Is the ECE better than the civilian population

Ece Temelkuran: "The worst time to give up Turkey"

Vienna - "A psychiatrist once diagnosed Turkey that motivation only arises in this country under threat." This is what the Turkish journalist and writer Ece Temelkuran writes in her book Euphoria and melancholy - Turkey in search of itself (Hoffmann and Campe, 2015). The Erdogan critic - Temelkuran lost her job at the daily newspaper in 2011 Habertürk - could not have known that this sentence has been confirmed again in an unexpected way since the defeat of the attempted coup on July 15th. Temelkuran's essayistic book deals in a clever and committed way with the contradictions and political upheavals that modern Turkey has gone through since the founding of the republic. In the interview, she comments on current events.

DEFAULT: Mass arrests on the one hand, mass rallies with Erdogan and the opposition on the other: What is the very contradictory picture of Turkey for you right now?

Temelkuran: It is difficult even for us to keep up - even though we are used to eventful times. First of all, there is not just one Turkey, but many of them in one country. On the one hand, the masses celebrate the victory over the coup attempt - which was indeed heroic - on the other hand there are hundreds of thousands who are connected to the Gülen movement and have now been suspended from their jobs or even ended up in prison. And then there are those who have criticized the Gülen movement before and who now only have the option of taking the side of political authority. In the West, one overlooks the fact that the events were traumatic for the Turkish population.

DEFAULT: Erdogan has inter alia. in "Le Monde" complained about being left alone by the EU. Does the critical civilian population share this assessment with him?

Temelkuran: Yes. There are of course several reasons for this. One of them is the lack of knowledge about the Gülen movement. The international media are aware that freedom of expression is not going well in Turkey and that authoritarianism is growing. But they do not realize to the same extent that the Gülen movement has been one of the main problems in Turkey since the 1970s. The critical civilian population knows that the current period endangers democracy, but they are also aware that if the coup had succeeded, it would have meant the end of Turkey.

DEFAULT: In your book, which is critical of Erdogan, the Gülen movement takes up little space. What went wrong between the two allies anyway?

Temelkuran: I mention it several times, above all I show how far back it goes in Turkish history. I show how she created the political climate in Turkey and even drew left and liberals to her side. If you didn't support the movement, you could be excommunicated from the intellectual circle. The two journalists Ahmet Sik and Nedem Sener were imprisoned for their work on the Gülen movement - I supported the freedom campaign at the time. There are so many undisclosed sins, intellectual sins that first spawned the time we are going through now.

DEFAULT: Erdogan's cleansing policy still appears disproportionate - it affects people who are simply opposition.

Temelkuran: If we are talking about proportionality, the dimensions of the coup attempt and the size of the Gülen movement must be clear to you. Imagine an invisible network of an extremely strong community that operates not just in Turkey but everywhere. I realize this sounds like science fiction, but that's a fact. I am sure that the magnitude of this movement will be seen when the time comes.

DEFAULT: That sounds ominous indeed. But isn't the AKP network similarly internationally oriented, a kind of mirror image of it?

Temelkuran: It is important to remember that both the AKP and the Gülen movement could not rely solely on their own power. This has been an international issue from the start. Remember that the Turkish model has always been highlighted by the international community. It was practically impossible to criticize the model in international intellectual circles. The West should remember its own mistakes in resurging conservatism in the region. The AKP and the Gülen movement were seen as a magical cure against radical Islam: market-friendly Islam. I wish that secular forces would be taken more seriously not only in Turkey but in the entire region.

DEFAULT: In your book you describe Turkey as a bridge that is constantly realigning itself. Will Erdogan now orient himself more towards Putin?

Temelkuran: The bridge is in motion, the ground is shaking. Every generation is confronted with "interesting times" anew. The entire region is being restructured, and Turkey will have a share in this. A lot of people from the west are now asking me how it feels in Turkey. My answer is always the same: exhausted. Since the 1950s it has been said: "Turkey will be a little America". Who knows, maybe we will soon be told that we will become a little Russia.

DEFAULT: Austria has called for the EU admission talks with Turkey to be broken off. How do you react to such announcements?

Temelkuran: As a secular, independent author, I of course believe that Turkey has to move towards the EU. There are concerns that the lines between Turkey and the West are weakening. That affects me. As far as I can see, Europe's reaction is mainly based on the government using the coup attempt as a witch hunt - if it wasn't a staged maneuver at all. You make a huge mistake there. The EU is going through its own crisis right now, but it is the worst time to give up on Turkey. I'm not just saying this for Turkey's sake, but for the whole region.

DEFAULT: Will the refugee deal with the EU fail?

Temelkuran: I am not a suitable person for realpolitik. However, the current scheme will not solve the humanitarian question. Be it from economic hardship or due to disintegration - the EU has lost its power to set standards for the rest of the world. Putin on the one hand and Trump on the other could cause great turbulence on this planet. Pandora's box has been opened in Syria. (Dominik Kamalzadeh, August 14, 2016)

Ece Temelkuran (43) is a Turkish lawyer, journalist and writer. Her novel "What use is the revolution to me if I can't dance" has been published by Atlantik-Verlag.