Thursday, 27 June 2013

The AKP and its Peculiar Understanding of the Peace Process

A few months ago a potentially historical phase regarding the Kurdish Question in Turkey was initiated. The PKK and its imprisoned leader Abdullah Öcalan agreed to withdraw the guerilla from Turkey to start a peace process. In return they expect the ruling AKP government to make serious advancements regarding minority rights and other democratic reforms, i.e. the 10% threshold for parliamentary election should be removed, the sole mention of Turks in the constitution should be altered to a plurality, right for the use and learning in a mother language should be introduced, the legal repression against oppositional movements, in particular the Kurdish movement, should be stopped and the like. The guerilla stuck to its plan and began to leave the country. However, the AKP government seemingly did not even take one step forward. None of the about 6000 imprisoned legal Kurdish politicians has been released and there isn't even a discussion about granting more rights to minorities or about removing the ridiculously high election threshold.

The BDP (Peace and Democracy Party, the main legal pro-Kurdish party), the KCK (Union of Kurdish Communities, the umbrella organization of all Kurdish groups, including the PKK) and Abdullah Öcalan all criticized the unwillingness of the government to contribute to the peace process. Despite that criticism they agreed on entering the second phase of the process. Now it is really on the government to make steps towards the Kurdish movement. However, on the contrary, Tayyip Erdogan made some very peculiar statements yesterday in relation to a meeting with the Wise People's Council that was established in order to supervise of the process. Apparently he thinks that instead of lowering the election threshold the Kurds or whoever should try harder to pass this threshold. He also claims that there is only one official language in Turkey, that is Turkish. Overall there are no plans for any reforms.

Erdogan seems to count on the patience and cooperative approach by the Kurdish movement, which seems to be very willing to carry on with the peace process. If, however, this process will go on much longer and if it will produce any meaningful results beyond a few superficial changes remains to be seen. Maybe the interpretation, claiming that Erdogan initiated the process because of the political and military defeat he suffered after the PKK controlled quite larges areas in the Southeast and because he considers it a strategy for the several upcoming elections (in particular the referendum over the change of the presidential system, that would enable him to become a president with a lot of power). 

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