During the past several years, the Justice and Development Party(AKP)of Turkey has attempted to reform the government and work to bring the nation up to a level that would lead to entry into the European Union. However, amid charges of corruption and stagnating reform, Prime Minister Recep Erdogan is wrapping himself in the flag of nationalism and forming an alliance with the secular military which opposes his brand of Muslim government. A key point in Turkish reform was integrating its Kurdish minority, but the Erdogan government is taking an increasingly hostile approach to reconciliation efforts. Last week, the public prosecutor urged that six Kurdish youths between the ages of 13 to 16 be sentenced to 58 years in jail for throwing stones at police officers. The governor blamed their behavior on “terrorist parents” and cancelled their claims for pensions.
Erdogan had promised a new beginning in dealing with the Kurdish problem, but is now retreating into the military approach that only force will end dissent. In a recent speech to a Kurdish audience, Erodgan said:’One nation, one flag, one country” and anyone who doesn’t like it can leave it. Erdogan has even come down hard on journalists who attempt to present a balanced view about the Kurdish situation. If Erdogan continues on this path, he will discover he can take Turkey and keep it, but the European Union will not accept its membership.