Turkish President Erdogan: Europe is siding with terrorist organisations

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech during the NATO Parliamentary Assembly 62nd Annual Session in Istanbul, Turkey, November 21, 2016. REUTERS/Murad Sezer
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech during the NATO Parliamentary Assembly 62nd Annual Session in Istanbul, Turkey, November 21, 2016. REUTERS/Murad Sezer


Erdogan says EU lawmakers’ vote on Turkish membership ‘has no value’

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that a vote by the European Parliament on whether to halt EU membership talks with Ankara “has no value in our eyes” and again accused Europe of siding with terrorist organisations.

“We have made clear time and time again that we take care of European values more than many EU countries, but we could not see concrete support from Western friends … None of the promises were kept,” he told an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) conference in Istanbul.

“There will be a meeting at the European Parliament tomorrow, and they will vote on EU talks with Turkey … whatever the result, this vote has no value in our eyes.”

Leading members of the European Parliament on Tuesday called for a halt to membership talks with Turkey because of its post-coup purges, in which more than 125,000 state employees have been dismissed or detained.

Fed up with EU, Erdogan says Turkey could join Shanghai bloc

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a news conference in Ankara, Turkey, November 16, 2016. Kayhan Ozer/Presidential Palace/Handout via REUTERS
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a news conference in Ankara, Turkey, November 16, 2016. Kayhan Ozer/Presidential Palace/Handout via REUTERS

Reuters –

President Tayyip Erdogan was quoted on Sunday as saying that Turkey did not need to join the European Union “at all costs” and could instead become part of a security bloc dominated by China, Russia and Central Asian nations.

NATO member Turkey’s prospects of joining the EU look more remote than ever after 11 years of negotiations. European leaders have been critical of its record on democratic freedoms, while Ankara has grown increasingly exasperated by what it sees as Western condescension.

“Turkey must feel at ease. It mustn’t say ‘for me it’s the European Union at all costs’. That’s my view,” Erdogan was quoted by the Hurriyet newspaper as telling reporters on his plane on the way back from a visit to Pakistan and Uzbekistan.

“Why shouldn’t Turkey be in the Shanghai Five? I said this to (Russian President) Mr Putin, to (Kazakh President) Nazarbayev, to those who are in the Shanghai Five now,” he said.

“I hope that if there is a positive development there, I think if Turkey were to join the Shanghai Five, it will enable it to act with much greater ease.”

China, Russia and four Central Asian nations — Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan — formed the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in 2001 as a regional security bloc to fight threats posed by radical Islam and drug trafficking from neighboring Afghanistan.

Turkish membership of the SCO, which had initially not included Uzbekistan and been known as the Shanghai Five, would be likely to alarm Western allies and fellow NATO members.

Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan speak Turkic languages, and Ankara signed up in 2013 as a “dialogue partner” saying it shared “the same destiny” as members of the bloc.

Mongolia, India, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan are SCO observers, while Belarus, like Turkey, is a dialogue partner.

Dialogue partners are entitled to take part in ministerial-level and some other meetings of the SCO, but do not have voting rights.

Erdogan last week urged Turks to be patient until the end of the year over relations with Europe and said a referendum could be held on EU membership in 2017.

The EU is treading a fine line in relations with Turkey: it needs Ankara’s continued help in curbing a huge flow of migrants, especially from Syria, but is alarmed by Turkey’s crackdown on opponents since a failed coup attempt in July.

More than 110,000 people have been sacked or suspended since the abortive putsch, and some 36,000 arrested. Media outlets have also been shut down.

The government says the crackdown is justified by the gravity of the threat to the state from the events of July 15, in which more than 240 people were killed.

The Resurgence of ‘Strongmen’ Like Trump Threatens Our Liberal World Order

    • Thomas Weber Author and Professor at the University of Aberdeen

      Hitler-centered historical comparisons with the new “strongmen” of the world are dangerous. They are perilous not so much because they tend to miss their target by a wide margin, but rather because they act as a smokescreen. They obscure the very worrying parallels between the great crisis of liberalism of the post-1873 world that lasted at least for three generations and the current crisis of liberalism. It is these parallels that should be the source of grave concern for the future of a liberal world order, as it was the post-1873 crisis of liberalism that was the root cause for the darkest chapters of the history of the last century.

