Turkey is viewed as a fascist country
Turkish political scientist: "The majority demands fascism"
DEFAULT: The Turkish President has described Germany as a Nazi country and a haven for terrorists. He cursed the Dutch as depraved in character. Does Europe still need Erdoğan?
Cengiz Aktar: Does Europe need Turkey, which is ruled by Erdoğan? The answer is yes. All over the world, states have relationships with one another in one way or another, and very often it is geography that determines those relationships. The Europeans, the Germans, the Greeks cannot ignore Turkey, which is a neighbor. This is realpolitik. But that does not mean that Europeans today - unlike at the EU summit in Helsinki in 1999 - are ready to consider Turkey's accession to the European Union. What you cited, these insults, these threats, these insults against the Europeans during the campaign for the constitutional referendum of April 16, 2017, were only the affirmation of already bad relations between Turkey and the Europeans. However, none of this was accidental - this is important to understand. These insults of the Europeans by the leadership in Turkey did not come about, only to receive applause from the nationalists, from the right-wing extremists, from radical Muslims, the Turkish voters abroad. It goes much deeper than it seems. Turkey is in the process of "de-westerning", turning away from the West.
DEFAULT: A break in tradition, politically and culturally?
Actor: Turkey turned to the west at the beginning of the 19th century, under the leadership of the sultans Selim III. and Mahmud II. It is a long process, spanning two centuries and crowned - if you can put it that way - by the establishment of the republic in 1923. Turkey has chosen its camp, what after 1945 was called the free world. This whole past, this legacy, this web of strategic relationships - all of this is being reassessed and corrected right now by Erdoğan's regime.
DEFAULT: So how should Europe deal with neighboring Turkey and Erdoğan, who is decoupling his country from the West?
Actor: Turkey has the right to turn away from the West or whatever, because 50 percent, if not more, approve of this political course. So you have to live with that. But where the shoe pinches, where it becomes important for the Europeans - and for the West in general - from a strategic point of view, these are Turkey's relations with Russia and - possibly - with China. In the West, people are following with concern how Turkey is becoming disaffected from Europe and drawing closer and closer to Russia. And Russia is playing that card. Vladimir Putin's regime uses and abuses the bad relations between Europe and Turkey. This is a problem that needs to be dealt with. And that is the perspective from which one must now see Europe's relationship with Turkey.
DEFAULT: But now Turkey is still a NATO member state and - officially at least - a candidate for accession to the EU. That is what limits the rapprochement with Russia.
Actor: The big problem for Europe is that Erdoğan's Turkey no longer corresponds in any way to the democratic, liberal norms of the West. On the contrary: Erdoğan's Turkey shows clear signs of a fascist state, as was seen in Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Greece, France and Italy in the 1930s.
DEFAULT: With the term "fascism" one is always at hand in Turkey. What do you attach that to? The rejection of pluralism, the erosion of democracy?
Actor: No, that's more complicated. There are enough regimes that do not care about democracy, who are indifferent to human rights, who are dictatorships, but which therefore cannot be classified as fascist. Today's Turkey, however, is a fascist country, because its political line has popular support. More than 50 percent. That is why this Turkey can only be compared with the regimes of the 1930s. Fascism that has no popular support is not fascism. It can then be a totalitarian regime, a dictatorship, but not fascism. The moment has only now come in Turkey. Turkey lives under fascism, and that is wanted. To use the psychoanalyst and political theorist Wilhelm Reich: There is a desire for fascism. This is the state in which the country now lives. The majority of the Turkish people demand fascism.
DEFAULT: But what would then be the characteristics of this Turkish fascism?
Actor: A man's world. A structural allergy to everything that is different: non-Muslims, non-Sunni, non-Turks, Kurds, minorities in general, homosexuals. An anti-Western attitude, of course. A unitary, hyper-centralized power system. Turkey has always been a centralized country, but today that centralization has reached an unprecedented peak. There is no control, no counterweight. One can no longer speak of a separation of powers: the highest levels of the judiciary are appointed by the president, the legislature is shaped by the president, the president is also the head of his party, and all decisions - important and unimportant - are made by a small group met the president. And this system is approved by more than 50 percent of the population.
