Initiative can’t return to the beginning

Initiative can’t return to the beginning

Once again external dynamics are shaping the fate of Turks. After spending its entire history dealing with plots set up because of its location, Turkey is, for the first time, coming face-to-face with opportunities suggested by it geographical location, which sometimes shapes Turkey’s fate by creating crises and at other times by generating vision.

Foreign dynamic factors were behind the declaration of the Tanzimat Fermanı (Administrative Reforms Decree), the entry into NATO and the transition to a multi-party political system. History is hinting at the direction Turkey needs to choose to move ahead from the current crossroads it has reached. Turkey has become a country that has resolved its problems with its neighbors, such as Iran, Iraq and Syria, has lifted heavy burdens that history has placed on its shoulders, such as the Armenian problem, and has launched economic and social integration processes in the region.

Moreover, for the first time ever since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Twin Towers, Turkey and America, the world’s sole super power, are sharing a united perception on problems in the region. Some Turkish elites are not aware, but history is developing in Turkey’s favor for the first time in many years. From this perspective, solving the Kurdish problem has a dimension that goes beyond just giving us an opportunity for peace. Turkey must solve its Kurdish problem in order to be able to assume the new roles provided by history. External dynamics are forcing and facilitating Turkey’s solution of its Kurdish problem.

It is clear that Turkey will be a vastly different country if it can make the sharp turn that is necessary and solve its Kurdish problem. If Turkey continues ahead by solving this problem, it will begin to assume an order-establishing role in the Middle East-Caucasus-Balkans triangle.

Ending the “ninth Kurdish revolt” means creating peace and transferring resources allocated for counterterrorism -- the figures of which are at incredible levels -- to economic and social development. This situation will increase Turkey’s power in the region.

Some people view the crossroads that Turkey has reached as being on the edge of a cliff and not as a historic opportunity. For them, the continuation of the process means falling of the cliff. Turkey is coming out of the Cold War tunnels that diminish its horizon. It would be a grave oversight to think the light of the sun at the end of the tunnel comes from the headlights of an oncoming train. It is mournful that Turkish political elites fail to see what Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan can see from his secluded cell on İmralı Island.

Turkey has started out on the path that history has assigned, and there is no turning back from it. When Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan expressed his frustration over the outburst from Democratic Society Party (DTP) members in welcoming back the members of the PKK who came down from the mountains, he said everything could go back to the beginning. But it can’t. Turkey burned all its ships, like Tarık Bin Ziyad, the fearless Ummayad military general who led the Muslim conquest of Spain, when it started this process. It is not possible to turn back. Perhaps Erdoğan forgot that Turkey is not the only one in charge of the process.

Managing the process is as important as the process itself. The reflection of the initial excitement in the public shows that the social psychology and media stages of the process were not managed well. The inability to conduct public diplomacy and the negligence of the media aspect has always been a major disability of the Turkish state. Many justified cases were lost or poorly defended because of the neglect of these factors.

The Kurdish initiative faces the same risk. It is evident that the media phase of the initiative was not planned. When the process began, Interior Minister Beşir Atalay met with a countless number of civil society organizations and listened to their opinions and asked for their support. But he barely made any contact with the media. Having a conversation with the Ankara representatives of media organizations doesn’t mean making contact. Is it possible to carry out an initiative without paying due consideration to the images that enter the homes of millions of people every day and night?

Bear in mind that the most critical link to Turkey’s historic transformation is solving the Kurdish problem. Hopefully, these efforts will not become a victim of media malpractice.

OPINION