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December 18, 2016 / Congau

Turkey’s Forgotten Past

Turkey has become a favorite villain of Europe. The government of Erdogan is constantly condemned for moving away from democracy and into authoritarian rule.

But European memory is short. It is forgotten that Turkey never was a democracy until the AK party came to power in 2002. There were elections, but the system was controlled by the military and it decided who was allowed to take part. Islamic parties were banned and others as well.

Only in 2002 did an Islamic party get the chance to compete freely and it won a landslide. Since then its popular support has even increased.

Whatever you think about AKP or Islamic parties in general, there is no doubt that it has a great popular support in Turkey, and whatever the deficiencies of the contemporary regime in Ankara, it is far more democratic than the military controlled Turkey that preceded it. Sure, press restrictions are unfortunate and the suppression of the Kurdish minority is regrettable, but that was no less prevalent in pre-2002 Turkey.

During the first eight decades of the Turkish Republic (from 1923 to 2002) a majority was effectively excluded from politics. Turkey is an Islamic country, but Islam as a political force was banned from participation. Only when that discrepancy was finally remedied could the country in any way be called a democracy.

Before the country was not a democracy, but few cared. Now it is far more democratic by any standard, but the critics eagerly line up to dismiss it. Why?

It’s another instance of Western hypocrisy, for what is at issue is not democracy at all. The West wants supportive governments and the old Turkey could provide that. Today the country is no longer in line and it is even Islamic, so of course it must be denounced.

The European press is doing its part and the past is forgotten.

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