From Turkey: We’re not Dead Yet

 

I’m waiting for the May Day rallies to pass through my neighborhood, after which I’ll report. So far the day’s been dramatic, but not violent. Fingers crossed.

While I wait, though, I wanted to share a response I received to my article about Turkey’s referendum. Actually, two responses. The first was from a friend in the States who wrote on my Facebook page, “So much sadly accurate retrospective analysis … but what do we do now?”

The second was from a Turk with an answer. Ege Yildirim is an urban planner in Istanbul. I thought her response deserved a hearing, so I asked her for permission to publish it:

I appreciate Berlinski’s pointing out the gross negligence of the West in the past decade related to Turkey’s political situation. But I have to say that all these diagnoses about the death of a country’s democracy are still dishonorable and meek.

Here in Turkey, we still exist, as citizens who said, “No,” the intelligentsia who did not succumb to brain drain, the economic powerhouses of the big cities, the inheritors of the practice of true civil society, and believers in democratic values. We have not disappeared just because of a fraudulent, Pyrrhic victory at the referendum; and actually, many are hopeful that “This is the beginning of the end” … for some things. To declare Turkey beyond help or hope at this point is just another escapist trap the West is falling into. This is actually the darkest hour before dawn. This is when you can step up and help us pull this unique and critically strategic country out of the hole it has been sinking into.

We will continue to live, produce, and hold on here, maybe keep our heads down for a while, but persist until better days come, because this is too precious a country to abandon to the wolves. And anyone in the world with awareness and conscience should support us in this struggle. Do better than just watch from the sidelines with nodding heads and long faces.

As for what exactly one might do to support us, here are some ideas:

  • Don’t consider and declare Turkey a lost cause;
  • Acknowledge the civic and official opposition. Focus on their brave stance, their point of view, make it get heard louder;
  • Support a revival of tourism to Turkey. (It is the citizens, and the tourism sector’s smaller players, who have suffered the most from the blow the sector has taken. And it’s the UN International Year for Sustainable Tourism!)
  • Exert pressure on decision-makers, opinion leaders, and the media to avoid making deals with Erdoğan. I think the former are afraid of the consequences, particularly of losing their stakes in their relationships with Turkey.
  • For global opinion leaders: Visit Turkey and meet the opposition groups to show your solidarity and moral support. Emphasize the importance of secularism, both in the Muslim, Christian, and any other context. And redeem the reputation of Turkey’s so-called “secular elites” (rather, the middle and upper-middle classes), who should not be blamed for being skeptical of AKP all along — just for their ineptitude in effective organizing. (You were quite right about that in your article) …

Thanks.

So let me do my part to support the revival of tourism in Turkey — which really is too precious a country to abandon to the wolves. It’s such a beautiful place that looking through these videos, trying to choose the right one, was almost painful, like thinking of a love affair from which you just can’t fully recover.

It’s also a very inexpensive place to go right now. The collapse of the lira’s awful for Turkey, but great for your budget! And it’s the most hospitable country you’ll ever visit. Everything this article says is true:

When you come visiting Turkey, no matter which place, you will be overwhelmed by a kind of hospitality you never experienced before. The people will go out of their way to assist and help you, wherever they can. During my stay in Istanbul I experienced that hospitality, which is a cornerstone of the Turkish way of life, many times, and learned to love it as one of the best things in Turkey.

So go to Turkey, meet the civic and official opposition, and show them your solidarity and moral support. See what the people there are really like. They’ll be happy you did. You’ll be even happier. Just be prepared to miss them forever when you leave.

 

 

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  1. JLock Inactive
    JLock
    @CrazyHorse

    Skyler (View Comment):
    Go visit Turkey? I generally prefer not to travel in fundamentalist Muslim nations (which is where Turkey appears headed) without a minimum of 100 of my best friends with heavy machine guns and mortars.

    After Turkey restores its farce of democracy, I might consider visiting. Not before.

    Its also the home of Constantinople. And I would like to visit where Christianity first took root in Western Civilization.

    • #31
  2. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):
    a France under Macron who is pretty much an open borders internationalist?

    I don’t know what you mean by “internationalist,” but it’s true that he favors the NATO alliance whereas his opponent doesn’t. As for “open borders,” I honestly don’t know what you mean either. Do you mean Schengen?  Here’s his platform, Google translate will work well enough. Here’s the part on immigration and asylum.

    • #32
  3. Ontheleftcoast Inactive
    Ontheleftcoast
    @Ontheleftcoast

    Claire Berlinski, Ed. (View Comment):

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):
    a France under Macron who is pretty much an open borders internationalist?

    I don’t know what you mean by “internationalist,” but it’s true that he favors the NATO alliance whereas his opponent doesn’t. As for “open borders,” I honestly don’t know what you mean either. Do you mean Schengen? Here’s his platform, Google translate will work well enough. Here’s the part on immigration and asylum.

    This part of his platform seems clear:

    To the illusory efficiency presented by the idea of ​​returning to national borders, we prefer the strengthening of European action and the root causes of departure in the host countries.

    Speaking of the EU, perhaps some French citizens feel less than thrilled about the results, on the ground in France in 2017, of the declaration of the 2014 meeting of the EU-Africa Summit.

    One of the things that makes me particularly leery of Le Pen is her support among young people; she is reportedly polled much better than Macron in the 18-24 and 35-49 year old age brackets in the first round.

    This is apparently worrying some university presidents in France, who are emailing their students and telling them to vote against Le Pen.

     

    • #33
  4. Ontheleftcoast Inactive
    Ontheleftcoast
    @Ontheleftcoast

    Returning to Turkey, here’s an addition to the “Erdogan: the gift that keeps on giving” list

    Earlier this week, Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan called for “multilateral dialogue” with his direct involvement to settle the question of Islamist separatism in Kashmir.

    After last year’s power grab in Ankara, Erdogan speaks in his newly acquired capacity as the ruler of Turkey, who wants to take his country back to the days of Ottoman Caliphate, when Turkey claimed to speak for the entire Islamdom. Erdogan promotes a ‘Kashmir group’ within the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to air Islamic grievances…

    Happy happy. Joy joy.

    Related question:

    At what point does

    • Support a revival of tourism to Turkey. (It is the citizens, and the tourism sector’s smaller players, who have suffered the most from the blow the sector has taken. And it’s the UN International Year for Sustainable Tourism!)

    bleed into a Cubaesque funding a vicious regime in the guise of tourism and helping the citizens? My guess is that if Erdogan begins to try to control tourist travel within Turkey and steer it to controlled Potemkin sites that would be a sign.

    • #34
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