Saturday, December 4

Generalizations and misunderstandings about Turkey

  • Fazli Corman
    Fazli Corman

    Turkish Ambassador to Norway

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been criticized for his diplomacy. The attacks fail, according to the Turkish ambassador to Norway.

A response to the article by Iver B. Neumann and Einar Wigen on “wolf diplomacy.”

This is a discussion post. Opinions in the text are the responsibility of the writer.

“Wolf diplomacy is Erdogan’s paradigm,” say two researchers in a column in Aftenposten on October 27. Iver B. Neumann and Einar Wigen (whom I personally know and respect) write about a crisis involving ten ambassadors.

His conclusion is that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is pursuing “wolf diplomacy” to gain popularity at home. Researchers are likely to be quick in their generalizations and use some misinterpreted cases in support of the claims.

The ten ambassadors

First, they use the latest crisis as a “motive”, namely the action against the ten ambassadors in Ankara who coordinated a protest through a joint statement.

Since I have worked at the heart of multinational diplomacy, I know how difficult it is to get two states to say the same thing. Not to mention ten states at once. So someone should have spent time and energy researching this coordinated statement.

This is not a generally accepted way of conducting diplomacy for embassies and diplomats. This method is suitable for activists or representatives of non-governmental organizations, not for diplomats. The roles are mixed here. It has damaged international relations.

The authors of the article are not accurate in describing what the ten did simply as “criticizing the imprisonment of an acquitted philanthropist and civil society leader.” These words have been chosen with care to distort reality and make the case look different in the eyes of Norwegians.

It was not criticism, but a threatening statement demanding the “immediate release” of an accused person in a Turkish court. “Released” is a misnomer, as he was released at the Gezi Park trial, but was arrested again on charges related to the attempted coup in 2016. These obvious omissions, which instead identifies him as a “philanthropist “, the reader gets to lose much of the context of this story.

Holland and Germany

The authors then go on to bring up topics that they think are similar that I won’t comment on here. But I want to consider the case you mention as proof that President Erdogan carried out “wolf diplomacy” in the Netherlands and Germany in 2017.

He then prevented Turkish politicians from meeting Turkish citizens in these countries (Turkish citizens with dual citizenship) who would soon vote in a referendum. This case is also misinterpreted and incorrectly reproduced in the article.

We have many chairs and we are known to take good care of our guests.

Over the years, Turkey has complained that demonstrations by the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), which Turkey considers terrorist organizations, are tolerated in European cities. So they have always taught us about “freedom of speech” and “freedom of assembly.”

But as a direct violation of the same principles, the police forces prevented the Turkish meetings. At the same time, PKK-related groups were not only allowed, but also supported. A Turkish minister was prevented from going to a Turkish consulate. This, of course, caused a stir in Turkey and was seen as hypocrisy.

It is true that some young people did a stupid “orange trick”, but this is far from representative of the Turkish reaction to this European hypocrisy. The only reason the authors chose to mention only this “anecdote” is to worsen Turkey’s reactions (without examining the underlying reasons).

“Chair crisis”

The last straw for this article is the recent “chair crisis” in Ankara. It is also presented almost the other way around.

I agree with the phrase: “These are strictly directed sessions, and it is unlikely that the lack of chairs is due to an oversight by the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.” But like many others, columnists miss the point when they say that “EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen [ble] standing without a chair.

This has nothing to do with the Turkish side. We have many chairs and we are known to take good care of our guests. It also has nothing to do with the gender of these two presidents, but it has everything to do with the power struggle between these two positions.

We Turks were the victims of this episode, but our opinions were not heard. It was better to attack us, as the chronicle does.

Turkey is acting wisely

The latest incorrect statement in the article is the impression created by the Turkish Foreign Ministry of not following the president’s orders. That is completely wrong.

What my ministry did wisely was to give a little more time to those responsible for this slander. This gave them the opportunity to step back and avoid a serious crisis.

It is well known that another “coordinated” declaration of the ten embassies allowed to reduce the intensity at the last minute. It is strange that researchers do not mention this essential aspect.

This kind of self-satisfied and doctoral attitude towards complex events does not help us to understand the real dynamics of what is happening in these cases.

Translated from English by Bjørg Hellum

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