Turkey’s military, which has forced out civilian governments in the past, has been pushed to the sidelines but largely replaced with an Islamist and authoritarian government, Turkish Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk said in remarks published on Saturday, Today’s Zaman reports.
“Authoritarian soldiers were [pushed] out [but an] authoritarian and Islamist government took their place,” he said in an interview with the French news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) in Istanbul, referring to Turkey’s recent history in which military influence over politics has slowly disappeared and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) have become the new center of power.
He also said that the AK Party was “destroying the balance of powers, which is in fact the key to any democracy.”
“In that sense, Turkey is only [an] electoral democracy, but a democracy where the respect [for] human rights, free speech are violated every day,” said Pamuk, adding that he sensed a deterioration when he last returned to Turkey from New York, where he teaches at Columbia University.
“When I came back, I felt a climate of fear, people whispering,” he told AFP.
In the interview, Pamuk was more reluctant to discuss the issue of the Armenian Genocide at the hands of the disintegrating Ottoman Empire. “I had a lot of trouble eight to 10 years ago because I talked freely about this subject,” Pamuk said of his past remarks that caused a great deal of controversy in Turkey.