armed resistance that Turkey has been supporting since the start of the civil war.” The paper is part of a project initiated last year by the foreign ministers of Italy. It is an interesting initiative for several reasons: For a change.

Especially important for the debate on Turkey's future was Dağı's pointedly formulated conclusion: “Contrary to the claims of secularists. But it might well be that the Syrian war will bring their realization closer much earlier than expected before. a professor at Middle East Technical University in Ankara and a columnist for Today's Zaman. In the case of the Justice and Development Party (AKP). in order to understand what is happening in Turkey.” It is not for the first time that these kinds of ideas are being floated. Why is that? . it is post-modern authoritarianism hidden behind the popular support of conservatives that use the regulative power of the state to impose ‘the only rightful lifestyle'. I would advise them.” I am pretty sure that as at previous presentations. the most asked question at the meetings will be about the alleged Islamization of Turkey. the dream of the prime minister to raise “a religious generation” and his rants about abortion and the need for Turkish women to have at least three children be interpreted? At those moments. How else should the recent anti-alcohol laws. to read the articles and columns of İhsan Dağı. Two days ago. which is also hotly debated in Turkey.” I fully agree with Dağı that. titled “The Turks Are Coming. Illiberal conservatism I will be back in the Netherlands this week to promote the book on Turkey I wrote with my wife. he again wrote about the tendency of the ruling party to copy the social engineering strategies of its Kemalist predecessors and to try to regulate public life.example a cooperation agreement between Turkey and the European Defense Agency (EDA) and enhanced participation in EU civilian and military missions. I often wish Dutch people and other Europeans interested in Turkey would take the time and have the ambition to follow what unbiased and well-informed Turkish opinion leaders have to say on this issue. Nevin Sungur. conservative norms and values. it is crucial to make a distinction between Islamization on the one hand and the rise of conservative moral principles and standards of behavior on the other. that means in accordance with Islamic. for instance. this is not Islamism.

Why would Turkey be immune to that phenomenon? The Russian bear is back .after 10 years of AKP rule. but eventually. it is Islam. the Republicans in the US. abortion. strong conservative parties lost their electoral dominance as a result of policy mistakes. In Turkey. That strategy worked in other European countries where the religious majority stuck to its beliefs. including open-minded conservatives. or. It implies there is basically no democratic way to reverse that trend. gender equality and homosexuality) are similar to those of other European conservative parties in countries like Poland. to come up with better and more appealing alternatives. Portugal. the Turkish state is not and will not be based on Islamic law. Framing the current developments in Turkey as the inevitable rise of Islamism is not only factually wrong -. It makes much more sense to analyze some of the recent moves of the AKP as examples of a particular Turkish blend of illiberal conservatism that has started to use the mechanisms invented by illiberal secularists before. a rigid interpretation of one of the Abrahamic religions. in Poland it is the Catholic Church and in the US there is a direct link with extreme versions of Protestantism. Most people are quite willing to consider changing their point of view on a particular topic. All of these parties share a common frame of mind is also counterproductive and selfdefeating. As important: Never bash or belittle the religious beliefs of the person you want to convince. for that matter. internal splits or an overdose of self-confidence.Almost all of the viewpoints of the AKP on most of the controversial issues (alcohol. It suggests Islam is the root cause of all the problems in Turkey and that a majority of pious Muslims are slowly taking over the country. My conclusion: The best way to beat conservative ideas is to come up with more attractive ones that can appeal to part of a conservative electorate as well. over the years I have had arguments about all of these conservatives' variations across Europe. They are definitely not prepared to distance themselves from the religion they hold dear. Because I have a different set of norms and values. Ireland. And let's not forget the ultra-orthodox Jews fighting their own culture wars in Israel. The only way to challenge these ideas is for democrats across the board. and there is no imposition of exclusively Islamic ideas on society -. in one way or another on a particular. and in my view.

In a blog on the Truthdig website. the ruling party’s efforts to promote a values-based idealist foreign policy were doomed to fail. But there is more to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s unconditional support for Assad and that is where we can see the ugly face of the good old realism that many Turkish pundits seem to be so fond of.The failure of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to convince US President Barack Obama of the need to give more support to the anti-Assad opposition in Syria has been enthusiastically welcomed by several seasoned foreign policy commentators in Turkey. Since the start of the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. the Russians.” American Middle East specialist Juan Cole explains why. What deeply disturbs me about this warm embrace of old style. Moscow is afraid that . Russia’s defiance on Syria is not based on a big love for Assad or his methods to hold on to power. Moscow’s motives are directly linked to Putin’s ambition to reassert Russia as a great power on the world stage. And then there is of course the Syrian port of Tartus. According to these self-acclaimed realists. hardcore foreign policy realism. has supported the Assad regime with numerous deliveries of arms and has allowed other friends of Assad such as Iran and Hezbollah to come to the rescue of the beleaguered dictator. It also makes sense to look at Russian arms sales over the years and the big Russian investments in Syria that would be in danger if Assad loses power. is the example set by the masters of this game. I would invite all those who agree cold-blooded. unprincipled pragmatism is the only sensible foreign policy strategy to have a look at the Russian policy on Syria. Let’s all be happy that we are back in the big bad world where only national interests count. the only Russian military base outside of the former Soviet Union and a crucial element in Moscow’s ambitious Mediterranean plans. Russia has done its utmost to shield Syria in the UN Security Council. called “Revenge of the Bear: Russia Strikes Back in Syria. They are happy that all the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) talk about a humanitarian mission and grand schemes to combat injustice has proven to be ineffective. Why are the Russians doing this? It is true that Moscow has counted an Assad-led Syria as its closest ally in the Arab world for more than 40 years.

to participate.the Arab Spring and the rise of Islamist forces in the Middle East will only benefit Washington. together with the US and the UK. That is why he has drawn a line at Syria. should promise Russia that it will do its utmost to curb radical groups in Syria in return for Moscow agreeing on an Assad exit. will only give him more time to crush the opposition. Today's Zaman blogger Mahir Zeynalov suggested that Turkey.” The worrying thing is. Russia is not interested in the legitimacy of regime change or the future of the Alawites in Syria. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. which it views as its soft underbelly. Ankara is . hesitant about the benefits of the Geneva conference. fears he might meet the same fate as the deposed Arab leaders. the Syrian revolution is another example of the rise of radical Muslim movements in the region. The Russians want to hold on to at least part of their former sphere of influence. As Cole puts it. at home and abroad. heavily criticized for his heavy-handed oppression of dissent at home. unenthusiastically.a more active US stance against the Bashar al-Assad regime -and had to agree. It is not very clear what Turkey is supposed to do in the run-up to that summit. By using Syria to promote anti-Americanism. added another explanation for Moscow’s backing of Assad: “Putin has sought an external enemy to rally the population around a nationalist flag.” On top of that. The US gave in to Russia and agreed on a new Syria conference that. it seems to work. underscoring that Putin’s own neo-authoritarian regime will not go quietly. Anna Borshchevskaya. It all makes sense if you are a foreign policy realist. In the end. What matters are Putin’s own long term interests. without more pressure on Assad. did not get what he hoped for -. to Turkey's cooperation in preparing the US-Russia sponsored settlement talks in Geneva in early June. as expected.supporting Assad means resisting the West. analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. For them. … Russian ‘rejectionism’ on Syria makes Moscow an important player without which decisions cannot be made. Putin. But are we sure this is the kind of behavior we would like Ankara to copy? Turkey's Syria policy criticized for wrong reasons The Obama-Erdoğan meeting in Washington did not produce any surprises. The New York Times gave Turkey a prominent role in trying to convince moderate rebel forces. “Moscow views the civil war in Syria as a destabilizing event with the potential for radicalizing the Middle East. At a meeting in İstanbul this week. he can derive immediate political benefit -.

Many of the most outspoken critics are. Too optimistic. the Justice and Development Party (AKP) should be blamed for three mistakes: 1. based on humanitarian considerations and . That could be criticized as opportunistic and was not well prepared or communicated. Assad. There were and are still very good reasons to support the Syrian opposition. But was it the wrong policy? I don't think it was. both politically and militarily. or they make the argument for some sort of appeasement policy that simply overlooks the 80. A more reasonable assessment came from Hugh Pope. that Assad would fall quickly. Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu are. After all these errors and miscalculations were exposed in 2011. blamed for their active support of the Syrian opposition and for the violent reactions. Since the uprising against Assad started in 2011. who urged Turkey to be more modest in its claims because it has turned out that the country is isolated in its Syria policy and apparently can't influence outcomes in Syria on its own.expected to tell the opposition that to boycott the conference would hand a significant propaganda victory to Mr. Turkey director of the International Crisis Group (ICG) and seasoned observer of the region. this has provoked. Erdoğan and Davutoğlu radically changed tack and became one of the most vocal opponents of the Syrian dictatorship. Too confident that they could persuade the Syrian president to give in to democratic demands. however. That conclusion overlaps with most of my own rating of Turkey's Syria policy. 2. such as the car bombs in Reyhanlı. Too uncritical of the Assad regime which was guilty of massive human rights violations long before the spring of 2011.000 Syrians that have already been killed. Turkey's failure to convince US President Barack Obama that the US should support the Syrian rebels with weapons and use its military might to establish a no-fly zone has led to a new round of criticism of the government's Syria policy in the Turkish press. According to me. again. I have been surprised by the ability of most pundits to criticize the Turkish government for the wrong reasons. as many others. 3. unconvincing because they don't come up with any alternative other than settling for a new version of Turkey's pre-2002 unattached and uncommitted regional strategy.

Turkey's long term regional interests. he compared Erdoğan with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. last week repeated its plea for what the weekly called the “least-bad choice:” if America does not want to set up a no-fly zone.C. the killing goes on and the jihadists take over. the West should at least arm their chosen rebels to speed up the removal of Mr. The reason for the falling out was highly embarrassing for the leader of the Turkish Parliament opposition. After having already branded Erdoğan as “the murderer of 51 people” killed after a terrorist attack in Reyhanlı. Kılıçdaroğlu continued with his aggressive campaign against Turkey’s prime minister in Brussels.. I am not very optimistic about the chances of this conference to create a breakthrough because of Russia's stubborn and cynical support for Assad. and did not get what he was looking for: a clear American commitment to support the anti-Assad rebels in Syria. At a press conference. On the contrary: the CHP leader got into a row with Hannes Swoboda. saying there is only a difference in degree of . Personally. But should Ankara not try and play a constructive role? The inconsistency of supplies of weapons and ammunition is definitively one of the reasons why the rebels are not winning the war. the head of the Socialist group and a long-time observer of Turkey. at the same time. Assad and. but it is no coincidence that The Economist. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan went to Washington. That is an unpleasant fact of life that Ankara has to live with but should not be blamed for. the political family to which the Republican People’s Party (CHP) wants to belong. D. organize a peace conference with all main parties. was it a mistake to call for safe areas or a no-fly zone? One might call it unrealistic because other countries were not willing to get involved. It is indeed an uphill struggle to overcome the divisions among the rebels. Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu went to Brussels and also did not get what he wanted: support for his policies from the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament. well respected in most capitals around the world. What is wrong with trying to push the US and the EU to send more arms to moderate groups to change the balance? Confronted with the human catastrophe at Turkey's borders. Kılıçdaroğlu: a foot full of bullets Last week was not a good week for Turkey’s leading politicians.

in Europe but also in Turkey.authoritarianism between the two. especially with regard to press freedom. the overall assessment of the AKP’s performance is not positive in Brussels these days. stop-and-go reforms and several tentative suggestions by Erdoğan to actively promote a more conservative lifestyle. the EU is worried about recent developments in Turkey. who has put his party on a reform course that is in line with European worries and expectations: support the government on the Kurdish issue. That did not materialize. When Swoboda heard about the accusation. he managed to convince most of . albeit slowly. That would be seen as a positive development by many. made in front of the Socialist group banner. I guess the Kılıçdaroğlu-Swoboda fight will go down in history as a classic example of “shooting oneself in the foot. Kılıçdaroğlu did his utmost to undermine this scenario. rubbed the disagreement in Swoboda’s face by accusing the European Parliament member of restricting freedom of speech. and an angry Swoboda then decided there was nothing to talk about and cancelled the meeting. Some of his advisers went one step further and accused Swoboda of acting as Erdoğan’s defense lawyer. Swoboda and many other European politicians who are in favor of Turkey’s accession to the EU are not happy with the lack of a clear vision and strategy. even among pro-AKP observers. Demonstrating that the quarrel with Swoboda was not an unfortunate accident. Acting. Although there are high hopes about the government’s Kurdish settlement plans.” meaning to act against one’s own best interests. as the author of his own misfortune. Turkey’s ruling party. he called it “unacceptable” and demanded a rectification before he would meet with Kılıçdaroğlu. As Swoboda himself explained to Turkish reporters. What a golden opportunity for the leader of the opposition to portray himself as the voice of reason in Turkey. Kılıçdaroğlu’s visit to Brussels took place against a background that was not favorable for the Justice and Development Party (AKP). Unfortunately. play a constructive role in formulating a new constitution and push the AKP to stick to a reform agenda that will make Turkey a more democratic country. again. A convincing performance in Brussels would not only have improved the European perception of the CHP. an alternative for the current ruling party is taking shape. it would also have created the idea that. Kılıçdaroğlu. back in İstanbul.

This is either because they do not trust the Syrian rebels or because creating Assadfree zones in northern Syria would simply be too complicated. can’t be used to walk a straight line anymore. like it or not. however. on a personal note: Get yourself a new left foot. the EU is stuck with the AKP for the foreseeable future because the main opposition party has not developed into the modern and progressive party Swoboda and many others were hoping for. again. Finally. Ten years ago. because the present ones in Ankara and Brussels will only create more problems. for good reasons. reluctantly express their support for this option. because the present one. is not US President Barack Obama's determination to stay out of the Syrian swamp but the fact that Ankara is pushing so hard to get the Americans in. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and other Turkish ministers will visit the US. don't believe in.Brussels’ pundits that. into a status-quo party. My advice to Kılıçdaroğlu. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. most probably. Turkey's anti-Americanism in a state of flux This week. that they are deeply concerned about the bloody civil war in Syria. in line with the words of Swoboda: Stop giving in to the old guard in your party and select a new group of advisers on Europe. . The country needs an opposition that can prevent the AKP from turning. and at the end of the visit Erdoğan and Davutoğlu will. The Turkish government will. one more time. almost inevitably. an overwhelming majority of Turks. That is bad news: not only for all reform-minded CHP voters. What is remarkable in my view. Washington has settled on a new diplomatic initiative with Moscow. understand Turkey's anxieties but are not able or willing to react positively to Turkey's requests. one which they. It shows once again how unpredictable and changeable the expectations on US policy in the Middle East are. try to convince their American counterparts that the US should step in more forcefully by supplying the moderate wing of the Syrian armed resistance with weapons and by guaranteeing the establishment of safe corridors or a no-fly zone along the Turkish-Syrian border. The Obama administration will explain. filled with bullet holes. It is obvious that the situation in Syria will be the main talking point. deep down. but for Turkey as a whole.

They no longer represent the vanguard of anti-Americanism: that role has fallen. gave a special twist to Taşpınar's argument. Marc Lynch. Turks across the board accuse the US of nurturing the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and harboring plans to create an independent Kurdistan. He wrote: “For all their cultural and political antipathy to the US. While some analysts hint at a deep hatred of American culture and civilization. According to Lynch. while only 15 percent were positive. The plea to the US to help Turkey in kicking out Syrian President Bashar alAssad in particular looks conspicuous against the background of continued and strong anti-Americanism in Turkey. director of the Institute for Middle East Studies at George Washington University. A lot has been said and written in the last couple of years on this incredible unpopularity of the US in the eyes of so many Turks. Islamists are in the process of changing their position on the US. echoing popular criticism.” In a recent article on Arab anti-Americanism in Foreign Affairs magazine. Two years ago. Washington insider Ömer Taşpınar added an interesting dimension by linking anti-Americanism to Turkey's identity problems: the Kurdish question and political Islam.protested the American invasion of Iraq. only to change course later on. The latest one. Islamists are now becoming the regime incumbents who benefit from American support. Pious Turks are equally angry with the US because of its anti-Muslim policies and support for military coups. indicated that Turks are among the world champions in anti-Americanism. . over the years. in 2012. showed that 72 percent of Turks rated the US unfavorably. which caused a strong rise in Turkish disapproval of the US. most observers believe anti-Americanism in Turkey is directly linked to extremely detested US policies in the region. Washington is blamed when it intervenes in the region (in Libya) and when it does not (in Syria). In his Today's Zaman column last year. the Turkish government. Taşpınar wrote: “Most secular Turks blame America for promoting ‘moderate Islam' in Turkey and using the AKP [Justice and Development Party] to erode Kemalist secularism. According to Taşpınar. initially spoke out against a combined US and European military intervention to save the Libyan opposition in Benghazi. The Global Attitudes Project of the Pew Research Center has. first and foremost the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Only Pakistan and Jordan were more critical of the Americans.

