By Halil Gürhanlı
April 7, 2016
With the refugee deal with EU, the regime in Turkey earns the silence of its European critics as the country proceeds towards complete authoritarianism. The EU leaders get to have their cake and eat it too, outsourcing gate-keeping while maintaining the moral upper-hand. However, this is a joint “achievement” gained at the expense of millions of Syrian refugees. It tarnishes EU’s status as a normative power. Meanwhile, Turkey is also a loser, as it will not be politically and financially compensated for carrying the refugee burden.
The detentions of Gülenist media personalities have led to a discussion whether or not they deserve support in the name of the freedom of expression, against the background of the joint Gülenist-AKP assaults against the opposition and media in the past. Ekrem Dumanlı, the editor in chief of the Gülenist daily Zaman, who was one of those who was detained, defends past editorial policy, writing that “We honestly appropriated the Ergenekon investigation and lent whatever earnest support to it that we could,” because, he claims, there were many known examples of journalists collaborating with coup makers. Dumanlı concedes that some things that were published may have been “over the mark,” but he asks critical colleagues to support him nonetheless and not “make the same mistake against us.” Güray Öz in Cumhuriyet writes that “no journalist can be deprived of support because of what he has done in the past,” but that the assault against it today does not absolve Gülenist media from its responsibilities for what it has committed in the past.
By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 2, no. 16 of the Turkey Analyst)
The determination of the Turkish government to muzzle critical media is the clearest sign to date that Turkey is drifting towards semi-authoritarianism. Contrary to the expectations of its liberal supporters, the AKP is not about to dismantle statism. Fusing statism and religious conservatism, the AKP could be introducing a semi-authoritarian model more comprehensive and potentially more enduring than the defunct Kemalist model.
The Turkey Analyst is a publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Joint Center, designed to bring authoritative analysis and news on the rapidly developing domestic and foreign policy issues in Turkey. It includes topical analysis, as well as a summary of the Turkish media debate.