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January 20, 2013, Sunday

Turkey’s struggle against its phobias

Although agitation and provocative acts were anticipated, a rather peaceful atmosphere prevailed at the funeral ceremony organized in Diyarbakır for the three Kurdish women linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) who were murdered in Paris on Jan. 10. As the murders were staged at a time when the Turkish government launched peace talks with the terrorist PKK, the Paris killings were deemed to be an attempt of sabotage. However, Thursday's peaceful funeral ceremony showed that the public now wants peace to be brought to this land more strongly than ever and so won't be carried away by any provocative attempts, according to columnists.

Sedat Laçiner from the Star daily says if the killings indeed had aimed to derail the negotiations, they turned out to have the opposite effect. People are now more determined and eager for peace than ever. The columnist says locals in Diyarbakır did not put on a scene, security forces tried their best not to provoke the attendees at the ceremony, pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputies delivered peaceful speeches and, as such, all parties passed the test on Thursday. But what surprised Laçiner the most was the calm approach by the media. No media outlet exaggerated or agitated the event, which they normally do. Accordingly, we have successfully overcome a challenging stage of the peace process, says the columnist.

Laçiner then points out that despite positive remarks from PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, the organization's commanders in Kandil, the PKK's headquarters in northern Iraq, have shown no clear stance yet. The terrorist group's violent attempts have not ceased or decreased recently and one PKK leader recently said the organization's power comes from its arms, which raises questions as to whether there are some wings within the PKK that oppose Öcalan and his moves for peace.

BDP leader Selahattin Demirtaş said at the funeral ceremony that peace requires courage and audacity. However, Laçiner says, these two are not enough, and peace, in this case, also means an endeavor of patience and realism.

Gülay Göktürk from the Bugün daily says the Turkish state has two big phobias that have shaped its policies. First is the phobia that Turkey will be ruled by shariah and the second is that Turkey will be divided. After the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), which is known to be a conservative and religious party, came to power in 2002 and proved its true goals for democracy with its policies, the first phobia diminished to a great extent. As a result, no one in the country is afraid any longer that Turkey will be ruled by shariah, thinks Göktürk. However, in order to get rid of the second phobia, the government needs to continue its democratic reforms for Kurds, end its terrorism problem and achieve all of these without letting the country be divided. Only then will Turkey be freed from its phobias for good and only then will Turkey become a stronger country.

Previous articles of the columnist