Pragmatism or opportunism?

Pragmatism or opportunism?

It took weeks of bargaining between Turkey’s de facto absolute ruler, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), the political wing of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), about who would be its members for a trip to the separatist chieftain serving a life-term at the İmralı island prison, but finally a three-member BDP team was formed and visited the prison Saturday.

The visit helped the nation learn what a big humanist the separatist chieftain was. No longer he was the “child killer” but someone who was so happy with the “process” that to demonstrate his happiness, he reported to have expressed hope that PKK was treating its “prisoners” well and that he wished all prisoners of the gang would reunite with their families soon. Image makers in action, obviously. Anyhow, irrespective of how strongly the separatist chieftain, the gang and their heinous actions were condemned, excluding some marginal nationalist groups (whether it’s Turks, Kurds or others, it doesn’t matter much), an overwhelming majority of citizens have pinned high hopes on the prospect of a “civilian” resolution to the Kurdish problem and the separatist terrorism menace. As it comes to the public support of the current so-called “İmralı process,” polls indicate rather strong public support as well. To what extent these polls are accurate is, of course, subject to debate. Still, I would think the process has the support of at least half of Turkey’s citizens.

The latest “nationalism allergy” of the prime minister – who until the day before was far more nationalist than the party that claims to be nationalist – might be the product of yet another surprise around the corner. The premier loves such surprises. Like in boxing, he shows the right fist but hits with the left.

With thriller-like indictments, the government’s special prosecutors wrote a scenario in which almost no commander was left out of prison. In the middle of the night, a special court lifts the sentencing of a top general. The next night the same former general undergoes a critical heart surgery. The next day an affectionate premier poses for the cameras at his bedside. What’s wrong? What’s correct? Was that former commander a coup leader? Or was he a former commander that the premier still cherishes good memories of working closely with? It’s all related to that famous democracy and train car anecdote. “We shall travel until the stop we wish to get off at, and then we will abandon the train car…”

What is the aim and strategy of the de facto absolute ruler of the country? Does he want to see an end to the Kurdish issue and the separatist terrorism through compromise? What red lines does he have? Or, is he trying to buy a two-year lull in separatist violence with an “as if negotiating” strategy; complete some sort of a new Constitution or an amendment to the existing one carrying the country to presidential governance and get elected as the first popularly elected president?

After only yesterday making a Shanghai Five bluff to the Western allies of Turkey, fresh winds are again filling Turkey’s European sails once again (thanks to a leadership change in Greek Cyprus). Just days ago, Turkey’s EU minister made a fresh call to Greek Cypriots battling in an acute economic-financial crisis to lift the blockade on Turkish Cypriot Ercan airport in exchange for Turkey opening its ports and airports to Greek Cypriots. Turkey has been intensifying its pressure for an international Cyprus conference, a development which may indeed bring about a resolution to the perennial headache.

Pragmatism or opportunism, what’s guiding the Turkish government?