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Opinion: Moving into isolation

Turkey is undergoing massive changes under President Erdogan. Pressure is being exerted on people who criticize the government. The country is isolating itself politically, says DW's Alexander Kudascheff.

Turkey is becoming increasingly isolated. The Turkish president is now clearly veering toward Islamic autocracy. Some people even fear that the country is becoming an Islamic dictatorship. But this is not about the country's transition from a parliamentary democracy to the presidential system that Erdogan is tailoring to suit himself - and which probably includes the death penalty. The problem is everyday life in Turkey: tens of thousands of people employed in the military, government offices, schools and universities have been arrested under suspicion of being Gülent followers. According to Erdogan, the Gülent movement allegedly plotted to overthrow the Turkish president in last summer's coup attempt. By orchestrating this wave of arrests and gagging press freedom and freedom of speech, the constitutional state has gone down a wrong path.

Kudascheff Alexander

DW's editor in chief Alexander Kudascheff

More than 150 journalists have been arrested and jailed. Newspapers have been shut down, others forced to take the government line. These days, oppositional voices are rarely read, heard or seen. And now a German journalist, Deniz Yücel, has been arrested and put in pretrial detention. Solidarity for the correspondent, which is impressive and obviously justified, has also been shown by the German chancellor and foreign minister. Until now, the German government has refrained from commenting on Turkey's path to autocracy; Germany has remained tactful.

The German government has tried to build a bridge to Turkey and to Erdogan; especially for fear that harsh criticism of Erdogan could endanger the EU-Turkey refugee agreement. Now, however, Germany will not be able to sidestep a clear statement and it will not be easy today in times when the Turkish public is agitated as it has rarely been. At the moment, Turkey does not perceive different shades of grey or subtleties. Either one is for or against Erdogan. One is either friend or foe.

"We are Deniz," appears in German newspapers, Facebook pages and Twitter. There is even a "FreeDeniz" hashtag. Yes, the people in the media are all "Deniz." We are all worried about our colleague and the other 154 journalists who are currently in prison. Journalists outside of Turkey are worried about freedom of press and expression in Turkey. We are worried about Turkey. It is moving away from Europe. The country has isolated itself. Deniz Yücel's detainment is a symbol of this process.

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