New chapter in Kurdish problem

There is only one risk involved, and that's very important. Turkey has embarked upon a new approach to the Kurdish problem.

New chapter in Kurdish problem
By Ekrem Dumanlı, Today's Zaman


The elections of July 22, 2007, became a new starting point for Turkey in many respects. For instance, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) issued a memorandum before the elections with the Turkish government on the receiving end of the April 27 memo.

In Turkey, faced with a memorandum of this type, governments would resign. The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) responded in return -- termed a counter-memo by some -- and declared that the military was under the elected authority.

People carried the AK Party into power on July 22 by giving 47 percent of their vote. This became a turning point in military-civilian relations.

July 22 was a very important election for the media also. An "established" significant segment of the media took sides with the left, as they have in every election.

According to the left, which indicated a problem between the AK Party and the regime, the republic rallies -- again designed and organized by the left -- were showing that "people had concerns regarding the AK Party." What they had hoped for did not happen.

As later became evident, the media had assumed the role of an image-maker. One out of every two citizens voting for the AK Party gave that segment of the media a hard time.

The job of the pro-status quo media was far more difficult from then on because people in a Turkey moving toward the EU firmly and clearly established that they did not see the AK Party as a threat to the regime.

In Turkey secularism is not under threat, nor is there a search for a state run under Shariah. People want to live with their values as Muslims and want democracy.

The media, which doesn't respect the wish of the people, always views its own people skeptically and sorely needs a perspective with which it can have a deeper insight into events.

And it will need this more from now on. Social change will have a significant impact on the media, which currently functions as the spokesperson of an elite segment. We can look at the matters of concern in Turkey in light of the July 22 election results.

The most striking and the most important of them is the Kurdish issue. Last week President Abdullah Gül visited the mainly Kurdish Southeast. His first visit to this region disclosed the state's new policy toward the Kurdish problem.

The people in the cities, which came to be associated with terrorism, received Gül with great enthusiasm.

This enthusiasm is a civil movement triggered by the July 22 elections. The AK Party received around 70 percent of the vote in cities with overwhelmingly Kurdish populations, whereas the party engaging in ethnic nationalism guided by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) would have won by a large margin in past elections.

This time the ethnic party won only 20 seats. The overwhelming approval of the AK Party in the region shows that the people in the southeast no longer care for the terrorist group. More importantly, people are now aligning with the civil initiative.

The AK Party has been in power for nearly five years, during which a number of essential services have been brought to the Southeast for the first time.

Roads have been built, villages have running water and uninterrupted electric power, coal is received in the winter and, through the Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKİ), modern and affordable housing has been built.

The projects launched and completed in the last five years have stymied the terrorist group. Gül's visit is very important. No other president aside from Gen. Kenan Evren, elected president after the coup of 1980, paid a visit of such dimensions to the southeast.

Moreover this was not a visit made under the shadow of arms, separated from people or involving only state institutions. Gül mixed with the crowds and shook hands.

The people of the southeast came out in scores before the July 22 elections to hear Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Now a synergy is striking us. For decades Turkish governments approached the Kurdish issue as a matter of security. Such being the case, military measures always outweighed the social and political efforts to solve the problem.

Now a new start for Turkey will bring more democracy, more freedom and integration. Finding a solution to unemployment in the region is the first priority of the government.

Peace will be established in the region through social projects.

The economy will be bolstered and the means through which the terrorist groups exploited the local people will be eradicated.

There is only one risk involved, and that's very important. Turkey has embarked upon a new approach to the Kurdish problem.

Nasty surprises may show up. Those whose interests are arms sales, human trafficking and drug smuggling are served by the conflicts in the region.
Last Mod: 18 Eylül 2007, 11:27
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