Mar 26 2018

EU appeasement of Erdoğan failing – analysis

The European Union’s appeasement policy toward Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is bound to failure as the Turkish leader continues to dismantle democracy, making a mockery of Turkey’s EU membership process, writes Selcuk Gültaşlı, former Brussels bureau chief for the banned Zaman newspaper.

By doing so, the EU is encouraging Ankara to speed up the forced demise of democracy in the country, Gültaşlı wrote for the EU Observer.

The latest attack on Turkish democracy has arrived with the sale of the Doğan Group of newspapers to an Erdoğan cronie last week at a knock down price, after owner Aydin Doğan, 82, was threatened with jail, he said. The same day, the Turkish parliament passed a law to tighten regulation of the internet, requiring all content providers to apply for a license to broadcast there from the state-run radio and television regulator.

More than 100,000 websites are already banned in Turkey, including Ahval. The regulator, RTUK, will be used to silence all remaining opposition, Gültaşlı said.

On Thursday, the German Bertelsmann Foundation published its yearly democracy report, in which it analysed the democratic transformation of some 129 countries.

The report found that Turkey, Brazil and Poland were the countries that have fallen most in the democratisation index and where "political situation has become significantly worse". It followed a damning report by the Unted Nations, which found Turkey guilty of serious human rights abuses.

These events all happened within just a week before the EU’s political leadership was due to meet with Erdoğan in Varna, Bulgaria on Monday.

As EU leaders refrain from using their weakening leverage on Turkey, its dismantling of democracy only speeds up.

“It is now high time for EU leaders to realise that appeasement only helps Erdoğan maintain a veneer of democracy while eviscerating its institutions,” Gültaşlı said.

The government seized control of Zaman newspaper, the widest circulated broadsheet in Turkey, in March 2016 saying it was a mouthpiece of the Fethullah Gulen movement, which Turkey blames for orchestrating the July 2016 failed military coup. Many of Zaman's journalists were jailed awaiting trial for supporting terrorism, while others are abroad and unable to return to Turkey for fear of arrest.