A- REFORM IN TURKEY’S POLITICAL-ADMINISTRATIVE STRUCTURE AND MODEL OF SOLUTION TO THE KURDISH QUESTION
The Republic proclaimed after a joint struggle waged by the People of Anatolia in 1920’s, has not been able to acquire a democratic quality in spite of the eighty-four years that have passed. The centralist system of nation state, while engendering the ignorance of cultural differences, has given rise to major discrepancies rendering the social and economic problems and demands for freedom and equality of all social segments in Turkey deadlocked.
In essence, the administrative conception that ignores cultural differences -particularly that of Kurdish people and yet that adopts the elimination of cultures through assimilation as official ideology, is devoid of providing solutions to any specific social problem. The current practices that aim at the imposition of uniformity on society through a monolithic understanding of state administration do not respond to social needs. Rather, they stand as the primary cause of prevailing problems and crises. The political and administrative mechanism of the nation state, organized as a rigid, centralist entity, corresponds a fortiori to an oligarchic structure rather than a Democratic Republic. The expression in the Preamble to the 1982 Turkish Constitution that qualifies the Republic as essentially a social, democratic, secular state, governed by the rule of law, has never been effectuated throughout the course of the republic. It is beyond dispute that the discursive non-ethnic (civic) understanding of Turkish nationalism apart, the military, administrative and judicial organization of the state has, in fact, been fundamentally established on an overwhelming conception of Turkish ethnicity.
The process of nation state building, initiated with the Treaty of Westphalia, has been fabricated on the generation of the uniform citizen and a cultural structure based upon such conception of the individual. This system has induced an extermination of the cultures outside the dominant culture; thereby paving the way for an incredible massacre of cultures. Again, during this period, the world has experienced two world wars and thousands of regional and local wars. Eventually, this process of nation state building has ascended to the level of Hitler fascism. In the aftermath of the Second World War, upon experience of the dangerous course of history, several European countries have adapted themselves to the federal administrative structure; hence, the European Union has emerged as the culmination of this orientation. The administrative structure of the United States has also been predicated upon an attempt to thwart this dangerous possibility. Nevertheless, states such as France are still tackling ongoing problems due to their insufficient perception of the issue.
Yet, even in countries such as France, which is presented as the most powerful model of nation state based on ethnicity, the eventual recognition of the impossibility of carrying along with the existing nation state system has led to the abolition of barriers to free self-expression of different languages and cultures, which took effect with accompanying legal changes acting as a bulwark. "Dixion Language Law" has granted the Corsican, Basque, Breton and Alsace languages the right to education, broadcasting and such. Likewise, autonomy in several degrees has been granted to the Sardinian, German, French and Slovene languages in Italy, the Slovene, Croatian, Czech, Hungarian and Sorab languages in Austria, the Spanish language in the USA, the Swedish language in Finland and Turkish in Greece. Contemporary Iraq also signifies one of the disastrous consequences of the centralist nation state system. It is revealed without doubt today that the Saddam regime which was established on the basis of Arab nationalism stands as the major cause of the violent ethnic clashes taking place in Iraqi geography. The persistence of the system of administration based on a centralist conception of the nation rather than the organization differences around a democratic conception of the nation has reduced Iraq to its current state of affairs.
In spite of the discourse in Turkey stating that sovereignty unconditionally belongs to the people and that the will of the nation is superior to the rest, certain mechanisms providing the democratic participation of people in state administration has hitherto not been established and the military tutelage over civilian politics has been regarded as normal.
Compared to contemporary democracies where problems are discussed and solved in localities by the people encountering them, the rigid, centralist, administrative structure of Turkey, which is remote from the localities, manifests a deadlocked image with its slow, cumbersome characteristics.. The central government in Ankara, facing many different cultural, social and economic problems from East to West and from North to South has not only been unable to generate the will to bring about a solution to these problems, but has been structurally exhausted to a significant extent.
On this basis, our Congress sees inevitable the comprehensive change of Turkish political-administrative structure through a fundamental reform. Considering many contemporary debates, world experiences and current state of affairs in the Middle East, it is evident that statehood and statehood based on ethnicity in particular, brings suppression rather than democracy and freedom to people.
