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If Rent-Seeking Stopped, Unemployment Will Double 28 novembre 2014

Posted by Acturca in Economy / Economie, Energy / Energie, Middle East / Moyen Orient, Russia / Russie, Turkey / Turquie, USA / Etats-Unis.
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BBC Monitoring European (UK)  November 26, 2014                                                 Türkçe

Text of report by website of Turkish liberal daily newspaper Taraf on 24 November

Interview with Prof. Ersin Kalaycioglu by Tunca Ogreten. Prof. Ersin Kalaycioglu [of Political Sciences at Sabanci University] said that the government was behaving like a bully of the region in terms of its foreign policy and warned the government.

Turkey’s Syria policy led to a crisis. How do you see the relations with the United States?

The relations between the United States and Turkey cover a wide area. It will be incorrect to evaluate these relations merely based on Syrian policy. That Turkey is a NATO member involves a wide range of issues from Ukraine to the future of Baltic States, and even the energy crisis in Eastern Mediterranean. Turkey failed to perform its role properly, particularly in reference to the events in the Mediterranean. Therefore, the overall picture of these issues indicates that our relations with the United States are not good. As well as the difference of perception between two governments, the fact that they are pursuing different goals plays a role in that.

Could you elaborate more on different goals?

Firstly, since August 2011 the AKP [Justice and Development Party] government has been pursuing a policy in Syria aimed at toppling Bashar al-Asad. In contrast, figures such as President Barack Obama and US Secretary of State John Kerry released personal statements to say, « We do not intend to topple al-Asad. » In his latest statement, Army General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, « My only task is to annihilate ISIL. »


Secondly, the main US goal in the Middle East is to stop Iraq from acquiring nuclear weapons. The United States also pledged to safeguard Iraq’s territorial integrity. For instance, because of internal pressures in the country, the United States made Nuri al-Maliki step down and replaced him with Haider al-Abadi. In addition to all of this, the United States recaptured Iraq’s oil and water resources seized by ISIL and returned them to the country. At present, the state of affairs is going against ISIL and in favour of Iraq. If this carries on like this, Sunnis will become part of the central government in Iraq and work for a federal structure will get underway. Besides, the United States has two significant allies: Saudi Arabia and Israel. This alliance is built on the premise that the interests of these two countries are not to be compromised and their existence does not come under threat.

In this regard, what tangible expectations do the United States have of Turkey?

Turkey is an ally that the United States and NATO most heavily invest in. The Turkish military has been working for years with the Pentagon and the United States. That is why the United States is asking for Turkey’s help with the issues I mentioned earlier. However, we are in a close relationship, even an alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood [MB] hated by Saudis. In this situation, Saudis are our enemy and rival. Egypt, highly favoured by Saudis, is also a country we declared as an enemy.

In other words, you mean to say, « The West is not the only problem. »

Saudi Arabia and Egypt are making every effort to frustrate all of Turkey’s initiatives. We saw this at the UN Security Council. Some 158 countries gave the impression that they would vote for us; this number suddenly fell to 73. Saudi Arabia and Egypt pulled the rug underneath our feet. They did this by applying « soft power. » Ever since we alienated these two countries and made them our adversaries, we started having problems in the entire Arab landscape as well. From that moment onward, Egypt began to safeguard its national interests against Turkey. We saw the most tangible example of this in Eastern Mediterranean.

Joe Biden, too, stressed the energy problem in the Mediterranean.

Egypt and Israel, too, have rights over the oil reserves there. This situation placed Israel in a significant coalition with both Egypt and Saudi Arabia in opposition to Turkey. Later on, EU members South Cyprus and Greece, too, joined the coalition. Consequently, the EU got involved and took an opposing position in relation to us. It is actually the US companies that are doing the explorations and production in the region. That is why Biden said in his statement, « Regarding Cyprus, we are on opposite sides. » According to the picture that emerges, Turkey is at odds with Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt, South Cyprus, Greece, the EU, and the United States.

Why is that?

Turkey is the only country that is not a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Since we are not a party to the treaty, we are talking from outside. We are saying, « We have rights and an economic area; accept this. » Nevertheless, the agreement calls upon the countries that fail to reach a consensus to follow diplomatic means but we send two frigates and a corvette. This is not diplomacy. What are you going to do [addressing the Turkish government]? Are you going to bomb the oil platform? Are you going to sink the Greek boat? After all, the war ships that you send to the area are equipment that you will never be able to use. Cyprus and Greece are approaching the issue within the EU law, whereas we are adopting a potential war position; almost like a bully. It is as if we are Putin’s branch in the area.

Then in which direction is Turkey drifting?

At the G20 Summit, Ahmet Davutoglu saw the kind of treatment Vladimir Putin received. They [in reference to the West] dropped the oil prices and are plotting a slow death for Putin, the way they did to the Soviets. If our prime minister was happy with the treatment dished out to Putin and thinks that we deserve this, then there is no problem because they can do us even more than what they are doing to Russia; we are not as powerful as Russia anyway.

Are you saying that the mistakes in foreign policy will bring about the end of the AKP?

I do not know about that but there is no doubt that the government is faced with serious problems. This problem is not one handed down by history, either. The onus is entirely on the AKP. Just think about it; Saudi Arabia, declared as an enemy by Turkey, has an annual revenue of 3 trillion US dollars from oil. How is Turkey going to respond to that?

