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Andrei Yahorau: In Turkey, the situation is approximately the same as in Belarus

20.07.2016  |  Politics   |  Aliaksei Jurych,  EuroBelarus
Andrei Yahorau: In Turkey, the situation is approximately the same as in Belarus

The world has faced the onset of authoritarianism on democracy on a global scale: democracies are losing to authoritarianism.

An unsuccessful attempt of a military coup on the night of July 16 ended with the detention of about 6000 military and government officials of Turkey. Among those detained in the course of "cleansing" are senior officers and judges.

Fethullah Gülen, whom Ankara is accusing of involvement in the coup, is the spiritual leader of the movement that has millions of supporters in the Islamic world and is considered to be the second most powerful man after Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey. He leads a solitary life in self-imposed exile in the United States.

Fethullah Gülen denies the accusations of the Turkish authorities of his involvement in the coup attempt, as stated in Gülen’s statement, Reuters reports.

"I strongly condemn the attempt of military coup in Turkey. As someone who has suffered from various military coups, I find charges of participating in such actions particularly offensive. I categorically reject such allegations, "- Gülen said.

Fethula Gülen didn’t rule out that the coup was a performance Erdogan organized to strengthen his own power.

What happened in Turkey on the night of July 16? EuroBelarus Information Service tried to understand the situation with the director of the Center for European Transformation Andrei Yahorau.

- What happened in Turkey? Does the reason for the attempt of the coup lie in purely domestic politics or is the external factor involved, too?

- An attempt of coup in Turkey happened exclusively due to inner political factors; there is no reason to say that the attempt to change the government is inspired from the outside.

In Turkey, there is a traditional confrontation between the secular army, focused on the support of secular institutes, and Erdogan and his attempts to establish the Islamist authoritarian regime. Erdogan is successfully implanting authoritarianism in the country, which is very similar to the Putin regime in Russia and Lukashenka's regime in Belarus. Army has once again attempted to return Turkey on the rails of a secular and possibly democratic development, though unsuccessfully.

- Why did the attempt to change the authorities fail?

- The attempt was unsuccessful. Erdogan came to power 13 years ago after the democratic elections, with great support of the population. However, immediately after coming to power, Erdogan started to abolish political pluralism and eliminate democratic institutions in the country; he established control over the media and universities, and started suppressing political leaders. And, of course, Erdogan began to cleanse the army: in 2011 he arrested some 200 senior army officers in order to prevent the attempt of a military coup. Erdogan has also started to liquidate educational institutions that is the basis of the army and delivers new cadres for it. The army has become significantly weaker and ceased to be perceived as a guarantor of the secular regime in Turkey, although it never was a democratic institution.

By weakening the army, Erdogan managed to prevent future coup attempts; at least, the successful ones.

- Why does the Turkish population support Erdogan's authoritarian regime?

- We, Belarusians, are quite familiar with this situation. Having come to power on a wave of populism, but in a democratic way, an authoritarian leader establishes a new type of information monopoly: eliminates independent media, eliminates political pluralism, deprives the opponents of the financial support and of the access to the broader public, dominates in the information space, and uses the resources of propaganda machine to maintain his or her image and popularity. Therefore, (s)he always has enough people that believe and support such leader rather than democratic forms of governance. In Turkey, the situation is approximately the same as in Belarus.

- I.e. Belarus has become a pioneer in establishing a new type of authoritarian regime not only in a post-Soviet area, but also far beyond its borders, hasn’t it?

- We could say that. But we cannot say that Turkey borrowed the Belarusian model of authoritarianism. Rather, Belarus has became one of the first to establish a new type of populist authoritarianism in the information age, and institutions of new authoritarianism match the spirit of the information era and new sociality, which is set in the times of the information society. The homogeneity of these regimes corresponds to the trend towards establishing a new global information society. Authoritarianisms are alike because today they just cannot be different.

We need new types of democratic regimes, too, because we are witnessing the onset of authoritarianism on democracy on a global scale: democracies are losing to authoritarianism.

- It was not the first attempt of a coup d’état in Turkey. Is the resistance to Islamist authoritarianism over?

- We have to understand that Erdogan has established quite strong control over the institutions that used to be crucial for the democratic regime in Turkey. One of the main foundations of a democratic regime was secular education, universities, which are now seriously controlled by the state; nationalization of the army will only increase. Of course, Turkey still has pockets of democratic resistance; they can occasionally rebel to initiate the change of the situation. However, the regime often comes to be stronger than the attempts of coup initiated by the society.

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