Sèvres Syndrome

The fear of conspiracies directed toward Turkey by international actors is often referred to as the Sèvres Syndrome (or Sevr Sendromu in Turkish). It is the delusional belief that the international community, and in particular the Western world, aspire to revive the terms of the Sèvres Treaty imposed on the Ottoman Empire after the end of the First World War and basically divide up Turkey into smaller ethnic states[1].

The term originates from the Treaty of Sèvres of the 1920s, which partitioned the Ottoman Empire between Armenia, Greece, Britain, France, and Italy, leaving a small unaffected area around Ankara under Turkish rule. The treaty, however, was never implemented due to the Turkish War of Independence.
[Crumbling interior of the Aya Sofia]
Turkish historian Taner Akçam describes this attitude as an ongoing perception that "there are forces which continually seek to disperse and destroy us, and it is necessary to defend the state against this danger."

The Turks, of course, have a great history but these days hardly anything is left of this greatness of yesteryear. The Sèvres Syndrome is thus no more than a collective sense of inferiority[2]. In this mindset it is customary (and much easier) to blame others for your own faults, shortcomings and mishaps.

It is also a perfect breeding ground for conspiracy theories that incite just enough trouble in the country to let someone like Recep Erdogan cling on to his power. When Erdogan won the presidential election in 2014, Devlet Bahceli, a rival politician, found that Mr Erdogan had won "through chicanery, cheating, deception and trickery"[3].

[1] Jung: The Sèvres Syndrome: Turkish Foreign Policy and its Historical Legacies. See here.
[2] Bekdil: The Dynamics of Policy, Ideology, and Personality in Turkish Foreign Policy in Program in Ottoman and Turkish Studies. See here
[3] BBC World News: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hails new era for Turkey - August 10, 2014. See here.

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