ANKARA: Everyone Wants The Excitement Back In Their Lives Again


Today’s Zaman
May 11 2009

A political pundit who drew attention to the distress caused
by losing excitement asked, "Are you aware that everyone wants
excitement back in their lives?" and explained that being distressed
over losing excitement was a hopeful sign. It really is a big loss
to have excitement gone and a bigger loss to not realize that it’s
gone. During the general assembly of the Turkish Union of Chambers
and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB), the largest business organization
in Turkey, many employers said they wanted excitement back in their
lives. The political structure — both the governing party and the
opposition — is looking for excitement; workers, teens and the
elderly are also looking for excitement.

Where has all the excitement gone? Is something or someone absorbing
all the excitement?

When people say, "Give us back our excitement," where are they
looking for it and whom are they addressing? An economist friend
of mine said a shrinking economy and impoverishment were at the
root of the problem and noted that the solution was in expanding
freedoms. Summarizing periods of excitement in the recent past in
a few words, an experienced politician said "the military coup,
intervention and ultimatum" were the absorbers of society’s excitement.

During periods of excitement Turkey had a 7 percent rate of
development. The Adnan Menderes government between 1950 and 1957,
the Suleyman Demirel government between 1964 and 1968, the Turgut
Ozal government between 1983 and 1989 and the Recep Tayyip Erdogan
government between 2003 and 2004 were years when both hope and
excitement were high. These were also the same years when young and
vibrant political parties were in power. The Menderes government was
removed from power by a military coup, the Demirel government was
removed from power by a military memorandum, Ozal’s party was closed
and Erdogan’s government has been subjected to failed coup attempts,
an e-memorandum and a closure case.

Mardin: a small example of a great tragedy

An inconceivable atrocity happened in a village called Bilge located in
the southeastern province of Mardin. It was an unprecedented massacre
in Turkey. A total of 44 lives, three of which had not even begun,
have been lost. Seventy children were orphaned in the massacre.

Commenting on the massacre, which makes a person’s blood run cold,
a deputy of Kurdish origin said, "This is a small example of a huge
tragedy, but unfortunately it will continue." He was referring to
the Armenian word "Meds Yeghern," which US President Barack Obama
used to describe the killings of Armenians in 1915. By saying "it
will continue," he meant that the relatives of those killed in the
massacre would seek revenge.

Noting that the people of Anatolia have put their differences in
religion and language into the melting pot of life, a political pundit
friend of mine said: "The seeds of animosity were planted to ruin
peace and destroy the Ottoman Empire. With weapons aid from occupying
forces, the blood of Muslims was shed, they were forced to migrate and
their homes and lands were expropriated. The deaths of 44 people in
Mardin represent those people, and the forced evacuation of suspects’
relatives represents the emigration of Armenians in 1915. Killings were
reciprocal. Hopefully, the same won’t happen in the village of Bilge."

My friend continued, noting that the 48 orphaned children represent the
Anatolian people of the first quarter of the century. Expressing the
greatness of his pain, he said: "My grandparents were orphaned. Most
likely no one from my generation has grandparents who were not

I thought about my ancestors. My maternal grandmother was forced to
leave Erzurum at a very young age to escape Armenian oppression. My
paternal grandmother was an orphan. One grandfather was motherless,
the other fatherless. My dad’s mother died when he was young, and my
mother grew up fatherless.

The pain is great, the cure is peace.

Although then-Chief of General Staff Gen. YaÅ~_ar Buyukanıt, who
admitted that he was the author of the e-memorandum, insists that
the memorandum posted on the General Staff’s official Web site on
April 27, 2007 was not a memorandum, Rifat Hisarcıklıoglu reckons
that both 2007 and 2008 were years when excitement was lost because
of the interventions made into politics.

Hisarcıklıoglu said he was acting as a spokesman for the public by
asking Prime Minister Erdogan, Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader
Deniz Baykal and a representative of the Nationalist Movement Party
(MHP), who attended the TOBB general assembly, to return excitement
to the people. But he noted that the opposition wasn’t paying heed to
his request because they believed returning excitement to the people
was the government’s responsibility.

Erdogan, who recently reshuffled his Cabinet for a fresh start,
has pointed to Ergenekon as the reason for the "lost years" and has
highlighted that the closure case against the Justice and Development
Party (AK Party) and the debate over the quorum of 367 had created
losses for the country. Aside from his Cabinet reshuffle, the prime
minister has also been very determined about changing the Constitution,
a step that Erdogan hopes will not only create excitement for him
but will also respond to everyone else’s excitement needs. If a
general consensus cannot be reached over the constitutional changes
at Parliament, then the change package may be expanded and put up
for a referendum.

At this point, I must note that the possibility of holding a referendum
was first mentioned in this column.

What else is the government doing to revive feelings of excitement?

An AK Party executive says the government will try to display its
best performance, bearing in mind that it only has two years left
to serve with its new Cabinet before the elections. In the event
that the government fails to do this, a coalition government will
form in the next elections, which will be held either in 2011 or 2012
depending on whether the changes to the Constitution are approved, he
said. "The AK Party will, most likely, not be a part of the coalition
government. Turkey will, unfortunately, enter a period similar to other
periods of coalition governments and deplete its savings," he added

That means there isn’t a lot of time. Within two years, we will see
if the new Cabinet is going to generate excitement for the public
or if it’s going to lose it completely and turn the AK Party into an
opposition party.

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