'Referendum, Erdogan pushed crisis with EU',Turkish analyst

'Turkish emigres damaged. Rhetoric won't work'

21 March, 14:26

    (by Cristoforo Spinella) ISTANBUL - ''The diplomatic crisis with EU countries is completely artificial. Erdogan wanted it to distract voters from a reform that is not as convincing as he would like, trying to bring to Europe the same polarization he has created in Turkey'', Koray Caliskan, a political science professor at the prestigious Bosphorus University in Istanbul, told ANSA. Discussing the strategy of the ''belligerent rhetoric'' of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and its possible impact on a referendum on the presidential system scheduled on April 16.

    ''I think the clash with Germany and the Netherlands did not produce the hoped-for effect, people aren't sure they understand what is going on and are losing interest. The rhetoric on an attack on Islam in Europe is not credible: the mayor of Rotterdam is Muslim, the mayor of London is Muslim, it is unreasonable to thing that anti-Islamic and anti-Turkish feelings are so strong'', said Caliskan. However, ''with the rejected rallies Erdogan's Akp has experienced what his opponents live through every day in Turkey''.

    Erdogan's campaign in Europe, according to the analyst, could even have a boomerang effect: ''It has certainly created very difficult conditions for Turks in Europe. You just need to imagine an emigre arriving today and starting to look for work.

    How will he be welcomed? This belligerent and unnecessary rhetoric endangers all Turks abroad''.

    Caliskan said he believes the president's difficulties, paradoxically, stem from the ''authoritarian regime he has created'': ''For the first time he is not sure about what people really think, because nobody talks anymore because of their fear. The Akp is unable to carry out surveys locally and thus to prepare an adequate electoral strategy''.

    Regardless of how things will end, the referendum will ''change the political history of Turkey''. But after the vote on April 16, according to Caliskan, Erdogan is already planning a further authoritarian move: ''He is looking for a way out of the impasse he has created. Turkey is a European country that he is increasingly Islamicizing. Enrollment in religious schools has grown by 1,400%. The economy is plodding on and security is in crisis, with a huge number of attacks over the past few years. Europe too has to understand that with such a neighbor it cannot be safe''. (ANSAmed).

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