The oceans of politics and Turkey

In the 100th year of the Republic, Turkey has been shipwrecked by the political establishment. Turkey’s ship is not moving. It sinks further each day.

In the 100th year of the Republic, Turkey has been shipwrecked due to the political establishment which instead of implementing Article 10 of the Constitution, did the exact opposite. Turkey’s ship is not moving. It sinks further each day.

Recall Article 10 that has been effectively revoked by the political establishment:

“Everyone is equal before the law without distinction as to language, race, color, gender, political opinion, philosophical belief, religion, and sect, or any such grounds. Men and women have equal rights. The State has the obligation to ensure that this equality exists in practice.”

However, the government is not acting in accordance with this constitutional command.

While Turkey’s ship had run aground and sat immobile, Rena Lee was shouting at the United Nations headquarters that “The ship has reached the shore.”

Who is Rena Lee?

She is Singapore’s Ambassador for Oceans and Law of the Sea Issues, and Special Envoy of the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

The female diplomat who has been the President of the “Intergovernmental Conference on an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction” since 2018.

Her shouts of “The ship has reached the shore” were proclamations that an agreement important to humanity had been reached.

This agreement, which ensures that the high seas are “protected as the common heritage of humankind,” has a history that spans four years officially, but unofficially goes back 10 to 15 years.

The delegates at the conference finalized the text of the agreement, which will now be translated into the six official UN languages.

Later, after it a final version is accepted in a short session, it will need to be ratified by at least 60 states.

The high seas, which have been disregarded for so long, comprise half of the world’s surface area and 60% of the world’s oceans.

These regions, which produce incredibly wealth, have now become the common heritage of mankind to be used mutually, conscientiously, and in accordance with regulation.

The agreement outlines its goals in its preamble:

“Recognizing the need to address, in a coherent and cooperative manner, biodiversity loss and degradation of ecosystems of the ocean, due to, in particular, climate change impacts on marine ecosystems, such as warming and ocean deoxygenation, as well as ocean acidification, pollution, including plastic pollution, and unsustainable use.”

The text also introduces specific rules regarding activities carried out in international waters. The agreement aims to share the benefits arising from activities in a fair and equitable manner with less developed countries and to ensure that activities are conducted in a transparent manner.

This historic development, which intends to limit the deterioration caused by climate change, to protect the seas from pollution and overuse, and to share benefits equitably, did not make as much sound as even a soda cap opening in Turkey, a country surrounded on three sides by seas.

Not a peep was heard from either the officials or the public.

The importance of preserving the oceans, which provide half the oxygen we breathe, limit global warming by absorbing a significant portion of the CO2 emitted by human activities, and are often full of microscopic biodiversity, does not seem to be of any interest to us even though the agreement, in which the US, the European Union, and China are acting jointly within a framework of tolerance, harbors an encouraging signal at a time when geopolitical tensions and multilateralism are undermining relations.

Humankind has decided to make the oceans their common heritage and to sail their ship even more decisively in the open seas in order to protect the earth...

We neither heard about this development, nor cared for it…

The ship of Turkey, which is surrounded by seas on three sides and is primitive to the point of politicking on the basis of the exploitation of "race, religion, sects,” has run aground because we cannot even protect people from earthquakes or provide survivors durable tents or clean water. We are floundering about in our own helplessness, far away from the developments in the world of humankind.

We also have hope that the next election will build a bridge between this society, which is suffering from its primitive politics and disconnected from developments in the human world, to humankind once again.

If this hope is realized, we will no longer have our people sacrificed to earthquakes, our children will not starve, we will trust the justice of the judiciary, and together with humanity we will exclaim "The ship has reached the shore.” We will then enjoy our share of humanity and the oceans.

*Mehmet Altan: His first pieces of writing were published when he was 15. He worked as editor-in-chief, writer, television programmer, and commentator for 20 years at Sabah (Morning) and six years at Star. He was a professor at Istanbul University for over 30 years. He has been a professor since 1993. Altan has authored over 40 books. He was arrested after July 15, Articles 19, 26, and 28 of the Constitution being disregarded. He was imprisoned for 21 months. The Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights determined that his rights had been violated. He has been a KHK victim since October 29, 2016.

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