CENGIZ – Peace in shadow of presidential system may lead to Kurdish secession

Peace in shadow of presidential system may lead to Kurdish secessionErdoIan: andldquoThis is absolutely not a process of bargaining, concession-making or give-and-take. The weapons will be set aside and a solution based upon politics will be reached.

andrdquocalan: andldquoIf the parties are able to carry out the process in a correct, serious and resolute manner, a great and democratic solution could be achieved in four to five months at the most, and it would be a solution that would help define the future of the entire Middle East.andrdquoDavutoIlu: andldquoWe want this issue to be solved by the time the general elections occurandrdquoSome time soon, a four-part, 66-article document — the existence of which we learned about from the Kurdish side and which we understand was prepared by calan himself — is to be shared with the public.

The release of the content is in itself a andldquoprocess,andrdquo as anything that may damage ErdoIanand#39s obsession for a presidential system would be vetoed.Though there are no official negotiating parties in the process, and although the government does not address the Kurdish political movement as its official interlocutor, de facto parties have emerged.

How serious this setup is will be seen during talks, if they start, because for now there are no negotiations, only political maneuvering.When the andldquocalan documentandrdquo is made public we will have a clearer picture of what the intentions and stances of the parties really are.

In the meantime, at least for now, the governmentand#39s stance is defined by the andldquono concessionsandrdquo motto, decommissioning of arms and in particular, ensuring that the cease-fire continues up to and through the general elections, to become permanent afterwards. Even minimal Kurdish demands, such as the presence of foreign observers during the talks, are no longer on the agenda The last expectation in the run-up to the general elections is that calan might be moved to house arrest.

If the government is really going to get down to the talks, it will not be until after the general elections, and that, only after guaranteeing that the pro-Kurdish Peoplesand#39 Democratic Party (HDP) will lend support to the presidential system in Parliament, or by being absent from the new legislature because of the election threshold. What could follow after that is the andldquoofficializationandrdquo of the de facto self-autonomy that exists now.

But the calculations made in Ankara may not satisfy the Turkish public. The process of getting the Kurdish political movement to give hidden or indirect support to the presidency in return for autonomy carries enough risk to throw not only the peace process but the entire country into serious turmoil.

Alas, the making of a presidential system depends on two categories of support that ultimately cancel each other out: nationalist Turkish votes and the HDP. The plan is to refrain from giving the Kurds anything to placate them before the elections in order to guarantee the nationalist votes.

Then, after the elections, make some concessions that will guarantee HDP votes. You may enjoy calculating the risks of such folly!As for the calendar, the government sees nothing other than the upcoming general elections.

The fact that a veteran politician like calan would say that a century-old problem could be solved andldquoin four to five monthsandrdquo can have meaning only in view of ErdoIanand#39s great design.Finally, here is the dilemma: How will the totalitarian leaning in western Turkey translate into democratic practices in the eastern provinces? How will the ruling party, which has thus far displayed only intolerance for the autonomy witnessed in Syrian Kurdistan, turn over the same level of autonomy to Turkish Kurdistan in the wake of the general elections? How can a political system run by one man explain to citizens about the local government set to be officialized in the east?The entire setup may well fall apart, as it has for the past 200 years.

Let us not forget that from the start of the 19th century, there has never been an astute federal vision that could satisfy demands for autonomy andor independence in these lands. Centrifugal dynamics have always wound up either drowning in bloodbaths or the creation of new countries.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman