Tuesday, December 02, 2008


"AKP is dragging the non-nationalistic, mild conservatives into nationalism. The discourse that it uses regarding the Kurdish question empowers the authoritarian, nationalistic vein. This is a disaster for Turkey."
~ Mithat Sancar, Ankara University.

The following is part 2 of Neşe Düzel's interview with Mithat Sancar. Part 1 is here.

ND: AKP said they would make a civil constitution, but then it retreated. Did anyone scare AKP do you think?

MS: It is not only about fear but also about various profits, balance of power, and tactics. This is AKP's effort to be "the state's favorite elite." AKP is trying to be accepted by military and civilian bureaucracy in order to enter the salon and this is the effort for that. In this, pragmatism is AKP's essential trait anyway. If this pragmatism unites with opportunism, it will be a disaster. Because in AKP there is not only pragmatism, but also an opportunistic vein. This kind of pragmatism, short-term tactical calculations, and opportunism occurs especially at election time. For that reason, AKP is engaging in authoritarian, nationalist slogans. However, since September 12, including Özal's ANAP, AKP had the most democratization potential among all the parties.

ND: Isn't it still so?

MS: It is still so, however the destructive potential of AKP is incomparably greater, compared to the other parties. AKP might be destructive. With AKP's civil attempts, the people who had problems with the system, the people which the military excluded, the people which the civil bureaucracy did not respect were all abandoned to nationalism and military understanding. However, now when AKP is getting closer to having a deal with authoritarian forces, it might drag these people back to nationalism again.

ND: Does AKP make such crowds nationalistic?

MS: AKP is now dragging portions of the population, which are mildly conservative, to nationalism. AKP is dragging the non-nationalistic, mild conservatives into nationalism. The discourse that it uses regarding the Kurdish question empowers the authoritarian, nationalistic vein. This is a disaster for Turkey. For instance, during Tansu Çiller's prime ministry, the support that she provided to the military was only a political support. Çiller did not have a social support to present to the military because the military and Çiller were standing on the same ground. AKP and the military, however, are not standing on the same ground. The more AKP gets closer to the military, the more it brings authoritarian and nationalistic support. And this is a great danger for democracy. This AKP becomes more fearful after its constitutional court closure case. The closure case precipitated the ways AKP sought to have a deal with the general staff and the civil bureaucratic elites, its bargaining and the period to get close to them. But another reason for using this kind of nationalistic language is the chief of general staff İlker Başbuğ's concept regarding the Kurdish question. Some people say Başbuğ made some room for a civil governing party for solving the Kurdish question.

ND: Don't you think it did?

MS: Quite the contrary. The general staff's new concept is as follows: "We are ready to make the gestures that you like. I can come to the government and give briefings. In appearance, I can give the impression that I am under civil authority but you are also going to cooperate with us in terms of our red lines." In short, to AKP they say, "You be on the field, but you do what we say. Implement our policies without making us appear." Now, apparently, the general staff conveyed its Kurdish policy to AKP.

ND: Did the AKP government have an agreement with the general staff regarding Kurdish policy?

MS: Now it seems so. Let me put it this way: In this country, the Kurdish question is a key problem. Any party that becomes hawkish and that goes far away from a democratic solution regarding the Kurdish question, without any exception, will be nationalistic and authoritarian. Demirel's DYP, Karayalçın's SHP, Yılmaz's ANAP, Çiller's DYP, and Erbakan's Refah all shared this end. Being hawkish on the Kurdish question does not bring anyone anything.

ND: Does PM Erdoğan's discourses result from fear or are there any other reasons for these policy changes that we don't know?

MS: AKP never had a comprehensive democratic program and Kurdish policy anyway, to let us speak of its policy change today. AKP only worked on the EU's project architecture in a good way. It's goal was limited to get a negotiation date for candidacy. Then, since the period of membership was long, it could just loosen it and sometimes it could precipitate it. Whenever AKP domestically feels weak, it gets closer to the EU project and whenever it feels strong it moves away from the EU. Now I think AKP will feel strong. As you see, the general staff also does nothing that would give a hard time to AKP.

ND: Okay, so today what exactly is the point that you say AKP got close?

MS: The center is statist. It reversed the state and whenever it gets stuck it engages in nationalistic enmity and it will say, "One state, one nation, one flag, one homeland." The center does not see the crowd's discomfort as a democratic discomfort or a demand for democracy, but rather it sees a source of disturbance. In the center of the state, there is a rigid, rude, primitive nationalistic spirit. Erdoğan's recent example, such as "love it or leave it" is an example of the central understanding. AKP's Yozgat parliamentarian's statement, "I would love to shoot whoever comes against my nation and state" is also this understanding.

ND: Does AKP want to solve the Kurdish question?

MS: AKP never had a Kurdish policy. It didn't go beyond messages. Today, at the point we are at, we see that AKP neither has the capacity, nor the power, nor the courage to get to the bottom of the Kurdish question. AKP thinks it can solve the Kurdish question by finishing DTP, which is doing politics on behalf of the Kurds. Indeed, today, all the statist environment is saying we have to support AKP in the Southeast. This is a very dangerous calculation. If AKP wins the elections, do they think the Kurdish question will end? On the contrary, the dissolution of the Kurds from the system will be deepened. Clashes will be sharpened.

ND: Why?

MS: The main barrier in front of AKP that will lead it to become a hegemonic party is not CHP; it is DTP. A hegemonic party, in appearance, is a multi-party system. However, in fact this system is de facto a one-party system, because there is no functionality of the other parties anymore. AKP is calculating to get Southeast from DTP and become Turkey's hegemonic party. There is a danger of a hegemonic party in Turkey.

Part 3 tomorrow.

No comments: