Is a ‘Wise Men Commission’ being formed?

Is a ‘Wise Men Commission’ being formed?

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Is a ‘Wise Men Commission’ being formed

The ‘Peace Commission’ is being considered as an umbrella name. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

While Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was answering the questions of journalists during his Netherlands trip about the peace process, he said the following: “There is no task necessary on the part of the Parliament for the [Kurdistan Workers’ Party] PKK to withdraw over the border ... There is a government in Turkey. The interlocutor is the government. The government will do what it needs to do. There may be sabotages to the process from within, or from other countries. This is the reason why the [Peace and Democracy Party] BDP wants to have a commission set up. They want to include Parliament in the process to raise the level of addressee for the PKK and for it to gain legitimacy. They are trying to legitimize the organization [PKK], but this legitimization will not happen.”

Erdoğan also gave similar messages during his weekend trip to Eskişehir. He said there would not be any new formations in the Parliament “for now,” declaring that they would not be signing any decision that could recognize the PKK as legitimate. On the other hand, President Abdullah Gül has said that the process could be conducted under the assurance of the Parliament.

What has changed at this point? Was Öcalan persuaded, or are there other formulas in question?

According to the impressions I gathered from the Justice and Development Party (AKP) corridors during the week, the government does not favor the setting up of a commission within Parliament, or any legal change. It looks impossible that a commission with members from the AKP and the BDP would be able to work, considering the partial resistance from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the severe resistance from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The AKP is eliminating this option saying, “the interlocutor is the government.”

Will the assurance of the government, rather than Parliament, be enough for Öcalan and the BDP? We will be able to obtain the clues after new contacts with İmralı. However, before that, BDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, by insisting on two commissions, has given the impression that it would not be “sufficient.”

What will the AKP government do now? The AKP is preparing to produce alternative options outside Parliament as an addition to the “government assurance.” The formula on the table would be to establish “civilian commissions.” Serious discussions are ongoing with regard to the timing, structure and function of possible commissions.

The BDP wants a parliamentary commission to be set up besides the “Wise Men Commission.” It wants the PKK withdrawal to be official under legal assurances. The AKP wing however does not seem to want to grant any official title or legal status to a possible commission or commissions “for now.” It instead says “yes” to a civilian commission outside Parliament, so that at least they see the withdrawal outside the borders.

“The issue of founding a commission is a technical matter. A civilian commission could be formed outside Parliament, made up of respectable institutions and names. They could undertake a consultancy role, conducting constructive work to prevent road accidents while walking to peace. But a decision has not been made yet,” an influential name within the AKP told me. It is another topic of discussion how members of possible commissions would shoulder this process without any “legal assurance” or “legal immunity.” The AKP is also debating this aspect.

The AKP executives are also brainstorming the structure of commissions. They are evaluating the option of seven commissions for seven regions to explain the process. It is being discussed that names from the business, labor, literature, art and academic worlds will be taken to possible commissions, and representatives may be asked from institutions such as TÜSİAD, MÜSİAD, TOBB, HAK-İŞ, MAZLUM-DER, İHD, TESEV, the Diyarbakır Bar Association and GÜNSİAD. It is being heavily emphasized that the final decision will be made by Prime Minister Erdoğan. It is also being whispered that Öcalan’s and the BDP’s suggestions will also be taken into consideration. It is a strong expectation that premier will not include those who have not given sufficient support to process in the list.

Because Öcalan and the CHP had previously suggested the “Wise Men Commission,” the AKP, if it does decide to form it, is considering different names to change the public perception. As an umbrella name, the “Peace Commission” is being considered. The prospect of a civilian wise men commission, or commissions outside Parliament, is becoming stronger. It is anticipated that an “official” commission within the Parliament will be taken up only after the PKK’s withdrawal.

Early struggles over Parliament

The term of Parliament’s Council of the Speaker, which is in its second year, ends in July. Its election may be extended to October, but fights have already started in the parties. Because of his efforts in Parliament’s Constitution Conciliation Commission, it is expected that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will keep Cemil Çiçek in the parliamentary speaker post.

It is being whispered that the AKP will change deputy speakers Sadık Yakut and Mehmet Sağlam. It is regarded as certain that the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) will keep Güldal Mumcu as deputy speaker, whereas it is being said that Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli will not appoint deputy speaker Meral Akşener in the new term because of existing disputes between them.

Names of wise men whispered in ears

While the debate on the Wise Men Commission is ongoing, the lists have already been made in the corridors of Parliament.

Some of the wise men preferred by deputies from the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP): Yaşar Kemal, İshak Alaton, Zülfü Livaneli, Ahmet Altan, Osman Kavala, Murat Belge, Hidayet Şevkat Tuksal, Gencay Gürsoy, Mehmet Emin Aktar, İsmail Beşikçi, Hasan Cemal, Cengiz Çandar, Can Paker, Eser Karakaş, Şahin Alpay, Mehmet Altan, Baskın Oran, Oğuz Özerden, Ahmet İnsel, Fehmi Koru, Rakel Dink, Orhan Pamuk and Mithat Sancar.