Grave Responsibility

For the first time, a political party is acting with political will to settle an issue that has been taking its deadly toll on Turkey for many years.

For the first time, this party is backed by a voter base large enough to help it proceed with the intention of solving this problem.

For the first time, international conjuncture enables this country to handle a problem that started a century ago.

For the first time, the regional countries that provided the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) weapons, logistics and intelligence in the past stopped doing so.

For the first time, there is common wisdom emerging among state organs, and there is a quest for settling the issue with methods other than coercion.

For the first time, the military is leaving the initiative to civilians, is lending support to civilian moves toward a settlement and is not raising objections.

A century ago, Turkey was a country whose empire was destroyed, whose armies were dispersed and whose shipyards were occupied. The nation was poor and needy without any strength or will to go on. Whether Turks would be allowed to live here, whether they would have their flag waving above their heads or whether they would have any state was not known. The big powers intended to squeeze Turks into several cities in central Anatolia.

A century later, Turkey was able to assert, "It is our mission to establish order in this region." Turkey is on the stage as a country that has extraordinary self-confidence that exceeds other countries in the region. Turkey's self-assertion is backed by its educated workforce, its model of a democratic, secular state governed by the rule of law, its economy that is integrated with the world and its big army.

There is no other country comparable to Turkey in the region.

Moreover, internal and external parameters and development dynamics show that Turkey has a good future.

These are all true. But there is also a fact that no one can deny: In order for the country to make substantial process, it needs to settle the Kurdish issue. Turkey cannot run without getting rid of the shackles related to the Kurdish issue.

During the Cold War era, there were two main issues -- one concerning foreign policy and the other a domestic issue -- that prevented Turkey from running: Cyprus and Aegean issues and the secularism debates inside the country.

Turkey was so preoccupied with these issues that it did not have a chance to look around, let alone consider becoming a regional power. It always had concerns about ensuring its own security. Could a country crippled with fears of internal enemies become a regional power?

History brought new opportunities for Turkey in the aftermath of the Cold War. Today, these opportunities are at their peak.

Those who say no to the Kurdish initiative must sincerely ask themselves, "Why am I against it?" We cannot decline this opportunity that we encounter a century later to become "the subject of history instead of being the object of it." To sacrifice this opportunity for the 2011 election is not something that is logical.

Some countries in Europe and some in the Middle East realize and fear the role Turkey will play in the international arena if it can settle the Kurdish issue.

Who do you think are the main factors that block the democratic initiative? Those who made a show in Habur or those who carried the posters of Abdullah Öcalan in İzmir or those who hold rallies as if Öcalan were not comfortable on İmralı?

No, they are not.

You must look beyond those provocations and see the strategic approach that triggered those provocations. That strategic mentality is aware of the new position Turkey will have in the international arena if it can settle the Kurdish issue.

Those who intend to protect the state or those who call themselves nationalists must wake up from their sleep and understand just who it is they are aiding.

External obstacles can be understood to some extent. But internal obstacles cannot be considered natural, and there are grave consequences for those who encourage these obstacles.

05 December 2009, Saturday