Harming the party and the country

A few days ago, Ahmet Sever published his long-awaited book and”12 Years with Abdullah Gandul.and”
Sever was Ganduland’s chief press aisor when the Justice and Development Party (AKP)o-founder was serving as prime minister, foreign minister and finally president between 2002 and 2014. Gandul read the book before it was published and in that sense one can consider Severand’s account as a true reflection of Ganduland’s views. The book confirms what many in Turkey already knew: Abdullah Gandul and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan did not see eye to eye on many important issues, especially after Gandul became president in 2007. Gandul did not agree with the Syria and Egypt policy of the Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoilu governments, thought Erdoganand’s violent repression of the Gezi Park protests was a mistake, and wasis of the opinion that the four AKP ministers who are suspected of corruption should be sent to the Supreme Criminal Court.
I am not going to go into the details of all these disagreements. I am sure the book will be discussed at length in the coming weeks. It is the first eyewitness account of the AKP years and will definitively ruffle plenty of feathers inside the party. AKP firebrand deputy iamil Tayyar has already accused Sever, and indirectly Gandul, of throwing a hand grenade into the party. Letand’s wait and see who else is going to react to Severand’s book. That might provide us with a good inside view of which AKP bigwig is still fully committed to defending Erdoganand’s legacy — since his former supporters have started to doubt him — and who prefers to sit on the fence and keep quiet.
What struck me upon the publication of the book was the emphasis on Gandul and”not wanting to harm the interests of the party or the country.and” First, the book was made public after the June 7 elections — although it had been finished before — because Gandul did not want to damage the AKPand’s electoral prospects. He guarded against the prospect of being blamed by his AKP colleagues in case results were disappointing. Second, despite many conversations with Erdogan and Davutoilu about their differences of opinion, Gandul rarely went public with his dissenting opinion. When he did, he never really pushed for a change of policy because he knew he would get into a row with Erdogan which, according to the book, and”would not be good for the country.and”
In that sense the book confirms the popular impression of Gandul as a softly spoken person who prefers to avoid conflict and was willing to remain silent if he thinks it is better for the party he founded or the country he governed.
That makes him, much more than Erdogan, a sympathetic person who is liked and appreciated by many Turks, even those who do not agree with him politically. But there is also something disturbingly problematic with the idea of and”not wanting to harm the party or the country.and”
As a former politician, I know from personal experience how big the pressure is within a party, even a small one such as the Dutch Greens that has always remained outside of the government, to defend the party line and cover up internal differences. On two occasions I did not do so and went public with my deviating opinion. That was not appreciated, to put it mildly, by the party leadership. On the other hand, those party members who agreed with me were happy that someone finally showed in public that the party was divided on that particular topic. Keeping silent about it would, in their view, not serve the long-term interests of the party.
I am referring to this personal history of public dissent because I have the impression that Gandul has also reached a point where remaining silent about crucial issues relating to the AKP and Turkey could harm both more than going public. Of course, the situation is totally different and Ganduland’s responsibilities are much higher than mine were at the time, but the mechanism is the same. Yes, often for a politician, speech is silver, silence is gold. But, according to another saying, no answer is also an answer.
According to Sever, Gandul has the ambition to return to politics with a clear vision: and”I would re-enliven the EU membership process. I would correct the mistakes in foreign policy. The country is too polarized and I would take steps to correct this. I would focus on democratization.and” If Gandul is not willing to stand up for these views now, when many inside the AKP are looking for a new direct course to follow, maybe soon it will be too late.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman