We are not the only country facing such a problem. Although the phases, dynamics and elements of each may vary, we are also an example of similar problems that fall within the same framework.
In this aspect, the Kurdish problem has similarities to the Northern Ireland problem and the issues in South Africa, the Basque and Corsican regions. A situation that arises due to ethnic, cultural and societal differences; the demands, the struggle and conflicts that ensue as a result of that struggle and a solution …
In May 2013, a group consisting of members from the BDP (Peace and Democracy Party), CHP (Republican People’s Party) and AK Parti (Justice and Development Party) visited South Africa along with a delegation from the Democratic Progress Institute (DPI). I want to “revisit” that trip in the wake of recent events.
During one of our conversations, Roelf Meyer, the chief negotiator representing the government and the right-hand man of the last white president De Klerk, had this to say: “We took ‘trust’ as the basis. We were enemies in the past. But we had to respect each other and recognize our differences. These things don’t happen at once. It develops over time. A path ahead cannot be forged without creating a chemistry of trust. Consensus emerged later. Living together and living in consensus is not the same thing. A tolerance system can be established to make living together tolerable. Consensus is different. You have to change yourself first. Regardless of whether you are the victim or the ruler, consensus has to be established together.”
“Negotiations lasted for 6 years until the moment a constitution was drawn up. During this time there was much fragmentation. Serious conflicts reared their heads again. We were forced to start from scratch on many occasions. But we never lost the will or the belief.”
Setbacks, ups and downs, serious clashes…these types of stories are an inevitable part of reconciliation processes…Solutions and clashes merge and occur simultaneously. Could any other possibility even be imaginable?
Can any solution proceed along a straight line when it deals with clashes that have created so many deep-rooted political and cultural layers of memories?
Negotiations in South Africa began in 1990 after the release of Nelson Mandela. However, the country would be exposed to a new wave of violence and clashes from 1992-94. The actors sitting around the negotiating table accused each other of not taking precautions and laid the blame at each other’s feet, as clashes erupted among the domestic populace due to the provocations of those opposed to negotiations, and the political gap that led to local disputes over sovereignty. It would take the will and tireless efforts of two strong leaders, Nelson Mandela and De Klerk, to fill this void in trust by mollifying andso convincing the black and white populace.
A solution was found after providing for a lengthy period of time, long endeavors, convincing members of society of its legitimacy, a consensus that was reached together, and the inclusion of all actors that comprised society…
The rage and clashes in South Africa dated back centuries.
The same applied to Ireland…
Is it any different for us?
The Kurds have been in a state of uprising in these lands since the 1830s when the Ottomans initiated moves toward centralization and dissolved the system of chieftainship. The uprisings share a common characteristic: They seek self governance. At times it is to protect their own ways, at times it is seeking to establish their own state, at times it is to be autonomous and at times it is in search of equality…
That is the demand behind the pressuring and rejection of the state and the system from the time of the Ottoman Empire to the Republic; from the time of sultans to prime ministers; from the time of a single party system to a multiple party system; from the time when leftist parties were in power to when rightist parties are in power.
The rest is just details in a way. The issue does not date back 30 years but rather it dates back 200 years.
We can also look at the stage we find ourselves in today from this angle. Clashes and the reconciliation process can intermingle. The fundamental issue is to stay on track, learn lessons and establish trust.
Do not forget this.
It was just a few years ago that the state was able to accept and accepted one of the main reasons behind the clashes we were facing. A mechanism was put in place in 2013 to listen to the demands of the Kurds and try to meet them.
We are at the communicating stage but far from a consensus. The parties (the state in particular) are able to hear each other at this stage. But they (the state in particular) are unable, or unwilling to expend the effort, to understand what the other side is saying, or just choose to ignore what the other side is saying. This results in the hampering of communications. An atmosphere of clashes rears its head but the process is not broken off.
If the process is broken off we won’t be faced with just any conflict but a conflict resulting from the severance of the process.
That is why it shouldn’t break off. The gap will be bridged some day.
Negotiation and consensus need time.
Like the Africans said: We need to provide time for time…