Turkey, as the legitimate inheritor of the Ottomans, is now challenged to come clean on the Armenian and Kurdish issues. Not that there is any economic or political instability in Turkey, but the ruling party must have come to a conclusion that the speedy transformation in the Middle East urges Turkey to prioritize finding a quick end to its Kurdish dilemma. That would enable Turkey to maximize gains for its national security interests, and to minimize the risks of a potential breakup. Many politicians continue to worry about Kurd desires for an independent Kurdistan.
While it’s all open to scrutiny whether the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government is taking the right steps in addressing this treacherous issue, it nevertheless seems to have decided to act along with the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) to follow the South African example in achieving peace for the country. After being against it in the first place, the Erdogan government decided on April 3 to form a parliamentary investigative “commission to evaluate the resolution process.” Both opposition parties in parliament – Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) – flatly turned down the request.
The pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) is determined to support the government to make this commission proposal a reality. According to parliamentary regulations, parties get proportional representation on investigative commissions based on their total seat numbers in parliament. “Although we will get only one seat in this commission, we will support it,” Nazmi Gur, a BDP deputy from the Van electoral district, told Al-Monitor. “We believe this is going to help the reconciliation process as this commission will look into the issues of tortured, missing people, unknown mysterious murders, burned villages and all the sufferings of the Kurdish people.”
The parliament, however, is not lacking for information or reports on these troubled chapters of Turkish history when Turkish security forces deviated from the norm in their fight against separatist Kurdish terrorist organization Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), particularly in the 1990s. Unlike the old Turkey, though, the new Turkey now takes a position that the PKK legitimately represents the Kurdish people, and has transformed its fight against the state since 1984 to now seek only cultural and linguistic rights without posing any threat to the territorial integrity of the country. In simple terms, the Erdogan government has a whole new perception and approach to the PKK. As part of this process, the Erdogan government is now suggesting a shift toward “advanced local administrations,” or a more decentralized form of governance. Officials believe that if this happens, the Kurds won't even seek autonomy.
“The AKP’s suggested commission is not the same thing that [imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah] Ocalan asks for. He wants the parliament to establish a ‘truth commission,’ just like the one in South Africa, where it will have semi-judicial role, and will invite victims and the accused to appear before this body to face their demons, and then forgive each other,” Gur told Al-Monitor. “People need to know, for example, who led those 34 villagers in Uludere to their death [in December 2011]. This is the only way that this nation can find peace, the state can come clean, the people can heal and the loved ones of the victims can finally sleep well. This is what Ocalan wants.”
Gur added: “This commission will be a step in the right direction toward the establishment of this kind of a commission. Otherwise, this process won’t really provide the expected results.” He suggested that the opposition should take this not as a concession to PKK demands, but as a way to help the democratization and normalization of the country.
“It will be best to see the Republican People’s Party as part of this parliamentary commission,” Gur told Al-Monitor.
He then pointed to reports in the Turkish media concerning CHP deputy chairman Faruk Logoglu’s suggestion that it is Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s turn to pay a visit to CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu. In June 2012, Kilicdaroglu visited Erdogan at his party’s headquarters to discuss the best way to start approaching the issue.
“I am confident that Erdogan will visit Kilicdaroglu, and the two leaders will find a way to smooth out their differences. Then there will be a new reality, and there will be richer options to talk about CHP’s cooperation with the AKP and its participation in this commission,” Gur said.
Still, all this is easier said than done. And the possible failure of the process would probably cause more troubles than expected. At the least there would be a massive Kurdish crowd whose expectations were pumped high — and then dashed. Only they might know what kind of a future Turkey would face in case the process falls apart.
Tulin Daloglu is a columnist for Al-Monitor’s Turkey Pulse. She has written extensively for various Turkish and American publications, including The New York Times, International Herald Tribune, The Middle East Times, Foreign Policy, The Daily Star (Lebanon) and the SAIS Turkey Analyst Report.
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