ANKARA: DTP, MHP building bridges for dialogue

Today’s Zaman, Turkey
Aug 5 2007

DTP, MHP building bridges for dialogue

Two political parties that analysts feared would be fighting each
other on the first day in Parliament, perhaps even physically,
surprised many when their leaders shook hands during a swearing-in
ceremony for new deputies on Saturday, a reconciliation that seems
set to continue.

Orhan Miroðlu, a co-chairman for the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society
Party (DTP), told Today’s Zaman in an interview that the melting of
the ice between the DTP and the right-wing Nationalist Movement Party
(MHP) was a happy event for Turkey. "Contrary to expectations, no
tension developed between the two parties during the oath-taking
ceremony. This photo was displayed along with the news stories on
martyrs," he said, referring to the image of the two parties’ leaders
shaking hands. "We need a social peace project that will eliminate
conflicts."

The DTP’s Ahmet Türk and the MHP’s Devlet Bahçeli shook hands on
Saturday, with photos of the event dominating the front pages of
Turkish newspapers yesterday. The MHP, which maintains a strong
nationalist line, staunchly denounced the DTP in its election
campaign, saying it is linked with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’
Party (PKK). Many Turkish politicians have said they will refuse
dialogue with the DTP unless it brands the PKK as a terrorist
organization.

However, in recent speeches, leaders of both the DTP and the MHP said
they would avoid confrontation in Parliament. In his interview with
Today’s Zaman, Miroðlu commended Bahçeli for blocking
ultranationalist protests in the street by advising restraint among
his party’s supporters.

"Watching the developments inside the MHP for about 10 years, I
understand that Bahçeli serves as a roadblock against those who
provoke the MHP youth to action in the streets. I believe the DTP and
the MHP will successfully pass the democracy test in Parliament," he
said.

He also stressed the fact that MHP’s election campaign in Mersin — a
southern city where social tension went up with growing immigration
from southeastern Anatolia — was marked with a discourse that
embraced everyone.

For Miroðlu, with this attitude the MHP will detach traditional
nationalism from the more dangerous neo-nationalist line, believed to
be behind several criminal gang activities carried out in
collaboration with some state officials in the name of protecting the
state and its interests.

The surge of neo-nationalism is blamed for a series of recent
murders, such as the assassination by a teenage gunman of
Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink and the brutal massacre of
three Christian missionaries in the eastern province of Malatya.
Critics say authorities have not done enough to uncover links between
the gang behind Dink’s killing and the security forces.

Miroðlu also called on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoðan to join
the reconciliation and said he was the missing person in the photo
showing Bahçeli and Türk warmly shaking hands. `I would like to see
our prime minister, whose party had received 47 percent of the vote
in the general elections, in that photo, but he is missing.’

He also gave hints about how the DTP will act in Parliament and said
that they would act contrary to negative expectations about the
party. Highlighting the fact that the DTP had failed to pursue a
policy open to the Turkish public for almost 15 years, he maintained
that in the new term, they will embrace all of Turkey.

The DTP will act as an opposition party that focuses more on economic
problems as they regard the Kurdish problem as an economy-oriented
one, he observed. `The Kurdish problem is an economy-oriented one.
Some political arguments that do not well apply to real life will not
solve the Kurdish problem,’ he said.

For Miroðlu, the most problematic areas of negotiations with the
European Union will be the discrepancies concerning development
levels of regions and unfair income distribution. `Turkey’s EU-bid is
a democratization process. Irrespective of the votes it received, the
DTP is a basic player in this process,’ he stated.

How the DTP will act with respect to the presidential election issue
is also a matter of curiosity for many. Miroðlu stated that they have
not made up their minds yet about the candidacy of Abdullah Gül, and
that they are warm to the new constitutional amendment package which
is said to be drafted by the Justice and Development Party (AK
Party).

Noting that the people gave an important message by giving extended
support to the AK Party in the Southeast, he observed that the
election results showed the nation’s renewed support to the political
and democratic system.

`The most important message of this election is the solution of the
Kurdish problem within the system. Everyone is in this system. And
the Kurdish people, too, should be in this system. Differences in
political opinions are natural. However this naturalness should be
expressed in Parliament. The paranoia of separation, incited by
certain circles, was not heeded by the people. Our people favor the
continuation of the political system, and the democratic system,’ he
said.

Miroðlu explained that as the DTP, they wanted the removal of the
military tutelage and the elimination of rumors of military incursion
into northern Iraq. `We want a new democratic process to being in
line with the EU process,’ he said.

Concerning the decreased electoral support for the DTP in the
Southeast, he said: `High electoral support to the AK Party in the
Southeast is completely based on the [present] circumstances. This
does not imply any alienation from the DTP. This represents approval
for the continuation of the EU democratization process and wish for
opposing to the backlash that the coalition government of the
Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the MHP would create. It also
shows the wish for saving Turkey from a risk of civil war. These are
all based on circumstances.’

06.08.2007

SAMED GÜNEK ANKARA

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