Sunday, October 17, 2010

PM consultant hiding behind 'virtual' reality when dealing with Kurdish question

17 October 2010

Yalçın Akdoğan, the Prime Minister head consultant, gives a very disturbing assessment of the future of the Kurdish question

In a long and interesting, although somehow confused and confusing interview to Today's Zaman, Yalçın Akdoğan (the prime minister’s head consultant and a professor of political science) states that the coming 2011 general elections are set to be a turning point for Turkey from the perspective of democracy: “All of the dark scenarios turn out to have been empty.- he says - A new wave of democracy is starting in Turkey. When compared with the waves of democracy we experienced under Adnan Menderes and Turgut Özal, the things which have occurred and will yet occur with the AK Party have far surpassed a wave and have turned into an enormous tsunami. Changes that previously took decades to take place can now occur in just months. During this period, it is not only reforms that are being implemented, but all sorts of dirty scenarios, mechanisms of resistance, and dark chambers are being left out of the process.”

Since January 2003, Akdoğan has been advising prime minister Erdoğan on political matters, and his particular area of responsibility is texts for the prime minister’s speeches.

The most interesting part of the interview, and also that which shows how confused still is the Turkish government when it comes to the Kurdish question, Akdoğan states that "the Kurdish problem is a problem with the system. As the system democratizes and becomes normalized, these types of chronic problems will be solved. In finding a solution to the Kurdish problem, above all, there must be a change in mentality, as well as change to the paradigm. Without a change in mentality, without constructive reforms, without transforming the system itself, these types of political problems cannot be solved." It is quite hard to understand where the prime minister's consultant wants to go to and yet he continues by insisting that "the AK Party has begun this process by changing the mentality and the perspective from which all this is viewed. It is searching for the answers to a multi-dimensional problem with multi-dimensional solutions. It has removed the whole problem from the security mold into which it had been cast, and it has eliminated the mistakes that were being made over and over." The prime minister's adviser seems convinced that the AKP has removed the Kurdish question from the security mold into which it had been cast, and yet in the past year there have been countless judiciary initiatives against the Kurdish politicians and activists, let aside the ongoing military operations and the approval, only last week of the one year extension to cross border military operations.

Indeed, despite the evidence points out to the contrary, Akdoğan insiste that "had democratic steps not been taken in the Kurdish situation, and had the people of the region not been embraced by the government, the general tableau before us today would be much different, much worse. The “yes” votes which emerged from this region can be read, in some ways, as a backing of efforts to find democratic solutions."

And he adds that the "government does not index its work on this front on the terror group. If it did, the initiative would slip into the hands of the other side. The democratic reforms will continue no matter what. Ensuring safety is the base condition."

But the most astonishing remark comes at the end of the answer on the Kurdish question, when Akdoğan states that "the people of the region, who have been stuck for so long between two different types of pressure and fear, are now the targets of the terror group’s one-sided threats and pressures, with the aim being to influence and guide these people. The terror group is trying to present itself as the only option in the region, by putting civil initiatives and alternative enterprises under pressure. And the government, with its brave attempts, is ruining this game. But the government’s determination to continue its democratic initiative despite the sabotage attempts by the terror group is being viewed positively by the people of the region."

Different reading of the same reality is clearly not just acceptable but also somehow desirable. But completely ignoring the reality and assessing a 'virtual' reality this is altogether a different story and indeed a very dangerous exercise.