I am deeply saddened to read the article titled, “Beware the seduction of authoritarian populism – from Turkey to South Africa” by Imraan Buccus, published by Daily Maverick on 6 August, since the portrait of Turkey as depicted in this article is far from overlapping with the reality of the country that I am proud to call my home.
The Republic of Turkey is a democratic, secular and social state governed by rule of law, within the notions of public peace, national solidarity and justice, respecting human rights, loyal to the nationalism of Atatürk, as engraved in our Constitution.
As a founding member of the United Nations, the Republic of Turkey sets an example to the international community by the initiatives it takes against human rights violations all around the world through its enterprising and humanitarian foreign policy.
Apart from the European Court of Human Rights, Turkey maintains close cooperation with the monitoring and human rights bodies of the United Nations and the Council of Europe, covering various areas such as fight against racism and discrimination, prevention of torture and ill-treatment, fight against corruption, money-laundering and terrorism, as well as combatting violence against women.
Turkey maintains its cooperation with the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT), European Committee Against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), as well as the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, while taking into consideration the recommendations and the reports published by these mechanisms. Turkey is party to 16 UN human rights conventions.
Despite the farfetched allegations of the article, I would like to reiterate that Turkey has no secret ambitions in Syria, Libya or Iraq, other than maintaining the stability and security of its region and preventing the loss of innocent lives in the said countries. No country can be held accountable for the conflicts tormenting its next-door neighbours, nor can it be blamed for taking measures for its national security, as well as striving to establish peace and security in its vicinity.
Turkey has no interest in luring other countries, let alone the friendly Republic of South Africa, into “authoritarian populism”, and I am deeply disturbed to see this attempt at scapegoating Turkey, in order to discredit certain actors in line with a domestic political agenda.
Nevertheless, as the Ambassador of Turkey in South Africa, I will strive to ensure the bilateral ties between Turkey and South Africa continue to bloom. DM
Elif Çomoğlu Ülgen is the Turkish Ambassador in South Africa.