Op/Ed – Does the celebration of the “Fall” signal the end of Kemalism?

Op/Ed – Does the celebration of the “Fall” signal the end of Kemalism?

Ankara, May 30, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Manolis Kostidis

What does Erdogan men by “the resurrection of the nation”?

Watching for yet another year the celebrations for the fall of Constantinople, it came to me that they do not only refer to the fact that happened 563 years ago, but more to the mutation that is taking place in Turkey at this time.

Experienced journalists reported that during the governance of the country by the AKP, each year the celebrations are becoming even more grandiose, extolling the Ottoman past and slowly eliminating Kemalism.

Indeed, in this year’s celebrations three-dimensional walls were erected, with Mohamed the Conqueror appearing at the walls of the City!

All these events were supported financially by the municipality of Istanbul, which has been under AKP control since 1994.

The truth is that there is great discomfort by many supporters of the old Turkish status-quo, who had renounced their Ottoman past after the founding of the Turkish Republic.

Until recently, the biggest celebrations in Turkey were made for the battle of the Çanakkale, in 1915, where Kemal Atatürk was among the officers who prevented the British fleet from crossing the Straits.

After 2002 these celebrations continue, but neither the AKP municipalities transport the people with buses – 600,000 were gathered yesterday in Istanbul – nor are there such excessive expenditure.

I listened very carefully the speech of Erdogan yesterday when he addressed the crowd at Yenikapı, where referring to the struggle for independence of Turkey he did not make even one mention to the name of the founder of the Turkish Republic Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

One should bear in mind that Constantinople was captured but in 1453 by the Ottomans, but was lost in 1918 when British, French, Italian and Greek forces landed on it.

Kemal Ataturk was the one who won it again in 1923 after agreements with the super-powers of the time.

The Turkish president made no reference to this issue, but rather made general references, continuously speaking of “the resurrection of the nation”!

The question posed by supporters of Kemalism is if Erdogan and the AKP believe that after the establishment of the Turkish Republic in 1923 “the nation died” and now starts the “resurrection”. That is the return to the Ottoman past.

Some points in Erdogan’s speech are very interesting:

“Some of them are still trying to reckon for the Fall. For 563 years they are trying!”

“God save Mohammed the Conqueror who took this city… God see to it that in this city are always heard the prayer of Hodja from the minarets…”

“The fall is an event where a 21-year old Sultan brought Byzantium to its knees. We do not bend our heads except to God. I greet all the afflicted people from Damascus to Tripoli. From Sarajevo to Turkmenistan”.

I believe that from the events of May 29, one can infer that Turkey is changing towards the standards desired by Erdogan.