Wall Street Journal – 26 November 2012
Ottoman palace intrigues, tales of harem lust and a dash of foreign conquests make for a compelling cocktail, as producers of the television series “Magnificent Century” profitably realized. Yet despite dominating ratings in Turkey and being broadcast in numerous countries, the serving isn’t quite to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s taste.
The show chronicles the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent, whose 46-year rule ended 1566 and is seen as the pinnacle of the Ottoman Empire. Attracting a third of the prime-time audience every night it’s on air, and broadcasting to 150 million people in 22 countries from the Czech Republic to Japan, the series is a sure hit for Tims Productions, the Istanbul-based firm behind some of the most successful series and movies in the past decade.
But the decadent representation of Suleiman’s life, hinting that the sultan known as “the Lawgiver” was given to alcohol and promiscuity, also drew widespread criticism from conservatives.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Erdogan joined the chorus.
Foreign Policy – 21 November 2012
Turkey says it wants to be a model for democracy in the Middle East. But so far its actions lag behind its achievements.
The Arab Spring has prompted a lot of talk about Turkey’s possible role as a model. Turkey’s recent economic success and the relative liberality of its institutions have made it a point of reference to many in the Middle East.
Let’s leave aside for the moment the issue of whether the Arabs really need a role model, since they’re perfectly capable of establishing their own system without copying either Turkey or the West. Being a model is not only about having a well-functioning democratic system but also having the capacity to be able to foster it domestically and internationally and to be able to put rhetoric and aims into action. Does Turkey really offer a useful template for democratic values and institution building?
The Wall Street Journal -20 November 2012
Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Israel of being a “terrorist state” on Monday and criticized world powers for supporting the weeklong bombardment of Gaza that has killed more some 115 people, signaling that the three-year-old rift between the countries is deepening.
Speaking in Istanbul shortly after returning from Cairo, where he held emergency talks on Gaza with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, Mr. Erdogan railed against what he called Western powers’ failure to take concerted action to stop bloodshed in Syria. But harsher words were aimed at one-time ally Israel.
Financial Times – 14 November 2012
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s prime minister, is justifiably proud of the economic and political progress his country has made during his decade in power. But Abdullah Gul, the president, is right to remind Turks that the driving force of that transformation has been the country’s aspiration to join the EU.
President Gul’s comments, made in this paper on Wednesday, should revive a debate that is crucial to Turkey’s future. Barely one in five Turks believe they will ever become EU citizens. Amid pressure from France, Germany and Cyprus, talks have been frozen for two years. It can hardly be a coincidence that Mr Erdogan’s government has since backtracked on progress achieved early in the accession process.
Curbs on freedom of expression and of the press have multiplied. Dozens of journalists have been jailed for months without trial. Mr Erdogan, with one eye on the presidential elections in 2014, is increasingly intolerant of criticism. He is positioning himself for the vote by appealing to a conservative, nationalist electorate. He has even talked of reviving the death penalty, which was scrapped as part of the accession process.
UPI – 13 November 2012
Turkey has a high-profile pilot project to ward off domestic assault. Safety advocates say it won’t work as long as victims continue to be routinely disbelieved and mistreated.
When the government in Ankara replaced the Ministry of Women and Family Affairs with the Ministry of Family and Social Policies a year ago, women’s rights activists saw the clock turning backward.
This, after all, was the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who in 2010 told a gathering of Turkish women’s organizations in Istanbul’s Dolmabahce Palace that he doesn’t believe in equality between the sexes.
NPR – 10 November 2012
Nearly two years ago, Soner Yalcin and more than a dozen of his employees at the online news outlet OdaTV joined the growing list of incarcerated Turkish journalists. Yalcin, the owner of OdaTV, is one of the sharpest critics of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government.
As their trial proceedings dragged on, challenges to the state’s case grew, and most of the outlet’s journalists were released, pending the trial’s conclusion. But Yalcin and two others remain behind bars, 22 months and counting.
Turkey is disputing a new report that names it as the world’s leading jailer of journalists, with scores behind bars — ahead of Iran, China and other authoritarian states.
The Guardian – 8 November 2012
More than 700 of Turkey’s citizens are risking death over their civil rights, yet their prime minister shows little concern.
Hürriyet Daily News -5 November 2012
PM Erdoğan puts the death penalty back on Turkey’s agenda, suggesting that a majority of the public wants to see it back in force. Erdoğan refers to the issue of capital punishment with regard to jailed PKK leader Öcalan.