Egemen Bagis the Ambassador Exposes Moral Rot in Turkey’s Diplomatic Service
The appointment of former EU Minister Egemen Bagis as Turkey’s ambassador to Prague generated impassioned debate over the state of diplomatic service. But the rot did not begin with Bagis.
When Turkey’s most controversial and wide-ranging corruption scandal broke out on Dec. 17, 2013, the entire country was shaken to its roots. Former EU Minister Egemen Bagis instantly became one of the leading figures of the soon-halted probe and his image was woven to the memory of journalists as one of the faces of the entire drama that has consumed the country since then. The probe, many argue persuasively, clinched Erdogan’s illiberal and authoritarian turn to save his political fortunes and to avoid jail.
Erdogan, having seen his political career on the chopping block, took a gamble of high stakes and went for an all-out war. It was like Cesare Borgia (one of the leading sources of inspiration for Machiavelli’s Prince) in the face of a make-or-break moment: either Caesar or nothing.
Cesare Borgia, who fell victim to his miscalculation, the lack of Fortuna (a key concept in ancient Roman wisdom and medieval Christian thought) and his self-defeating impetuousness, was certainly no Caesar of Renaissance Italy. He became no more than an insignificant footnote in the endless chapters of the corrupt Renaissance politics. While Cesare became, in the end, no more than a petty antagonist in modern-day “Borgias” TV series, Erdogan certainly has become a Caesar of his own kind and his times. Erdogan’s gambling worked and made him the most powerful political figure since Ataturk, the founding father of the Turkish Republic, in the domestic realm.
As the shocking details of the corruption rattled Turkey and eventually edged closer to Erdogan’s family, the prime minister initiated the first phases of a sweeping purge across the judiciary and police forces to curb the probe. The scandal, beyond any doubt, appeared to carry the seeds of Erdogan’s unmaking. His purge crusade saved his own future, but doomed the country’s, plunging the entire nation into an ever-spinning tailspin.