GKHAN – Turkey humiliates Germany: Why?

Turkey humiliates Germany: Why?Developments in Turkey have reached a surreal level. The question “What next?” has lost all meaning, as the next step might be something you could never imagine. Developments during the recent visit of the German president, Joachim Gauck, deserve to be treated as a case study of how Turkey has become a surreal country.Prominent Turkish politicians and intellectuals accused Herr Gauck of “major criminal” offenses such as “being a pastor.” According to the accusation, he is a “pastor,” so he must have some bad intentions towards Turkey. The Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip ErdoIan, commenting on Herr Gauck publicly, said, “He still thinks he is a pastor.” Accusing someone of being a pastor might symbolize the established mental habit of conspiracy theories, as many Turks believe that clerics were behind the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.But how should we analyze Turkey’s attempt to humiliate the German president? Is it correct, and is it useful for Turkey? Germany is Turkey’s leading trade partner. It is Germany whose Patriot missiles protect the Turkish border from Bashar al-Assad’s army. But forget these “realistic facts.” Is this a polite way of receiving a visiting president? Aren’t Turks proud of their polite treatment of guests? We may dislike what Herr Gauck said in Turkey. However, aren’t there better ways of reacting to that? More importantly, why did Turkey behave as it did?Several current dynamics in Turkey can explain these recent developments. One should mention arrogance first. Arrogance reigns in Turkish politics now. Prominent Turkish politicians, and many others inspired by them, believe they are so powerful that no other actor can punish them. Moreover, they also believe they are right to the point that they cannot make mistakes. Thus, for the first time in the modern history of Turkey, words such as “silly,” “stupid,” “vampire” and “betrayer” are employed on a daily basis against those who criticize the government. This psychological superiority syndrome naturally affects foreign policy thinking. It is this simple arrogance that made Turkish politicians attempt to humiliate German President Gauck they sincerely believe that Turkey has the right and power to discipline Germany.The second fact is the emerging set of special conspiracy theories about Germany. Many Turks from Islamist and secular backgrounds have chosen Germany as the pivotal center of their conspiracy theories. There is a systematic Germany-centered conspiracy theory in Turkey. This thinking has been consolidating over the last three years. Actors link any unwanted development in Turkey to Germany. In every period of Turkish history, there has been a “foreign enemy,” strong or vague. We are receiving signals today that Germany is likely to be Turkey’s new “foreign enemy.” One frequently hears references to Germany in conspiracy theories: “It is Germany that does not want Turkey to develop,” “It is Germany that does not want Turkey to have a strong railway system” and “It is Germany that was behind the Gezi Park events.”However, there is also a Machiavellian logic behind Turkey’s assault on Germany. In Turkish politics, politicians traditionally need domestic and foreign “enemies” to survive. Today, putting the blame on domestic and foreign targets has become an essential part of political survival. Millions believe the Turkish government is under attack from foreign powers and that they therefore should support it. Germany, interestingly, is “eligible” to be Turkey’s new foreign enemy focal point. Pragmatic Turkish politicians prefer to make Germany the focal point rather than the US. An assault on the US is not equally lucrative in domestic politics, and it is a risky foreign policy.Finally, one should not forget the Turks living in Germany. They will be voting in the upcoming presidential elections in Turkey. That means they will become part of Turkish politics soon. Some Turkish politicians may be thinking it is a good idea to create some tensions that might increase nationalistic fervor among Turks in Germany.

SOURCE: Todays Zaman

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