European Politics

LooseCannon

Enterprise-class aircraft carrier
Staff member
If Scotland not automatically joining the EU was a reason for Scotland to stay in the UK, let us hope that keeping Scotland in the UK is a good reason to stick with the EU.
 

CriedWhenBrucieLeft

Meme Only Account
If Scotland not automatically joining the EU was a reason for Scotland to stay in the UK, let us hope that keeping Scotland in the UK is a good reason to stick with the EU.
I don't think Scotland choosing to stay in the UK has any bearing at all on how England views its relationship with Europe. The irony (during the Independence Referendum) of the UK Government scaremongering about Scotland becoming independent & possibly having to apply/reapply for EU membership, in light of the fact that Scotland may exit the EU anyway (because of the UK exiting), has not gone unnoticed (& was widely commented on at the time).
 

The Flash

Dennis Wilcock did 9/11
Ministry of Cultural Affairs recently replaced the age old grey stone seats in Aspendos Ampitheathre with brand new white marble stones, which changed the view immensely. Responding to the controversy the Minister said 'Don't worry the stones will look like the originals in 2000 years'.

It's pretty much trolling at this point.
 

LooseCannon

Enterprise-class aircraft carrier
Staff member
Seems I should start learning Arabic if we are about to be a part of a new caliphate :) Nice guy, isn't he?
Seems like he is upset at the way some European countries have treated Arab refugees. Who can blame him for being pissed off about that? Homeless kids being kicked by camerawomen and groups of people being fed like animals in a zoo.
 

Brigantium

General of the Dark Army
Staff member
"Aid workers warn that tensions easily flare as often traumatised refugees, mostly men, share crowded spaces while lacking common languages to defuse everyday conflicts.
"The centre in Hamburg, located in a large building that formerly housed a hardware store, is now home to 800 people, with more recent arrivals sleeping on mattresses outside."
 

Forostar

Ancient Mariner
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Or "can it be silenced?" It will depend on how the Turks will vote. If they'll keep Recipe for Hate Erdogan in his saddle, nothing will change.

Before Bulent Kenes was arrested, he at least wrote this:

(here follows the last part of the article "Turkey’s extremely sad story in the Middle East"),

.... When the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) managed to pass the election threshold and entered Parliament as the fourth party by securing 13.6 percent of the national vote on June 7, Erdoğan's presidential dreams came to naught even within the country's current boundaries. The rise of the HDP and its leader in the political scene came as a shock not only to Erdoğan, but also to the command echelon of the PKK. Thus, Erdoğan not only sought to in effect cancel out the June 7 election, but also did everything to trigger terrorism so that the HDP fails to enter Parliament in the nearing election. And, unfortunately, he has succeeded with this goal.

The PKK's offshoots in Syria also benefit from Erdoğan's new position. Thus, the Erdoğan administration played a vital role in providing military and economic logistics with all al-Qaeda-linked groups and organizations that target the PKK offshoots in northern Syria. As I mentioned before, the deployment of arms and ammunition to ISIL and al-Qaeda-linked terrorist organizations in Syria was conducted under the coordination of Erdoğan's team, which branches also into the National Intelligence Organization (MİT). Turkey was shocked when several trucks carrying arms and ammunition to these radical organizations in breach of national and international law were intercepted in Hatay on Jan. 1, 2014, and in Adana on Jan. 19, 2014.

Thanks to this interception, Turkey learned how an Erdoğan-controlled group nested within the state and MİT illegally sent around 3,000 trucks full of arms and ammunition to Syria. However, knee-deep in unlawfulness, the Erdoğan regime responded harshly to this disclosure by removing the prosecutors, judges and soldiers who conducted the operation from office and making project courts arrest them. Quickly putting the AKP's parliamentary majority to work, Erdoğan secured the passage of a bill that afforded legal protection to the MİT members who were involved in criminal acts such as the deployment of arms and ammunition to radical organizations in Syria.

