Losing faith in Turkey

Turkey is a country for which I’ve long had much affection, and, until recently, hope. I’ve traveled from one end of the country to the other, which was always a pleasure. Politically, I’ve admired it as a Muslim democracy and a bridge between East and West.

A few months ago, before Israel’s raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla, I wrote about Turkey’s apparent drift away from the West, and especially Israel. I think there were valid reasons for concern at the time. On the other hand, Israel’s 2008-2009 war in Gaza was responsible for much of the chill in Turkey’s relationship with Israel, and Turkey’s anger was justified given the hundreds of Palestinian civilians who died in the conflict.

As for Turkey’s fraying ties with Europe, I blame much of this on Europe itself and its refusal to grant Turkey membership in the European Union. I personally feel the idea that there is some sort of unified European culture is absurd. What, exactly, do Bulgaria and Ireland have in common? Finland and Greece? But even if one were to judge Turkey’s ‘Europeanness’, its long ties to the region should have guaranteed its membership. Instead, some powerful member states, principally Germany, balked. Turkey got tired of begging and went to look for new friends. It’s hard to blame them.

But every once in a while, there are events that force even cynically realist political leaders to decide what they stand for.

Iran is planning to stone a woman to death, for adultery or some such act decreed a sex crime by the Islamist cretins who run that country. They’re going to bury Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, a mother of two, up to her neck in a hole and throw rocks at her face and head until she bleeds to death, or, if she’s lucky, her skull caves in and expedites her passing. Asked about this during a press conference with British Foreign Secretary William Hague, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu could manage only:

“We’re trying to work and consult on all these issues with our neighbour Iran. Of course we have to see the file.”

A government that can’t bring itself to condemn this sort of barbarism lacks moral clarity. That should matter as Canada considers its relationship with its NATO ally Turkey.

UPDATE: Iran now says it will not stone Mohammadi-Ashtiani to death, though she may still be killed by another method.

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