When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

How Did Turkey Become Isolated So Quickly?

It wasn't long ago that Turkey was a nation envied around the world for growing freedoms and a growing economy. Things have changed fast.

Turkish police restrain demonstrators on Feb. 10
Turkish police restrain demonstrators on Feb. 10
Asli Aydintasbas


ISTANBUL For Turkey, the door to Europe is shut and will not be opened again anytime soon.

I'm saddened less for myself than for the generations to come. Today we taste only dark and bitter days. But at the start of this century, our nation stood as an example for others: Yes, Turkey not long ago was seen as a rising country, envied by all.

The harsh reality is that those days are far behind us. The process of becoming more European came to a stop in the year 2010. After 2013, the Turkish government prioritized fortifying its power instead of its people. Every democratic gain began to be reversed, leading us to this present situation of oppression.

We often find ourselves wondering, "How did this happen so fast? How did Turkey turn into an authoritative Middle Eastern regime this quickly?" There are plenty of answers to those questions but no single one of them can explain the pace at which Turkey quickly slipped into isolation.

I feel the urge to shout, "Was everything a lie?" like some melodramatic character in an old Turkish movie. That's because I feel duped by the development, accomplishment, and "democratization packages' that are no longer relevant. Maybe they were only a result of a Western push. Would you have been able to predict, during those golden days of democratic Turkey, that one day we would be on the verge of a terrible precipice? Did any of the people who led us to this moment — the leaders of yesterday and today — or members of society ever really have a longing for democracy?

Harder days await the Turkish people.

I don't know the answers to these questions. A voice inside my head keeps telling me, "No, of course the change in Turkey and the request for democracy came from Turkish society itself." But then I find it hard to explain how the majority of people, which we call "society," has consented to what's going on right now. How does this society approve the collapse of institutions, sit quietly while universities are weakened, and passively watch the Kurdish problem return to the way it was in the 1990s? How does it let the media get ridiculed? How does it tacitly approve the rule of only one man?

The questions, for which we don't have answers, don't end there: Are people silent because they think they don't have a better alternative or is it because an atmosphere of fear dominates every corner of Turkey? Or is the quiet because it simply doesn't care about the issues listed above?

One thing I know for sure is that harder days await Turkish people. As our freedom grows more and more limited, the economy shrinks. For us, the Chinese model of authoritarian capitalism is not possible. As our nation keeps stepping backwards toward the 1990s, it seems it will also go back to the income per capita of that decade.

We are only at the beginning of tense relations with Europe. I think that within a few years, our candidacy for the European Union will be officially suspended. Most of you would respond that this process hasn't been working for a while anyway. Well, yes, but despite everything, Turkey is still institutionally connected with, and dependent on, Europe. On paper, it is still an EU "candidate" country. As populist winds strengthen in Europe, this long-term engagement seems doomed to end.

Turkey has been going through the most strategically isolated and vulnerable period of the last 70 years. The relationship with Russia is fundamentally built on an asymmetrical power dynamic. China is too far away. Iran is not welcoming. Gulf countries are so much more "Western" than we are ...

Turkey is suffering inside and out, and living in a period of senseless isolation for which it only has itself to blame.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

food / travel

Pasta v. Fascists: How Italy's Staple Dish Became A Symbol Of Resistance

Pasta may not be considered controversial today, but it played an important role during Italy's fascist years, particularly in one family's celebration of community and liberation.

Photo of the Cervi family.

Photo of the Cervi family, whose seven children were shot by the Fascists on December 28, 1943, at the Reggio Emilia shooting range.

@comunisti_alla_ribalta via Instagram
Jacopo Fontaneto

ROME — Eighty years ago — on July 25, 1943 — the vote of no confidence by the Grand Council of Fascism, leading to Benito Mussolini's arrest, set off widespread celebrations. In Campegine, a small village in the Emilian province, the Cervi family celebrated in their own way: they brought 380 kilograms of pasta in milk cans to the town square and offered it to all the inhabitants of the village.

The pasta was strictly plain: macaroni dressed with butter and cheese, seen as more of a "festive dish" in that period of deprivation. As soon as the Cervi brothers learned about the arrest of Mussolini, they procured flour, borrowed butter and cheese from the dairy, and prepared kilos and kilos of pasta. They then loaded it onto a cart to distribute it to their fellow villagers. Pastasciutta (dry pasta) specifically regards dishes with noodles that are plated "dry", not in broth. That would disqualify soup, risotto, ravioli...

Even though pastasciutta is the most stereotypical type of pasta today, it had a complicated relationship with the government during Italy's fascist years.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest