May 18, 2015

Someone came yesterday and asked us to close schools

Selçuk Gültaşlı

There is no limit in disgrace and a disgraceful person may work hard to find that limit until the end, but would certainly fail.

African authorities had given the response due, but it seems no one drew any lessons from it. That response had to be made in Albania as well.

The "someone" in the sentence "Someone came yesterday" is Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. His title is "president," but no one in his country or around the world except those who voted for him sees him as a head of state. Actually, he himself does not care about this.

My age prevents me from making assertive remarks, but I can still ask the following question: Has any Turkish president been so humiliated or denigrated abroad? Has any Turkish president faced the disgrace of hearing such sentences as "This is not a colony of Turkey,""Do you think we are stupid?" or "If you have the power, go and ask one of the European Union members" when he tried to portray his personal problems as well as those of his party as those of the country in an effort to cover up corruption?

Assuming the air of a colonial governor as he spoke in Albania, Erdoğan threatened the "friendly and brotherly" country: "I tell this in black and white: Those who side with this organization will be against our country and our nation." He makes the same mistake he made in Africa, trying to see all Albanians as fools. But he gets the same response: "Do you think we are fools or one of your colonies?"

Apparently, the Albanian state assigned the ruling party deputy Ben Blushi the task of responding to Erdoğan. Blushi delivered a speech at Parliament, respecting diplomatic courtesy while giving a harsh message.

"Someone came yesterday and asked us to close schools," the Albanian deputy said. "We should have built [the Namazgja Mosque] with our own money. Indeed, mosques and churches are not like roads and bridges. They are our spiritual assets, and every nation can build them by making sacrifices. But we don't have the resources and we are grateful to the Turkish nation for the Namazgja Mosque," he said, chiding his own people without dispensing with his grace. Then he boldly notes that Erdoğan asked the Albanian authorities for a ransom in return for this gift.

The following statements are from this speech:
"Gifts are given without expecting something in return.

“I have not seen any terrorist organization that does not kill people. We haven't witnessed any murder by the organization to which the Turkish president refers as terrorist. He wants us to destroy these schools for his own interests.

“No president, prime minister or any other person can be allowed to prepare an Albanian or Turkish terrorist list in our country.

“We will reject this request because we are not a colony of Turkey.

“We are not a Turkish colony and we will not let our freedoms and national pride be crushed in return for a ‘gift.'

“No one can come here and ask us to destroy his rivals for political reasons.

“Have you ever seen any brother or friend who asks you to close schools? I haven't. How did he say it? He said it like a father. If we needed a father, it would have been Skanderbeg or Ismail Kemal. We don't need fathers outside Albania.

“We cannot accept this request because, as I said, we are not a colony of Turkey and we don't want to be one. We are no one's colony.

“We must reject this request collectively. We won't regret it."
In tandem with Blushi's remarks, Albanian media outlets have already declared Erdoğan a liar. Top TV, the country's largest TV network, notes that Erdoğan lied when he said on the way back home that Albanian authorities were warm to the closure of the schools. It then adds a comment: "Just as he was rejected by the White House." As you may remember, Erdoğan had announced that, during his meeting with him, US President Barack Obama had told him that he was warm to the idea of extraditing Mr. Fethullah Gülen. But the White House was quick to refute him. Thus, Erdoğan became the first Turkish president who was refuted by the White House.

Like the African press, the Albanian media outlets were unhappy with Erdoğan trying to make them fools. Erdoğan promising to do more than the schools he urged Albanian authorities to shut down are doing does not escape attention. "Outperforming the terrorists," ran one newspaper headline. Tema Editor-in-Chief Mero Baze asks, "If what they engage in is terrorist activity, why are you volunteering to replace them?"

En route to Turkey, Erdoğan said the closure of the schools will accelerate after Sept. 1. We will wait and see who will emerge the liar.

Published on Today's Zaman, 18 May 2015, Monday