Pro-Europeans have a hard time defending their vision of a more integrated EU. when they do. how shortsighted and out-of-date this line of reasoning is. In many countries. Some important recent reports showed.” Could Taşpınar and Lynch's observations. What has always surprised me is that so little attention is paid to the necessity for the EU to better coordinate its foreign and defense policy. Most of these debates between emboldened EU critics and defensive EU supporters focus on economic policies and the need for a new institutional framework. assisted by Washington in its efforts to solve the Kurdish problem. Before going into the justifications for new initiatives on this topic. Of course. we could witness the familiar mix of pumped-up optimism spread by the European institutions and growing skepticism among many European citizens about this message. bureaucratic entity that has spun out of control and is out of touch with the concerns and hardships of ordinary Europeans. with most if its member states stuck in an economic crisis that many Europeans blame on austerity measures enforced by the EU. explain why the AKP.ironically. calling for either a full withdrawal from the EU or at least a stop to giving the EU more powers. let me . to leftist and liberal opposition movements who might identify in the abstract with American values but remain marginalized in a US-backed status quo. nothing will come out of it because they won’t be able to agree on a common position. The EU is going through difficult times. perceived as a faraway. is so keen on US involvement in Syria and the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) is so vehemently opposed? Soft power is no power On this year’s Europe Day on May 9. I know the usual arguments claiming that member states will never be willing up to give up their sovereignty on these issues or. the annual celebration of peace and unity in Europe. combined and translated to the specific situation in Turkey. Euroskeptic parties are booming in the opinion polls. which is according to them the only way for Europe to get out of the current crisis and be prepared for the challenges of the 21st century. once again.

” a recent policy brief for the European Council on Foreign Relations. It is the incredible level of inefficiency: because member states stick to the illusion that they can handle things on their own. 2014. The eternal Turk . little has been achieved till now. that effective armed forces are among the assets they will need to deploy. The real problem is not the total amount of money. then they are condemned to cooperate.” In “Europe’s Strategic Cacophony. One was bluntly explained by NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen in a speech at the European Parliament last week: “We Europeans must understand that soft power alone is really no power at all.demolish a popular misunderstanding. if apparently Europe is not willing to pay for it? The fact is that European countries collectively accounted for 20 percent of the world’s military spending in 2011. So why bother with EU’s defense policy. Everybody has been aware of this for years but despite nice words about pooling and sharing of capabilities. Especially American critics of Europe always point to the continent’s low level of military spending. Olivier de France and Nick Whitney made it crystal clear how big the need is for the EU to get its act together on foreign and defense policy and converge on some key propositions: “That if Europeans are to continue to count for something in the world. they say. Without hard capacities to back up its diplomacy.” Let’s hope at least some of this thinking is taken on board by EU leaders this year and properly explained to confused European citizens on May 9.” Another was lucidly put in a recent article by several Brussels think tanks in which they stressed the need for Europe to find a new voice in the world in which power is shifting eastwards: “The EU should find a new purpose and narrative for Europe’s global role. principles and ambitions. Europe will lack credibility and influence. compared with 8 percent for China and 4 percent for Russia. Europe has more troops. and that maintaining effective armed forces will require biting the bullet of significantly greater mutual dependence. as instruments of power and influence as much as for ‘war-fighting’ purposes. tanks and warplanes than the US but it is unable to use them effectively together. moving beyond past ‘normative’ or ‘civilian’ models in the search for a role which matches its real strengths and assets. That enormous gap between military spending and battlefield impotence needs to be bridged for several reasons.

whose parents or grandparents moved from Turkey years ago to start a new life in Holland.Should someone from Turkish descent. It is not. The same applies to his children and grandchildren. want to mobilize Turks living abroad to act as a diaspora: an organized force capable of influencing decision-making processes in the countries they live in. That includes the duty of the authorities in Ankara to take care of this Turk abroad and. both for the people involved and for Dutch society as a whole. In short: There should not be eternal migrants. To be honest. under the political wing of Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ. which is undesirable. independent of his different cultural and religious background. if necessary. the head of this body. Yurtnaç and his colleagues. this person is a Turkish citizen with the same rights and obligations as any other Turkish citizen. based on common interests and independent of cultural roots or country of origin. in possession of both a Dutch and a Turkish passport. Kemal Yurtnaç. explained in detail what the institution he runs wants to achieve. The explicit message: Don't try the other option. whether he lives in Turkey or not. This opposite way of looking at things may seem to some of you a theoretical exercise without many practical consequences. Last week. to help him out. which would be to act like any other regular Dutch citizen and voice your protest or formulate your demands with as many other people as possible. In 2010 the current government established the Presidency for Turks Abroad and Related Communities. To summarize: once a Turk. According to a growing number of Dutch people. To keep treating that person and his offspring as a special category will make the full integration of migrants impossible. that person should be treated as a regular Dutch citizen with the same rights and obligations as any other Dutch subject. I would have more understanding and sympathy for Yurtnaç's . In other words. always a Turk. be considered a Turk or a Dutchman? According to the Turkish government. he should get together with other Turks and call big brother Yurtnaç for advice. when our second or third generation Dutch Turk from the first paragraph has a legal problem with the local foster parents organization or when the Dutch parliament is planning to adopt a law that would negatively affect most Turks living in the Netherlands. born and living in the Netherlands.

is suggesting that second and third generation Turks are still unable to function properly in the countries they were born without help from Ankara.plans if they would have been implemented 50 years ago when thousands of poor and uneducated Turks became “Gastarbeiters” and were confronted with many problems in their new home countries that they could not solve. 2013. Research in the Netherlands has shown repeatedly that. The flipside of these achievements is that Dutch Turks are less integrated in Dutch society. To drink or not to drink “The government wants to discourage the use of alcohol and alcoholic beverages. To set up such a new institution now. I think it's also an insult to many Dutch citizens of Turkish descent who are successful entrepreneurs and politicians for one reason only: They decided to participate in Dutch society and its institutions and did not want to be locked into the community of their parents or grandparents.” “From Jan. will only prove the integration skeptics right and will make it more difficult for Dutch Turks to become successful and self-confident inhabitants of the Netherlands. I don't think that is very helpful for the large majority of Dutch Turks whose future lies in the Netherlands. not in Turkey. 1.” “The age limit for buying alcoholic drinks will soon be raised from 16 to 18 years. compared to other migrant communities. youngsters under the age of 16 are eligible for punishment when they carry alcohol in public places. based on the presumption that Turks from all generations should stick together in order to survive. It basically confirms the views of those Dutch politicians who have declared that the integration of Turks has failed and multiculturalism is dead. onward. Dutch Turks are doing OK economically. still have problems in speaking Dutch and have relatively few contacts with other Dutch citizens. however. have organized themselves pretty well and are able to cope with most problems inside their own circle. I am afraid that the work of the Presidency for Turks Abroad. One of the ways to do so is to levy high taxes. simply because they lacked the means and the knowledge to do so.” .

m. 2013. all these measures are further proof that the AKP leader. What has always surprised me in this heated discussion is the unwillingness and/or incapability of both sides to distinguish between reasonable proposals and ideologically motivated exaggeration. they are not. wine and rakı and taxes on alcoholic beverages will be further increased.m.” Are these some of the new but so far secret plans of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government? No. Health warnings will be placed on bottles of beer. is trying to impose his own conservative Islamic beliefs on the rest of Turkish society as part of a new exclusionist and intolerant political culture. The reason for presenting you with some of the recent Dutch anti-alcohol policies is the latest round of debate in Turkey on what many Turkish secularists perceive as the “salami slice” strategy of the ruling party against the sale of alcohol and the consumption of alcohol in public places. According to many of his critics. The AKP always pretends to introduce anti-alcohol policies solely on the basis of considerations related to public and private health and denies having any . onward. The above quotes come from the official websites of the Dutch government. especially among young people. a teetotaler himself.“From Jan. after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan gave a speech at the Global Alcohol Policy Symposium in İstanbul. just bring up the word alcohol. This prohibition comes on top of an already existing ban on alcohol commercials on all national media between 6 a. it is forbidden to broadcast alcohol commercials on the three TV channels and three radio stations that are popular among youngsters. “If you are looking for one sure way to split public opinion in Turkey. As Reuters journalist Jonathan Burch pointedly reported the next day. It started one week ago. and 9 p.” That is exactly what happened after Erdoğan announced new initiatives to decrease alcohol consumption in Turkey. outlining a few of the measures the current coalition of Liberals and Social Democrats has already taken or is planning in order to push back the use of alcohol in the Netherlands. 1.

The government has the obligation to try to push back this trend.” the AKP leader clearly crossed the thin line between sensible policies and personal obsession. it is obvious that at least the AKP leader does have the ambition to change the way all Turks live and love. the best sort of bread to eat and the number of children families should have. I am getting tired of all those alarmed secularists who basically claim the biggest achievement of Atatürk’s reforms was to allow unlimited consumption of alcohol in as many places as possible. as is happening in the rest of Europe. Let me explain why I think the government has some good points on the need to fight alcohol abuse but makes the mistake of mixing those with opinions that are both overstated and factually incorrect. On the other hand. one might ask? But it is equally true that more Turks have started drinking at a younger age and that this creates growing problems. By claiming alcohol consumption is “the mother of all evils. secular state should not interfere. My worry is that in his most recent speech.intention to influence the lifestyles of those who will never vote for the party. The bottom line is that alcohol abuse is a serious problem that should be tackled. It is true that alcohol consumption per capita in Turkey is low compared to the rest of Europe. and so why bother. After all the lectures by the prime minister on the dangers of cigarettes. the prime minister also did not make a distinction between abuse and regular consumption. ranging from early death to drunken driving. They perceive each restriction as another step in the direction of the Islamic Republic of Turkey. Lessons for Turkey from the Syrian conflict Despite speculations about a growing number of weapons reaching the . Normal alcohol consumption is a private choice in which a democratic.

for financial. Unfortunately. in some cases. based on a detailed study of the situation in Hatay province. As a new and very timely report by the International Crisis Group (ICG). “Two years after the beginning of the Syria crisis. especially its reception of a large refugee population. around 450.” As the title makes clear. cannot simply go on the way it has handled the crisis at its southern border thus far. have reacted until now because current responses are approaching their limits and. including Syria's neighbors. The figures speak for themselves: By April 2013. the number of casualties and refugees keeps on rising with no end in sight. the risks of Turkey's growing involvement in a proxy war in Syria and the consequence of a change in perception of its Middle East profile from a neutral.armed Syrian opposition and the impact a possible crossing of the American “red line” on the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime might have. As a result.000 Syrians were in Turkish refugee camps. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's opponents are unable to make a decisive breakthrough because the regime is still strong enough to keep control of key places. most observers agree that a rapid end to the civil war in Syria is unlikely. the report contains a long list of recommendations to the Turkish government but also to the EU and its member states. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) believes that numbers could double or triple by the end of 2013. the report focuses on the lessons Turkey should draw from the successes and failures of its past policies on Syria. The moment has come to reassess the way all actors involved. it is time for policymakers to end their wishful thinking about an early end to the conflict and start planning realistically for a gruesome stalemate and the failure of Syria as a state. As the report. have already overstepped them.” For that reason. The direct cost to the main Turkish disaster agency is $750 million. Sunni Muslim actor. logistical and political reasons. The Europeans are urged to increase funding and assistance to help Turkey cope with new . puts it. potential future refugee inflows. to which probably another $400 million should be added in extra costs to other ministries and government agencies. The ICG is convinced that Turkey. “Blurring the Border: Syrian Spillover Risks for Turkey. “The longer the conflict lasts and more violent it becomes.” puts it. the more Turkey will feel its effects on its territory: in terms of present numbers of refugees. secular power to a more partisan. impact on domestic intercommunal tensions.

EU money that remains partly unused and international NGOs that cannot do their jobs properly. most Turks seem to have accepted the fact that. What is Turkey’s plan for April 24. it will only strengthen these things in the eyes of both the refugees in need and the international partners with whom Turkey will have to keep on working when Assad is long gone. and one can only hope that both Ankara and Brussels take them extremely seriously. not allow Syrian opposition fighters to use refugee camps as rear bases and establish new refugee camps well away from the border. donor countries have strict criteria for giving aid and Turkey has very strict criteria for receiving it. 2015? Another April 24 has passed. “The different parties must work harder to overcome frictions between the two understandable positions: the donor's wish for aid to be fully monitored and Ankara's wish to remain in control of what happens on its territory. the Turkish government did not like US President Barack Obama’s address on the occasion of Armenian Remembrance Day and reacted with the usual outworn accusation of one-sidedness. simplified and speedier regulations for the transit of aid and passage of international humanitarian workers into Syria. I sincerely hope the ICG advice on this point is taken on board in Ankara. 1915. and this year everything went relatively smoothly. for the fourth consecutive year. ceremonies were organized in Istanbul and elsewhere to mark the start of the operation of destruction of the Ottoman Armenians on April 24. Apart from some ultranationalist grumbling.waves of Syrians and to facilitate access to EU territory for fleeing Syrians. The only special feature of this year’s commemorations in Turkey was the presence of foreign human rights activists including some representatives of the Armenian diaspora community. The result is a sad story of wasted opportunities. More flexibility will not weaken Turkey's position or prestige. All these proposals make sense.” the report says. as a Turkish official formulates it. Ankara should develop standardized. . There is one issue in the report that keeps confusing and upsetting me: The problematic relations between the Turkish authorities and UN agencies and other international humanitarian organizations mainly because. Of course.

and the main reason is April 24. however. one cannot exclude the possibility that even some of the Ankara institutions have come to realize that there are better and more . positioning itself as the eternal victim of a treacherous anti-Turkish campaign? Or is a more confident Turkey. Books will be published. there will be a new wave of activities to draw world wide attention to the deportations and massacres and to put pressure on Turkey to recognize these tragic events as a genocide.It would be a big mistake. How will Turkey react to this campaign? A report last week by Barçın Yinanç in Hürriyet Daily News suggested that the current Turkish government does indeed have a plan for 2015.” Or should we take the remarks of Culture and Tourism Minister Ömer Çelik seriously when he said last week that Turkey should try to establish tighter dialogue with the descendants of Armenians who left Turkey in 1915 when they were being massacred en masse? What will it be? Will Turkey opt for the familiar combination of diplomatic pressure and blackmail. able and willing to choose an alternative strategy for handling the Armenian issue? Ten years ago the answer to this question would have been simple: option number one. The problem is that it looks like more of the same: An old-style and unimaginative approach that did not wield any positive results till now. to think that things could gradually develop into some state of normalcy along these lines of bureaucratic denial and societal recognition. One does not need to be a fortune teller to know that in the run-up to the centenary of the Great Tragedy. 2015. nowadays. one that is trying to overcome the Kurdish taboo. conferences will be organized and parliaments across the world will be urged to come up with resolutions. That is not going to happen. As Yigal Schleifer put it in his blog on EurasiaNet: “The triple-track approach Yinanç lays out -.fight Armenian genocide recognition efforts while at the same time pushing Yerevan towards normalized relations with Turkey and resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh issue -seems like one that will likely bear little but bitter fruit. the translation of the word used in Armenian for the 1915 horrors. Fortunately.

this is what happened with the deal agreed over the weekend by Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic and Hashim Thaci. In 2008 Pristina declared independence. however. Turkey and 22 . Catherine Ashton. there is a lot to build on. The big question is whether Ankara will reach that conclusion as well before 2015. though. I am convinced. the NATO bombings to prevent that and the decision to place Kosovo under United Nations administration. What they do not want.constructive models around to deal with historic traumas. Yet. An EU success story -. The aim of the 15-point plan is to normalize relations between the two countries: Kosovo was a part of Serbia in the past. It is true that we are talking here of a relatively small group of educated middle and upper class Turks. The book “1915: Genocide” by Hasan Cemal is a bestseller. after long and difficult negotiations chaired by the EU's foreign policy chief. which is recognized by the US. that what happened then should be labeled as genocide. that there is a much bigger group of Turkish citizens that knows deep down that awful things happened. Turks with opposing views have started discussing the 1915 events openly. at least in some media. Unlike ten years ago. Turkish society seems to be ready to enter into a long process of soul searching about 1915 that should be supported by a creative and balanced line of action by the government. and the time has come to face these unpleasant truths.finally It does not often happen these days that an agreement planned and executed in Brussels is welcomed across the board as an example of clever European diplomacy and a proof of continued EU soft power in its immediate neighborhood. and other publications that contradict the official Turkish version of history are freely available. is to be forced by the Armenian diaspora or European parliaments to recognize. his colleague from Kosovo. The shock of Hrant Dink’s murder has forced many to realize that Turkish society can’t continue denying some of the darkest pages in the country’s past. without further debate. but Belgrade lost control over its majority Albanian province after Serb efforts to ethnically cleanse Kosovo in 1999.

out of 27 EU member states, but not by Russia and Serbia.

The biggest stumbling block between Serbia and Kosovo is the presence of a Serb minority in North Kosovo that, till now, was actively supported by Belgrade and does not recognize Pristina's authority. After years of trying to find a compromise, the EU managed to hammer out a deal that could not be refused by either side. The agreement provides substantial autonomy for the Serb-run municipalities in northern Kosovo in areas such as education, health and urban and rural planning. Till the last moment the two sticking points were the status of the police and the judiciary.

There a typical European trade-off was made: The regional police commander will be a Serb and the majority of judges in courts in the north will be Serbs, but the police and the courts will be integrated into the national Kosovo police and justice system. The wide-ranging autonomy is totally in line with the 2008 Athisaari plan on which Kosovo's independence was based and recognized five years ago. However, the integration of the autonomous institutions into the Kosovar constitutional framework means an end to the Serb parallel structures that undermined Pristina's sovereignty and, symbolically highly important, de facto acceptance by Serbia of Kosovo's territorial integrity.