Having refused to comply with the Constitution at home and adopted a revisionist approach regarding international law abroad, the Erdoğan administration can today be held primarily responsible after Assad for the human tragedy in Syria. Erdoğan's regime's policies that meddle with the internal affairs of neighboring countries were not restricted to Syria. There were reports about its meddling with the internal affairs of Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Palestine, Bulgaria and even Malaysia at varying degrees.

As a country that has been targeted and victimized by terrorism and destructive activities for years, Turkey has always stuck to the motto "peace at home, peace in the world," as formulated by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic. In this way, it has tried to remain an island of stability in the region as much as possible. To our dismay, Turkey has emerged as a source of problems and instability in the region during the last years of the AKP government. I fear Turkey's past performance in disseminating peace and stability in the region will remain only as a sweet memory to the extent that Erdoğan's project of establishing and consolidating a one-man regime will be at the expense of undermining democracy, fundamental rights and freedoms and rule of law.


Read in complete here or here:
Turkey, a remnant of the Ottoman Empire that survived for six centuries, was born out of the ashes of the empire in the aftermath of World War I when the era of empires and sultans ended and the Ottoman Empire collapsed.

The young republic that learned lessons from the painful experiences of the Ottoman state turned towards the West and adopted secularism as the official ideology of the new regime. Unlike the Ottoman state that pursued Pan-Islamist and pro-caliphate policies in the later period, the Republic of Turkey distanced itself from the former Ottoman lands in the Middle East and the Muslim peoples in the region.

However, it was also able to maintain balanced relations with the region in consideration of international relations and national interests. Turkey developed a timid approach towards the Arab region, which was part of the Ottoman state, but also did not hesitate to make formal alliances dictated by conditions in the international area involving those states created along artificial borders by colonialist powers like Britain and France in the region. In 1937, Turkey formed the Saadabad Pact with the participation of Iran, Iran and Afghanistan to address border disputes with Iran and to agree on non-aggression.

In the Cold War era, Turkey, in an attempt to consolidate its pro-Western stance, along with Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Britain, founded the Central Treaty Organization, also known as Baghdad Pact. This initiative was the outcome of the row between the Western and the Soviet Bloc rather than a search for regional peace. Thus, it served as a security and defense organization to address the Soviet ambitions of expansion of the sphere of influence in the Middle East. To boost relations in the field of economy, Turkey, Iran and Pakistan created the Regional Cooperation for Development (RCD) in 1964; this organization was converted into the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) with the participation of the Turkic republics after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

In addition, Turkey joined the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), created by Islamic countries in Rabat in response to an aggression in Jerusalem against Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1969. In 2000s, the organization was renamed the Organization of Islamic Cooperation under the helm of Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu as secretary-general.

Turkey, which has been responsive to the initiatives and priorities of the Western bloc to its national interests and the regional developments, has remained distant to the Middle East despite its multilateral, institutional and bilateral relations; it has viewed as part of Southeast Europe rather than the Middle East. This has been in line with the pro-Western stance of Turks in their entire history. With a few exceptions, Turkish tribes and communities have turned their faces to the West. It is also possible to verify this in the political, diplomatic and cultural moves and developments in the late centuries of the Ottoman state as well.

The Republic of Turkey followed the same path and tended to identify itself with European values and symbols. Some revolutionary changes introduced after the transition to the republican regime served as a radical confirmation of this historical tendency. It will not be an exaggeration to argue that Turkey, with the exception of some minimum level of relationship that the set of regional relations dictated, turned its back to the Middle East. Even though this deprived the Middle East facing constant turbulence and chaos of Turkey's constructive contributions, Turkey has been saved from the turmoil in this region which experienced continued chaos.