      Neither any of the new or aspiring strongmen and women — be they Vladimir Putin, Viktor Orban, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Donald Trump or Marine Le Pen — are reincarnated Hitlers. Yet the fact that we do not have to fear the emergence of a new Auschwitz or Hitler-style world war should be no cause for complacency. The conditions in Europe after 1873 that gave rise to Hitler, Mussolini, Lenin and Stalin look eerily similar to the conditions that have brought the strongmen of today to the fore.

      Prior to 1873, liberalism and old-style conservatism had competed for dominance all over Europe and the Western world. Yet for all their differences, the interaction of liberals and conservatives had been of a dialectic nature. Despite all the noise that their struggle had produced, all European countries had moved slowly, often painstakingly so, towards a more liberal order. Furthermore, there had been awareness both within states and between states that polities as well as the international system could only be governed if all players accepted the rules of the game. The pre-1873 world had been full of flaws, to be sure. Yet in comparison to the more than a century that followed, it had been a world that had worked.

      The conditions in Europe after 1873 that gave rise to Hitler, Mussolini, Lenin and Stalin look eerily similar to the conditions that have brought the ‘strongmen’ of today to the fore.

      The crash of the Vienna stock market of 1873 heralded a new age, in which the losers, imagined and real, of the ensuing great depression and of industrialization abandoned the promises of liberal democracy and of conservatism alike. They flocked to left-wing and right-wing protest movements instead. By the end of the First World War, the struggle between liberalism, the old order and the new protest movements had metamorphosed to devastating effects into a three-way world war of ideologies between liberal democracy and right-wing and left-wing collectivism.

      In recent years, just as a century ago, it has been the losers, imagined and real, of liberalism — in our case marked by globalization, the move towards a new economy and a liberal world order based around ideas of free trade and pooled sovereignty — that has given rise to right-wing and left-wing populism.

      It is these forces that have fueled the rise of new and aspiring strongmen and women in the Americas, Europe and parts of Asia and Africa. Their rise does not imply that the kind of wars and kind of polities that the world experienced between 1914 and 1945 are awaiting us in front of our doorsteps. Unlike a century ago, we do not live in an age of disintegrating empires and social Darwinism. Nor are we experiencing the transformation of the fundamental organizing principles of the states in which we live akin to the transformation of multi-ethnic dynastic empires into nation states that the world witnessed between the early 19th and mid-20th century.

      Yet if we peel away the differences between the world of a century ago and of today from their similarities and focus on fitting historical analogies, the emergence of a new world order comes into sight that, while different from the world of Hitler and Stalin, should worry us all. If we do not manage to stem the flow of the new populism and the rise of new strongmen in today’s age of globalization, we are likely to witness a breakdown of the liberal world order that has at least five elements.

      The emergence of a new world order, while different from the world of Hitler and Stalin, should worry us all.

      Domestically, we will witness the electoral erosion of liberal democracy, as we did in the age of revolutions preceding and following the First World War. This has already happened in several countries in Eastern, Central and Southern Europe. Yet alarming signs abound even in stable, affluent countries such as Germany. For instance, 42.6 percent of voters in the state of Saxony-Anhalt recently cast their votes for right-wing and left-wing populist or radical parties. Anybody who has ever dared publicly to criticize Putin, Erdogan or Hugo Chavez when he was still alive will need no further elaboration about the grave consequences of the rise of illiberal democracy or outright authoritarianism for the fate of liberty and our ability to determine our own lives.

      Second, despite the many ills of a liberal economic order, no alternative economic order has produced comparable levels of wealth (and social welfare). A pursuit of illiberal and isolationist economic policies driven by a belief in autarky, rather than of reformed liberal policies, by the new strongmen would likely result in economic collapse, as it did in the past. The ensuing result would be a fanning of further political radicalization, hence triggering a vicious and self-reinforcing cycle of political, social and economic disintegration. It is thus very troubling indeed to see African news outlets making the case for autarky, sometimes even invoking the example of how Hitler’s turn to autarky reduced levels of unemployment in Germany.