On top of this major Serb concession comes the promise by both countries that they will not block the other side's progress towards EU membership. Although the Serb government keeps stressing that it has not and will never recognize Kosovo's independence, the implicit meaning of this consent is clear, as Daniel Serwer, professor of conflict management and expert on the Balkans, correctly analyzed: “Kosovo is an independent and sovereign state that will progress towards the EU at its own pace and enter without Serbia exercising a veto.” This provision might also lead the five EU non-recognizers to proceed with recognition of Kosovo.

The link between this deal and future EU membership of Serbia and Kosovo touches of course on the heart of the matter. The only reason why Brussels was able to press the two leaders to accept the deal was because large majorities in both countries see no future for their nations other than as a full EU member. In order to get there one day, the current Serbian government especially had to break with its hard-line socialist and nationalist rhetoric and

move to a pro-European position.

The reward came quickly. Immediately after the signing, the European Commission recommended opening EU membership talks with Serbia and starting discussions with Kosovo on a Stabilization and Association Agreement, a key step towards full accession negotiations. EU ministers will decide on these recommendations in June after they have been able to see whether the agreement is implemented on the ground, knowing that Serbs in North Kosovo have already announced their strong disagreement with the settlement between Belgrade and Pristina.

The agreement between Serbia and Kosovo is also important for Ashton. It is the kind of victory she badly needed to dispel some of the skepticism about the new and, according to its critics, extremely inefficient European diplomatic service she has been leading since 2011. Maybe she can use the momentum to solve some of the other longstanding problems in the Balkans like the absurd Greek obstruction against starting accession talks with Macedonia. Syria’s agony of death

This weekend there will be another meeting of the Friends of the Syrian People Group in İstanbul. In the run-up to the summit we could hear the familiar combination of hopeless calls for action, serious warnings against even further descent into chaos and desperate descriptions of the human catastrophe unfolding in front of our eyes.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu repeated his call for the establishment of humanitarian corridors, although he knows there is no chance he will get a positive response from his colleagues. The most prominent among them, US Secretary of State John Kerry, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the aim of the İstanbul talks was to get everybody on the same page with respect to what post-Assad Syria will look like. He also warned that “time is on the side of more violence, more extremism, an enclave breakup of Syria.” I am sure Kerry fully realizes that his pessimistic analysis is far more realistic than his desire for unity. Finally, United Nations aid chief Valerie Amos and UN High Commissioner for

Refugees Antonio Guterres briefed the Security Council on the situation in Syria and painted a dire picture: More than 70,000 people have died; a quarter of Syria’s 22 million people are displaced within the country and 1.3 million have fled abroad; almost 7 million men, women and especially children inside Syria are in need of aid and only about half of the $ 1.5 billion pledged by international donors to cover Syria’s humanitarian needs has been paid.

The accumulation of bad news, even worse expectations, failing efforts to stop further deterioration and an undecided international community, reminded me strongly of the situation in Bosnia in 1994 and 1995. Part of the gloomy stories coming out of Bosnia then described a pre-war, multiethnic society where, despite tensions, most people with different beliefs and backgrounds managed to live together peacefully. To the horror and disappointment of local and foreign observers, that blessed state had been rudely destroyed within a couple of years by a combination of internal radicalization and external indifference.

One could recognize a similar crave for a lost past and an aversion to the current barbarity in the impressive article “The Syrian Heartbreak,” written by Peter Hartling and Sarah Birke, two experienced Syria specialists, and published a few days ago on the website of the Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP). I would recommend everybody interested in the Syrian conflict, its root causes and mind-boggling contradictions, to read the article. For me, a few points stand out.

The authors convincingly describe the loss of any moral standing, first on the side of the regime but gradually also by much of the opposition. Both have turned to a ruthless worldview that rips society apart and closes off any avenue for peaceful change.

According to Hartling and Birke, “the conflict’s supreme irony is that Syrians do not disagree on all that much. They differ on the president -- father figure or father of all ills -- on whether the autocratic regime or the fragmented opposition is the lesser evil, and on who is responsible for the nationwide disaster. But when asked in the abstract what they aspire to, the majority of Syrians paint the same picture of a cohesive, tolerant, multi-religious society, blessed with a fair and representative state.”

Karl Marx. According to Norton. In Norton's words: “The freedom of Jews to vote. the regime or the opposition: “As far as I am concerned. who had argued that Jews could achieve political emancipation only by relinquishing their particular religious consciousness. Whatever I believed in. Our independence is over.What struck me most is the sad conclusion that probably the most lasting result of the present conflict will be the loss of a feeling of national dignity.” The direct reference to Marx's essay is no coincidence. the Muslim question has taken its place. is gone. the iconic 19th-century philosopher and co-founder of Marxism. at the moment. Whoever wins will be entirely dependent on whoever props him up. Alas. no conclusion of the Friends of Turkey is going to change that mood very soon or very easily. but actually presupposes it. the secular state is not opposed to religion. and made me sure of my identity. Recently. religion will no longer play a prominent role in social life. to participate in politics as equals and to walk through their cities as equals accompanied the expansion of democracy and marked the achievement of liberal constitutions. Syria is finished. wrote an essay called “On the Jewish Question. Bruno Bauer.” . The key issue in the Jewish question was the need to change the laws that had relegated Jews to second-class citizenship. In Marx's analysis.” As was the case in Bosnia in 1994-1995. published a small book titled “On the Muslim Question. Despair. the Syrian conflict has probably reached rock bottom. The authors quote a Syrian businessman who cannot decide which to hate more. On the Muslim Question In 1843. Norton claims. an American professor of political science and comparative literature. Anne Norton. the Jewish question was fundamental for politics and philosophy in the Enlightenment.” In this work Marx criticizes one of his contemporaries. In our time. Marx argues that Bauer is mistaken in his assumption that in a secular state. anger and the feeling of being bogged down in a cul-de-sac dominate the feelings of the majority of Syrians caught in the middle.

Islam is marked as the preeminent danger to politics. feel extremely uncomfortable with the presence of rural immigrants from Turkey and Morocco and their customs and traditions rooted in Islam. Norton convincingly analyzes the rejection of Islam as the refusal to accept the return of religion in the highly secularized Dutch society. The presence of the immigrants is the presence of the past. as Norton puts it. struggles over faith and secularism. to the values and institutions of the Enlightenment. Norton writes: “For women. She starts off by reinterpreting some of the infamous clashes over Islam and freedom of speech that we have witnessed over the last decade: the fatwa against Salman Rushdie. Her style is confrontational. that past was a prison. to women. The immigrants remind their uneasy hosts of a past in which all the pleasures and the freedoms now available in most cities were not yet accepted or allowed in a pre-modern country of villages and religious restrictions. for homosexuals. conceptual laziness or plain ignorance among many of the supporters of the idea of a clash of civilizations between the West and Islam. In the 21th century. politics and ethics meet. indeed for many who enjoy the consumer pleasures of postindustrial Europe.” In her book Norton makes a passionate argument against the fear of Islam in Europe and the US. “The figure of the Muslim has become the axis where questions of political philosophy and political theology. Jews and secular humanists. Her pamphlet ends with many . sex and sexuality. including Van Gogh. but the familiar. equality and difference were fought on the terrain of the Jewish question. at some places even aggressive.” This is only one of the many creative and often provocative ways in which Norton deconstructs many of the established truths about Muslims and Islam. She strongly denounces renowned liberal critics of Islam such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Paul Berman and underlines the intellectual flaws in the work of prominent academics like John Rawls and Jacques Derrida. to Christians. Often what is feared in them is not the alien. the murder of the Dutch film producer Theo van Gogh and the riots following the Danish cartoons of Muhammad. Norton is clearly irritated by what she sees as analytical sloppiness. Fascinating is her description of the Netherlands and the reasons why so many liberals.In the 19th century.

Let me start with a positive point: Zaman Vandaag is a weekly in Dutch about things happening in the Netherlands and Flanders. The paper wants to present a perspective that is often missing in other media.examples of different cultures and religions living side by side or mixing in attractive blends that demonstrate that both Europe and the US have become multicultural societies a long time ago and will remain so. Zaman Vandaag wants to stimulate its readers to participate in Dutch and Belgian society and aims at fighting stereotypes and prejudices. Unfortunately. a well-known and respected TV program came up with a story about boarding schools in the Netherlands run by Gülen sympathizers. more generally. the editor-in-chief. the paper is an indication of the fact that Turks and other migrants who came to Europe 50 years ago as temporary guest workers are there to stay. on this terrain. Questions were raised about the functioning of the schools and whether or not these 100 percent Turkish . that the question of the democratic -. Norton realizes that at times it may not be easy to deal with all the contradictions and tensions that are an integral part of life in the modern world. A few days before the paper was presented. “It is here. I sincerely hope the paper manages to reach out to a mixed audience of Dutch and Belgians with different roots through nuanced reports and comments that don’t shy away from the controversies and disputes that are part and parcel of culturally and religiously mixed societies. the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium.” Unproven speculations and legitimate questions Last week I was able to witness through first-hand experience how difficult it is to explain the Gülen movement outside of Turkey and how easy it is to manipulate public opinion on this issue. it wants to publish the unknown stories of new and old Europeans living side by side in today’s multicultural societies and it wishes to focus on positive developments that are in danger of remaining unnoticed. It seems the launch of Zaman Vandaag (Today’s Zaman) in the Netherlands last Tuesday triggered several critics to present their opposition to the paper being fought out. formulated it. to the movement it is affiliated with. a shadow was cast over the launch of Zaman Vandaag by two incidents. As I said at the presentation of the first copy. As Mete Öztürk.its resurgence or further repression -. But in the end she sees no other possibility for Europe and the US than to solve the Muslim question.

It was the reason why the minister of social affairs who had promised to speak at the launch of the new paper declined at the very last moment. the foster child of Turkish origin raised by a lesbian couple in the Netherlands. Being on the defensive. both without the presumed Gülen links. however. biased conspiracy theorists who blame everything they don’t like on the Gülen movement and. the article fueled the already-ongoing debate about the Gülen movement. strengthening the impression among many Dutch that something is fundamentally wrong with this unknown entity. The day of the launch a second incident happened. think that trying to cope with this massive influx of . and the few that do are incapable of presenting a convincing counter story. many Turks who sympathize with the movement react angrily but make the mistake of lumping all the criticism together. There were no clear or substantiated accusations. including a meeting organized by the Directorate of Religious Affairs and a series of programs broadcast by ATV. Still. One of the main newspapers published a big article claiming that the row over Yunus. The program also started a new round of debate in the media on the Gülen movement in which some outspoken critics have a relatively easy task: They can come up with wild and trumped-up charges because hardly anybody in the Netherlands knows something about it. The story looked weak from the start because it contained several mistakes and tried to connect all actors in this case to the Gülen movement. The first should be confronted with the inconsistencies in their unproven speculations. was started by Zaman and other Gülen-related institutions. The problem was that they were put in the framework of a one-sided presentation of the Gülen movement as a shady and controversial phenomenon.facilities were stimulating the integration of the students into Dutch society -legitimate questions that should be answered. here and abroad. those who. Better protection in Turkey for foreigners in need After all the images in the media of hundreds of thousands of Syrians fleeing their country and looking for food and protection in Turkey. are simply concerned about certain practices in schools or dormitories linked to the movement. on the one hand. for whatever reason. but the feeling you got after watching the program was one of suspicion about the goals of a powerful organization totally unfamiliar to most Dutch. That does not help because there is a huge difference between. deserves an honest answer based on full transparency. on the other. The latter. I guess most people.

it refers explicitly to vulnerable groups entitled to special status. They cannot go back out of fear of prosecution or torture. in terms of handling foreigners in need who have come to Turkey (refugees. and for good reason Turkey has been praised for all the efforts it has undertaken to provide its Syrian guests with decent shelter and professional assistance. the new system is run by civilian authorities and no longer by the local police or gendarmerie. However. the Syrians are not the most problematic case. . the UN and human rights organizations. Iraq. Last week. but most are trapped in Turkey: They can't go back home but Turkey does not have a policy to integrate them. the way in which Turkey has dealt with all those forced migrants was repeatedly criticized by the EU. who have no place to go and no prospect of getting out of their misery. That does not apply to the tens of thousands of asylum seekers from Iran.” Again. Therefore. asylum-seekers) in an acceptable way. That is because almost all of them do not want to stay here. it introduces new forms of temporary protection and offers better conditions (housing. possibility to work) for all asylum-seekers. taking care of them is a huge thing. Turkey only legally accepts European asylum-seekers as “refugees” who can apply for a permanent residence permit. finally. The result is thousands of desperate foreigners. both the government and the Syrians know this situation will come to an end one day. gathered at several places all over Turkey. and that is the reason Turkey considers them “temporary guests. Afghanistan and Somalia who have fled to Turkey in the last decade. Parliament adopted a law on foreigners and international protection that replaces all previous regulations and should deal with the current problematic cases and prevent new ones in the future. Some manage to get resettled by the UN in Canada or the US. based on international standards. However. For historical reasons. They want to return to Syria as soon as possible. It is definitely the biggest logistical and financial challenge Ankara is facing at the moment.foreigners is Turkey's main problem in the field of asylum and migration. The step was welcomed by the EU and domestic specialists as a move in the right direction for several reasons: It should establish a standardized practice with shorter procedures all around the country. such as victims of human trafficking and unaccompanied minors. none of the Asians or Africans is officially allowed to stay here forever. Until last week.

Unfortunately. foolish party I have been asking myself two questions this last week: One. in the hypothetical Dutch case. and two. In any country. how should the main opposition party react to the setting up of a special parliamentary commission that will deal with the same issue? Let’s be honest here. . Especially for Afghans it remains to be seen whether or not their often hopeless situation will fundamentally change with the new law: Unlike Iranians. before saying yes. they are still expected to leave the country in the long term because the new law does not present them with an integration or naturalization option. Knowing the Dutch propensity for clear-cut assignments. and it would be up to me to sign up to that or not. They may be stuck in Turkey forever. it is hard to say no. I would like to understand what exactly it is that the government expects me to do as a wise person. even if the latter will be better treated in the future and more of them are able to get a newly defined status. Asylum-seekers from countries to the east and south will definitely be better off with the new law. The EU has already offered to help Turkey in its quest to reshape its migration and asylum management and has indicated that progress in this field will be beneficial in another pursuit: visa liberalization for Turkish citizens traveling to the EU. dream about his or her personal contribution to this historic process of creating peace in the country. Wise persons. at least for some minutes. Still. Everybody would feel flattered and would. what would I say if I was asked by the Dutch government to join the kind of “wise persons commission” that was established a couple of days ago to assist the Turkish government in trying to solve the Kurdish problem. only a few countries are willing to accept them into the framework of a resettlement program. the task of the wise persons would most probably have been spelled out quite unambiguously on paper. However. they still cannot apply for permanent status. It will only be possible to implement the new law in a proper way when those who are going to work for the new directorate at the Interior Ministry are trained in human rights and refugee law. if the prime minister kindly asks you to become a member of a selected group of well respected personalities to help him. in solving the biggest problem the country has been facing for years. the new law preserves the geographical limitation and keeps making a difference between Europeans and non-Europeans. in one way or another.

Instead of a one-way process designed to create public support for policies that were already formulated in Ankara. apparently. One can debate which role: investigate the past. But at least it could and should be tried. the AKP. it’s hard to imagine him changing direction easily. let alone criticism. the prime minister defined the mission of the commission in a very unfortunate manner. In that sense. these were not his final words on the subject. I would say. creating the strong impression that you are not interested at . A crucial difference.I am afraid. Not a very attractive role. because it means that. Some time ago. Why walk away from such a confrontation by referring to internal parliamentary procedures and regulations. Erdoğan suggested he will listen to the views of the wise persons and might change course if these opinions make sense to him. smooth out present differences or formulate future options. It makes sense to give the Turkish Parliament a clear responsibility in the current process.” indicating the wise persons will act as public relations agents for the process. that the Turkish wise persons were not faced with such an explicit choice. the formation of the wise persons commission seemed to constitute an alternative route for getting input “from below” that could. saying they will be conducting a “psychological operation. Knowing the strong and outspoken personality of the prime minister. every wise person is supposed to explain to his or her target audience how good and well-intentioned the government is in its plan. but only if and when the government acts sincerely and with an open mind. it seems there is a large grey area in which the wise persons will have to operate. basically. saying the feedback from the commission will determine the path and the method the government will follow. in which the government should be forced to explain why they refuse to take on board constructive proposals from the opposition. if necessary. the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) (forget about the Nationalist Movement Party [MHP]). Last week the Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader formulated the task of the wise persons in a much more open and challenging way. It would be good to have an open and transparent exchange of views on that in the plenary of Parliament between the three relevant parties. much will depend on the clever and well-coordinated performance of the wise persons. Fortunately. Not much room. The second question was much easier to answer. for doubts or dilemmas. Reading the words Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğa spent on the topic. Let’s hope they can make a difference. however. correct the envisioned plan of action.

