Compromise is painful

Compromise is painful

Resolution of a problem through talks and compromise is a painful and difficult task compared to applying methods such as cutting the Gordian Knot with a sharp sword; that is, through force.

Turkey has lost tens of thousands of its sons and daughters to the Kurdish problem and repeatedly it has been proven that a military approach alone would produce no resolution. On the other hand, with a defeatist approach, Turkey cannot surrender to the demands of the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorist gang, compromising the security and well-being of its citizens.

Without compromising the “security-based approach,” Turkey ought to apply civilian, political, economic, social and even psychological tools, and through dialogue and compromise must try to find a way out of this almost three-decades-old deadly impasse. Saying it and doing it are two totally different issues. The government has been trying to do it without publicly admitting what it has been trying to achieve. Why? Because it was scared of the probable political backlash. Instead, with humdrum and lofty rhetoric, it has been trying to hide its dialogue efforts. With the information we all now have about the Oslo process that collapsed last May, how do we evaluate now the “The one who says we are negotiating with the PKK is a coward if he can’t prove it” outbursts of the tall, bald, bold and ever-angry man? It is absurd, of course, now to ask who the liar is or who the coward is. After almost three decades of struggle against the separatist gang it must be clear for everyone wishing to see an end to separatist terrorism the absolute need of engaging the PKK in a political dialogue without a lapse in security policies. Obviously, if a civilian approach – a political way out – is wanted, dialogue is a must. With whom should the state engage in dialogue? Not with Mehmet Ağa wearing yellow boots, of course!

Thus, it must not come as a surprise for anyone to hear that just a couple of weeks ago, on Dec. 16, a new dialogue between Öcalan and the Turkish intelligence organization began. Could this new dialogue process (which obviously must include some other discreet contacts other than Öcalan) lead to a resolution of the Kurdish issue? Obviously, Öcalan is not the only actor the state should talk to for a resolution of the Kurdish issue, but talks with the chieftain might at least help marginalize the PKK. On the other hand, like what happened last year with the so-called “MİT crisis,” a prosecutor might come up with an appeal to question the intelligence chief because, under law, such contacts with the gang definitely constitute a crime. Without the political shield the government has been providing, the intelligence chief would have been roasted in courts long ago.

Now the government is protecting the intelligence chief. What would happen tomorrow, after the government of the current political clan ends, if these dialogue efforts fail as well? What’s being done is a very serious crime that might land some politicians in the Supreme Court with charges of treason. However, irrespective of how costly and painful compromise might be, a political resolution cannot be reached without it. Does Turkey want a resolution of compromise to the Kurdish problem? If the answer is yes, without giving up criticism on other issues, everyone should lend support to the initiative of the government with the full awareness that the government alone cannot carry the heavy cost of such a compromise deal.