Erdoğan at AKP event: war rhetoric and a child's tears

Observers have reacted with shock and dismay to an appearance made by Turkey's President Erdoğan at an AKP event in Kahramanmaraş in southeast Turkey. The president called a little girl dressed in military uniform who was in tears onto the stage and told her that soldiers don't cry. He then asked her in an indirect way whether she would be willing to die as a martyr for Turkey.

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Kathimerini (GR) /

Tears are the only correct response

Columnist Pantelis Boukalas expresses sympathy for the girl's behaviour in Kathimerini:

“No matter how thoroughly the party's screenwriters and directors may have trained her beforehand, the girl managed to remain what she is: a child. A child who has every reason to cry when she's being used by adults for their own little games. ... Erdoğan wanted to put on a display of chauvinistic self-confidence mixed with readiness for war, but the result was the very opposite of what he expected. The same thing goes for Operation Olive Branch in Afrin, where the Kurdish resistance is ridiculing his dreams of a trouble-free advance.”

Politis (CY) /

Who still dares say no to war?

There's no hope for peace in a place where children dressed in army uniforms are paraded on stage, Turkish Cypriot columnist Şener Levent writes in Politis:

“A child, a little girl, wearing an army uniform. The uniform of the Maroon Berets no less [a special operations unit of the Turkish Armed Forces]. ... If you like, frame this picture and hang it on the wall. A unique souvenir for the future! ... Erdoğan said what he had to say: 'She has the Turkish flag in her pocket. If she becomes a martyr, God willing, this flag will be draped over her.' These are the children of a generation that is afraid to say no to war. They are growing up with the Maroon Berets. I've been wrong to call for peace all these years. There's no happiness in peace - but there is profit in war.”