Erdogan invites foreign direct investment and the Turkish diaspora population in Europe to vote for him in the upcoming snap election. We speak with co-editor of Rupture Magazine
SHARMINI PERIES: Welcome back to the Real News Network. We are speaking with Ekrem Ekici. He is an independent researcher and political analyst based in Berlin. He is co-editor of a new online magazine titled Rupture. You can find it at RuptureMagazine.org. Thank you so much for joining us again, Ekrem.
All right, Ekrem, when we parted from segment one we were talking about the conditions under which people are going to the polls in Turkey, essentially under emergency rule, which is curtailing much of people’s human rights, and they’re going to the polls under a cloud of repression, one could call. So can you give us a sense of how the international community is responding to this repression in Turkey, and the upcoming elections?
EKREM EKICI: There are several different aspects of the responses of the international community to what’s going on in Turkey. First of all, the most recent issue, the hottest topic in Turkey today is the looming economic crisis, or a currency crisis, today. I would like to, I would like to emphasize one thing about how Turkey is pursued by international capital, by now. Since there is a currency crisis in Turkey, Erdogan is, of course, talking to investors again. The whole base of AKP government, the whole base of AKP in Turkey was based on foreign direct investments for over a decade in Turkey. We’re talking about more than $220 billion of investment, foreign direct investment, in Turkey between the, between 2002 and 2011.
So with the seeds of the influx of foreign direct investment and Turkey’s being unable to respond to global financial trends at the moment, the Turkish lira is declining. And Erdogan was in London last week, and he, he was holding meetings with investors, the representatives of financial markets in the United Kingdom, and he was promising them that after the elections he was going to take more control over the, over the economy of the country, notably more control over the Central Bank. This was completely undermining the autonomy of the Central Bank, in the eyes of the investors. So right after that, when you, when you follow the large media outlets, economic [inaudible] in Europe like Bloomberg, [inaudible], and Financial Times, you would see that there’s a, there’s a big confusion about Turkey and AKP amongst the monster capitalist class of Europe. So Erdogan is going to an election first time without the support of the international capital, and without it, without the, with the suspicion of the international community.
SHARMINI PERIES: All right. Now, for a very long time in Turkey, Ekrem, the conversation about whether Turkey would be admitted to the European Union was a huge one. But of late, Erdogan has more or less abandoned that move, or the desire, and has been a bit more confrontational with Europe. How is this playing out, both economically and politically?
EKREM EKICI: Well, economically we can say for now that, like everything is, everything is normal, all the investments are in place. No European company is leaving Turkey because of Erdogan’s stance against Europe. But politically speaking it’s rather more complicated, because Erdogan also holds responsible the European states, especially Germany, in supporting the military coup which happened in July 2016. And it’s creating a discourse towards the domestic politics against, against Europe. That the European Union will never accept Turkey, and also the European Union, or European countries, to be more specific, European countries, European forces, are not happy with the growing prosperity and political stability in Turkey. So this is, these are the arguments Erdogan is using in domestic policies, in domestic politics, or domestic discourse. The economic relations, I would say, haven’t been undermined yet.
SHARMINI PERIES: All right. Now, Erdogan has gone, or come under a lot of criticism by the European Union about the manner in which it is treating the people in Afrin. And of course there are large numbers of, swathes of people displaced in Afrin. Give us a sense of what that criticism is about, and what is actually happening to the people there and what Erdogan’s response has been.
EKREM EKICI: Well, European Union criticizing Erdogan for what was going on in Afrin was, it’s also interesting, because Erdogan didn’t, Turkey didn’t do anything in northern Syria without, by defying NATO or major players on the field. So Turkey, Turkey’s main argument, Erdogan’s main argument for conducting the operation was the integrity and sovereignty of Turkey, and protecting the borders.
Europe criticizing Erdogan about Afrin sounds a little bit like hypocrisy, because many European countries criticizing Turkey for this was part of NATO, who was overseeing and ratifying this operation.
SHARMINI PERIES: So give us a sense of how this election that is away, or campaign that’s underway, is playing itself out in Europe. Now, as we know there is a huge Turkish diaspora population in Europe, and Erdogan has, in the past, been criticized for holding political rallies in European states, in cities where there is a large Turkish population. And the Turks are being encouraged in those díaspora communities to actually come out and vote. And Erdogan omehow thinks that he’s going to be garnering much of that vote. That is why he is out there campaigning. But this has also led to a great deal of criticism on the part of the European states. Tell us about why they’re criticizing him for doing that, and what are the advantages that Erdogan would have in trying to mobilize those communities to come out and vote for him.
EKREM EKICI: Well, first of all, why there is criticism leveled at Erdogan for their European campaigns, this started before the referendum last year, it must be even April, for changing the constitution. Erdogan wants to organize meetings in European countries where there are large Turkish populations like Netherlands, Germany, and especially Austria. So he was declined, when one day, when the official requests were made, this request were declined by the states. So the main argument was this would this would be seen as an interference in the domestic politics, policies of those countries. And Erdogan capitalized, and also used it for his own sake, saying that the European, as you can see, the European, European states are against Turkey, not against Erdogan, in his discourses against Turkey. And this is because of the, this is because of growth of turkey and prosperity of Turkey. So this is why they’re not [inaudible], and Erdogan accused those states of being anti-democratic, and disrespectful towards the principle of freedom of speech.
So Erdogan, of course, when we talk about Europe and the potential of [votes] in Europe for Turkish elections, we’re talking about a large entity. There are millions of people, millions of people of Turkish origin, living in Europe. And this has always been the subject of political campaigns. So Erdogan is aware of this force. And Erdogan, whenever he goes out of Turkey, when he holds a rally in a European country, he is always speaking to, towards the identities of people, towards the, towards the pains and sufferings of the people, and kept [inaudible] on his side by giving them an image of a leader, first time in their history.
SHARMINI PERIES: All right, Ekrem, there’s so much more to discuss. We should also talk about Turkey and its membership in NATO. We should also be talking about U.S.-Turkey relations. But I’m afraid we’re going to have to save that for another conversation. So I thank you so much for joining us, and hope you can join us for those segments in the future. Thank you so much.
And thank you for joining us here on the Real News Network.