ASIA/TURKEY - Erdogan remains in power. Bishop Bizzeti: the inadequacy of certain Western analyzes emerges

Monday, 29 May 2023

Ankara (Agenzia Fides) - The final results of the elections in Turkey, with the victory of the incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, also highlight "the inadequacy of Western media tools in presenting the Turkish situation". This was underlined by Bishop Paolo Bizzeti sj, Vicar Apostolic of Anatolia, who pointed out that "the Catholic Church has never had any problems Erdogan's government".
President Erdogan received 52.16% of the votes in the presidential runoff held yesterday, Sunday, May 28. The opposition candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu got 47.84%. Meanwhile, in recent months, polls and analyzes by Western media have predicted the possible end of Erdogan's long term at the helm of Turkey. "The lack of knowledge of the real country", Bishop Bizzeti told Fides, "leads to a certain superficiality in the way one understands Turkey, and then one is surprised". "Erdogan's victory was predictable," he insists, "and the reversal in the balance of power that some predicted has not happened. This is because we are fixated on certain aspects that we consider so important, while there are others that are clearly more important to the Turkish people and which we underestimate". Among the factors to be considered, the Vicar Apostolic of Anatolia highlights "the importance that Turkey has acquired on the international scene with Erdogan's government". "This, according to the bishop, is important for the Turks and the United States, recognized as a geopolitical actor by Putin and the Gulf monarchies for different, sometimes even contradictory, reasons, so this is a leader who is firmly in command and can count on international recognition", he explains. "Those who describe him as an isolated dictator running on his behalf are misreading reality. Erdogan is an internationally elected and supported man. And this should be taken into account, because Turkish public opinion takes it into account".
Erdogan prevailed against his rival by around 2 million votes. The victory guarantees him a stay at the helm of the country for another 5 years. In recent weeks, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has embarked on a nationalist and anti-immigrant campaign in his election campaign, promising the expulsion and forced repatriation of the millions of Syrian refugees who have found refuge in Turkey. "The opposition candidate," Bishop Bizzeti said, "wanted to compete with Erdogan on Erdogan's territory, and that wasn't a very credible decision." When the arguments on both sides are more or less the same, people choose to leave in power the man they already know", he points out.
Bishop Bizzeti explains the feelings that the election result could evoke in the Christian communities in Turkey: "To be honest, the Catholic Church has never had any problems with Erdogan's government. There are questions that have always been unresolved, such as the legal personality of the Catholic Church Church. But these are problems arising from the Treaty of Lausanne, and certainly not from the government of the AKP, Erdogan's party." "Besides," adds the bishop, "there is a certain Kemalist secularism which relegates religion to the private sphere, is not very desirable for us. On this point, too, we must break away from certain trivializations. In Europe, the total secularism of the state is considered a value, but there are controversial situations and questionable aspects. A government that takes into account the religious sentiments of the people is in any case desirable for us. We cannot accept a religion simply relegated to consciences". (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 29/5/2023)