Turkish Referendum : The diaspora said “yes” to Erdogan

The 16 April 2017, a constitutional referendum in Turkey increased President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s powers. According to the Turkish press agency Anadolu and the news website Ouest France, the Turkish diaspora living in Europe has largely supported Erdogan in their vote.

Despite a context of tension between the Turkish President and European governments, the level of support of Erdogan is undeniable among Turkish communities in Europe. Especially in the countries where the largest communities live. The vote in favor of Erdogan reached 63 % in Germany, 77 % in Belgium, 73% in Austria, 70% in the Netherlands, 65% in France.

According to Kareem Shaheen, writing for the Guardian: “The result of the referendum sets the stage for a transformation of the upper echelons of the state and changing the country from a parliamentary democracy to a presidential republic, arguably the most important development in the country’s history since it was founded on the ashes of the Ottoman Republic”. (April, 16)

 

Source :

http://www.ouest-france.fr/monde/turquie/comment-la-diaspora-turque-en-europe-t-elle-vote-au-referendum-4938460

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/16/erdogan-claims-victory-in-turkish-constitutional-referendum

Theresa May repeatedly refuses to condemn Donald Trump’s immigration ban

Theresa May has repeatedly refused to condemn Donald Trump’s ban on refugees and entry for citizens of seven Muslim-majority nations after meeting with Turkish leaders.

She was speaking just a day after meeting the new President in Washington, where the pair pledged their commitment to the “special relationship” between Britain and the US.

After agreeing a controversial £100 million fighter jet deal amid wide-ranging purges and security crackdowns following an attempted coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Ms May held a joint press conference with Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım.

Their talks were overshadowed by global debate over Mr Trump’s executive order to ban Syrian refugees from entering the US indefinitely, halt all other asylum admissions for 120 days and suspend travel visas for citizens of “countries of particular concern”, including Syria, Iraq and other Muslim-majority nations.

Yvette Cooper, the former shadow Home Secretary, sent a letter to the Prime Minister urging her to echo condemnation from French and German ministers over the “deeply troubling” executive order.

Ed Miliband, the former Labour leader, said the Prime Minister’s refusal to condemn Mr Trump’s Muslim ban “is shocking, wrong and cannot stand”.

He added: “It flies in the face of the values of people across Britain.”

Mr Yıldırım was more direct, calling the crisis a global issue and saying that UN members “cannot turn a blind eye to this issue and settle it by constructing walls”.

“Nobody leaves their homes for nothing, they came here to save their lives and our doors were open…and we would do it again,” he added. “If there is someone in need, you need to give them a helping hand to make sure they survive.”

The old question of loyalty: German Turks and their relationship to Erdogan

 

A charged political atmosphere

On July 31st, 2016, up to 40,000 people, most of them German Turks, congregated on the banks of the river Rhine in Cologne to show their support for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the wake of the country’s failed coup. German media and politicians presented the rally in an overwhelmingly negative light. This is perhaps not surprising, given the fact that the came at the highpoint of months of diplomatic rows between Berlin and Ankara – including, but not limited to, renewed dispute surrounding the German government’s position on the Armenian genocide, the Turkish government’s refusal to let German parliamentarians visit German soldiers fighting ISIS from Turkey’s Incirlik Airbase, President Erdogan’s defamation lawsuits against a German comedian, as well as the lukewarm German reaction to July’s putsch attempt.

Whilst the scenes of rioting and violence conjured up prior to the rally did not materialise in the end, the spectre of large crowds waving Turkish flags nevertheless sent shockwaves throughout the German political scene. Subsequent weeks witnessed growing calls that German Turks be more active in displaying their loyalty to Germany. Conservative Die Welt newspaper chastised them for remaining silent in the face of Islamist terrorism while loudly supporting Erdogan. This, the paper argued, “raises questions about the attachment of large swathes of the Turkish community to our federal republican democracy.” ((https://www.welt.de/debatte/kommentare/article157395025/Tuerken-in-Deutschland-muessen-ihre-Loyalitaet-klaeren.html ))

Chancellor Angela Merkel appeared to pick up on this view when she asserted in mid-August that “we expect from all those with Turkish origins who have been living for a long time in Germany to develop a high degree of loyalty to our country.” ((http://www.zeit.de/politik/deutschland/2016-08/angela-merkel-deutsch-tuerken-loyalitaet-deutschland )) Concomitantly, Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière announced his support for the abolition of legal provisions allowing dual citizenship. ((http://www.zeit.de/politik/deutschland/2016-08/innere-sicherheit-thomas-de-maiziere-doppelte-staatsbuergerschaft-abschaffung )). On a more polemical note, young CDU hopeful Jens Spahn encouraged all those with too much of an interest in Turkish domestic politics to return to their country of origin. ((https://www.welt.de/politik/deutschland/article157406464/CDU-verurteilt-tuerkische-Aufmaersche-Erdogan-empoert.html ))

Sources of support for Erdogan

Amidst all this furore, the question why large numbers of German Turks remain extremely supportive of Erdogan – the AKP received close to 60 per cent of the Turkish German vote in last November’s elections ((http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/tuerken-in-deutschland-waehlten-erdogan-partei-akp-a-1060661.html )) – has been less explored by politicians and the media.

