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After Erdogan's win, high time for national reconciliation in Turkey

Jun 30,2018 - Last updated at Jun 30,2018

Now that Turkish President Recep Tayyep Erdogan has won a decisive victory in last week's presidential and parliamentary elections, he is set to consolidate his grip on power and turn the milestone victory into a lasting achievement. 

All eyes, whether from within Turkey or outside it, are now focused on President Erdogan to see whether he will be magnanimous in his victory and become the leader for all Turks or pursue the special agenda of his Justice and Development Party.

Turkey has become not only a regional power but also a global superpower that all its neighbouring nations and beyond must reckon with. An emerging international power carries not only weight but also responsibility that calls for a regional and international vision. 

President Erdogan has proved his unshaken credentials as a leader with strong public appeal and has therefore the tools and mandate to move his nation into new paths. Economically and politically, Turkey is a giant and as Erdogan himself predicted it will be soon one of the 20 strongest nations on the surface of the Earth. 

With this new status and power, the Turkish President is invited to develop a new vision and approach to end the PKK crisis once and for all. To be sure, the PKK threat is not going to go away by just military means. 

The Turkish Workers' Party has spoiled Turkey's gains and interrupted its security and stability since 1984, i.e., for well over a quarter of a century. The conflict is overdue for a solution based on new perspectives and more enlightened approaches. 

One can call the PKK all sorts of names but the fact remains that it is still there and will continue to be there until a visionary and bold new approach is introduced to end its threat. The PKK started its campaign with a slogan calling for Kurdish independence but soon discovered that such an objective is not in the cards at any price.

The PKK slogan shifted to a more modest and Seasonable goal calling for autonomy and equal cultural rights. France and Turkey are the only two countries in the world which do not recognise the existence of minorities within their borders on the premise that all French citizens and all Turkish citizens are equal nationals of their respective countries, nothing more and nothing less.

There is a great deal of sense in this view but it does not comply with international norms that highlight the political, economic, and cultural rights of sizable ethnic groups of people. Ankara needs not chose one point of view or the other, but President Erdogan would be well advised to introduce a new approach to the PKK conflict that goes beyond the exercise of military power.

This way the Turkish leader would win not only the support and understanding of the international community, but also the support of most of the Kurdish people in Turkey.

That is how Columbia ended its nearly half-a-century bloody conflict with the so-called revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC) in 2017, and that is how the UK ended its armed conflict with IRA, the Revolutionary Army in Ireland, in 2007. True the problems in Ireland and colombia are not identical to the one posed by PKK, but they are comparable.

The success of any such new initiative requires a reciprocal readiness on the part of PKK to renounce violence and seek a more reasonable platform. PKK is not going to win its war against Ankara, not now, not ever. Why not seek reasonable compromises with it instead! Likewise, it is high time for a national reconciliation campaign in Turkey.

Fortunately, the 2016 attempted coup failed, and now is the time for a profound national peace and reconciliation campaign.

Peace in Turkey is just as pressing as peace outside it. President Erdogan is in a unique position to wage this national reconciliation and become the leader of all Turkey, and not just of the 53 per cent of Turks who had voted for him.

But this also calls for a reciprocal offer to engage in a national reconciliation. As the saying goes, it takes two to tango, and the opposition must be ready for a genuine reconciliation discourse, the sooner the better!

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