AKP’s first steps for ‘Mother tongue’
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
The ruling AKP heralded mother tongue issue in its 2023 vision document, an nounced on Sept 30 congress. DAILY NEWS photoAt the Justice and Development Party (AKP) Congress, the party announced its 2023 political vision and pledged “access to public services in mother tongue[s].” No reference was made to the timing of this, however. Right after the congress, the AKP government made its first official step in this direction without delay.
The government sent a notice to all government agencies and institutions asking for information about “the difficulties encountered in providing services because of the language issue.” According to the information I gathered, the study is being coordinated by a unit set up at the office of the prime minister. The AKP government hopes to get a picture of what kind of difficulties which government institutions are having in which regions and come up with a solution in the light of these data. My source at the AKP told me, “In those institutions and regions where Kurdish citizens suffer difficulties, Kurdish-speaking personnel will be appointed quickly. These personnel will handle services for non-Turkish speakers.”
AKP headquarters is also directing the process by conducting surveys. The AKP has ordered a survey among Kurds who speak Turkish, and interesting results have been obtained. Almost 100 percent of Kurdish youth can speak Turkish, but a large number of Kurdish citizens over 50-60 years of age do not speak Turkish, the survey revealed. Non-Turkish-speaking elderly people especially suffer difficulties in gaining access to health services.
The survey asked whether Kurdish-speaking personnel are necessary in such public domains as
education, land registry offices and municipal offices. It determined that there is no need for a Kurdish-speaking interpreter in a student-teacher relationship. At military facilities, because courses are organized for those who do not speak Turkish, there is also no need for an interpreter. With regard to services from municipalities and special provincial administrations, certain difficulties were observed to have been encountered concerning the mother tongue issue. It was clear that Kurdish-speaking personnel should be recruited for local administrations.
The government has also simultaneously begun work to address the mother tongue issue in the courts. According to information I gathered, regardless of whether or not a person can speak Turkish, the government is focusing on a regulation granting everyone the right to make a defense in Kurdish.
Under the current system, an interpreter is only given to people who do not speak Turkish.
The government wants to regain to a certain extent the support it has lost due to certain nationalist policies it has recently adopted by removing all obstacles to Kurds’ accessing public services in their mother tongue by October 2013.
By-pass problem in new charter
Accusations that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is attempting to bypass the Parliamentary Constitution Conciliation Commission have emerged from the opposition wings of the commission.
The final straw seems to have come with the ruling party lowering the age of eligibility to be elected as a deputy to 18 and granting voting rights to privates. Opposition parties represented in the Commission say: “The government seems to have such lack of faith in the new constitution that they are constantly introducing constitutional amendment motions outside of the Commission.” Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Süheyl Batum has openly claimed that the government is insincere in the new constitution drafting.
PM to determine state secrets
The draft law on state secrets that was left unfinished in the last term of Parliament is being brought back to the agenda.
The motion, expected to be discussed in the general assembly in the coming weeks, is important because for the first time a board headed by the prime minister will be given significant powers to determine “disclosing state secrets” and “what a secret is.” The State Secrets Assessment Board will decide on state secrets, which are then to be hidden for 50 years. The prime minister will therefore have the power to categorize important meetings as a “state secret,” and the board will also decide whether or not to hand information to courts that demand it, and whether or not certain documents should be classified as state secrets.