IAHIN – Turkey’s ErdoIan problem

Turkey’s ErdoIan problemThe death toll of the gravest mining disaster in the history of the country, which happened last Tuesday in Soma, is as high as 301 people. Turkey appears to have the worst mining safety record among industrialized countries, with five times as many deaths in accidents than in China, which is governed by a single-party dictatorship. Poor safety regulations and controls by public authorities, as indicated in several recent studies on the subject, and neglect of necessary measures by companies intent on minimizing costs and maximizing profits are surely the root causes of the dismal state of affairs in Turkey’s mines.However, it clearly has something to do with the mindset of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoIan as well. This mindset was best reflected in what he said following 30 deaths in a mine in Zonguldak on the Black Sea coast four years ago: “The people of the region are quite used to events like these. The profession has this in its destiny. The workers get into the profession knowing that these kinds of incidents might occur.” What he declared following the Soma disaster was no different: “Please do not think that these kinds of incidents don’t happen in this region. There is something in the literature called ‘work accidents.’ That happens here, too. This is in the nature of this line of work” And he continued to make comparisons with big mining disasters in 19th-century Europe. It is no wonder that a petition put forward by all three opposition parties in Parliament to investigate the conditions at the Soma mines was rejected by the votes of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) group led by ErdoIan just 20 days before the disaster took place.I regard the Soma disaster and the suppression of the protests against the government that followed as only the latest indication of the fact that Turkey cannot continue to be governed by the ErdoIan mentality. For almost two years I have been pointing to the urgent need for a new government, surely an AKP government, but one without ErdoIan. After two terms in power between 2002 and 2011 and valuable service to the country, having made hard and admirable efforts, ErdoIan seems to be exhausted in all senses of the term. The government he dominates has become increasingly arbitrary and authoritarian. It attempts to explain away every mistake and failing with conspiracies from external and internal enemies, tries to cover up corruption of the gravest kind by establishing full control over the judiciary and a major part of the media, divides the people between those who are with and against it, declares all critical views to be “treason” and leads policies that pay scarce attention to the protection of the natural environment and the safety of working people.A growing majority of citizens are aware of the dangers of continuing with ErdoIan in charge. Many fear, as I do, that Turkey will be dragged further into dangerous polarization, domestic conflict and chaos, possibly prompting the military to assume a political role once again if ErdoIan manages to get elected to the presidency this summer, as he intends. Turkey needs to find a democratic solution to what is basically the ErdoIan problem. The greatest responsibility in this respect lies with the AKP group, which makes up nearly two-thirds of Parliament. It is apparent from their silence that a growing number of the group are unhappy with the current state of affairs. The leading members of the group have to recognize without delay that the need for a government without ErdoIan and his cronies is pounding at the door.The AKP surely has the capacity to form such a government. President Abdullah Gul can run and be elected for another term in the presidency. The three-term restriction for AKP deputies can easily be lifted. One of the deputy prime ministers, either Bulent ArIn, regarded as the “conscience of the party,” or Ali Babacan, who insists that the government’s reference points are with the Council of Europe (CoE) and European Union norms, can assume the premiership and restore confidence in the government both among the electorate and our allies.What I am calling for might be entirely unrealistic, but this only underlines the urgency of the problem.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman

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