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The 'Turkish model' for democracy -- not dictatorship

ElectionsTurkeyDemocracyEuropean UnionRecep Tayyip Erdogan

Regarding your recent article on the Egyptian presidential elections, Turkey has no claims or aspirations to be a ''model'' for the Middle East ("Slouching toward democracy," June 27). We are ready to share our experience and provide all possible support if asked, and we wish the Egyptian people the best.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has clearly outlined this when he said Turkey was ready to do its fair share to promote democratization in the Middle East and to facilitate this momentous transformation.

If Turkey is seen as an example of how Muslim nations can advance through democracy, economic reforms, popular dynamism and stable democratic government, so be it. If this is what is meant by a "Turkish model" we have no objection.

However, some will try to muddle the issue with another ''Turkish Model'," namely, the bizarre concoction of a shadowy, military government that controls the country's elected civilian leaders from behind the scenes. This is an anti-democratic system in which elected governments are sidelined or bypassed through various pretexts.

Unfortunately, it is true that a sham called the "Custodian Democracy" did rule Turkey for decades. This tragedy ended in our country with the election victory of the Justice and Development Party (AK) in 2002.

Since then, Turkey has been trying to heal the wounds of this tragic period with more democracy. It is preposterous that a past Turkey had buried would be proposed as a future for brotherly Egypt.

A civilian puppet government under military custodianship is not the Turkish model. We utterly and categorically reject this. Such a political sham, involving corruption, assassinations, death squads, political polarization, looted banks, 110 percent inflation and a closed-economy based on pillage may once have been imposed on Turkey. But it is now dead and buried.

If there is a ''model'' for this sham, it is the Baathist regime in Damascus, not the Turkish government. The Baathist model won't last long in Syria, and it certainly cannot be imposed on Cairo.

In the last 10 years, Turkey has been healing through the democratic mandate bestowed upon our AK Party. It is no coincidence that Turkey is more democratic, more prosperous and more stable. Our pro-EU path is irreversible, and we ultimately aim to upgrade our nation and elevate our political, economic and democratic standards to those of the European Union.

We cannot and will not condone any political system that falls short of addressing the full democratic aspirations of its people. This includes the brotherly Egyptian people and certainly the oppressed and proud Syrian people.

Egemen Bagis

The writer is minister of European Union affairs and chief negotiator for the Republic of Turkey.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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ElectionsTurkeyDemocracyEuropean UnionRecep Tayyip Erdogan
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