In accordance with this argument, the philosophically and conjecturally sightless understanding of politics of demanding a separate state for each and every nation seems capable of triggering mutual slaughter between people. Instead, a model of political and administrative structure that takes as its basis the democratic unity of the people, liberates democracy from the limitations of a single general assembly, enables the participation of people in mechanisms of discussion and decision and promotes a local and immediate solution to all fundamental problems of society asserts itself as an urgent necessity. Our congress depicts the contemporary conceptualization of the model "democratic autonomy" which is predicated upon the gaining of autonomy of all diversities on matters of free self expression and the rendering of voice to the people in all localities protecting the integrity of the country. Democratic autonomy, also meaning democratic self-governance, introduces the essentials of Democratic Republic.
— Envisages a fundamental reform in order to achieve democratization in the political and administrative structure of Turkey,
— Departs from an understanding that advocates the empowerment of the people in processes of discussion and decision making as a method for problem solving,
— Defends the principle of democratic participation for incorporating people into processes of decision making and establishes itself upon the system of assemblies in all local units.
— Rather than a purely "ethnic" and "territorial" conception of autonomy, democratic autonomy defends a regional and local structure through which cultural differences are able to freely express themselves,
— Observance with the "Flag" and "Official Language" are binding for the whole territory; yet, democratic autonomy also envisages the establishment of democratic self-governance by each region and autonomous unit with their own colors and symbols,
— Predicating itself upon the self-sufficiency of the society as a whole, it does not seek the solution to the problem solely with reference to a change in the state system.
— While envisaging a change in the political and administrative structure of Turkey, shedding light onto the demographic structure of Turkey and the conduct of necessary studies herein are imperative.
Also taking into consideration the endeavor on the New Constitution, the need for a comprehensive political and administrative reform asserts itself in order to bring to life "democratic autonomy", which we define as the most rational model for the solution of different social problems ranging from common issues experienced by all provinces such as Istanbul, Antalya, Adana, Samsun, Edirne and Kars, to unique, local issues within a modern and democratic state structure.
In this administrative model, through the operation of decentralization, a regional assembly which assumes power through elections similar to those of the county councils is established. The regional assembly embraces those neighbor provinces which are in close socio-cultural and economic encounter. This regional assembly assumes responsibility in fields of service such as concerning education, health, culture, social services, agriculture, marine, industry, construction, telecommunication, social security, women, youth and sports. The central government conducts foreign affairs, finance and defense services. Security and judicial services are jointly conducted by the central and regional government. The central supervision of these services is mutually determined by both governments.
Regional assemblies provide the carrying out of services through their reception of local revenues alongside the budget allocated by the central government taking into consideration population indices and levels of development. Underdeveloped and poor regions benefit from positive discrimination.
These assemblies are called "regional assemblies" and the people assuming duty in these assemblies are called "regional representatives". The assembly elects the assembly chairperson and the executive council members of the assigned field of duty separately. The chairperson and members of the executive council are responsible for the execution of the decisions taken by the assembly.
This structure does not denote federalism or autonomy based on ethnicity; it is rather an administrative consolidation situated between the central government and provinces that takes participatory democracy as its basis. Each of the regions is named after the specific name of the region or of the largest province within the area of responsibility of the regional assembly.
In this model, governors of provinces are responsible for the enforcement of the decisions taken by both the central government and the regional executive council. Provincial town organizations of ministries submit to the same procedure. Other administrative structures such as the Provincial General Assembly, municipalities and elected heads of neighborhoods (Mukhtar) retain their existence.
In essence, regional assemblies to be established in Turkey, the numbers of which are figured around 20-25, constitute democratic political and administrative structures that facilitate the smooth conduct of affairs between the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM) and the provinces and that enable increased participation of the people in state administration. The functioning and jurisprudence of this political and administrative structure is expected to take shape as a consequence of the intense academic and political debates to be conducted in the forthcoming period of time.
Our Congress has the conviction that this model signifies a significant improvement in the construction of the Democratic Republic. Thereby, the process of democratization miscarried during the first years of the Republic is to be effectuated. This process denotes at the same time, the implementation of a variety of Local Autonomy cited in Ataturk’s statements to the journalist Ahmet Emin Yalman, in the face of contemporary circumstances.
The implementation of "Democratic Autonomy", which requires joint elaboration with the establishment of civilian, self organizations of society, is essentially the systematized model of the perception of "less state" "more society", "less restrictions", "more freedom". It is for this reason that, democratic autonomy connotes a more functional, democratic and participatory system through which the society is able to formulate solutions to its own problems, utilizing the intermediation of civilian and independent institutions, the scope of which is by no means limited to comprehensive and central state intervention in all areas of social life. In all areas of social life ranging from economy, environmental problems to health, education, culture and arts and the freedom of women, autonomous units predicating themselves on self-sufficiency are to be established. The expression implies that the society constructs its own system of democratic autonomy by means of its own will. Our congress, while envisaging reform in state structure, has reached a decision that favors the prompt installation of the self-organization systems of society.
Our congress deems essential the redefinition of the concept of "NATION" through the common ties of belonging to the "NATION OF TURKEY" as an indication of the advancement of the democratic nation, in place of the emphasis on ethnic identity, particularly present in the Constitution.
In replacement of a definition of citizenship which depicts every individual as Turkish, the citizenship of Turkish Republic, within the framework of "Turkey as homeland" that recognizes cultural identities and embraces the nation of Turkey based on these cultural identities is acknowledged. Diverse identities and cultures that constitute the nation of Turkey are hence able to acquire a freer atmosphere through this system within which they preserve and improve their differences under constitutional guarantee. As a matter of fact, these principles, espoused in 1920’s, have been included in the 1921 Constitution of the Republic and yet they have been abolished with the adoption of the 1924 Constitution of the Republic. For this reason, the new Constitution, which requires elaboration as a new social contract in accordance with the founding philosophy of the Republic qualifies as Turkey’s headway to twenty first century.
The arrangement in the new Constitution so as to include the clause "the Constitution of the Turkish Republic acquiesces the democratic existence and self expression of all cultures" would entail a steering approach for Turkey’s democratization and the peaceful resolution of the Kurdish Question. Our political objectives, depicted as the abolition of barriers to all languages and cultures -the Kurdish language heading first- and the democratic redefinition of the ethnic based concepts of "citizenship" and "nation" constitute principal criterions in the Constitutional Referendum.
As a matter of fact, though the restrictions on language and culture persisting since 1924 have been particularly designed in order to target the Kurdish population; other diverse cultures in Turkey have also received their share in the process. For this reason, the need for accepting the presence of ethnic and religious diversities constituting the Nation of Turkey as a cultural richness as well as the advancement of specific regulations by the state, which attributes the state a positive performance in their protection and enhancement, arises. Although Turkish is retained as official language, taking into consideration the demographic structure of the regions and in conformity with the clauses of international conventions, constitutional guarantee for the use of other languages in public sphere and as language of education is required. The opportunity for self-organization and creation of civilian institutions of all cultures, including the right to engage in politics in one’s mother tongue should be placed under constitutional guarantee. Furthermore, statements constraining liberty of thought and speech should not exist in the Constitution.
Social inequalities emanate from gender inequality. Any demand for equality and freedom is bound to fall short of its objectives in the absence of gender equality. For this reason, the clear and open statement of the principle of positive discrimination in the Constitution is mandatory in order to provide the equal participation of women in social, cultural, political and economic life and to achieve gender equality in all aspects of life.
"In discourse, almost all political parties emphasize these socioeconomic disparities; however, practical policies fall short of achieving slightest improvement in the situation."
~ DTP, Democratic Autonomy Project.
B-PROPOSALS FOR SOLUTION TO ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL PROBLEMS OF THE REGION
I. ECONOMIC POLICIES
The need for fundamental economic changes asserts itself in order to eliminate the underdevelopment and devastation generated by the atmosphere of conflict and statist economic policies implemented throughout the history of the Republic. It is crucial to consider the experiences of those countries successfully implementing regional development focused models that render initiative to the local in the utilization of some sources according to the urgencies and priorities of regions within which the exercise of authority between the center and the local is balanced.