Like other citizens in EU member states that had to beg for bailout money. he analyzes with great precision the gap between a new generation of European-minded youngsters on the one hand and the European institutions in Brussels on the other that are perceived as part of the problem. Where are the wise persons inside the CHP? How to deal with a German Europe? During and after the banking crisis on Cyprus. guided by Protestant asceticism. but for a political union from below that is . This leading German intellectual simply does not believe that European and global problems. and he uses this well-written and very accessible paper to demonstrate his aversion to the defenders of the traditional nation-state. At the same time. focused on short-term political gains. Europeans should not look to Berlin.” Beck is one of the world's leading sociologists. Beck is known for his pro-European ideas. can be solved by strengthening the power of individual countries.all in the substance of the debate? That is exactly what the CHP did last week. One could see posters depicting Merkel as Adolf Hitler and hear slogans against the “Fourth Reich. that does not care whether the peace process succeeds or not. Paris or Brussels to come up with the answer. we witnessed the same kind of expressions of anger and aggression in front of closed ATM machines that we saw before in Greece. such as climate change and an unchecked financial system. To get out of the current crisis. The anti-German mood in large parts of Southern Europe reminded me of an essay by Ulrich Beck that I recently read. is forcing the rest of the EU to live by the rules of the same austerity policies that have made Germany so rich and powerful. But they were furious with Germany and the Germans for forcing conditions on them that are perceived by the Cypriots as being dictated by the all-powerful German Chancellor Angela Merkel. "They must learn to cooperate across the frontiers and join forces to fight not for less Europe. not the solution. Spain and Italy. titled “German Europe. Cypriots who were afraid they would lose large sums of money and would have to change their way of life drastically were angry with their own politicians for giving in to European demands and with the EU in general for creating so much uncertainty.” a direct reference to the Nazi Third Reich. the Cypriots are convinced that Berlin is the new capital of Europe and Merkel the uncrowned queen of Europe who. I would recommend that everyone who wants to understand what is happening in Europe these days read this small book. It strengthens the perception of a small-minded party.

making no loans or funds available. Beck summarizes the situation as follows: "Only one fate is worse than being overwhelmed by German money and that is not being overwhelmed by German money.." According to Beck. people come to me afterwards and admit that. On almost every occasion. ‘The Turks are coming!’ After more than ten years of discussing Turkey in the Netherlands. I know pretty well what the Dutch don’t know about Turkey. In the end. they have no clue about the long-lasting influence of the military coups and they have huge problems understanding what kind of party the Justice and Development . model savers and model pacifists. Beck finds the claim of a “Fourth Reich” absurd because in 2013 the new German power is not based on force as the ultima ratio.committed to social-democratic principles." Faced with the feelings of despair and powerlessness among the young generation that we witness every day.. They don’t know anything about the Ottoman Empire. Germany's rise is not the consequence of a secret master plan. they find it difficult to assess the importance of Atatürk and his legacy. although they follow the international news quite closely.not investing." The problem is that other Europeans don't see it that way. In one of his impressive one-liners. since only these would be in a position to combat the causes of their plight effectively. Beck is optimistic that these misperceptions can be overcome through building a new Europe from below. The pressure Berlin can exert arises from the threat of not doing anything -. . They have created a strong German self-perception of finally being "model democrats. The part of the book that is really a must-read is his analysis of how and why the Germans ended up being the EU's enforcers. and that explains much of the mutual misunderstanding and bad feelings. model nuclear dropouts. but the logical result of Germany's historical experiences with war and partition. Beck's call sounds sympathetic and refreshing but also a bit far-fetched and out of touch with reality. they lack the basics on Turkey. The Germans no longer wish to be thought of as racists and warmongers. One can only hope he is right. They would prefer to become the schoolmasters and moral enlighteners of Europe.

opponents of Turkish accession to the EU like to make comparisons to that historic period. ranging from the impact of a future Turkish EU membership to mutual misperceptions about the Dutch foster parents policy. in addition to the Balkans. there has been substantial progress. on both sides. The difficulty in analyzing and interpreting the ruling party should not come as a surprise. It was clear from their questions that two issues stood out in their appraisal of the book: surprise about the deeply rooted Turkish ambiguity about Europe and uncertainty about how to assess the policies of the AKP. misrepresentations. In the days before the launch. was presented in the Netherlands last Friday. In the book we try to explain that it is not possible to describe the AKP policies since 2002 with just one label. On the one hand. written in Dutch. It was for that reason that some time ago I decided to write a book. a slightly provocative one that refers directly to the old and new fear among Europeans that Turks are about to conquer Europe. Many Turks have the same problem. I have written before about the combination of love and hate with which many Turks look at Europe. It is only one example of current policies on Turkey and Europe being legitimized. I spoke to many Dutch journalists and editors. In the 15th and 16th century. for instance in pushing back the role of the army in politics. on the other there are . The book. by historic traumas. very often. Nowadays. there was indeed a concrete threat that the Ottomans would defeat the then-powers of Europe and would. They suggest that Europeans should again be afraid of the Turks coming in to bully and intimidate the other members of the EU. experiences and. together with my wife. to explain present day Turkey to a Dutch audience. It’s evident where that comes from those who are familiar with Turkish and Ottoman history but for the people I spoke to it was an eye-opener to read about the Sèvres syndrome and the suspicion of Europeans and their intentions it created in Turkish collective memory. they visit Turkey more often than before and are constantly faced at home with all kind of issues related to Turkey.Party (AKP) is. At the same time. claiming that the defeat of the Ottomans at the gates of Vienna in 1683 would have been in vain if the EU would now accept Turkey as a member. We chose “The Turks Are Coming!” as the title. dominate large parts of Central and maybe even Western Europe.

more of my countrymen have a slightly better understanding of Turkey and the ambiguities that determine its present and immediate futureTurkey's ambiguity on Europe At the beginning of this week I spoke at a conference at the European Parliament in Brussels organized by Insight Turkey. Few Dutch still think of him as the infamous “wolf in sheep clothing” who has secret agenda to “Islamize” Turkey but many are concerned about this authoritarian tendencies while at the same time. I was asked to explain the Turkish perspectives on Europe to an audience of European officials and politicians. To make my point.” The fact that most Turks both love and hate Europe might not be a revelation to the readers of these pages. interested in but not necessarily very knowledgeable about the way Turks look at Europe. I used as an example the recent row between Turkey and the Netherlands about foster children with Turkish roots that. by far the country’s most important ethnic minority.ongoing problems with freedom of the press. they are happy with his current Kurdish initiative. I have come to the conclusion that. My only hope is that. have no clue about the deeply rooted suspicions. What is interesting in this case are the underlying arguments used by the Turkish side. in general. should not be placed with Christian foster families or gay couples. fears and doubts about Europe that Turks have developed over time. I did not go into the many misunderstandings on both sides or the mistakes made by the Dutch authorities. have not been met. one of the leading English language magazines on Turkey. the relationship between Turkey and Europe should be characterized by what I would call “structural ambiguity. however. the government has started a courageous attempt to finally come to terms with the wishes of the Kurds. The only thing they know is that for 200 years Turkey has been looking at the West as a model and therefore wants to join the club by becoming a member of the EU. The same applies to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. While the demands of the Alevis. after reading the book. After dealing with Turkey for more than 10 years now and living in the country since 2009. the biggest religious minority in Turkey. It is this mixed bag of breakthroughs and stagnation that makes it so difficult for outsiders to grasp what is happening in Turkey today and where the country is heading. . Most Europeans. according to the Turkish government.

Justice and Development Party (AK Party) deputy and chair of the parliamentary Human Rights Inquiry Committee.One is the claim. They tried to do so at the end of the Ottoman Empire with the Sèvres Treaty of 1920. fully distorted vision is not just promoted by marginal extremists but. one can clearly see how this old fear is being revamped to justify the ongoing interference of the Turkish state with Turks abroad who are seen as the victims of these assimilationist policies. and the efforts of the EU to force its conditionality on Turkey as part of the accession process is basically just a modern version of that old ambition. in my view. throughout history Europe has never been multicultural. At the heart of this ideology lies the conviction that. When things are going well. In an article in which he tried to substantiate his objections to the Dutch foster parents policy. Listening to Bozdağ. It took me a long time to understand that this. that the Dutch foster parents policy is part of a deliberate strategy of assimilation. like for instance in the years between 2002 and 2006. he bluntly denied that Europe could ever become a multicultural society: "Unfortunately. The Europe that could not tolerate the Jews in the past now cannot stand the Muslims. It pops up each time there are problems between Turkey and Europe. Europe is out to fully erase the cultural and religious roots of Turkish migrants. made by Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ and others. is an integral part of Turkey's collective memory. A second anti-European argument was used by Ayhan Sefer Üstün. The arguments used by Bozdağ and Üstün are classic examples of the popular prejudices and misperceptions about Europe that are part and parcel of Turkish nationalism. ultimately." With one stone. But in times of stagnation and often legitimate doubts . the positive sides of the EU's economy and democracy are admired and taken as an example. According to this reasoning. as a result of decades of indoctrination. Üstün tried to kill two birds by arguing that all Europeans are and have always been racists and by playing on the preconceived notion that the EU is a Christian club that will never accept people from other beliefs. the Europeans have always been out to weaken and divide Turkey.

It is good for Europeans to understand this mechanism. even if and when relations between Turkey and the EU will improve this year and even more in 2014. The EU and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) offered Cyrus a way out when they agreed on a 10 billion euro bailout. That plan was however rejected by the Cypriot parliament a few days ago. The ECB warned that it would turn of the tap of emergency funding to Cypriot banks if a rescue package with the EU and the IMF is not agreed on this Monday. The other 4 billion should come from a “solidarity fund” that would use Cyprus’ future gas revenues. At the moment of writing this article. most observers think that the ECB can’t afford damaging its own reputation badly by letting this deadline pass by again as happened to a previous one in January. nationalized pension funds and even property of the Church of Cyprus as collateral. and it would allow the government to impose unprecedented capital controls to stem a flood of funds leaving the island when banks reopen on Tuesday after a weeklong shutdown. the island’s politicians have been racing to agree on the details of a “plan B” that would raise the same amount of money. . albeit on condition that Cyprus would raise an additional 6 billion by putting a one-off tax on bank savings. for understandable reasons. . which would bring in around 2 billion euros. Since that dramatic move.The desperate Cypriot hunt for 6 billion euros While Turkey. First EU reactions to these creative but desperate plans were not really encouraging. Although some analysts doubt whether the ECB will really pull the trigger of the gun it pointed at the head of Cyprus. it is quite easy for Euroskeptics in Turkey to tap into this subconscious layer of strong feelings and emotions.about Europe's sincerity. Without it. That will pave the way for a split of the country’s second largest lender. Cyprus is facing the prospect of a banking meltdown and exit from the euro zone. The island is on the brink of bankruptcy after the European Central Bank (ECB) issued an ultimatum last week. just off the shores of the country an epic struggle for survival is taking place: Greek Cyprus is desperately trying to save its economy and survive as a member of the eurozone. is fully focused on the potentially revolutionary consequences of the cease-fire announced by Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan last Thursday. the parliament is preparing to vote on new legislation to restructure the Cypriot banking sector. The ECB money has kept the ailing banks alive over the last couple of months.

is not in Turkey’s interest at all. frustrated by what it perceives as the tendency of Cyprus’ political classes to defend foreign investors and an untenable financial service sector instead of the interests of the island’s own population. Cyprus has only two options left before the deadline expires. and I agree with Özdemir that a deal on Cyprus that would also give a boost to Turkey’s EU prospects might not necessarily be in Russia’s interest. That would mean hitting the banks’ rich Russian clients.According to the Financial Times. I hope Ankara does closely follow what is going on because Russia gaining greater influence in the eastern Mediterranean and. the scenario of Russia riding to the rescue of Cyprus got little attention in the Turkish press until now. My suggestion: focus on Nicosia. The other option would be to appeal to Moscow for aid. Yunus and the extremists There is no escape if you have been watching Turkish TV channel ATV lately . Brussels and Moscow in the next couple of days because what happens there matters to Turkey. A first effort by the Cypriot finance minister failed. Russia could strike a deal for access to Cyprus’ prospective gas reserves or could purchase and recapitalize some of the Cypriot banks. more importantly. who warned this week against stronger alignment between Cyprus and Russia. co-chair of the German Greens. and his Russian colleague announced that Russia wants to wait and see what happens in the next couple of days. a decision that would be welcomed by the EU. inside the EU. as it would give Russia influence on the expansion of the EU. It was Cem Özdemir. One is to go back to the EU-IMF plan but modify it in such a way that bigger depositors pay more and accounts under 100. Surprisingly. It would be bad for Turkey because Ankara would have to negotiate with Moscow on reunification of the island.000 euros are exempted. Not only because of the disputed gas reserves that could be used to save the Cypriot economy.

For that reason. According to ATV.or are active on Facebook or Twitter: Turkey is up in arms about the treatment of Yunus and other foster children with Turkish roots by the Dutch authorities. It took me some time to understand why emotions are running so high in the two countries. That is. Turks are not able to grasp the fact that in the Netherlands the authorities have the right. was taken away from his Turkish parents eight years ago after the responsible institutions in the Netherlands got clear indications that his mother was not able to bring up the baby who had suffered repeated physical injuries. to interfere with families if there are unambiguous signals that. children are being mistreated or neglected by their parents. . Foster institutions have denied any intention to assimilate Turkish foster children and underlined that their main problem is the lack of Turkish foster parents. especially after Yunus's foster parents felt threatened by the aggressive tone of some of the Turkish media coverage and decided to go into hiding. Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ and a growing number of Turks. Following regular procedures. until a few weeks ago when his biological mother started a media campaign to get her child back. Most obvious is the lack of understanding on both sides. a professional and elaborate foster parent system simply does not exist in Turkey. In Turkey. Columnists defended the rights of gay couples to raise children and the Dutch government warned loftily that the national foster parents policy is none of Turkey's business. indeed the obligation. Yunus. in this case a lesbian couple. who will be visiting the Netherlands this Thursday to confront his Dutch counterparts with Turkish anger and. The Dutch for their part have no clue about this fundamental difference. She made an emotional appeal to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. These compelling accusations have caused a strong reaction in the Netherlands. take the boy with him to Turkey. if possible. Yunus was placed with foster parents. a nine-year-old boy. family life is sacred and only in extraordinary circumstances people expect and accept the state to limit the authority of families to deal with their own children. who raised him without any problems. for instance. Yunus is just one of thousands of Turkish foster children who have been taken away from their Turkish parents by the Dutch authorities on the basis of flimsy evidence and as part of a deliberate attempt to erase the children's Turkish and Muslim roots and force them to be assimilated.

but it would be a huge mistake to think that the official policy of the state is based on the wish to fully erase the cultural and religious background of Dutch citizens with Turkish roots. and part of the mutual incomprehension can be explained. The demonstrations soon spread to other parts of the country. on the other hand. It is true that some Dutch politicians are in favor of such a controversial policy. eventually. is the fuel it has produced for extremists in Turkey and the Netherlands. We all know what has . protests against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad started in the southern city of Daraa. Let's hope Erdoğan and his Dutch colleague Mark Rutte manage this Thursday to put things in the right perspective and push back the extremists. There is one more complicating factor. Most Dutch. the Dutch government would like to assimilate migrant communities. with this combination of ignorance and prejudice on both sides. Turkish nationalists of all creeds have grabbed the opportunity to again bash the unreliable Europeans and push for ongoing meddling of the Turkish state with what is now already the third generation of Turkish migrants. The real problem. The arms race in Syria Two years ago. The Pavlovian reaction of Turkey skeptics in the Netherlands has been to make a direct link between the present controversy and Turkish future relations with the rest of Europe by stating that the EU can never accept a country with cultural practices that deviate so much from the Dutch ones. That is the deeply rooted suspicion among Turks that. triggered by the torture of several students who were arrested for writing anti-government graffiti on the city walls. basically starting the Syrian chapter of the Arab Uprising.Add to that the well-known divergence between the two societies on the perception of homosexuality. don't understand the Turkish fears or are not familiar with them because they agree on the need for integration instead of assimilation. however. in mid March 2011.

over time. as a British official put it: “The arms embargo prevents us from helping the moderates in Syria. The same day. Reuters quoted Western diplomats suggesting that in recent months Iran has significantly stepped up military support to the Syrian regime. Against that background of ongoing outside support for Assad and alarming indications that among the rebels the radical Islamists. Russia and Iran have been very active in supporting their main Arab ally in the Middle East. till now. on the eve of an EU summit in Brussels. From the start. sending in huge amounts of weapons through Iraqi airspace and trucks that can easily enter Syria because the Iraqis are looking the other way. Israel’s military intelligence chief went one step further and claimed that Iran and Hezbollah have built up a 50. even after his fall. French President François Hollande. expecting that. given that their capability and external support would rise. refrained from sending arms to the Syrian rebels.000 have been killed and over one million Syrians have fled the country. Non-violent pro-democracy rallies have turned into a bloody civil war in which 70.000 that.” The Brits and the French agree that. The . however. A few days ago. The US and Europe are doing their utmost to provide humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees in neighboring countries and have facilitated the political wing of the anti-Assad opposition but have. will not be able to stop the advances of the rebels. “The balance of forces would shift to the rebels. politically and militarily. made a dramatic appeal for Europe to join Paris and London in lifting a European arms embargo on Syria.” According to the IISS. armed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Last week the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) concluded in its “Military Balance 2013” report that the tide was turning against Assad.000 strong parallel force in Syria to help prolong the life of the Assad regime and to maintain their influence.happened since. are gaining the upper hand. the Syrian army has withered to a loyal core of about 50. “We can’t allow a people to be massacred by a regime that has shown that it doesn’t want a political transition. it should not come as a surprise that Europe and the US are changing their position on sending arms to Syria. in the long run.

