8 Temmuz 2009
The tenth hearing of the Hrant Dink murder case was Monday. It also happened to be the second anniversary of the murder case. His family foremost, but also millions of people inside and out are waiting for "justice to be done" for two years now, but there is an impression that, for the last two years, we are becoming distanced from justice while we should be approaching it. Nedim Şener wrote a book titled, "The Dink Murder and Intelligence Lies." For writing this book he is on trial for a greater sentence than the ones who murdered Dink.
Just by looking at this example, the number of the people who believe that "justice" may be served for the Hrant Dink murder has diminished.
However, with this second anniversary of the court case, it seems like the route started to change. On Saturday, 2,000 people marched and formed a human chain from Galatasaray to Tünel, drawing attention to the Hrant Dink murder.
At the last hearing, a witness brought brand new findings. "Sensitivity for justice" is observed to be increasing at the Hrant Dink murder case on the days when "judicial reform" discussions are aroused in Turkey and the changes made for "civilians not to be judged by military courts, soldiers to be judged by civil courts."
Representatives from the Bar of Paris had attended the previous hearing and observed. Representatives from the Bar of Brussels also attended this last hearing.
I think the most striking sign of the idea that there is no escape from "justice" for the murder of Hrant Dink happened to be the presence of Adalet Ağaoğlu at the last hearing.
Adalet Ağaoğlu is exactly 80 years old.
She is one of the immortal literary greats of our country and has won countless awards. Can Yücel, who was famous for creating unforgettable descriptions, said, "You are the most beautiful justice ever occurred in this country" to her. Ğ "adalet" means "justice" in Turkish Ñ Lady Adalet is struggling with various health problems.
I see her now and then. She told me she does not leave home and she is expecting me at her house in Sarıyer. I have promised to drop by. It could not happen since I have not found my way to Istanbul for a while.
During times when I am away from Istanbul again, I am very moved to read that Adalet Ağaoğlu left her house in Sarıyer to go all the way to Beşiktaş to the courthouse that I know what it is and what it looks like; also about which I wrote "no justice will occur in this room" several times.
I am very moved and felt shame on both my account and everybody else’s.
Adalet Ağaoğlu going there to observe the Hrant Dink murder trial, at 80 years of age and while struggling with various physical health problems, is a very important event. It is a very meaningful rebellion against injustice. It is an event that arouses our hopes that justice will occur sooner or later at the murder case of Hrant Dink.
It is mostly the novels Adalet Ağaoğlu wrote in the 1970’s that place her among the immortals of Turkish literature and they are the ones that especially affected our generation.
First, there is "Laying Down to Die" (Ölmeye Yatmak) of 1973, and its second chapter "The Wedding Night" (Bir Düğün Gecesi) published in 1979. In between them, there is also "The Delicate Rose of My Mind" (Fikrimin İnce Gülü) of 1976.
"Laying Down to Die" and "The Wedding Night" are especially skillful tales of the affects of the military coups on our society and the inner worlds of the people.
They are unique messengers of Turkey with the "Ergenekon brand" through the dialect of novels and by the skill of a novelist from 30 years ago.
Minds trained by the novels of Adalet Ağaoğlu are insensitive for the political murders in Turkey and the injustices about them are unthinkable.
However, unfortunately we cannot say that there is a sufficient amount of "intellectual sensitivity" existing in our society regarding the murder of Hrant Dink.
Although there was a gathering and a speech by a well-known artist at the Beşiktaş Square before each of the hearings, the mentioned truth does not change.
Some of the well-known names of society attended every hearing but none of the chief editors from any of the newspapers or their major columnists came to observe the hearings. However, Hrant Dink was known by one title: Chief Editor of the daily Agos!
That is exactly why Adalet Ağaoğlu, at 80 years of age, going there to observe the Hrant Dink murder case during the baking-hot summer is a turning point on the way to "justice." Adalet Ağaoğlu, "The most beautiful justice that ever occurred in this country," demands justice for the murder of Hrant Dink.
None will be powerful enough to stand in the way of justice for the murder of Hrant Dink after July 2009.
3 Temmuz 2009
The "Iran dossier" is not closed. Protests shaking the fundamentals of the oppression regime are on hold, for now. The Iranian Constitutional Court, half of its 12 members were appointed by Ayatollah Khamenei, ruled the recount of 10 percent of total votes cast. And the June 12 election results were approved once again. The case is closed but not the "Iran dossier". We learn this from a statement posted on Hussein Mousavi’s Web page after a long period of silence. In it, he declares the government illegitimate and invites people to find "creative methods" to "continue resistance".
Mousavi calls for the release of the "Children of the Revolution" and warns that the "struggle shouldn’t aim for the elimination of the Islamic Republic" but also points out the danger that the "government has left no other choice for them".
