The Turkish Republic's political stability has never been fully established due to the Kurdish question. Only two years after the proclamation of the Republic, the first big Kurdish uprising took place in eastern Turkey. Mainly driven by Kurdish officers of the Ottoman army, the Sheikh Sait insurgency pushed the young Republic into a deep crisis. Starting from that date, the Kurdish issue has become a problem to suppress, to contain or at best to ignore. The 1980 coup, with its policy of incredible oppression and torture, has ignited different dynamics in western and eastern parts of Turkey.
In the east, the most visible dynamic has been the assertion of the PKK, among many other Kurdish movements, as a single bloodthirsty terrorist organization against the "state." The terror attacks came to a halt only one year ago, for the past 29 years, thousands of people have been assassinated and entire villages have been deported. In big agglomerations such as Diyarbakır, an uprooted population of people, cut off from the rural side and unable to integrate into urban societies, has appeared. For this segment of society, with no hope for the future, the PKK has become not only an outlet for their nationalist feelings, but also a means to acquire a social status, to become "someone." Over time, nothing justified the armed struggle, however the number of young people joining the PKK in the mountains did not decrease considerably. Nothing has been able to dismantle this vicious circle. A generation of Kurdish youth appeared, hating even the word "Turkish Republic."
A total and swift reversal of the situation was obviously not possible, nonetheless the policies implemented by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan since 2007 have largely helped to "rehabilitate Kurdishness" and Kurdish culture. As such, recent political developments are very important. Nonetheless, the new draft law "to end terrorism and to strengthen solidarity" despite the unintelligible title, remains a historic structural step in solving the Kurdish problem. The draft legislation can be and is being criticized for not being comprehensive, sufficient or evident enough. Such critiques do not bear any weight. This is plainly the first time since 1923 that the state is taking legislative measures to help Kurdish citizens reconcile with the "state," to allow the Turkish state recognizing and accepting the specificity of its citizens.
In a region where most basic human rights are trampled, such a step on the part of Turkey will no doubt help to strengthen the mutual trust between the latter and the Kurdish Regional Government. The region, already de facto independent, is envisaging de jure independence also. It has no other possible ally in this endeavor than Turkey. The latter, by taking this step worthy of a pluralist, modern democracy, is also underlining its objectives, its direction and its perspectives. The same Turkey, under the guidance of Erdoğan, has opted for an "open border" policy that helped to save the lives, dignity and future of more than 1 million people. Obviously, this fact is not appealing enough for the mass media, which prefers to focalize on a so-called "arms deals" with insurgent movements. However, over the long term, the importance of Turkey's open border policy will be evaluated for its real meaning, and hundreds of thousands Syrians and Iraqis will be the living witnesses for such an evaluation.
Today is the day to fully understand the meaning and content of such a structural legal change. Assertive, overly centralized governance is over, replaced by subsidiarity, respect for pluralism and true constitutional citizenship. Upcoming presidential elections are doubly important now, because they will show the public's support for this courageous step.
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