The initiation of effective and comprehensive policies designed for the alleviation of the current socioeconomic problems of the region is most necessary for the establishment of peace on the Kurdish Question. Nevertheless, confronting the historical and political causes of the poverty and deprivation of the region is an indispensable component for paving the way for a sustainable peace and stability through policy formation and activation. However, just as the high level of economic welfare in the Catalan and Basque regions was unable to thwart the emergence of ethnic violence and conflict, economic programs targeting the region would be unsuccessful in establishing a lasting peace unless the political and historical aspects of the socioeconomic problems of the region are confronted.
According to the 2003 data provided by the State Planning Organization (DPT), East and Southeast Anatolian Regions rank last in social and economic development indices.
14 of the 16 most backward provinces in socio-economic terms are in the East and Southeast regions of the country.
As also reflected in other welfare indices, in terms of production in agricultural, industrial and service sectors, Southeast Anatolian Region extremely lags behind other regions. The number of doctors for each ten thousand people in the most developed provinces of Istanbul, Izmir and Ankara in the western part of the country is 20, 23 and 32 respectively. These figures which are below the expected standards, also demonstrate the fact that the numbers are thirteen times higher in capital city Ankara than the eastern province of Agri.
In discourse, almost all political parties emphasize these socioeconomic disparities; however, practical policies fall short of achieving slightest improvement in the situation. Official statistics revealing the regional distribution of the law of incentive implemented by the AKP government through developmentalist rhetoric, investment incentives and public investments oriented towards the creation of investment and employment demonstrate that these practices fail to generate a positive outcome for the region. It is obligatory for any social and economic program to confront the political and historical causes of poverty in the region for the establishment of a just and honorable peace.
PROPOSALS FOR SOLUTION
1. Establishing coordination with local dynamics, -local governments in particular- is compulsory. As revealed in the Southeast Anatolian Project (GAP) case, centralist economic policies, devoid of encouraging local participation and lacking in humanist orientation are completely deficient in their achievement of success. As is true of all social phenomena, effective dialogue between the center and the local is capable of initiating constructive consequences.
2. Some portion of compulsory levies, tax revenues and of the outcome received through local sources at the disposal of local and regional assemblies with increased authority is utilized for the solution of socioeconomic problems of people.
3. In order to reestablish the disrupted economic and social balance of the regions and to abolish regional discrepancies in development, a special incentive law aiming at the development of mining, industry based on agriculture, stock raising, tourism and labor-intensive sectors in particular, is enacted. The previous incentive law promoted all provinces equally. We express our will without hesitation for the development of all provinces regardless of their geographical location. Nevertheless, due to the atmosphere of conflict and violence, the implementation of equal investment incentives for eastern and western parts of the country would most naturally channel investor preferences to the western provinces. Therefore, we strongly emphasize the requirement for a special incentive law regarding the region.
4. The democratic autonomous regions that are established are prepared in infrastructure (transportation, communication, energy and such) for economic investments.
5. The construction of North-South and East-West Highways is the sine qua non for the strengthening of economic and social ties.
6. With respect to economic development, it is of utmost significance that the EU funds are allocated to regions taking into consideration the principle of "positive discrimination" and the establishment of democratic autonomy in the political and administrative model according to the principle of subsidiarity in the utilization of these funds.
7. Provinces such as Trabzon, Diyarbakir, Van, Erzurum are transformed into regional metropolitan areas in order to facilitate regional dynamics which will assume key role for regional socioeconomic development and to hinder outward migration.
8. The capacity of Habur entry point is increased, friendly and commercial relations are developed with Iraq and Kurdistan Federal Government and free zones are created.
9. In order to introduce a general solution to forced migration and to mitigate the pressure on cities generated by migration, suitable conditions are prepared for citizens for their return to villages, economic and social preventative measures are taken for those who wish to remain as urban residents and cooperation with local governments is established to this end. It is compulsory that the implementation of security zones is abolished and rural development projects are effectuated. Urban transformation projects are put into practice for the integration of migrants who wish to remain as urban residents; comprehensive solutions are developed for the solution of social problems including health, employment, education and sheltering.