How come that the mistakes in foreign affairs are not reflected in domestic policy?

On the one hand, there is the EU that permanently wants the Cyprus issue to be resolved; on the other hand, there is the AKP government that permanently causes problems instead of reaching a solution. Despite all that, the foreign policy mistakes are being used in a positive manner at home. If a crisis erupts in foreign relations, the government will say things along the lines of « the Jews, the Greeks, the United States, and the Europeans are again threatening us because we are Muslims and they are trying to eradicate us. They did this first to Iraq and it is now our turn. » The government will take a chauvinistic approach under the guise of Pan-Islamism and nationalism.

Do you think the electorate will believe this and allow the AKP to remain in power?

There is a significant mass of people ready to buy into AKP’s rhetoric. Therefore, it will succeed in remaining in power by also wielding the influence it has over the media.

Could you elaborate more?

One manufactures a lie and keeps repeating it. After a while, people stop questioning it and start believing it. The AKP is using this method. For instance, in the West the public will ask for « proof. » If one cannot prove it, one cannot convince anyone. How much of what the government said has been proved so far in Turkey? There is not even any evidence to prove the existence of a parallel entity. However, since they [referring to the government] keep repeating it, it is highly likely that one in three persons in the street will say, « Yes, the parallel entity exists. »

The economic situation in Turkey is not very bright. How is it that the AKP government is still able to maintain a stable rule in spite of this?

As far as we can see, the unemployed have two reactions: Not to go to the polls or go to the polls and vote for the AKP. A vast cross section (such as families, the physically disabled, the old, and the poor) is receiving aid under various schemes. At one point, the number of such people was said to be 24 million. These people think that they have no employment opportunities no matter how hard they look for jobs or even if another government comes to power. They say, « God bless them » and vote for the AKP. The government created a social class that seeks rent without earning an income and sits at home lazily. The society is making money without working or making an effort. If these people were not paid for one day, the unemployment could suddenly double.

Are these aids scrutinized?

Since the reports from the Court of Accounts are not forthcoming, it is not certain how transparent these aids are. Not only is the AKP not transparent, it also will not be held accountable. For those who vote for the government, there is no problem that the government is not transparent. If one cannot scrutinize the person one elects, then the virtue of democracy is not being implemented. Therefore, we cannot claim that there is democracy in this country.

If there is no democracy, what is there instead?

At present, the AKP is a party that is becoming more and more authoritarian. The biggest evidence for this is the fact that after Erdogan became president; Ahmet Davutoglu was elected as the party chair and the ceremony that followed. When you see that scene, you almost witness something like the handover of the post of chair in the Chinese Communist Party. The AKP’s internal structure gives the impression of being far from democratic.

Do you have any predictions for next year’s elections?

Despite power fatigue and the impression of rising corruption, I do not think there will be any significant changes in the election results. The AKP will receive a share of the vote similar to the one in 2010. Even if the electorate acknowledges there is corruption, it does not see it as a problem.

Will the electorate not care that there is now Davutoglu in charge instead of Erdogan?

We do not know what position the president will take during the elections. He will probably behave as if he is the head of the AKP.

Is the president not supposed to be impartial?

When he came to power, he took an oath to say he would be impartial. If he acts the way I said he would, this will lead to a new constitutional and democratic crisis. This is a constitutional crime and he cannot take a partisan approach. In Turkey, there are also problems around the fact that the Constitution is badly written. With us, president is depicted as a Greek god in human form who never commits a crime.

Can we argue that, despite the Constitution, Erdogan switched over to a presidential system?

It is possible to call it a Turkish style presidential system. Presidency seems to have given Erdogan a new appetite in this regard.

The AKP is described as the MB of Turkey. Given that al-Nahda movement in Tunisia, the last representative of the MB, lost…

Over time, al-Nahda became a normal party. It is not similar to the MB in Egypt. Given that he previously lived in England for a long time, Rashid al-Ghannushi, the leader of al-Nahda, seems to have had a different education. This is how I see it now; not necessarily in terms of economy but in terms of democracy, Tunisia is in a better situation than we are.

I do not get it

Despite everything else, in Tunisia there is a proper constitution in line with the 21st century. Al-Nahda made a great contribution to the formation of this constitution and still continues to provide support. Besides, al-Nahda also made changes to the electoral legislation. After democratizing the electoral legislation, al-Nahda lost but the Tunisian democracy won. Whereas in Turkey, the AKP is winning but democracy is losing.

There is a debate that Erdogan is pursuing the dream of « Ottomanism. » What do you say?

First of all, one needs to ask which type of Ottoman. In terms of its characteristics, the Erdogan era is very much like the Abdul Hamid era. He, too, secured popular support by using religion and religious orders, and was defined as a religious sultan. At the same time, his method of using informants and keeping the nation under control, his intelligence gathering mechanisms, and his efficient use of telegram to effectively monitor the opposition carry huge similarities with the AKP government. The AKP government seeks to go back to that era but there is one thing it forgets: Those years were the declining years of the Ottomans. It is also possible to understand why we are after an era of decline [as received]. It beggars belief that the government of a state, which aims to turn Turkey, via EU policies, into a liberal democratic country in line with the 21th century, takes the Ottomans as a model. There is no political logic to it.

Source: Taraf website, Istanbul, in Turkish 24 Nov 14


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