The leader of the Reformist trend, former President Seyyed Mohammed Khatami and former Parliament Speaker Mahdi Karrubi issued similar statements after Mousavi. So did Karrubi say the government was illegitimate and declared that he would fight it in every way and by any means.
The oppressive regime in Iran harshly retaliated to the protests after the presidential elections. It announced that 20 people died and 1,032 were arrested in protests, among whom were prestigious intellectuals, journalists and academics. Although heavy pressures blocked street demonstrations, cries of "Allah-u- akbar" came from the roofs as a way to recall the 1979 Revolution period to protest the government.
However, neither the regime nor the government is facing a threat, for now. But the positions of Mousavi, Khatami and Karrubi remain unchanged. No "conciliation" with the government is on the table. The crack among the administration’s elite has not been removed; it is deepened to the contrary. Therefore the government’s legitimacy is now contentious. In any case it has lost prestige in any case.
A well-known Iranian intellectual informed me via Twitter that a common friend of ours had been detained; the friend who had attended a meeting in Liechtenstein on Iran that I wrote about before. He is one of the most distinguished personas in Iran.
Former Vice President Hujjatul Islam Abtahi of the Khatami Period had participated in that meeting as a religious figure. All other Iranian participants, including our common friend, were detained. And all were criticizing Iranian policies of the West and the Western attitude, the U.S. stance in particular, against the Iranian nuclear program.
I write this because no one can convince me that the Iranian opposition is a Western plot. Iranian opponents are pure Iranians and a group of patriots who are taking action against the "oppressive regime" that had a tendency to commit fraud in the elections in order to secure its position. The Iranian government has a trump card by reflecting that the opposition is the "extension of the West".
Such a trump card in Muslim countries has its own benefits. The Islamic-conservative circles weighing in Turkey are deceived by this game of Khamenei-Mahmoud Ahmadinejad line. You hear objections from these circles in Turkey raised against the military tutelage. But do you hear any against the "oppressive regime" in Iran? Anti-laic circles in Turkey opposing the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, do not know any kind of objection but to oppose "Islamic political patterns" or do not understand what is going on. So they are reluctant to acknowledge the incidents happening right under our noses.
Or they reach some nonsense conclusions since they try to use developments in Iran according to the internal political agenda in Turkey; for instance, looking for parallel between the biggest mass protests in Iran since 1979 and the "Republic Rallies" of 2007 in Turkey. But the Iranian equal of Turkey’s ideological-Kemalist military tutelage is the "oppressive regime" symbolized with the names of Khamenei and Ahmadinejad.
Two critical items keep Iran dossier open:
1. The crack in the administrative elite which will be difficult to fix. It is possible to see the "opponent elements" including Khatami, Karrubi, Mousavi and even Khashemi Rafsancani as Mikhail Gorbachev and his friends during Soviet Communism who tried to bring about reforms. The Iranian opponents are now trying to reform the "Islamic Republic" and to "update" it. But having conciliation between the government as part of the Islamic Republic regime and the opposition will help the closure of the Iran dossier.
2. The distance between Iranian society and the government. A government without people gradually turns into a "security regime" having the Revolution Guards and the Basiji. Yet it helps the survival of the opposition for the sake of the regime. Such dynamics, however, have a potential of ending the regime.
For this reason, although protests are over, having an unclosed Iran dossier, I mean the continuation of the resistance, sets the way for a slogan for the opposition that goes something like "We’ve lost the fight but we are set to win the war." The AKP government in Turkey will, probably, face difficulties on the Iranian issue and will fall into an impasse. As long as the Iran dossier remains unclosed the AKP government will be stuck in between.
On the evening of June 12 Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan rushed to congratulate Ahmadinejad. He was even quicker than Khamenei. An attempt to explain away this unnecessary and inappropriate rush came in the statement: We are at an equal distance from all parties." But developments will cause difficulty for Turkey as long as the dossier not closed.
This is how I read the situation through the message I received from the family of my Iranian friend who is one of the leading intellectuals in Tehran and under arrest. His family expects President Abdullah Gül and Erdoğan to help them for the release of my friend, believing that "not any other country but Turkey has influence over the Iranian government".
To what extent do the administrators of Turkey spend their political credit in Tehran for democratic values? There is also a possibility that Turkey may turn into a passive audience in the region in the direction of the Turkish foreign policy signed by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s and could be defined as no involvement in Iran’s internal affairs, real political actualities and zero problem with neighbors.
Such policy would not have a negative effect on Turkey in the short run but how about the middle or long run? Or perhaps, if we overcome the military tutelage in Turkey, only after it, will we have more moral influence over the "oppressive regimes" around usÉ
25 Haziran 2009
Iran has confused "Turks." They don’t know how they could deal with the situation in Iran, how they should react, or read this. So-called leftists with a narrow anti-imperialist discourse are trying to prove that this is not a "revolution of some colors." According to them, George Soros does not have anything to do with Iran as he did in the Georgian and Ukrainian revolutions. And no revolution is at issue here.
