Will a diplomat who is ashamed of Erdoğan praise Gül?

Date posted: March 17, 2014


Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has been ignoring the most basic values and principles in an effort to cover up corruption allegations that have come about since Dec. 17, wanted to use ambassadors to undermine the image of the Hizmet movement abroad. The sacred mission of the envoys in this “new war of liberation,” as defined by Erdoğan, was to prove that the so-called parallel state was the main source of all “the evils.”

I have been able to talk to many diplomats with diverse levels of seniority since Erdoğan’s instructions were given to them. I basically told them that I was likening them to their colleagues in the past who were given assignment in the aftermath of the Sept. 12 coup to convince the leaders and administrations in Brussels, Strasbourg, Paris, London and Berlin that the generals did not stage a coup in Turkey and that they were actually trying to save the country.

I have many times heard senior diplomats in foreign affairs telling me that they experienced difficult times defending the generals who staged the 1980 coup and that they had to make unusual remarks that even they did not actually believe. Trying to convince the Europeans that the generals were trying to save the country at a time when people were subjected to torture, Kurds were being persecuted and even minors were executed, was actually an insult to the intelligence of these people.

What has been happening since Dec. 17 is no different. A corrupt political administration is destroying the basic tenets of a democratic state. The government is backtracking on all the steps it had previously introduced to strengthen the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) and improve fundamental rights and freedoms; however, it is arguing that it is doing this because it is dealing with a coup.

Imagine that you are serving as a diplomat in a European capital. How will you convince Europeans that a coup was staged against a political administration that destroyed the foundations of a democratic state and relied on hate discourse against all opponents in order to cover up corruption charges? How will you polish the image of a prime minister who contributed to the release of murderers; declared the Hizmet movement a “new Ergenekon;” called for the boycotting of Boyner, Koç and private prep schools; and manipulated the recent deaths from protests for his political goals and to justify his insulting remarks?

I asked this question to the diplomats I recognize as reasonable, polite and intelligent. They basically told me that they asked for files consisting of evidence on the existence of the so-called parallel state from the government and that they would act in accordance with the government’s response. As far as I know, no such file has been referred to the embassies. The diplomats I spoke with implied that there are too many loopholes in the parallel state discourse and that Europeans would most likely find this allegation unsubstantiated. But of course, none of them made a negative remark against Erdoğan.

However, the Brussels-based EUobserver, an influential news portal, did make a negative comment. In its news story covering the report by the European Parliament (EP) on Turkey, the EUobserver quoted Turkish diplomats as saying in private talks that they are ashamed of Erdoğan. The diplomats who received instructions from the government to justify its position allegedly said they were embarrassed by what the prime minister has said and done.

It is not possible to imagine that someone with even a minimal degree of democratic culture and religious or non-religious ethical considerations would feel unashamed by what Erdoğan has done. My concern is for the possibility that similar worries will be raised about President Abdullah Gül as well.

Some prominent figures who have little knowledge of the Hizmet movement, including Graham Watson of Britain, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff of Germany and Hélène Flautre of France, find Erdoğan’s hate discourse against the Hizmet movement unacceptable. But our president still remains silent. Gül will reportedly ask for further support for Turkey’s EU membership during his visit to Denmark. Is it not fair to believe that he will be asked during this visit about why he did not pause longer before signing the HSYK and Internet bills that were strongly criticized by the EP report?

Source: Todays Zaman , March 17, 2014

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