There is nothing to say against the government’s will regarding the democratic initiative. But its approach is paralyzed by the “If there will be a solution to the Kurdish problem, it is only the state which should undertake it.” If we add the security concerns of initiative’s architects to this patronizing attitude, the governmental approach won’t obviously yield much result.

İhsan Bal is one of the decision makers who is laying the foundations of the initiative. Information he provided a few weeks ago in an interview explain well the philosophy behind the governmental approach. Out of his words, we understand that the Police Academy is the operational center of preparatory works that have been continuing for three years, but which are mostly security related. In an international workshop attended by U.S. and Irish experts, the process of bringing Kurds down from the mountain and ways to get them to lay down arms was discussed. Bal’s answer to the question: “Does the government have a plan to settle the Kurdish issue?” is a clear affirmation that things are not proceeding that well: “The government shows willpower to resolve the issue, but I think it doesn’t have a road map to cover the process from beginning to end.” In the interview, Bal said the process would be given a start with symbolic changes first and tough issues could be handled then. Easily doable actions should come first as small gestures by the state to honor Kurdish people. He then mentioned the legal changes and actions published in newspapers. No one should be offended, but all these sound quite amateurish.

Debates over the democratic initiative continue with the dissolution of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party, or DTP, transfer of the former DTP deputies to the newly established the Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, role of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, leader Abdullah Öcalan in the process, threats of violence and risks of a possible civil war. It is rather a bunch of monologues than a dialogue. And that inevitably brings the initiative to a halt. How can this vicious circle be broken? How can a fresh breath be blown into politics? Could the formation of joint commissions consisting of the relevant parties and experts so as to create a real working atmosphere be a solution? For no one says “no” to the initiative except the Republican People’s Party, or CHP, and the Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, this still looks doable.

Let’s mull over setting up commissions consisting of the government, the BDP, the bureaucracy, representatives of other political parties willing to join in, experts and representatives of international financial institutions, the European Commission, the United Nations and non-governmental organizations. Commissions in which recommendations can be discussed and policies can be produced; even the implementation of decisions can be undertaken. International experts would act like mediators, and guarantee legitimacy and durability of the solutions. Commissions will work efficiently if they function under equally shared authority by civilian actors and representatives of local and central administrations, as was in the first stage of the Istanbul European Capital of Culture initiative. In the first place, five commissions may be formed, though not exhaustive: Amnesty and Return Home Commission; Education Commission, Regional Development Commission; Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Decommissioning of Arms Commission. Besides politicians and bureaucrats who could join these commissions? First things come to mind are:

• Amnesty and Return Home Commission: The United Nations Office of High Commissioner for Refugees, Geneva and Ankara.

• Decommissioning of Arms Commission: The Turkish Hope Foundation (Umut), and International Independent Commission for Disarmament, or ICCD, chaired in the past by Martti Ahtisaari and put its mark on several accomplishments regarding the IRA’s individual arms.

A Turkey that is only learning the language of peace, which traditionally mixes finding solutions to problems with tackling the consequences of problems needs international expertise. Even Britain had seen no harm in having support from such expertise in the solution of the IRA question. This is a golden opportunity for the AKP to put its much liked motto: “Think global act local” into action. Coordination with the U.N. assistance upon returns from the Makhmour camp may be a good start.

Read the article on Hurriyet

A new architecture for the democratic initiative

There is nothing to say against the government’s will regarding the democratic initiative. But its approach is paralyzed by the “If there will be a solution to the Kurdish problem, it is only the state which should undertake it.” If we add the security concerns of initiative’s architects to this patronizing attitude, the governmental approach won’t obviously yield much result.

İhsan Bal is one of the decision makers who is laying the foundations of the initiative. Information he provided a few weeks ago in an interview explain well the philosophy behind the governmental approach. Out of his words, we understand that the Police Academy is the operational center of preparatory works that have been continuing for three years, but which are mostly security related. In an international workshop attended by U.S. and Irish experts, the process of bringing Kurds down from the mountain and ways to get them to lay down arms was discussed. Bal’s answer to the question: “Does the government have a plan to settle the Kurdish issue?” is a clear affirmation that things are not proceeding that well: “The government shows willpower to resolve the issue, but I think it doesn’t have a road map to cover the process from beginning to end.” In the interview, Bal said the process would be given a start with symbolic changes first and tough issues could be handled then. Easily doable actions should come first as small gestures by the state to honor Kurdish people. He then mentioned the legal changes and actions published in newspapers. No one should be offended, but all these sound quite amateurish.

Debates over the democratic initiative continue with the dissolution of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party, or DTP, transfer of the former DTP deputies to the newly established the Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, role of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, leader Abdullah Öcalan in the process, threats of violence and risks of a possible civil war. It is rather a bunch of monologues than a dialogue. And that inevitably brings the initiative to a halt. How can this vicious circle be broken? How can a fresh breath be blown into politics? Could the formation of joint commissions consisting of the relevant parties and experts so as to create a real working atmosphere be a solution? For no one says “no” to the initiative except the Republican People’s Party, or CHP, and the Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, this still looks doable.

Let’s mull over setting up commissions consisting of the government, the BDP, the bureaucracy, representatives of other political parties willing to join in, experts and representatives of international financial institutions, the European Commission, the United Nations and non-governmental organizations. Commissions in which recommendations can be discussed and policies can be produced; even the implementation of decisions can be undertaken. International experts would act like mediators, and guarantee legitimacy and durability of the solutions. Commissions will work efficiently if they function under equally shared authority by civilian actors and representatives of local and central administrations, as was in the first stage of the Istanbul European Capital of Culture initiative. In the first place, five commissions may be formed, though not exhaustive: Amnesty and Return Home Commission; Education Commission, Regional Development Commission; Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Decommissioning of Arms Commission. Besides politicians and bureaucrats who could join these commissions? First things come to mind are:

• Amnesty and Return Home Commission: The United Nations Office of High Commissioner for Refugees, Geneva and Ankara.

• Decommissioning of Arms Commission: The Turkish Hope Foundation (Umut), and International Independent Commission for Disarmament, or ICCD, chaired in the past by Martti Ahtisaari and put its mark on several accomplishments regarding the IRA’s individual arms.

A Turkey that is only learning the language of peace, which traditionally mixes finding solutions to problems with tackling the consequences of problems needs international expertise. Even Britain had seen no harm in having support from such expertise in the solution of the IRA question. This is a golden opportunity for the AKP to put its much liked motto: “Think global act local” into action. Coordination with the U.N. assistance upon returns from the Makhmour camp may be a good start.

Read the article on Hurriyet

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