Not because he had international experience and a worldwide reputation as an actor or his bass voice, incredible use of body language in his plays, years of excellent performance as an actor, but rather as a modern face of intellectual Turkey on stage, TV and cinema, I always had high admiration of Haluk Bilginer. I came across him this week while reading the magazine “Ot.”
As always, Bilginer was to the point. “As an aged man who has lost his hopes regarding the youth of this land, I am happy that my hopes bushed out again with the Gezi events.” Oh my God… In this country, at this time, while most artists, pseudo artists, singers, writers and whatever else were queuing up to become “wise men” of the almighty absolute ruler, “an old man” was so courageous to publicly declare that because of Gezi, his hopes for the future of the country bushed out once again…
This week, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan were in talks in Ankara over gas, nuclear energy, energy lines, and such power-related subjects. No doubt, they understood each other well, like two political brothers from two different geographies coming together. Did they discuss how to domesticate the media? Probably not, such problems have become mostly history for both leaders. Did they exchange opinions on the Putin-Medvedev and Erdoğan-Davutoğlu models? Do they need to at all? Most probably they did not discuss Gezi protests and the coup phobias, as well as the allegations of a “parallel state establishment” throwing mud at the ministers, sons and daughters as part of an “attempted coup.”
The Gezi protests, however, will be remembered next year, five, 10 or 50 years later as the events that saw the seeds of the really democratic Turkey, where instead of autocracy and the obsessions of some small men with almond mustaches, particpationist governance and instead of lofty rhetoric norms and values of democracy will shine the course to future. Though he belonged to the second or perhaps third republican generation, Bilginer admits in all honesty that he knew nothing about Kemalism or understands nothing from lofty nationalistic statements. Indeed so. With all respect and gratitude to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and his comrades in arms who founded this republic, can it be relevant to be a “Kemalist” while even Atatürk himself refused to be described as such? Or, can we build a future with the values, norms and evaluations of the 1930s? What is Kemalist nationalism? Is it an all-inclusive “whoever living on this land is a Turk” understanding or “Everyone living on this land are Turks, nothing else” Obsession? Still, instead of micro-nationalism and wars of hatred between ourselves, brushing aside all walls dividing the society, embracing all ethnicities, linguistic, cultural and religious differences, we must be able to embrace each other in order to build a common future. Though this appears to be an above-politics goal, it is sheer politics and requires shunning the backward, obsessive and autocratic element which after all that was experienced, still shyly and cowardly collaborating with the zealots butchering people mercilessly in nearby Syrian and Iraqi territories. Is it possible for anyone to be fooled with “there was a border intrusion for few seconds” claim after seeing the video of that beast firing from an industrial facility in Turkey toward people trying to defend the Syrian Kurdish-populated town of Kobane? How accurate is the claim that Turkey is still discreetly supporting the Islamist zealots?
Irrespective of if I like it or not, there is a need for the Turkish state to make peace with its people and the religions of its people, as well as with history. Under the pretext of fighting parallel state, a systematic campaign is continuing against a section of the society, while despite the refusal to lay down arms and denounce terrorism, both the separatist terrorist gang and its political extensions are “exceptional” treatment. Large chunks of Turkish territory are no longer under the control of the Turkish state. The gang has reportedly gone to the extent of appointing a “governor” for one of Turkey’s border provinces.
Turkey’s problems ought to be resolved within democracy and through democratic methods. The Kurdish issue, Alevi’s problems and even mass murders or mass laying downs in mines and most of all the rest of the woes of this country are all related to the absence of democratic governance. Having elections every few years is not democracy. After all, don’t forget even Hitler had come through the ballot box. In the absence of democratic norms, values and institutions, only using the ballot box can produce only the sort of democracy where the chief of the constitutional commission may come up with a “If the constitutional court does not decide what we are expecting from it, not only the decision will be considered void, but we will start talking about the future of the high court as well.”
Does Turkey deserve this?