By Suat KINIKLIOGLU The Gezi Park protests are still continuing. All of us are trying to digest what happened and what it means for our society, politics and future. One of the highlights reflecting pro-government thinking occurred during the height of the protests. Taha Ozhan, the head of the pro-government think tank SETA, tweeted the following: "State employees' Kemalism that mismanaged the republic rallies has been upgraded to lumpen Kemalism through the enabling of liberal duplicity." Ozhan expressed his frustration with Turkey's democrats and liberals, who by and large supported the protests from the outset. This is rather understandable as Turkey's democrats and liberals had been supporting the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) agenda from 2003 to 2010. After all, the AK Party was then clearly the most progressive force in the country. Confronted with daunting challenges from the Kemalist deep state, the AK Party was the primary force in transforming civil-military relations, bringing Turkey to the negotiating table with the EU and facilitating impressive economic growth. I myself was in the ranks of the AK Party, defending it at every platform, foreign and domestic, most forcefully when it was faced with the absurd closure case in 2008. In 2010 a crucial constitutional amendment was passed by 58 percent of voters in a hard-fought referendum due to a comprehensive coalition that included the AK Party, democrats, liberals, Kurds and many Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) supporters. What has happened since 2010? First, in 2011 the parliamentary group was radically overhauled. A massive purge of those who were seen as more centrist and liberal occurred. Many who were critical in shaping the perception that the party was moving to the center in 2007 were expelled. Then the party congress in September 2012 completed the job by purging similar elements from the party's executive organs. The Turkish media initially reported that it was a purge of people close to President Abdullah Gül, but there was more to it. In April of this year, Aziz Babuscu, the powerful chairman of the İstanbul party organization, openly said the party was parting ways with Turkey's liberals. In the bluntest manner, he said that there was no longer a need for liberals with whom the AK Party cooperated to dissolve the first republic. Babuscu said: "Those with whom we were stakeholders throughout the past 10 years will not be our stakeholders in the coming decade. ... Let us say the liberals, in one way or another, were stakeholders in this process, but the future is a process of construction. This construction era will not be as they [liberals] wish. Hence, they [liberals] will no longer be with us. ... The Turkey that we will construct, the future that we will bring about, is not going to be a future that they will be able to accept." Babuscu denied his comments the next day, but the quotes came from the Anatolia news agency, and many in the hall confirmed to me that he actually uttered them. Given the harsh response to the peaceful Gezi Park demonstrators on Friday morning, the inflammatory statements by the prime minister as well as many other mistakes, why was it such a surprise that Turkey's democrats and liberals chose to side with the protesters? Babuscu's comments confirm the AK Party intended to part ways long ago. Lumping democrats and liberals together with Kemalists is not only unjust but also demonstrates a lack of cognition of what actually happened in Taksim and elsewhere in the country. Blaming democrats and liberals for the blatant mistakes the government made throughout this crisis is irresponsible. Liberals are not engaged in duplicity. They still stand for the freedoms and ideals they defended from 2003 to 2010. If any party in this coalition has changed it was not the liberals.
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