Sunday, July 22, 2007

National Elections of Turkey

Incumbent Turkish PM Erdogan was all elegance and magnanimous in his thumping victory – saying that he respects votes to his opposition, he respects their choices and he vows himself to work to maintain this political plurality. Part of it is a standard boilerplate for the victor in contemporary national elections. Even so, Erdogan has the political capital as well as the track record to believe his words in some sense.

The turn is now of Turkish Secular Establishment to ‘shut up’. Those million marches with fancy, beautiful red Turkish flags on the breath taking scenery of sea shores were all nice, enjoyable while the party lasted. But now people have spoken and Secularists got to work with AKP’s choice of President and AKP’s economic agenda. Secularists and Ataturk’s legacy – ar Turkish Military – can at least extend the qualified support saying that they will give chance to AKP and will raise their voices (or actions) as and when AKP President and Policies transcendent the lines drawn by the Secular State. If some Turkish ladies want to have ‘burka’; so be the case and no pointing now beating your head on that.

The interesting consequence will be how EU establishment (read Merkel, Sarkozy, Brown, Prodi and EU bureaucracy in Brussels) must work with AKP now to resolve the issue of Turkish membership of EU. There is Poland which made deal breaking noises when the last EU accord was done – claiming that it was all because of Nazi extermination of Jews that Poland has less population and hence less votes in EU decision making! How audacious. As if all that abdicates responsibilities of Polish state in avoiding decrease in their population. This issue is important because, apart from Islamic population of Turkey and authentic representation of that in AKP victory causing apprehensions; the differential population growth rates will result in more Political weight for Turkey. (One answer is to look at American Senate – how Californians put with up 2 Senators from tiny states like Vermont and Delaware!)

But after the proven demonstration of impeccable Democratic credentials by AKP in this election; time has come for rest of the EU to ‘walk the talk’ and give Turkey the EU membership. EU can before hand say that, after Turkey and few more pending applications from Eastern Europe; the door is closed for some foreseeable future for any other new applications. EU experiment can not turn into 21st century version of past European Empires. It needs to declare geographical limits before hand. But after the adimission of Turkey.

The positive movement along EU membership of Turkey can be further hedged on Turkey adopting non-extremists stance against Kurds and not undertaking any invasion of Kurd territory in Iraq. Since elections are past, AKP will be under less pressure to ratchet of the tension against Kurds. Turkish Military, however, may be tempted to play even more strident role. As long as admission to EU works to control these aggressive tendencies (and there is such real soothing potential in this EU business); that is one more welcome impact and one more reason why Turkey should be admitted to EU.

Umesh Patil
Cupertino, CA 95014
July 22, 2007.

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