The ban on Oct. 29 Republic Day celebrations on the one hand and the solacement of the “controlled conflict strategy” on the other. But we should give the AKP credit for naming situations.
President Tayyip Erdoğan had gathered on July 24 some 350 thousand people from all over Turkey in Istanbul for prayers at the reopening of Hagia Sophia as a mosque and sent them back home despite the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. As the virus kept spreading, the president through Interior Ministry put a ban on the public celebration of the Oct. 29 Republic Day on the grounds of “public order.” Yet, there are reports that the ban will be annulled upon reactions. On the day when the president monopolized the celebration of Republic Day, the value of the Turkish currency fell to the 8 liras per dollar, with the euro trading above 9.5 liras. Still, on the same day, Erdoğan was angered by the words of French President Emmanuel Macron against Muslims and called for a boycott on French goods. However, he had not spoken much about Saudi King Salman’s boycott on Turkish goods, despite the fact that his government had declared a three-day mourning when the king’s father died. What is more, is does this boycott apply to the Renault factory, one of the major automotive industry actors in Turkey? I wonder if national flag carrier Turkish Airlines will continue buying Airbus aircraft? If so, then Airbus’ biggest rival Boeing should win big. As it is known, the custom-built Presidential plane was produced at the Airbus factory in France. Do you think Erdoğan will announce in his Oct. 29 speech that he will return the plane?
Gambling on Istanbul’s public health?
The controversies are not limited to these. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca held a meeting to discuss measures against the spread of the coronavirus in Istanbul, a city the size of a country with a population of 16 million, but he does not invite Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), who won the local election with a big win over the candidate of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Data requests by the municipality from the ministry for joint struggle were also rejected. It is like gambling on the health of Istanbul residents, thus all citizens, for the sake of blindly ignoring a municipality because it is not from the ruling party. Let me be honest, in a properly functioning democratic state of law, this is a reason for an investigation on the grounds of endangering public health.
Ban on public celebrations
If monopolizing of the Republic Day celebrations by the Presidential Palace with a public ban will stop the spread of the virus, then sections of the society that does not see the republic as an “ad break for democracy,” and embrace it will rush to the balconies and windows of their houses to celebrate the foundation of the modern republic. But this mentality of ideological and political polarization makes a solution to the problem even harder. It puts all of our lives at risk.
‘Tensions at home, tensions in the world‘
The slogans, logos, and images to be used for the 100th Republic Day celebrations in 2023 will also be determined by the Presidential Palace according to a decree on Oct 24. What is the difference between this approach and the aspiring military tutelage which once said “You will love the homeland the way be tell you to do so?” On the one hand, you consider the religious sects having a free hand as “the freedom of belief and thought, and on the other hand, you try to standardize celebrations for a monochrome Republic Day.
On the one hand, you ignore the mayors elected by millions of votes… On the other hand, you will put the elected mayors in jail and replace them with your arrogant civil servants… And on the other hand, you will force Oct. 29 celebrations to fit into your own ideological patterns. These are deep contradictions.
You will put the police and the gendarmerie against the miners marching for their rights, drown their voices in the media, and on the other hand, you offer “recreation tea” to the tradesmen who express their bad straits?
A ceasefire table has been established in Libya. In Syria, Russia and the U.S. have held the grip. The eastern Mediterranean tensions have eased on the NATO basis. Therefore, the grounds of populist rhetoric on these issues have weakened. Since the government can by no means speak against Saudi Arabia, it brings on a boycott on French goods. The “Peace at home, peace in the world” target of Turkey’s founding father Mustafa Kemal Atatürk is being replaced by a new reality, “Tensions at home, tensions in the world.”
The so-called ‘controlled conflict strategy‘
I was talking about all these with a businessman friend who cannot stand criticism against Erdoğan despite his own business is not blossoming these days. And I was shocked when he named this a “controlled conflict strategy.” All these development are a part of a strategy built by Erdoğan, he claimed, saying that those who are happy with the Turkish Lira’s depreciation against the U.S. dollar will be disappointed after the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 3.
All these reminded the Treasury and Finance Minister’s mocking with the climb of the dollar, accusing some circles of desperately expecting to “buy dollars when it is trading at 6 liras and sell it at when it reaches 10 liras for dollar.” It is ridiculous but I cannot help thinking that this situation is melting down the purchasing power of the public while a minority has won big from a rush to U.S. dollars and gold. So this is the controlled conflict strategy. So there is no need to worry.
The ban on Oct. 29 celebrations on one side and the solacement of the “controlled conflict strategy” on the other. But we should give the AKP credit for naming situations. They do not care if it is sustainable or not as long as it helps to overcome a given problem. One of these name-giving examples was the “conservative democrat” label. Does anyone remember?