19 Aralık 2014
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From the Columns

Boot kissers, etc.:

Bugün's Gülay Göktürk yesterday commented on a recent statement from Jalal Talabani accusing Turkey of interfering in Iraq's domestic affairs, along with a threat that Iraq would mobilize Turkey's Kurds against it if it continues to interfere. Göktürk suggests the statement might be incorrect and even a crime under international law. However, he then considers the recent comments from Justice Minister Cemil Çiçek, who recently referred to Talabani as a military-boot kisser. One might go crazy at Talabani's views, but nobody has the right to use humiliating language when referring to the elected leader of a state. Their language should be respectful in such cases because the leader stands for an entire nation, whether one likes it or not, says Göktürk.

He reminds Çiçek of his previous comments in which he spoke of Turkey's Kurds as "adopted children." In his most recent statement, he has offended not only the Kurds of Iraq but also Turkey's Kurds, with an insult directed at their close relatives across the border. Göktürk says Çiçek is perfectly aware of this but is unable to control himself. However, he adds that this problem in not unique to Çiçek and that many of Turkey's administrators employ pejorative language when speaking about the Kurdish leaders of northern Iraq. It has almost become a habit.

The reason, according to Göktürk, is that even if Turkey officially recognizes the Iraqi Kurds, it simply cannot absorb the idea of having a relationship with them where both sides are equal. Even if they are the president,or set up their own "autonomous" region, Turkey always tend to see them as foster children in its old villa. However, for Göktürk, Çiçek's insult was the most embarrassing of such comments. Göktürk concludes that those who don't understand how the Kurdish nation's character was formed over history should read the books of Kurdish writer Mehmet Uzun. If they did, they would most certainly be ashamed of themselves, he adds.

Öcalan's demands:

Fikret Bila, writing in Milliyet, offered his opinion on the call for an end to Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) violence from jailed leader Abdullah Öcalan. The terrorist leader recently sent out a cease-fire call to his followers through his lawyers. Bila says the call came just days after a statement from Iraqi leader Talabani that the PKK would be calling a cease-fire soon. Bila concludes that Talabani must know in advance how the PKK will act.

Öcalan related his cease-fire to certain political demands. Deconstructing the statement made public by Öcalan's lawyers, Bila finds that restructuring the Republic of Turkey as a two-nation state with a new constitution, turning Kurdish into a language of education and a general amnesty for PKK members are Öcalan's political demands. Implicit in Öcalan's requests is the setting up of a two-nation -- Turkish and Kurdish -- federation. However, in its generals' speeches, the Turkish army has recently been stressing a "single unitary state under one flag." Bila concludes by implying that the United States will back the Kurdish demands since the cease-fire rumors come at a time not long after the United States appointed a special representative to counter PKK terrorism.

Cease-fire call from the PKK:

Yeni Şafak's Ali Bayramoğlu also covered the recent PKK cease-fire call from Öcalan. Bayramoğlu asserts that the cease-fire process should be exploited intelligently by Turkey. Steps should be taken to encourage an anti-PKK formation among the Kurdish population through democratic means. If intelligent policy is conducted, concrete political steps towards a permanent settlement could be born from this process, he adds.

Political tensions:

Sabah's Ergun Babahan yesterday referred to increasingly common statements from army generals warning against the rising threat of reactionary Islamism. Following comments from the chiefs of the general staff and land forces that the army is concerned about religious centers of power gaining influence, the Air Forces commander recently made a speech mentioning the threat of conservative Islam. President Ahmet Necdat Sezer is "expected to" make a similar speech, says Babahan. He contends that it is no secret that the president is not entirely at peace with the current government.

Meanwhile the government has made a grave mistake and relaxed on European Union reforms to please the "hawks," Babahan says, referring to the army. However those hawks are now exhausting the government. Sections that have backed the government's EU reforms but are suspicious of its intentions concerning secularism are unnerved. In addition, tender-rigging and corruption allegations against Justice and Development Party (AKP) members have been rising. The AKP risks losing all its gains of the past four years. Babahan says the prime minister and Cabinet members should take a step back and take a good look at the picture before them. They should take precautions to maintain their position and clear the obstructions from Turkey's path to a better future.

CHP doesn't want power:

İsmet Berkan reported in Radikal on the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and its recent attitude. Naturally, all contenders in a race want first place, not second or third. However, all of Turkey's political parties have unfortunately started to see targeting 20 percent of the vote as an optimistic target. However, they should be aiming for at least 40 percent, because a party needs to be a single-party government to implement all aspects of its party program. Parties do not have the right to say "Our program and executive administrators are good, but the voter always makes the wrong choice," maintains Berkan.

After the 2002 elections, Turkey had a government party and an opposition party. Normally, the opposition party should win the next elections, or at least the next-but-one, Berkan explains. However, nobody has the expectation that the CHP will one day form a single-party government. In order for people to think so, CHP members should at least sometimes start sentences with phrases like "When we come to power." However, the CHP does not do that nor does it call for early elections. According to Berkan the CHP only aims to protect the 20 percent it earned at the last elections. It has convinced itself that it will never be elected to government, he concludes.