These days, an army of pragmatic, liberal and pragmatically liberal Turks are testing their mental and linguistically creative limits in finding a new constitutional reference for the Turks of Turkey so as to please the Kurds of Turkey without too badly offending the Turks of Turkey. Naturally, all sorts of amusing ideas have emerged.
Although how a new Constitution should refer to the nationality that lives in a country called Turkey is merely the semantic side of a much bigger problem and concerns only the cosmetics rather than the essentials of the Turkish-Kurdish peace talks, I shall try to make my own contribution.
1. We just cannot refer to the Turkish nation as the Turkish nation because that offends the Kurds. We cannot refer to it as the Kurdish nation because that would offend the Turks. And we cannot refer to it as the Turkish-Kurdish nation because that would offend millions of others with different ethnic roots.
2. The smart, creative “nation of Turkey” instead of the “Turkish nation” may also be problematic since the name “Turkey” is also a derivative of the word “Turk.” A standard dictionary would define a “Turk” as “a native or inhabitant of Turkey;” the adjective “Turkish” as “pertaining to, characteristic of or derived from Turkey or the Turks;” and “Turkey” as “a republic in western Asia and southeastern Europe.” In this case, the “Nation of Turkey” would also refer to a country whose name is a derivative of the word that dictionaries define as “a native or inhabitant of Turkey.” Tautological!
3. Perhaps we desperately need some neologism. “Kurdey” would alienate the Turks, like Turkey does the Kurds. “Turkurdey” would alienate the others, so forget it. But what then?
4. Anatolia! Like Britain housing the English, Irish, Welsh, Scottish and other nations under the adjective British? The Republic of Anatolia! Where are you from? I am from Anatolia / I am Anatolian. Sounds nice. But let’s elaborate further.
5. Could the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) be inspiring? Why not? Former Turkish Republic of Anatolia. No. It still recalls the much-undesired word, “Turkish.” What about the Former Imperial Republic of Anatolia, with a clever but subtle reference to our more glorious times? Or… why not be more direct?
6. Yes! The Former Ottoman Republic of Anatolia. Too long, perhaps, and sounds like a bold plagiarizing from the FYROM. What if we make a prospective twist? The Future Ottoman Republic of Anatolia? That would also give hints about what our republic will look like in a few years time. Not good enough. The plagiarizing effect is still too visible.
7. What about the Ottoman Republic of Anatolia? Good. But still not good enough to best describe our nation. How do the Turkish (oops… sorry, I mean the Anatolian) bigwigs define our country? A 99 percent Muslim country. So…
8. Now I can proudly present my proposal: The Ottoman Islamic Republic of Anatolia. Or, in a more realistic version, the Wannabe Ottoman Islamic Republic of Anatolia.
9. As for the flag, I would propose a simple color effect: Take the Crescent and Star and its red background; leave the crescent and star figure but be creative enough to make the background a tricolor instead of monochrome. Yes, you guessed well: Crescent and Star on a red-yellow-green background to represent both the Turks and the Kurds of Anatolia. Sorry, but the other nations of Anatolia should be content with the national colors of the two majority nations if we don’t want to turn our flag into an eclectic composition of patchwork made up of every color and figure possible.
Once we have sorted out the name and the flag, the unimportant issues like what degree of autonomy should be granted to the Kurds of Anatolia can wait for another decade or so.