Iran manipulated Kurdish issue

Turkey was unable to remain immune to the efforts of Iran, which pursued a revolutionary style in regional and international relations in the aftermath of the 1979 Iranian revolution to destabilize the countries in the region. Iran, which supported Syria as well as the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) that manipulated the Kurdish issue, also extended support to the terrorist activities of radical organization Hezbollah in Turkey. Likewise, Saddam Hussein, who established a dicta regime in Iraq, pursued policies that negatively affected Turkey; at this point, particularly the migration of thousands of Kurds, who escaped his bloody campaign against the Iraqi Kurds to Turkish lands, should be underlined.

This policy of Turkey, which kept the countries in the Middle East including its neighbors at a distance due to a mutual distrust and lack of confidence, has attracted strong criticism and reaction from political Islamist circles for many years. The strong rationale of this traumatic attitude, based in consideration of the constructive lessons from the tragedies experienced in the region in the late period of the Ottoman state, lost impact through the generations. The growing commercial ties in the 1980s resulted in a process of rapprochement between Turkey and Middle Eastern countries.

The Justice and Development Party (AKP), which came to power in November of 2002 in the aftermath of a serious economic collapse in 2001, identified a pro-Western style as the priority of its foreign policy despite the fact that the main body of the party consisted of former political Islamists. The AKP, which did not feel safe vis-à-vis the Kemalist-militarist pro-guardianship structures at the beginning, introduced bold political, economic and social reforms to make progress in the process of European Union membership. Those who take a look at the Turkish foreign policy in 2004 or 2005 would conclude that a truly liberal democrat party rather than a party of former political Islamists was in power in Turkey.

Motivated by the official decision for a negotiation schedule with the European Union for full membership, Turkey developed a multidimensional policy style to diversify its relations in the foreign policy realm. To this end, it focused on the Middle East, Caucasus, Africa, the Balkans and Central Asia. In 2006, the AKP government established direct contact with Hamas, which won the elections in Gaza; this was a bold move to expand its sphere of diplomatic influence as a major player in the region. The AKP government, which has been loyal to the policy of timid relations with the Middle East, indicated its eagerness to become one of the influential actors in the Middle East by this move in May of 2006.

Turkey has become a popular destination for foreign investors because of its strong and bold reforms of democratization during the process of talks with the EU over membership; this contributed to the prestige of Turkey in the world, particularly in the Middle East. In consideration of its growing popularity, the AKP government not only exercised this diplomatic, political and economic advantage as a tool of soft power, but also decided to become a dominant actor in the region by a reliance on this exaggerated power. To this end, in addition to its relationship with the formal state structures, it also developed some problematic ties with sub-national or non-state regional actors.


AKP turns to the Middle East


AKP figures traveled to European, Central Asian and northern countries in the initial years of their terms, but after these developments, they changed their routes, travelling instead to Middle Eastern countries and cities. All of a sudden, Turkey started to play a role in the settlement of the issues between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and India and Pakistan, as well as in the mediation of the issues between Syria and Israel, and in the discussions surrounding the nuclear talks between Iran and the West, as a facilitator.

Though these attempts failed to produce tangible results, then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other AKP figures and politicians used these efforts to attract the attention and support of those engaged in domestic politics. Subsequent to the Israeli offensive in Gaza in 2009, the murder of nine Turkish citizens by Israeli soldiers on the Mavi Marmara expedition and the Davos scandal, Turkey started to deviate from its pro-Western orientation. Since then, Turkey has gradually abandoned its once-multidimensional foreign policy, becoming inclined to act in Middle East politics.

Viewing the Arab uprising in early 2011 as a great opportunity to advance their agenda and achieve their goals, Erdoğan and the AKP have become deeply involved in regional affairs. Turkey initially promoted democracy, secularism, human rights, the rule of law, fundamental rights, and universal democratic and humanitarian values during this process, in which it also remained sensitive to the appreciation of the West and its priorities. However, then it felt, out of excessive self-confidence, that it could serve as an independent actor in the Middle East. However, all of its assumptions were proven wrong when the Arab uprising failed in Egypt and Syria, leading to a fairly different process.

