Process of ‘resolution’ or ‘bargaining?’
İSMET BERKANI do not know when we became such a bargaining community. Maybe we always have been. Unfortunately, there are many people who regard the ongoing conflict-resolution process like a trade bargain.
The very same people also adopted this perspective toward attempts to meet the Copenhagen Criteria to initiate Turkey’s European Union full membership negotiations. They said Turkey was making concessions for the sake of entering the EU.
But just like in the recent process, the benefits were actually “delivered” to the citizens of Turkey rather than to the opposite side in the EU process. It entailed more democracy, more human rights, and more humanity.
And today, the things that are to be “delivered” for the solution of a series of problems collectively described as the “Kurdish issue”: for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to lay down it arms, and for the armed groups to leave the country, are also nothing if not democracy and human rights.
The series of problems we came across under the title of “Kurdish issue” are basically the problems stemming from inequality and discrimination against Kurds.
I can see the immediate objections to that. Some might say, “This country even had a Kurdish president.” I would like to remind you of a phrase uttered by Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputy Altan Tan: “You can be anyone but a Kurd in this country.”
We are living in a country in which the prime minister announced that the state once followed an assimilation policy by saying that: “We are not doing it anymore. These policies came to an end.” Kurds do not feel like equal citizens; they think they are excluded by both state and society. They are regarded as second-class citizens and subjected to assimilation. The Kurdish issue cannot be solved until these feelings come to an end.
The problem has two main sources. The first is the state and its policies, the daily implementation of laws and so on, while the second one is society and its attitudes.
Solving the first one is relatively easy. Amendments could be made to the Constitution, laws and regulations. With determined reformers, the problem could be solved in a period that would not last so long.
Then what about society? Solving this one will take a longer time than the first. However, those who have already seen that society needs change are expressing the problem as a “Turkish issue.”
One cannot escape from truths. Since such a truth is present in society, then society is obliged to overcome it.
For this reason, the prime minister is using religion as a trump card. He makes public speeches that emphasize the equality of Kurds, basing his statements on the unifying power of religion.