02 February 2012

Turkey in the eyes of (mostly) the Turks

I do like the Turkish daily Hürriyet, at least its English website. Not a single day passes without an interesting piece, and Hürriyet is not too provincial or too narrowly focused on Turkish internal affairs, unlike some of our newspapers. And the writers do not necessary toe the government line, as you shall see further.

As we all know only too well, since Erdogan storming out of Davos' conference after a somewhat psychotic verbal attack at Shimon Peres, the Israel-Turkey relationships soured quite quickly, being further shot to pieces by the Mavi Marmara incident.

But Turkey is a large and powerful country, and Israeli-Turkish links are not at the top of the list for its government, obviously. However, Mr Erdogan, whom a lot of people now call "the neighborhood bully" is lately throwing his weight about way above Turkey's real station in life. Turkey's deteriorating relationships with many of its neighbors, with EU, the recent dust-up with France etc. bother Turks as well, as you could see in the following remark:

Pragmatism bordering on opportunism, coupled with the shallowness of full submission to the contractor and over-confidence produced by the apparently strong economy and the electoral support from close to one in two citizens, has transformed this country into an adamant and arrogant state.
And this sentiment is echoed in another piece:
And the only relations that are not at a worse position, are those with Israel; it is still as bad as a year ago.
Both articles are a worthy read.

On the human rights front Turkey is not doing so good either, as Hürriyet shows:
The number of imprisoned journalists in Turkey rose to 105, according to a written statement issued yesterday by the Platform of Solidarity with Imprisoned Journalists.
...
The group also reminded Turkey’s step backwards in press freedom rankings losing 10 places to rank 148th out of 178 countries in the Reporters without Borders’ (RSF) World Press Freedom Index for 2011.
The situation is causing some responses abroad, like this one:
Renowned U.S. author Paul Auster said he refused to visit Turkey because of the number of journalists and writers that have been jailed in the country.

Speaking to daily Hürriyet’s Buket Şahin, Auster said he had protested the Turkish and Chinese governments for their treatment of journalists.
By itself, the event is not that significant, maybe, but the touchy Turkish leader has already responded - in public:
Writer Paul Auster told a newspaper over the weekend that he wouldn't come to countries that lack democratic laws," Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said. "What difference does it make if you come to Turkey, or if you don't?
The neighborhood bully seems to be too easily disturbed, answering his own question: he obviously cares if he found time and opportunity to talk about this. But hot temper is not a good trade-off for brains, Mr Erdogan...

Update: And Paule Auster answers, with some vengeance.

And for some comic relief: some Turkish Internet outfit that calls itself "Turkish News" (not affiliated with Hürriyet in any way), came out with the following jewel:
Allegedly, Erdogan and his wife are crypto-Jews, secretly working for the New World Order.
Might cause the bully some exquisite heartburn, that one... I wouldn't wonder.