Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Turkey: Not a country for old men

Turkey: Not a country for old men

Published in Turkish Daily News Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Hans A.H.C. de WIT

Politics is all about business and spin; all about negotiation and bargaining. Until, that is, you get what you want. And then you must communicate with other groups, like people who didn't vote for you. So, you act on a fine line of ethics: You are the leader of a political party which won the elections but not the heart, souls and minds of all Turks.
You don't want to betray your supporters. You also don't want to confuse them too much when you make a step in the opposite direction of what you promised. Then the spectacle begins. This is all American, but lately Turkish as well!

The all-encompassing arena:

The Turkish political arena nowadays looks like the Roman Coliseum 2000 years ago. Only the gladiators of then are the political leaders of now, watched by the military and judiciary. While these legal spectators sometimes act without the backing of legal international judicial borders, they leave the real spectators, the ordinary Turks, in the cold.
While most of us try to survive, the life of a Turkish politician appears as a cat; it may have seven lives! Look at the current CHP, AKP and MHP; their leaders come back again and again, not paving the way for the young and ambitious youth of Turkey. The bitter personal vendettas of these party leaders leave little space for change. Nevertheless, their days go on and on... and they don't end. All their lives need is a sense of some place to go.

The mouthpieces of these political parties and spectators are Turkey's press groups. They are as polarized as possible with an inward-looking social ‘pecking order' and walk hand-in-hand with the conventional political parties, using the same language as the politicians whom they try to embody. By creating a media tsunami between a non-conformist, politico-religious group and a deeply-restricted, conservative-ideological one, they leave the foreign press, politicians and others in limbo, but not into the dark.

The roots of the current media problems run deeper than it seems. After Atatürk's death, his ideals and legacy became dogmas. These dogmas left no space for a civil and open debate or a healthy, engaged and independent writing and broadcasting press. The bombastic and often pathetic headlines, flashed in red, silenced the society at large and closed free dialogue. Falling into platitudes, the mainstream media began to act like a volcano, leaving the public running for their lives.

Continue reading here.

Note: Thanks to Bea for editing.

Day opening - May 20

Old town of Rovinj, Croatia.