Freedom of expression, now

Freedom of expression, now

The fact that the “zero problems with neighbors” policy has not been able to be sustained has been criticized frequently, including in this column. Actually, the variable was not the “zero problems” policy; it was the neighbors. Everybody was caught off guard with the process called the Arab Spring. For example, your neighbor is Syria and you want zero problems with it. Yet this regime may be toppled and replaced by a new one. In that case, it has to be determined with whom you want zero problems.

Supporting the opposition that has a high tone of Islamic emphasis has been opted for instead of an al-Assad who is quite distant ideologically. There is also the probability of not being able to maintain zero problems with the new administration. It was probably considered that an inexperienced new administration that has a debt of gratitude to Turkey would serve the purpose more. When the domestic struggle in Syria lasted longer than expected, the matter became unsolvable.

In Iraq though, the relations with the central government are awful; however, the cooperation with Iraqi Kurdistan is quite good. Neçirvan Barzani, in an interview with Time Magazine, said they were closer to an independent Kurdistan than ever. However, he said at least one state in the region needed to be persuaded of this, otherwise, he added, Iraqi Kurdistan would be trapped. Energy expert Necdet Pamir, in his article published in Al Monitor, stated that those oil and natural gas agreements Turkey struck with Iraqi Kurdistan independent of the central government would contribute to the independence path of Kurdistan.

It should also be kept in mind that head of Iraqi Kurdistan, Masoud Barzani, also participated in the Justice and Development Party (AKP) congress.

These are in harmony with Foreign Affairs Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s general foreign policy. Even though he refrains from naming it as such, Davutoğlu has a dream of an “Ottoman Nations System” where close relations are established with former Ottoman states. Let’s remember what Davutoğlu said to the magazine Revizyon in 1999: “Politically, Turkey has to meet with Ottoman history at one point.” The minutes of the BDP’s İmralı meeting and the statements of Selahattin Demirtaş, who held another meeting later, show that the solution to the Kurdish issue lies in this axis.

Öcalan, by referring to the Ottoman nations system, is saying that Turks, Kurds and Arabs are part of the same nation. According to Demirtaş’s statements, Öcalan, in his last meeting, also referred to the initial period when the Republic of Turkey was formed, as the Ottoman remainder. He refers to the Ottoman cultural community. He points out the formation of the European Union and mentions a “Democratic Middle East Confederation” project around the waters of the Euphrates and Tigris also covering the Middle East.

Öcalan held the same views in 2006: “Alparslan allied with the Kurds and entered Anatolia. In the period of Yavuz, it was only possible to enter the Middle East after a Kurdish alliance. As I insistently emphasize, after a Turkish-Kurdish alliance is achieved, a culture of democracy should be established in the Middle East.” All of this needs to be debated openly and without being caught in delusions. Can it be possible for Turkey to use its “soft power” stemming from its historic and cultural background in the region to solve the democracy issue of the Middle East together with the Kurdish issue?

Or is it daydreaming of working on an Ottoman and Islamic brotherhood-themed solution plan in a region where too many ethnic, national, religious and economic tensions exist?

Where does the presidential regime debate sit in this picture?

Where would be the positions of the United States, Russia and the EU?

These need to be discussed in an environment of absolute freedom of expression. In an environment where writers lose their jobs with one word from the prime minister, there could only be loud cries, distrust, doubts and impositions.

Those who block discussions are the ones who damage the process the most. There is no room for fear; from the clash of ideas comes only the light of truth.

Özgür Mumcu is a columnist for daily Radikal in which this piece was published March 21. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.