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January 30, 2013, Wednesday

Shock waves not restricted to the CHP

The late Ahmet Kabaklı gave the title "Temellerin Duruşması" (Trial of Foundations) to one of his books as if he had seen our time in advance. The "yes" votes cast during the referendum held on Sept. 12, 2010, paved the way for the trial of foundations -- those on which the Turkish Republic was established. What we see today is indeed a trial of foundations. Putting the spotlight on certain people or organizations would thus be a superficial attempt to assess this period.

The start of the İmralı process -- a peace process being brokered through negotiations with Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan, who is currently serving his life sentence on the island of İmralı off the coast İstanbul -- has given impetus to this trial. The matter has nothing to do with the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) nor its members, including the neo-nationalist (ulusalcı) and progressive factions within the CHP. The ongoing shock waves are about foundations. Turkey is no longer capable of shouldering the emotional, legal, social and administrative burdens created by the tutelage system.

There are those who think the current shocks are directly related to the CHP. But in fact, these shocks will affect much more. Politics, media, academia, the intelligentsia and show biz will feel the tremors, and these tremors will be accompanied with shifts and drifts.

Who can be safe from the shock waves? Who can avoid them with minimal damage? Those who stand on the right ground and show firm attachment to principles will prevail. Those who adopt a laudable stance and praiseworthy position will win.

Let us move from the abstract to the concrete. The tutelage system respected no principle. It paid no regard to rule of law. It accepted no one except itself, and defined everyone else as others. It didn't care about sharing. It was not democratic or liberal. These were the wrong foundations. The time to lay the correct foundation has come. First, we need to change I think leaving it as it is would be a better translation our mentality. Let me enumerate how: You shall want democracy to be applicable to everyone, not to yourself specifically. If you do not pay respect to the views and ideas of other people, this means that you haven't changed enough. If harsh attitudes are not replaced with tolerance and tenderness, no one will be safe from disappointing and being disappointed by others. Tolerance means fostering a greater sense of caution not to offend others. Those who hurt others are doomed to be hurt by others.

Rule of law should be sought sincerely and for a better future for Turkey and our nation. Only in this way will a sense of justice come.

This is the right time for the correct stance. Everyone's stance is recorded in history. Our stance will be the same in the past as it is today and in the future. Those who stick to principles and who make a habit of sticking to principles will not make any blunders, while those who expect political gains for their actions will left out in the cold.  

In other words, new foundations will be laid with veracity. The İmralı process is an irreversible process. Even if it is sabotaged or suffers from provocations, Turkey will no longer be its old self. Those who falter in this process will be remembered as bad guys by future generations.

We have now a good opportunity for building new foundations, by making a civilian, democratic constitution and this opportunity should not be wasted. The biggest fractures in the old foundations stem from the existing Constitution. This Constitution is also the source of instability in the administration and the judiciary. It deliberately refrains from defining clear-cut boundaries between state institutions, paving the way for frequent clashes between them. Civilian-military relations are also problematic. The civilian will is regard as non-functional. The road to coups and juntas is wide open. Criminals are not punished. There are no guarantees for fundamental rights and freedoms.

We should not underestimate the matter, seeing it as restricted to the CHP only. If the CHP is divided, Turkey's basic problems will not be solved. What we really need is to change our mentality, to promote the culture of democracy. If we fail to do this, but embark on furthering our personal interests, everyone will lose.

Everyone needs rule of law. We must glorify the judiciary by ensuring its independence. Revenge-seeking sentiments are not fitting of democrats. Turkey must be saved from these tensions. It is important not to discredit institutions based on false assumptions. Those who regret their past wrongs should be forgiven. But we must be on alert against those who withdraw in order to attack in future.

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