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SEMİH İDİZ > A welcome meeting on the Kurdish issue

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Turkey’s most urgent problem continues to be the Kurdish issue and related separatist terrorism. The general public is increasingly fed up with the vitriolic squabbling between political parties on various topics while such a serious matter continues to fester after dragging along with no settlement for over a quarter of a century.

This is why the call by the Republican Peoples Party (CHP), the main opposition in Parliament, for a high-level meeting with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in order to discuss the topic was generally welcomed in Turkey – except, of course, by ultranationalists. 

That meeting took place on Wednesday, as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu got together to discuss a “road map,” worked out by the latter, in order to try and find a solution to the Kurdish problem and separatist terrorism by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Public skepticism prevailed before the meeting, of course, since this was not the first attempt to solve this problem, previous ones having failed. What was welcomed, however, was the fact that the two leaders were getting together in a friendly manner, after weeks of mudslinging on this or that topic, in order to discuss an urgent issue.

Kılıçdaroğlu himself, in an interview just prior to meeting Erdoğan, wondered why political leaders could not gather around a table in Turkey to discuss crucial matters facing the country, preferring instead to hurl insults at each other. 

It is not clear, of course, whether the hour-long Erdoğan-Kılıçdaroğlu meeting will lead to anything in terms of a settlement to the Kurdish problem and the question of PKK violence. AKP and CHP spokesmen said later that the discussion had been a good one and indicated that the effort would be carried forward. 

The CHP did not provide any concrete recommendations pertaining to the essence of the problem, and only suggested a method by which the matter should be taken up in Parliament. According to this, a “peace and reconciliation commission” of sorts will be established with the participation of all four parties in Parliament. 

These parties will also recommend names for an advisory group of “wise men” outside Parliament that will provide fresh recommendations as to how the whole matter should be approached. 

This, however, is where the problem starts because the ultranationalist Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) rejects the fact that Turkey has a “Kurdish problem.” It argues that this appellation is tantamount to treasonous separatism, and insists that the only problem is that of PKK terrorism, which should be addressed by military means.

The MHP says it will therefore boycott the process the CHP is trying to initiate, and this may throw a spanner in the works because the commission being proposed requires the participation of all parties in Parliament.

It remains to be seen if the Erdoğan government and the CHP can muster up the will to find a way to circumvent the MHP, which got only 13 percent of the vote in the June 2011 general elections, should it insist on its position, as it is likely to do. 

The Kurdish question and the problem of PKK violence are serious matters and many argue that a genuine attempt by the majority in Parliament to address these should not be made hostage to the MHP’s ultranationalist whims. 

The other party that is crucial in all this is, of course, the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), which many see as a political extension of the PKK. BDP officials have welcomed the CHP initiative and are awaiting an invitation for the parliamentary commission being proposed.

How matters will unfold remains to be seen but past experience tells us not to hold our breaths in great anticipation. The CHP initiative is nevertheless a welcome one since it confirms once again that there is a growing understanding that Turkey has a Kurdish problem, and that the question of PKK violence cannot be totally divorced from this.

June/08/2012

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READER COMMENTS

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dogan kemal ileri

6/8/2012 9:34:08 PM

@Cyprus is Greek has anyone told you imitation is the highest from of flattery,thank you for parroting my comments here.As far as Cyprus is concerned if you want the whole of Cyprus you first must invade it which by the way the Greeks have never done and thus have never owned.Put up or shut up time for you.In a few decades the entire demographics of Cyprus will have changed in favour of Turks,shame for you.

Murat

6/8/2012 5:50:30 PM

There is no better gurantee of ALL citizens rights and cultural freedoms than a reformed Turksih constitution cleansed of all ethnic and religious references. No better system than making all citizens first class, which is basically the current system on paper anyways. MHP has a point, Kurdish problem is being addressed but not much more can or will happen untill terrorism is contained and snuffed and until Kurds also address their Turkish problem. Kurdistan is not a democratic right!

Nuri Gotham

6/8/2012 4:27:40 PM

Turkey's fear is an independent Kurdistan. Kurds' s fear is the threat of loosing their culture through the constant denial and forced assimilation. The both party's fears can be nautralized through an agreement based on equal citizenship guarenteed by a third party state or the UN. The government has the all tools to materialize such agreement all it needs a mere courage.

dario Kurd

6/8/2012 2:18:35 PM

Turks still deny Kurds basic human rights like education in mother tounge and freedom of speech..Kurds still forced to have turkish names, kurdish names of Kurdish cities are still banned and Turkish names used, education in Kurdish is not allowed in schools, 1000s of Kurdish elected mayoys and political activists are jailed for peacefully defending Kurdish rights..so what reassurance turks gave to Kurds to abandon the arm struggle that defended Kurds against a genocide similar to armenian one.

Rebwar Rashed

6/8/2012 12:54:20 PM

All talk is useless unless the Turks genuinely want peace and realize what they have done to the Kurds. That means denouncing systematic violence and occupation against Kurdish people and stop playing double moral and floating fancy words. They must know that Turkey is not a gift from God and it indeed can be divided. Kurdistan is NOT Turkey! We are not one nation. We are 2 totally different nations with clear different history, culture etc. Yes, Anatolia can be "Turkey"! Rebwar Rashed

Adam Polk

6/8/2012 11:58:01 AM

@Cyprus is Greek, you spread propaganda on this newspaper. you keep leaving same comment under every single article. you guys did ethnic cleansing in Cyprus and Turkish army saved Turkish people. now you come here and complaining... you guys are funny...

Deniz Can

6/8/2012 6:51:47 AM

It is not surprising that the Ultra Nationalist Party doesn't want to be a part of the solution, because of being the part of the problem. The existing reason of the ultra nationalism depends on the existing of the problematic. We can see this fact in every situation in different countries too. It is more important that the Kurds are affected directly are the part of the solution. If a solution is to embrace the Kurds, they have to be the part of the process, otherwise less chance for a solution

dogan kemal ileri

6/8/2012 12:36:45 AM

All talk is useless unless the Kurds geniunely want peace and reconciliation which must mean they have to renonunce terrorism and violence and lay down their arms once and for all and get round the table of democracy and negotiate with the state.They must be clearly told from the outset that there can never be any division of Turkiye in any form or guise to politically accomodate any ethnic group.Turkiye is a land of one nation and all its peoples are its collateral assets.We are all equal.
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