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    Ertugrul Ozkok: With northern Iraq on horizon, Turkish Parliament faces historical day

    Hürriyet Haber
    17.10.2007 - 14:28 | Son Güncelleme:

    Are those in our government who assert that the Turkish military should not enter northern Iraq definitely PKK supporters? This is what MHP leader Devlet Bahceli is saying: "Yes, they are with the PKK." But I don't agree.

    The decision being debated today in the Turkish Parliament is one which needs to made very carefully and with great attention. To make the decision to enter is, for a political administration, much more difficult than to make the decision not to enter.
     
    It is filled with many more risks.
     
    Yes, some of you may be questioning a recent headline we ran in this paper: "Borders can be crossed, calculations can be explained." True, we did say that.....but this subject calls for serious debate.
     
    And in terms of voicing our opinions on this decision, we need to be able to speak without the fear of being marked as PKK supporters for not wanting the military to go on this mission.


    * * *

    But I have protestations aimed not only at Bahceli, but also at Prime Minister Erdogan. He says "We will pay whatever the price is."

     
    Of course we will pay.

    But before paying, we need to ask: "What might the price be?"
     
    Will we lose hundreds, thousands of our youths?
     
    Will it mean breaking ties with a few countries outside our region, or with the rest of the world?

    Will it mean needing to consider facing off against the US in some sort of armed struggle?
     
    Will it mean facing terror for years and years in our big cities?
     
    Will it cause turmoil in our economy?
     
    Will it mean giving up on the dream of the European Union?
     
    Will it mean putting off
     
    Or might it even mean all of the above?
     
    * * *

    It is very painful for me to have to even ask these questions, as we are at the peak of our anger and grief over the recent terror attacks. I live under the same roof with people who are ready to pay any price necessary. I am sure, therefore, that my questions as posed above will annoy and enrage even my closest family members and friends.
     
    The thing is, many of you might already know, I am not a pacifist.

    * * *

    I still stand behind the columns I wrote in the run up to the Persian Gulf War. And later, I wrote a defense of why the March 1st motion in the Turkish Parliament should have been passed. I didn't pass, but I think I was right in pushing for its passage. When people asked me in those days how I would react if it had passed, and when the first coffins started to return from Iraq, I lost sleep. But a voice inside told me at the time "If we don't enter those lands these days, we will be forced to enter under much more difficult conditions in the future."

    I guess that inner voice was right. Because now we are talking about entering northern Iraqi territories, but under much more difficult conditions.
     
    What it means is this: that during a period when the Iraq War looks like it might be near ending, we are debating starting a war all over again.
     
    Does this mean that the Turkish military should not under any circumstances enter into Iraq?
     
    Well, if it is absolutely in the interest of Turkey, of course our military can and should enter.
     
    But we need to all think about what the prices may be for this.
     
    And the same Turkish Parliament which did not find it appropriate for the nation to enter into the Persian Gulf War needs to look at this motion with the same seriousness.

    * * *

    I say to the politicians in Ankara: Those who said "no" in those past days need to be able to give convincing reasons today.
     
    What does the Prime Minister say? He says "We will pay the price, whatever it is."
     
    Does this mean for his administration, or does it mean for the opposition, the military, the civil society organizations, and the citizens and whole nation? Sadece iktidar my?

    Which is why I close with this: We all need to think carefully and debate this decision.
     
    Today will be a day for red carnations, conscience, and history.
     

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