Włodzimierz Rędzioch talks with Marta Ottaviani, an Italian journalist specialized in Turkish matters, an author of a book ‘Il Reis. How Erdogan changed Turkey’ about the situation in Turkey ‘kalifa’ of Recepa Tayyipa Erdogan on the day before his visit to Vatican

WŁODZIMIERZ RĘDZIOCH: - When we met each other last year to talk about Turkey governed by Erdogan, we mentioned the failed coup of 15 July 2016, which became a pretext for the Turkish president to organize a real counter-coup in order to remove its all factual and alleged opponents and enemies, mainly members of Feto – an organization which is run by Fethullah Gulen, the former imam, and now the spiritual leader and businessman, being on a voluntary emigration in the United States, Kurdish activists and journalists who do not support the despotic Islamic ‘revolution of Erdgon . Are the repressions which touched tens of thousands of people, still going on?

MARTA OTTAVIANI: - Unfortunately, the repressions have never stopped. That is true that 1.8 thousand arrested state officials returned to work, but from July 2016 the arrests were not stopped at all. In relation to military actions in Syria, they are still more concentrated on Kurdish people. Erdogan managed to change the constitution in the presidential sense – now the president is controlling judicial system and appoints ministers – force independent media to keep silent, imprison thousands of judges, soldiers and policemen who were fundaments of the secular state and lead to quick islamization of the society.

What is the Turkish president aiming at?

Erdogan has two purposes. Firstly- he wants to become an absolute ruler of the country and in order to do it, he will surely have to wait for the parliamentarian and presidential elections which are going to take place in 2019. His second purpose is making Turkey a country which will be more significant on the international arena.

How does it happen that Erdogan is still supported by most Turkishm including millions of those living in Europe and allegedly made European?

Supporters of Erdogan are basically divided into two groups which are sometimes identical. These are those who support him because they believe in him – and they are the majority and those who support him because it seems beneficial for them. Next there are those who vote for him as they do not see any other alternative.

What are geopolitical purposes of the aggressive foreign policy of Erdogan?

Erdogan is aiming at creating Turkish spheres of influence in the places where there used to be the Ottoman Empire. Building military bases in Ad-Dausze (the capital of Katar) suggests that its purpose is also preventing influences of the coalition of the Sunnite countries with Saudi Arabia at the helm.

Some people say that on 5 February this year pope Francis will host the president who is a fascist-islamic dictator. Do you agree with this way of defining Erdogan?

I would be careful in using the adjective ‘fascist’. Fascism is connected with a dramatic historical period, with its particular features and people. We can surely say that Erdogan is a more and more authoritative leader, establishing a regime in Turkey in which the religion factor is becoming more and more domineering.

Translated by Aneta Amrozik

„Niedziela” 5/2018 (4 II 2018)

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl