Nikolaos Stelgias

Nikolaos Stelgias

Greek Marxists refute the Turkish President

Turkey’s President Erdogan interprets the recent earthquakes as being "part" of the people’s fate in the region. Greek Marxists disagree and write that “nationalism and capitalism work together to take advantage of disasters.”

The president of Turkey, whose nation is dealing with an unparalleled natural disaster, is interpreting recent events using his usual rhetoric. He claims that the devastating earthquakes that struck Turkey and Syria are "part" of the people’s fate in the region. In other words, everything that happens in our lives, even natural disasters, is predetermined by a supreme authority.

Greek Marxists hold a different perspective than Recep Tayyip Erdogan. They believed that the consequences of the powerful earthquakes centered in Maras, Turkey, were not inescapable. One of the main paragons responsible for the catastrophe that hit the people of Turkey and Syria is capitalism.

Per the Greek Marxists, there is only one solution to repair the wounds caused by the uncontrollable capitalism and that is the solidarity of the peoples, the gathering of workers in the field of suffering, and the joint struggle.

"There is no coincidence in what happened in Turkey"

"The Antiochian native M. E. reported to us that ‘the situation is disastrous. The catastrophe is both great and unquantifiable. People live in their cars but are unable to find gasoline. They are hungry. The weather conditions are adverse as the cold is extreme. The people of my community have gathered at the village coffeehouse gathered around the wooden stove trying to stay warm. The village's church has collapsed. The most tragic part is that a relative of mine who was under the rubble for more than two days and who had communication with both the rescuers and her mother has ceased to show signs of life and the rescuers left. The state is absent,’ the Communist Party of Greece's (KKE) official outlet reports.

Regarding the most recent events in Turkey, the 902 report also emphasizes that the way the buildings are erected is responsible for the whole predicament: M.E. says, "What happened there is no coincidence. For years, the construction companies, which get along with the government, have been erecting buildings that are unsound. There is no cap on the number of buildings which can be constructed in an area, there are no specific rules. Therefore, multi-story apartment complexes are constructed using a fast-track process. It is very usual to use even foam instead of bricks or concrete in a construction.”

"Nationalism and capitalism work together to take advantage of disasters"

Following the major earthquakes, the Greek information website Info-War provided extensive coverage employing an approach similar to that of the Greek Left. "While thousands of people perished in the earthquake-stricken region, Turkish cement companies on the Borsa Istanbul stock exchange saw a sharp increase in the value of their shares due to expectations of significant revenues coming from the reconstruction at the damaged areas. The analysis continues to say that "in one of the most earthquake-prone locations of the globe, capitalism and nationalism stand united and make the repercussions of the natural disaster as horrible as possible. Whilst conflict and profit cultivate favorable conditions for death to spread."

According to Info-War, it is a cruel irony that those that are already profiteering from the debris are those who are essentially responsible for the scale of that debris. The construction industry is one of the most significant in the Turkish economy, contributing up to 30% of the country's GDP through its direct and indirect effect on other industries. The Turkish government has long granted a favorable treatment to the construction businesses, "enabling" them to erect buildings without the requisite seismic reinforcement and allowing them to dodge even the most recent laws the government itself established in 2019. It also shows how nationalism and capitalism work together to take advantage of disasters and the suffering of people. Over the past ten years, the region, where the East Anatolia seismic rift dominates, has seen a boom in the construction of low-cost, earthquake-prone buildings. The increase in erecting residential buildings in the region came as a response to the Syrian conflict and the influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees, as well as in anticipation of the Turkish invasion of northern Syria, which took place in three phases in 2016, 2018 and 2019. While the government spent a ton of money on armaments, disregarding the requirements of the local population and scientific advisories, Turkish companies undertook the repair of infrastructure in the northern Syrian territory that is under Turkish occupation.

"Solidarity will prevail"

Greek Marxists insist on the significance of international solidarity in mending the wounds that the earthquakes have wrought, while keeping one eye on the part that the uncontrollable capitalism has played in the latest catastrophe that hit Turkey and Syria. "I visited Turkey twice, documenting the number of casualties, the extent of the property damage, individual experiences, and acts of solidarity. You see, every natural disaster in the neighboring nation sparked not just media attention but also a wave of Greek support for the Turkish people. During those times, rivalries and biases, animosities of the past were set aside. During those times, humanity and unity were winning. When you uttered the word ‘Greek,’ arms would open for hugs, and hands would be extended in earnest appreciation. Those were the times when human suffering, need, and desperation took precedence over all other considerations, and it was decided that with some people, we had a lot more to share with than to divide,” stresses the columnist Petros Katsakos.

"I am once more certain that unity will triumph over the few depressed misanthropes who have raced to pour their patriotic venom over the disaster that has struck Turkey. The solidarity of the Greek people will prevail, and they will once more show their support for the suffering populations of Turkey and Syria," Katsakos concludes.

*Dr Nikolaos Stelgias was born in Istanbul. He is an independent researcher, writer, historian and journalist. His doctorate is in the field of the modern Turkish political system (Panteion University, 2011). His latest book “The Ailing Turkish Democracy” was published by the Cambridge Scholars Publication in 2020. Dr. Stelgias was a correspondent of the newspaper "Kathimerini (Cyprus edition)" for Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot community from 2009 to 2021. Currently, Dr. Stelgias works at the Cyprus News Agency. Dr. Stelgias publishes in Turkish news articles and analyses on Cyprus and Greece.

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