Sunday, June 8, 2008

Baykal Declares Pride In Diverse Ethnic Identities

Deniz Baykal in Diyarbakır on Wednesday: "Everybody should be proud of their ethnic identity. Our state embraces various ethnic identities. It is a good example of solidarity and unity. We have people of all ethnic origins and races. We have our Arabs, Kurds, Georgians and Circassians. They make up our diversity"

Did Hell freeze over, or is Baykal's declaration merely a tactic to win a few seats in the southeast come next elections? From Today's Zaman:
“I don’t believe Baykal’s remarks in the Southeast hinted that the CHP will change its intra-party policy. I am afraid he uttered these remarks simply because he felt himself obliged to do so. Several political parties, including the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), have attempted to win back the hearts of our people in the eastern and southeastern regions. I believe the CHP is engaged in a similar attempt to avoid falling behind these parties,” said Ferhat Kentel, a famous sociologist from Bilgi University, in a phone interview with Sunday’s Zaman.

. . . .

Ümit Fırat, pointed out that Baykal’s remarks on different ethnic identities do not make sense for Turkish people. “People are proud of their ethnic identities. They don’t have the chance to choose their ethnic identities. Turkey has a Kurdish problem. It doesn’t really matter for people whether the state is proud of different ethnic identities in society. They have never been ashamed of themselves. The CHP reduces the troubles faced in the eastern and southeastern regions to a problem of terrorism. But Ankara should start pondering ways to improve the Kurds’ situation without losing any more time,” Fırat said.

Sezgin Tanrıkulu, head of the Diyarbakır Bar Association, however, argued that what is important is not whether Baykal was persuasive in his remarks but the content of his speeches.

“It is a significant development that Baykal has finally said something different from the CHP’s intra-party policy. We will see in the months ahead what Baykal’s statements will bring to Turkey. I believe that he will contribute a great deal to the solution of Turkey’s problems if he stands by what he said. The CHP is a political party that has considerable influence on state institutions. It should be consistent in its statements and acts. This will help us solve our problems,” he added.

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