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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Expert: “Turkish Society is split”

Turkey continues to seek out involved in the failed coup of 15 July, which, according to the President of the country Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was caused by his political adversary, the preacher Fethullah gülen and supported from abroad. The Turkish leader has accused Western countries of approval of the actions of the coup. Against this background, Ankara has taken a course of rapprochement with Moscow: meeting of the presidents of the two countries, expected to take place on August 9 in St. Petersburg.

To understand what political path would be to go Turkey on and what the outcome of Erdogan’s “purge”, “MK” asked the Advisor to the Director of RISS, orientalist Elena Suponina.

photo: pixabay.com

Is there any chance that the tightening of internal policy of Turkey will end in the coming months? This is a short-term measure?

In the middle East there is nothing long-term, everything changes very quickly. However, this course of the President Erdogan in the next year precisely will not change.

The Turkish leader has long felt the deterioration of their political positions. The discontent among the military Mature long before the coup attempt. Turkish society is split, part of the intelligentsia also unhappy with the fact that Erdogan departs from the precepts of Ataturk and heads towards greater religiosity of the society.

When I Ataturk said the following: a leader who relies solely on religion, is a priori a weak leader. Erdogan, for all his attempts to seem strong still substantially weakened, and in order to save power, he has to tighten the screws.

– Is it correct to say that he builds some kind of Islamic state like Iran?

– Erdogan to build a state where religion would play an even greater role than now, if not decisive. Compare with Iran here is not entirely correct though, because in Iran most of the population is Shiite Muslims, and the Turks are mostly Sunni Muslims. This means the divergent views on the state system, the place of religion, even when she plays a leading role.

In any case, in view, Erdogan is a country where politics and religion – specifically Islam – that go hand-in-hand and are not separate from each other. This, according to Erdogan and his supporters, it is vitally inherent to Islam. But now he hardly looks strategically so far, he is forced to react to large disturbances the right and left. Its primary goal – to consolidate his power.

– You said about disgruntled among the intelligentsia. As a lot of them and if they have your voice in Turkish politics?

– Remember the demonstration two or three years ago, when the Turks protested on the usual social issues. For example, when people took to the streets, dissatisfied with the deforestation of the Park in Istanbul. It’s also been symptoms of dissatisfaction of the middle class and part of the intelligentsia what is happening.

But after the coup attempt, many people today are intimidated and will not be so clearly show their protests. At the same time, we can not guarantee that the discontent does not manifest itself again after some time. Erdogan understands this, so he was very severely punished those who dared to oppose him and to organize a coup.

– Turkish politicians often assert that in a coup to blame the United States. This demonstrates the gap between Ankara and Washington?

– About any gap can be no question, though, because Turkey is a NATO member, and the Turkish army is the second largest army among the member States of the Alliance.

Another thing is that the relationship between Erdogan and Obama have deteriorated. Again, this happened before the coup. Erdogan was surprised and disgruntled military U.S. aid to the Kurds in Syria. Turkish President fears the aspirations of the Kurdish national minority in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and some other countries – to greater independence.

Despite this cooling, America continues to see in Turkey, its ally in the region. I’m sure that the next US President – whoever he was – we see both sides of a serious attempt to improve relations.

The Turkish foreign Minister said about a possible rupture of the migration agreement with the EU if Brussels does not ease visa regulations for Turkish citizens. Would the Europeans in such conditions?

For the Turkish leadership the problem of migrants immediately became the subject of serious bargaining. Sometimes the stakes grew, as in the market. This annoyed Europeans.

Turkey accepts refugees, many helps… But when I talked to some Syrian refugees, who visited Turkey, they all in one voice saying that this country is far from Paradise and that the conditions in the Turkish refugee camps is very difficult. My interlocutors felt that the local population is hostile to them, and fears. In addition, they could not find work. And, in the end, I came to the conclusion that they are gradually expelled from the country or, at least, are doing everything possible so they moved on to Europe.

However, Turkey beats his chest and says that a lot of money and effort is spent on the reception. For this, the Turks constantly demand from Europe’s massive financial injections. The account goes on millions and billions of euros. This is a huge amount.

All the same, however, for Turkey, EU membership has ceased to be a priority desire. If five years ago it was a pink dream of the Turkish leadership, they are now in Europe is not very eager. And the Europeans want Turkey in its ranks greatly reduced. So, perhaps, this kind of blackmail is perceived not so sharply.

View the ease with which Erdogan has buried the agreements with the Europeans, which this spring had made the previous Prime Minister of Turkey Ahmet Davutoglu. It is the result of enormous efforts have achieved great concessions from the Europeans. The agreement on visa-free regime between the EU and Turkey was ready, the visas had to cancel this summer, but Erdogan at the last moment refused the transaction.

It was announced that the agreement had not worked out. Although it is actually one of the motives was to attack their ally and at the same time political rival Davutoglu, who in these negotiations has gained a lot of supporters in the EU. I heard the opinion, when Davutoglu in the West praised not an example of Erdogan. Apparently, Erdogan sensed this, and quickly got rid of grew in the eyes of a colleague, at the same time farewell to the agreement which he prepared.

The draft agreement between Turkey and the EU provides that until 2018, the Europeans will provide for the resettlement of refugees in Turkey, 3 billion euros, immediately followed by another 3 billion. That is a total of 6 billion Euro over three years. Actually the Turks have a vested interest in the cooperation with the EU and will be hard to bargain on, to maintain the possibility of obtaining the money.

– What are the prospects for Russian-Turkish relations against the backdrop of the failed coup?

– The restoration of relations will continue, although the process is not fast. However, Moscow no need to hurry. The Turks are focused on the economy, but for Russia it is important for Turkey to review its position on Syria. Without this present warming will not happen. Much depends on the meeting of presidents Putin and Erdogan on August 9 in St. Petersburg.

Well, probably, it remains to advise those Russians who like to rest in Turkey, once again weigh all the pros and cons. The situation in Turkey is unstable. There is a threat of continuing terrorist attacks. So abruptly to jump each other’s arms is certainly not necessary. Turkey should be alert.

– Do Erdogan’s willingness to change its position on Syria?

– Hints of it are, but sluggish and indecisive. Russia’s position on Syria is clear and will not change. As for Turkey, then to the presidents ‘ meetings here clarity just is not there. We can only hope that Putin will convince Erdogan to make another step forward.

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