Will Parliament be calling the shots in dealing with the Kurdish issue?

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu »»

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu recently made it public that he wants to meet with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to discuss how to solve the Kurdish issue. In response, Erdoğan said: “We are not biased.

We seek to solve the matter; we don’t have other aims.” This is a development that cannot be underestimated. I wrote this article before the said meeting occurred because I thought I should touch on the matter as even the scheduling of the meeting was very important.

As you know, with the Kurdish initiative that officially kicked off in 2009, the government made a significant move by crossing the most important red line drawn by the state and destroying a taboo that could not be criticized in the past. The late Prime Minister and President Turgut Özal had attempted to do this, and despite his strong electoral support and social legitimacy, he fell prey to the plots of the still strong status quo. The peace that could have potentially been achieved in 1994 was sabotaged when 33 soldiers in plain clothes were killed by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in a suspicious terrorist attack in Bingöl.

This is because, just like the Cyprus and Armenian issues, the Kurdish issue is a field which the deep state uses to consolidate itself and derive its legitimacy and generate political power from. Some issues may become chronic because of their inherent complexity and challenge, but no democratic country will be eager to maintain and even reinforce deadlock about a matter that has been causing much sorrow for about a century. The main reason for this is that those who “actually” rule the country have ulterior motives and seek their personal interests.

As the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), Prime Minister Erdoğan and his senior colleagues had made this observation, they predicted that democratic reforms could not be implemented without solving these issues with the state’s red lines. And the international conjuncture, too, favored that regional wars should be settled through dialogue and peace. It was known that the deep state and the militarism it produced would keep the country in a state of heightened tension and that democratization reforms that would need social consensus and a powerful civilian policy would be categorically postponed.

In other words, the AK Party had made the correct decision, but out of necessity. The Kurdish and PKK issues had to be solved. If they aren’t solved, Turkey will miss the opportunity to become one of the world’s most prestigious and richest countries in the new century. Moreover, the tutelage had been -- and still is -- waging a war against the AK Party; they were making dozens of plots to overthrow it and devising ways to assassinate Erdoğan.

The CHP led by Deniz Baykal, who was acting like the parliamentary representative of the military and bureaucratic tutelage, and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), led by Devlet Bahçeli, who had tried to keep his party away from Ergenekon -- a clandestine organization nested within the state trying to overthrow or manipulate the democratically elected government -- but later opted to side with the tutelage camp with respect to constitutional amendments and the Kurdish issue, did everything to sabotage the government’s Kurdish initiative.

The pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) failed to give a categorical, unconditional “no” to the PKK’s violence, but chose to foster violence with its statements. So in the end, the AK Party was left alone with regard to this challenging issue.

However, this issue had been a century-old question and during its past 30 years, at least 40,000 died and about $1 trillion was spent in the resulting clashes. And it is really hard to make any estimate about those who were permanently disabled as well as the hardships the relatives of victims faced.

Since the beginning, we have been arguing that the AK Party should not be left alone to deal with this complicated matter. What is more proper than Parliament taking the initiative to deal with such a complex and serious problem, one that continues to claim the lives of many people every day? What is the use of political methods if they are not employed to deal with priority issues?

In 2009, the CHP’s Baykal refused to meet with the prime minister to discuss the matter. Since then, hundreds of people have died. The price of seeing the Kurdish initiative as the AK Party’s policy and undermining it was hundreds of funerals. The AK Party, too, made mistakes and acted slowly. But it had needed the opposition’s support so badly at that time. However, the opposition parties forced the AK Party to make mistakes from which they sought to benefit politically.

I hope the CHP leader’s current initiative will lead to positive results and that a new period begins in Turkey.