Imrali meetings and a prospective peace
Asymmetric parts in an obscure process
erally Kurds) by giving personal privileges and dissolving the brigandage. The imprisoned leader of PKK, is said, to get houselike facility on the Imrali Prison Island, in which he will also be acknowledge the right of having his mate. The guerilla soldiers will leave the Turkish soil, put down the weapon and eventually those who have not been involved in clashes will be granted amnesty and those in the top of the organization will be settled somewhere in Farfarawayland. It is the most common Turkish way of dealing any conflict internally and externally. I have not seen any example in the history in which the Turks have showed any empathy for their antagonists. The Turkish present government, like its former equals, makes very few – if any – concessions to the Kurds. Letting the Kurds speak their language and starting Kurdish broadcasting is not a concession, but rather a charity from the government bestowed upon the miserable Kurdish subjects. Now they have to be uplifted from their misery by generosity of the great Turkish state. This “great state” of Turkey is quite interesting in the mind of the Turks. I googled “Turkey is a great state in Turkish” (Türkiye büyük bir devlettir)” or “Turkish Republic is a great state” (Türkiye Cumhuriyeti büyük bir devlettir) and compared the results with French and German concerning their respective state. I also used quotation marks to get a result of the exact statement. The results were striking; the frequency of the above mentioned statements were far more than any other language/ country. The quotations are mostly used by the governmental officials, while in West European countries they often emphasize the democratic feature of the country, for instance Deutchland ist eine Demokratie (Germany is a democracy). This “büyük” (great/big) is frequently occurring selfperception among Turks. A national narrative based on a pseudo-historic concept claiming the Turks being the superior nation (Ne mutlu türküm diyene = happy is the one who says “I am a Turk”) is generally associated with xenophobia (Türkün Türkten başka dostu yoktur = The Turk has no other friends except the Turks), self-adulation (Türküm, doğruyum, çalışkanım, … = I am a Turk, I am righteous, I am diligent …), national megalomania (ulu devlet = sublime state/port, büyük devlet = great state, ulu millet = great nation) and a belief in Turkey’s special mission (Ottoman imperialism). I can hardly imagine that by this selfperception the Turkish authorities can sincerely offer any viable solution to the Kurdish question in Turkey. As a matter of fact the newly earned self-confidence through economic boom and cultural imperialism in Middle East the national megalomania will reach new levels. The elevation should be ascribed to the charismatic AK party leader Erdogan, who, one would expect, should express humbleness and empathy. Sounding pessimistic, I rather perceive that Prime Minister has elevated himself to the Sultan of the Sublime Porte. I have noticed the centrality of his personality in his speeches when addressing the high officials: he frequently puts possessive pronoun in front of all officials: “benim dışişleri bakanım (my Minister of Foreign affairs)”, “benim genelkurmay başkanım (my Chief of Staff)”, “benim içişleri bakanım (my Minister of Interior Affairs) etc. Of course, one may perceive this designation as some kind of folksy and vernacular, but even then the popular discourse indicates that he considers himself mighty enough to popularize the epithets.
Expecting a fair treatment in a so called peace process from such counterparty is naïve, if not foolhardy. Recent weeks’ Turkish practice has proved that the process is on the terms of the Turks; Prime Minister Erdoğan vetoed against the proPKK BDP’s (Peace and Democracy Party) wish to send certain functionaries to Imrali to meet the imprisoned leader Öcalan. It is puzzling that in a bilateral negotiation process one party decides who should sit at the table! Can it really be a negotiation? This and that will come to the negotiation but not those; otherwise there will be no negotiation. I have heard about other terms in negations, but not the constellation of negotiators! AK party governmental officials are literally chastising BDP in a way that is suitable for the policy of AK party itself. Of course AK party has a triumph card; the most influential one: Abdullah Öcalan is in AK party’s power and nowadays AK party means both the government and the state in Turkey.
The “negotiations” is accompanied with amendments in the constitution of Turkey. Another proof that AK party is literally using BDP as a support party is the work with the constitution. Together with BDP there will be an absolute majority to adapt new legislations. Of the recent speech by the chairman of BDP, Demirtaş, one can understand how closely the two parties are working together. Demirtaş says that: “Turkey need to enter a new system. All cultures should be protected within the unity of Turkey and enshrined in the spirit of the principals of the constitution. [In this sense] the closest [party] to us is AK party. [Our standpoints] do not overlap exactly, but the party that we stand closest to is AK party.”
History is repeating itself for northern Kurds. Several centuries ago a Kurdish prince, Idris Bitlisi put the Kurds under the command of the Ottoman Empire. Now the PKK leader is chastising the Kurds under the Turkish command. Öcalan is indeed the new Idris Bitlisi. But will the Kurds be satisfied with this arrangement in the long term?
Co-chairman of BDP Selahettin Demirtas addresses a crown about the Imrali meetings with the detained PKK leader Abdulla Ocalan.