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February 04, 2013, Monday

Political test awaits Turkey

An agreement between the Turkish government and the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) is closer than ever now with the government's recently launched peace initiative.

Although the historical attempt at peace negotiations with PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan faced a serious blow over recent provocative acts, politicians' determination has kept the public's hope for a solution to the terrorism problem and eventually the Kurdish issue alive.

“We all seem to have reached consensus on the planned disbanding of the PKK and trying to solve the Kurdish issue at the political level only. But I am not sure how well we grasp the meaning and consequences of this plan,” Gülay Göktürk of the Bugün daily wrote. Many think that solving the Kurdish issue at the political level means discussing granting Kurds some harmless rights and leaving the issues of Kurdish autonomy or a Kurdish federation out of the discussion, but this is not true, the columnist said.

When, or if, the PKK hopefully stops committing violent acts, we will face a new and challenging test at which we will have to do our best in politics and democracy. Will we have some red lines we will not cross while discussing every demand and problem of the Kurds, or will we be bold and democratic enough to discuss everything the Kurds put forward?

If we believe in democracy and if we believe that the problems we have that stem from our differences can be solved only through politics, then we have to accept that there are no red lines in democratic politics. In other words, if we accept the fact that terrorism in Turkey should end and that the Kurdish issue should be solved through politics, then we have to accept that we should be able to bring Kurdish demands for autonomy or other federative structures to the agenda.

“As a matter of fact, it was a mistake to call the PKK a separatist group. Instead, we should have always called it a terrorist group. Although it runs contrary to the current Constitution, supporting separatism is a view just like any other view. According to the norms of freedom of thought, the fault of the PKK is not in seeking separatism but in resorting to violence when seeking it,” Göktürk wrote.

Abdülkadir Selvi of the Yeni Şafak daily wrote about a recent meeting between US Ambassador to Turkey Francis Ricciardone and President Abdullah Gül. The president told the ambassador that the Kurdish question is not something that can be solved through military means; it is a far deeper issue than that. “We should be the ones representing hope for solving this issue, not the terrorists,” Gül said. The ambassador then said, “Alright now, this problem will finally be solved.” The columnist said he feels the same way the ambassador does. He is hopeful because Turkey is now finally correctly diagnosing this chronic problem.

Previous articles of the columnist