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“A Disturbing Ally”
In May, when Turkey vetoed Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership, in particular demanding the extradition of some of its citizens, exiled journalist Levent Kenez was not surprised to see his name circulating in the Turkish media. His country of origin had already asked Sweden, where he had taken refuge, for his extradition – a request rejected by the Swedish Supreme Court.
The new position of Turkey, which agreed on Tuesday to support the Swedish and Finnish candidacies in exchange for certain commitments, does not unduly worry it. Although the Turkish Minister of Justice has reiterated his request for the extradition of 33 people, based on the promise of “full cooperation” by Finland and Sweden in the fight against terrorism.
“Obviously no country is going to say: I protect terrorism,” reacted Mr. Kenez on the phone. But the real question is who is considered a terrorist. »
He himself is accused of links to the Fetö movement, founded by preacher Fethullah Gülen and considered a terrorist by the Turkish government since the failed 2016 coup. As is his colleague Abdullah Bozkurt, with whom he works in Sweden for an online media critical of the Turkish government.
“In Turkey, a journalist critical of the regime is a terrorist, while in Sweden we recognize professional journalists”, denounces the latter, who is also president of the Stockholm Center for Freedom.
Finland and Sweden have pledged to follow the European Convention on Extradition, which may cause disappointment among the Turkish government.
Whether in the definition of terrorism, human rights violations or democracy, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Turkey, with its authoritarian regime, appears as a partner with uncomfortable positions for its democratic allies. The first veto on the accession of two European democracies to NATO is just the most recent element.
The Turkish government, for its part, blames its allies for not supporting it – even accusing the United States of being behind the 2016 coup attempt. its presence in Africa.
“To understand Turkey’s foreign relations, I think there are several layers to think about,” said Çiğdem Üstün, an associate professor at Nişantaşı University in Istanbul. Yes, there is its role in NATO, of which it has been a member since 1952. But also its differences with the European Union, which it wants to integrate and which makes it wither. And the sanctions imposed by several allies – including Canada – for their failure to comply with the rules.
Turkish military interventions in northern Syria against the Kurdish group YPG earned Turkey sanctions in 2019.
To support its NATO candidacy, Turkey also demanded that Sweden lift one of these measures, namely the arms export embargo – something it has obtained – and tighten its anti-terror laws.
If the West berates him for his actions, Turkey, she is angry with her partners for supporting Kurdish YPG militants, who fought the Islamic State armed group in Syria.
She believes her allies should consider the YPG a terrorist entity, as should the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the PKK, a movement classified as such in several countries, including Sweden and Canada.
Sweden and Finland have pledged “not to support” the YPG in Syria.
reactions in sweden
The lifting of the veto has raised concern for Kurds, an ethnic minority group in Turkey, in the regime’s sights – 17 of the 33 people targeted by the extradition request to Finland and Sweden are accused of being PKK members.
“I am worried about the Kurds in Sweden,” Kurdo Baksi, a Swedish human rights activist and journalist of Kurdish origin, told Agence France-Presse.
Turkey’s rhetoric, in which security fears were brought to the surface, is nothing new for Kurds in Sweden, emphasizes Barzoo Eliassi, an associate professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences at Linnaeus University in Sweden.
Himself of Kurdish descent from the Iranian region, Professor Eliassi has published studies on the people, including a book that earned him Turkey’s blacklist, he says.
Achieved before Turkey’s change in tone, he was not surprised by the Kurds’ place in the discussions. “I don’t think the Kurds are too surprised; they are often victims of realpolitik, it is a repetition of Kurdish history,” he said.
With Agence France-Presse
Estimated number of Kurds living in Sweden, according to the Bureau of Statistics
Source: International Mail
Between 25 and 35 million
Estimated number of Kurds in the world
Rampant inflation, angry citizens
“We are all affected by rising prices,” says Çiğdem Üstün, an associate professor of European studies at Nişantaşı University in Istanbul. “Particularly because of the rise in gas prices, because that affects everything else. »
After COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine, inflation and rising cost of living are affecting people all over the world. But in Turkey, the consumer price index jumped 73.5% in one year, one of the highest in the world.
Economists pointed the finger at the policies of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who opposed raising interest rates. The Turkish lira lost nearly half its value in the past year.
Result: Turks are tightening their belts denouncing the rise in prices. And their anger makes the president fear he will lose his seat in next year’s elections.
appease the voters
Erdoğan’s positions on the international stage are touching voters’ hearts, analysts believe, as he seeks to galvanize the population against a scapegoat – whether Kurds or Syrian refugees, who number 3.7 million in Turkey – and project an image of strength in the face of westerners.
“The timing is important,” said Murat Önsoy, an associate professor at Hacettepe University in Ankara, citing rumors of an upcoming Turkish military operation against the Kurds in northern Syria.
From a domestic policy point of view, there aren’t as many tools to improve things, so [le président] play the nationalist card. Erdoğan becomes a hero fighting terrorism.
Murat Önsoy, Associate Professor at Hacettepe University, Ankara
Especially since the economic situation could worsen with the war in Ukraine. So far, Turkey appears to have tried to spare the goats and cabbage in this conflict, condemning the Russian invasion without imposing Western sanctions while supporting Ukraine with its military drones.
At the moment, its economic situation does not allow it to do without Russia. “The Turkish economy is very dependent on Russian energy,” illustrates Oya Duran-Özkanca, professor of political science and international studies at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, who also highlights the importance of Russian tourism.
While she is delighted by the “strong signal of a united NATO group” sent to Russia by the lifting of Turkey’s veto on the accession of Finland and Sweden, she does not believe it jeopardizes Turkish relations with the government of Vladimir Putin. “The relationship between Russia and Turkey is very transactional,” she notes. They don’t always get along, but they work together when it serves their mutual interests. »
As international mail
Turkey is not a Turkey
from 1er In June, Turkey became Türkiye at the United Nations, a name used for nearly 100 years by its inhabitants.
A way to distance yourself from the English denomination Peru, which also means “turkey”. But also, for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (who launched the procedure last year, to make it a unique “brand”), to show his power on the international stage, according to University of Washington professor Mustafa Aksakal, quoted by New York Times.
We found this new name in English and French. Other international bodies, such as the World Bank and NATO, followed suit. Turkish Airlines will now be Türk Havayollari.
If the adoption of Türkiye becomes widespread, it could spell the end of the “Made in Turkey” mistranslations in the near future…
Proportion of Turks who stopped consuming meat due to price rises
Source: MetroPOLL Institute