Yet when interviewed by the Forum am Freitag TV magazine ((http://www.zdf.de/ZDFmediathek/beitrag/video/2838240/Deutschtuerken-mit-Doppelherz?setTime=83.633#/beitrag/video/2838240/Deutschtuerken-mit-Doppelherz )), Seyran Ateş, Turkish-born publicist and outspoken critic of the Erdogan administration, deemed the continued support for Erdogan among German Turks to be eminently comprehensible: after Turkish emigrants had for a long time been viewed as convenient suppliers of migrants’ remittances at best and as national traitors at worst, Erdogan has been the first Turkish leader openly welcoming German Turks as full-fledged citizens and members of the Turkish nation. At the same time, economic growth and rehabilitation of religiosity have enabled Erdogan’s mostly lower and middle class supporters in Germany to look upon their country of origin with pride.

Long-standing issues of social acceptance

These feelings were echoed by Bilgili Üretmen, a blogger and fervent Erdogan supporter born and raised in Germany. ((http://www.zdf.de/ZDFmediathek/beitrag/video/2838240/Deutschtuerken-mit-Doppelherz?setTime=83.633#/beitrag/video/2838240/Deutschtuerken-mit-Doppelherz )) He cited economic and social development, greater stability, and the ability to be more open in one’s religious practices as Erdogan’s main achievements. Commenting on Merkel’s call that Turkish citizens be more outspoken in their allegiance to Germany, he asserted that “loyalty is not a one way street” and that Merkel’s demand was “absurd”.

Üretmen stressed that in his view German Turks had contributed a lot to German society for decades; yet that German politics towards Turks and Turkey had remained antagonistic. Moreover, he bemoaned a lack of social acceptance, noting that in Germany “everything that is foreign is seen as a problem”, as well as the fact that German Turks are still predominantly perceived as “toilet-cleaning headscarf-wearing women” rather than as a diverse and successful community.

As Euro-Islam has reported in the past, Üretmen’s comments are illustrative of broader trends and perceptions among Germany’s Turkish population, with shortcomings in terms of social inclusion and of thorny questions of religious acceptance being frequently-cited concerns. ((http://www.euro-islam.info/2016/07/14/religiosity-integration-participation-new-survey-attitudes-experiences-citizens-turkish-descent-germany/ ))

The search for the moral high ground

A little more than a month after the pro-Erdogan demonstration, Cologne came full circle when 30,000 Kurds used the same spot by the Rhine to criticise the AKP government and demand the liberation of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan. Although the PKK is considered a terrorist organisation by the EU and forbidden in Germany, the rally elicited only scant public and political attention. ((http://www.zeit.de/gesellschaft/zeitgeschehen/2016-09/koeln-kurden-abdullah-oecalan-demonstration-kundgebung ))

The fact that such a degree of toleration was extended quite nonchalantly to the pro-PKK rally was promptly picked up upon by AKP supporters. Perhaps not unreasonably, they interpreted this as a sign of German double standards. ((http://www.euro-islam.info/2016/08/01/tensions-supporters-erdogan-partisans-gulen-rise-germany/ )) Yet their claim to be recognised as the pristine defenders of democracy loses its moral clarity when taking into account not just the course of events in post-putsch Turkey but also developments in Germany: Turkish German partisans of Erdogan have themselves engaged in aggressive and at times violent actions against Kurdish and Gülenist dissident individuals and institutions; actions that appear to have been condoned or perhaps even coordinated by the Union of European-Turkish Democrats (UETD) – the very same organisation that also organised the pro-Erdogan rally in late July. ((http://www.euro-islam.info/2016/08/01/tensions-supporters-erdogan-partisans-gulen-rise-germany/ ))

German Turks as well as German politicians thus gradually come to realise that in the complex struggle between rival Turkish political forces and factions, it is increasingly difficult to maintain neutrality. At the same time, siding with any single one of these forces – be they the AKP, the Gülen movement, or the Kurds – comes with enormous strings attached, since no single player ticks all the boxes of democratic accountability and openness.

Taking sides thus involves a high price – a price that German politicians have not been willing to pay. Instead, they have been flip-flopping between condemning and courting Erdogan: while depicting him as a neo-Ottoman dictator, they have nevertheless signed the EU-Turkey deal on refugees; while lambasting the AKP government for its lacklustre response to ISIS, they have nevertheless refrained from pulling out German soldiers from Incirlik; and while they passed a parliamentary resolution determining that the killing of Armenians amounted to genocide, the Merkel government promptly distanced itself from this position. After so much vacillating of their own, German politicians should perhaps refrain from asking for declarations of unconditional loyalty from their Turkish German citizens.

