Turkey aims to raise its democratic standards with peace process: President Gül

Turkey aims to raise its democratic standards with peace process: President Gül

Turkey aims to raise its democratic standards with peace process: President Gül

Turkish President Abdullah Gül made his first TV interview in more than a year on private broadcaster CNN Türk. AA photo

Turkey has undertaken the ongoing peace process to resolve the nation’s Kurdish issue with the purpose of raising its democratic standards, Turkish President Abdullah Gül said Feb. 27 in a live TV interview on private broadcaster CNN Türk.

In the interview Gül stressed a lot of mistakes were made in the past regarding the Kurdish issue, most of them due to “a lack of democracy.” 

“Turkey is currently not in a situation where it has to negotiate after [having difficulties dealing] with violence. Our security forces are accomplishing their task with great coordination. But we are taking this step to raise our democratic standards and [moral] conscience… We are making this effort because we are willing to do what we believe in, what we see as the right thing to do,” Gül said in his first interview in more than a year. 

Among prior mistakes that conflicted with Turkey’s moral conscience Gül cited the usage of minorities’ mother tongues in southeastern Turkey. “When I grew up in Kayseri [in Central Anatolia] I haven’t seen anyone speaking in Kurdish. But in Diyarbakır, everyone was speaking Kurdish. How could I deny this? If I deny it that would mean that I have a moral problem.”

Gül reiterated that Turkey’s national unity should not be debilitated and the will shown by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) for finding a peaceful solution should be interpreting as proof that “violence is no longer beneficial.” “The pains it caused are evident. There is an expectation [to end violence] among the base and the people. They might have listened to them” he said.

The two-hour long interview focused on a number of domestic and foreign issues and saw Gül repeat his criticisms regarding the long detention period of retired generals on charges of terrorism after being accused of plotting against the government. “Just like [in order to avoid] throwing the baby out with the bathwater, we all have the conviction that [the judiciary] should be more careful and meticulous, promoting the presumption of innocence more,” he said. He also emphasized that the government thought the third judicial package contained some dispositions to prevent long detentions; however, a change of mentality was also needed before a change of the practices could happen.

Responding to a question on the freedom of the press, Gül acknowledged that the long detention periods of a certain number of well-known journalists has shadowed the investigations, tacitly referring to former reporters such as Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener who were prosecuted in the OdaTV case.

‘Some see Syria’s self-destruction as an opportunity’

Gül also criticized the position of the United States and Europe regarding the Syrian issue, warning that the extension of the war will mean more radicalization of the parties. “There are those who see Syria’s self destruction as an opportunity. Those who support the people with a strong rhetoric don’t give meaningful support, whereas those who support the regime do it with all their power” Gül said.

Acknowledging recent concern about Salafites as a real issue, Gül stressed that Syrian people were moderate and would not accept an oppressive government. He emphasized as well that Turkey was honored to host Syrian refugees.

To questions about his intention to participate in 2014 presidential elections should there be a new mandate, Gül said he had not made a decision yet. “If you had not asked this question, they would have told you why. But if you were in my shoes, you would gave an answer such as the one I will give you. This decision still has time. I will make a decision based on the developments [that unfold up to 2014],” he said.