The Turkey I came to 8 years ago was a different one to the country we live in now. Not only has the country itself changed immensely – politically, economically, socially – but the woman who’s living here now is far-removed from her doppleganger back then. Back then, a neighbourhood was appealing for its abundance of roof-top terraces with foreign cuisine (bonus points added for imported wines); now, the appeal of a place is its proximity to nature and the quality of its local pazaar. Along this journey, my priorities, beliefs and values have shifted. Reconciling the subtle and blatant consequences of these changes is still a challenge.
A few times I’ve considered changing the name of this blog to “An Oh So Turkish Life” for the sheer irony that in so many aspects our life is so utterly non-British. At the moment it would seem even more apt to do so given that in regards to the reporting on the attempted overthrowing of the government I feel far more connected to Turkey than I do the West. The people on the streets supporting democracy in such a peaceful manner – no civilian guns shot in this trigger happy gun loving country?! – the governments strong position to maintain order and adhere to democracy, and the real need for the thorough removal of anyone who may have been affiliated with the coup attempt. But I couldn’t possibly change the name because as a Brit I understand so much of the reasoning behind the arguments against the seeming extremeness of the ‘purging’ from institutions, and the feelings and reasons behind opinions that Erdogan is using the situation he’s found himself in to gain strength. I can’t in clear conscience say I believe many are in favour of the actual speeches Erdogan gives because it’s acknowledged by even his own party that he has a tendancy to go off-script, but as a Brit I am also disgusted by the English-speaking media’s reporting of all decisions and political statements made being attributed to the President alone as though there is no government. The best thing to come from this mess is the fact that at the moment the political support comes not just from AKP; representatives of all parties are standing behind the words Erdogan fronts.
Watching the Presidents’ address to the Turkish nation last night I was confused…why in the midst of so many forced resignations, arrests and restrictions on movement; in the wake of so many tragic deaths is he focusing so much time on the economy as he declares a 3 month State of Emergency? It wasn’t until after when I realised the address had been broadcast simultaneously in other languages in other countries that it made sense. The declaration of the joint party decision to join France in a State of Emergency (for differing reasons sure, but I can’t help wondering if the threat from ISIS attacks in Turkey is not now significantly higher in itself given the instability of the country politically), it is not really surprising the address contained a seemingly disproportionate amount of reassurance the economy would not suffer. To me it seems this was not as much an attempt to reassure Turks – who are living with the very real reality that the economy has in fact already suffered, with tourism being worryingly down this year and many industries having been hit hard by the Turkey-Russia export bans the past year – rather his economy speech was intended to send a message to the global community that Turkey is still open for business. I may not have agreed with some of his points or his preferred usage of the noun “I” rather than “we” when explaining the decision to both enforce this State of Emergency and the opening of a debate on the reintroduction of capital punishment (I mean.. please! Never going to happen!) but I can’t help feeling much of what he said and many of the actions he and the government have taken the past week have been exactly those any other President would have taken in similar circumstances.
Again it’s all about context and having also watched the live interview given to Al Jazeera earlier in the evening, which was so horribly translated into English the translator was switched half-way through, and on Turkish channels was broadcast translated back into Turkish from Al Jazeera’s English translation..a nightmare to follow whichever language you listened in!..I can’t help feeling again that once again the context in which we view Turkey’s current situation is skewed from wherever you’re looking at it.