The UK media seems to apply differing approaches to 84 dead in Nice and 200 plus dead in Turkey. I mourn them all and send my condolences to their families and loved ones. That is so much human grief and sadness, so many ruined dreams and wrenched lives. 202 remain injured in Nice, and 1440 in Turkey. That is a lot of pain and suffering.
Why did they die? The murderer in Nice is said to be a loner. ISIL has claimed the dismal and violent credit for the deeds, though the security forces have no clear linkage of the dead lorry driver to the terrorist movement. The murderers in Turkey appear to be senior military commanders and the troops and pilots loyal to them who turned their fire on civilians and the buildings of their own state. It is almost beyond belief that trusted very senior state servants can in 2016 in a close ally and neighbour of the EU and NATO use the terrible power of a modern government against its own people.
It is possible that both these violent crime scenes arise in part from the struggles in Syria and the wider Middle East. The Turkish President and Parliament are hostile to the Kurds and working with some of the Islamist forces in Syria. The loner in France may have been recently radicalised by ISIL propaganda as they wish us to think. Turkey’s complex relationship with the struggling factions in Syria and Iraq is part of her present story. The armed forces who abused their weaponry to fire on their own Parliament and Presidential forces may well have acted to wrestle Turkey away to a more secular stance, though they certainly did not act on behalf of western democracy by doing so.
The position of Turley is said to be pivotal and central to the west’s own security. It is true Turkey is a large buffer state between the eastern EU countries and the Middle East. The EU’s approach of drawing Turkey into ever closer alliance has led to the recent EU/Turkey Association Agreement and to the acceptance of visa free access to the wider EU Schengen area for Turkish citizens. The EU is meant to stand for democratic principles, for settling political disagreements by arguments and votes, not by bombs. Where does this policy rest today?
The picture of the bombed Turkish Parliament building should be a warning to the west. By all means let us be in diplomatic contact with Turkey, trade with Turkey, be friends when we can. But let us have sufficient reserve in our relationship so we can protect ourselves from any lapse in democratic standards and any turning to violence as a way of proceeding politically. The EU has been too trusting, and has once again been overtaken by dangerous events. Just as with Ukraine, the EU lacks a convincing policy to deal with civil wars on its eastern doorstep. What will the EU do if the Turkish government reaction to these dreadful crimes is to erode liberty and democracy?