Tuesday

6th Dec 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.

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  • "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.

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