This time. The extremists are getting help. The EU embargo must be renewed every three months. Ankara is unhappy with the fact that in some cases foster . That will start a new phase in the Syrian civil war with. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will pay a visit to the Netherlands during which he will deliver a speech at the Islamic University in Rotterdam. trips of Turkish officials to their country were always a good reason for the Dutch media to reflect on Turkey's challenging EU accession negotiations. domestic opposition forces.” A growing number of European diplomats agree that the well-known arguments against arming the rebels -. it should not come as a surprise when other topics dominate the coverage of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader's stopover in the Netherlands. the only way to guarantee such an outcome and strengthen the position of the moderate. French and British officials are convinced now that Assad will only agree to a political resolution when he realizes that he is losing the battle. there is a lot of dissatisfaction about the Turkish government's intentions to interfere directly with the Dutch policy on foster parents. The most likely outcome of the debate inside the EU is that Germany and some other EU member states will soon agree to a formal suspension of the embargo that will allow France and the UK to begin arming the groups they have already selected. more casualties but hopefully also better chances for a swift end to the murderous conflict that has already destabilized the whole region.finding a political solution first. The moderates are not. not militarizing the situation or having weapons falling into the wrong hands -are losing their impact. initially. The US State Department has reacted positively to the French and British plans. but Paris and London have indicated they don’t want to wait till the end of May. is to start delivering weapons to them as soon as possible. The timing of the lifting now depends mainly on Berlin. In the recent past. As I wrote in my previous column. Are Turks anti-Semites? Next week. In this analysis. but German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle was more cautious in his response. now and in the post-Assad era.regime is getting help. however.

Zionism. anti-Semitism. suspicions remain. For most Muslims. In an episode of a televised documentary series. the iconic book about a Jewish girl from Amsterdam who did not survive the horrors of fascism. the youngsters immediately make a link with the Israeli policy in Gaza and the . many in the Netherlands have the impression that Turks are prone to anti-Semitism. tries to help his compatriots cope with their problems. Two weeks ago." The majority of non-Muslims consider Zionism to be the ideology behind the creation of a Jewish state. When Mehmet tries to find out why they resort to such extreme anti. It's obvious from many of his previous statements and Turkey's efforts to mediate a deal between Israel and Syria before the Gaza war broke out in 2008 that Erdoğan is an outspoken critic of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians but not an antiZionist in the Western meaning of the word. some weeks ago." Many in Europe and the US accused Erdoğan of being an anti-Semite. No Dutch politician or official understands why Turks are making these grave accusations.Semitism.children with a Turkish background and/or nationality have been placed with non-Muslim parents. In Turkish eyes. After two recent incidents. another incident. Personally. and the row strengthened some already existing anti-Turkey sentiments in the West. Mehmet wants to read “The Diary of Anne Frank” with them. The reaction of the boys is shocking: They say Hitler was right in trying to kill all the Jews. “is associated with the expulsion. this is part of a policy of forced assimilation. First. repression and killing of Palestinians by the Jewish state. fascism and İslamophobia are all crimes against humanity. has reopened the debate in the Netherlands about Turks and anti-Semitism. including the AKP leader. a sympathetic Turkish Kurd living in a poor neighborhood in the east of the Netherlands. But there is another issue that has seriously damaged the perception of Turkey and Turks. who. who explained in his column in Today's Zaman that Zionism in the Islamic world has a different meaning than it does for the rest of the globe. as Taspinar puts it. this time involving some Dutch youngsters with Turkish roots. In order to explain to some 15-16 year-old students what appalling consequences hate and discrimination have led to in the past. the Turkish prime minister made it abundantly clear he strongly denounces antiSemitism. I agree with people like Ömer Taspinar. Still. In his Vienna speech. so I am sure the Turkish prime minister will have some explaining to do. the main character is Mehmet Sahin. Being anti-Zionist means being opposed to the existence of the state of Israel and in favor of its destruction. Erdoğan gave a speech at a UN forum in Vienna in which he said: "Zionism. as a volunteer community worker.

then and now.West Bank. It was the first topic raised by several people I met. The angry reactions make it clear there is an urgent need to explain to an agitated and confused Dutch population why Turks from all walks of life are inclined to criticize the policies of the state of Israel by using words that are viewed as extremely discriminating by most Europeans and Americans. is trying to implement a policy of forced assimilation. In their simple. Placing foster children in foster families is done on the basis of . Ayhan Sefer Üstün. The day of my arrival the Dutch Ministry of Health. the chairman of the Human Rights Commission in Parliament. Erdoğan has a golden opportunity to do so next week in Rotterdam. made public that according to research done by his committee. youthful worldview. thousands of Turkish foster children in Europe had been placed in Christian families or with gay couples in a deliberate attempt to assimilate them and make them forget their Muslim roots. I did not write about it because I thought this small hype would soon be forgotten. A few days ago I arrived in the Netherlands. Why would someone make these kind of bold accusations? The only explanations I could think of have some vague historical traumas and a mindset in which perfidious Westerners can never be trusted. in one way or another. The government answers make two things clear: 1. and it became clear to me soon that many of my countrymen had not forgotten about it. I was surprised by the numbers and irritated by the suggestion that placing Turkish foster children with families with a different cultural background was part of a premeditated campaign to weaken their Turkish roots. On the basis of these findings. all of them asking me what is behind these claims. Jews are the perpetrators of a murderous policy towards Palestinian Muslims and therefore a legitimate target. most of them angry about the insinuation that the Netherlands. the government announced that it has embarked on a campaign to retrieve children of Turkish migrant families living in Europe who are fostered by non-Turks and instead place them in homes where their cultural identity can be preserved. Foster children and eternal migrants A couple of weeks ago. At the time. Welfare and Sports responded to parliamentary questions on the issue.

on the motives and arguments of the Turkish authorities. after many years of debates and controversies. 2. the religious beliefs and cultural background of the biological parents who are closely involved in selecting the foster family. The bigger picture is that of Turkey’s wish to interfere in the lives of Dutch citizens with Turkish roots. All of them stressed that the real problem was the lack of Turkish foster families. I presume the Turkish government agrees with this shift that would end a policy of labeling the descendants of migrants as the eternal “other.extremely careful considerations. aimed at putting children in a new environment that resembles.” Ankara or Rabat trying to keep a grip on the lives of these new Dutch nationals totally contradicts this positive development. and they denied indignantly that foster institutions in the Netherlands have some sort of secret agenda in their handling of Turkish foster children. but as ordinary Dutch citizens with exactly the same rights and obligations. Over the last couple of weeks. including the government and a growing number of Dutch Turks. but give up the ambition to interfere with the lives of Dutch and German citizens with Turkish roots. that it is none of Ankara’s business. It is obvious that the accusations from Ankara have touched on some very sensitive issues. This is definitely a big thing over here. Finally. several officials and professionals working with foster children and foster parents had already tried to explain in the media how things work in the Netherlands. a special category in society. should no longer be considered and treated as migrants. to put it mildly. The Turkish government has no say and no right to intervene in the lives of foster children in the Netherlands with Turkish nationality. Most Dutch. They can live . as much as possible. Not only because most Dutch knowledgeable about the national foster parents policy perceive them as totally off the mark and based on wrong information and dubious assumptions. are of the opinion. a consensus has developed that migrants from Turkey and Morocco. many of them belonging to the third generation. My advice to the Turkish government: Try to stimulate Turkish families all over the world to volunteer as foster parents. Turkish nationality. or in some cases. bluntly speaking. and it does not reflect very positively.

Lamberts and Mr. the most capable and talented would move abroad. With a background in business (he worked at IBM for many years) Lamberts started a discussion with his colleagues from other political groups in the EP on the need to put limits on bonuses for bank executives. Last week. The plans are part of a general overhaul of bank capital rules that is deemed necessary to prevent another banking crisis after the one of 2008 and 2009. despite short contracts or poor results. struck a deal with representatives of the EU member states that basically forbids bonuses that exceed a bankers' fixed annual salary. The Financial Times. giving shareholders of companies listed in Switzerland a binding say on overall pay packages for board members and directors. over the weekend a majority of voters in Switzerland approved tighter restrictions on executive compensation. In the beginning he was laughed at and not taken seriously at all. Philippe Lamberts became a member of the European Parliament (EP) for the French-speaking Greens from Belgium. extremely influential in London and other global financial centers.” Coincidentally. EP negotiators. A politician's dream and a banker's nightmare In 2009. labeling him “the City of London's dreaded bonus snatcher. What has happened to make the dreams of Mr. published a sympathetic portrait of Mr. at the outset nobody believed he had any chance of changing a system. Minder's campaign received a huge boost after several highly publicized cases in which CEO's of Swiss companies. As in the case of Lamberts. Lamberts. based on the assumption that if Swiss companies would not reward their executives large-heartedly. who started his struggle against unchecked and exuberant executive's payments years ago. among them Mr. pocketed millions of euros. Lamberts. The Swiss referendum was the brainchild of Thomas Minder. A member of the parliament's powerful finance committee told him to keep his “populist arguments” to himself.without. a former businessman turned independent legislator. Mr. Minder come true? .

started giving huge bonuses again to some of their traders and dealmakers. on the one hand. it will reduce the risks borne by taxpayers and go a long way towards rehabilitating the industry. bankers copying old behaviors that led the 2008 crisis in the first place and. there was widespread public outcry about the enormous gap between. But the success of Lamberts and Minder also shows that politicians can make a difference if they combine stubbornness and commitment with a good sense of timing. What happened soon after. together with renowned economist Sony Kapoor: “The right to limit the maximum bonus for bankers will help tackle the culture of excessive risk-taking and the bending of rules that has now become endemic to banking. These huge amounts are at the root of the broader government debt crisis that followed and that is still haunting Europe.” It is true that many details will have to be worked out. however. on the other. were seen as unwelcome restrictions. forcing it to focus on serving the real economy again. recently saved by taxpayers' money. that initially only a small number of “risk-takers” will be affected and that additional legislation is needed to deal with hedge funds and private equity firms. Immediately. Anyone in the Turkish Parliament interested? Arab Islamists and the Turkish model . until recently.' an argument often advanced by the opponents of bonus caps. Lamberts wrote in a blog for the London School of Economics. most ordinary citizens having to accept pay cuts or job loss as a result of the austerity policies deemed necessary to get out of the current crisis.The main reason for the adoption of rules that. No minister or parliamentarian in Europe wants to be seen these days as defending a system of payments that rewards the kind of behavior that has caused so much trouble in the past. lies in the 2008 banking crisis.” EU countries were forced to spend an estimated 2 trillion euros to save these banks. As Mr. was that banks. More importantly. Undertaking this at an EU-wide level will also limit any large-scale migration of the so-called ‘talent. Because many of the European banks that were on the verge of bankruptcy were considered “too big to fail.

right after the election victories of Al-Nahda in Tunisia and the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) in Egypt. rule of law. Fischer also lists the rise to power of Islamist forces in Tunisia and Egypt as one of the negative developments that have made him pessimistic about the immediate future of the region. “It is not religiosity but the relative strength of state institutions that accounts for post-Arab Spring differences between Tunisia and Egypt. generally speaking a well-informed and nuanced analyst. are institutions.” Compared to Tunisia. the differences in institutional capacities. there was a lively debate on the question as to whether Turkey or the Justice and Development Party (AKP) . According to the researchers. The article is based on surveys among thousands of Tunisians and Egyptians conducted at the end of last year. The results indicate why Islamist parties did well in the last elections (ideological affinity coupled with effective campaigning) but also debunk the myth that Tunisia has fared better than Egypt after the uprisings because Tunisians are less religious than Egyptians. They focus on the violent clashes in the streets of Tunis and Cairo.” Last year. mainly look at the current human catastrophe in Syria and claim that the bright hope of a new Middle East has vanished. not by the divide between Islamists and secularists. The factor that most distinguishes Tunisia from Egypt is not the prevalence of moderate Tunisians versus radical Egyptians but. most of Egypt’s institutions are weak and have been routinely undermined by entrenched interests. In the same article. economic growth and the constraint of undemocratic players. I guess Fischer.” Their conclusion: “Egyptian democracy is undermined by the inability of institutions to address citizen’s demands and the impulse of powerful actors to interfere. which the United States and other outside powers must support. … The fundamentals of democracy. like former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer. Examples mentioned are the Egyptian army and its huge role as an economic actor and the constant interventions of the judiciary. the frustration about unmet expectations of more jobs and especially the authoritarian practices of the ruling Islamists. Others. Many international observers argue that the Arab Spring has turned into an Islamist winter. rather. characterized by the authors as “divisive and destabilizing.It has become quite fashionable these days to be cynical about the prospects of democracy in the Arab world. did not read a recent article on the website of the leading US magazine Foreign Affairs in which several academics make the convincing claim that Islamists are not the obstacle in the democratization of Tunisia and Egypt but the lack of strong institutions is.

Jonathan Steele summarized them in The Guardian only a few days ago: “Adding more weaponry will merely raise the amount of killing. seemed to make Turkey an attractive point of reference. Initially. I was opposed to sending weapons to armed anti-Assad groups in Syria. made an effort to revitalize the argument by publishing a paper under the title “Muslim Politics without an ‘Islamic’ State. we have long passed that stage. Apart from its booming economy. could bring important dividends for moderate Arab parties as well. Kuru has written a lot about this distinction in the past and now tries to show that the fact the AKP is actively promoting a new version of passive secularism in Turkey. and most importantly. . It would distinguish them from radical Salafis on the one hand and allow them to strengthen elected institutions on the other. the pragmatic AKP approach. Ahmet Kuru. and “passive secularism.could be considered as some sort of model for these new ruling parties.” practiced in countries like the US.” the form of secularism we know from France and Kemalist Turkey. Unfortunately. According to Kuru. makes the party extremely interesting for Arab Islamists. Ankara remains on the right track. … There is little to stop US arms gravitating to the most ruthless. and make it even harder to deliver aid to the millions who have had to flee their homes. the Netherlands and Senegal. Last week. favoring a secular state. Let’s hope Tunis and Cairo keep following developments in Turkey closely. that discussion has died down because the new rulers have others things on their mind and skeptics have dismissed the usefulness of such modeling.” These are serious arguments and they should be taken into consideration. the existence of strong institutions and the coexistence of a secular state and a majority Muslim society.” In his reasoning Kuru builds on the difference between “assertive secularism. but for some reason they have stopped convincing me. Arming the Syrian rebels Until very recently. It also risks putting more guns in the hands of the jihadists and Salafis who are conducting most of the attacks. Since then. a visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Center. I was against this because it would inevitably sideline the peaceful protests that started the uprising against the Syrian dictator. But there were other reasons to be averse to arming the rebels as well. We are in the middle of a savage civil war in which unarmed resistance has become impossible.

according to many commentators. will lead to a stalemate that cannot be won by either side but will cost the lives of many more thousands. the conflict in Syria. Without a breakthrough. Syria will indeed. On Thursday. Just last weekend. the leader of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC). the main suppliers of radical armed groups.a democrat who hates both Assad and the foreign radical Islamists who have gained importance and respectability in Syria? He stressed that from his phone calls with friends and family inside Syria. Was it the latest issue of The Economist. is not coming? Experienced Reuters correspondent David Rohde made the argument that the US should at least allow Turkey and some Arab states to supply the non-jihadist rebels with sophisticated weapons that could help turn the tide of the civil war. If that does not happen soon. Why would they keep on refusing weapons from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. knowing that their first option. there will be an important international meeting on Syria in Rome. assistance from the West. which described the horrors taking place in Syria and called on the US to arm non-jihadist rebel groups and at least build links with moderate Syrians who feel utterly abandoned by the West? Or was it the long talk with one of my neighbors. to attend as well. from Western countries. John Kerry. read weapons. half Turkish.I am not sure what changed my mind. will be there and managed to convince Moaz al-Khatib. My neighbor's story confirmed a rising number of reports coming out of Syria. underlining the rise of anti-Americanism among secular Syrian rebels who ask themselves in despair whether they should maybe first become jihadists in order to get the money and the support they need to defeat Assad. the new US secretary of state. . become the main battlefield for a sectarian conflict between Sunni and Shiite extremists that ordinary Syrians do not want and most outsiders say they wish to prevent. half Syrian -. along the lines of a tragic self-fulfilling prophecy. he keeps getting the alarming message that many of them feel crushed between a regime they despise and an armed opposition they fear for its extremist ideology. the SNC announced it would boycott the Rome conference to protest the absence of any substantial aid.

that politics is about taking risks and that without doing so. Constitutional opportunism Last week the Constitution Reconciliation Commission in the Turkish Parliament. It seems Saudi Arabia has financed this transfer of large amounts of infantry weapons from Croatia. Mehmet Ali Şahin. but not anymore. speaking on the process to end the Kurdish conflict. behind-the-scenes assent of the US. tasked with drafting a new constitution. a highly appreciated and knowledgeable commission that has played a leading role in the last two decades in assisting European countries that wanted to revise their existing constitution or adopt a new one. including the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). I have come to the point that I am willing to take the risk. possibly with the quiet. rejected an offer by the Venice Commission to make a contribution to the ongoing process. speculations have grown that since December.” possibly casting a shadow over the work done by the Turkish deputies. one cannot reach the results to which one aspires. The Venice Commission is the Council of Europe’s advisory body on constitutional matters. In the last couple of days. the Republican People’s Party (CHP) but was rejected by the other three parties. albeit in private. . In the case of arming the Syrian rebels. The Rome meeting could be used to inform the SNC. I would have objected. Let me explain why I believe the rejection was a huge mistake and above all a reflection of the unscrupulous way in which both the AKP and the CHP have been trying to manipulate the advice and opinions of the Venice Commission and use them to serve their own interests.It is not clear what Kerry has on offer and whether he is willing to change President Barack Obama's policy of blocking the shipment of arms to Syrian rebels. who recently said. In the past. more arms have reached the moderate and secular parts of Syria's armed opposition. One of the AKP members of the parliamentary commission. was quoted as saying that the assistance of the Venice Commission could lead to an impression of foreign “guardianship. I agree with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. that more arms are on their way. The proposal by the Venice Commission was supported by the main opposition party.

