By Panayiotis Alimisis
The political game which Tayip Erdogan chooses to play in Turkey and the greater eastern Mediterranean, becomes day by day very dangerous not only for his country itself, but also for the rest of the region. Following the steps -more or less- of successive governments since the modern Turkish state founded in 1923, Ankara is acting often as a totalitarian regime. Erdogan himself, a pure islamo-nationalist, uses unpleasant methods to establish an absolute power and mind control, especially after the unsuccessful coup attempt last year. After the recent and victorious –for him- referendum, he feels confident and ready to «bring to life» his own view of social and political transformation, which is nothing else but to spread a neo-ottoman ideology, and finally, to upgrade himself as the new «Kemal Ataturk».
His rhetoric is backward, but at the same time very attractive to his followers. By trying to divert Turkish public opinion from domestic problems, he talks hypocritically and obsessively almost every day in tv and social media for the «glorious ottoman past», ignoring the history before 1453, he «bans» public… kissing, he accuse his political opponents for trying to overthrow him, he demands from European countries to allow him to spread his «message» to the highly nationalistic Turkish immigrant communities, he goes after every journalist he doesn’t think he or she is… fit for the job, and of course, he speaks constantly for… racism against the Muslims of the world, because obviously he wants to be one day their «hero protector»!
However, his troubled vision for Turkey and the world, affect negatively the rest of the region as well. Every word he says doesn’t fit the basic aspects of European democratic values. It’s true that in Europe societies are atomistic with very low sense of patriotism. The «politically correct» plan for a future «global melting pot community» which many intellectuals, politicians and journalist dream of, is far away from the political thinking and culture of Tayip Erdogan. The Turkish President has different plans.
All he wants, is to send muslim immigrants, through the refugee crossroads in eastern Europe in order to create a fast growing population in Europe, which will give him the key to achieve influence in the decision making of the EU for the years to come. It might sound as a… conspiracy theory, but it’s evident from the way he manipulates the refugee crisis. Yet, despite the bad relations he has over the years with a lot of European leaders because of this, many of them, still believe that Turkish political culture is able to… change direction and adopt western values the «next day»!
But Erdogan, is not intend to stop to the «conquest» of Europe. He wants to establish his presence in Syria, (often flirting with the jihadists) chase the Kurds in and out of the country, (many of them fear to speak free in public even in coffee shops) and to take for his own areas of economic interest in Cypriot and Greek territories. Day after day the Turkish army (most notably air force and navy) creates a very challenging situation in the Aegean sea, when warships and airplanes violating the maritime law and airspace rules. As a result, the greek security forces, (despite the economic problems and the lack of patriotism and wider education of the political world), respond fast with professionalism and with respect to the international treaties. Unfortunately this daily «undeclared war» doesn’t reach easy the European news agencies…
Erdogan’s aggression is not something new but already, starts to create concern even to the other side of the Atlantic. USA won’t allow Ankara to achieve superiority in the Middle East and become a competitive power in the Mediterranean. A few days ago, the American government announced that it will provide the Kurds, -the biggest «geopolitical nightmare» of Erdogan- with modern «light weapons» in order to fight with more efficiency the Islamic State. Americans are determine to upgrade their own presence in the area and send to Ankara this message: You are important allies but you come second…
Panayiotis Alimisis is a journalist. He studied Modern History and International Relations at London Metropolitan University