10. Legal and administrative regulations essential for projects that provide employment in the region are initiated. In this respect, special priority is given to incentives for small and medium sized enterprises (KOBI) and for investments, credits and subsidies, tax exemption as well as to areas of transportation, energy, information-communication as infrastructural preparation for investments The practice of additional share and positive discrimination is adopted in the allocation of incentives and public investments.
11. Apart from these long-term projects, many other problems require urgent intervention. In this respect, the government, through the utilization of special funds and in cooperation with the Department of Health and Social Services, local governments and civil society organizations, initiates social policies targeting the urgent problems of hunger, violence, sheltering, health, education, encountered by females, children, the youth and sufferers of migration.
II. SOCIAL POLICIES
The social and economic disaster in the region generated particularly in the last two decades, mass poverty and the traumas they have caused require urgent intervention.
The question of Domestic Displacement is by no means an object of analysis independent of the historical, ethnic and social problems of the East and Southeast Anatolian Region. Additionally, the lack of mutual confidence between the state and the citizen which grows on the "remote" and "martial" presence of the state in the region is much more aggravated by migration, poverty and social problems.
As far as its causes are concerned, the wave of migration between 1984-1999 constitutes, to a great extent a forced migration stemming from the political conditions within the context of the Kurdish Question and security concerns; unlike the migration of 1960’s and 1970’s triggered by socioeconomic conditions. Poverty, deprivation and social problems generated by conflict and displacement not only represent a violation of human rights, but also a breach of many international agreements some of which Turkey has signed as a party. During the course of the atmosphere of conflict, the region has been de-humanized on the one hand, through policies of forced migration implemented on Kurdish people, the numbers of which range between 380,000 and 3.5-4,000,000 and economic activities vital for the inhabitants of the region have been abolished on the other.
RETURN TO INHABITED LANDS AND PROVISION OF ITS CONDITIONS
1. Return to inhabited lands is a right. All aggrieved victims of migration are entitled to benefit from this right.
2. The state must trust its citizens; the right to view its citizens as potential criminals is not bestowed on any state. For this reason, decisions regarding the specific villages to be returned will be given not security forces, but by citizens registered in that village. Security forces have the duty to provide security in the returned village; other public sectors on the other hand are charged with the elimination of grievances and the provision of necessary support for the emergence of humanly conditions of life in the returned village.
3. The system of village guards that imposes severe obstacles to the return to previously inhabited lands will be abolished. The village guards will be disarmed and employed according to their labor. Expropriated lands will be returned to their owners.
4. Prior to the return, all villages that have been evacuated, their surroundings and meadows will be cleansed of land mines. Mine fields in borderlines will be made use of in conformity with public benefit.
5. Facilities necessary for the fostering of economic activities such as apiculture, commercial growing of hothouse flowers and production of industrial plants will be supplied and encouraged. Technical and legal support will be provided for the establishment of cooperatives and unions by peasants.
6. Citizens returning to the villages will be granted privileges in the implementation of low interest livestock feeding project; a system of guarantee based on the personal assets of the receivers of the credit in question will be developed and surety will not be sought.
7. All material and moral losses caused by the forced migration that has detached millions of people from their living areas and economic relations of production will be compensated with fairness and without delay. Thus, the scope and criteria for compensation of the current Law no. 52331 will be widened; applications will be evaluated respecting efficiency and transparency. The fair compensation of the losses created by forced migration will be effectuated not only to alleviate the economic problems encountered by the people inhabiting the outer fringes of cities, but also, in accordance with the social character of the state, as the realization of the state’s responsibility towards its citizens. The law in terms of method, amount and procedure will function in favor of rehabilitation of the disrupted relationship between the citizen and the state. Unfortunately, the law has hitherto been applied towards the obliteration of the past rather than the provision of justice and solving problems.
C- PLAN OF ACTION FOR THE TERMINATION OF CLASHES
Following the July 22 2007 general elections, Turkey entered a new phase. Presently, all political forces approach the problems of the country from their own stance and considering their own priorities. However, centers of power able to assume a role in the solution of the problems, unfortunately adopt an attitude of disregard against the most fundamental and poignant problem of our country.
