writes for Yeni Özgür Politika.he Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has been in power for 19 years in Turkey. For 19 years, they have practiced all kinds of persecution, oppression and unlawfulness. Things have got so badly out of control that people are no longer surprised at any scandalous behaviour on the part of this government,” Elif Sonzamancı
One of the most heated debates in Turkey nowadays is that of snap elections. If the current government loses in the upcoming elections, a major change is expected, as the main opposition is pledging to bring about change. In such a scenario, we will witness surprising debates around the kinds of changes that might take place in the system, the methods to be followed in the country’s foreign policy, the types of economic policies to be pursued, and how the problems which have become ingrained, especially the Kurdish question, might be solved.
Is it possible for there to be major system changes with a change of government? Such a development, which would be surprising for Turkey, does not apply to Germany. After all, this question is raised again and again in respect of the new government that has taken up office in Germany.
Everyone is aware that Merkel’s 16-year term in office came to an end following the 2021 federal election. The Free Democratic Party (FDP) has become part of governing coalition with the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and the Greens. The SPD’s Olaf Scholz takes over as the new chancellor.
Let us say our end word at the beginning: In a country like Germany, there will be no major changes as a result of the change of the government.
The new government recently commenced its term of office. Expectations are high for the new cabinet, which consists of a coalition of new components.
One of the questions that everyone has been wondering about, both before and since the formation of the coalition, is what changes will occur with the new government. Frequent presentations have been made on social and economic goals, foreign policy, and EU relations.
For us, the most intriguing is relations with Turkey, because the Merkel government did not test well in its relations with Turkey. Merkel did not even try to cover her support for Erdoğan’s war policies, she supported them directly. She was also the architect of the refugee agreement that strengthened Erdoğan’s hand. Erdoğan’s satisfaction with this agreement continues; at this point the EU has no plans for anything on the lines of the suspension of financial aid to Turkey.
Merkel, who looked the other way and turned a blind eye to increasing rights abuses in Turkey and made do with woolly wording in condemnation of them, has not, in this matter, handed on a good legacy to the new government.
The question with the most eagerly awaited answer is: What changes will we see in the country’s foreign policy, especially with regard to Turkey, with the passing of the Chancellorship to the SPD, and the Federal Foreign Office to the Greens?
The new government is expected to take a stricter stance against human rights abuses, as all their statements have been along these lines. But in order to meet these expectations it is important for the new government to adopt a stance which enables it to take decisions on sanctions.
The key question here is what stance the new government will adopt against Turkey’s policies of denial and annihilation against both Kurds and Alevis (Turkey’s largest religious minority).
Erdoğan, for example, heaps insults on Alevis in Germany. Why? Because Germany recognises Alevism as a faith. The significant detail that annoys Erdoğan is the possibility that these decisions might set a precedent for them, as his government has no plans to meet the demand of equal citizenship by the Alevis.
And the policy of denial, annihilation, and assimilation against the Kurds continues in full swing.
After the meeting of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (CoE), for example, Turkey is urged to comply with the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). Will Germany take responsibility for monitoring Turkey’s response to the CoE’s call? Will an embargo be imposed on the arms trade that we accept as support for Turkey’s war policy?
In this respect, the arms trade between Turkey and Germany is one of the subjects most frequently discussed. Issues can be further diversified. If the new government, coming after 16 years of the Merkel era, does not take effective steps in its relations with Turkey, especially with regard to rights abuses, the new era will simply be a continuation of the Merkel era.