Jul 02 2018

Turkey’s burdened dichotomous past haunting its present - analysis

 

Although Turkey’s “one-man rule” under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is conceived as a divergence from democratic values, the country has always been pulled in many directions - secular and Islamic, Western and Eastern, democratic and autocratic - writes Sudipta Datta in an article he penned for Indian the Hindu newspaper.

“It was, by common consent, a Turkish empire, but most of its dignitaries and officers, and its shock troops, too, were Balkan Slavs. Its ceremonial was Byzantine, its dignity Persian, its wealth Egyptian, its letters Arabic... Its most brilliant sailors were all Greek. Its canniest merchants were Armenian,” Datta quotes author Jason Goodwin as having written in Lords of the Horizon (1998).

The Turkish or Ottoman empire - a state that controlled much of Southeast Europe, Western Asia and North Africa between the 14th to early 20th centuries -  fell not least because of the Turks’ “prideful ignorance of the West”, depriving the country of the fruits of modernity, Goodwin opines.

Given that modern Turkey, built on the rubble of the Ottoman Empire, is faced from a faltering economy, the Kurdish issue, a fraught foreign policy to a gnawing unhappiness, ‘’is it surprising to find a “dense melancholy” consuming the Turks?, ‘’ Datta asks.

According to the writer, it is Turkey’s burdened dichotomous past that continues to haunt Turkey’s present.