15 Haziran 2013 Cumartesi

AK Party and the West

A desirable solution will likely be reached in Turkey's Gezi Park problem. The latest developments are very critical. In the last few days the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government's new approach has become more clear as seen through meetings held by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with various groups representing more or less the Gezi Park protestors. The government will wait for the decision of the tribunal handling the Gezi Park redevelopment issue.

If the decision is against the reconstruction of the old casern, the Gezi Park file will be closed. If not, in other words if the tribunal gives a green light to the reconstruction project, the citizens of İstanbul will decide through “deliberative polling”. I agree with this solution along with many other liberal intellectuals.
Suspected for conspiracy
Anyway, Gezi Park's event will be over soon in some way or another and I hope that this will be a peaceful way. Now, it is time to think about the consequences of the protests and lessons we learn here. I am asking myself some basic questions but I should confess, I have no definitive answers. Why didn't the AK party adopt from the beginning the compromise defined above? In fact, there were some voices in Ankara that were inclined to a compromise. Statements of President Abdullah Gül and of Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç are the main examples of these sound voices. But Mr. Erdoğan and his close circle preferred the escalation. Why? Probably they were unable to identify correctly the reasons of the Gezi Park upheaval, which was, in fact, a spontaneous movement of an urban young generation that is well-educated, secular and has no having particular political associations. Thousands belonging to this generation have been activated not only to save a park but also to express their anger against the brutality of the police, against the attempts of social engineering and against the authoritarian and arrogant discourse of Mr. Erdoğan.
Despite the compromising approach of the AK Party government and the calming down of the prime minister, the insistence on the misreading continues as it is proved by the ongoing shadow boxing: AK Party rulers are still claiming that obscure forces and the ‘interest rate lobby' that is willing to destabilize Turkey to damage its economic development are the main instigators of the Gezi Park protests. Who are these obscure forces? The AK Party avoids identifying them. Nevertheless, since the Western media and recently the European Parliament, which adopted a very critical resolution about the AK Party's governing style, are considered the main actors of the organized conspiracy and since they are criticized by the usual arrogant discourse, one should admit that the obscure forces must be searched for in Western countries.
Might some Western governments, like for example the US and Germany, be considered part of this conspiracy, since the Obama administration as well as Angela Merkel and Guido Westerwelle warned the AK Party government regarding the abusive use of force and to respect basic freedoms? Or is it question of some lobbies and media patrons linked to Zionist circles, as the press close to the AK Party stigmatized The Economist and Financial Times? Are there some speculative investment fund managers unhappy with the low interest rates, trying to push these rates up and damage the Turkish economy by this way?
The list can be augmented. Sincerely, I believe that the conspiracy theory is so absurd, end even so schizophrenic that I will not try to prove its inexistence, but remark that I consider these “interventions” as anxious attempts to prevent Turkey's drift which will destabilize not only it self but at the same time the already troubled Middle East. So, it would be better to focus on the consequences of this madness. The basic fragility of the Turkish economy is well known; it has a high current account deficit, roughly 6 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP), while this deficit is mostly financed by hot money and foreign loans. On the other hand, decent economic growth can only be led by domestic demand, at least in the foreseeable future. This means that Turkey crucially needs to increase foreign direct investment (FDI) and the only reliable source is Europe which provide 80 percent of it.
It is obvious that the AK Party should understand that jeopardizing the EU harmonization process is the main threat to the Turkish economy and to AK Party rule so far. And as I noted Tuesday in this column, a sound management of an open market economy cannot be based on fears of conspiracies but on the rational economic policies that respect the rules of the open market economy and its constraints.

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