Turkish people are all set to directly vote for a president for the first time ever. The public will be asked who should head the republic. Preparations for the presidential elections in one month’s time are therefore taking place in an unusually different atmosphere.
Now it is known that the main struggle will be between the opposition parties’ candidate, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, former Secretary-General of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has recently announced his candidacy. Both are strong candidates for Turkey; they are strong because Turkey always leans to the right side of the political spectrum. The nomination of a right-wing candidate such as Ihsanoglu from a left-leaning opposition party clearly indicates the political preferences of the Turkish people.
As the election draws near, varying opinions regarding the shift in the Turkish political system continue to surface. Will Turkey move to a presidential system? This is not the first time the issue has been discussed. This writer believes that presidential system in Turkey will give rise to major problems in the future and is therefore ill advised. The reason may be summarized as follows:
Various countries have presidential systems and almost all have federal mechanisms. Presidential systems can gradually turn into totalitarian regimes with all powers vested in one individual and require regional federations with independent decision-making mechanisms if democracy is to remain sound and healthy. It is, therefore, most likely that the presidential system in Turkey would give rise to federalism as well. This is where the problem arises. As I have said many times here, there is the problem of the communist PKK, long known for its terrorist activities, in the southeast of Turkey. Following the peace process and accompanying cease-fire, the PKK terror organization and its political supporters in Turkey changed their tone and brought up the issue of “democratic autonomy.” This method of winning over the public and administrations by depicting division as harmless and unproblematic is the oldest trick in the book.
Following its official application for European Union membership, Turkey had to adopt the European Constitution and is bound by it. One of the most contentious articles in that constitution for Turkey is the condition imposing local administrations. As per this article, provincial general assemblies and municipalities should be given various powers. Let us remember that a large part of the municipalities in the southeast are under the control of a party supported by the PKK. Municipalities are using their increased powers more along ideological lines than for administrative reasons. Efforts are being made to make autonomy acceptable to the public; propaganda based on discrimination between Kurd and Turk is being spread and the psychological foundations for division are being laid through education. The idea is that the worthy Kurdish people will be attracted to autonomy while remaining unaware that they are under the influence of a communist structure that will crush them.
Again in the scope of EU laws, Turkey has been implementing a system known as the Development Agencies since 2006. Under this, Turkey is theoretically divided into eight separate regions and the development agencies to be established will have the broader authority to maintain relations with foreign countries. This has been perceived by some pro-PKK politicians as the first stage of a project to divide Turkey into 26 regions and under which the Southeast will eventually break away from Turkey. Grave risks are therefore involved.
The main reason why the presidential system enjoys the backing of PKK supporters and of Öcalan in particular is that it will open the door to federalism. It will not be hard for a Communist Southeast with full powers in local administration under a federated structure to obtain autonomy within the scope of EU laws. The proponents of devolution who are already saying that “democratic autonomy is harmless,” and shamelessly opining that “it would not be a bad thing to have our own flag alongside the Turkish flag,” are planning to set up their own military force under the name of a “self-defense force,” and are even planning to establish their own judicial system. The aim behind all this is to be able to establish a Communist state in the Southeast and to oppress our Kurdish brothers. The fact that these people are talking about a form of “communal” life in the Southeast is important in seeing the terrible nature of the situation.
In the wake of statements by the Kurdish autonomous region in northern Iraq that “we may put independence to a referendum,” the situation in the southeast of Turkey has become more noteworthy. Although we are always in favor of Iraqi territorial integrity, there is no doubt that independence for the Iraqi Kurds is in their own interests. However, the “Great Kurdistan” plan of the last 100 years or so must also not be forgotten; if independence for the Kurds in Iraq is regarded as a beginning, and if an independent state in Turkey is one day supported by the EU and the US, the building of a New North Korea will begin, knowingly or otherwise. In seeking an ally for itself, the US will encounter a Communist state that enjoys support in many regards. Our Kurdish brothers will face terrible oppression. Turkey, which has to remain strong in a region such as the Middle East, will be a divided country weakened by the horrors of Communism. We should never permit such a thing.
Had Turkey been not facing such issues, a federal system would not have posed any threat. But we must not forget that federal systems come about through divided components coming together, as in the case of the United States. Turkey is the last remaining part since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, and is a single whole dating back 600 years. It is unthinkable for such a country to be divided into parts in the presence of such dangers. If a federation is desired, the start must come with the unification of a region that has been divided and fragmented over the last 100 years and that means a union that binds Middle Eastern countries together on the basis of brotherhood and love; that is what is really required.
Adnan Oktar's piece on Arab News: