Realpolitik alla turca
The political convergence between two main parties in Turkey seems to be in progress, especially after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s June 12 remarks about a possible ‘national conciliation’.
Addressing his conservative Justice and Development Party (AK Party) group in the Parliament, Erdoğan responded to the proposal of his rival Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the social democratic main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), about the Kurdish problem.
Kılıçdaroğlu had proposed a ‘societal conciliation’ commission to be formed by four parties in the Parliament, the Meclis in order to draw a roadmap toward a lasting solution to the number one problem of the country, which has claimed more than 40,000 lives in the last three decades.
Erdoğan told Kılıçdaroğlu in their first meeting last week that if he could not convince the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which refuses to talk about the issue, and the Kurdish problem focused Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), which refuses to talk about the issue in the presence of the MHP, the AK Party could work on the issue together with CHP.
Since that meeting, the government has taken a few more steps. Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay said in a CNN Turk interview that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq, lead by Masoud Barzani, has been in contact with the PKK to lay down arms. The PKK denied that claim, but then a spokesman for Jalal Talabani, the Kurdish-origin president of Iraq said it was an item on their agenda. (Ankara and Arbil, the headquarters of the KRG are becoming closer as Iraq is under threat of a division, as Turkey and Azerbaijan get closer every other day; both having the same leitmotiv as providing energy for the growth of Turkey and Europe, under dire circumstances of sanctions on Iran.)
In the same ‘national conciliation’ definition speech, Erdoğan announced that the government was planning to insert elective Kurdish courses into primary education, which had been hinted at before by the CHP as an option to the BDP’s obligatory education for the Kurdish population proposal. He also said that Kılıçdaroğlu had better not force the BDP and MHP too much and cooperate with the AK Party, which is sufficient enough to have national conciliation; ‘Inshallah’ he added, if God wills. The voter base of the two main political traditions is around 80 percent.
Speaking to the CHP group two hours later Kılıçdaroğlu indirectly approved the idea by saying nothing against it. He repeated his call to the MHP and BDP to join the effort.
He also put a lot of emphasis on the case of parliament members currently in jail. Two of the total eight deputies in jail were elected a year ago and together with the issue of long detention periods and Specially Authorized Courts are real problems for the CHP electorate.
Those are the issues the government is planning to take some steps on, but the Fethullah Gülen group, a vocal supporter for the AK Party, accused of having influential groupings within the judiciary and the police, oppose the idea. It is clear that such a step by the government will not only take some international and domestic pressure off the government, but enable the CHP leader to be able to take some more steps on the Kurdish issue, and possibly on the constitutional work too.
If the realpolitik alla turca regarding the political convergence of the AK Party and the CHP to work on the Kurdish issue it may indeed work for creating the new constitution, which could improve the political and economical situation not only for Turkey but for the neighborhood as well.