Turkey: New unity or imminent disintegration?

Roughly three million people gathered in Istanbul on Sunday for a rally against the attempted coup, according to Turkish media. Prior to the speech by President Erdoğan, the Kemalist and nationalist opposition parties also addressed the crowd. Commentators condemn the fact that the pro-Kurdish HDP wasn't invited to the event. Many view this show of unity with distrust and some even fear that Turkey could be drifting towards civil war.

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Cumhuriyet (TR) /

Don't waste opportunity to reconcile with Kurds

The pro-Kurdish HDP was not invited either to the mass demonstration on the weekend or to a meeting between Erdoğan and members of the opposition last week. The government has passed up on a historic chance for reconciliation with the Kurds, the oppositional daily Cumhuriyet writes:

“One can't overlook the permanent exclusion of the HDP simply by saying it would have been nice if it had been present too. Because to exclude the HDP is also to exclude an entire section of the country's population. Let's be clear here: this is a discriminatory policy that will continue to cause problems in the future. All the more so because it's clear that the Gülen community has always sabotaged the peace process [with the PKK]. … The exclusion of the HDP also fits in with the community's policy on the Kurds. So why is it that this unique opportunity for social reconciliation is now being wasted?”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

For Ekrem Dumanlı Erdoğan has missed his chance

Although the attempted coup could have offered Erdoğan a chance to strengthen the rule of law the president is doing the very opposite, comments Ekrem Dumanli, former editor-in-chief of the Turkish daily Zaman, in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:

“Just imagine if President Erdoğan had said the following: 'The perpetrators of this coup who tried to topple the elected government with violence will be subject to criminal investigation. Those involved in planning and carrying out the coup will receive a strict but fair trial before an independent court.' ... But Erdoğan and the AKP government took a different course. Even before it became clear what had happened on the streets of Ankara and Istanbul, they pinned the blame on Fethullah Gülen and his sympathisers - although innumerable questions surrounded, and still surround, the failed coup. ... Immediately after the coup attempt Erdoğan named it 'a blessing from God'. If what you want is to forget the coup and instead liquidate part of society without investigations or trials, you can see things as the president does.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Prevent outbreak of civil war in Turkey

President Erdoğan wants his country to play a dominant role in the region, Italian diplomat Ferdinando Salleo warns in La Repubblica:

“It is hard to imagine that such an ambitious project can be realized by a country so full of contradictions and a leader who knows no mercy. … Europeans and Americans alike would be well advised to follow the developments closely and to act prudently. Not only because we are directly affected but also for the sake of stability in the region. All legitimate means must be used to prevent Turkey from drifting even further away. … The unspoken nightmare for all of us is that the tensions within the country will explode and result in a civil war that spreads far beyond the country's borders. That would put an end to any balance and stability in the entire Mediterranean region for a long time to come.”

Magyar Hírlap (HU) /

The guarantor of order

Journalist László Bogár explains in Magyar Hírlap why it is important that Erdoğan keeps Turkey stable:

“Turkey is situated at the critical intersection between Europe and Asia and on top of that just a few hundred kilometres away from Africa. … In the Middle East, which has without doubt been the most dangerous area of conflict over the last 60 years, Turkey plays a strategic role alongside the US, Russia, Israel and Saudi Arabia. So Turkey has the unsolvable task of maintaining the balance in this highly intensive geopolitical force field, while also having to cope with internal tensions with the Kurds. … Despite his recent anti-democratic behaviour Erdoğan's authoritarian course is still the best guarantee for maintaining the delicate balance in Turkey and ensuring order in the country.”

Cumhuriyet (TR) /

No point expecting democracy from AKP

Although the AKP government demonstrated for democracy and unity on Sunday this charade cannot be trusted, writes Kemalist paper Cumhuriyet:

“A consensus by dictate with condemnation of the coup as the lowest common denominator is nonsense. Let's look at democracy. It is a term that has been robbed of all meaning by the Erdoğan regime. … So let us fill it with meaning. Firstly secularism. … There can be no democracy without it. A free press. … An independent, unbiased, professional judiciary. The right to a fair trial. The rule of law. Human rights. Personal rights and freedoms. … The only consensus that must be agreed on is true democracy. But with the current regime a consensus on this basis is impossible. Perhaps you believe that it can step back, start cooperating with you once more and reach a compromise. But that won't happen, it's not in its nature to do so. ”

Milliyet (TR) /

New era of unity

Turkey has seldom experienced such unity, the conservative daily Milliyet enthuses:

“Millions of people turned Yenikapı Square red and white with their Turkish flags and invoked with one voice allegiance to the flag and democracy. This was the first time in ages that the whole country has felt so good. Because after the climate of polarisation we were longing for the harmony we have experienced in the last 23 days in politics and on the streets, and which reached its climax yesterday in Yenikapı. If only the HDP had also been there. This too should be one of our hopes, and the historical photo of Yenikapı should not just be etched in our memories but become the image of the dawn of a new era. We desperately need this unity, particularly in these critical days.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Just a friendly façade

Erdoğan has cleverly done all he can to have people forget the fact that he himself supported Gülen for 14 years, Der Standard writes:

“In Turkey taking responsibility for something or stepping down from office is seen as a sign of weakness, and the country can't stand weak men. Since the attempted coup Tayyip Erdoğan seems so strong that he can even afford to apologise. The Turkish president asked god and the people for forgiveness in a quick and casual manner: sadly he, Erdoğan, had failed to recognise the true nature of the Gülen movement, he said. To brand his former political brothers in faith and their supporters as terrorists quickly and effectively the Turkish president needs the façade of democratic unity, of this new-found friendliness vis-à-vis the opposition. This façade will stay in place as long as it suits Erdoğan's purposes.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Opposition too submissive

The participation of the leaders of the CHP and the MHP in the mass rally in Istanbul shows that the Turkish president's intimidation tactics are proving highly effective, the daily paper Corriere della Sera comments:

“It was predictable that Erdoğan would use any means to ensure that his 'counter-coup' succeeded. What is surprising is that the leaders of the opposition parties let themselves be blackmailed so quickly by the idea that if they didn't want to be seen as putschists they had to take part in the rally. Their submissiveness says a lot about the witch-hunt climate in Turkey right now. The mobilisation of the people which played a significant role in quashing the military coup on July 15 has become a permanent component - increasingly used to achieve certain political goals.”