Turkish Author Tahir Abbas Says Erdoğan Wants To Be Bigger Than Atatürk

Turkey’s President Erdoğan wants to be recognized in history “as bigger than Atatürk”, according to the political scientist Tahir Abbas.   “There’s no natural successor,” he told the Edinburgh International Book Festival. “All his closest aides, friends, followers have dissipated, he wants to be the man at the helm in 2023, the centenary of the republic; he wants to be recognized in history as bigger than Atatürk – that’s his legacy, that’s what he wants.”

Novelist and essayist Kaya Genç also told the sell-out crowd there was something “Frank Underwoodian” about Erdoğan, a reference to the fictional US president played by Kevin Spacey in the long-running TV series House of Cards. “Most of his advisers were educated in the US and they’re living in the present time,” he added, “whereas the Kemalist opposition kind of lives in the 1930s a bit.

“So he’s very quick to adapt to new positions, he’s very flip flop and he’s a creature with many faces: he can become a Kemalist one week, and then become a conservative, and then decides that he’s going to make peace with Europe. In Turkey people like an opportunist politician, they like this politician who reacts to what they say and doesn’t have a rigid ideology…I think this kind of protean nature, the way he changes that quickly, makes him a survivor.”

The two authors were assessing the political, economic and cultural future of Turkey as part of the Book Festival’s “Age of Political Earthquakes” series of events.

DAVID TORRANCE



 

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