Dear prime minister, do not waste the dialogue with youth

Dear prime minister, do not waste the dialogue with youth

I believe that Prime Minister Erdoğan’s meeting with the youth and their representatives today is very critical. The young people resisting at Gezi Park are giving very important lessons in democracy not only to the government but also to all of us including the opposition parties. And I assume everybody, including the executive members of the ruling Justice and Democracy Party (AKP), have drawn lessons from this (unfortunately, except for Prime Minister Erdoğan, for now)…

As a matter of fact, a very significant thing is happening in Turkey. The Gezi resistance is the biggest crisis the AKP has encountered since it has come to power in 2002. Some of you might think that up until today the AKP has fought bigger fights from party closures to military memorandums. Yes, but these interventions had no legitimacy and the AKP was ready and equipped for them.

In this latest example, though, there is legitimacy, and moreover, the government was caught unprepared. Actually not only the government but everybody was caught unprepared. Intellectuals and academics should seriously investigate this phenomenon; of course, the opposition parties also…

As I was writing these lines, I saw Prime Minister Erdoğan on TV storming around at the AKP group meeting at the Parliament: “We have always tried to understand those who did not vote for us; but we have not been a party in a showdown with different segments of the society. Just as we have managed with other tricks, we will, with god’s help, overcome this also.”

As daily Yeni Şafak’s Ankara representative Abdülkadir Selvi has written, Prime Minister Erdoğan, in this case, unfortunately has opted to “fight.” I’m afraid in the meeting today he will prefer to impose his own views instead of setting up a dialogue with those who launched the resistance. As a matter of fact, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç gave some clues of this in his press statement the other night, “Our prime minister will meet with those who have democratic and environmental demands and we hope he will persuade them.”

Topçu Kışlası (Artillery Barracks) equals Erdoğan

Besides, both PM Erdoğan and the AKP hold meetings with various nongovernmental organization representatives saying they are exchanging views with different segments, but in the end, they do not move an inch from where they stand.

The prime minister still has this psychology of “Everything is totally under our control. What I say will happen.” He has identified himself with the Topçu Kışlası (Artillery Barracks). He thinks he has given enough concessions by giving up plans for building a hotel, residence and mall. He probably hopes to persuade the Gezi resisters in the meeting today to that end.

Whereas, there are local elections on March 2014 and he may put it at the top of the list of AKP’s candidate for Istanbul metropolitan mayor’s pledges to the public: The Artillery Barracks.

Dear prime minister, the young people resisting at Gezi Park have no idea what “old” Turkey was like; they are not used to a “fatherly figure” who is trying to tune the whole society every minute. Meanwhile, you are asking, “We have pledged the Artillery Barracks in our 2011 election campaign, and why wasn’t anybody opposed to that then?” You would not expect from those who would not vote for you would scrutinize your election pledges.

As a last word: As a journalist who has spent her years in the civil society, I do expect a miracle in 24 hours.

Meral Tamer is a columnist for daily Milliyet in which this piece was published on June 12. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.