      Third, just as then, we are now experiencing an alarming rise of xenophobia and racism in all countries that have experienced the rise of new strongmen. It is a hallmark of the strongmen of both the past and the present to blame the problems members of their core constituency experience on people not belonging to their own tribe. We do not need images of Auschwitz to foresee that a further rise in populism will thus have dire consequences.

      Trump speaks during a rally at JetSmart Aviation Services on April 10 in Rochester, N.Y. (AP/Mike Groll)

      Fourth, the rise of aspiring strongmen and of populist movements in Europe makes it well nigh impossible to strengthen common institutions and to coordinate policies at a time at which most of Europe’s periphery stands in flames and in which half of Europe is in dire straits itself. Due to ill-designed institutions, Europe had already been in crisis and in urgent need of fundamental reform prior to the rise of the new populism.

      Yet just as in the pre-1873 world, there had been, despite all the European Union’s problems, a rough agreement about the rules of the games and the common purpose of the EU. With the emergence of illiberal democracy in the Visegrad states, the rise of economic radicalism in parts of Southern Europe, the flourishing of isolationist nationalism in Western and Northern Europe, a revival of a belief in autarky in parts of Europe, the resurgence of parochialism on the British Isles and federalists in defensive rather than in innovative reformist mode, there is no longer any agreement over the rules of the game, let alone about the future of Europe.

      Fifth, and most worrying of all, the rise of populism and of new strongmen fatally undermines functioning global governance. Putin, Erdogan and Trump share a contempt for international organizations, formalized rules and formalized systems of collective security. Their rejection of common liberal institutions and formalized rules would not be quite as grave if they at least shared common informal rules.

      We should fear the return of the world of Barbary piracy after the decline of the Ottoman Empire or of Europe after the fall of Rome.

      Yet the contempt displayed by the new strongmen of a G20-style system of global governance rivals that to their rejection of the UN and NATO. Putin, Erdogan and many others have been driven by short-termism in their pursuit of political goals. They have engineered conflicts that bring them short-term political advantages that they have been unable to consolidate and control. In doing so, they have opened Pandora’s box. Furthermore, they have been unwilling to use a formal or informal system of global governance to contain the forces flowing from Pandora’s box.

      The EU, meanwhile, has been in a state of near foreign and security policy paralysis, while the U.S. has allowed red lines to be drawn and crossed without consequences. The result of all this has been a mushrooming of ungoverned spaces — in other words a Somalification of parts of the world. It is thus not a renaissance of Hitler’s world order that we have to fear. Rather it is a return of the world of Barbary piracy in the wake of the decline of the Ottoman Empire or of Europe after the fall of Rome.

      Whether or not the rise of populism and the emergence of new strongmen will succeed in destroying our liberal world order will depend on all of us. It will depend on our ability to reform liberalism and to innovate our systems of domestic and global governance rather than to limit ourselves to pouring contempt over the supporters of populist movements. By timidly defending the status quo, we will be fighting a losing battle, not least since many criticisms of the liberal world order by left-wing and right-wing populists are well on target, even if their proposed alternative remedies are a recipe for disaster.

      Donald Trump Protest

Is Turkey’s President Dragging His Country to War for Votes?

After being accused of joining the campaign against ISIS just to attack the Kurds, Recep Tayyip Erdogan is doubling down—hitting the rebels even harder. But will it win him an election?

48056281.cachedISTANBUL—Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is betting that increased pressure on Kurdish rebels in southeast Anatolia will be a vote-getter in snap elections less than two months away.

But a flare-up of Kurdish rebel attacks that have inflicted the heaviest losses on Turkish soldiers in years has Turks wondering whether Erdogan is dragging the country to war to suit his own political needs.

So devastating was the shock of the latest attack by rebels from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) near the Turkish border with Iraq on Sunday that the government and the military waited more than 24 hours before revealing that 16 soldiers had died. It was the highest death toll for the Turkish army in a single combat event since 2011.

Fighters from the PKK, a rebel group designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States, and Europe, attacked a military convoy in the town of Daglica and blew up a number of military vehicles with roadside bombs. The well-connected security analyst Metin Gurcan said on Twitter that 500 to 600 rebels attacked the soldiers, while bad weather prevented Turkish attack helicopters from helping the encircled troops. The PKK said at least 31 soldiers were killed.

