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January 11, 2013, Friday

Paris assassinations and the İmralı processes

The murder of three senior female executives of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Paris implies that the new "peace process" that was initiated with the talks with PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, serving a life sentence in a prison on İmralı Island off the coast of İstanbul, will be a tough one. The professional nature of the assassination of these three women in a European capital also signifies the international aspect of the problem we are dealing with.

The fact that there is not a single, monolithic PKK will place a heavy burden on the process. Everyone agrees that the Kurdish issue is closely related to the PKK issue. However, the Kurdish matter is basically a leg cuff that binds Turkey through cooperation between internal and external malevolent forces. These forces don't want Turkey to become powerful in its region. They don't want Turkey to be the rising star of the Muslim world and the Turkic world or to be a global player. Strong US lobbies, the powers that seek to keep the European Union as a Christian-only club, Israel, Iran and Syria are all involved in this issue.

For this reason, if we invest high hopes in the talks with Öcalan and expect the weapons to become silent in a short time, we may be in for a huge disappointment. Indeed, we face a very tough, challenging and intricate problem. The Paris assassinations suggest that we may face unprecedented provocations. I must note that if about 100 terrorists, who were preparing to attack the Karataş gendarmerie outpost in the Çukurca district of Hakkari province around 7 p.m., had not been noticed beforehand and if this attack had not been thwarted by killing 14 terrorists, the new process would already have been aborted. Indeed, this provocation might have resulted in a far greater death toll than the slaying of 33 soldiers in 1993.

Despite the Çukurca and Paris provocations, the new process must be maintained with resolve. However, another danger, which is as risky as these provocations, is the rhetoric used by the players involved in the process. Actually, this problem does not relate only to words or remarks. It is also about the stances, attitudes and actions. Certain people and groups say that the government should also engage in dialogue with them and act in a certain manner. Are we supposed to strive for making peace or satisfy those who try to steal the show, though?

No one should parrot the same old arguments that have no relevance to the government's attitude. The government is talking about a new atmosphere and a new target that is different from those involved in the Habur and Oslo processes. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently called on the terrorists to lay down their weapons and leave Turkey. Isn't this a clear target? On the other hand, the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) insists that both sides should lay down their weapons. This is one of the frequently parroted remarks.

A great majority of the public, including some families of the Turkish soldiers killed by the terrorists, is lending its support to the new process. Everyone, including the government and the opposition, must act in a sincere and responsible manner. We should be able to sweep aside our political gains, but make the best use of the new opportunity.

As noted by Fethullah Gülen, a well-respected Turkish-Islamic scholar, we must do what needs to be done for our future, stability and peace despite provocations. Yet we must not forget that our main shortcoming is our failure to adopt a culture of peace, consensus and tolerance. There is no valid reason for us to fight one another in this country. Nevertheless, the tutelage mentality of the rulers has stripped us of tolerance, consensus and peace by “othering” diverse groups and forcing them to obey the tutelage. We must remember what we have lost, forget the negative events and return to peace and reconciliation.

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