Turkish revolution. An interview with Andrea Virga

Natella Speranskaya:  The national revolution has started in Turkey. What are the forces behind it? Who is fighting who?


Andrea Virga:  As it often happens, riots in Turkey have grown from a small environmental protest in Istanbul to a national revolt featuring hundreds of thousands of people. Violent reactions on the part of the authorities have only given birth a spontaneous coalition of anti-governative forces, marching in the streets. Motivations behind the revolt lie mainly in the growing dissatisfaction with Erdogan’s islamization of Turkish society, as well as its foreign policy of supporting Islamist rebels in Syria. Opposition parties, from the Kemalist CHP, to the Nationalist and Communist formations, have joined the protests, without apparent infighting. Banks and foreign corporations stores have been vandalized, suggesting the presence of anti-capitalist and anti-globalist forces. On the opposite, civilian and military police forces have been openly helped by AKP militants and voters, with the effect of reinforcing rioters in their anti-governative stance. However, even in the government party, doubts have been raised about the harsh conduct of the security forces and Erdogan’s response to the crisis.


Natella Speranskaya:  How is the Turkish revolution related to the geopolitical opposition of Eurasianism (Russia, Iran, Syria) and atlantism (NATO, USA, EU)?


Andrea Virga:  If we look at this conflict from a wider, geopolitical prospective, it must be noted that Turkish Armed Forces, historically the main supporter of an Atlantist position, has been weakened by Erdogan’s policies. On the other hand, his so-called “Neo-Ottoman” foreign doctrine, consisting in promoting Turkey as the leading Muslim nation in the Middle East, is clearly seen with hostility by the opposition forces. Among them, while there are political forces which could take an Eurasiatist stance, such as the Pan-Turanist secular Nationalists or the Anti-Imperialist Communists, liberal and democratic positions are probably most represented. In fact, European and American medias and politicians have started to show some support to Turkish protestors, in the name of human rights and democracy. They would definitely try to maintain the upper hand among the opposition.


Natella Speranskaya: Your prognosis of the development of events in Turkey and how it will effect the situation in Syria?


Andrea Virga:   At least at the moment, Erdogan does not seem sure about his position. He could choose to stand off, leaving his office to another AKP member, or he could try to resist by applying more strength, with the result of worsening the situation, and a risk a civil conflict, without being certain about the Armed Forces’ loyalty. His demise could be an occasion for Atlantist forces to bring upon a secular social-democratic Turkey, able to disengage from a rebel defeat in Syria and aiming at integration in Europe, while remaining a valuable NATO member in the Middle-East, more trustworthy than before. Anyway, there are opportunities for real opposition forces, too. Even a relatively moderate neo-kemalist Turkey could be more easily persuaded to rely on Russia and Iran for cooperation in the region.


Andrea Virga (Италия, Пизанский Университет), представитель организации «Millenium», член редакционного совета журнала «NOMOS»