Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

One dent at a time, Turkey’s nation-state edifice erodes

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“Happy is he who calls himself a Turk.”

One of the first things that catches your attention when you drive out of the airport of Diyarbakir, the largest city in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast, is Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s famous phrase engraved on mountain slopes in big white letters.

Bent on building a secular and modern Turkey after World War One, Ataturk carved a united Turkish nation out of the disparate ethnic and religious groups that inhabited the old Ottoman empire — sometimes by forced “Turkification” as was the case with ethnic Kurds.

That once-monolithic nation state is slowly being dented as pluralism becomes an acceptable fact of life in Turkish society.

Turkey’s announcement this week that it is preparing a “democratic opening” for Kurds has raised hopes the EU candidate country might launch bold reforms to end a conflict that has killed 40,000 people and brought pain to many more.

Turkey and the art of the coup

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erdogan.jpgThere can be few countries where the art of the coup is so finely honed as in Turkey, adapting as it does constantly to the spirit of the age, spawning over the decades its own enigmatic lexicon – the “Coup By Memorandum”, the “Post-Modern Coup”, the “Judicial Coup”, the ill-starred “e-Coup”.

Now newspapers (largely pro-government newspapers it should be said), gorge on tales of coup plots dubbed ‘Glove’, ‘Blonde Girl’ , ‘Moonlight’ and devote pages to a shadowy militant group code-named “Ergenekon”. Two retired military commanders, supposed members of the group, have been arrested at their homes on military compounds; a bold step by civilian authorities against an army that jealously guards its privileged status. Critics of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan call the arrests, also netting businessmen and journalists, a ‘revenge action’ for moves by the conservative judiciary to shut his AK party on charges of Islamist subversion.  Ertugrul Ozkok, editor of Hurriyet, a newspaper critical of the government ,  suggested authorities were riding roughshod over judicial processes. If  things are as they seem, he said, “none of us can feel comfortable any more. Any one of us can be taken from our homes and held in custody.”

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