Turkey, under Erdoğan's leadership and the rule of the AKP, has relied on ideological assumptions rather than reason in its foreign relations. For instance, instead of paying attention to the entire Egyptian nation, it has preferred to align only with the Muslim Brotherhood, due to ideological proximities. Instead of seeking a balanced approach between Fatah and Hamas in Palestine, Turkey favored Hamas. In Libya, it supported radical elements in the face of the Tobruk administration, which gained greater international recognition after Gaddafi. Erdoğan and the AKP were overconfident during this period, in which Turkey was becoming more influential by exaggerating its military, political, economic, diplomatic and humane capacity. By relying on this exaggerated perception, it attempted to reshape the affairs of the Middle East.

This groundless attempt, which lacked prudence and geo-strategic vision, was fortified by then-Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, who made the following bold statements: “We are the owner of the Middle East,” “We have the final word in the region,” and “We are creating the order in the Middle East.” In this environment, a discourse of new-Ottomanism shaped the agenda and political approach; on the other hand, rumors regarding an establishment of a caliphate were also spread rapidly. These rumors suggested that the AKP and Erdoğan would revive Turkey's glorious past in the region, and like the Ottoman state, the Turkish government would create a Pax-New-Ottomana. And, naturally, Erdoğan would become the greatest leader in the region and in the Muslim world.

However, things did not work out smoothly and properly; and the AKP administration was not able to obtain the results it sought in Egypt, Libya and Syria. The Muslim Brotherhood and Muhammad Morsi that the AKP and Erdoğan supported made consecutive mistakes that led to a bloody military coup. Relations with Egypt deteriorated after a coup staged by General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi; the two countries even withdrew their ambassadors. Like the Libyan and Baghdad governments, Egypt frequently accuses the Erdoğan administration of interfering with its domestic affairs.

The real tragedy occurred in Syria. Turkey's ties with Syria had been far beyond ordinary relations between two neighbors until mid-2011, and for six months after riots erupted in Syria, Turkey tried to assuage international reactions and pressures on Damascus. In the fall of 2011, however, Turkey assumed a completely opposite role, trying to topple Bashar al-Assad at all costs. Thus, it was the first time in the history of the Turkish republic that the government openly tried to change another country's regime. Erdoğan and the AKP government believed they could overthrow the Assad regime within a few weeks by arming the opposition, but were greatly disappointed. Erdoğan and the AKP's ambitions, however, led to the total destruction of a 26-million country, the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, the wounding of hundreds of thousands of others and the displacement of millions of people who ended up as refugees. This tragedy has today started to take quite a toll on Europe in the form of a refugee crisis.

As the Assad regime proved to be resilient, the Erdoğan administration resorted to methods that can hardly be defined as legitimate or conventional. Soon, it started to champion the idea that Assad must be overthrown no matter the cost or method and unfortunately, with the AKP government's facilitating role, international radical Islamist and jihadist militants flocked to Syria. The AKP government carried arms and logistical support to these radical organizations via thousands of trucks. In the process, even the most moderate dissident groups became radicalized and merged into al-Qaeda-linked terrorist organizations. The arms and ammunition sent by the Erdoğan regime to Syria soon came to be controlled by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) via the members of the ISIL coalition.

Another form of relationship has always existed side-by-side with formal interstate relations in the Middle East. Another language has been employed for communication in addition to diplomatic communications. Alongside their official diplomatic ties, states have sort of communicated with each other by establishing and supporting various proxy organizations in various countries in the region. What this accursed language of communication that consists of violence, terrorism, political assassinations, suicide bombings, suicide bombers, massacres and kidnappings that are conducted without any discrimination has done to the Middle East, particularly with respect to Syria, Iraq, Libya and Egypt, is pretty obvious.

