Neither a model, nor a source of inspiration.
The outlook is heartbreaking. It seems that the process that started with the Justice and Development Party (AKP) seems as though it will end somewhere behind the welfare line. Turkey, which has been a matter of discussion as to whether it is a model or a source of inspiration, is now in a deadlock. It suffers from isolation and corruption.
Things were exciting at the beginning. A group of politicians who parted ways with the Welfare Party founded a new political party in 2002. The people were in search of a way out of the crisis because the state and economy had collapsed due to corruption, murder and repression. The voters sealed the fate of the True Path Party (DYP), the Motherland Party (ANAP) and BE-lent Ecevit because they were seen as being responsible for this state of crisis. The AK Party had won a majority of seats in Parliament, but there were still some problems ahead. The people preferred the AKP because they found it reliable and viewed it as a party that would be decisive in dealing with corruption and systemic dysfunction.
The AKP responded to expectations; it resumed negotiations with the EU, introduced bold reforms toward greater democratization, increased national income and addressed the problem of military tutelage. Turkey not only became a member of the G-20 but also emerged as an element of stability in its region. The AKP did not write a new constitution but strengthened judicial independence and individual rights through constitutional reform in 2010. For this reason, Turkey was seen as a model when the Arab Spring broke out. Arabs opposed this; instead, they described Turkey as a source of inspiration. But today, nobody makes such references. The general outlook of the last three years is gruesome.
The economy is stagnant. The crisis finally affected us. The per capita income increased from $3,000 to $10,000 between 2002 and 2008; but today, it is still $10,000. It has become apparent that the AKP has been economically successful because of the reforms introduced by Kemal DerviE-. Relations with the EU have made no progress over the last decade. The talks are no longer taken seriously. Nobody believes that the AKP has an EU project. The YouTube and Twitter bans, intelligence agency bill, constitutional violations and Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) bill are sufficient to suspend the talks. Nobody dares ask for the complete elimination of ties because of the fear that it might affect commercial relations. Otherwise, Erdoy-an would have ceased talks with Brussels. His direction is the Middle East, not the EU.
There is no hope in the Middle East, a region which is currently suffering from extreme crises, and Turkey is lonely. It has serious disagreements with its neighboring countries; it does not have ambassadors in many capitals. Turkey is no longer a country that is involved in the settlement of international disputes, including the Iranian nuclear issue, Palestinian question and Israeli-Syrian relations. It is no longer a time in which US-Turkey relations are important and Obama and Erdoy-an discuss regional matters over the phone. Erdoy-an relies on strong anti-Western discourse to attract popular support. This is a Turkey that is lonely in its international affairs. Turkey's consulate was raided in Iraq, and it currently has serious crises with EU countries as well.
The AKP, established in order to fight against oppression, is no longer there. We now live in a Turkey in which freedom of the press has been severely restricted and journalists are laid off for simply doing their jobs. We now have an AKP chair who says that the reforms his party previously supported were a mistake, a Turkey where the laws are suspended and judges and prosecutors who deal with corruption are reappointed, an AK Party which deadlocks Parliament so that it cannot review corruption charges. We now have a prime minister who polarizes the people and tries to attract votes by discriminating against his political rivals.
If you want to see where we are heading in the settlement process, take a look at Erdoy-an's venture of a new constitution. He took some bold steps in the beginning, but now he is leaving ruins behind him.
ALy YURTTAGE[pounds sterling]L (Cihan/Today's Zaman) CyHAN
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