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SEDAT LAÇİNER

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SEDAT LAÇİNER
January 17, 2013, Thursday

Öcalan-MİT talks

Whether its Turks or Kurds, the biggest problem for the vast majority of people in Turkey is resolving the terrorism problem. People want the politicians whom they have voted for to resolve terrorism.

Some people even scream, “Do whatever you must do, but let this problem come to an end.” In order to be more developed, more secure, more stable and more wealthy, this problem has to be resolved. If the terrorism continues, everything will be increasingly difficult for Turkey. Worst of all, if this problem continues, Turkey's Kurds in particular will lose the next generations, and under the shadow of the guns, there will emerge future generations who sanctify only guns and terrorism and do not believe in peace and cooperation.

Certainly, the request, “Do whatever you must, but let this problem come to an end” is not the correct one. States cannot do anything in order to resolve the terrorism problem. There are moral and material limits to the capabilities of states and society. That said, terrorism cannot end by trying just any approach. Turkey sadly learned this bitter fact in the Habur and Oslo failures.

The Habur and Oslo attempts were great mistakes. Maybe the intentions were good, but the method was wrong. However, it must not be forgotten that those who make mistakes are those who act. If this government had acted cowardly as the previous governments did and had not taken any risk, it would not have made those mistakes, but it also would not have done the right things and we would have sunk into this swamp of terrorism more and more.

Different from Oslo

In this case, with Habur and Oslo, we learned what we should not do. To be able to talk with the terrorists, you first have to provide an environment that is safe to pursue negotiations in. If you do not want to have these talks under the shadow of guns, you have to be militarily strong for peace and, even temporarily, you have to achieve domination over the terrorists. The security forces did this during the summer and fall months of 2012; they probably gave the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) its worst year. The PKK has difficulty in recruiting people to the mountains to fight.

Secondly, if there is going to be negotiations with the terrorists, you have to be powerful and armed in order to be strong during the talks. Yet, the terrorists crossed the borders freely during the democratic initiative process. Moreover, the PKK militants brought the terrorism into the city through the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) during the democratic initiative.

Fortunately, there are no such scenes today. The security of the negotiations table has been provided, the PKK has suffered heavy losses, and it has been made clear that the PKK will have no significant result in this way, not only if another 30 years pass, but not even if 300 years pass.

National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Undersecretary Hakan Fidan declared that many meetings were held with Abdullah Öcalan on İmralı Island, where he is serving a life sentence, and that he had talked to Öcalan face-to-face as well. He also painted quite an optimistic picture. According to the information leaked, Öcalan has said, “If there is no sabotage, very important steps may be taken in the forthcoming months.” After Fidan's statements, Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputies met with Öcalan on İmralı as well. Öcalan wants to be the only one who is involved in the process, and he wants the talks to be held with only him.

Cautious optimism

Many people have interpreted the İmralı talks with an exaggerated optimism, saying that “it's over.” Some people have acted as if the PKK has already committed to a cease-fire. On the other hand, there have been many people who see these talks as a first step for dividing the country, and some others call it an “armistice.”

I find both sides exaggerated and are wrong to some degree. We should neither be exaggeratedly optimistic nor say something like “dividing the country.” Maybe, the best option is cautious optimism. And of course, it is important to take security measures, and if there is a security gap, it should be filled. Let's not forget this, a part of peace still depends on the guns in a way… In addition, it should be noted that the PKK-Turkey negotiations will disturb Syria, Iran and several other regional states.

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