"Besides, to solve the Kurdish question, Öcalan must be contacted, must be talked with. There is no one in Turkey, with the exception of him [Öcalan] to solve this problem. There is no one with the exception of him that can contribute as much as him to solve this problem."
~ Avni Özgürel.
~ Avni Özgürel.
Today is the third and final part of the interview between Taraf's Neşe Düzel and researcher Avni Özgürel (Part 1; Part 2):
ND: Aktütün is being raided frequently and we have martyrs there. Doesn't PKK increase its morale by giving the Turkish army such casualties?
AÖ: Of course, yes. Even the press statement that the Chief of General Staff had, in which he revealed his anger, resulted in increasing PKK's morale and motivation by saying, "We make the world's eighth largest army's commander go crazy".
ND: The Chief of General Staff gave a very rigid and very angry response to our newspaper's statement that the raid was known well before. The people who were supporting him the most also said it is not an acceptable thing. Why do you think he had such an angry reaction?
AÖ: Actually, the Chief of General Staff is projecting his anger for those in his ranks onto others. Otherwise, someone who rises to a general's position, it is impossible for him not to know what happened at Aktütün. He does know what happened there, who is responsible, and what was wrong in the mechanism that was running. However, in Turkey, all the institutions have the attitude of "let's cover it". But right now in Turkey, the situation is changing. Society is questioning, as "What happened at Aktütün". For that reason, the Chief of General Staff's statement is not persuasive; it is not satisfying them anymore.
ND: The government, on the other hand, rather than opening an investigation of Aktütün, supported the Chief of General Staff. The Prime Minister took General Başbuğ's side. Erdoğan had done the same thing in Şemdinli as well. However, AKP has not emerged from the shadow of Şemdinli yet. How do you think creating a second Şemdinli will affect AKP?
AÖ: It will affect them negatively. This attitude will affect AKP's constituencies in a negative way, and has already done so.
ND: Do you think Erdoğan had a deal with the military?
AÖ: I think Erdoğan desires very much to have a deal with the military. However, the military still has some reserve against him.
ND: Do you think AKP is reinforcing its ruling power or weakening its ruling power by supporting the general's angry statement instead of investigating the reason for the incident?
AÖ: It weakens. In Turkey, no ruling political entity has a concern about being capable. All of them are trying to have a deal with the military. In all Turkish history, only Turgut Özal tried to be capable of ruling rather than having a deal with the military, and he paid the price.
ND: The Kurdish question lies under all these raids, clashes, and bloodshed, and AKP is not taking any concrete step to solve the problem. Did ruling political parties pass the question to the military?
AÖ: They cannot pass it because this is not a job the military can do. This is not a security issue. This is an issue of Turkish democratization. And, of course, when you democratize Turkey, you won't have any problem with head scarf, you won't have any problem with the Kurdish question. In Turkey, if the EU's democratic standards become dominant, neither the military will be unquestionable nor will our distorted judiciary be the way it is. Neither will corruption be at the level it is today. However, in this country, it is not wanted to solve the Kurdish question, because there are people who are profiting from it, not only the soldiers, but the security units, politicians, businessmen. In short, a big part of society benefits from this question. The Kurdish question is feeding all the ommissions and illegal money.
ND: How do you think the Kurdish question be solved?
AÖ: Starting from cultural and political rights, all the disturbing texts, including the constitution in Turkey, must be rewritten. The notion of Kurds and Turks are like [finger]nail and flesh must be reflected in the law. Besides, to solve the Kurdish question, Öcalan must be contacted, must be talked with. There is no one in Turkey, with the exception of him [Öcalan] to solve this problem. There is no one with the exception of him that can contribute as much as him to solve this problem.
ND: Why? Is PKK under Öcalan's control?
AÖ: By and large, yes, it is under his control. A formulation must be created that Öcalan can convince his grassroots. Meanwhile, the İmralı era must also end. His release may not be the case, but Öcalan can be imprisoned in very good conditions and his wish is not to be released anyway. In Turkey, in a place wherever he wants, leaving him away from politics, somewhere may be bought for him, and let him see his visitors there. Turkish punishment and execution laws are available for this change. I know that the solution must be in this way. I know that the analysis that says this issue must be solved in this way exists in Turkey's hands today.
ND: Will the soldiers be close to such a solution?
AÖ: I know that, in terms of the military, they are getting closer to this end. Even now, it is being written in several places that Öcalan has been spoken to by general-ranked commanders. Look, the Kurdish question is not merely a law or violence issue, there is also a psychological dimension to it. We call PKK a "terrorist" organization; however, is PKK only a "terrorist" organization? There is no single European country where they don't have a representative. They have diplomatic relationships with states. Thousands of Öcalan's posters are being held in protests. PKK has exceeded being a "terrorist" organization. It is in a well-advanced form right now.
ND: What do you think Öcalan was talked to about in İmralı?
AÖ: Especially the intelligence unit talked to him and the answer to the question, "Can the Kurdish question be solved?" was sought at that time. The answer was revealed as "Yes, it can be solved". Both the military and intelligence units know this answer. However, on the military side, it is a matter of courage to do this.
ND: Ergenekon paşas also went to İmralı. What did they talk about with Öcalan?
AÖ: "This man can finish terror. If terror ends, what are we going to do?" is one dimension of this job. There are some people who have benefits from an unsolved Kurdish question. Turkey is buying very serious numbers of arms from abroad. Unmanned aircraft. Do you know how much AWACs cost? Turkey must immediately solve its Kurdish question, otherwise it will lead to separation. Kurdish nationalism is becoming a very big danger.
ND: The relationship between PKK and Ergenekon has been mentioned. What kind of relationship do they have?
AÖ: In the past they were intertwined. This relationship is not only in drug-trafficking but also in operational levels. It might have been said to PKK that "You guys have been cowards. You better do some noisy stuff [shooting] or we will step in".
ND: DTP's closure case is ongoing. Are they going to shut it down?
AÖ: I hope they do not. The Kurdish question will get damaged very badly in DTP's closure. The defense that, "Hmm, this question is not being solved politically, well, the people on the mountains are right". This logic will become prevalent in people's minds. Thus enlistment in the mountains will increase and the support for the struggle in the mountains will increase at the same time.
ND: Does Ergenekon have a share in the rising terror?
AÖ: Not the Ergenekon that we're investigating, but the real Ergenekon has. Ergenekon is a structure in MİT and in the military and, in Turkey, Ergenekon will never end. The current Ergenekon was the formation that was revealed at Susurluk. One part of this imprisoned Ergenekon was revealed at Susurluk and it is eliminated. There will be another version of such a formation.
ND: Regional elections are getting closer. How do you think Prime Minister Erdoğan's recent statements will affect the vote in the Southeast?
AÖ: Today's jargon will make AKP lose in Diyarbakır and I think the votes that create a gap between AKP and DTP is getting wider in favor of DTP.
ND: Today in Turkey, is there any politician that can solve the Kurdish question and make peace feasible?
AÖ: No, there is not. The main problem is this anyway: the job is not being done just by raising Diyarbakırspor to promote it to the first league from the second or third league. Let the Kurds be everywhere in this country, in politics . . . . the Kurdish question is not about their songs or folklore or their football. Turkey must discuss if you eliminate Kurds from politics.
In addition, today on NPR's evening news program, All Things Considered, was a radio report on the media feeding frenzy in Turkey over the military and the Bezele (Aktütün) operation. Included is a short discussion of Taraf's leading role in the criticism of the paşas and you can hear Yasemin Çongar present Taraf's reasoning for publishing the evidence which has damned the paşas over HPG's Bezele operation. Listen here or read the transcript, on the same page.