When they disagree. Last week’s decision shows. the CHP considered it to be an unwanted outside intervention in Turkish lawmaking. It solely depends on the opinion of the Venice Commission on a specific subject. The picture seemed clear: The AKP appreciated external outside expertise that could improve the quality of Turkish legislation. however. not surprisingly. The only difference between 2010 and 2013 is that this time the CHP thinks it can profit from the European advise and the AKP made the opposite calculation. we have to go back to the referendum on 26 constitutional amendments that took place on Sept. 2010. When the AKP or the CHP agree with that view. Buquicchio has underlined that a strong presidential system in a country without a strong liberal tradition often leads to authoritarian government. the CHP hated them because the European support spoiled their “no” campaign. He repeated his warning last week. Venice Commission President Gianni Buquicchio made it very clear the changes to the structure and the procedure to appoint the members of both key judicial institutions were a major step forward. What happened? On several occasions during the last 12 months.In order to understand what I mean. they want to involve the European experts. In the runup to that important vote. the government requested the Venice Commission to prepare opinions on the draft laws that were part of the implementation of the constitutional amendment package. After the adoption of the reforms. The government loved his comments and. they come up with the old familiar rhetoric about national sovereignty that should not be harmed. Buquicchio even went as far as saying that a “no” vote in the referendum would be a step backward for Turkey and would have negative political consequences. the AKP was very happy with the strong support given by the Venice Commission for the reform package. saying that moving to a presidential system would be “quite risky” for Turkey because the country does not have the well-established . especially the two most controversial articles about the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK). 12. that the recognition of the value of the work of the Venice Commission by either party is not based on firm principles at all.

It is obvious these words did not go down well with the AKP. corruption was rampant and Russia. 2008 -. a temporary and transitional arrangement that everybody knew would have to come to an end one day. who were struggling to prove that they could run their own country despite a considerable lack of experience. It was an emotional moment for all those present. All these efforts had created a strong personal sympathy and involvement with the fate of the Kosovars. I had spent a lot of my time in the previous years monitoring the situation on the ground all over Kosovo and creating a majority in the EP for EU-supervised independence. Kosovo marked the fifth anniversary of its declaration of independence. I vividly remember Feb.democratic culture that is needed to build up the necessary checks and balances. That day came in February 2008. The economy was in shatters.almost nine years after the first and only NATO air war that tried to protect the Kosovars from the ethnic cleansing operations of Serb leader Slobodan Milosevic. 17.the day the Kosovars officially declared their secession from Serbia -. What next for Kosovo? Last weekend. I had managed to get into the hall of the Kosovar parliament in Pristina. It is sad to see that this kind of opportunism on all sides seriously undermines the credibility. of such a crucial process for the future of Turkey. From 1999 until 2008. which is opposed to such a move. I guess everybody present that day knew how big the challenges were for the newborn Balkan country. but were warmly welcomed by the CHP. That explains the sudden enthusiasm of the opposition for the work of the Venice Commission and the remarkable change of mind of the ruling party. China and five EU member states had already . there was a Serb minority inside Kosovo that refused to accept the new reality. the former Serb province had been ruled by the international community. where the official declaration would be made. which has already drawn up a proposal to introduce a presidential system in the new constitution. As the EP rapporteur for Kosovo. at home and abroad. and together with two colleagues from the European Parliament (EP).

but there is a reasonable chance that in the next couple of months a compromise will be found that is acceptable to both Belgrade and Pristina. the leading NGO on this topic for many years now. The biggest bilateral problem the two leaders have to solve is. especially those approximately 60. This week's report makes the case for “a self-governing Kosovo Serb community with a regional authority” in Northern Kosovo as part of the overall Kosovar governing system. has managed to normalize relations between Belgrade and Pristina. It shows that in a situation where both countries aspire to become EU members in the future. without doubt. the country has come a long way.000 Serbs living in the north.announced they would not recognize Kosovo's independence. After five years. while Kosovo is waiting for the EU to give it the green light to go to the next stage in talks on eventual membership. That is why every week dozens of Serbian and Kosovar government officials meet in Brussels to sort out the details of what their leaders need to settle on. The problems with Serbia still exist. but. largely beyond the control of the Pristina government. since 2011. According to the report. will again be in Brussels to discuss some of the remaining stumbling blocs. Hashim Thaci. the future of the Serbian minority in Kosovo. EU supervision ended last year and the economy has slowly started growing again. In the last two years. Serbia wants to start accession negotiations as soon as possible. the often-criticized EU high representative for foreign policy. There is an interesting reference to another example of regional autonomy. Ivica Dacic. for all its faults. Cathy Ashton. and his Serbian counterpart. Most of them oppose the rapprochement between the two governments. the EU still has quite some transformative power. Kosovo's prime minister. Bosnia's Republika Srpska. Almost 100 UN member states do support an independent Kosovo. such as joint border management and the recognition by Serbia of Kosovar vehicle license plates and identification papers. The general outlines of such a deal are sketched in the latest report on the Serbian-Kosovar normalization process by the International Crisis Group (ICG). This week. several practical but often highly symbolic issues have been agreed upon between the two sides. the Bosnian experience should be taken into account because it is a .

but don’t want the country to move from a parliamentary system to a presidential one. the BDP leader listed his four main demands for the new constitution: The right to an education in one’s mother tongue. both countries could make real progress on their way to the EU.meaning an agreement that wins local acceptance and works in practice -. The report is realistic in stating that an all-embracing settlement that includes Kosovo's international position is still far off. But things are moving. then we can take steps together with them. The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) will never accept any of these demands. So would Serbia relaxing Kosovo's international isolation. strengthening local government in Kurdish regions.” Years of skepticism about an insolvable clash of nationalism seem to have given way to cautious optimism that by June of this year. In the words of the ICG. Milliyet columnist Kadri Gürsel was not the only one who got upset when he combined several statements made by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş. to the surprise of many. Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu would probably personally be .” A few days later.fairly successful example of integrating a region and population that fiercely oppose the central government. reducing the 10 percent electoral threshold in the Political Parties Law and changing the article referring to Turkish citizenship. Who would have thought that five years ago? Poisonous tactics Last week was a bad week for all those in Turkey who want a peaceful solution to the Kurdish problem.would make a comprehensive accord easier. said: “If we can agree with the BDP on a referendum. It is clear that the AK Party is the only other party in the Turkish parliament willing to meet the BDP calls. the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) leader. First. Demirtaş said in the same context: “The party we are close to is the AK Party. including a new constitution that reflects sensible Kurdish demands. “success [in] the North -.” The next day. albeit some only partially. starting with allowing it to take part in international sporting and culture events and enter regional organizations such as the Council of Europe.

the only political group that can provide the AK Party with additional votes to bring the draft constitution to a popular vote is the BDP. the BDP can only be satisfied by the AK Party.willing to go a long way to find a compromise on these points in the new constitution. the formula for an AK Party-BDP constitutional reconciliation will occur like this: The BDP will support the presidential regime Erdoğan wants. would be a brilliant tactic but also a disastrous strategy that will polarize Turkish society even more. especially at the moment his nationalist opponents inside his party are becoming more vocal again under the leadership of Deniz Baykal.’ Gürsel might be jumping to conclusions because. but it is highly unlikely he will manage to convince all of his colleagues in parliament. . The AK Party does not have enough seats in parliament to enable it to unilaterally adopt a draft constitution based on a presidential system and submit it to a referendum.a strong presidential system -. Pulling off a presidential system against strong opposition across the board by linking it to legitimate Kurdish demands in the new constitution. AK Party spokesmen have stressed that their party’s aim is still a constitutional draft agreed to by all four parties. So. faced with this scenario. for its part.with the support of the BDP. In short. in the end. We all know however that time is running out on this preferred option and that Erdoğan is not going to give up on his much desired presidency just because the CHP and the MHP keep blocking a consensus. It led Gürsel to the following conclusion: ‘If it works out. Gürsel and others got worried because it looks like. the ruling party can only get what it wants -. on the constitution. and the AK Party will approve a constitution that meets Kurdish demands. the formula will be a combination of a peaceful settlement of the Kurdish issue and an authoritarian regime that will concentrate all power in the hands of a single person. Because the CHP and the MHP are strongly opposed to a dominant president who will definitively not belong to their own party.

After throwing the Shanghai bone to a hungry crowd of analysts and columnists to chew on two weeks ago. all of a sudden. while others made the assessment that his remarks were made merely to put pressure on the EU. Ergin Saygun at a hospital. The prime minister has given all the Erdoğanologists a new riddle to solve. has led to a new round of speculation. By referring to Turkey's potential membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). I would even do that.” I don’t think the prime minister needs to take poison to end terrorism. Why visit a sick general? Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan did it again. who is recovering from heart surgery after having been sentenced some time ago to 18 years in prison for his role in the Sledgehammer plot to overthrow Erdoğan's government. Erdoğan showed that he is willing to forgive Saygun and other subversive generals. His surprise visit to Saygun. a calculated move to neutralize his former enemies. too. Erdoğan stated that he will do whatever is necessary to end terrorism. The Financial Times made a link to fears voiced earlier by Erdoğan that the imprisonment of hundreds of officers and former officers has weakened the capabilities of Turkey's military as well as to the AKP leader's growing . But I am also deeply convinced he should not force millions of Turks who want an end to the Kurdish problem and to terrorism to accept a constitution poisoned by his own presidential ambitions. show compassion for one of his sworn enemies. Why would Erdoğan. who was out to take him down as recently as 2007? According to some.Last Monday. last weekend he made another move that is wide open to interpretation by visiting retired Gen. during an event in Kayseri province. ensuring the military will not block his efforts to settle the Kurdish issue. He said: “If they asked me to take poison. Some commentators seriously believed the prime minister had given up on EU membership. the Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader managed to open up a new round of debate about Turkey's EU perspectives. I am ready to take all these risks and I would take that poison without even considering the consequences. the visit should be interpreted as a highly symbolic political pardon. Even if I know I would die or my political life would come to an end.

Parliamentary oversight of the defense budget is still not guaranteed. Erdoğan cooperated by trying to save as much as possible of the military's remaining prestige and influence. After the third AKP election victory. however. the consequence will be that hundreds. The military accepted the AKP's supremacy and. in return. and is most probably part of wider efforts by the government to strike a deal with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) this spring. The visit to Saygun should thus be interpreted as Erdoğan's answer to these threats: He got the message and will do his utmost to get the generals. of prisoners will be released immediately. The release of so many Kurds will be welcomed by Kurdish nationalists. Erdoğan is trying to demonstrate his evenhandedness and desire to prevent these bad nationalist feelings from turning violent or an electoral liability in the foreseeable future. The Financial Times' reference to some recent resignations by high-ranking officers seems to confirm rumors that not long ago. Erdoğan and the military both knew that the old days of military tutelage were over.frustration with the slow pace of some high-profile mass trials. will not be amused. if not thousands. Personally. If the prime minister accepts the fourth judicial reform package that will be presented to him this week. . I tend to see Erdoğan's reaching out to Saygun as part of an overall softening of relations between the prime minister and the military since 2011. These include dozens of Ergenekon and Sledgehammer suspects from the military as well as hundreds of Kurdish activists and journalists who have been jailed pending the conclusion of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) trial. out of prison as soon as possible. the military's top brass made it clear to Erdoğan and President Abdullah Gül that they have run out of patience. That concealed promise leads to another explanation that makes sense. By warming up to the military. once and for all. some of whom have been waiting for a final verdict for years now. and auditing of military expenditure by the Court of Auditors was only saved by an intervention of the Constitutional Court after the AKP had used its majority in Parliament to exempt the military from such public accountability. This explains why the Uludere incident was not properly investigated and why several further democratic reforms were never institutionalized. Many Turkish nationalists.

Last week, the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) published a very informative report on the successful attempts by the Egyptian army to strike a back door deal with Egypt's Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi. The military has conceded most of its political influence but managed to block moves towards greater transparency and civilian oversight; the new Egyptian constitution, for instance, continues to protect the army's enormous economic interests. The SWP's conclusion sounds alarmingly familiar: “For the time being, the military institution and the President have developed a sort of symbiotic relationship -- both cannot do without each other.”

Of course, there are huge differences between Turkey and Egypt and, overall, Erdoğan is in a much better position than Morsi. However, the similarities between the anti-reform, pro-status quo civil-military establishments of the two nations should worry democrats in both countries. Stop sulking on the sidelines

Let us, for the sake of argument, assume that in the end, Turkey will be better off inside the EU than as a lonely regional player or a member of some Asian or Middle Eastern club of semi and full dictatorships. I know there is a growing number of Turks with strong doubts about this hypothesis but, honestly speaking, I am not really impressed by the content of counter-arguments or their sustainability. Each time I write about TurkishEU relations, stressing the need to overcome the legitimate frustrations about the current deadlock in Turkey’s membership bid, I receive angry and emotional reactions. Many of these are based on the supposedly eternal European contempt for Turkey or the presumption that the EU is a Christian club (which it is not and will never be) that will not accept a majority Muslim country. In most of the feedback I get, deeply rooted prejudices and misconceptions about Europe are mixed with understandable objections against the foot-dragging by some EU member states or the Islamophobic sentiments among parts of the European population.

While some of the traditional anti-European feelings will be hard to counter, even if Turkish-EU relations improve substantially, many others simply reflect the present negative mood among leading politicians, like the prime minister, who have been bashing the EU for some time now. It shows once more that long and difficult processes, full of pit holes and temporary setbacks -- such

as the accession of big countries to the EU -- will not succeed without sustained, courageous leadership on both sides. If leaders start wavering, opinion polls will quickly indicate that the electorate is echoing these doubts.

As I have argued before, I think we will have to wait until the end of next year to see a real breakthrough in Turkish-EU relations. First, we need on the EU side a new German government and confidence that the worst part of the euro crisis is over and, on the Turkish side, a successful end to the current talks to resolve the Kurdish problem, a new constitution and a revamped Justice and Development Party (AKP) government after the presidential elections.

In the meantime, let’s closely follow what French President François Hollande has on offer and whether Turkey and the EU manage to keep up the momentum in revising the current discriminatory visa regime for Turkish citizens.

On top of that, I would suggest Turkish NGOs and think tanks concentrate much more actively on the big questions facing the EU: How should they reorganize to get the economy growing again, regain the trust of a majority of EU citizens, keep the Brits in and remain open to newcomers like Turkey?

Last week, Kemal Derviş, currently vice president of the Brookings Institution in Washington, one of the leading global think tanks, wrote an interesting article in which he reflected on a recent speech made by UK Prime Minister David Cameron. In my view correctly, Derviş mentioned the good points raised by the Tory leader but criticized his efforts to create a Europe in which each country tries, as Derviş put it, to “negotiate a specific and special ‘deal’ with the EU, picking and choosing among its various dimensions those that suit them best and cost them the least.” As an alternative, Derviş suggests a new EU treaty that would create two types of member states: those in the eurozone and those with their own national currencies, including two sets of EU institutions. This new style of EU would give each country, in Derviş’s words, “a chance to join, or commit to, either the politically more integrated eurozone or the less integrated second group. There would be clear rules and decision-making mechanisms for both sets of countries, subject to democratic votes by a two-tier European Parliament.”

Derviş is right in saying that many details still have to be worked out, and others before him have underlined the profound difficulties in getting there. However, at least, it’s a clear vision on how to move forward.

Isn’t it time Turkish politicians and intellectuals stopped sulking on the sidelines of the crucial debates in Europe and, like Derviş, started discussing the real questions facing the EU and Turkey’s place in it? Forget about the 50 years myth

Negotiating accession to the European Union is not an easy task for any candidate country. It becomes especially hard when, as in the case of Turkey, the EU is internally divided between a majority of member states in favor of a country's accession and a powerful minority that is against it and willing to do everything it takes to keep that country out, for instance blocking half of the chapters that need to be negotiated. Add to that an economic and institutional crisis inside the EU and deeply rooted prejudices about Islam and Turkey among very vocal parts of the European population, and you end up with the current deadlock that Turkey finds itself in. When the Turkish prime minister shows his anger over this frustrating situation, most Europeans understand, even if they may not like the words chosen or the posture of conceit.

What does not help, however, is constantly repeating a national myth that has no appeal at all in the rest of Europe. Last week, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan again lashed out at the EU, blaming the bloc for keeping Turkey waiting at the door for over 50 years. Many Turks believe this claim to be true because it has been reiterated so many times. The rest of Europe believes Turkey is exaggerating and is trying to bluff its way into the EU.

Let me explain why there is this huge gap between the Turkish feeling of being mistreated for such a long time and the view on the side of the EU that serious talks about Turkish membership in the EU could only start in the middle of the 1990s.

