Is the AK Party turning into the old CHP?

ISTANBUL (CIHAN)- One of the usual tactics of old politicians is to blame external enemies for anything that goes wrong in the country. It was not really hard to convince people that this was the case given that our people were ready to buy the argument that we are surrounded by enemies and that the Turks have no friends other than the Turks.

The Justice and Development Party (AK Party), which has roots in Islamist politics, revolutionized this approach. To this end, it acknowledged a number of issues and problems ranging from torture in prison to the victimization of different social groups, and it focused on probable solutions. It abandoned the thesis of foreign and domestic enemies. It supported normalization in the domestic plane and developed strong relations with both the Western and Muslim world as well.

The progress in membership talks and relations with the European Union was also a product of this approach. In the past, in case European figures criticized problems in the field of democratization and legal reforms, the usual reaction by Turkish politicians and bureaucrats was counter-attack and criticism. Instead of addressing the problem, the decision-makers preferred to ignore it. However, the AK Party admitted the existence of such problems in the period when it was eager to introduce reforms, and it tried to use the experience of the European figures. The first opportunity they had, the AK Party government resolved the issues through new reforms that would be appreciated by most Europeans.

Back then, the Republican’s People Party (CHP), out of a desire to defend the status quo, was staging opposition to the democratic steps and measures in Europe as well it was attracting criticism from almost all European actors, including Socialist International (SI) and the US, for doing so. Instead of revisiting their position, the CHP representatives blamed the Europeans for not seeing realities and facts.
Some of them even attributed the anti-CHP sentiments in Brussels to the Hizmet movement. Those who subscribed to this argument asserted that the movement had brainwashed leading European politicians including Hannes Swoboda, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Joost Lagendijk, Graham Watson and Martin Schulz. And they said they were holding these anti-CHP views because they were reading Today’s Zaman.

HP Deputy Iahin Mengu, speaking at a meeting where the Ergenekon case was being depicted as a plot, argued that the Zaman daily had opened an office in Brussels so that its representative, Selçuk GultaIlI, could have better communication with European authorities. Mengu said in that speech: “A fundamentalist newspaper has a fairly charming representative in Brussels. Most probably, they pay him well. This guy always talks to leading authorities of the EU all the time. And Europeans make up their minds on Turkey and on us based on what these people have told them. So, actually, we made a mistake [in letting this happen]. But now we have decided to make it up. You might have heard the news that the CHP has opened an office in Brussels.”

When I saw that Foreign Minister Ahmet DavutoIlu and EU Minister Mevlut ÇavuIoIlu had attributed the EU and global media’s criticisms of the AK Party administration’s mistakes to the Hizmet movement, I got upset. I was also sad, because I realized that these names who were doing the right thing in the past are now making the same mistakes Mengu did in the past. Remarks by ÇavuIoIlu, who reviewed the criticisms from European figures over Turkey’s moving away from democracy and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoIan’s harsh language as being from a so-called parallel structure was pretty interesting, as they point out the change in the AK Party. DavutoIlu’s instruction to shut down Turkish schools is also a product of this approach. DavutoIlu attributed this instruction to the allegation that some institutions affiliated with Hizmet movement sent letters to foreign figures where they criticized Turkey.

However, up until recently, DavutoIlu has tried to destroy the perception that Turkey is surrounded by enemies and he promoted the ideal of integrating with the entire world. ÇavuIoIlu, who served as head of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe was also a democrat. When the parliamentary reconciliation commission rejected the idea of asking for the opinion of the European Venice Commission in making a new constitution, arguing that this was an intervention in domestic affairs, ÇavuIoIlu said: “Asking the view of the Venice Commission is not tutelage, because cooperating with an organization whose foundation we contributed to is not tutelage. We need to avoid such complexes.”

The new AK Party is acting like the old CHP in respect to its handling of criticisms coming from the democratic world as well as in regards to the Turkish schools. The new CHP views the attempts and efforts to attribute the proper criticisms to the so-called parallel state as an insult to the intelligence of all. CHP deputy and former ambassador Faruk LoIoIlu, who subscribes to this view, also said on DavutoIlu’s attempts to shut down Turkish schools: “This is all wrong this is a decision made out of hatred and wrath.”

It is sad to see that the AK Party is turning into the old CHP, whereas the CHP is abandoning its flawed positions.