Why has the world given up on Turkey?

Turkey accession talk cheating elections

I can’t help being surprised of how little that has been reported about the development in Turkey after the elections. Before the Gezi protests, Turkey was perceived as a promising, developing democracy. But now, one year later, Turkey undoubtedly has more similarities with Russia than any European country.

The problem is not only extensive pressure on the media and heavy censorship of the internet. It is not only the fact that judges and prosecutors cant do their job without approval from higher authority – meaning, well, Erdogan. Now, the very core of democracy, the elections, have been taken away as an opportunity for citizens to decide about their country’s future.

After YSK, the board responsible for organising the elections, denied a recount in Ankara, despite a very tight race, and obvious indications of cheating, I have a hard time seeing that things will get better in the short- or even in medium-term. The reason why Turkey will not quickly return to the right track, is because the man in power, Erdogan, have no incentives to steer in that direction. Rather the opposite. He has too much to lose.

Still, the foreign media rather focuses on the strong support that Erdogan still holds, almost baffled by the fact that a politician can be corrupt and still win elections.

In my opinion they should rather focus on the election fraud, and the increasingly impossible situation for the opposition parties. If the elections had been truly fair, it is likely that Turkey would be in a completely different situation at this point. To run a country with the capital belonging to the opposition, is not an easy task. Not the least would the loss of Ankara, also have been perceived as a punishment for corruption and other misdoings.

Maybe western journalists are just generally tired of reporting about a country in which punishment and reward do not follow a western logic.

Or, has Turkey for them just become another of these countries, to which democracy came, before it’s politicians and citizens learned to understand and respect it?



  1. I don’t know that Turkey ever was exactly clickbait. Not when it was “promising,” not when Ergenekon/Balyoz was falling apart.

    As for “giving up,” what would you have the world do? Regime change? Sanctions? Otherwise feed the local conspiracy theories (which hardly are new with the AKP)? The EU seems to have been wise not to trust Erdogan too much, unless you believe he had changed shirts, and is not a Muslim Brother but an abusive father now taking “the west’s” scorn out on his children.

      1. what does that even mean? Because it’s working so well in Ukraine? Because AKP shoeboxes aren’t full enough?

      2. EU has sent and are sending enourmous sums to Turkey as a part of the accession process. About 1,5 percent of total gdp (rough est). So far Turkey and Erdogan has recieved no punishment for making Turkey a one-party-state. Maybe they should use these money and at least cut some of them to send a signal (at least). Should eu money feed corruption and support an authoritarian regime?

      3. Because then you will mostly hurt the undeserving. Student exchanges on Erasmus and the like.

        Why hurt the most pro-Europe people in Turkey? They have enough to endure as it is.

      4. I would like to see some detailed research on this. Erasmus funds certainly make a difference.

        If Turkey is channelling EU funds into politicians pockets that certainly needs to be stopped but it is not grounds for stopping programmes completely which are doing good.

        And several EU countries have an appalling record of corruption where the Funds are concerned.

        I think the first step should be for leaders to start opening their mouths and encouraging their national media to comment on what is happening in Turkey. So far just a horrible silence.

      5. Thanks for the clarification. By your response, I thought you were advocating an increase — should send — not a curtailment of what it does send. Indeed, there is money sent to fund the alignment process, and this is different from Erasmus money, which is certainly one of the last things I’d want to harm. I know too many Turkish students who have benefited greatly from the experience

        Celebi: The EU is, HDN has reported, auditing corruption. I don’t think there’s much doubt that it’s happened. Some leaders have opened their mouths, to expected results and capitalization by the AKP and its media. to do so concertedly is to declare an end of the moribund accession process. At this point, it may be reasonable, but it’s also for a significant period of time irreversible.

  2. There were reasons why Turkey was not publicized well in the past — e.g. hard language, historical prejudices, barrage of hostile propaganda from rival ethnic groups, closed ecoomy and no elite interaction with the WEst, loyal NATO ally etc etc. There was a sort of interaction between a defensive and psychologically isolated political elite and European critics — leading to ever more stupid and defiant actions in Turkey. Then the Euro-left switch to backing Islamists and people who said they were post-Islams and a whole set of delusions about the new Turkey became widespread outside the country. A lot of people still don’t want to believe that things have gone wrong, still less that they were going wrong from 2002 onwards. “Turkey experts” made fools of themselves for a decade and many are still doing so. In the UK one of the top Turkey specialists tells people that Gezi should be ignored because it is a narrowly-based attempt at securing a Kemalist come-back. How myopic can you get? And far too much Turkish coverage by Westerners is based on knowledge just of Istanbul —not even the capital, and as events have shown, not the mover and shaker in Turkish politics. The superficiality of Istanbul-based Turkey commentators is very depressing, whether journalistic or academic.
    So your comments are very welcome and what you say about the YSK is particularly apposite and important. It is shameful and amazing that only one foreign journalist has written about that. I guess the Western world just doesn’t want to know. It is up to guys like you — of whom there are many more these days — to make sure that they do wake up eventually.

  3. The reason is the interest and the investments. The greedy money doesn’t care about people of a country as long as they can continue sucking their blood out. Even British or Americans are getting poorer each day while the big money gets richer. Europe used to care about Turkish democracy and human rights but not anymore. People all around the world had it enough with the politicians serving the big money.

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