ORHAN KEMAL – No Kurdish question!

No Kurdish question!President Recep Tayyip ErdoIan has said: andldquoMy brothers, there has never been any such problem as the andlsquoKurdish questionand#39 in this country. And yet there are deliberate efforts to keep this on the agendaandrdquoThis is a cheap political maneuver aiming at gaining the sympathy of Turkish nationalists, no doubt.

But these few sentences tell us a lot about the handicaps facing Turkey in dealing with the Kurdish question. First of all, we do not have a president like those of parliamentary government systems.

ErdoIan still acts like he is the head of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and like he is the prime minister Every single day you can see him inviting people to elect 400 deputies for Parliament. He does not say openly that he wants votes for the government but everyone understands that he wants these votes for the AK Party.

Under the Turkish constitutional system, presidents are construed like referees someone who acts to balance power We lack this balancing factor now. If we had a statesperson in this institution who was not concerned with the upcoming elections, I believe the peace process would have greatly benefited from his or her efforts.

Another problem ErdoIanand#39s words suggest is this: If Kurds are able to become politicians, soldiers and so on, there is no Kurdish question. We can see this understanding in his words: andldquoWhat Kurdish problemandhellip What have you not got? Have you had a president [of Kurdish background]? Have you had a prime minister [of Kurdish background]? Have you had ministers [of Kurdish background]? Yes, you haveandhellipandrdquoI do not think these words reflect merely a political calculation but also reflect ErdoIanand#39s understanding of the matter If he can stop violence, there is no Kurdish question.

There is not an oppressed people there were not massive human rights violations there is no need for cultural and linguistic rights, and so on. Since ErdoIan and his friends do not see the Kurdish question as a part of Turkeyand#39s democracy problem and they are not too concerned about democracy any more, they want to give the least and get the most.

Therefore, you can see this government as a passive side in the peace process. All of the demands come from Abdullah calan, the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workersand#39 Party (PKK), and the government accepts them or rejects them But the government itself does not have a detailed roadmap.

This brings us to the crux of another problem Instead of deepening Kurdsand#39 rights as part of Turkeyand#39s democratization, we see that the fundamental rights of Kurds are being bargained with the PKK. There are no political parties in mainstream Turkish politics that can pressure the AK Party to solve the Kurdish question by deepening democracy.

Instead, we see a lack of strong will or clichandeacutes involving nationalistic discourse on their side. When all these factors come together, we have a peace process which goes one step forward and takes one step back.

I believe there is only one element that can change this status quo and this is the Peoplesand#39 Democratic Party (HDP), the pro-Kurdish party. If it passes the parliamentary threshold of 10 percent, the national barrage, and is represented in Parliament with 60-70 deputies, then it can be a serious party to the peace process, both as a partner and as a pressing factor If it cannot pass the national threshold, in this case it will not only remain outside Parliament but its seats will go to the AK Party.

In either case, there will definitely be dramatic developments regarding the Kurdish question.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman