MHP’s drag on solution

A key meeting between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of the Justice and Development »»

A key meeting between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on the perennial Kurdish issue took place on Wednesday, raising hopes for a solution to the issue.

The meeting was dominated by a mainly “positive atmosphere,” as a CHP official said, but the main opposition party must seek consensus among other opposition parties for a successful outcome. Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli rejected the CHP’s request to discuss the Kurdish issue, opposing the way the CHP refers to the issue. However the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) is expected to join the talks.

The CHP last week submitted its suggestions on how to solve the Kurdish problem to Parliament, including forming a four-party commission and then proceeding to establish a Wise Men group, consisting of people who have no official occupation and will largely deal with sensitive issues, mediation or talks.

“I say we give up the desire of bringing all four political parties [represented in Parliament] to the table to discuss the Kurdish issue. If it were possible to unite all the parties, then we would already have achieved a solution. I think the CHP and the AK Party should primarily come together and start discussing methods,” Bugün’s Gülay Göktürk says. She suggests working on a local administrative system that complies with EU norms, adding an optional Kurdish language course to school curriculums and making necessary changes to the Counterterrorism Law (TMK). These could have already have been easily accomplished, but we have wasted so much time in endless discussions that it is now time for action, she says.

As for the Wise Men group, Göktürk thinks it is anti-democratic to select a group of men selected by subjective criteria to discuss the country’s most controversial issue. “If these men have so much knowledge about the issue and are that capable of solving it, then it is actually ‘wiser’ to have their suggestions presented in Parliament, which is the only place where the issue can be solved. Otherwise, giving such a great responsibility to these intellectual ‘wise men’ will only lead to a self-imposed intellectual tutelage over Parliament.”

Cengiz Çandar from the Radikal daily says the public’s satisfaction and excitement over the bilateral meeting between the CHP and the AK Party proved once again how bad the people want to see an end to the Kurdish issue. The faint light at the end of the tunnel created excessive excitement among the public. Even the MHP’s sharp statements could not diminish the excitement, he says.

Çandar also notes the meetings between the ruling and main opposition party should not be hindered by the “MHP veto.” The Kurdish issue should not be left unsolved just because of the MHP, which only accounts for 10 percent of all voters; it would be nonsense as well as anti-democratic. Yalçın Akdoğan from the Star daily also says there is the incorrect perception that “consensus” is only achieved when every single person agrees on an issue. He says this misperception prevents us from achieving consensus, as we give up on an idea just because a person objects to it. In the same vein, many newspapers wrote that “national consensus on the Kurdish issue was not reached once again,” as the MHP refused to join the discussions. Koru says we will remain tangled up in our old problems if we seek every ideologically distant political party’s consent. The same problem of a “lack of national consensus” was seen in the headscarf ban issue as the issue remained on our agenda for years just because the CHP refused to discuss it. The views of 80 percent of the country, including the voters of the CHP, the AK Party and the BDP, are enough for a “national consensus.”