The first fruit is harvested

The first fruit is harvested

We have harvested the first fruit of the latest Kurdish opening, the release by the separatist gang of eight people, including a local governor, who it had been holding hostage for many months. The experience of 2009 helped, no second Habur sham was experienced. The release was an encouraging sign of progress, cross your fingers, toward much-longed-for normalization.

Ultra-nationalists and nationalists are up in arms. They were complaining that it was wrong for the state to accept a baby killer sentenced to an enforced life term and banished to an island prison as a negotiation partner as if he was the representative of all ethnic Kurds of the country. Most Turks might buy this argument and probably that is why the big boss of the country made efforts recently to demonize nationalism. Still, if a solely security-based approach failed to ease the separatist terrorism menace over the past 30 years and if there is a strong consensus to walk the civilian road, with whom should the state negotiate peace?

This will be a bumpy, long and uphill road that we ought to walk patiently if we are interested in a settlement. On average, separatist terrorism-related violence claims the lives of some 70 Turks every month. For the past three months, if we put aside the blast at the American embassy, there were almost no fatal terrorist incidents. That is, the lives of at least 200 Turks were saved. Even this demonstrates the need to continue the process. And perhaps some people must tell the political extension of the gang that they should stop poisoning the atmosphere by constantly talking of whether the imprisoned chieftain would be freed.

Such talks are not conducive at all.

Turkey is becoming “greener”

Turkey is gradually becoming more and more “green,” with announced or de facto bans on alcohol consumption by local authorities. Isparta has joined Afyonkarahisar, Balıkesir, Bilecik, Çankırı, Erzurum, Kayseri, Konya, Rize, Şanlıurfa, Trabzon, and many other cities and towns in banning the consumption of alcohol in public places including parks, picnic grounds, streets and squares; a very important development.

The consolation, of course, is in the failure of local authorities and the government in Ankara to ban alcohol consumption for now in individual residences. But is it not saddening to see social facilities and the restaurants of all universities being clamped down on and unable to serve even a bottle of beer or offer some appetizers to their customers? Somehow all governors and local authorities find some excuses to hide their bans behind but with strong encouragement from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and with orders of governors with almond moustaches, the green veil covering Turkey is spreading fast.

According to one report, only 18 provinces (all coastal districts, situated either on the Mediterranean, Aegean or Black Sea coasts of the country) are left where there is no alcohol ban. In six provinces, including Ankara and Istanbul, there is no alcohol ban in private restaurants, but they are not served in public or municipal premises, restaurants and clubs, the municipalities are either creating immense difficulties or rejecting right away the extension of licenses of private restaurants and clubs offering alcoholic products to their customers. The remaining provinces are totally “alcohol-free” and in none of them are there public or private restaurants or clubs that serve alcoholic products.

I am not an alcoholic at all, yet is it not apparent that this country is faced with a slice-by-slice salami-tactic of Islamist-conservative advance?