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September 14, 2011, Wednesday

Thank you, Mr. Erdoğan

I guess the biggest contribution that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has ever made to this country is that he reminded us of sincerity and authenticity. This country has repressed its people so strongly and brutally that we thought we had to have dozens of masks to use in different circumstances.

This is still the case as it is not very easy to drop this attitude. Most of these masks have become part of our faces through longtime exposure. Let us be honest, we all still have many masks.

This may be the reason why we love Erdoğan. Even if we are mad at him and think he is out of line, we, as people, love him. This was what surprised us and made us proud in Davos, where Erdoğan had his famous "one-minute" outburst. Yes, the Mavi Marmara voyage could have been planned more carefully. However, it was the far-right coalition government manipulated by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman that killed nine of our citizens on the high seas. Erdoğan stands tall and as he does so, we become prouder. Is that not so?

He was welcomed like a hero in Egypt and, for the first time, we are proud of being citizens of a big country that adopts an ethical standpoint. Let us admit it, we like it this way and we have the right to.

On the day Erdoğan arrived in Egypt, the first leg of his Middle East tour, a pro-Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) news agency publicized a tape recording; however, it was quickly removed from the site and the administrators argued that the site had been hacked.

This was a tape recording of a negotiation between the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) and PKK leaders in the spring of 2010. There are different rumors and allegations; however, regardless of whether the tape was leaked by the PKK, Israel or MİT because of an internal row, Erdoğan and MİT Undersecretary Hakan Fidan were obviously in the spotlight.

Listening to the recording, you see that Erdoğan has taken a great risk to attain peace by sitting at a negotiation table with the PKK. In the midst of troubles, coup attempts and a seriously lacking opposition, Erdoğan took this huge risk to make the bloodshed stop. He took a risk that could even claim his political career if the military ever got wind of it.

He sends the government's own MİT undersecretary to the negotiations as his representative to address the PKK personally as a negotiation partner. The talks have come to a certain point and everything is on the table for discussion and negotiation. True, no one expects a resolution to be attained within a few months, but it appears that some technical issues have already been resolved.

Fidan asks the PKK leaders to appreciate Erdoğan's efforts. This is a leader who sacrifices his political considerations and views as well as his career for the attainment of peace.

I simply appreciate the prime minister's courage. How many leaders have done something so huge in this country? Who would say a word to Erdoğan had his party not made any attempt to address this problem and preserve the status quo? Nobody. The government would have had many excuses to avoid confronting the issue.

But Erdoğan sincerely wanted to make sure that mothers would no longer cry; he felt their agony in his heart. As a human being and a responsible politician, he acted resolutely and reasonably without discriminating between Turks and Kurds. The talks confirm this.

Of course, the purpose of leaking this tape is to undermine Prime Minister Erdoğan's image, incite the people against him and ensure that he is accused of treason.

However, we all know that peace requires more courage than war. We need brave hearts. Preservation of the status quo is something losers do. If there is such a huge dispute claiming many lives, then parties to the dispute will eventually have to talk about peace. There is no other way.

This has been the case all over the world. Lasting peace is attained by mutual concessions and negotiations rather than war. Yes, the state can talk to anyone. The state's business is to resolve problems, to protect its citizens and to make sure they are happy.

Those who seek to fulfill their goals through this tape will be disappointed and it is our job to disappoint them. The prime minister has done his part and it is now our turn to do ours. Thank you, Mr. Erdoğan. You have sacrificed your political career for the mothers of this country. Now it is our duty to side with you. You have our full support.

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