NEWS

A ‘twilight zone’ for Turkey’s democracy

What impact do you believe that trials like yours have on Turkey’s prospects of joining the EU? A negative effect, obviously. But I don’t understand why this should be the case. Why can’t we move on from these little games? It really upsets me because I want my country to be part of the EU. This clique I mentioned before that is against Turkey’s EU entry is very small in size but so well-positioned that it is very, very powerful. I believe that we are entering a kind of twilight zone in our democracy with more and more trials and the AK Party losing its strength and influence. How do you believe that the current clash between secularism and Islam in Turkey will develop? Do you think Turkey’s EU bid is helping or aggravating this domestic conflict? I don’t know, even when we weren’t going toward the EU, we still had problems. This is such a troubled land. I just don’t know. What do you believe will change with the replacement of Turkish Armed Forces Commander Hilmi Ozkok with Mehmet Yasar Buyukanit in August? Buyukanit is considered more stern so everyone is feeling uneasy, including myself. Turkey is also under pressure from the EU to boost Kurdish rights. Is there a fear that EU accession may create more problems than it would solve (e.g. the fear that boosting Kurdish rights could threaten national integrity)? It’s not only fear of threatening national integrity. Their main fear is that they would lose votes if they do this; they think they would lose nationalistic votes to the far-right parties. So they make all these calculations. But they’re not a coalition government and they would have had far more power if they were. I consider them incompetent. What is your stance on the issue of Armenian genocide? It’s like an open wound for Turkey. Turks get very, very offended when it is mentioned. But it wouldn’t hurt us to look at our history in a clear-headed way. Has there been an increase in debate of controversial issues such as Kurdish rights and the Armenian genocide in the Turkish media? There has been. But the Turkish media is more narrow-minded and more censored now; it used to be more open-minded two years ago. Do you have any hopes for a change in this situation? I’m losing my hopes about Turkey. We always think that we’re getting more democratic, that we’re becoming freer, then all of a sudden there’s a backlash. What impact does this climate have on Turkish writers? We’re used to it. But I’m disappointed at the lack of public support. There could have been some mothers of boys coming out and speaking up for me because I’m speaking for them. But Turks are very depoliticized. This has been a problem since our last military coup in 1980. You are due to reappear in court on July 27 to answer to charges of «discouraging people from performing military service.» I won’t be appearing. I won’t give them the pleasure. Not for this case. I have other cases though, don’t worry (on charges of personal insult, interfering during a court case etc). All these charges were brought against me in the last year. They’ve been cracking us like peanuts.