After staying away from this cursed and bloody method employed in the Middle East for decades, Turkey adopted it and tried to use it in a clumsy manner with Erdoğan at the helm of the country. To this end, the AKP government developed problematic and questionable ties with some sub-state actors that indulged in criminal and terrorist activities across the Middle East. It started to experience the natural consequences of this strategy when its own country became less secure due to covert retaliations. The Reyhanlı massacre of May 11, 2013 in which 52 people died and 146 people were wounded, the Suruç massacre in which 34 young people died and more than 100 people were injured, the martyring of police officers in Niğde and similar massacres and attacks are the inevitable consequences of this newly adopted communication language and problematic policy that was implemented.

The Erdoğan administration also attached greater importance to developing ties with Hamas, an entity with a dubious political and legal identity, rather than with the Palestinian Authority, which is more widely accepted in Palestine. In Syria, it indiscriminately supported every radical group which it believed to be anti-Assad. It even facilitated the activities in the region of the PKK, a terrorist organization that is responsible for the deaths of around 40,000 people in Turkey, to the extent that it sought to overthrow the Assad regime.

Once, Erdoğan even dreamed of fulfilling his suis generis presidential system by establishing a confederation or federation in the region. In this context, Erdoğan and his cronies had started to see the PKK as a sort of regional solution partner. Thus, in my opinion, the "Settlement Process," i.e., negotiations with the PKK, was launched in return for its support for establishing the infrastructure of a federal presidential system that would extend beyond Turkey's current borders in the region.

A closer look will reveal that the reasons for the commencement of the Settlement Process -- the goals and scope of which are not known to anyone except for a handful of people -- overlap with the false assumptions regarding the Syrian crisis in a surprising manner. Thus, when his assumptions regarding northern Iraq and Syria proved to be false, Erdoğan saw no reason to maintain the insincere "Settlement Process" with the PKK. Realizing that it would be impossible for him to realize his dream of establishing a Greater Turkey with extended boundaries, Erdoğan terminated the Settlement Process.

Of course, there were certain domestic policy considerations involved in this decision. When the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) managed to pass the election threshold and entered Parliament as the fourth party by securing 13.6 percent of the national vote on June 7, Erdoğan's presidential dreams came to naught even within the country's current boundaries. The rise of the HDP and its leader in the political scene came as a shock not only to Erdoğan, but also to the command echelon of the PKK. Thus, Erdoğan not only sought to in effect cancel out the June 7 election, but also did everything to trigger terrorism so that the HDP fails to enter Parliament in the nearing election. And, unfortunately, he has succeeded with this goal.

The PKK's offshoots in Syria also benefit from Erdoğan's new position. Thus, the Erdoğan administration played a vital role in providing military and economic logistics with all al-Qaeda-linked groups and organizations that target the PKK offshoots in northern Syria. As I mentioned before, the deployment of arms and ammunition to ISIL and al-Qaeda-linked terrorist organizations in Syria was conducted under the coordination of Erdoğan's team, which branches also into the National Intelligence Organization (MİT). Turkey was shocked when several trucks carrying arms and ammunition to these radical organizations in breach of national and international law were intercepted in Hatay on Jan. 1, 2014, and in Adana on Jan. 19, 2014.

Thanks to this interception, Turkey learned how an Erdoğan-controlled group nested within the state and MİT illegally sent around 3,000 trucks full of arms and ammunition to Syria. However, knee-deep in unlawfulness, the Erdoğan regime responded harshly to this disclosure by removing the prosecutors, judges and soldiers who conducted the operation from office and making project courts arrest them. Quickly putting the AKP's parliamentary majority to work, Erdoğan secured the passage of a bill that afforded legal protection to the MİT members who were involved in criminal acts such as the deployment of arms and ammunition to radical organizations in Syria.

Having refused to comply with the Constitution at home and adopted a revisionist approach regarding international law abroad, the Erdoğan administration can today be held primarily responsible after Assad for the human tragedy in Syria. Erdoğan's regime's policies that meddle with the internal affairs of neighboring countries were not restricted to Syria. There were reports about its meddling with the internal affairs of Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Palestine, Bulgaria and even Malaysia at varying degrees.