The EU has always been a community of democracies and market economies. That is the legal side of the 1963 deal. Together with additions made in 1973. Let's turn to the political side of it. It was an important document that recognized Turkey's right to become a member one day. won the elections in 2002 was its promise to bring first class democracy and an open economy to Turkey and. it gave Turkish citizens certain rights that today most EU member states would like to forget about.Erdoğan was of course referring to the 1963 Association Agreement between Turkey and the forerunner to the EU. Turkey was neither of them. that in the 1960s. Turkey was a European-style democracy or a country willing to become one? How realistic is it to blame the EU for not opening negotiations with Turkey when between 1985 and 1999 the country was involved in a domestic fight against terrorism that killed over 30. as Erdoğan implied. 1970s and 1980s. by doing so. Turkey is right when it claims that these agreements make the present visa requirements for Turkish citizens illegal. the Justice and Development Party (AKP). who would dare to claim. The uncomfortable truth is that until the mid-1990s. and it is only a matter of time before the EU will have to give in on this. because the main reason why his party. The 50 years of waiting myth is based on a flawed assessment of Turkey's .000 people? Does the prime minister really believe that long before 1995 the Turkish economy was market-oriented and not a combination of ill-functioning state enterprises and domestic firms protected from foreign competition? The prime minister knows very well that until the mid-1990s. to finally qualify for the EU. 1971 and 1980. the six-member European Economic Community (EEC). and it clearly defined Turkey as a European country. I think it would be hard to find any EU specialist. Turkey was a country under military tutelage that did not even come close to fulfilling EU criteria on democracy and the rule of law. He should. in Turkey or elsewhere. How can Erdoğan argue in all sincerity that after the military coups of 1960. This point of view is shared by the European Court and several national courts. Turkey was ready to start accession negotiations and that the EU constantly refused to do so.

Fortunately. several diehard republicans made it clear that. Not surprisingly. Turkey's EU journey started around 15-20 years ago. Willem Alexander. announced that after 33 years she will step down at the end of April and will hand over rule to her eldest son. Irrespective of the result. Ambiguous royal feelings As we all know. debating the most desirable form of government is not one of them. should be blamed for not doing their utmost to make it work. Last week. Repeating it now is a deliberate attempt to put the blame on the EU for the current stalemate for the wrong reasons. But please.recent history and its relations with the EU. waiting frustrated for his mother to die or change her mind. Turkey is a country faced with many problems that need to be solved urgently. Prince Charles (64). Nobody in Turkey spends even one column on making the argument in favor of reintroducing the sultanate. In reality. despite their appreciation of Queen Beatrix’s performance. the country will remain a republic. the Turkish version of the monarchy that still exists in several European countries. now and in the past. It plays on populist feelings and prejudices in Turkey and makes it almost impossible to distinguish between appropriate criticism of the EU's foot-dragging and a distorted view of Turkey's own responsibility. In the media. they still hold on to some objections of principle against a system in which the . knowing she turned 75 this month and wanted to prevent a situation like in the UK where Queen Elizabeth (86) seems to have no plans of stepping down. It is true that this year Turkey will discuss a new constitution and will be invited by the ruling party to choose between a parliamentary democracy and a system dominated by a powerful president. Her abdication did not really come as a big surprise. and both the EU and Turkey. for different reasons. Beatrix. leaving her successor. the current Dutch queen. let's stop reproducing the same old misconceptions that will only make future agreement more difficult. Many years have passed since. the prospect of a new king has opened a debate on the fundamental question whether having a hereditary monarchy in this modern day and age is still tenable.

who have transformed into strong advocates of a queen with progressive views on many controversial topics. based in essence on the idea that the royal family is God’s elect.head of state is not democratically elected but attributed by birth. In several articles in the Dutch press last week. will continue with this royal tradition that clearly goes against his populist fear mongering. in the last decade. a closed institution by definition and one characterized by byzantine absurdities. has on many occasions condemned Beatrix’ calls for tolerance and respect as being too soft and oldfashioned. multiculturalism and Turkey’s accession to the EU. It seems I am not the only who changed his mind. underlined the contradiction between on the one hand a society that in the last two centuries has become more open and egalitarian and on the other hand the fact of the monarchy. It was also an effect of personal encounters with Beatrix and Willem Alexander in which both showed their commitment to issues that are close to my heart such as European integration. Their conclusion is that most of today’s royal fault-finding comes from the right and no longer from the left. When Beatrix came to the throne in 1980. the infamous extreme-right politician. my old professor at Utrecht University. Geert Wilders. I actively protested against that and stressed the need to spend more money on affordable housing instead of wasting it on the royal family. some old-style republicans criticize the lamentable behavior of former opponents of the monarchy. Von der Dunk and other critics definitively have a point. a clever and open-minded Argentinean woman. That was unarguably a result of an overall maturation of my political views. Respected historian Hermann von der Dunk. most of them left-wingers. married to Maxima. I am sure Wilders is afraid that the new king. has become so popular with a substantial part of the Dutch population. The queen and her successor turned out to be wellinformed and expressed balanced opinions that contrast sharply with the harsh and intolerant rhetoric on these subjects that. Where does that leave me? I still agree with many of the principled objections . I have to confess however that over the years my strong convictions have softened. I joined a party that was very outspoken about its republican principles and wanted the monarchy to be abolished as soon as possible. When I became politically active 35 years ago.

Erdoğanology Before the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. it was a well-respected job: Kremlinologist. The confusion after a recent TV interview with Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in which he suggested Turkey might give up on the EU and instead join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) underlines the urgent need for such an initiative. The reactions to the political bombshell among renowned scholars and columnists varied from taking the remarks of the prime minister extremely seriously to considering them mainly as muscle-flexing to impress the EU. maybe in the future.against the monarchy. Russia and. India? Which common values does Turkey share with the members of a club described last year by regional and international human rights organizations as “a vehicle for human rights violations”? How does . At the same time. could not believe their ears and thought it was basically a gaffe. Because during the Cold War there was a lack of reliable information on the policies of the Soviet Union. many Western analysts were forced “to read between the lines” and interpret all kinds of indirect clues to get a sense of what was happening in the corridors of power at the Kremlin. the seat of the Soviet government. Why for heaven's sake would Turkey want to be a junior member in the periphery of an organization dominated by giants like China. I value the contributions made by the royal family in trying to unite a fractured society on the basis of some recommendable principles. The goal this time would be to study and explain the speeches of the Turkish prime minister. I guess that qualifies me as a slightly schizophrenic royal republican. including myself. Others. triggered by understandable frustration about the footdragging of the EU but based on a totally flawed assessment of the SCO. Kremlinologists were specialized in trying to figure out what the rearranging of chairs at an important meeting or the positions during the parades in Red Square meant for the power relations inside the communist party or the future of Moscow's strategies. It seems the moment has come to establish a new school of thought: Erdoğanology.

Erdoğan judge the systematic and violent suppression of Muslims in predominantly Orthodox Christian Russia. Others thought we should see these clear references to nationalist or conservative values as part of Erdoğan's personal election campaign for the presidency in 2014 and not as broadly shared opinions within the ruling party. Remember what Erdoğan said about forbidding abortion or reintroducing the death penalty. reflecting both Erdoğan's inflated and unrestricted level of self-confidence and the absence of reliable institutions that first develop and then stick to a long-term vision that is independent of the daily changes in a volatile region or the mood and whims of one particular individual. North Africa and the Balkans? One could go on asking these kinds of questions because nobody is sure about the intentions of the prime minister. turning Turkey's attention to the Far East and away not only from Europe but also from the Middle East. Buddhist China and Hindu India? Has the AKP leader given up on making Turkey a “first-class democracy” by wishing to get into a club of full or semi-dictatorships and is he really willing to terminate Turkey's membership in NATO in order to join an implicit antiNATO. he realized that would be either impossible or undesirable. Or should we interpret them as clever but superficial interventions that keep the analysts and the columnists busy while distracting from real. for instance on the Kurdish issue? We can see the same ambiguity in the reactions to the Shanghai proposal: Does he really consider changing sides. few believed that he would actually translate these sincere beliefs into concrete policy proposals because. Asia-oriented security organization? The Shanghai remarks are not an isolated incident. is he trying to blackmail the Europeans or is he just venting his frustrations? Are these his personal views or do they reflect a profound new foreign policy orientation inside the AKP. Some pundits tried to explain these sudden and often emotional outbursts as the reflections of the true inner feelings of the prime minister. Over the last 12 months. Personally I find that an extremely worrying situation. there have been several moments in which nobody really knew what to make of a speech or an interview given by the prime minister. Unfortunately. crucial developments on the ground. At the same time. as a pragmatist. knowing Erdoğan's inclination to use non-diplomatic language. .

Cameron has a point -. Cameron will try to renegotiate the terms of Britain’s membership of the EU and then put that new settlement to the British people in an “in or out” referendum by the end of 2017.and a problem Last week. Therefore I suggest that each university. Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron made it clear how he sees the future role of the UK in Europe. All of these points had been mentioned before by Cameron and others but never combined with the prospect of a possible “Brexit.” Guy Verhofstadt. there needs to be a thorough examination of what the EU as a whole should do and which powers should flow back to the member states. Together they should be able to guide a disorientated nation through these confusing times. blamed Cameron for “playing with fire” because Cameron “can control neither the timing nor the outcome of the negotiations . adaptable and open. federal EU. we can be sure that the Shanghai puzzle will not be the last one that needs to be solved. trying to explain on each occasion what the country's leading politician really meant this time. If his Conservative Party wins the 2015 national elections. Cameron formulated five principles on which a new EU should be built and the way to get there: The internal market has to be completed and strengthened. ignorant and dangerous. As expected. finally. national parliaments should have a bigger and more significant role in holding the EU accountable and. newspaper and TV station nominates its own specialized and certified Erdoğanologist.” a British exit from the EU. in a long-awaited speech. Reuters summarized the verdict on Cameron’s plan as “selfish. former Belgian prime minister. the speech did no go down well in the rest of Europe. the EU must accept that not all member states want the same level of integration. now leader of the Liberals in the European Parliament and a strong defender of a more integrated. all new arrangements must work fairly for those in and out of the suddenly intervene in sensitive debates and to speak out when it pleases him. The Tory leader stressed that he wants the UK to remain a key player inside the EU but only if and when the union will manage to become more flexible.

Cameron’s problem is that he has created the impression that he is not really interested in a new EU treaty but just wants a better deal for the UK. My fear is that the ambiguity of the speech has made that quest look unattractive and strewn with pitfalls to many Europeans. indeed more flexible EU. for instance by suggesting that you can have an internal market without high environmental and social standards or without detailed rules and regulations. tried to calm everybody down by calling Cameron’s speech a smart tactical maneuver to silence the virulent Euro-skeptic right-wing of his own party.and in so doing is raising false expectations that can never be met. What a pity! . The EU itself would greatly benefit from an honest and profound debate about its future based on the premise that a “one size fits all EU” is over and done with. many Europeans feel that Cameron is battling for Britain. EU specialist at Princeton University. This poses a serious challenge to those EU member states that are not part of the common currency and/or don’t want a more federal Europe. I am afraid most missed or downplayed a crucial argument made by the British prime minister. economically and politically. that don’t. Because of all the populist rhetoric and the tactical ploys in last week’s speech. one of Britain’s leading intellectuals. Andrew Moravcsik. pointedly put it. that is not only Cameron’s problem. Cameron is correct when he proposes a new. like the UK. to me it all sounded a bit too predictable. reorganized EU that should be acceptable to both those countries that accept more coordination and centralization and those. On the other hand. In my view. in the end Britain will stay in the EU because no serious politician actually favors pulling out. it is inevitable that the EU will further integrate. to peel support from the extreme-right and popular UK Independence Party and to split the Labor Party on the referendum issue. According to Moravcsik. Although many of Cameron’s critics definitively have a point. In order to resolve the present euro crisis and prevent a new one. Besides. Cameron’s intervention contained some good ideas for that indispensable search for a new. Unfortunately. as Timothy Garton Ash. not for Europe.” Others criticized the British prime minister for playing on populist sentiments.

Sneijder was the big man in 2010 when Inter Milan won the Italian title and . Both clubs share the sort of glitz and glamour that attracts a certain audience that likes to associate itself with success. I still can't make up my mind about the transfer of Dutch football player Wesley Sneijder from Inter Milan to Galatasaray. Will Sneijder be Cimbom's (Galatasaray) savior and lead the team to new European successes. So Sneijder picked the right team. across the board. the eternal rival of my favorite Dutch team. who. which is Fenerbahçe. Even more importantly. These two clubs have something in common as well: Their fans. or will he turn out to be an overpaid former star who is past his prime. was the driving force behind Galatasaray's UEFA Cup win in 2000? I have my doubts. Compared to their main competition. like many of his predecessors who have come to Turkey to cash in and not to excel? I know some readers will look upon everything I say about Sneijder with suspicion because they are aware of the fact that the midfielder started his career in the Netherlands at Ajax. not the Turkish team I support.Sneijder: top or flop? To be honest. apart from the fact that Galatasaray was the only club willing to agree with Sneijder's financial demands. they are slightly less chic and fashionable and are more down to earth. It is no coincidence that Pierre van Hooijdonk and Dirk Kuyt first played at Feyenoord before moving to Fenerbahçe. are more loyal and keep on backing their team in bad times as well. Feyenoord. I do think there are some objective reasons why one may have strong doubts about Sneijder's future role in Turkish football. Let me start by admitting that for a former Ajax player. I am referring to those who fill the skyboxes when Ajax or Galatasaray is doing great but who start looking for other thrills when the results are disappointing. Sneijder is now joining Galatasaray. But will he indeed be the true successor to Gheorghe Hagi. Although I can understand these misgivings about my supposedly biased opinions. the fabulous Romanian midfielder. Galatasaray is the most obvious choice in Turkey. together with coach Fatih Terim. I am not talking here about the thousands of dedicated and hardcore fans that support the team in good and bad times.

Apparently. According to the seasoned commentator. Sneijder still has the potential to lift Galatasaray's game to a higher level. since then his career has been tainted by injuries. Some are afraid that Sneijder may have wasted his chance to remain one of the undisputed players in the Dutch national team. That same year. For Sneijder's future role in the Dutch national team. With expectations so high at Cimbom. Can he get himself together one more time. says Derksen. passed a harsh judgment on Sneijder's transfer to Galatasaray. The Turkish competition is seen by him and several other commentators as a step back for the captain of the Dutch national team. which has almost qualified for the World Cup in 2014 in Brazil. he was the best player in the Dutch national team. But his arrival could also prove to be a risk that was simply too big and too expensive. the İstanbul team was the only one willing to pay the salary Sneijder demanded. Johan Derksen. one of the darlings of the international paparazzi. especially because Turkish football is considered less tactically strong. Because of his marriage to Yolanthe Kabau van Kasbergen. Mehmet Ali Birand in a class of his own . he has made it to the society pages of newspapers more often than to the sports pages. while a club like Liverpool was not. which made it to the finals of the World Cup. it is all about money. what is going to happen when Sneijder does not manage to guide his team past FC Schalke 04 in March and take it to the quarter finals of the Champions League? People will remember all the money that is spent on the small Dutchman and start wondering whether he is really worth it. However. I don't want to sound to pessimistic. editor-in-chief of Voetbal International. remain injury-free in the tough Turkish competition and survive the hectic entourage and jet-set lifestyle that come with his club and his wife? While hopes are high in Turkey. the reactions in the Dutch press are much more aloof. it would have been much better if he had joined a team in the Premier League. whether as a Fener fan I like it or not.the Champions League. unconvincing performances both at his club and on the national team and controversy over his enormous salary. the main Dutch football magazine.

He had travelled the world. with a combination of professionalism and empathy and without ever becoming arrogant or dismissive. they began to shout at us. holding on to firm beliefs he had about democracy and justice even when they caused him considerable personal and professional problems. on the street or in a restaurant. After hours of deliberations and rumors about a lastmoment failure. I met him several times in Brussels and İstanbul. he was a gentleman of good manners and humor. Shortly thereafter. Birand had witnessed the few ups and many downs in Turkish-EU relations in the 1980s and 1990s but had kept his strong conviction that Turkey’s future should be within the EU. . reacting with humor and elegance. he was the most respected and successful TV anchorman. On other occasions when people recognized him. He had found himself a small space outside the main building where hundreds of journalists from all over the world were covering this extraordinary summit. In addition. one that unleashed strong emotions. visibly enjoying his status as a famous but sometimes controversial Turk.Mehmet Ali Birand was the uncrowned king of Turkish journalism. When Fener supporters saw Birand. For a moment I was afraid that things would get out of hand. met the high and mighty and acquired in-depth knowledge of global affairs and European politics. having started his career 40 years earlier in Brussels as the European correspondent of the Milliyet daily. He had of course been around much longer than I had. After I became chairman of the Turkey delegation to the European Parliament in 2002. I will never forget that cold and rainy night in Brussels in December of 2004 when the EU had to decide whether or not to start accession negotiations with Turkey. In Turkey. I witnessed another side of Birand as we watched a Fenerbahçe-Galatasaray match together from the Hürriyet skybox at Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium. a diehard Galatasaray supporter. it was clear: No other Turkish journalist was and is able to present the same set of credentials as Birand. For all those who had the privilege of working with him. but Birand was in full control of the verbal confrontation. albeit mostly in a friendly manner. the final go-ahead came and we immediately went live on the air to comment on what a remarkable historic event it was for both of us. he combined irrefutable logic with passionate determination. When he spoke of that dream. I admired the way he responded.

