President Recep Erdogan
“In practical terms,Turkey’s membership prospects for membership of the EU are buried” said Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern. “We are entering a new era,” the Social Democrat told reporters in Vienna. He also said that EU aid to Turkey to help it advance towards membership was now “obsolete.”
As reported by the Agence France-Presse (AFP), Austria’s Foreign Minister, Sebastian Kurz, was also quick to comment just after the Turkish referendum. “We must be honest about the relationship between the EU and Turkey.”
The general European Union view, is that Turkey should end talks over its 30-year-old bid to join the bloc, after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won an extremely controversial referendum in order to gain further powers. According to Austrian leaders, and many other leading politicians in Europe, the question remains, as to how determined he was he to join, and is the present situation simply a reflection of his continued mindset, and a country divided down the middle?
Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern
To regard Erdogan as a rational and people loving President, is to defy all the evidence which has appeared in the run up to the Turkish referendum, and in particular, his actions during the referendum itself. At no time did it appear either fair or democratic, his biased position defying all the normal weights and measures of a democratic vote. Although the outcome was very marginal, did he achieve his end? Because, he will need more than a loud mouth and his trademark bullying tactics, to convince the rest of the world. Or, does he see himself, as the new Sultan of Turkey?
Firstly, having locked up many critical journalists, and disposed of the so called anarchist press, can we still regard Turkey as a free society, now he has muted peoples normal expectations of freedom of speech, and expression? Because, Erdogan started off his campaign in the full knowledge that – with fear on the streets and tyranny waiting in the wings – many Turkish voters would choose not to vote for their own personal safety.
Secondly, since no TV or Radio transmission time was given to opposition parties to air their views, there was little hope of instilling a balanced view amongst the floating voters, and especially younger voters. That, and a ban on opposition leafleting and posters along main streets and freeways throughout Turkey, offered the Turkish public a somewhat one sided publicity campaign.
Thirdly, we get to the subject of balloting. When it was clear that things were not going his way, it was decided by the Erdogan gang, that unofficial and undocumented votes should also be included in the total of the votes cast, and – most likely – for the votes cast for him. Mainly from the Turkish heartland, where Erdogan has most of his support, this in itself may have opened up a can of worms, which even he cannot deny.
What is clear, however, is that all the westernized parts of Turkey – of both European and Anatolian, Turkey – voted against Edogan receiving any further Presidential powers, especially areas in which one might also regard as the most civilized. This is easily described by the two tables I include, both of which show the spread of officially declared votes. Finally, where does all this leave Erdogan, where does his future lay, and with which domain can he share his strengths, and resources?
The ridiculous thing is that Turkey relies almost entirely on the EU to buy its goods and services, despite an attempt at patching up its relationship with Russia, after the shooting down of a Russian bomber over Syria. It is also in the process of cosying up to Israel, having apparently quite forgotten the murder of certain Turkish humanitarian aid workers, en route to Palestine. But, to say that Erdogan has any friends in the region, might be stretching a point.
On the Turkish plus side with the EU, Erdogan always has the Angela Merkel deal – to house and sustain illegal immigrants crossing the EU border into Greece and Italy – which would be easy to renege on. Seeing how Turkey was, and always has been, the main instigator of illegal border crossings into Europe in the first place, I think that could be rather easy.
But what of the Kurds and Americans, Syrians, French & Russians, Iraqi’s and British, and the general mixture of improbable alliances left by the Obama administration? Rather like a giant game of snakes and ladders, it is very hard to see how the various factions can conduct themselves in the future , without sliding down a very long snake, and starting from the beginning.
Maybe Erdogan, without really taking sides – but by conducting a secondary war with Kurdish fighters in the south of Turkey – might cause Turkey to break up into federated states, presided over by Sultan Bin Recep Erdogan and his Califs.