IN OTHER WORDS: Way forward
The judge in the free-speech trial of the Turkish author Orhan Pamuk dismissed all charges last week, sparing Turkey further international scorn. But the case was thrown out on a technicality. Turkey still needs to change the repressive law under which Pamuk was arrested and drop similar cases against dozens of other Turks.
The most powerful motivation for making such changes has always been Turkey’s desire to join the European Union. But public support for joining is now waning, down from a high of 85 per cent to 65 per cent recently. The EU repeatedly stressed to Turkey the political need to reunify Cyprus, but then failed to deliver the support of Greek Cypriots, who voted against reunification after Turkish Cypriots had voted in favour.
Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, must convince his people not to give up on the reforms that precede union membership. And Washington and Brussels need to help him make the case. The US should remind Turkey’s generals, traditionally friendly with Washington, that continued support of liberalising reforms would help usher Turkey into the 21st century. Nationalists in Turkey are playing up the issue as an example of the government selling out Turkish interests to please Europe. Mr. Erdogan needs to push back, with a little help from his friends.