I cannot in good conscience after a recent post let the actions of the "Republic" of Turkey go by without comment. What actions, you say? Well, it seems that Turkey is having a constitutional referendum on April 16th. And the government of Turkey wants to get the cause out to its expats in Europe. That includes low-ball estimates of 3 and a half million in Germany, almost a million in France, over half a million in the Low Countries and in the UK, and 100,000 + in Scandinavia. So yeah, that's a lot of votes- especially when you ain't home watching what's going on.
The basic controversy in the referendum revolves around one thing- the concentration of power in the hands of the President. It basically eliminates the counterweight of having a Prime Minister; it expands Parliament by 9%, giving small opposition parties less of a chance; it removes- yes, REMOVES- the power of said parliament to scrutinize ministers and hold the government (AKA the President) accountable. Now admittedly it ain't all bad; a lot of clauses help to de-fang the military as a political force, and that MIGHT be construed as a good thing, and it lowers the voting age, and makes a Parliament veto more workable. But, I'm not here to talk their politics.
Here's the deal- several European countries are exercising their rights as sovereign nations to not allow government campaigners on their territory. They have seen the propensity of their immigrant populations to political violence, and want none of that. More importantly, they want to uphold the rights of THEIR countries as sovereign nations and not just campaign ground for people who, either by working or welfare-ing, are sucking the national teat.
The stakes have been steadily rising. Angela Merkel tried at first to pass it off as a community-choice thing, and not necessarily a policy of the German government. Her reward for that was Turk President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to claim in a rally in his own country, "Germany, you have no relation whatsoever to democracy and you should know that your current actions are no different to those of the Nazi period."
Then, in rapid succession, the Dutch escorted a minor Turkish official out of the country after denying her access to the Turkish embassy where she was going to give a campaign speech, followed by refusing to let the Turkish Foreign Minister's plane to land for the same reason. And what happened next? First, local Turks proved their point. From the NY Times:
A protest outside the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam turned to rioting, and the police in Rotterdam arrested 12 people. A police spokeswoman, Patricia Wessels, told The A.P. that protesters pelted officers with bottles and rocks, and law enforcement officials responded with dogs, baton charges and a water cannon. Ms. Wessels said seven people were injured, including a police officer who broke his hand.
And then... the Foreign Minister replied:
“This is a totally repressive system,” he told the Hürriyet newspaper. “All practices resemble those of the Nazi era.”
Now I'm sure that the extreme anti-Trumpers prolly agree with the thought process that says a nation shouldn't have the power to prevent officials from ANOTHER nation coming into said nation to campaign for an election IN THEIR NATION. After all, we should be above borders, etec, etc. But if we lob out said nutjobs and speak to reasonable human beings, we can ask:
1- Is not a nation allowed to keep its own sovereignty and NOT allow the basic operations of another government on their lands?
2- With the political climate and the growing battle between nationals and immigrants in Merkel's Europe, and given the reaction in Rotterdam and other cities, is not the point of not wanting the violence a valid one?
3- What is the "repressive", "Nazi" part of all this? No nation is not allowing their OWN people to act- only agents of a foreign government are affected.
So then Merkel finally grows a pair and stands up to them, and a slight dribble runs down the Foreign Minister's leg. From The Independent:
“We will not allow the victims of the Nazis to be trivialised – these comparisons of Germany with Nazism must stop,” the Chancellor added.
“They are unworthy of the close ties between Germany and Turkey and of our peoples.”
Turkey’s foreign minister effectively repeated the comparison within hours, saying that he was not calling current German ministers Nazis, but that their actions were reminiscent of that era.
“We have not called anyone a Nazi,” Mr Cavusoglu said. “Our President made a comparison in reference to certain practices. The trend in Europe at the moment reminds us of pre-World War Two Europe.”
So you can hold the picture of Hitler over someone's head, then take it down and say, "Sorry, just kidding", and the image goes away? I think not. So, in a bit of tit-for-tat, I have two things to bring up to President Erdoğan that I hope stick with HIM.
First, what about the suppression of opposition to the referendum in your OWN country? From the wiki article:
The AKP government and the General Directorate of Security (police) have both been criticised for employing tactics designed to limit the campaigning abilities of 'No' supporters, through arrests and political suppression. On 23 January 2017, university students campaigning for a 'No' vote on a commuter ferry in İstanbul were implicated by security officers for 'insulting the president', with their arrests being stopped by onboard passengers. On 31 January, Republican People's Party council member Sera Kadıgil was arrested and later freed on charges of 'insulting religious values and inciting hatred' for campaigning for a 'No' vote on social media. In Bursa, a voter who revealed that he was voting 'No' was reported to the police and later arrested.
Municipalities held by pro-'Yes' parties have also sought to limit the campaign events of 'No' voters by denying them rights to hold rallies in public spaces of community halls. Meral Akşener, a leading nationalist politician and one of the most prominent campaigners for a 'No' vote, was stopped from holding speeches when her campaign venues in Yalova and Edirne were abruptly shut down shortly before her events, with posters advertising her events in Eskişehir being ripped down. On 11 February while she was making a speech at a hotel hall in Çanakkale, the venue suffered a power cut and was perceived by the pro-opposition media to be a symbol of the oppressive tactics against the 'No' campaign. After initially being obstructed by riot police, attendees at the conference used their iPhone lights to allow the event to continue.
If you like, you can go to the article and chase down the annotation yourselves. I won't bother to point out what government THAT resembles.
And number two, anytime President Erdoğan wants to play the Nazi card, I have two words for him.