Caretaker government once again: Erdoğan’s big despair

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The images released over the weekend of the birthday event that The Republican People’s Party (CHP) leaders’ wife Selvi Kılıçdaroğlu organised for Selahattin Demirtaş’s wife Başak Demirtaş, comprised of important clues for the “brand new Turkey” period which started after March 31. This morning, the Ministry of Interior dismissed the mayors of Diyarbakır, Van and Mardin and appointed governors as trustees. This showed us that it is impossible for the ruling powers to adapt to this new period.

Broadcast date: 19 August 2019
Click CC in the bottom right corner for English subtitles

Translation: Melissa Clissold / Subtitles: Egemen Gök

Hello, good day, good week. I indeed say ‘good week’, but the week hasn’t started off on a good note. We received news of the government placing Diyarbakır, Mardin and Van under its conservatorship; meaning governors were appointed in the place of the existing mayors. Selçuk Mızraklı in Diyarbakır, Ahmet Türk in Mardin and Bedia Özgökçe Ertan in Van, all elected mayors, were dismissed from duty. Governors were appointed in their place. The justification that the Ministry of Interior presented does not hold water. Yet, as before, three big cities have started to be run by trustees. Will there be more? Will trustees be appointed to other city councils and district municipalities, of municipalities that are run by the People’s Democratic Party (HDP)? This is very sad news. It’s bad news for Turkey. There’s no way to defend it. There’s no understandable side to it. It is an unsuccessful policy that the government has tried before. But they are trying to step into the same river twice. They were unable to step into it the first time. Now they are trying once again. I’m going to evaluate this.

But first let me say: Last week I gave a broadcast regarding three different issues in relation to the Kurdish problem: “The Öcalan factor”, “If the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) unarmed” and “Who can resolve the Kurdish problem?” We received different reactions to these broadcasts. When we discussed these over the weekend with my friend who is a member of parliament for the HDP, a title for a new broadcast emerged. And I thanked him for this idea. I was usually going to broadcast this under the title “Peace or democracy?” because there is a debate within the HDP. In fact, there is a debate taking place within Turkey. But it is more heated within the HDP. On the one hand there is a view that the Kurdish problem is a priority and therefore giving up arms and ensuring peace etc. On the other hand, there is the perspective that the first priority is with regards to the democratization of Turkey and that with this, peace being an inevitable result of this democratisation.

In fact, it looks as if it is a chicken and egg situation. But this is truly an important debate. I would like to revisit this discussion in the following days. But from today onwards, this incident has shown us that democracy is being sabotaged once again by the government. This has nothing to do with democracy. Elections have just taken place. After only 4-5 months, mayors have been dismissed from their roles. If they were going to be dismissed, why were their candidacies accepted in the first place? Have they only just acquainted themselves with these people? One of them in particular – Ahmet Türk – has been a political figure for years; he has in fact been in politics longer than Erdoğan? Why was this decision made?

The HDP candidates won this election by a landslide. A question such as “When it comes to the will of the people, do the Kurds not have a say?” may be asked at such a time. And the Governor of Mardin tweeted instantly stating “We are serving once more.” Or something along those lines… Here I saw the reply that Yıldıray Oğur, journalist for Karar newspaper made. It’s spot on. He suggested that the Governor of Mardin should have instead stated “After a short period of democracy, we are together once more.”

Yes, a short democratic break was experienced and once more the government has pushed aside the will of the people, the elected mayors in Diyarbakır, Mardin and Van and believes that it has taken control of the situation. It has not seized anything. We know from the previous experience of trustees, that they did not add anything to the government. And they didn’t add much to society either. In fact, we see that certain investigations of previous mayors show that the trustees in fact profited from this situation quite a lot. They left with spendings, huge expenses and debts. And as a result, trustees, in every meaning of the word – in terms of democracy and municipalism – went down in history as a flop. We can see clearly that we are on the edge of a new failure.

So why is something like this happening?  “Will the solution processes begin once more?” was just being asked once again. The meetings taking place in Syria with the US, the indirect meetings with the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the explanations regarding Abdullah Öcalan all stirred some excitement in people. And then this incident took place. And the government has once again taken its position as a hawk. This may all actually be to conceal something. Perhaps the government is taking up a completely different position in the meetings in Syria. And Turkey is a hawk, but perhaps in the face of the US, it may be taking up the position of a pigeon. This may be the case. Another aspect is with regards to discussions of an early election perhaps coming up. But I believe the most important aspect here is with regards to President Erdoğan; President Erdoğan who runs this country alone is politically desperate and cannot do or say anything new.

Now I want to touch on an incident that occurred over the weekend. Selvi Kılıçdaroğlu, the wife of CHP Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, organized an event for Selahattin Demirtaş’s wife Başak Demirtaş’s birthday. And Ekrem İmamoğlu’s wife Dilek İmamoğlu, Selahattin Demirtaş’s younger sister – and also his lawyer – Aygül Demirtaş attended this event. These photos and videos were shared by the CHP and Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality. Usually communication between the CHP and HDP used to happen behind closed doors. It was never really out in the open. But these images are signs of the beginning of a brand new period.

