Monday, August 25, 2008

A Portrait of Ahmet Türk

From the Turkish Daily News:
Guns and violence serve neither the state's effort to challenge Kurdish nationalism, nor efforts by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, to impose its own political will, in the view of the leader of Turkey's main pro-Kurdish political party.

“Bombs do not solve anything,” said Ahmet Türk, leader of the Democratic Society Party, known by its acronym of DTP. His comments came in an exclusive interview with the Turkish Daily News.

Türk shared his views in the wake of recent urban bombings in Güngören and Izmir that have renewed debate over the outlawed PKK and policies to combat its embrace of terror. Although the organization has not assumed responsibility for the bombings, the timing is widely interpreted as retaliation against the Turkish military's heavy air strikes in morthern Iraq.

Türk and his party members have been broadly criticized for their refusal to label the PKK a terrorist group and the party faces a resulting indictment that may force its closure.

Türk, however, argued that the tipping point towards a non-violent solution to the Kurdish problem is the state's attitude towards Kurds. “We openly tell the PKK to disregard arms as a means to obtain rights. But of course, there is a societal reality. Kurds will react to policies based on a denial of their identity and their cultural demands,” he said. “As long as the state does not change those policies, it cannot reduce the influence of the PKK on people. You can not make the PKK believe that arms are unnecessary.”

Türk reiterated that dialogue was the solution to problems “within Turkey's borders.” It is mostly the task of the government and the state to end the problem, he believes, but he has sent messages to the PKK as well. “We must act in such a way as to make even the PKK think of the Turkish Republic as its own country, and see that it must act accordingly in face of a new approach. Without this logic, forging a common dialogue and drawing a roadmap has been impossible.”

Violence can never serve the aims of the PKK, says Türk, insisting that they be more open to dialogue. “We tell PKK that they will achieve nothing, even if they fight for five more years.”
With DTP still facing a closure case, the fate of the party will no doubt have a tremendous impact in deciding just what the future holds for the southeast. AKP is unlikely to win as many voters in the southeast as it won in the last elections, and with the Kurdish population in Turkey growing, Türk is right to suggest that demographics alone promise to change Turkey's handling of the Kurdish question in the coming years. For more on Türk and DTP politics, see Aug. 12 post.

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