The strong defiance by Turkey's opposition parties against the government's recently announced Kurdish initiative is a clear sign that these parties seek small political gains instead of contributing to efforts to restore social peace in the country, according to analysts.
“The opposition is after political gains. They risk Turkey's future to secure their own future and call this ‘nationalism.' Opposition parties exist to contribute to the solution of problems in democratic countries. In our country, however, they exist to block efforts for a solution. I wish the opposition parties voiced their own proposal for the settlement of the Kurdish question instead of accusing everyone of separatism,” said Mehmet Metiner, a columnist for the Star daily.
Metiner was referring to the staunch opposition of the Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) to the government's Kurdish plan, which has not yet been solidified but is said to be based on further democratization and an expansion of rights for Kurds.
Speaking at his party's parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday, CHP leader Deniz Baykal reiterated his party's earlier concerns and the “red lines,” or intellectual barriers, the CHP would never agree to cross. Stressing that his party is against any project based on ethnic segregation, Baykal accused Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of confusing “ethnic” identity with the concept of “national” identity.
The MHP's Devlet Bahçeli, on the other hand, has adopted a much more aggressive stance against governmental steps taken toward the settlement of the Kurdish issue. At a press conference on Tuesday, he said his party is not ready to make any concessions or compromises to back the initiative.
“Bahçeli accuses everyone of separatism, but does not offer the smallest clue as to what his party's proposal is for the solution of the question. The CHP is disturbed by the fact that problem will be solved by the ruling Justice and Development Party [AK Party]. If the ruling party manages to settle the question, then the CHP will suffer from a great loss of reputation and prestige. Thus, it is attempting to undermine the government's efforts to solve the question,” stated Metiner.
According to Avni Özgürel, a Radikal daily columnist, the reason behind Bahçeli's strong opposition to the Kurdish plan is his party's upcoming congress.
“The MHP will hold its grand congress in October. Bahçeli is psychologically preparing his party's grass roots for the congress. I don't approve of his views on the issue. The Kurdish question is the most serious issue of the republic. If we fail to settle this question this time, then it will be all of us who will pay its cost. Despite all, I am hopeful that this question will be settled,” the columnist stated.
Approximately 40,000 people have died since the 1980s due to the conflict between the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and government forces.
According to analysts, the CHP's opposition toward the government's efforts to settle the Kurdish question contradicts its past initiatives.
In a December 2007 speech, Baykal asked government officials to bring Kurdish youths from northern Iraq to Turkey for them to receive an education at Turkish universities.
Similarly, during his visit to Şanlıurfa in southeastern Turkey ahead of the March 29 local elections, the CHP leader said he welcomed the presence of all ethnicities in Turkey.
“In Turkey, there are three political parties who are assigned with the duty of solving the Kurdish question. The MHP prefers to keep its doors closed [to a solution]. I don't know whether this is related to its upcoming congress. The CHP is aware that those who manage to settle this issue will go down in history. Really, a solution to the question will be an end to a long-lasting civil war. The CHP neither closes its door to a solution, nor fully opens it. It is trying to shape a future stance on the Kurdish plan,” remarked Okay Gönensin, a Vatan daily columnist.
Oral Çalışlar, another Radikal columnist, criticized the CHP for refusing to meet with AK Party officials to discuss the full scope of the initiative.
“Baykal criticizes the government for not having a well-planned proposal on the issue. However, it previously slammed the government for preparing a detailed plan to amend the Constitution. Let's assume that the government does not have a road map on the Kurdish question and wants to discuss it with the opposition. Why does the CHP oppose this?” asked Çalışlar.
According to the columnist, the MHP sees the Kurdish issue as a matter of “terrorism” and believes that it can be solved through a “war ‘til the end.” “It is apparent that the MHP's Bahçeli is allergic to such things as the Kurdish language and Kurdish culture,” Çalışlar added.