Sunday

3rd Jul 2022

EU officials target dictators with satire

  • Turkish courts last year - really though - examined whether it's an "insult" to compare Erdogan to Gollum (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

EU officials wrote the German song mocking Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a covert pro-democracy project also linked to last year's "Gollum-gate" affair.

An EU source, who asked not to be named, told EUobserver that the song — Erdowie, Erdowo, Erdogan — was drafted by counter-propaganda experts in the East StratCom Task Force and later published by German broadcaster NDR with German chancellor Angela Merkel's approval.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • "Satire is a good way of penetrating authoritarian machismo," an EU source said (Photo: Fortum Sverige)

East StratCom is a specialist communications cell in the EU external action service that was created last year to counter fake Russian news stories.

But the EU source said that a little-known annex to its mandate includes "pro-active media projects designed to promote EU values in its eastern and southern neighbourhood."

"We quickly realised that we can do much more than just debunking Russian stories and that satire is a good way of penetrating authoritarian machismo," the source said.

The song, which has already attracted 4 million viewers on YouTube, portrays Erdogan as Mickey Mouse and accuses him of jailing journalists and trampling on Kurdish and women's rights.

A second EU source said East StratCom's network of more than 400 independent journalists and NGO activists helped the song to "go viral."

The lyrics originated in an external action service "non-paper" circulated to EU ambassadors in the so-called Coreper group in the EU Council in mid-March.

The informal paper, seen by EUobserver, and entitled "Gollum 2.0: An asymmetric response to Turkey's media crackdown," originally included more controversial language.

US veto

One line said: "Erdowie, Erdowo — tiny manhood, huge ego." Another line said: "Erdowo, Erdowie — morally bankrupt."

The Greek and Cypriot ambassadors proposed adding the German term for "egregiously corrupt" — "egregiouslycorruptienenfischenhuschenbuschentwat."

But the final text was watered down by Germany because Germans have no sense of humour.

The US envoy also said, according to EU sources, that revealing information about Erdogan's manhood could compromise US intelligence assets in Erdogan's palace.

The US is not an EU member state. But its ambassador attends Coreper meetings and has a veto over its decisions.

The reference to "Gollum 2.0" comes after an earlier East StratCom project, in November, which circulated the idea on social media that Erdogan looks like the little shrivelled green creature from the Lord of the Rings films.

Turkey has in the past two years indicted more than 1,800 people under article 301 of the penal code which makes it illegal to insult the head of state.

Some have received sentences for "liking" posts on social media which upset Erdogan.

Not funny

Erdogan is also one of the world's leading jailers of journalists, with two of Turkey's best known reporters — Can Dundar and Erdem Gul — currently facing life in prison for exposing clandestine arms shipments to Syria.

A third EU source said Merkel agreed to the Erdowie, Erdowo project for the sake of her own psychological health.

"She's a good person. But she's had trouble sleeping after agreeing to do basically whatever Erdogan wants in order to stop refugees from making her lose the next election," the source said.

This story is fake and was published as an April fool's joke.

Juncker says Erdogan can't silence EU media

Brussels, like Berlin, has said Turkey can't expect to silence media critics inside the EU, despite the fact the commission "appreciates" its help on migrants.

Opinion

Turkey needs its women, Mr Erdogan

Erdogan and the EU should do more for Turkish women if they care about the country's future. But instead, they are digging holes

Opinion

Nato's Madrid summit — key takeaways

For the most part Nato and its 30 leaders rose to the occasion — but it wasn't without room for improvement. The lesson remains that Nato still doesn't know how or want to hold allies accountable for disruptive behaviour.

Column

One rubicon after another

We realise that we are living in one of those key moments in history, with events unfolding exactly the way Swiss art historian Jacob Burckhardt describes them: a sudden crisis, rushing everything into overdrive.

News in Brief

  1. EU Parliament 'photographs protesting interpreters'
  2. Poland still failing to meet EU judicial criteria
  3. Report: Polish president fishing for UN job
  4. Auditors raise alarm on EU Commission use of consultants
  5. Kaliningrad talks needed with Russia, says Polish PM
  6. Report: EU to curb state-backed foreign takeovers
  7. EU announces trade deal with New Zealand
  8. Russia threatens Norway over goods transit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  4. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  6. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022

Latest News

  1. Nato's Madrid summit — key takeaways
  2. Czech presidency to fortify EU embrace of Ukraine
  3. Covid-profiting super rich should fight hunger, says UN food chief
  4. EU pollution and cancer — it doesn't have to be this way
  5. Israel smeared Palestinian activists, EU admits
  6. MEPs boycott awards over controversial sponsorship
  7. If Russia collapses — which states will break away?
  8. EU Parliament interpreters stage strike

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us