I’ve always said that the proof of a “Brand New Turkey” was with a Turkey in which the HDP was not secretive or hidden away but could be an open ally or a partner within a coalition, that this should be the case, and one in which these old games would stop being played. Of course I believe it is even more important that women are doing this. And this trustee incident happened right afterwards.

Of course it might not have been a reply to this; but it was a reply to this: To the CHP and HDP getting close – more in fact that this closeness is not out in the open – and that perhaps other parties may join this – I do not know to what degree the Good Party (İYİ Party) will take part, it most probably won’t, but it is a possibility that these new parties emerging from the disintegration of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) may also align themselves in this way. We see that these walls of fear are slowly being knocked down.

Indeed, today, after the statement was made regarding the mayors, Ekrem İmamoğlu particularly and the CHP made very clear explanations and condemnations. And here for example, Izmir Mayor Tunç Soyer stated that they would join in solidarity. The Central Executive Committee (MYK) for the CHP is meeting. We are eagerly waiting what will come out of that meeting. In fact, this appointment of trustees has shown us that these people who have been running the country for a long time actually have no answer or reply to the new “Brand new Turkey” being shaped after the March 31 elections. The question now is how these new actors at the forefront within this “Brand new Turkey” will retaliate. The first reactions they gave actually show us that certain things are changing. But we still need to wait and see.

We are truly going through a critical situation. Erdoğan wants to trap Turkey within polarity once more. He saw that the polarization strategy he implemented during March 31 and June 23 did not work. But because he does not have another instrument in his hand, he wants to milk this strategy as much as he can. Will he be successful? He may be successful, if those opposing him give the answers he wants. What I mean here is this: for a long time, many serious terror incidents have thankfully not been occurring in Turkey. We are not at zero incidents just yet, but to a large degree calmness ensues. And in fact, according to public researches that have been conducted, complaints regarding terrorism have decreased significantly. There is a sort of calm, a feeling of peace. At least we can see that certain conflicts have stopped. And we see that this has opened the way politically. But together with this trustee incident, the government with its hawk-like policy is trying to strengthen once again its position as a hawk within the Kurdish movement. And in the same way, it wants this policy to be met with harsh interference and reactions.

Here I want to come to the issue of giving up arms which I have mentioned in previous broadcasts and have received certain reactions from names – not all – within the Kurdish movement. Some of them are saying “Do you see now? You say this, but do you dare say it again? In fact, these appointments that the government has made, Erdoğan’s, Süleyman Soylu’s appointment of trustees, show us even more that there is no need for arms and that there is no more function for the use of arms. Because the government actually prefers to continue its conflict with arms. Because there is a group of people who have no chance of winning if they walk down a democratic path. The government has now lost the Kurds. No matter how many elections it has, whatever it does, whatever blockades it creates, its opponents win. The HDP is winning.

If there are violent reactions against these appointments, the state will actually get what it wants. That’s what I think. The trustee appointments show us how those who run the government are completely desperate when it comes to law and democracy. And when you look at it from this point of view, if the democratic path is chosen, I believe that the Kurds will gain even more long term benefits from this situation. On the other hand, if radical reactions are given, – I mean violent when I say radical – this would be exactly what the government wants and needs. They will say “See, we did not appoint these trustees for nothing.”

This is the situation. Those who are cornered, those who are desperate are actually those running the country. They are doing the same things. If they tried something new, developed new policies, we can say that they, and Erdoğan firstly, are trying to intervene politically. But there is nothing to intervene in. They are constantly trying to postpone everything in similar ways. If, opposing this, democratic strategies and lawful means are used in the face of these situations, I believe that Erdoğan’s constant defeat will be final.

If on the other hand, unlawful reactions are given, this process will be drawn out. And Turkey will head towards polarization once more within an axis of terrorism. Of course, there is no way to understand the fact that mayors chosen and elected by the government were dismissed, it is unacceptable. In addition to this, we must also see the following: This is a moment that shows us that those running the country are incapable of doing so. And this, this desperation, the management of the crisis taking place has made the environment more favourable for alternative policies to be developed.

Yes, there is a lot to say, but let us end here. When people ask me “What is this Kurdish problem you speak of?” I reply “This is the Kurdish problem.” In a country where the Kurds have elected mayors yet these mayors are not tolerated by the government, this of course is the Kurdish problem. But these intolerances and repetitive methods show us that these courses of action are no longer sustainable. I believe that the Kurdish problem will come to the agenda sooner than later within this “Brand new Turkey.” These appointments may be a means to postpone this. But right answers, cool-headed answers, in a calm manner, without losing the legitimacy of being right, can speed up the solution process. Yes, that is all I have to say. Good day.

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