As a country that has been targeted and victimized by terrorism and destructive activities for years, Turkey has always stuck to the motto "peace at home, peace in the world," as formulated by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic. In this way, it has tried to remain an island of stability in the region as much as possible. To our dismay, Turkey has emerged as a source of problems and instability in the region during the last years of the AKP government. I fear Turkey's past performance in disseminating peace and stability in the region will remain only as a sweet memory to the extent that Erdoğan's project of establishing and consolidating a one-man regime will be at the expense of undermining democracy, fundamental rights and freedoms and rule of law.
 
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Forostar

Ancient Mariner
Erdogan called for national unity but does not see the Kurds as a part of that unity. The HDP was not invited to talk about this matter, while it certainly represents the largest group of people among the victims of the recent bomb attacks.
 

The Flash

Dennis Wilcock did 9/11
Erdogan called for national unity but does not see the Kurds as a part of that unity. The HDP was not invited to talk about this matter, while it certainly represents the largest group of people among the victims of the recent bomb attacks.

For Erdoğan nation = AKP supporters. He doesn't see anyone besides them as part of the national unity, everyone else is a traitor. He always refers to the non-AKP supporters as "They". They tried to do this, they tried to do that, etc.
 

Forostar

Ancient Mariner
The government has responded very blunt to the bombings. One minister laughed in an arrogant manner when asked if they were (indirectly) responsible. Also someone said that these people who died were to blame themselves (provocators). In this grim, polarizing climate, people really distrust the government. The government said they thought IS did it, already one day after it happened. Then they covered up the research for the media (and families) and probably nothing will be heard from it again (that's how it went in previous situations). Do they have something to hide?

Additionally, OSCE uttered that media freedom and security are not ideal for the upcoming elections:

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/se...-osce.aspx?pageID=238&nID=89703&NewsCatID=339

Deteriorated security conditions, especially in Turkey’s southeast, as well as attacks on political parties and on media freedom “do not make for an ideal situation” before the upcoming general election, the head of the OSCE’s election observer mission has said, following the deadliest terror attack in Turkey’s history.

Ambassador Geert-Hinrich Ahrens, the head of the OSCE’s limited election observation mission, expressed his solidarity with the Turkish people over the horrifying Oct 10 bomb blasts that killed scores of people in Ankara. during which he made a comprehensive assessment on the state of security and of press freedom as well.

“Here in our office, I and all our Turkish and international staff were horrified by the news about the terror attack. I express my sympathy with the families of those who have lost their lives,” Ahrens told the Hürriyet Daily News.

Upon a question whether the Nov. 1 elections will be able to go ahead given Turkey’s poor security conditions, he said election security “is the task of the competent authorities.”

“They would be the ones to answer your questions. We can only continue to observe developments,” he said.

Could you share with us your general observations about the election environment in Turkey?

We have only just started this mission. We started this mission with a visit to the Foreign Ministry to discuss the working conditions of our mission. After that, we went to see the Supreme Board of Elections [YSK] and I had a discussion with Mr. Sadi Güven. We discussed a few things that are quite recent developments, such as the potential moving of ballot boxes. But these are just the first discussions. I am very hesitant to draw any conclusions at this point in time.

But I can tell you what we have started to observe and what we think deserves attention. There are two new things: One is a deteriorated security situation in parts of the country and how this influences the conduct of elections that correspond both to OSCE and other international commitments and national legislation. Second there is the fact that this election comes shortly after the June 7 election, which of course influences the conduct of this election as it shortens periods and deadlines.

I have had some contacts with party representatives, and I tried to find out how the parties view these elections. But now it’s a little early. I have not seen Mr. [Kemal] Kılıçdaroğlu [leader of the Republican People’s Party] yet on this trip, but I met him twice before: This year and last year during the presidential election. I have never had a meeting with Mr. [Devlet] Bahçeli [leader of the Nationalist Movement Party).

