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January 17, 2013, Thursday

Six answers to ‘Why now’

Optimism for an eventual solution to the country's terrorism problem and hopefully the Kurdish issue has increased due to ongoing talks between state officials and terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan to broker a deal for the disarming of the terrorist group.

While columnists point to the challenges that the state faces during the talks and call for more vigilance, they also ponder why the previous attempts had failed and what is different this time.

In his article in the Taraf daily, Yıldıray Oğur questions why the previous attempts to solve the Kurdish issue had failed and why Turkey, which acknowledged the Kurdish question in 1991, is only now closer than ever to solving this problem. The first reason for this, according to the columnist, is that we are more aware that settling the Kurdish issue will serve our process of democratization and thus we are now more eager to solve it. Secondly, discussing the Kurdish issue is no longer seen as a taboo. People did not dare organize or attend a university panel discussion about the Kurdish issue six years ago, whereas now discussions about the Kurdish issue are all over TV programs. Even PKK commanders call in to live TV shows today. Also, politicians' language regarding the Kurdish issue has changed a lot. Only recently Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç mentioned how sorry he felt about the deaths of three Kurdish women with links to the PKK, while Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz had said they do not want to kill PKK terrorists. Such remarks are now appreciated by the public rather than causing a negative reaction.

Third is the will for coexistence. Turks and Kurds have not given up on living together even during the last 30 years of conflict. Thousands of Kurds' houses were demolished and hundreds became homeless in the 1990s. Because of this, Kurds had to move west and coexist more closely with Turks. Fourthly, the economic improvement in recent years has affected Kurds as well. They now have more to lose than in the past.

Fifth is that Kurds trust the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), as the party received half of Kurds' vote in the last elections, and they sincerely believe that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan can solve the issue for good. Sixth, and the most important reason, is that the balances in the Middle East are now being reshaped and the PKK can no longer rely on the support of the countries in the region. The answer to the question of “Why are we now closer to resolving the Kurdish issue?” is simple: Because “Thus spoke the zeitgeist,” Oğur writes.

Bugün's Gültekin Avcı says it is true that we have many reasons to be hopeful about the current peace process but we are still at the beginning and we have to know that there are many people wishing to hamper this process. Thus, we need determination more than hope to reach a solid, positive result.

Previous articles of the columnist