Former PM Ahmet Davutoglu Is No Remedy for Turkey’s Woes

A leader, who deflects any criticism about his role in enabling Erdogan’s authoritarian shift and dismantling of the Turkish democracy, is no remedy to save the country today.

Abdullah Ayasun

--

Former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (L) shakes hands with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2015 in this archive photo. (Photo Credit: AP)

Turkey’s current course of political affairs offer little hope for a plausible change in the offing. Yet, for all the distressing picture, some politicians embrace the challenge to confront President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s tightening grip on the country by promising a return to normalcy — democratic politics. Former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is one of those politicians.

In a Zoom webinar with the D.C.-based Middle East Institute (MEI) last week, Davutoglu shared his vision of new Turkey, his party program, and provided a wide-ranging commentary on the most divisive socio-political issues of the day. The professor of political science, despite all his professed wisdom, has failed to offer reassurance about how to bridge up the gap between his lofty words and deeds. The chasm between abstract theoretical talk and the actual practice is quite evident given his controversial record on implementing some of his doctrines into concrete policy successes during his tenure as prime minister (2014–2016). (His service as foreign minister was much better, though it was also tainted by his controversial role in Turkey’s embroilment in the Syrian conflict.)

Davutoglu, who is most known for his Strategic Depth doctrine that guided the Turkish foreign policy for more than a decade, struggled to defend his record when grilled by the moderator Gonul Tol about the human rights abuses and Turkey’s drift away from democracy during his premiership. The former prime minister outright rejected any responsibility and even dismissed some factual data about the initial signs of the breakdown of academic freedom and free speech during his time.

He insisted that there was not a single academic investigated during his time. But…

--

--

Abdullah Ayasun

Boston-based journalist and writer. Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. 2023 WHCA Scholar. On art, culture, politics and everything in between. X: @abyasun