Dead pigeons in Ankara

By: Hilal Kaplan*

The West followed tradition and supported the failed coup attempt in Turkey on the night of July 15

Within the last two weeks, many pigeons in Ankara have died by falling or crashing against something since the fighter jets, which were flying low over the city causing sonic booms during the July 15 coup attempt, burst pigeons’ eardrums and damaged their equilibrium.

I began with pigeons because evidently the 247 people killed in the coup attempt do not count for much in Western politics and the media. At first they referred to the incidents as a “Turkish uprising” as if a people’s movement was in question rather than a fascist military junta. Then they hastily announced on their official accounts that a military regime was introduced in Turkey while the people were marching toward the tanks. Also, obviously for the same reasons, they neither adopted a proper stance against the coup attempt nor abstained from issuing statements that belied that they attached much more importance to Gülenists than the people who had been killed.

Three years ago, when the military junta overthrew the democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi, in Egypt, then EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton visited the general who lead the coup and later became president, Abdul-Fattah el-Sissi, to present their support two weeks after the coup. In the case of Turkey, which is a neighbor and candidate of the EU, the first official visit from the EU came 19 days after the coup attempt was repelled and the democratically elected leader preserved his seat. I attach importance to the Council of Europe Secretary-General Thorbjorn Jagland’s visit. However, everything that happens in the corridors of politics and the media in the West indicates that the West wanted the coup to succeed, and had it succeeded, cooperation would have been developed with the coup leaders instead of imposing sanctions as Jagland claimed.

Sweden’s former Prime Minister Carl Bildt, the only person that really objected to this explicit double standard, wrote:”… But on the night of the coup, it took some time for the EU to condemn the events. And there was no sign of senior EU representatives afterward flying to Turkey in support of an accession country facing the gravest threat to its constitutional order yet.”

“Instead, Europe’s leaders immediately began to question measures taken by the Turkish authorities to cleanse from power any elements thought to be associated with the Gülen movement. When Turkey asked for derogation from the European Convention on Human Rights, EU leaders howled with disapproval, forgetting that France did the same after the November terror attacks in Paris. There is no question that Turkey has the right to, and indeed must, take measures to safeguard itself against forces trying to topple its constitutional order.”

The original title of Bildt’s article was: “Europe, stand up for democracy.” However, Politico, the website that released the article, manipulatively changed the title into “Europe, stand up for Erdoğan.” An unconscious implication also lies behind this simple manipulation. Turks who saw the West’s support for the Egypt coup have been aware of this implication for a long while: “We could stand against democracy if it would save Erdoğan.”

* Hilal Kaplan is a Turkish columnist. She writes for Daily Sabah Turkish newspaper.

(Published in Daily Sabah, on August 5, 2016)