Turkey's Mask Slips (Again) - Opinion
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has showered abuse on the Turkish Cypriots for going ahead with mass industrial action to protest austerity measures imposed on them by Ankara.
Erdogan went as far as to call Turkish-Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu and demand that the protesters - who he said had insulted Turkey - be brought to justice.
Now, a realist might say that Erdogan is making some political hay ahead of elections in Turkey, but what he has also managed to do is let the mask slip and reveal the true face of Turkey's approach to tolerance and human rights.
The Turkish government has come out with some pretty words recently to describe their 'leadership' role in the region. They call their troops 'peacekeeping' troops - but we already have a United Nations to keep the peace, and don't need another one.
They call their softening attitude towards minoroties 'peace and tolerance' - but scold the Turkish Cypriots when they stand up for their rights. It also raises another question, if there is ever a reunification plan which passes muster by both communities, what would Turkey be doing afterwards? Telling the Turkish-Cypriot parliamentarians how to run Cyprus? It would be another recipe for disaster.
The last I heard, the democratic right to gather peacefully to protest unfair treatment still exists. And so does freedom of speech. Both are meant to be counterbalances to abuse of power by authoritarian governments and political leaders.
This reporter sincerely hopes that at some point in the near future, Turkey will start to make fundamental reforms in its approach to human rights and freedom of speech, and that it no longer needs a pretty mask of politically-correct words to hide its true nature. Maybe then, we could start to accept it as a regional leader.