Harmony at the state level

Even though statements by Interior Minister Beşir Atalay on the solution of the Kurdish question "lack content" for now, they have created a positive atmosphere in terms of their "method and determination." The state apparently has the "will to find a solution" and plans to put it into effect "without rushing, but with determination."

Let us say this in advance: It is hard to be optimistic about any "solution." As I stated in my previous article, as long as the Abdullah Öcalan factor is on stage in its current position, solid steps taken by Turkey may be insufficient for a "solution." Expectations should not be unnecessarily high. Turkey must continue to take all kinds of steps toward becoming a democratic state, but this is another issue.

In Atalay's statements, the actual source of excitement and the factor creating expectations may be two separate matters. Speaking about such a vulnerable issue as the Kurdish question, he said, "There is great agreement at all state levels on finding a solution."

This is important because in Turkey's recent political history, it has been quite rare for "authority" and "power" holders to agree on critical issues. The problem of harmony within the state has always made Turkey lose "time" and "ground" and has made it pay a "very hefty price."

Everyone is aware that the "problem of harmony within the state" means the military's objection to the actions of civilians on some issues and the military's lack of trust in civilians. A good part of the military has always been suspicious of politicians in such subjects as love of the nation and loyalty to the country. Politicians, on the other hand, think their steps in critical subjects may be met by harsh reactions from the military or that structures with strong connections to the military will abuse them, leading to them losing ground in politics. Both factors are there in such situations.

In brief, while one of the basic features of Turkish politics is the military shadow over politics, the other is mistrust between politicians and military officers.

The latest example of this mistrust was seen in the March 1 motion, which resulted with the Turkish Parliament's rejection of Turkish troop deployment to Iraq and allowing US troops to use Turkish soil for the invasion of Iraq in 2003. How some generals manipulated the process and what kind of results emerged due to their manipulation is still remembered.

This lack of harmony and trust also has a share and contributes to the inability to find a solution to the Kurdish problem. If the Kurdish question has remained without a solution for years, the lack of agreement between both the state and the society concerning a solution is decisive and determinative in that. Today, opinions as to what the Kurdish problem is and how it can be solved still vary; a general agreement is out of the question.

Many examples in Turkish history have shown that an "agreement within the state" is of vital importance in forming a social agreement. It is sometimes even a precondition for the social agreement. The tradition of seeing the state as a "father" does not object to great agreements reached at the state level. Sur ely it does not mean that all agreements reached by the state will soon be accepted by the society. Yet when there is no agreement at the state level on a critical issue, it is much harder to expect an agreement within the society. That is to say, a general agreement within the society will be needed to be produced in a way to solve the Kurdish question with a "Turkish model."

Atalay mentioning "coordination among state levels" is important in that sense. Let us hope that the content of the "initiative" is not disclosed due to sensitivity in timing alone.

Apparently, it will take time for politics to totally dominate decision-making processes in Ankara. Then, a harmony between civilians and the military on basic issues will be of vital importance in addition to being in the country's interest.

The process of the Kurdish question is also important in showing the internal harmony at the state level. As Minister Atalay said, agreement at the state level is a big opportunity and should not be wasted.

Gürkan Zengin