''The events of 2016 injected sobriety in Turkish society so that the past can't intoxicate them''

Turkey a year later: sobriety instead of intoxication. The column of Radik Amirov, a Moscow journalist, a year after the military coup attempt

''The events of 2016 injected sobriety in Turkish society so that the past can't intoxicate them'' Photo: tccb.gov.tr

A year after the coup attempt in Turkey, the columnist of Realnoe Vremya Radik Amirov clearly saw that in the society today there prevail slightly different values than before 15 July 2016. The well-known Moscow journalist in the newspaper column written for our newspaper shares his impressions about the failed coup, the statements of Erdoğan and expectations of the Turks.

''People are accustomed to a change of the military, to a government change''

Earlier in the country, there was a clearly noticeable heady smell of democracy, excessive pride for secularism with Islamic message: almost a Muslim country, but with always highlighted proclaimed secularism — from officialdom to conversations with new acquaintances. That is why on the streets one could see hijab and not only, young people drinking beer of all brands in a cafe and a nearby Halal establishment, from where Orthodox people jealously looked at this sinful world.

There is no such feeling today. The Turks, after the peak of last summer's events, started to think that their country can be vulnerable not only from abroad but also due to internal danger of not preserving traditions. They, in the opinion of the Turkish people, should be preserved.

Last year's events, unwitting participant of which I became, opened my eyes to many things. In Konya, where the coup attempt ''covered'' us, on the central square a local resident for a long time was upset that ''we haven't had coups for a long time, so people lost the ability to accept it as tradition.''

''There is no such feeling today. The Turks, after the peak of last summer's events, started to think that their country can be vulnerable not only from abroad but also due to internal danger of not preserving traditions.'' Photo: tccb.gov.tr

A taxi driver Mustafa, who was driving me to Istanbul quickly and at an exorbitant price, agreed with him: ''Earlier it was the following way – a coup took place every five years. One General replaced another. Sometimes they fired, sometimes they did not. But we were sure that it should be that way. People got accustomed to a change of the military, to a government change. And when yesterday it was announced that the government of Erdoğan was threatened, most people took to the streets. It is understandable about elderly people, but the youth at first did not understand what was the point, and then they quickly realized — the democracy was under threat, it must be protected. And they must be able to protect. And they took to the streets.''

Saying these words, he apparently imagined himself on a tribune because when he began to think, he hit the front panel with his fist, the panel cracked and then Mustafa sharply turned out a wheel — otherwise we would have gone under the bridge in the charming and fast river.

''The coupists will be hanged, to be sure''

I remembered this speech during the speech of President Erdoğan last weekend in Ankara at the parliament building. The Turkish leader outlined new promises that were not in the past years. A couple of years ago, President of Turkey attacked more and more on Western countries: it's like we're in NATO, and at the same time, we are not in NATO, they (''Western partners'') consult with us, and do not consult at the same time, one time they accept us in the European Union, then they do not.

This time he was saying other words. Of course, Erdoğan mentioned the power of the people. About the political role of Turkey in the world. That the coup attempt was organized by inept people, that they suffered punishment from God because one cannot infringe the principles of Atatürk, the unity of the country, on the society in general.

Erdoğan with his usual charisma and expressiveness though again reported the news: if there is the decision of the Parliament, he will immediately sign the law on the introduction of the death penalty in Turkey.

One of my colleagues standing next to us almost fell in a faint from this news. It seemed that right at the moment at the rally they were going to bring the gallows and begin to hang all who fell under the not yet signed law. The coupists will be hanged, to be sure.

''Erdoğan with his usual charisma and expressiveness though again reported the news: if there is the decision of the Parliament, he will immediately sign the law on the introduction of the death penalty in Turkey.'' Photo: tccb.gov.tr

By contrast, protesters in Ankara at the parliament duly responded to Erdoğan's words: necessary means necessary. It doesn't matter what and how we said before. It turns out that we must be able to protect.

Such thing, again, did not happen in the Turkish society earlier – not just the precepts of Atatürk and secularism of the country but the detailed and step caution what to do and what not to do.

Erdoğan, whose speech tens of thousands of people listened to in the square, continued messages from an open tribune.

''It is not enough what we have achieved — international recognition and influence. It is important for us to protect our possibilities. We will defend if necessary!'' his speech and charisma were flying over the protesters in front of a large drone, between huge flags and bright walls of the parliament. Erdoğan was listened to with open mouths. In fact, it was not just a speech of the winner, but the guide for the society, how to live then. ''You shouldn't think once we gained our values, they will remain inviolate by someone else's hand!''

The Turkish President noted that special attention should be concentrated inside the country and not just abroad. People immediately understood the Erdoğan's hint. So, there are still many people with whom their ways do not converge…

''The events of 2016 injected sobriety in Turkish society''

It should be remembered that at the crucial moment of the coup attempt, Erdoğan severely and negatively reacted to those Western partners, who in every way were trying to screw over in the form of information fakes like ''Germany/France/Italy grant asylum to the former leader of Turkey'' and world media and TV channels broadcasting these statements. There was the impression that the days of Erdoğan's presidency were numbered. And that he already chose a country of future residence. There was just no other information for a couple of hours.

In those episodes in Turkey there was a turning point in the society — people just didn't know whether their president flew away to the West or he did not, he stayed at home. If he did, then they're orphans, they thought. If not, then they needed to do something. ''Do what?'' echoed the others.

''By the way, at the very this moment, Erdoğan went on the air and taught the Turks what to do — to take to the streets, squares and parks to protect the integrity and democracy in the country.'' Photo: sonhaber.tv

''How do you think — has he left us? Flew away?'' asked a girl her father near our hotel.

''If he leaves, you'll have to get used to a new life. But I'm sure, he will not leave.''

By the way, at the very this moment, Erdoğan went on the air and taught the Turks what to do — to take to the streets, squares and parks to protect the integrity and democracy in the country.

Being in Turkey, we held several meetings with senior officials from the government, the leading Justice and Development Party and other officials. They all talked about last year's victory over the coupists — and that's it. Among the mentioned enemies, there was almost no word about the unreliable Western countries (if only in passing), the Kurdish militants (except in passing), internal contradictions (if only in passing). No further topics were raised. A colleague who asked about ISIS (organization banned in Russia) was immediately criticised: ''This meeting does not imply the format of such question formulation.'' Then the awkward questions of colleagues from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia were turned down.

But simple conversations at the reception of the hotel or an inexpensive cafe with workers at these places gave me the following conclusion. Turkey has ceased to be intoxicated from one mention of Atatürk and Erdoğan, the bright future of the country. The events of 2016 injected sobriety in Turkish society so that they cannot get intoxicated from the wonderful historical past anymore.

In other words, it's like the society did not know that they need to able to protect these values of general equality, to defend, not to allow anyone to encroach on the most sacred — democracy in the Turkish version. And then they were given the guide to action — to be vigilant, the enemy is rather close than outside the country.

By Radik Amirov