By Gareth H. Jenkins (vol. 4, no. 21 of the Turkey Analyst)
On November 1, 2011, a court in Istanbul formally charged 23 suspects with membership of the Union of Communities of Kurdistan (KCK), an umbrella organization controlled by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and ordered that they be imprisoned pending trial. The suspects included Professor Büşra Ersanlı, a respected academic from Istanbul’s Marmara University, and Ragıp Zarakolu, a prominent publisher and human rights activist. The decision to arrest Ersanlı and Zarakolu is another blow to already fading hopes that the AKP government’s new appetite for confrontation will be replaced by a desire to solve the Kurdish problem through dialogue and conciliation.
By Richard Weitz (vol. 4, no. 21 of the Turkey Analyst)
Turkish government representatives insist that they want to develop good ties in all directions, and consider these relations non-exclusive. Turkish officials describe their country as a bridge among these neighboring blocs and civilizations. They emphasize their newfound commitment to convey Western liberal democratic values to the newly emerging democracies that are slowly displacing the traditionally authoritarian countries of the Middle East. Turks would ideally like their country to become a diplomatic and energy bridge that connects Europe to the Middle East, Iran to the West, and the Black Sea to the Mediterranean in ways that would enhance Ankara’s leverage by making Turkey a pivotal state and an indispensable partner to its neighbors.
By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 4, no. 20 of the Turkey Analyst)
The members of the constitutional reconciliation commission in the Turkish parliament that convened last week have been instructed to draft a constitution that enshrines liberty. It is also officially recognized that the new constitution of Turkey needs to be societal compact that reflects the pluralism of society. However, it is still a political tradition that puts the state above society that is the dominant force. The rulers of Turkey continue to adhere to the age-old Turkish political axiom that the state knows best, circumscribing true participatory democracy.
By Gareth H. Jenkins (vol. 4, no. 19 of the Turkey Analyst)
On October 1, 2011, 25 deputies from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and five pro-Kurdish independents were formally sworn in as members of the Turkish parliament, abandoning a three month-old boycott of the assembly in protest at the continued imprisonment of another five BDP candidates who had won seats in the June 12, 2011, general election. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had already announced that its priority over the months ahead will be the drafting of a new constitution. The decision by the thirty pro-Kurdish deputies to take up their seats in parliament has raised hopes of a sustained dialogue with the AKP and the possible inclusion in the new constitution of sufficient concessions to solve Turkey’s Kurdish problem and persuade the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to lay down its arms. However, although the presence of the pro-Kurdish deputies in Ankara does create the opportunity for dialogue and a short-term reduction in tensions, there currently appears little prospect of the AKP agreeing to the Kurdish nationalists’ minimum demands.
By Halil M. Karaveli (vol. 4, no. 18 of the Turkey Analyst)
As the Turkish-Kurdish conflict escalates, the release of a 50-minute tape recording of a meeting between leading officials of the Turkish National Intelligence Agency (MİT) and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has supplied insights into the strategy of the Turkish government. The effort to explore a peaceful solution was doomed because ultimately the ruling AKP has not disengaged from Turkish state tradition. The AKP state does have a more tolerant approach than the defunct Kemalist state, but it is nonetheless still a patronizing state that expects societal obedience. The AKP government thus never engaged in an earnest negotiation with the Kurdish representatives.
The Turkey Analyst is a publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Joint Center, designed to bring authoritative analysis and news on the rapidly developing domestic and foreign policy issues in Turkey. It includes topical analysis, as well as a summary of the Turkish media debate.