Erdoğan preaches brand of democracy steeped in authoritarianism - analyst

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declares his country a beacon of democracy and peace in the region while shutting down free speech and imprisoning those daring to think outside the state-sanctioned narrative, wrote Dimitri Gonis, lecturer at Australia’s La Trobe University.

Erdoğan denies the “Armenian and Pontian Greek genocides, the persecution of Turkey’s Kurds, the invasion, continued occupation and ethnic cleansing of one third of the Republic of Cyprus since 1974, and more recently, the invasion of Syria under the guise of another “peace mission,’’’ Gonis said, in an article he penned for the Jerusalem Post.

Critics maintain Erdoğan is attempting to create a neo-Ottoman Empire, which not only seeks territorial expansion, but to creation of a network of Muslim governments loyal to Ankara. Turkey’s military presence in Libya and Syria are seen as a manifestation of this ambition. 

“Like all hyper-nationalists, Erdogan is convinced about Turkey’s historical mission and “specialness” that cannot be tarnished by the gross lies which he vehemently denies,’’ Gonis wrote, underlining that much of the speeches of Turkey’s strongman are charged with invocations of  a “glorious past blended in with subtle insults towards his detractors’’.

The Turkish president behaves with impunity, the article said, insulting whomever he pleases with an awareness that “Europe desperately needs him as a buffer against the endless influx of refugees and immigrants from the Middle East’’.

Erdoğan has threatened to send millions of Syrian refugees to Europe in response to criticism of his military offensive into Kurdish-controlled northern Syria.

The Turkish president is  “a shrewd politician who knows that no matter how many accusations are levelled at his country or how many times he is called a “dictator,” Turkey remains the most significant force in the Eastern Mediterranean,’’ Gonis wrote.