DEFAULT: However, this Turkey is also a candidate for accession to the EU.
Actor: No, that's over. Although it should be said: The Austrian government, not just its Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, says aloud what others in Europe are quietly thinking. The other governments are only hiding behind the Austrians. There is no longer any prospect of membership for the foreseeable future. The Europeans will now redefine their relationship with Turkey, I believe. That will probably be a more elaborately designed free trade agreement. There will of course no longer be a customs union, because it will not work without the prospect of EU accession. The EU Commission will therefore be commissioned to write a position paper that will probably be adopted in the course of the year. In the meantime, for strategic reasons - with a view to NATO - the Europeans are playing for time, remaining vague so as not to irritate the Turkish leadership too much. Economic interests are also at stake - Germany, the Netherlands, France and Italy are the largest investors in Turkey.
DEFAULT: After his recent visit to Brussels, Erdoğan said that they had agreed to draw up a roadmap for intensifying the accession process within twelve months.
Actor: You need two sides for something like that. These are wishful thinking on the Turkish side. She didn't get an answer to that. Or rather, the Turkish leadership has pushed so hard for the Europeans to allow one of the political directors to meet on June 13th, to talk about God knows what - life, love, death. Because there is no agenda. You can read all sorts of things in the Turkish press: a roadmap, concessions from the Europeans, from Turkey. No, the phase in which the Europeans accepted the idea of Turkey joining the EU is over. You have to define something new now.
DEFAULT: The Turkish EU minister and government representatives continue to say that EU accession remains the strategic goal.
Actor: Morocco says that too. That does not mean anything.
DEFAULT: Morocco is not a candidate for membership, Turkey is.
Actor: Yes, but such a candidate has not been seen since 1973 (the then EEC expanded for the first time in 1973. Great Britain, Ireland and Denmark join, note). Absolutely nothing is going on now. The European Union must make a new, clear proposal for the future relationship with Turkey. This crucial point cannot be postponed any longer. All decision-makers in Europe know that there are in fact no more accession negotiations with Turkey and that Turkey no longer fulfills the political - and, by the way, also not the economic criteria of Copenhagen. One can speak less and less of a market economy in Turkey. There is no longer any guarantee of ownership. As has been seen, the state can confiscate the property of any company at any time for any reason. Everyone knows that. Stop pretending that Turkey is still a candidate to join the EU.
DEFAULT: It is now often said that Europe, the West must support the other 50 percent of Turkey. In which way? Shouldn't the EU finally grant the visa-free regime?
Actor: No, lifting the visa requirement for ten million Turkish passport holders is completely out of the question. For domestic political reasons in Europe. For all those persecuted in Turkey it would be a call to leave the country. You are already doing it and are applying for asylum in Europe like after the coup in 1980. Then there is the economic problem: the actual unemployment rate in Turkey is around 35 percent. The proportion of economically active people is very low, it is 50 percent. So all these unemployed people would go to Europe immediately. A quick lifting of the visa requirement is therefore not serious. But how should one support Turkey? Certainly not through a policy of appeasement. Like in Munich in 1938. With a policy of appeasement, Europeans will not succeed with the fascist regime of Erdoğan or with Putin.
DEFAULT: Are you criticizing the German Chancellor's attitude towards Erdoğan?
Actor: Absolutely. She is dreaming. You can't argue with a fascist country. You have to think of something else. A fascist country does not speak the same language. Supporting the other 50 percent in Turkey who disagree with this course is a very difficult thing. That takes a lot of imagination. Structural aid without the consent of the incumbent government is hardly possible. At least as far as the university professors in Turkey are concerned, who were thrown out the door simply because they are critical of the regime, there are already admission programs everywhere in Europe, in Germany for example the Philipp Schwartz Initiative for researchers at risk. Quite similar to the time of Kemal Ataturk, who took in the opposition from Germany, Austria and Hungary in the 1930s. These programs could be expanded. Maybe to a "university of exile". (Markus Bernath, 7.6.2017)
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