Have you made an application to meet Mr. Bahçeli?

Yes, of course. In May, I saw Mr. [Tuğrul] Türkeş. He was then the deputy head of the MHP, but he has since moved to the AKP so he is no longer an MHP contact. Today we were at the RTÜK [national media watchdog] and we had a good discussion with its chairman. I don’t want to be too negative about the MHP but I have had problems in contacting them.

Will a meeting with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu be possible?

Well, during the presidential elections I was received by then Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan in his capacity as candidate. We had a 45-minute talk. Earlier this year I was not received by the Prime Minister [Davutoğlu] in his capacity as AKP chairman. For this election, we have asked whether a meeting will be possible but we have not yet received an answer. In the meantime, I will see someone else from the AKP. It’s of course important to see the leaders because you hear news from all sorts of sources and I think meeting leaders is one of the necessities of reasonable observation, so we can assess whether our information from the media, for example, is correct.

You mentioned security conditions. How do you think these will have an impact on the election?

We observe elections under international principles, according to the OSCE and other international commitments as well as national legislation. One of the conditions for democratic elections is that all those who have the right to vote can exercise this right without the threat of violence or any other pressure. It’s very important that there is an environment that voters will not refrain from voting in because they are afraid of what might happen, or because their polling station has been closed and the place they are supposed to go to is too far away and travelling there is too dangerous. Of course, these are the conditions we have to look at very carefully.

But I am not a prophet and we never make predictions. I can only tell you that we look at these matters. One problem is that we have no short term observers of our own. So it’s very important that Turkish civil society organizations conduct widespread observations of these elections.

‘Special zones, curfews not good for campaigning’


A decision of the Supreme Election Board [YSK] not to move the locations of some ballot boxes in southeastern Turkey was recently under discussion. How do you evaluate this ruling?

As I said, this is of course one of the basic principles: That voters can vote at places where they are supposed to vote without the threat of violence or the threat of dramatic events taking place. This is, of course, a task for the police. I have met high officers of the Turkish police who expressed confidence that they will be able to provide such security.

On the other hand, as you know both the president and the prime minister criticized the YSK ruling to hold the voting in places where there might be danger. We can only observe this and see what happens, and also see whether this has an influence on the results by preventing people from voting. There are also special security zones and curfews in the southeast. This situation is not very good for campaigning in these areas. I do not want to give a premature assessment but the situation may be difficult. We have to assess this in time and that’s what we will do.

The interior minister said there are 385,000 law enforcement officers to provide security. Are you convinced?


It’s very difficult to say, and I am not a security specialist. What we look at is whether security is provided in such a way that voters can vote freely.

As for the violence, the security perspective, there was no such condition with the June 7 election. Can you compare the two situations?

Some insecurity was there in June too. For example, a terrorist attack at an HDP rally in Diyarbakır. Our two long-term observers were there and they witnessed it directly. Two other long-term observers were in the Adana building when the HDP office there was attacked. But you are right this was still a quieter situation than what we have now.

Your office is very close to the HDP HQ that was attacked a month ago. How do you assess attacks on political parties?

It is of course not acceptable for party headquarters to be attacked, regardless of whether or not there is an election campaign. Before an election this is particularly problematic. We hear about scores of such attacks taking place against the HDP and some AKP offices. It is the task of the police to do everything possible to prevent such attacks and, once such an attack has taken place, to bring the attackers to court. I discussed this at the Interior Ministry.

How did they respond?

When we mentioned these incidents, they confirmed that it is their task to provide a peaceful environment. They say they have confidence that the police are able to provide this. But as I said before, the conditions in the southeast of the country are not normal conditions for an election campaign.