I am sure that for a long time to come we will miss his views. however. the exchange of views between Kerinçsiz and I did not result in much. In the end. He wanted me to discuss the appropriateness of my criticism of the military with Kerinçsiz and İsmet Berkan. as a TV journalist. Kemal Kerinçsiz. the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). a solution of the Kurdish problem and Turkey’s accession to the EU. In the first few months of 2006.One extra condition Normally speaking. There is no better way for us to honor Birand’s memory and legacy than to keep on arguing for better democracy in Turkey. made up of the European Central Bank. is looking at an aid package of 17 billion euros. Birand asked me to participate in one of his famous “32nd Day” programs. had tried to convince a public prosecutor to open a court case against me for insulting the Turkish military. At the end of the day. Because Cypriot banks have suffered heavy losses through their massive exposure to the Greek economic crisis. The troika of international lenders. because Cyprus is rapidly becoming a hot topic for other reasons. then editor-in-chief of the Radikal daily. That might soon change. Around . but Birand’s insistence showed how. Cyprus only makes it to the headlines in the Turkish press when the Greek Cypriots have again used their veto rights inside the EU to block progress on Turkish accession to the union or when another round of talks to end the decades-long division of the island has failed once more. He also calculated that such a well publicized clash would be good for his show’s ratings. his wit and his laughs. keen on uncovering untold stories or presenting an interesting debate on television. Birand always remained the journalist. in my view. he always tried to present fascinating content in an entertaining manner. but eventually Birand managed to convince me that it would be good for the further development of Turkish democracy if such an open confrontation between two opposing views was broadcasted. an ultranationalist lawyer who later became a major defendant in the Ergenekon trial.Even in friendly situations. that effort failed. but when I arrived in Turkey soon afterwards. I hesitated because I did not expect much from a shouting match with an extremist like Kerinçsiz. the country has been forced to ask for a eurozone bailout.

there is a growing feeling. This week's edition again lists the names of several Russian billionaires and their Cyprus-based companies used to evade taxes or launder illegal funds. Despite these initiatives. revealed that Russians have deposited over 20 billion euros in Cypriot banks. The report was made public by the influential weekly Der Spiegel. the BND. The BND also accused Cyprus of still providing opportunities for money laundering because laws and regulations are not implemented properly. That could potentially trigger a new crisis in the EU. the IMF and several European countries are afraid Cyprus will not be able to shoulder the interest payments due on its debt and have therefore suggested a partial default involving private creditors before a bailout deal is concluded. the Cypriot parliament has already adopted a 2013 budget which includes far-reaching austerity measures that are likely to result in a 3. allowing 80 oligarchs to gain access to the entire EU in this way. will severely undermine investor trust in the eurozone. Cypriot authorities have also made it easy for rich Russians to obtain Cypriot citizenship. especially in Germany. In order for German Chancellor Angela Merkel to agree on a Cypriot bailout . The effects of all this negative publicity are becoming more visible every day despite a frantic campaign by the Cypriot government to appease all the concerns in Berlin. the second one after private creditors were pressured to do so last year with their Greek debt holdings. These deposits will be guaranteed if European bailout money is paid to shore up the island's banks. In addition. To satisfy the conditions for the impending bailout. Others are afraid that such a forced write-down. and for that reason Cyprus' economic woes have made it to the top of the EU agenda.10 billion of that would go towards propping up the ailing Cypriot banking sector. that aid to Cyprus might mainly benefit Russian oligarchs. but is just a small portion of the 150 billion euros of assets owned by the country's banks. a leaked report by the German foreign intelligence agency. In November of last year. The size of the bailout almost equals the annual Cypriot gross domestic product (GDP).5 percent shrinkage of the economy this year. who have parked enormous amounts of illegal money in bank accounts in Cyprus. which has not stopped writing on the topic since.

after it became clear that serious negotiations are being prepared between the Turkish state and jailed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan. a measure that would give a boost to the economy of the whole island. Up until now. an EU decision on the Cypriot bailout has again been postponed until after the presidential elections on the island in February. My suggestion would be to add another condition before agreeing on the aid package. Both sides made statements indicating that they were willing to go all the way. has made similar threats. The combination of transparency. Currently companies on the island subject to a very low 10 percent income tax are viewed with frustration and envy by several other EU member states. some of her own Christian Democratic lawmakers have shown reluctance to agree. the opposition has already announced it will not support the controversial plan. To make matters worse. revealing different stages. cool-headed determination and willingness to give and take almost seemed too good to be true. Realizing that parliamentary elections are only eight months away. Cyprus has blocked an EU direct trade regulation that would allow Turkish Cypriots to trade directly with the rest of across the political spectrum. . she needs a majority in the German parliament. struggling to survive. Merkel has been asking for wide-ranging economic reforms and privatizations before she would support a bailout. and her liberal coalition partner. acknowledging the need to make compromises. Other German policy makers have suggested Cyprus should also raise its corporate tax rates. Under German pressure. Merkel is not keen on risking her re-election because of some dirty business going on in the eastern Mediterranean. each linked to specific conditions that have to be met before the process moves on to the next phase. For obvious reasons. Is Erdoğan pushing his luck? What a week it was! I can’t remember a similar outburst of excitement. hope and optimism. The deal was promised by the EU in 2004 but could not be implemented because of Cypriot obstruction. The time has come to make it clear to the Greek Cypriots that the costs of their obstinacy have become too high. Detailed plans popped up in the media.

There is one question however that keeps haunting me: Why is Erdoğan willing to take the risk of losing the nationalist vote that he supposedly needs to become the first directly elected president next year? Since the elections in 2011 up until one month ago.After the first days of joy and enthusiasm about what appears to be a real breakthrough in a conflict that seemed to be stuck once again. his suggestion to maybe reintroduce the death penalty and. effort to strike a deal with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) on moving up the date for the local elections. I guess all these factors play a role. I agree with the calls for caution and restraint on the part of the bystanders and courage and composure on the side of the main players. a consensus had developed among many analysts and columnists. one should not forget. had decided that. . an expert on opinion polls and voting patterns. Every emotional outburst and calculated step seemed designed to send out a clear message to the substantial nationalist part of the electorate: vote for me in 2014. Cengiz Çandar and others have pointed at the rapidly changing neighborhood in which an unresolved Kurdish problem is becoming a growing liability for Turkey. albeit failed. including myself. some experienced observers started listing the potential problems and risks involved. We all thought that was the reason behind some of his most conspicuous political moves last year: the. in order to win the presidency in 2014. What remains is of course the question: Why now? In trying to find an answer. that apparently the prime minister. his very harsh language on the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and the need to lift the immunity of some of the Kurdish parliamentarians. Others have underlined the importance of Öcalan’s role in ending the recent hunger strikes and Erdoğan’s calculation that this was the best time to make use of that momentum. Can Öcalan still pretend to be in control of the entire PKK? How strong will be the resilience once the inevitable spoilers in both camps start to try and sabotage this extremely volatile balancing act? The first test in that respect came sooner than expected when three Kurdish female activists were found dead in Paris under very suspicious circumstances. he needed the votes of as many nationalist voters as possible. Despite my inherent optimism.

As we will see. the attempt will be used against him. these two factors are strongly interconnected. Her policy on Turkey so far was characterized by a . According to the plan. one way or another. If the talks with Öcalan fail. will not be received well by this targeted core presidential constituency. Today. For a long time. One possible explanation could be that the prime minister has changed his electoral assessments and has come to believe that winning the Kurdish vote in 2014 is even more important and will compensate for a partial loss of the nationalist vote. it does not make sense to enter into a process that. were hoping and expecting that the current conservative-liberal government of Angela Merkel might be replaced by a red-green coalition.When this analysis is correct. as it was in 2009 after the unhappy end of the Kurdish Initiative. many nationalists will be angered by what they see as inexcusable concessions to terrorists. resentment among the Kurds will be huge. although that objection never led her to make the kind of extreme anti-Turkey statements that we know from former French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The two main reasons are the upcoming elections in Germany and the ongoing uncertainties about the European economy. I still don’t know. knowing that there is no guarantee that the present initiative will be successful? To be honest. That will only happen though when the negotiations produce a result that is acceptable to most Kurds. That would be good news for Turkey because Merkel is known for her opposition to Turkey's EU membership. the question: Why would the Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader take such a big risk. there will be elections for a new German parliament in September. If they fail. I will try to clarify why this year we won't see the big breakthrough that some are predicting and so many supporters of Turkey's EU accession in Turkey and abroad are hoping for. and Erdoğan is in serious danger of losing both the nationalist and the Kurdish votes. If everything works out fine. Turkey-EU relations slowly warming up (2) In my previous article I explained why 2013 will be a year in which relations between Turkey and the EU will gradually improve. many observers. Again. including myself.

Merkel is still Germany's most popular politician. is unavoidable: the writing off of a substantial part of Greece's debts in order to create at least some light at the end of what is still a dark tunnel. Olaf Storbeck. In a recent article. scoring around 40 percent on average. the Christian Democrats. To the surprise of many. the fact that. Based on current opinion polls. That would all change with a new government of Social Democrats and Greens. as far as we can predict now. a columnist at Reuters Breakingviews. One is that Germany's policies on Turkey's EU membership are not going to change drastically overnight. Till the elections in September. the Greens. nobody expects Merkel to push for a speedy introduction of more steps toward closer economic and political cooperation inside the eurozone. Merkel will continue to dominate German politics after the September elections has two major effects. The second result of Merkel's hanging on to power despite strong opposition to her European plans will be extreme cautiousness on the part of the German chancellor with regard to further EU integration. however. in 2004 for instance. She will also not be willing to agree with a measure that. win a third term.combination of promoting vague alternatives and allowing other European countries to actively frustrate Turkey's accession negotiations. Whatever the explanation. adamantly reject every plan to save the euro that Merkel helped create. most probably. . tried to explain that contradiction by underlining her consensus-oriented style. by either the Social Democrats or. according to most analysts. is doing very well in the polls. the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP). for instance. the uncomforting conclusion must be that Merkel will. The only change we will see is the replacement of her present coalition partner. far less likely. that they are willing to actively push for it inside the EU. two parties that support Turkey's EU accession and have shown in the past. and her party. It will take time before a Social Democratic or Green foreign minister will have a chance to slowly change Germany's passive resistance into a more proactive and open-minded policy toward Turkey's EU perspectives. the lack of a credible alternative and the fact that till now Europe's economic woes have had no noticeable effect on the everyday life of ordinary Germans. That is amazing because most Germans don't like her policies and.

Better not tell the electorate before the elections. Others have put all their hopes on the new French president. It will not be the year of the big breakthrough that will entirely open up Turkey’s path to full EU . It has led some to the conclusion that Turkey-EU relations are beyond repair. after that. the German elections will not be the shining start of new TurkeyEU relations that many of us were expecting before. have a new president and a new prime minister. but we will only be able to witness these in the second half of 2014. Turkey-EU relations slowly warming up (1) Will 2013 be the year in which Turkey and the EU manage to normalize their relations and revitalize the ailing accession negotiations? Many pro-European intellectuals in Turkey have reached a point of utter despair after two years of inertia on both sides. Turkey will. These German constraints are not the only reason why I think we will have to wait a bit longer before a genuine restart of Turkey-EU relations is feasible. The first part of 2014 will be spent on the first direct presidential elections and. As I see it. In the meantime. in the meantime. most probably. have understood that things can’t go on like this and will therefore soon take the initiative to restart the whole process. the Italians and the Cypriots) and further integrate with the rest of the eurozone.Merkel realizes very well that the price for such a Greek relief effort will. Let me explain why I think 2013 will indeed be a year in which relations will improve and negotiations on some chapters will be opened. This year. the upcoming presidential elections in Cyprus and an almost desperate belief that both Ankara and Brussels must. her willingness to radically change direction on Turkey will be minimal. At least for another year. crowned by the Cypriot EU presidency in the second half of 2013 that was marked by some of the worst exchanges of quips since the start of the talks in 2005. have to be paid by German taxpayers. All these political and personal changes will have a huge impact on Turkey's EU accession process as well. in one way or another. Merkel will have to focus on slowly convincing a skeptical German population that it is in Germany's long-term interest to save the Greeks (plus the Spaniards. Turkey will be preoccupied with a whole range of extremely challenging domestic issues.

The impact of the likely election of Nicos Anastasiades to the Cypriot presidency will not be immediately felt and is harder to assess. negotiations with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party [PKK]. However. He will use 2013 to prepare the ground. With so many domestic challenges on the government’s plate (new constitution. a new round of judicial reforms) a return. though. in the first place of course. Within the EU there are still some formidable obstacles that have to be removed and I will return to them in my next column. This is due. Not only president Gül seems to realize that without an EU anchor. we may expect from him at least a sincere effort to reunite the island.a step that can only be taken with Turkey’s approval -. It is true that Paris is considering unblocking two of the chapters previously blocked by former President Sarkozy. President François Hollande is expected to announce his decision during a planned visit to Turkey this spring. It will be an important symbolic break with five years of Turkey having been bashed by France and it will allow the actual opening of a new round of negotiations.and we are definitively entering a new phase in Turkey-Cyprus relations. let’s touch on the hopeful signs from France and the potentially positive outcome of the Cypriot elections in February. Still. Turkey will have a hard time completing its process of democratization. even European skeptics on Turkey’s EU accession can’t any longer deny that the country has gained importance over the last couple of years. Add to that his stated aim for Cyprus to join NATO as soon as possible -. Maybe even more important than the new faces in Paris and Nicosia is the awareness in Ankara and Brussels that negotiations could be beneficial to both sides. not to take any controversial decisions. to normalcy in its relations with the EU could prove to be an asset and no longer a liability. Firstly. The new Cypriot president also knows very well that he needs time to convince a skeptical majority among the Greek Cypriots that a solution is possible. albeit cautiously. Anastasiades was a fervent defender of the Annan Plan in 2004 and although circumstances have changed. Unlike the majority of his countrymen. to Turkey’s growing economic strength that stands in sharp . no one should expect Anastasiades to rush into a compromise that is strongly opposed by his junior coalition partner.membership.

the main opposition party. there are still too many journalists in prison. Ankara’s policies have brought it closer to the rest of Europe and have shown that working more closely together brings advantages to both. 2012. Still.contrast to the EU’s present problems and future expectations. But I am afraid that the ruling party. Conclusion: My hopes were set way too high. Whether it is Turkey’s renewed commitment to NATO or the huge efforts in helping and housing Syrian refugees. New constitution: I hope the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) comes to the conclusion that the only way out of the current deadlock is a historic compromise with the Republican People's Party (CHP). and I have to admit that the outcome at the end of the year was much closer to my fears than to my hopes. I looked at my previous wish and fear list that was published on Jan. So let me again tell you what I think should happen in 2013 and what I am afraid will happen. Turkey’s membership will not solve the EU’s structural and economic problems but it will make some of them easier to handle. But none of us should claim to be sure about what will happen in Turkey in 2013. but my ability to predict undesirable developments is not that bad. They should both be willing and able to introduce their main demands in a brand new constitution and come to an understanding on the points that separate them. what would life be without hopes. Turkey’s stance in the Syria crisis has not gone unnoticed in many European capitals. 1. My 2013 wish and fear list Columnists are not fortune-tellers. a solution to the Kurdish problem is not in sight. dominated by a prime minister . expectations and anxieties? That's why I will try again to list my hopes and my fears for the coming year. and the judiciary remains a battlefield between old and new elites. Together these two parties represent the new and the old elites. The process of preparing a new constitution is going nowhere. Whatever my colleagues and I are predicting these days about the new year is certainly based on experience and a proper analysis of dominant trends. Also. This realization has softened some of the still existing anti-Turkey views and that in itself will help make 2013 a year of slow recovery in Turkey-EU relations.

realistically speaking. That would make it easier to successfully finalize a new round of negotiations between the Turkish state and its main Kurdish interlocutors on a comprehensive end to all violence.with his eye on the presidency and the nationalist votes he thinks he needs to get there. partly amended version of the present one. most of the 50 journalists still in prison will stay there. The positive thing about this list is that. which are long overdue. Kurdish problem: I hope the government continues with the introduction of reforms that openly deal with some of the main Kurdish nationalist demands like education in the mother tongue. But. both my hopes and my fears could turn out to be justified. This government has shown in the . That will make it easy for the opponents of a deal to sabotage the talks and convince the nationalist hard-liners in both camps that the use of force is inevitable. very visible. Freedom of the press: I hope the government will soon accept the new package of legal reforms at hand that eliminates or changes some crucial articles in the Anti-Terror Law and the Turkish Penal Code. will opt for an obscure mix of some ill-presented reforms and continued. again not to lose the nationalist vote. and Turkey will remain the bête noire of the international lobby for full press freedom. will try to tempt the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) into supporting a half-baked. As a consequence. These reforms. repression. The result would be the release of hundreds of Kurdish activists and journalists from prison because the grounds for their arrest will be annulled. Such a positive outcome will only happen when the two sides manage to overcome the resistance from spoilers in both camps that have no interest in a solution. would also bring an end to one of the main flaws in the Turkish legal system: long pre-trial detention periods. I am afraid that the government. But I am afraid that the fear of a nationalist backlash will lead the Cabinet into watering down the proposals from the justice minister. Only these two effects combined will convince AK Party critics in Turkey and abroad that the ruling party is seriously interested in further democratization.

sometimes confusingly. the balance has tilted towards policies that are intended not to rock the boat full of Turkish nationalist voters. as some predict. almost at the same time and on the same issue. The bad thing is that since the 2011 elections. The upcoming 2014 elections and the ambitions of the prime minister would suggest that this trend will continue in 2013. Will we see a serious restart of the stalled negotiations. In my next column I will focus on what to expect from Turkey-EU relations in 2013.past that it is capable of both groundbreaking reforms and old style “business as usual” politics -. At the end of this year my fears might again have been more realistic than my hopes. or will we have to wait for that until after the German elections this September? .