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June 13, 2012, Wednesday

A historic but belated move

A landmark move by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) on Tuesday to introduce Kurdish as an elective language course at schools has been met with widespread appreciation although some said it is belated.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said at any school with the minimum number of students to run a class Kurdish will be offered as an elective course. He also emphasized that, depending on the demand and need, other languages of Turkey can be taught at public and private schools across the country under the new 4+4+4 education system. Many columnists say the government’s move has taken Turkish democracy a step further and it will make a big contribution to the settlement of the Kurdish problem.

Zaman’s Mustafa Ünal terms the government move to introduce Kurdish as an elective course at school “historic” considering the fact that Turkey was a country which once banned Kurdish. “Just until yesterday, the very existence of Kurdish as a language was being debated by some state authorities. Following the launch of a state-run Kurdish language channel, the introduction of Kurdish as an elective course at schools is a step further. This was one of the demands of the people in the country’s predominantly Kurdish Southeast and it has been met,” says Ünal.

Yeni Şafak’s Resul Tosun also applauds the government for its move on Tuesday and says the introduction of Kurdish as an elective course at schools can be interpreted as a step furthering Turkish democracy. “It should be known that in a country where millions of Kurds live, this move is not a favor but a belated move,” he says. According to Tosun, as long as the legitimate demands of Kurds are met and meaningless bans are lifted, this will make a big contribution to the resolution of Turkey’s long-standing Kurdish issue. Tosun also suggests that Turkey should make education in one’s mother tongue possible, which is another demand made by Kurds, and he believes that this move will not lead to the division of Turkey as predicted by some.

Star’s Mustafa Akyol also thinks the introduction of Kurdish as an elective course at schools is a historic but belated step and it gives hope about the AK Party government at a time when the government suffers from stagnancy. Yet Akyol believes that some circles, mostly likely the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), will oppose the government’s move to offer Kurdish as an elective course out of their fears that the country will be divided. “However, the country faces the risk of division when it does not respect the Kurdish identity,” he says.

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