Erdogan's people wear suits. But the power that the Turkish state has appropriated no longer takes its references from enlightenment but from conservative values, from traditional Islam whose propagated fatalism was always the most powerful ally of repressive rulers. It is always the same lack of values and orientation that draws many people to Islam -- they hope to find in it something to hold on to. Why does Islam -- which once founded a highly sophisticated civilization and is possessed of a strong social consciousness -- fail so miserably as a reference for political and societal life in modern times?
If there is a silver lining in Erdoğan's transformation of Turkey, in barely three years, from a model for liberalizing Arab countries to a dictatorship resembling those overthrown in Egypt and Tunisia, it is that many Turks have a clearer understanding that liberal democracy requires sustainable checks and balances. Those who participated in ending the military's role as a political guardian now recognize that Turkey needs new institutions to protect basic freedoms and ensure limited government.
For 30 years, I have advocated accepting Turkey into the European Union, once the country has fulfilled the Copenhagen Criteria: institutional stability as a guarantee of democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights and minority rights, a functioning market economy, and finally the pledge to embrace the goals of the political, economic and monetary union. If Erdogan continues as he has over the past two years, he will not fulfill these criteria. There is no place in the European Union for this Turkey.