It is clear that Turkey finds itself in a tough place at the moment. All those that are sensible will need to act responsibly before the car skids off the road as it negotiates this sharp bend. We can return to the good old days when common sense prevailed, as we negotiate the potential danger of the car skidding off the road. Cool-headedness is what is most required as we try to straighten the car and avert the danger...
Kandil and the HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party) made a catastrophic move and there will be repercussions. But that is not the issue. It looks like there is a need to arbitrate, with regard to the weakness of the Öcalan-HDP-Kandil equation at this stage of the reconciliation process, in a calm-headed manner. It means the end of the reconciliation process if it is said that the HDP and Kandil are not our interlocutors any longer. It would be contradictory to say this and at the same time insist that the reconciliation process is ongoing. The primary aim of the reconciliation process is not to grant Kurdish citizens their rights but to make the PKK lay down its arms and turn to politics. Confusion at this point is meaningless. It is clear that Kurdish citizens have been granted their rights and will be continue to be granted their rights regardless of the PKK problem being solved. Why would Turkey then need a different reconciliation process?
First of all, we cannot trust Kandil and cannot take for granted that the HDP-BDP (Peace and Democracy Party) is a regular political party. This is a problem in itself for which a solution is being sought. It is very clear that these processes can’t prevent crises like the Oct. 6-7 uprising, however much it might enrage us. It is clear that expecting a problem-free process is an act of wishful thinking.
The PKK is an organization that can dominate events on the ground and is still highly capable of adopting the concept of revolutionary civil war and implementing conjecturally negative change. While it is natural to be enraged with the BDP-HDP, we would find ourselves at the final stage of the reconciliation process if a political process of pressuring Kandil and forcing it to renounce violence existed. This is something that can occur toward the end of the process.
We should utilize the effective tools at hand and speed up steps to make the process more transparent as it progresses, while also increasing the opportunities for communication between Öcalan and Kandil and the HDP. Just because trust in Selahattin Demitaş has been lost, does not mean that the entire process has to be scrapped as a result and that there are no other actors within the HDP and the DTK (Democratic Society Congress).
In short, Kandil can only be convinced of peace through well-directed and quick steps. It is true that the HDP was set up badly and its leading personalities, particularly its socialist parliamentarians, lack identity. But isn’t the real difficulty and purpose to draw the interlocutors in the process to the political arena? If the tough statements issued by Demirtaş and the attacks on police stations yesterday have turned the tables, it means that the process has already been interrupted. But if the process is ongoing and a crisis that can be resolved is being experienced, then negotiations and dialogue should continue even if the protagonists are not the same.
It is correct that Turkey takes the higher political ground when it comes to the PKK and attempts to re-establish public authority in the region. Public peace cannot be left to the whims of Kandil. But we need to be wary of the tendency of “we will provide democratic rights to the Kurds and simultaneously fight the PKK as well.” This concept was suggested by police chiefs affiliated to the Fetullah Gülen community in the first place, and is in fact an alluring trap. It will be impossible to have stability in the Southeast and for the Kurds to be happy, while the PKK continues to wage war, people continue to be martyred and PKK youth continue to die.
It is not because it encompasses all conditions, but because the argument was wrongly formed in the first place, that the thesis regarding Kandil and the HDP not being reliable interlocutors gains strength. Let me give you an example of why I accepted right at the beginning that they were not good choices. If a knife has been defined as an item that can be used to kill a person, then it is logical to ban its use. But if the misuse of this item can be prevented, then this argument is rendered useless as a means of problem-solving logic.
The HDP should not be discarded as an interlocutor (even if this attribute of the HDP has been badly damaged). It is very important that the government not fall into the trap of disenchantment and desperation. What was wrong and lacking in the process in the lead up to Oct. 6-7? Why wasn’t the sensitivity toward Kobane grasped? Couldn’t social policies have been implemented earlier with regard to the youth that were used by the PKK in the street protests? Couldn’t the government explain itself better regarding its stance on Kobane? And most vitally, can’t the reconciliation process proceed more quickly?
It is appropriate to remember the following conclusions reached by Jonathan Powell, special advisor to Tony Blair during talks with the IRA:
“The most vital thing in the process your country is going through at this stage is not allowing the gap between the ceasefire and measures to grow. Because if this gap widens events could head in the wrong direction. If you have a long gap between ceasefire and progress it will almost certainly go wrong. Vacuums get filled by violence. If the process takes too long, accidents can occur.”
And now to remarks that would be relevant to our current situation...
A ceasefire was announced in May 2013 but there is no monitoring commission as yet for example...
The consideration of going back to the drawing board for the reconciliation process should not even be entertained. Particular attention has to be paid during these tense days to those alluring traps that seem like new ideas but actually have always crippled the prospects of peace. Especially when all precautions haven’t been taken, all safety mechanisms haven’t been implemented and all roads not exhausted...
What needs to be done now is that necessary repairs be carried out and the car returned to the track.