Jan 29 2018

Washington Ankara relations unsalvageable - Howard Eissenstat

Howard Eissenstat, a scholar specialising on modern Turkey, answered questions by Ahval Editor in Chief Yavuz Baydar and Ahval English editor Ilhan Tanir, on the Turkish government's sustained pressure on dissent in Turkey.  

Eissenstat is Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Project on Middle East Democracy and Associate Professor of Middle East history at St. Lawrence University. Eissenstat writes on twentieth-century Turkish history as well as on contemporary Turkish politics and foreign policy. 

The Turkish Interior Ministry on Monday has filed for the prosecution of the Turkish Medical Association and removal of its central committee members after they called for peace in response to Turkey’s military offensive against a Kurdish enclave in northern Syria. The Turkish government has begun trials against hundreds of academics who signed a peace petition calling for an end to Turkey's conflict with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). 

Eissenstat also recalled Turkey's post-1980 coup period, which he said was comparable in terms of the pressure on critical media and opposition voices. 

Eissenstat argues there is much less discussion in Washington today around protecting Turkish democracy or NGOs, compared to one or two years ago. At this point, according to Eissenstat, the questions mostly focus on whether relations with Turkey can be salvageable at all.

Eissenstat shares his deep concern that many in Washington are ready to give up on the relationship in Turkey before it is truly lost, but it is clear that the relationship has never been worse.

Eissenstat also agrees with Nate Schenkkan of the Freedom House that putting a lot of faith in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is a wrong-headed approach, and instead Turks should depend on Turkey based solutions.