Roses for Merkel
On Monday, during her visit to Turkey, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was reportedly welcomed with roses raining down from a hot-air balloon. And it is true that Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP government in Ankara has every reason to shower its visitor from Berlin with thanks. It believes that Merkel will open the door to EU accession. No matter if thousands of victims of political persecution are behind bars, no matter if the policy of obstructing the normalisation of relations with the Republic of Cyprus remains in place and Turkey is continuing down the path to becoming an oppressive state – the German government apparently intends to open a new chapter with Ankara. And yet Merkel was always thought to be opposed to Turkish accession to the EU. Why the about-turn? The pressure from German businesses to take action has evidently become too strong to withstand. Given that all of the southern European markets are collapsing and that even France is unlikely to get back on its feet in the foreseeable future, a replacement is needed. China, Russia and India alone are not enough to offset the problems in Europe. In this context, Turkey is more than welcome.
Never mind the country’s huge current account deficit and the enormous risks of a debt-fuelled economic boom – the only thing that counts in the eyes of German industry is the prospect of selling to a market of over 70 million people. And the governing AKP is privatising everything that is not nailed down. Just a few days ago, Raiffeisen International was put in charge of privatising Turkish ports. That is what counts. And so Erdogan now also has reason to hope that Merkel will come on board and support the proposed new amendment of the constitution. Given that the German government gave an effusive welcome to the last constitutional amendment in 2010, with which the AKP brought the justice system under its control and launched legal proceedings against thousands of government critics – such as the composer Fazil Say and the author Pinar Selek – and Kurdish politicians, of course the German government will now endorse the establishment of an authoritarian presidential system, aimed at securing power for the AKP for decades at the price of a few symbolic crumbs for the Kurds.
Merkel and Erdogan are now the best of friends, an alliance sealed at the beginning of the month with direct German support in the form of Bundeswehr troops and missiles for Turkey, a NATO front-line state, as well as with the joint "fight against terrorism", which involves the extradition of more PKK members to Turkey. This new alliance is directed against the people of both countries. They are the losers in this fateful pact. They are left only with more poverty, more exploitation and more oppression. It is time for us to come together and step up our resistance.
Sevim Dagdelen, a Member of the Bundestag for the Left Party, is a member of the Bundestag’s Committee on Foreign Affairs and spokeswoman on international relations for her parliamentary group