In the aftermath, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu held emergency meetings with advisers and Turkey’s chief of general staff, Hulusi Akar, and requested a meeting with opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, a rare step in Turkey’s polarized political scene. Addressing the public Monday evening, Davutoglu pledged that the mountains of southeastern Anatolia would be “cleansed” of rebels.

While the government is promising a tough response to the new PKK attack, Kurdish politicians say government security forces are responsible for the killings of six civilians in the southeastern city of Cizre, which the army and police have closed off while they fight the PKK. A delegation of the legal Kurdish party HDP said after a visit to the city that police were stopping ambulances carrying injured and sick people to the hospital. A 10-year-old girl was killed by a police sniper inside her own home, they said.

Following news of the soldiers’ death in Daglica, Turkish nationalists attacked HDP offices in several cities around the country. Even before the latest flare-up, violent clashes between Turks and Kurds were on the rise. Turkish right-wingers in Istanbul stabbed a 21-year-old Kurd to death after they overheard him speaking Kurdish on his cellphone, the leftist Evrensel newspaper reported Monday.

With tensions heightened across the country, Erdogan declared in a television interview that things would be different if parliamentary elections in June had produced a majority in the house to change the constitution and introduce a presidential system with him at the helm. Critics say Erdogan sabotaged the search for a new government after the June election, in which his AKP party lost its parliamentary majority. They say Erdogan pushed through the new election, scheduled for Nov. 1, in the hope of winning back the AKP majority and, ultimately, getting the presidential system he wanted.

One recent survey shows that 56 percent of voters hold Erdogan responsible for the latest flare-up of violence, which began in late July.

Kilicdaroglu, the opposition leader, has accused Erdogan of stoking tensions in southeast Anatolia to attract nationalist voters to the AKP. “He is responsible for the blood that is being spilled and for terrorism,” Kilicdaroglu said last month, adding of the AKP’s leaders: “They want to stay in power with the help of chaos.”

The leader of the Kurdish HDP party, Selahattin Demirtas, echoed Kilicdaroglu, saying Erdogan and his ruling party are hoping a new Kurdish conflict will help to win back their parliamentary majority. “The AK Party is dragging the country into a period of conflict, seeking revenge for the loss of its majority in the June election,” Demirtas said.

Outside Turkey, Eric Edelman, a former U.S. ambassador to Ankara, argues Erdogan is bent on regaining control over parliament in order to push through the presidential system that would give him wide-ranging powers. To that end, Erdogan is portraying the HDP as the political arm of the terrorist PKK and trying to “steal votes” from the right-wing MHP party. Airstrikes against the PKK have reignited “a conflict that had been on the road to resolution,” Edelman wrote in an Op-Ed late last month in The New York Times.

The question is whether Turks will follow Erdogan. Murat Gezici, a pollster, says his latest survey shows that 56 percent of voters hold Erdogan responsible for the latest flare-up of violence, which began in late July. A suicide attack blamed on the so-called Islamic State that killed more than 30 people on July 20 triggered PKK assassinations of Turkish police officers, with the rebels holding Ankara partly responsible for the ISIS strike. In response, the Turkish government sent warplanes to bomb PKK hideouts in northern Iraq and in Turkey itself, while also bombing some ISIS positions in Syria.

Turkey’s harsh response angered U.S. officials, who said Erdogan’s government was much less interested in fighting ISIS than taking out the PKK. One senior U.S. official was quoted as saying last month that the campaign against ISIS was only a “hook” for the Turks. “Turkey wanted to move against the PKK, but it needed a hook,” the official told The Wall Street Journal.

Since then, several dozen soldiers and police officers, and hundreds of PKK fighters, have died, according to Ankara. The renewed fighting shattered a cease-fire between the state and the PKK that had been in force since 2013 and fueled hope for a permanent end to the conflict, which began in 1984. Erdogan says the PKK used the ceasefire to stockpile weapons. The rebels have been attacking security forces in the region on a daily basis and putting up checkpoints.

So far, there is little evidence that Erdogan’s plan of hitting the PKK to win votes is working. Several polls show the AKP has lost even more ground, while HDP is gaining support. There is “no sign that the latest violent clashes have increased any AKP votes,” Ziya Meral, a London-based Turkey analyst, tweetedMonday.

Source: Daily Beast