Comical view of Erdogan’s visit to Serbia

The warm welcome that the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan got from Serbian President, Aleksandar Vučić during a state visit this week, incited many satirical comments on nationalism and media freedom.

Erdoğan arrived in Belgrade on October 10, and the next day also visited Novi Pazar, the main city in the southern area of Sandžak, which is mainly inhabited by Bosniaks. The population of the region has strong historical, religious, and family ties with Turkey, as many of their relatives had immigrated to Turkey during the last century.

Serbian nationalism is based on stories of resistance to the Ottoman Empire, whereas Erdoğan is often considered a proponent of “Neo-Ottomanism” — or a strategic orientation by Turkey aiming to regain influence over regions once under the Ottoman Empire’s domain. Therefore, some of the efforts by local dignitaries who aimed to please the honored guest, were met with ridicule by critical citizens.

Some more creative commentators started reusing forms of epic poetry that was instrumental as a primary vehicle for stirring patriotic (anti-Ottoman) emotions in the XIX century. These recent parodies especially targeted local nationalist politicians who had built their careers promoting Serbian nationalism.

In their official communications, the Serbian regime emphasized the expected economic benefits from the numerous treaties signed during the visit, including a future natural gas pipeline, while being careful to avoid mentioning political issues on which they have diametrically opposed positions with Turkey.

Serbian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivica Dačić actually provided much of the satirical material on his own, by taking the stage at an official dinner in Belgrade and singing folk songs from the common past.

The satirical website addressed the common aversion of the two regimes towards freedom of speech by ‘reporting’ that “In honour of Erdoğan’s visit, 17 journalists were arrested today”.

Belgrade, Oct 10, 2017 (Njuz) – Seventeen journalists from print and online media were arrested today in honour of the visit of the Turkish president to Serbia.

The journalists will be presented to Erdoğan after the festive dinner, when he will be allowed to say a few symbolic sentences in the name of the friendship between the two peoples.

– In Erdoğan’s honor we detained the best samples of anti-regime journalists whom we could apprehend on such a short notice. They had written and reported in the worst manner against our government, the president, and in general, against progress in Serbia, stated the announcement by the Office of the President of Serbia.

According to unofficial information, Erdoğan was very pleased with this move by the Serbian state leadership, and promised he will return the favor during the visit of Serbian president to Ankara.

– May this be a start of a long and successful democratic tradition of punishing undesirable media, read the official announcement by the Turkish delegation.

(Global Voices, 12.10.2017)


This post is also available in: Italiano

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