Even though the almost thirty years of conflict stands as the major source for the exacerbation of all problems of the country, it is still not analyzed beyond a question of terrorism and security. In this context, the problem is more aggravated in every sense. The absolute failure of the efforts to solve the problem with the same mentality and measures for decades is now clearly revealed. Consequently, the society experiences incurable losses in every respect. All the people living in our geography now desire a solution to this problem. Not a single person finds acceptable the loss of lives and the pain suffered by a different family every day. The statements "BLESS THE MOTHERLAND", "BLESS THE MOTHERLAND BUT UNTIL WHEN?" are expressions of it.
The permanency of the atmosphere of conflict gradually grows feelings of enmity, the rehabilitation and reparation of which is very difficult among the people inhabiting the same geography for over a thousand years and collaborating in many areas of life. In recent months, significant signals of warning which were indications of this tendency appeared in many places. Nevertheless, these were unfortunately either disregarded or were exploited as issues in domestic political agenda by various circles.
We find the taking of steps for the establishment and endurance of an atmosphere of non-conflict as a party that attends to all problems of Turkey and seeks solutions to them. We believe that unless concrete results are obtained on the issue, the attainment of internal peace, tranquility and welfare remains an illusion. It is on this ground that we have been struggling for years for the attainment of our internal peace. We paid a high price for this sake. This is only because we are aware of the fact that this is the only way to endorse and uphold the common values created by a thousand years of common life. We know now by the testimony of our near history that all other efforts and ways only serve to plant and grow seeds of enmity among our people. Hence, we insist and we are stubborn.
We are aware that the reconfiguration of the historical commonality through an equal and free relationship of fraternity would benefit this country and its people. Our aim is to bring in an esteem and respectability to our people and country that would set the pace for the whole region.
Until today, we took our steps conscious of our responsibility in the attainment of internal peace and the reconfiguration of relations. We are determined to fulfill our share of responsibility in this tense and critical period Turkey is witnessing. We will intensify our efforts for the termination of clashes and the gradual establishment of a lasting peace. Until this day, our party has made many attempts for the termination of clashes and the emergence of a suitable atmosphere for the solution of the problem. These efforts received, from time to time, positive feedback and engendered the rising of hopes for solution in society. However, each time these attempts were impeded and rendered futile by structures feeding on conflict and tension. As might be expected, this attitude gave way to a shattering of trust and belief among our people. For this reason, as the Party, we will assume our leading role for the development of a solemn and conclusive process. Past experiences reveal the fact the establishment of ceasefire by a single party is devoid of generating enduring positive consequences. Departing from these experiences, practical efforts will be exerted for the commencement and endurance of a process of mutual ceasefire.
To this end;
1. The Kurdish Question lies at the core of the conflict experienced by our country. The development of an inclusive approach regarding the Kurdish Question during the endeavor for the New Constitution entails prospects for the achievement of a peaceful atmosphere. Regarding the issue, efforts will be devoted to the initiation of conventions and collaborations with all related powers and organizations.
2. Attempts will be brought to the fore to exert influence on all related circles for the attainment of a lasting termination of clashes. The assumption of the role of intermediation is a possibility once suitable conditions arise and upon the positive stance adopted by related powers.
3. Attempts at collaboration with civil society organizations, democratic institutions and organizations for the commencement of a lasting termination of clashes, initiatives will be taken for the formation of an appropriate ground and pressure groups.
4. Relations will be developed with the foreign powers able to assume prominent role for the termination of clashes including the civil society organizations working for peace, EU, USA, Kurdish Federal Government and a diplomatic process will be initiated in this context.
5. In order to carry out all these attempts mentioned above, our party assumes profound responsibility and declares its genuine will to work for the formation of a workshop group comprised of the representatives of political parties, peace assembly, civil society and democratic mass organizations and various figures.
November 8 2007
PARTY OF DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY 2nd EXTRAORDINARY CONGRESS
For some commentary on DTP’s proposal, see the opinion pieces by Gülay Göktürk at Bugün, Autonomy or Federation? and Even If They Defend the Federation.
Also let me add that DTP is in the position today to openly discuss its autonomy project only as a result of PKK sehîds–whether Kurd, Turk, or others–who have willingly watered the tree of Kurdish liberty with their own blood.
"Our people are going to get what is rightfully theirs. I am proud to have died for this. Tell everyone we will succeed."