It is with profound regret, and after much reflection, that I am pulling out as a speaker at an interesting and worthy international conference organised by TRT World in Istanbul on 21st October. I do so in protest of the Turkish armed forces’ invasion of Northern Syria. The ongoing invasion is not only an assault on Syria’s Kurdish forces that almost single-handedly, and heroically, defeated ISIS on the ground but, also, an assault on Turkish democrats and their campaign to check the creeping authoritarianism of the Turkish government.
This is a conference I was looking forward to for two reasons. First, because I would have shared a platform with Dilma Rousseff, former President of Brazil, to discuss globalisation and its discontents. Secondly, and more importantly, because of an urgent need to forge close links with Turkish democrats, academics and journalists in a bid to strengthen the bonds binding progressives in Greece and in Turkey. For these reasons, I wish to thank TRT World for inviting me.
However, TRT World’s enthusiastic support of the recent invasion of Northern Syria makes it impossible for me to attend. After conversations with many Turkish friends, I decided to cancel my appearance in solidarity with them – with democrats in Turkey who are appalled at the invasion of the Turkish armed forces in Northern Syria’s Kurdish-held areas and who see this as a further departure from the rapprochement between Ankara and the Kurdish people. Turkish democrats know well that this invasion undermines further the prospects of peace and democracy within Turkey itself.
While I am cancelling this appearance, together with Turkish friends, colleagues and comrades we are planning a visit to Istanbul, and a series of meetings, that will give us an opportunity to promote the progressive internationalism that our countries, our peoples and our democracies so desperately need.