A mandate for a common future

A mandate for a common future

Turkey’s southeast is experiencing its harshest days in decades. Never have we witnessed open “urban-warfare” on such a scale. 

While PKK militants are digging trenches and opening fire, Turkish security forces and now the Army are on the streets of Cizre, Sirnak, Silopi and Sur. Officials’ rhetoric on “cleaning up” does not help either. As Ankara uses “pest-control” language, more and more Kurds feel offended. What is it that is being cleaned up anyway? 

Military and intelligence sources tell me that knocking down houses and bombing neighborhoods do not create a solution. They may simply create a zone and not even a completely safe one. Interior Minister Efgan Ala again blamed Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP) municipalities for “not serving the needs of the local population in these villages.” One thing Ala ignores is the youth that is fighting could not care less about trash collecting, plumbing, asphalting or greening of parks. These are very Justice and Development Party (AK Party) things. In fact, these activities may be the only thing that the AK Party does perfectly in these areas.

Winning the hearts and minds of these young Kurds is extremely difficult compared to winning construction tenders, for example.

At the height of this dystopia, there are still NGOs keeping their focus on a new constitution, a clear mandate for a common dream and future. The Turkish Enterprise and Business Confederation (TURKONFED) launched its report on a new constitution in Ankara this week. Co-authors Prof. Dr. Fuat Keyman and Bekir Ağırdır with three young academics managed to put forth a clear map of what priorities the new parliament and citizens should look for. The report, entitled “On the Road to A New Constitution,” nearly gives a formula for drafting the ultimate text.

“A powerful checks and balances system coupled with equal citizenship,” said Keyman, “may sound simple, but it solves everything. We are not suggesting new institutions and pie-in-the-sky solutions. Hold this test to everything that is written. Freedom, equality and justice, together with the two above, can create a solid ground.”

Ağırdır, the chairman of Konda Polling, also shared the results of their research in the report. “Polarization, erosion of a common and good reference and distrust are the main obstacles,” Ağırdır said. He also added that he would have simple suggestions for the parliamentarian committee that will be discussing the new constitution. “Take the word of the citizen as THE TRUTH,” Ağırdır said. “And watch your language when you are writing. Anything and everything means more than it should these days.”

Former parliament speaker Mr. Cemil Çiçek was also present during the launch of the report. “If the four parties that approved 62 articles during the previous term can stick to their words and come back to the table, we would save a lot of time,” he said. Çiçek was bitter because he felt a huge chance was missed during his era as the chairman. “We could have left out the thorny articles and moved on with the content rather than the process… So much could have been done,” he said.  

There has never been a more urgent time to rejoin and discuss our common future. Because if we do not do it for ourselves, someone else will do it for us.