The main dilemma of the Turkish state is its inability, consciously or unconsciously, to diagnose the problems of the nation accurately so that it can apply the right prescription. Every Turkish political leader, for example, denounced in the strongest possible manner the latest terrorist attack, which this time targeted civilians, including a 1-year-old girl, when a remote-controlled car bomb in Gaziantep in southeastern Turkey exploded on Monday night, the second day of a religious holiday.
If “denunciation” is the only instrument available for dealing with terrorist attacks by a nation's political leaders, who are expected to find solutions to long-lasting problems, this indicates that the state is dangerously inefficient when it comes to addressing core problems.
Turkey's outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), whose fight against the Turkish state has entered its 28th year, denied responsibility for the deadly attack. However, in the coming days it would not be a surprise if one of the PKK's affiliates claims responsibility for the attack, as has occurred in the past.
As usual, all the Turkish dailies, with one exception, reported the incident in the customary fashion, running remarks by political leaders on their front pages that denounced the terrorist attack. All these headlines, however, lack a constructive approach that would encourage politicians to seek fresh Kurdish reforms that would help remove an excuse for an armed uprising away from the PKK.
The only exception in the way the terrorist attacks are presented by these dailies is the liberal Taraf daily, which only began publication in 2006.
According to Taraf's Aug. 22 headline concerning the Gaziantep attack: “Turkey 2012. She is the child of a country that could not finish a war that could have established peace. Her name is Almina, and she will be one year old forever.” Next to its comment Taraf published a photo of Almina, who died during the attack, along with her father and mother.
In the meantime, it would be unfair if we did not admit that there have been changes in the reporting nature of some dailies on the issue of terrorism in recent years in parallel to the current Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) now failed efforts to utilize political means in dealing with the Kurdish problem. But the positive and constructive language of the pro-government dailies, in particular, on the terrorism issue, also vanished in parallel to the government's reversal of its previous policy of finding a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question. It is also worth noting that the media should take the lead in giving guidance to decision makers over a political solution to the Kurdish question instead of taking positions in accordance with positions taken by the political leaders.
Reforms to embrace Turkey's Kurdish population of around 12 million as equal citizens with Turks have long been neglected. Very few reforms, such as airing Kurdish language programs on state television, have been enacted, thus failing to satisfy Kurdish needs.
Since the PKK initiated its armed struggle in August 1984, the mentality of both the Turkish political leadership and the media has changed little. This mentality can be described as an inability by decision makers and the media to take courageous steps and play constructive roles to find a political solution to the Kurdish question.
The more Turkey neglects this issue the more the PKK resorts to deadly violence in search of self-rule in the Kurdish Southeast -- if not an independent Kurdish state. The very serious danger for Turkey is the possible fragmentation of the nation between Turks and Kurds if the state does not act quickly to address Kurdish grievances.
There can be no excuse for the PKK's violent acts against civilians if the current government is honest in finding a peaceful solution to the Kurdish problem.
Prolongation of the fight against the PKK only serves to maintain the status quo that still wages a struggle to justify its reason for being at the expense of Turkish stability; and the political leadership as well as the opposition parties, knowingly or unknowingly, play into the hands of those illegal elements within the state to prolong the fight against terrorism.
Before it is too late, Turkish dailies should also change their language and follow Taraf's stance in making the right diagnosis of the problem: In the 28-year-old fight against the PKK, the state has failed to establish peace by ending the war.
We have to ask ourselves why NATO-member Turkey has been unable to finish the fight against terrorism, while fellow alliance members such as Spain and Great Britain have considerably reduced violence committed by their terrorist organizations -- the ETA and the IRA.