More attacks on media freedom since summer

Violence is not only in the southeast. HDP party buildings and sympathetic journalists are also attacked. There is a spread of violence in Turkey at a different magnitude and scope. Do you think this situation promises a healthy climate?

These attacks on journalists - what happened to Mr. Ahmet Hakan, for instance - are absolutely unacceptable. We are following this situation closely.

Your final report on the June election cited media freedom as a serious concern. At the present time, how do you see this? Is your concern also valid for Nov. 1?

We will certainly not copy our previous final report when writing about this election. Of course, much remains the same, such as the situation concerning the legal system. On the media situation, we have now got more news about attacks on media freedom than we had in early summer. Of course, we are follow this very closely. But I do not want to make a statement now. We will say something in the interim report and in the preliminary statement.

Recently, seven channels were removed from a satellite network. The basic right to get information and the basic right to inform are being restricted.

When I say that the media situation is difficult, this means that the environment may not be ideal under the point of view of OSCE commitments and other international commitments regarding the media situation during elections. I am not here to talk about the media in general, as we are election observers. But of course the general atmosphere in the media sector cannot be separated from the media situation during elections. Every citizen and every voter has the right to access information that is important to them in order to decide how they want to vote. We are observing this very carefully, as the media situation is one of the most fundamental parts of an election.

‘I hope Turkey will keep its tradition of orderly polls’

Do you have anything else to add?

Turkey has traditionally had orderly elections and this is one of the reasons why we have only a limited election observation mission without our own short-term observers. A full observation mission would have hundreds of observers all over the country. I hope this Turkish tradition of orderly elections will be preserved.

I have a high opinion of civil society organizations that conduct observations in Turkey, although unfortunately the legislation does not officially provide for election observers.

I wish the Turkish nation an orderly and good election, while at the same time expressing my gratitude for the friendly reception we have been accorded throughout.
 

RTC

Libera et impera!
I'm trying to make sense of the whole situation in Turkey at the moment.

From what I can gather, the Kurds make up a percentage of the population in Turkey, and because of their oppression in Turkey, they wish to form either a new country or sovereign state known as Kurdistan. However, the Turkish government will not allow it, which has given rise to the PKK, a group in the vein of the IRA. With the PKK being labelled as a terrorist group in Turkey, and with the recent rise of ISIS outside Turkish borders, this has given the Turkish government an excuse to attack both ISIS and the PKK, both of which are enemies with one another.

Am I correct or is that nonsense I just spewed?
 

Forostar

Ancient Mariner
That's not the whole situation. There's also a party called HDP.

from wiki:
As a democratic socialist and anti-capitalist party, the HDP aspires to fundamentally challenge the existing Turkish-Kurdish divide and other existing parameters in Turkish politics. The party's programme places a strong emphasis on environmentalism, minority rights and egalitarianism.

They are not a small party. They are in the parliament! There is a percentage of Kurds wanting peace, and they also suffer under the polarizing war propaganda of the government.
 

RTC

Libera et impera!
So if HDP were to gain majority power within Turkey, a truce between the PKK and the government would be far more likely and Kurds would be given more rights?
 

The Flash

Dennis Wilcock did 9/11
Just as an indicator of the difference between HDP and PKK*, I fully support HDP's involvement in the parliament. I'd vote for them if I were to vote for a different party than CHP.

HDP is in a tricky position. Their ideals are vastly different than PKK but they can't fully distance themselves from it because PKK for years was the sole strong voice for the Kurdish cause and therefore a lot of HDP voters are PKK symphatizers. HDP would be risking millions of votes if they were to completely distance themselves from PKK and trust me, Selahattin Demirtaş** really would love to distance his party from PKK if there were no consequences. That creates a problem in the eyes of the more nationalist and conservative leaning Turkish voters because they accuse HDP of condoning inner-state terrorism. Unless PKK is eradicated, HDP has no chance of being a "party for Turkey" I'm afraid.

*assuming I've made my stance on PKK clear before
**HDP leader
 
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