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February 15, 2013, Friday

Will the peace talks fail?

My answer to this question is no. However, it is obvious that there are many obstacles and hardships involved. Above all, the relationship between the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) should be normalized.

Not just these two parties but all opposition parties in Parliament and even all of Turkey will be affected by the results of this normalization or cooperation.

It would appear that Turkey has boarded a high-speed train.

On the eve of the second meeting between Kurdistan Workers' Party leader Abdullah Öcalan and the BDP delegation, Öcalan may signal support for taking the new constitution to a referendum. Objections have already been raised to the possibility that the AK Party and the BDP could cooperate to take the new constitution to a referendum. The main opposition party and the media outlets that support it have raised the possibility that “cooperation between the BDP and AK Party to take the constitution to a referendum could bring an end to the PKK issue and even the Kurdish problem; however, the price for Turkey would be democracy.”

In other words, a solution is possible, but it will cost the country its democracy. This is basically what they say. Those who hold this view also note that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wants to become president and that to do so he needs the votes of Kurdish people, and that should he be elected president in this way, it would mean the end of democracy in Turkey and would lead to an authoritarian regime in the country.

But what sort of presidential system is being sought that even speaking of it is that terrifying? The discussions on this matter have not yet been concluded.

The stance of the AK Party on a presidential system is more or less obvious; however, it is not certain what kind of presidential system will be agreed to by the parliamentary commission drafting the new constitution. Therefore, the objections being raised do no refer to any specific form of presidential system; instead, the opposition is directed against the possibility of Erdoğan's election as president. In this case, Turkey's Kurdish problem, which has claimed the lives of 1,500 people over the past two years, has not become an urgent national issue for all political parties in such a delicate political environment. It continues to be used as a tool in domestic politics.

Once, the demands by the Kurds for greater rights were viewed as attempts to divide this country. Paranoia over this division has come to an end. Propaganda arguing that Turkey is the state of the Turkish nation is slipping away but still circulates. However, this political strategy no longer has influence. Now -- at a time when Turkey needs to resolve the issue for domestic and international reasons, the solution process has attracted a great deal of popular support and it is impossible to openly object to a solution -- they argue that the problem could be solved but democracy would be lost.

This is what those who have a problem with Erdoğan and the AK Party tell the Turkish people. Those who do not want a solution on the Kurdish side have the stronger hand because they have managed to promote a discourse of hatred of Erdoğan and the government over the past decade among the Kurds. In this case, they would argue that a solution won by supporting a “dictator” like Erdoğan would not serve the interests of the Kurdish people.

The strongest figures in Kandil have made several statements this week. What they basically said was as follows: Erdoğan and his government do not want a solution. Just as Israel assassinated the confidants of Yasser Arafat, the AK Party government wants to kill the PKK leaders in an attempt to isolate Öcalan. The Paris murders were the first step.

In the week these statements appeared in the pro-PKK media, the BDP raised this question in Parliament, to be answered by the prime minister: “Did you reward the suspect of the Paris murders?”

The “speedy solution process” has led to a swift gathering of opponents to a solution; I am not sure if you agree.

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