Plans yet unclear as wise people reflect on commission meeting

Plans yet unclear as wise people reflect on commission meeting

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Plans yet unclear as wise people reflect on commission meeting

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdoğan hosted the first meeting of the 63 figures chosen by the government for the 'Wise Persons' commission, in Istanbul on April 4. DHA Photo

Plans regarding how the government-formed Wise Persons’ Commission will contribute to the ongoing peace process remain uncertain, but a united will and positivity exists among the members, according to views reflected following the commission’s 4.5-hour introductory meeting with the prime minister.

Nearly all members expressed hope and commitment to the process, which will oversee commission members traveling the country to report on society’s view on the peace process, after the meeting in which Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan asked them to take responsibility for helping facilitate the process.

Professor Baskın Oran defined the process as “a first-time initiative in Turkey,” stating that the meeting had introduced the members to each other.

“From now on, each group will be meeting on its own and deciding the method and the logistics of things,” Oran told members of the press.

Oran said the prime minister absolved them of any responsibility toward the government or the ruling party.

“I am not going to do PR for any party or any government,” Oran said. “I am only one of many who came here to contribute to solving Turkey’s biggest problem, the Kurdish issue, both for Turkey and the region.”

Actress Hülya Koçyiğit said members all offered opinions and suggestions to the roles that are set to be taken by the commission.

“We need to show a united effort and belief to produce solutions. It was not only I that had suggestions, but everyone. In time, all works will progress hand-in-hand. What matters here is ensuring peace in society. I wholeheartedly support all attempts toward that,” Koçyiğit said.

Yeni Akit Editor-in-Chief Hasan Karakaya also highlighted the needed for unity in the commission, calling on members to “bury the hatchet, at least for a while.”

“There was a need to meet,” Karakaya said. “We will decide what to do in the upcoming days.”
The prime minister asked members to take on responsibility and contribute to the peace process, Cem Foundation head İzzettin Doğan said.

“There is nothing secretive going on,” Doğan told reporters after the meeting. “We discussed different methods. Everyone talked about what they can and cannot do.”

The work was initially set to take a month but was later expanded to two months, Doğan said.
“Whether or not to travel to each region is up the region’s group,” Doğan said. “The groups will be deciding among themselves.”

Political scholar Professor Doğu Ergil defined the commission as “a complete civil movement.”

“There isn’t yet a definitive program,” Ergil said. “It will get clearer as time passes. We will get to know the people of the regions; we will reveal further what they agree with and what they oppose. … This is a complete civil movement.”

Journalist Nihal Bengisu Karaca repeated that no pressure had been exerted on the commission and that they were left alone to decide.

“Excluding the technical details, the groups are left in charge of deciding what to do,” Karaca said.

Artists, a musician, a large group of journalists, academics, intellectuals and representatives from nongovernmental organizations were included on the long-awaited list of “wise persons.”

Opposition members, however, have expressed dissatisfaction with the commission, with Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy leader Haluk Koç likening the group to electoral campaign groups, and Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) co-chair Gültan Kışanak criticizing the insufficient number of females, academics and people who could help the Kurdish people express themselves directly.

The 63 prominent names on the list were carefully picked by Erdoğan, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç previously said.

Each group has a president, a vice president and a secretary and consists of nine people. Meeting with opinion leaders; holding symposiums, panels and conferences; making one-on-one contacts; and getting in touch with local, national and international media are among the tasks the commission members are expected to do, according to Erdoğan.