The paradigm of the Turkish Republic, that few have dared to mention in the 80-year-old Republican history, lies behind the current problems of Turkey's democratization.
The formula is simple. The majority should be kept away from the center. The first step was turning the Parliament and the political powers, which are the only legitimate representatives of the public, into inefficient agents with the dominant institutions carrying constitutional assurance. So, the demands of Kurds, minorities, and conservatives, who form the majority of the public, were not reflected in the ruling mechanisms.
This repressive regime naturally caused reactions throughout the 80-year-old history of the Turkish republic. Some groups, especially the Kurds, were deprived of the legal and legitimate channels of politics that led to their illegalization. So, the outlawed PKK, which has been in a conflict with the state's official army for 30 years, is the product of this repressive regime to a great extent. This is why the PKK could find considerable grassroots support, unlike any other terrorist organization.
Doubtless, violence breeds more violence. The Turkish state, which created the PKK by its oppression, legitimized its repressive policies through the violence and terrorist activities of the PKK for a long time. The ruling political parties had to compensate for the economic damages caused by this civil war. The military domination legitimized its institutions, such as the National Security Council, thanks to its giant army consisting of 600,000 people, coups, memorandums, and compulsory military service. When the inauthentic threat became insufficient on its own, the religious people of society, whose political parties were closed and daily religious practices were banned, became the main target.
This unauthentic order started to crack with the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and its founder Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who came into power after the general elections in 2002. Erdoğan organized the democratic alliance of the groups that were kept away from the center by the modern Republic so far. The state entered a process of making peace with the majorities, the conservatives and the Kurds.
And eventually, a resolution process for the end of the Kurdish civil war, which claimed the lives of 50,000 citizens of Turkey over 30 years, was initiated.
A major peace project on the Kurdish issue has been ongoing for the last year and a half. Within this period, no conflict or casualty was reported except the occasional trivial provocations. Lastly, Prime Minister Erdoğan and the cabinet of ministers developed a new action plan to accelerate and institutionalize the resolution process on May 19. Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the PKK, also favored this initiative. Turkey is in the process of finding some of its inner peace.
These concrete positive steps taken on the Kurdish issue also started to positively influence other spheres such as the democratization process and economy. It also brought some favorable results such as democratization pacts, extension of the freedom of expression, opening of political channels, and the end of systematic torture.
However, during this process, the EU and U.S., who harshly criticized Turkey so far for its democratization perspective, interestingly reduced their support. Moreover, they began to oppress the reformist government for the legal measures it took in the face of the street terror organized by groups who opposed the reconciliation process.
The West could not see the political risk Erdoğan's government took by taking a radical step such as the reconciliation process, which might endanger the party's votes among the people with conservative and nationalist tendencies. As they cannot move from political correctness, they interpret the demonstrations such as Gezi Park incidents that demand withdrawal of the reforms and focus on the old regime as "progressive." And unfortunately, they strengthen the provocations of this reactionist alliance mostly comprised of illegal groups that are on the terror lists of the EU and the U.S.
In this case, the citizens of Turkey desiring the support of the contemporary world for Turkey's democratization, unavoidably ask this question: Are the EU and the U.S., who always mention universal democracy standards, uneasy with Turkey who is now trying to solve its structural problems? The Turkey that no government dared to mention? Do they miss the old Turkey?