Erik-Jan Zürcher, a professor of Turkish studies, Leiden University of Netherlands, published an article about Turkey expressing his dissatisfaction over the country’s regime. As “Armenpress” reports, in the article entitled “Enough is enough – the medal will be returned” he states he gives back the gold medal received from the former President Abdullah Gül over a decade ago.


Eric-Jan Zurcher


Professor says the reason he was deemed worthy of the medal was that in the preceding years he had actively tried to
inform the Dutch politicians, and the public in general, about Turkey and to combat prejudices. The scientist says in the years 2002-2004 the attempts of Turkey to become a member of the European Union, which even then were forty years old, had picked up speed. He says his small contribution in those years was to argue that Turkey could indeed be a part of the EU.


“These arguments are still valid today. What I got completely wrong was my expectation – and prediction – that the
accession process would strengthen the democratic forces in Turkey. I ignored warnings from secularist Turkish friends that Erdoğan was only using the EU and the accession process to destroy his internal enemies and gradually to increase the role of Islam in society, seeing them as short-sighted fear mongering. I was wrong, however, and they were right”, the professor writes. “Look where we are now after 14 years and more than ten election victories for Tayyip Erdoğan and his party: -Because he thought it would win him the election, Erdoğan consciously wrecked the peace process with Kurds and reignited the internal war against the PKK. – Because he wanted new elections when those of June 2015 did not yield the result he looked for, he sabotaged the formation of a coalition government, which could have counteracted polarisation. -Academics who distanced themselves from the renewed war against the PKK and demanded a resumption of the peace process, are being persecuted and sometimes have been fired by their universities. – The media have been emasculated . -Social media are tightly controlled and often shut down. – Journalists and editors who report on secret arms deliveries of the Turkish secret service to Syrian Jihadists are convicted to five years in prison for divulging state secrets. – The constitutional court of the republic is threatened by the president, who openly states he does not respect it. – Thousands of Turkish citizens are being prosecuted for “defamation of the president.” In the mean time the party uses its power monopoly to make Islamic norms and values ever more dominant in the public space – in most places finding a prayer room is now a lot easier than a seller of alcoholic beverages”, the professor highlights.


“All of this has convinced me that the Turkey of Tayyip Erdoğan cannot and should not become a member of the European Union – ever. A country where politics, the legal system, the media, universities and individuals (even if they live in Europe) have become playthings for a de-facto dictator and his clique of sycophants; where the fundamental freedoms and the rule of law have ceased to function, cannot be a European country.


That is why the medal will now be carefully packed and sent back to the embassy. I have hesitated for a long time, not because I had illusions left about Erdoğan and his ilk, but because such a demonstrative act might damage others besides myself, notably the dozens of MA and Ph.D. students that I have supervised over the years, many of whom have returned to Turkey. My signature is on their diplomas. I feel I have no choice, however. I have to do this precisely because, as a professor of Turkish studies, I am seen as an authority on Turkey. I have to do it as a sign of protest against the dictatorial misrule of Erdoğan in Turkey but also in recognition of the fact that I was wrong twelve years ago: Turkey has not come closer to Europe. So far away that membership is no longer a realistic option. Our political leaders should say so loud and clear: enough is enough”, the professor concluded.






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