They sympathize with the "oppressive regime" in Iran just because it is "anti-American," but they cannot speak up.
Some of them see "external powers," i.e., U.S. President Barack Obama, behind the revolt as "Supreme Guide" Ayatollah Ali Khamenei claimed in his Friday sermon. So they’re relieved.
They are not many but have quite narrow views. What they say is of no importance. Islamists are confused, too, in two ways, but in two ways. A group of them have the tendency to think that the "oppressive regime" in the Islamic Republic of Iran is synonymous with "Islam."
On that score, they are not at all pleased with Iranians’ reaction to the regime. They believe incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won the elections deservedly. As a matter of fact, they make in-depth sociological analyses that "rural areas supported Ahmadinejad, but a handful of middle-class supported Mir Hussein Mousavi who looks at the West."
Some Islamists who recall that Mousavi was the prime minister of Ayatollah Khomeini stress that other opponent candidates were among the first generation administrators of the Islamic Revolution, so according to them incidents are not for a change of regime. They try to seek comfort in this view.
Some laic circles with a similar mindset sneer at the happenings.
Many Turks from different views have a common point: Developments in Iran do not mean a radical change.
I should ask them "How do you know this?" "Without knowing anything about Iran, how do you know this?"
As riots broke against Shah Reza Pahlavi in 1978, so many people had scoffed. The Shah regime was "U.S. Gendarmerie in the Gulf." It had a big and strong military armed from top to toe. Everyone was afraid of even hearing the name of the Iranian intelligence services, Savak.
And everyone knew the ill-fame of the Evin Prison in Tehran. Those who thought that the Shah regime could be overthrown must had been out of their minds.
But six months later, on Feb. 1, 1979, the regime was collapsed upon the arrival of Khomeini. And Shah had left the country long ago.
We are at the beginning of everything in Iran. It is too early to say what will happen and how it will happen.
Just like it was "too early" for Turkish President Abdullah Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to congratulate Ahmadinejad hours after the election commission announced the official results. I wish they had waited for a while because Tehran was shaken by the biggest mass protests since the Grand Revolution in 1979.
Checklist for an Iranian revolution
In this period of time, it wouldn’t be a smart political act to take a side in Iran yet alone it is not at all a good picture to seemingly support the current government. Is it accurate to term the incidents in Iran as a "state of revolution"?
A quite interesting article was published in the Financial Times titled "check-list for an Iranian revolution". Except two, all terms in the list exist in Iran today. And the two exceptions are "weak or divided security services" and "external help".
As the Iranian Army failed to stop masses taking out streets and got paralyzed in 1979, the Shah had left Tehran and the ways to the victory of the Revolution were cleared. In Iran in 2009, the Revolution Guards and Besij militia are undivided. They are even willing to apply brute force. But there is something else. They caused bloodshed.
A regime causing people’s blood cannot get well. It will not pull itself up, even if survives. This is what is happening in Iran.
There is another critical point in Iran. Although the security forces are undivided, "elites in administration" are.
A very serious split, this is. The Assembly of Experts, a group of clerics who are the only body in the Islamic Republic able to select or unseat the supreme leader of the Guardian Council and who are elected for eight years, led by Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani is involved in big talks behind the closed doors. He is seeking ways to form a "Guardianship" mechanism consists of a number of clerics instead of asking Khamenei to step down.
From Khomeini’s Prime Minister Mousavi to the former Assembly Speaker Ayatollah Mehdi Karrubi, to the Grand Ayatollah Hussein Montazari who was announced to be the successor of Khomeini in the city of Kum and to Hujjatul Islam, Islam’s third highest clerical rank, Mohammed Khatami, who would without doubt be elected if he becomes a nominee, a big "alliance" is acting like a massive opposition on stage.
But most importantly, the current regime, even if they win the struggle and remain seated, has already lost legitimacy. Let’s read the following lines together:
"The great unknown is the effect of violent suppression of the demonstrations. Once a regime starts killing its own people it crosses a line. Sometimes, as in Iran in 1979, bloodshed on the streets leads to such a loss of confidence and popularity that it spells the end for a government. On other occasions, if a government is brutal and ruthless enough, violent repression can work Ğ China in 1989 is the obvious recent example.
"Killing demonstrators, however, has stripped the Iranian government of its claims to legitimacy. It may secure the regime’s survival in the short term. In the long term, it surely dooms it."
Look at Iran in this angle, too...
6 Haziran 2009
Whenever President of the United States Barack Hussein Obama delivers a moving speech to trigger expectations, one thinks afterwards: "What’s new and unknown in it?" When he addressed tens of thousands in the cold weather following the inauguration on Jan. 20 in front of the U.S. Congress, a similar thought had occurred. Eventually, many decided that Obama delivered a "historic" speech. A similar situation occurred when he addressed the Turkish Parliament on Apr. 6.
Everyone was preoccupied with the former U.S. President Bill Clinton’s moving speech in the Turkish Parliament in 1999. But no one remembered former U.S. President George W. Bush’s speech in the garden of Galatasaray University in 2005, with the Ortaköy Mosque and the Bosphorus bridging two continents in the background.
Bush’s speech was a carbon copy of Clinton’s. Yet Obama’s address was compared to Clinton’s. Perceptions were different. When one reads them again, there could be people who think Clinton’s was a historic one too.
The first African-American president of the United States delivered another speech the other day in the Egyptian capital, Cairo. There are just a few speeches as important as this one. During Obama’s presidential election campaigns he had promised to give a speech in a "Muslim capital" and "send a critical message to the Muslim world" if he was elected. Thus, he fulfilled this promise in Cairo the other day.
How was it?
So long as Obama is the speaker and the text is good and he is a good orator, the speech had no chance but to be a good one.
Was it historic?
We will see in the future. But without a doubt, since Obama was delivering a speech concentrated on "U.S.- Islam," it was a significant address.
I think the most beautiful part of this "assertive" speech is the down-to-earth moments and remarks.
"I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles - principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings," said Obama, he continued: "I do so recognizing that change cannot happen overnight.
No single speech can eradicate years of mistrust, nor can I answer in the time that I have all the complex questions that brought us to this point. But I am convinced that in order to move forward, we must say openly the things we hold in our hearts, and that too often are said only behind closed doors. There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground..."
After such a humble emphasis that we are not accustomed to hearing from a "leader of the only superpower," Obama referred to the Koranic verse "Be conscious of God and speak always the truth." And he said "That is what I will try to do - to speak the truth as best I can..."
"Humility" in this respect penetrated his entire speech. Even if there is no other reason, I think, this is a profound, quite satisfactory because he was an "American President" and a "philosophic" speech as it is expected from him.
I believe the following paragraphs will make the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan happy. He is the co-chair of the "Alliance of Civilizations" which Obama referred to during his speech: "...freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice one's religion. That is why there is a mosque in every state of our union, and over 1,200 mosques within our borders. That is why the U.S. government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab, and to punish those who would deny it."
And this part:
"...Likewise, it is important for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practicing religion as they see fit - for instance, by dictating what clothes a Muslim woman should wear. We cannot disguise hostility towards any religion behind the pretence of liberalism."
It is possible to think that "traditional laics" of Turkey - come on let’s not say Jakobin laics here - will not be pleased by Obama’s approach. Likewise, some fanatical Muslims will be disturbed by the sections in which he put special emphasis on gender equality and "women rights". One of the most striking parts of Obama’s speech was the "emphasis on democracy" which will give goose bumps to the regimes in Muslim countries, including Egypt, that seriously lack democracy.
"Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard around the world, even if we disagree with them. And we will welcome all elected, peaceful governments - provided they govern with respect for all their people."
I am pushing political aspects of the speech. The most striking parts were his claims of "global civilization" starting from being "humble" and the sine quo non "place of Islam and Muslims" in this.
What else can make this speech more "important" and perhaps "historic"? African-American U.S. President Obama continues to be a "chance" for the world.
4 Haziran 2009
Nations and countries being able to confront with their past can take steps forward. Unless this is done, pain and identity issues hold nations and countries back from making leaps forward. This is the state of Turkey today. But, of course, it is a progress even to discuss our history. However, we cannot say that this is confrontation.
The state of Turkey built an image and identity through a concept of modern history reflected in textbooks. We all are proud of our 1,000-year-old state experience and of our glorious Seljuks and Ottoman past. It’s good for our self-esteem to be proud of a glorious history. But the history also has "bloody pages"; therefore, "burdens," too.
And this is not just for us, Turks. This is the case for every nation and country, especially if they are coming from an imperial past. The United States, Britain, France, Germany and Russia had to deal with boring pages of their history. Still, no one can say that they came up all clean. And we haven’t made as much progress as they have. We haven’t beaten yet the narrow understanding of taking confrontations as insults.
If we cannot face our history, we cannot let go of the past and stumble. This is why the subject is crucial.
The 85-year-old social historian Professor Kemal Karpat helped us hash out the issue again. Two days ago, Milliyet daily’s Devrim Sevimay and Taraf daily’s Neşe Düzel interviewed him. The Milliyet’s Taha Akyol wrote an article complimenting the approach in Karpat’s latest book, "The Third Way."
I read the Karpat interviews very carefully. Aside from his extraordinary efforts and knowledge, I see that Karpat’s analyses are quite "problematic." We see now a subtle and distilled version of a "nationalist understanding of history" rather than the "Third Way." Since I have known him for a long time, I very well know that Karpat’s background of Romanian Babadağ and Turkish Tatar have an influence over his analyses.
The professor’s intuitions are as strong as his knowledge. While Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was mayor of Istanbul, Karpat knew that Erdoğan would be a prime minister.
During our long walks by the oceanside, Karpat insisted that Erdoğan, who was in prison then, would be the prime minister of Turkey someday. Karpat was right. In short, I know what he thinks and how he thinks. I never am disrespectful to him. But the professor gives totally "defensive reactions" when the issue is our "historic burden."
His anger and his "Third Way" are revealed in the interview by Düzel: "My objection is É telling one-sided stories of the incidents and sentencing Turks all the time. I am from Rumelia. Since I am a Turk, I was subjected to insults. My properties were ripped away. And I came to Turkey to save myself. Why aren’t theirs [wrongdoings] being told?"
This is Karpat’s state of spirit leaving its mark in his analyses. The professor, as a Muslim Turk, deeply feels the agony of Turkish Muslims coming from Rumelia and the Caucasus through big immigration waves and the massacre committed against them.
But even Kamuran Gürün rejecting the Armenian thesis that "1.5 million Armenians were killed by Turks in the genocide" and says, "No, the number of Armenians who died during the deportation is 300,000," Karpat comes up with a brand new figure in the interview to Düzel: "about 100,000-200,000." He also claims that about a million Armenians ran away to Armenia with the Russian army.
These new theses are "problematic" because in the aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution, the Armenian Democratic Republic was established by Tashnaks in 1918-1920. And the population of Armenia in 1918 was 500,000. To this, 300,000 "Ottoman Armenians" who escaped with the Russian army were added. After the Bolsheviks transferred the Eastern provinces of Kars and Ardahan to Turkey, the Armenian population rose to 1.3 million in 1919.
In addition to this figure, 300,000-350,000 "Ottoman Armenians" settled in Armenia. This inflation in population within a year was caused by Armenians living in Kars and Ardahan after they crossed the River Aras and settled in Armenia. (See: "Armenia, A Historical Atlas" by Robert Hewsen, Chicago University Publication, 2001 edition; the U.S. Senate, Foreign Relations Committee Report dated 1919.)
In the interview, Karpat says, "These are not the Armenians exposed to deportation. The political figure behind the deportation decision was Talat Pasha. The difference between the Armenian population before and after the deportation in Talat’s notes is 972,246 É about a million.
They have nothing to do with the Russian army withdrawing, or escape to Armenia or the battlefront. These are Armenians from Diyarbakır, Elazığ, Malatya, Antep, Maraş, Çukurova, Kayseri, Sivas, Tokat, Konya, Ankara, Kütahya, Bursa and even Tekirdağ, etc. Children, women, the elderly É That is to say, they are not included in the category of Armenian rebels or gangs."
All right, but what should we say about what happened to Muslims and Turks in Rumelia and Caucasus?
Big disasters prove the history is not "innocent" and "one dimensional." They are mostly examples of "ethnic cleansing."
The events in Rumelia caused "ethnic cleansing" in the end, but it was a big wave of immigration after the Russian-Bulgarian attacks in the 1877-78 war. I, as a Rumelian immigrant whose family was sent to Turkey through exchange, know very well the agony of ethnic cleansings.
But the "deportation" is something else. Even if no one is killed, it is a form of huge "ethnic cleansing." Besides, more than one was lost! If we use history as a tool for daily political debates, we cannot go anywhere.
But if we see everything as they are, we can have a key to the solution to many issues we face today.
If history is politicized, we have the wrong results. But it is "functional" in building a "modern state and society."
If we cannot get mature, we cannot face our history. And if we cannot face our history we cannot move forward.
The "Only Way" about history is being able to see it "as it is" without needing a "Third Way."
1 Haziran 2009
Turkey, and of course Kurds, still do not know the answer of the question "Who is the PKK? How many PKKs are there?" with exact clarity even after the violent atmosphere lasted for so many years; therefore such a question can be asked. The anger against bloodshed grows, and unfortunately it becomes ordinary as it does, but a clear answer to the question above does not exist. Therefore, the "right analysis" does not exist either. The PKK is the name of an armed Kurdish organization produced within the national and global conditions of the last quarter of the 20th century by the Kurdish problem, declaring itself with various mutinies and cannot seem to be resolved. How many of them are there?A few. Its leader is one; in İmralı. Its highest level of military leaders is in Kandil. The better part of its financial resources and civil organization is in Europe. Its considerable population and psychological support are in Turkey; especially in the Southeast.
Its leader is in prison. Its military command is on a mountain outside of the borders of Turkey. An organization with its personnel spread through a wide geography and based on an ethnicity divided after World War I would happen to be one on paper and a few in practice. Therefore, the expression of desire for peace from some part of the PKK while another continues to take lives can coexist. There are the healthy responses expressed in the statements of Democratic Society Party’s, or DTP’s, leader Ahmet Türk. DTP addresses "the electorate of PKK". The newly used dialect of Deniz Baykal, leader of the Republican People’s Party, or CHP, should also be noted; despite all the right previously attributed traits about him. Considering Ahmet Türk, we can deduce that DTP has started to liberalize itself from PKK or there is now the chance for the pro-peace line among the many routes in PKK can gain strength. Everybody from Obama to Deniz Baykal has conversed with Ahmet Türk; Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan still has not.
The importance of this lacking is this: the crossroads in front of Turkey, as we have mentioned numerous times before, shapes between the choices of "PKK turning into DTP or DTP turning into PKK".
It is beneficial to power the first for the solution; to clear a path for DTP to have a meaningful role in the political life of Turkey and the solution of the Kurdish problem. As long as the evaluation of this option is delayed, the "organic tie" between the two organizations start to benefit the "hawks" of PKK in the same level DTP becomes meaningless and made to become meaningless.
The Prime Minister’s opinion of DTP turning into PKK does not matter at this point. For what we call "politics" is needed in such a situation. The "violent atmosphere" bleeds as much as you legitimize DTP, and especially the line Ahmet Türk symbolizes, and you start to prevent the Kurdish problem spilling blood.
Professor Mustafa Erdoğan said "The messages the President gave in recent weeks had created a optimistic mood for the resolution of the Kurdish problem. The signals coming from PKK circles were also in the same direction. But, unfortunately, this optimistic mood is about to be dissolved now. Despite the obvious changes of stance of DTP and CHP, the government seems to have a mood of not willing to take the initiative on this matter" on the same day, in the same newspaper with Mehmet Altan and indicated that he "wants to be wrong" very much. Besides the apparent "jamming" of the government, the "positive messages" of the President are liable to be problematic. Months ago, in front of us, Abdullah Gül gave hope with his statement of "good things are going to happen soon" on the Kurdish problem. He gave a message in the same direction during his visit of Baghdad. Mentioned a "historical opportunity" in Damascus. He repeated the mentioned message of his in Tajikistan.
Behind the "optimistic messages" of Gül, in his own words, there is "the matter being openly discussed by governmental institutions and there is a harmony among all institutions".
Come on then. Start saying solid things. Above all, reflect it to acts. Acts beyond words are very important. Thus, Mustafa Erdoğan writes:" Establishing peace requires ’giving Kurds their due’ beyond the silencing of guns. This needs to be started, before all, ’forgiving each other with Kurds’; to make them at least feel we understand the suffering they have been put through and we are ashamed of those who responsible let alone approving them. The practical results of "giving due" are constitutionalizing the respect towards cultural identities and recognizing cultural rights in scope of that on one side, while easing the political representation of Kurds and institutionalizing administrative decentralization in the whole of Turkey on the other. Lasting peace is not possible without those. Other socio-economical precautions would not fruit results without providing those."
Have not we learned it is like this for all this time? What are we waiting for?
Unless we take solid steps toward this direction, unless we act, the point we will end up in will be asking the "Who is the PKK? How many PKKs are there?" question with regular breaks and clinging onto whether if PKK will prolong the ceasefire or not on June 1.
However, the true answer, the true reality will continue to be valid as it is expressed in the following determination: "Turkey’s wellness in general is related to the wellness of Kurds. Turkey cannot reach peace and prosperity before Kurds do. Turkey cannot become free before Kurds do."
30 Mayıs 2009
With the start of debates over the landmines along the Syrian border, we have learned what a "minefield" Turkey is. They are not in the land but also in minds, too. Clearing landmines is a difficult task, but I am afraid eliminating mines in the mind will take time enough to bury us all. In the meantime, "mines laid by terrorists" are not included in statistics. Such mines killed six soldiers the other day in the county of Çukurca. First, President Abdullah Gül sent "optimistic" signals for the solution of the Kurdish issue, then "alarm bells" went off and then the mines laid by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, terrorists killed soldiers.
It seems that just days before the unilateral ceasefire of the PKK expires on June 1, the atmosphere of the near future has turned gloomy again.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan should better hurry to meet the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party, or DTP, leader Ahmet Türk. After a joint voice against "violence" raised by 72 non-governmental organizations the other day in the southeastern city of Diyarbakır and Türk’s remarks about the latest Çukurca attack, Erdoğan should, or must, immediately take action for the removal of black clouds gathering over the near future of the Southeast.
Now, let’s go back to the landmine issue.
First, let’s clear minds about dozens of figures before we start with debates over "mine clearing." Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül revealed official numbers the other day. The decision to have landmines was reached in 1956 and in the period 1957-1959 mines were laid in an area 510 kilometers in length and 350 meters in width.
At this point, we have to clear up boloney though. For this said piece of land, which is claimed to be awarded to an Israeli company, some said, "It makes two Cyprus islands in size."
But as Cyprus sits on a 9,600 square kilometer area, the subject area is 216 square kilometer, 186 square kilometer of which belongs to the Treasury and the rest is shared among the State Railways, other institutions and farmers in the region.
Why is this information important? Because if the landmine bill is adopted, the land cleared of mines will not be awarded to foreigners for farming.
And the other issue is to allow "organic" farming in this piece of land after the mines are removed, which at this point the claims of "awarding it to Israelis" come in. At this point, we cannot ignore what Minister Gönül says. "Whether or not this field is appropriate for farming will be determined after mines are cleared.
Perhaps the mines contaminated the area. We don’t know this yet. The reason is a mine is a chemical substance." The translation is that groups raising hell now are mostly rambling about a situation in which Israel is at the center.
Let’s give some more details about the figures. The total number of landmines along the Syrian border is 615,145. In addition, 75,115 mines exist in a 42-kilometer-long area on the Iraqi border.
On the Iranian border, there are 191,428 landmines and 21,984 cover 17 kilometers of the Armenian border. The landmines that were along the borders with Greece and Bulgaria, I mean our NATO allies, have been removed.
Besides, a total of 2.5 million anti-personnel landmines are kept in the military’s depots. In total, it makes about 3.5 million landmines. A terrifying number this is. Now it becomes self-evident that why we keep saying "We are surrounded by enemies in four directions" and why we have such big security concerns.
And of course all these lay in our subconscious as well.Another critical part of the matter is this: A global landmine ban (The Ottawa Mine Treaty) was signed in Sept. 2003 in the Canadian city of Ottawa. Turkey sıgned onto this agreement in March 2004. Turkey promised destruction of 2.5 million mines in stock by March 1, 2008 after signing the treaty, but failed to do so. Until the date, number of mines removed was around 1,000 or 2,000 even though it’s been over a year since the date passed.
This was the requirement of Article 4 in the Ottawa Mine Treaty. And Article 5 foresees destruction of landmines by March 1, 2014. Yet our "track-record" is evident.
It is not an easy task but let’s look at Serbia. Serbia-Montenegro signed the treaty just six months after Turkey, in September 2004. There were a total of 1.3 million landmines, 40,000 of which were in Montenegro. Serbia-Montenegro removed all mines by May 16, 2007.
Do you think Turkey makes a sloppy job or inaptitude in the issue?
I think the problem is mines in "minds."
When we talk about Turkey, we are talking about a country where the opposition parties’ "democracy criteria" are even way behind that of the controversial governing party.
All the opposition parties in Turkey in the age of globalization have failed to clean out the "nationalism" virus from their bodies. And the ruling party also has plenty of that virus, too. Every single step cannot be taken for this reason.
A "constitutional change" in internal politics is a must for a freer Turkey, its democratization and integration with the European Union.
But the said "virus" is inside the current Constitution as well. This is why we cannot reach consensus over a new charter.
As for the foreign politics, one of the two main troubles is Cyprus and the other is the relations with Armenian.
Both seem like "conditioned to our brother" but the real problem is the "nationalism" inside so deep and so spread that it is easy to use this as a pretext.
In the Kurdish issue, if "identity rights" of Kurds are expanded, violence can be eliminated and we can find solutions. The "nationalism" obstacle mounted in minds is the question here again.
So Mr. President keeps mumbling the same thing for months and somehow fails to solidify it. If he speaks up clearly, his already-controversial-position will be questioned by tough "nationalism" shots.
With plenty of "mines in minds" already, it not an easy job to bring millions of mines out of storage and remove tens of thousands of landmines.
It takes years. Enjoy itÉ
27 Mayıs 2009
New Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has been working so hard ever since taking office that it is getting difficult to follow where he is and with whom he is meeting. After flying from a meeting of the foreign ministers of Islamic countries in the Syrian capital of Damascus to the Azerbaijani capital of Baku, Davutoğlu issued a quite striking statement in a joint news briefing with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammedyarov. "A strong Azerbaijan means a strong Turkey," he said. This is an approach stemming from the concept of "one nation, two states." It may be music to the ears, but how true is this "concept"?
A two-day workshop on "Turkish-Armenian relations" hosted by SETA in Istanbul continues. Another meeting on the same topic will be organized by TESEV on Friday. And next week, a meeting similar to the European Stability Initiative will be held in Istanbul. "Normalization" in Turkish-Armenian relations seems to have become clogged over the "Azerbaijan condition." But it also seems to be the main topic for the activities of non-governmental organizations and think tanks.
The SETA workshop is being held behind closed doors and the "Chatham House rules" are being applied. In other words, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker or speakers, nor that of any other participant, may be revealed. Armenian and Turkish participants are bringing the "one nation, two states" concept to the agenda. I have written my opinion here before. So to share what was told in this meeting will not be violation of the Chatham House rules.
I believe that the "one nation, two states" concept is invalid, wrong not only in terms of "political requirements" but also historically. The majority of people living in Turkey and an overwhelming majority of Azerbaijanis share a "common identity" and a "cultural closeness" on account of coming from the same ethnic background. There is no doubt about it. We can also talk about traditional mutual love.
However, all these things are not enough to describe Turkey and Azerbaijan under the concept of "one nation, two states." In the aftermath of World War I, in the period from 1918 through 1921, Turkey and Azerbaijan met at a crossroads for a short time until the Soviets came to rule first in Azerbaijan, and then in the entire Caucasus. Before the Ottomans period, as Turks were just about to step in to Anatolia, we could talk about "one nation," but then again, the concept of "nation" back then was quite different from what we have today.
Examples of "one nation, two states" situations today include Greece and the South Cyprus Greek Administration, which is officially called the Republic of Cyprus, in addition to Albania and Kosovo. If Turkey claims to be a "modern state" based on the "citizenship principle," which it is, it cannot generate a special status for Azerbaijan such as a "one nation, two states" notion because where will we put the millions of Kurds who are not assimilated? They are our citizens. Where would we place our non-Muslim Armenian citizens in such a concept?
All right, but is referring only to Azerbaijan by the "one nation, two states" notion disadvantageous? Yes, it is. The concept limits Turkey’s role as "a regional power." Under this concept, Turkey could not play its role in the Caucasus, could not normalize relations with Armenia and could not open its borders. And it would also limit Turkey’s influence in the entire region.
Therefore, this approach and its imperative policy would not create a "well-intentioned" solution for the Karabakh issue because such an approach would bind Turkey’s Caucasus policy to Azerbaijan. In this respect, to set the equation as "A strong Azerbaijan means a strong Turkey" is wrong. But the opposite is correct: "A strong Turkey means a strong Azerbaijan." The first formulation leaves Turkey outside the Caucasus, therefore weakening it.
"Our message to regional actors, especially to Armenia, is quite clear. The regions should be cleared of occupations and tensions," said Davutoğlu. That is correct. What he meant here is a solution to the Karabakh issue, and an end to the Armenian occupation in Azerbaijani territory, where five parts in the Karabakh region are totally, and two more partially, under Armenian occupation. This is the problem. How will this be accomplished? How will the Karabakh issue will be resolved and how will the occupation be ended? There is no answer to these questions yet. The Karabakh issue broke out between 1988 and 1992. The seven sections of Azerbaijani land were occupied in 1992. Since 1994, there has been no solution, though a fragile ceasefire continues.
Davutoğlu also sees the Minsk Group, in which Turkey is a member but is taken seriously, as a tool for solutions. "The Organization of Security and Cooperation for Europe, or OSCE’s, Minsk Group and the international community should make every effort to resolve this issue," he said. For years, there has been no one making efforts for a solution in the Minsk Group, except for the three co-chairs, Russia, the United States and France. The Minsk Group co-chairs, in a report released in July 2007, stressed that reciprocal principles are the solution but that they are at the end of their creativity in determining, formulation and application of these principles. And that they didn’t think a different result could be reached in additional meetings with new brokers on either side. If the parties cannot agree on the principles introduced, then they should exert efforts for an alternative in order to find common ground for a solution. In short, the co-chairs expressed that they were fed up with the Karabakh issue.
The co-chairs of the Minsk Group are not even ambassadors. It can be rightfully said that the Minsk Group could not create "adequate pressure" on Azerbaijan and Armenia to find a solution. If Turkey asks for an upgraded representation in the Minsk Group and positions itself in a spot to find a solution, it could play more effective role than this "joint discourse." But Turkey cannot claim such a position by keeping the Armenian border Ğ the only one closed in Europe Ğ shut.
Opening the border has nothing to do with the solution. However, problems with Syria about sheltering members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, didn’t cause the Hatay border to be closed down. And the Turkey-Greece border has never been closed despite the still-unsolved Cyprus issue, in addition to the array of problems between the two countries, from continental shells to the FIR line.
Under these circumstances, if you keep saying that the border gate between Turkey and Armenia cannot be re-opened without finding a solution to the Karabakh issue, you tie Turkish foreign policy to Azerbaijan and make Turkey’s playing a regional role impossible.
The point the "one nation, two states" notion will eventually reach only weakens the power of your state.