Doubts about research: are Turkish Dutch fan of jihad?

According to the research 87% of the by Motivaction interviewed people (18-34 years) is happy with support from Dutch Muslims for IS and they don’t want the Dutch government to prevent them. However, they also don’t believe in prosperity without democracy and don’t believe in a caliphate. But groups of jihadi’s do establish some welcoming changes in the region. Turkish youth seem to be much more positive about IS and the ‘holy war’ in Syria and Iraq than their Moroccan counterparts.

Minister of Social Affairs and Employment and vice premier, Asscher expressed his worries about the research, explaining that he already was worried about the Turkish community who according to him, does not seem to feel ‘at home’ in the Netherlands. But the next day he was somehow doubtful about the research because of its inconsistencies. How can this youth support IS-fighters, but at the same time be against a caliphate and for democracy? He questioned.
Ahmet Kaya, PhD researcher used an own inquiry among Turkish Dutch people. According to his research, 90% of the more than 1000 respondents condemn IS-violence. Kaya admits he cannot control if the respondents are part of the target group, since the inquiry was done online, but the results do correlate with the ideas he experiences around himself.

According to Kaya the research done by Motivaction should not be taken seriously. Verheggen, Motivaction-researcher disagrees and says that nuances in a research are very easy to get lost. Being against Assad, does not automatically mean that you’re supportive of a caliphate. A possible explanation for the (so-called) support of Turkish youth for IS might be the Turkish media, that is often pro-Erdogan and anti-Assad. Verheggen says this is however not completely clear and is pleased with more thorough research.

Presidential elections in Turkey

July 26, 2014

The upcoming presidential elections in Turkey are a recurring theme in several Austrian newspapers. In two weeks Turkey will vote a new president; however, the ORF is reporting on the early voting possibilities for Turks, who live outside of Turkey.

Turkish culture community response to prime minister Erdongans visit to Vienna

June 22, 2014

A member of the Turkish culture community, Melissa Günes, wrote an op-ed in one of the leading Austrian newspapers. She clearly criticized the Turkish prime minister for calling the Turkish population living in Austria, as descendants of Süleyman the Magnificent and Kara Mustafa Pascha, both very famous Ottoman leaders. According to Günes the Turks in Austria a very proud of their Turkish cultural roots; however, she stresses, they are also proud of their new Austrian country. According to Günes, Turkeys AKP government should focus more on Turkey and guarantee more democratic rights for all members of the Turkish state.

On Erdogan’s election campaign in Austria

June 29, 2014

Several articles on the Austrian national public service broadcaster (ORF) are concerned with the Turkish prime ministers “non-official” election campaign in Austria. According to Turkish newspapers and political scientists, Erdogan is going to run for the upcoming presidential elections on August 10, 2014. In Austria, Germany and France Erdogan is “fishing” for potential voters.

Rightwing FPÖ leader criticizes Turkish PM Erdogan and is against Turkish Matura

June 14, 2014

According to Heinz-Christian Strache, who is the leader of the rightwing party FPÖ, the forthcoming visit of Turkish prime minister Erdogan would destroy the integration efforts of Austria. In addition, Strache opposes the project to establish Turkish Matura at Austrian Gymnasiums.He claims, that this would have a very negative influence on the integration process of Turks as well as indicate a false signal to the Turkish community, that they do not need to learn the German language.

 

 

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Erdogan’s visit to Vienna and the Austrian Foreign Minister’s reaction

June 20, 2014

The upcoming visit of the Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan ensures that some Austrian politicians will react very emotionally. Beside the Austrian Foreign Minister, however, some rightwing politicians criticize the Turkish Prime Minister. Nonetheless, some politicians are accusing Erdogan of splitting the Turkish community in Austria. The Austrian Foreign Minister already tweeted that Erdogan should choose his words carefully towards his fellowmen and he should not influence the integration process of Turkish migrants in Austria in a negative way. Soon afterwards a Turkish politician reacted; he tweeted that the “young” Austrian Foreign Minister should apologize for his words addressed towards the Turkish Prime Minister.

Prime minister Recep Tayip Erdogan is visiting Austria

Tags: Austria Turkey relations, Integration & Migration

June 2, 2014

On June 19, 2014 the prime minister Recep Tayip Erdogan will arrive for a short visit at Vienna. According to Turkish and Austrian newspapers, it is not an official visit. There will be no official meetings between Turkish and Austrian ministers or representatives. Nonetheless, the timing of this visit is not chosen accidentaly, but it is related to 50th  anniversary of the labor recruitment agreement celebrations.