January 10, 2013

Reactions to peace talks

Talks between the government and terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan to hopefully end the country’s terrorism problem has become a number one topic on Turkey’s political agenda, with many political and social figures making statements about the issue.

Referring to the statements by Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who backed the peace talks, saying, “We should sometimes tolerate things we do not approve of to ensure that our country’s stability continues and that it continues to be an influential power among other nations,” Oral Çalışlar from Radikal says Gülen’s support of the efforts for a solution and reconciliation is vital in many ways. “First of all, an influential social figure sending an open message of support to the government strengthens the government’s hand. Also, there has always been a claim that the Hizmet movement supports carrying out operations against terrorists rather than negotiating with them. However, Gülen’s statement reflects the movement’s supportive stance toward the talks,” he notes.

Another statement regarding the talks came from Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) head Selahattin Demirtaş on Tuesday. Cengiz Çandar, another columnist for Radikal, says the fact that the whole media showed great interest in Demirtaş’s remarks shows the importance of the BDP’s role in Turkish politics. Although it does not properly function in a political sense, its sole existence is quite significant and valuable for the Kurdish issue, Çandar claims. As for the content of the speech, Çandar says it was a poorly made speech. As a matter of fact, every one of Demirtaş’s sentences was true but the speech was altogether made at the wrong time and in the wrong tone. An ideal BDP speech would be a more constructive one in which the BDP’s role and stance on the talks would be made clear. After all, the BDP cannot contribute to the Kurdish issue merely through its presence any longer; it has to actively get involved in the talks.

Mustafa Karaalioğlu from the Star daily writes that it is high time for the opposition parties to leave aside their sharp ideologies and shoulder the responsibility of solving the country’s chronic problems. We now have an opportunity that could improve the situation in Turkey in the event of a solution to the problems.

Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu is personally ready to contribute to the peace process, but there are opposing voices within the party. Kılıçdaroğlu should persuade these “voices” for the sake of the country’s peace, which is much more important than the party’s votes. And as for the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the columnist says he understands the party’s sensitivity towards nationalism and therefore its objection to some initiatives for Kurds. But this matter -- getting rid of the terrorism problem -- has nothing to do with Turkish nationalism; rather, it is a matter of peace and welfare, which no party can object to, he says.

Published on Today's Zaman, 09 January 2013, Wednesday

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