GKHAN – The ‘banalization’ of Turkey

The ‘banalization’ of TurkeyFor many, Turkey was once a model country in the Middle East. Turkey was cheered for its successes, from economic development to democratic reforms.

Once, Turkey had good relations with its neighbors.Things are different today.

The idea of being a andldquomodel countryandrdquo is not even in the air Nobody references it. Instead, Turkey is stigmatized as an authoritarian state with a corrupt political regime.

Last week, I met a Western journalist who has long been known for her very strong pro-Turkish stance. She told me that she picked up a andldquorogue stateandrdquo impression after spending some time on the Turkish-Syrian border Turkey, the erstwhile model state, has accumulated a new characterizing lexicon: andldquoPakistanization,andrdquo andldquoIraqization,andrdquo andldquoLebanonization.

andrdquoTurkey is speedily losing its once-privileged position in global and regional politics. It is looking ever more like any other underdeveloped state that is swamped by problems such as authoritarianism, border clashes, terrorism and corruption.

There seems to be no parity between the two sets of people who see where Turkeyand#39s andldquobanalizationandrdquo is displaying itself domestically and the internationally. The first set is Turkeyand#39s Western and non-Western friends.

To a large extent, the Western world now thinks that Turkey has changed for the worse. But not only the Western states.

Many Islamic states also share this negative perception of Turkey. A similar consensus is emerging even in Africa (I have met many Africans recently who confessed to me that they are having serious difficulty with understanding the authoritarian turn in Turkey.

) The second set — the Turkish public — has no problem, by and large, with Turkey becoming an ordinary state.Is there any Turkish success, even in sport — football, for instance — that makes a qualifying remark appropriate? No, there is not.

andldquoBanalizationandrdquo kills competition. More, it kills abilities.

The so-called andldquoNew Turkeyandrdquo is totally invisible in the global league of qualitative competition fields such as technology and sport.Conversely, Turkey is the leader of the 2014 Corruption Perception Index: It holds the title of the country sinking fastest into deep corruption.

But, Turks should not be sad. All other Muslim states are with Turkey in the prestigious position of being the most corrupt nations on the globe.

Meanwhile, the Western countries, always criticized by Muslims for moral decadence, are doing better at defeating corruption.The andldquobanalizationandrdquo of Turkey is a fact in foreign policy, too.

Despite its baroque narrative on foreign policy, Turkey is now on a very narrow ledge. Ankara has the Kurds, its main logistical supporters in the neighborhood, to thank for that — albeit meager — space.

Ankara would be totally isolated had the Kurds not offered their help. Yet it is not clear that the deal with the Kurds will hold.

As a typical result of andldquobanalization,andrdquo the number of things a columnist might write on is declining. In the past, we used to be happy to comment on various foreign policy developments, economic successes or reforms in democratic practice.

Without that scope today, this is a sad time for the average columnist. Pro-government journalists are lucky.

At least they have to exert themselves to find new arguments to defend the government. Frankly, it takes clever journalism to defend the government these days, given events like the Soma mine accident and its more than 300 dead citizens.

I write andldquocleverandrdquo because one has to be really clever to generate arguments that defend a government in the face of such a tragic event. And one must be really hard-working to find arguments to defend the erection of a 1,000-room presidential palace when millions of Turkish citizens are living in very poor conditions.

This is why the present time is a sad period for critical journalists. The new Turkey, which has suddenly become a banal state, has nothing interesting to market to the global audience.

For some years now, nothing that could be called inspiring has happened in Turkey. Turkey was a banal Middle Eastern state some time ago.

It is now fast-tracking itself back to those days.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman