Erdoğan deceived Turkey by portraying himself as advocate of democracy
Veteran columnist Cüneyt Ülsever, who was fired from the Hürriyet daily in 2011 following then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's pressure on the newspaper's administration due to Ülsever's critical columns about Erdoğan's government, has warned that worse days may come under Erdoğan's autocratic leadership.
Ülsever has pointed out that the rule of law, freedoms and the principles of democracy have been violated in Turkey by the current type of governing. He also acknowledged that Erdoğan has deceived himself and the people alike by portraying himself as a defender of European values and fundamental freedoms. However, he has emphasized that Erdoğan and his close circle will finally be brought to account due to the Dec. 17 and 25 corruption scandals, which implicated the government's eminent figures.
The columnist believes that Erdoğan is paranoid and does not like anyone following his continual hateful reactions towards disasters and accidents in which many citizens died, in an effort to evade taking responsibility for the incidents. He also has said Erdoğan's constant references to the self-styled “parallel state,” referring to the faith-based Hizmet movement, is an attempt to escape responsibility and put the blame on them regarding the Dec. 17 and 24 corruption investigations.
According to Ülsever, the United States, United Kingdom and Germany are behind the illegal wiretapping of Erdoğan and his inner circle, revealing an alleged graft chain within the government. However, he has slammed Erdoğan for not asking these powers about the wiretappings while targeting a group at home.
Ülsever has defined Erdoğan as autocrat and warned that Turkey may face worse days in the upcoming periods under such a type of rule, based on violation of democratic principles.
Could you speak about the story of the plague presented to you by Fethullah Gülen?
Ülsever: Until the Feb. 28 process [when a coalition government led by a now-defunct conservative party was forced to step down by the military on Feb. 28, 1997], I did not know anyone from the Hizmet movement [a faith-based social movement inspired by Turkish-Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen]. When a junta nested in the military, intensified persecution over society, I penned lots of articles defending advocating for the Hizmet movement against the junta. I was tried seven times by many courts and the total amount of time in prison sentence terms that the prosecutors demanded for me was 49. In that period, we became closer with the Journalists and Writers Foundation [GYV]. I think I was among those people who suggested launching an initiation to organize a platform for intellectuals to discuss the country's problems. I asked whether the GYV wanted to remain a closed organization or whether it wanted to embrace all intellectuals. They acknowledged that I was right. In the aftermath this process, the Abant Platform was established among the discussions of the Feb. 28 process. Then, the meetings started. I also took part in several of these gatherings. The process led to a visit to Pennsylvania, where Gülen is staying. I was a guest of his for a night. When the AK Party [Justice and Development Party] was formed in 2002, like the Hizmet movement, I also supported the AK Party and its leader, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. But in early 2005 I wrote two columns making self-criticisms regarding my support for the AK Party government and Erdoğan and totally withdrew my support from the AK Party. Because Erdoğan, who said to my face that he was a liberal democrat and took the side of freedom, was openly lying. I realized that I could no longer trust him and his words.