After Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s disappointing statements about the hunger strike many Kurdish inmates have been on for almost two months, demanding the right to use Kurdish in the courtroom and an end to the isolation of terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan, the pessimism over ever reaching a solution has somewhat lessened with the much-praised statements of Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, who said the Cabinet will accelerate work on removing the ban on making defense statements in languages other than Turkish.
Sabah’s Emre Aköz argues that Erdoğan has been pursuing an unusual tactic lately. The prime minister lately has abandoned any discourse that would not be favorable to nationalists and conservatives, but instead has started to silently make moves that are favorable to democratic and liberal circles. Aköz gives an example: When nationalists attacked Erdoğan about two years ago, claiming that he held meetings with PKK leaders, Erdoğan categorically denied the claims. However, we later found out that indeed there was a series of meetings between PKK leaders and government representatives called the Oslo talks.
And we are witnessing a similar incident now on the matter of the Kurdish nationalists’ hunger strikes, Aköz claims. While Erdoğan continues using a harsh and definitive tone when saying there is no way the government will give in to the strikers’ “blackmailing” tactics by complying with their demands, the relevent ministries are already working on addressing those demands. With this strategy, Erdoğan aims to remain on good terms with conservative voters, which constitute the majority of his party’s support base, while silently taking the steps those voters would not like. If this analysis is indeed true, we should focus on the government’s actions rather than Erdoğan’s heated statements, Aköz asserts.
Taraf’s Mithat Sancar also hails Arınç’s constructive and meticulous statements as well as the statements of the leader of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), saying he hopes the incident will be resolved through dialogue with the government. But he asks: “Was it really that hard to make such progress? Why did we wait for so long to take these steps? The history of the deadlock over the Kurdish question is already full of government moves that turned out to be meaningless in the end because they were made too late.”