Hey New York Times!

Oh how easy life would be, living in a world unencumbered by democracy and law. Doing whatever you wanted, not having to hear a rising chorus of complaints from the world around. Luckily though, Turkey is a part of the democratic world.
Turkey is a founding member of the European Council, an organization based on democracy and universal principles of law. It is a country involved in membership accession talks with the European Union. It is one piece in the larger European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) system. It is a member of NATO, which requires democracy of all its members. It is a country that has signed off on many international pacts that contain rulings critical to human rights. According to our Constitution, these international pacts take precedence even over our own domestic law. This general framework, which distinguishes us from so many other countries in our immediate region, forces Turkish leaders to conform to certain principles. And when they do not, alarms bells are triggered. Thanks to Turkey being a part of this larger, democratic system, negative reactions were heard from all over the world when, many years back, a prosecutor tried to shut down the Justice and Development Party (AKP), despite the fact it had won some 47 percent of the popular vote. Likewise, the recompensation paid by the state to make up for villages burned during clashes with the Kurdistan Workersand’ Party (PKK), also rooted in our place in the democratic system. Or how about the reactions from the European Union, ECtHR, or the international media in general when coup plans like Sarikiz, Ayiiiii or Balyoz first came to light? Or when the Turkish military issued its infamous midnight April 27, 2007 e-memorandum in opposition to Abdullah Guland’s candidacy for president? All of these important global reactions were linked inextricably to Turkeyand’s place within a larger world system of democracy. In response to the militaryand’s 2007 e-memorandum, a British newspaper, the Guardian, asked, and”Is there a real basis to the fears secularists are talking about?and” The body of the article contained this observation: and”It is an exaggerated fear. Erdogan is one of the figures at the head of Turkeyand’s EU accession process.and” An opinion piece carried by The Washington Post around the same time referred to the Turkish militaryand’s web site memorandum as and”unfortunate,and” continuing with this praise for Erdogan: and”Never mind pushing an Islamic agenda, Erdogan is carrying out progressive reforms that previous governments had failed at, thus leading the way in the EU accession process. The greatest threat to democracy in Turkey comes not from the AKP, but from those who oppose it.and”
Reactions opposing the Turkish militaryand’s e-memorandum were quite universal when it came to Europe. Then-EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said, and”The military needs to leave politics to those who have been elected,and” while German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, Dutch Foreign Minister Hans van den Broek, Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio and European Green Party leader Daniel Cohn-Bendit — all in situ at the time of the e-memorandum — all made joint statements noting their opposition to the militaryand’s move. At the same time, the European Council and its aisory body the Venice Commission not only made it clear that they opposed the illegal moves against the AKP, but they were in full support of the ongoing reforms under the ruling AKP.
Having himself done prison time because of a poem he read in public, Erdogan was theoretically one of those best equipped to understand just how critical the actions of the wider democratic world can be in the struggle for rights and freedoms. While still only the head of his party, Erdogan was able to meet at the White House with then-US President George Bush. And while a political ban kept him outside of the Turkish Parliament, Erdogan was able to tour the various capitals of Europe and be received as the head of the up and coming AKP. Without support from the larger democratic system, it would have been nigh impossible for Erdogan to transcend the barriers thrown up before him and the AKP. While much has changed in past years, Turkey is still a part of the democratic world. So being, there is nothing more natural than to hear the rising chorus of world voices in response to the trampling of democratic principles witnessed here. This time around though, the target of the criticism is the government itself, and its authoritarian profile. But it is really any surprise to hear the same voices that rose in protest when one was victimized in the past rising this time around to condemn oneand’s increasing authoritarianism while in power? When journalists are thrown in jail for what theyand’ve written, itand’s natural that the 551 members of the European Parliament (EP)ondemn this. Similarly, itand’s only natural to hear this warning from Kati Piri, delegate to the Joint EU-Turkey Parliamentary Committee: and”Press freedom is an essential value for the EU. It is worrisome and unacceptable that there be an attempt to silence critical media.and” Likewise, the joint letter from 74 senators from the US Congress concerned about what is happening in Turkey shouldnand’t be much of a surprise. Nor should The New York Times newspaper piece criticizing the attempts to silence Turkish media groups such as the Dogan Group, Zaman, Samanyolu, and Bugandun as being and”dangerous, dark and worrisome.and” And in the meantime, as anyone with any sense has foreseen and warned about, the economy is going to suffer from all this.
In the past, those upset by the support expressed from the democratic world for the AKP government were the staunch backers of the old status quo in Turkey. In their eyes, Erdogan and the AKP were nothing less than traitors to Turkey, for complaining to the world about what they were facing here the support they got from the world was tantamount to proof of this treason. The fact that Erdogan and the AKP seem to view those who talk to the outside world about what is happening here today as traitors — and the global criticism rolling in as proof of this treason — is as hypocritical as it is telling.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman