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May 20, 2008

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21 mai 2008

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26 Mai 2008

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The trouble with the Kurdish manifesto

Turkish Daily News


Thursday, May 22, 2008 | Mehmet Ali Birand

Two days ago, the French newspaper Le Monde and the International Herald Tribune, the world's most widely-read English newspaper, gave room to a full-page ad. This ad had been placed by the Kurdish Institute that is taken quite seriously in France, where it's located. In this ad, some American and European government-members and intellectuals launch an appeal to the international public opinion. Their main objective is to draw attention to the Kurdish issue.

Also drawing attention to the necessity for the PKK to lay down arms, this manifesto requires the new constitution to give legal recognition to the Kurdish entity, to permit the free use of the Kurdish language in communication tools and especially in education, and the government to grant political pardon, to dispel the village guard system, to re-build the 3,400 villages evacuated during the 1990's and to restore their Kurdish names. The final message of the manifesto briefly says:

“... Many writers, thinkers and intellectuals in Turkey, who make efforts to solve the Kurdish issue, fail to get results... It is alsoclear that they will continue to fail in the future. Under these conditions, the best step to take would be to appoint a person of international prestige as mediator...”

The manifesto goes one step further to nominate some very-well known and prestigious names for this mission. Bernard Kouchner (former foreign affairs minister of France), Tony Blair (former prime minister of the UK) Marrti Ahtisari (former prime minister of Finland), Felipe Gonzales (former prime minister of Spain) are cited as examples. These international celebrities have all successfully acted as mediators inthe Irish, Basque, Catalan and Kosova issues.

What really draws attention is the fact that especially three of these four names (Blair, Ahtisari, Gonzales) are also popular in Turkey. Ahtisari is particularly known for the special efforts he's made to get Turkey into the EU, and the group of wise men has been the only establishment to support Turkey in this issue under his leadership.

A danger for Turkey:

In my opinion, such a step would constitute the greatest danger to us in the Kurdish issue. In other words, if the problems are not solved or no effort is made to solve them, we might some day see other sources starting to suggest mediation as a solution. Viewed from this angle, the Kurdish Institute's manifesto looks extremely important in the way that it ignites the first fuse of a development of grave danger to Turkey. Almost imperceptible efforts to resort to mediation come to light whenever there's any bloody strife that affects the neighbouring countries, especially if none of the sides to the conflict lift a finger to solve the issue. There's never any immediate action. There's always a waiting period, after which, it's the turn of the NGO's to come up with the same suggestion. Then, it's taken up at government level.In the end, it's organisations like the UN or the Council or Parliament of Europe that pick up the thread.Neither will you be able to say “No one can mediate unless we allow it.” They'll catch you at such a moment that you won't even find the time to say NO. Mediatorship is risky business. Let's not forget that no matter how biased –in your favour -the appointed mediator may be, he/she might still overlook or prefer to overlook some points that are vital to your cause.If we do not wish to be placed in such a situation, we have to finally start working on the long- awaited package to solve the Kurdish issue. We're about to enter a period that's sure to set off alarm bells.

Let's also remember that we're gradually losing the initiative in the Kurdish issue.Now, the situation in Iraq has also led America to take a close interest in this issue... As for Europe, it's become a natural part of this issue due to Turkey's candidacy and the Kurds, who live in European countries. The best possible approach would be to start taking these developments seriously and to start working on the political-economic-cultural package as soon as possible.

Panel on neighborhood pressure:

It's been exactly 12 months since Prof. Şerif Mardin caused a fuss by mentioning “neighbourhood pressure” during an interview with Ruşen Çakır.He caused a fuss, for the truth of his words were also confirmed by all of us when we said or wrote ,”How very true.”

What's happened since then? What dimensions has this pressure reached in the meanwhile? The most important fact is that the meaning of Prof. Mardin's words has been so widely discussed.

These three topics will be debated during a conference organized by SORAR next Friday at 2 p.m. at the Cemal Reşit Rey auditorium. Ruşen Çakır willmoderate the panel composed of Prof. Toprak, Prof. Sarıbay, Prof. Keyman, Ass. Prof. Subaşı and Dr. Tuksal. The chief guest will naturally be Prof. Şerif Mardin, who will answer questions.Presented to the attention of those who are interested.

…..

The translation of M.A.Birand's column was provided by Nuran İnanç(nuraninanc@gmail.com)


Turkish Daily News The trouble with the Kurdish manifesto