Erdoğan’s government accused of undermining democracy in Europe - analyst

The Turkish government is increasingly meddling in local politics throughout Europe by subverting democratic institutions and the prosecuting  journalists,, critics, dissidents and minorities, said columnist Seth J. Frantzman writing in the Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.

Ankara is seeking to extradite journalists from Europe, keeping tabs on anyone who critical of the Turkish government and encouraging far-right thugs to attack Kurdish demonstrators, Frantzman wrote, citing dozens of reports. 

Earlier this week, Turkish ultranationalists in Vienna attacked two rallies by Kurdish groups protesting Turkey’s new military invasion of northern Iraq.

Ankara was quick to claim the rallies were organised by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group that has been at war for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey for 40 years.

In fact, Ankara frequently employs a claim of terrorism for anyone who protests or is critical on social media, the columnist said, noting that there is no evidence that any of the peaceful protesters in Austria were engaged in terrorism. 

Just across the border from Austria, in Germany, Ankara stands accused of track down dissidents through intelligence agents.

Reports have emerged of The Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DİTİB), set up as a branch of Turkey’s top religious body, Diyanet, spying on behalf of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organisation (MİT).

Ankara has also been accused of “kidnapping” dissidents throughout the Balkans, Frantzman wrote, citing a Washington Post report on six Turkish men, who were kidnapped in Kosovo in 2018. The men are accused of membership in the Gülen movement, a religious group accused of orchestrating the July 2016 coup attempt.

There has been little resistance to Turkey’s long-armed activities that constitute a violation of international law, the columnist said, as in the 2017 incident in Washington when Turkish security at the embassy attacked U.S. protesters and police. The U.S. quietly dropped the cases against the men in 2018.

“Turkey is one of several countries that seek to undermine European democratic institutions and the EU’s commitment to freedom of expression,’’ the Jerusalem Post columnist wrote.

Meanwhile, he wrote, Ankara has increasingly used its NATO membership to demand the EU play a greater role in Turkey’s military involvement in Syria, Iraq and Libya.