SUAT – Gul and the end of the ‘golden era’

Gul and the end of the ‘golden era’Tuesday evening President Abdullah Gul hosted businessmen, journalists, NGO leaders, artists and some deputies at the ankaya presidential palace in order to say farewell, as his term of office has come to an end. The reception was well attended.

Dignitaries from Ankara and Istanbul listened to Gul attentively and applauded him wholeheartedly. In one sense everyone in the reception hall understood that one era was coming to an end, and many were concerned what was about to come.

As always, Gul was kind, diplomatic and warm with the audience. He gave the impression of a man who tried his best under extremely complicated conditions.

Mrs. Gul was more outspoken and made sure that the public knows what she thinks.

Both Mr and Mrs. Gul are clearly appalled by the organized campaign against them displayed in pro-government media With grace they were trying to maintain their composure in the face of a barrage of ungrateful and inappropriate commentary about them As one of his aisors confided to me, andldquoThe last year has demonstrated how devious, deceitful and hypocritical Islamist politics can be.

andrdquoMany lament the demise of the ruling partyand#39s golden era, namely the period from 2003 to 2009. Some even bring the end of this period up to 2007 or 2008.

Those were the years when the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) remained true to its ambition to move away from its andldquoErbakanistandrdquo past and open up to large segments of Turkish society. That is the era when Turkey managed to negotiate with the EU, grow economically and consolidate its democracy, and its international reputation was at its peak.

I hear from senior diplomats how highly the current period contrasts with those years. Many of them have chosen to leave the ministry or ask for more passive jobs.

They see what is occurring and have no appetite to be part of it.Guland#39s departure from the presidency signifies the end of an era The andldquoolden eraandrdquo had already come to an end, but the end of his term is only reminding us of the storm that is likely to come.

Turkey lost its collective mind and is now a hostage in the hands of one man who appears to recognize no limits to power Needless to say, it did not have to be this way. It would have been better had Gul not signed the controversial internet law, the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) law and the MIT law, but that is now water under the bridge.

Unfortunately, the unique opportunity that presented itself in the form of the AK Party government from 2003 to 2009 has been wasted. Those who are responsible for what happened — particularly since 2011 — will have to reckon with the consequences of an inevitable post-ErdoIan era It appears that we will have to experience the worst before we can hope for better days again.

Turkeyand#39s conservatives will painfully discover the virtues of secularism only after they experience the true impact of authoritarian Islamist majoritarianism.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman