The ongoing conflict between the Turkish government and the PKK in Turkey takes us back to the 70s, when the bloody violence between the right wing and the left wing in Turkey resulted in 5000 causalities at least. Then happened the military coup in 1980 in Turkey as a result of the mess that the right wing left in the country.
The coup was shaped in a Kemalist way according to Kemal Ataturk, who is the father of the Turkish nationalism and his ideology was the new identity of the democracy.
The streets were named after Kemal Ataturk as well as Turkish and Kurdish cities. The Kemalist books were everywhere.
Turkey needed a radical shift in the domestic and foreign policy in order to escape the political isolation from the European Commission, the third world and from the United States because of the crisis in Cyprus.
Turkish army generals knew that without a strong economic system, there will be no success. Therefore, there was this need for a modern Islamist and a neo- Ottoman. The bureaucrat Turgut Özal (13 October 1927 – 17 April 1993) was the answer.
His experience with the World Bank in the US qualified him to play the major role in the economic development in turkey in the 80s.
During 1983-1989 Özal government had to focus on the domestic problems, notably the economy. Özal was a successful religious businessman with a good relationship with religious sects; he was a moderate who could do business with everyone regardless of their social or ideological backgrounds.
Under Özal’s liberal economic policy, the Turkish economy grew up at an annual rate of over 5%, which was the highest among the OECD countries.
The father of two sons and a daughter was one of the candidates of the Islamite National Salvation Party NSP in 1979 elections, and he wanted the westerns to accept the Turks as Muslim Europeans, not European Turks, and to accept that the Ottoman system in Turkey could be the best example of leading the Islamic world to create a better and stronger relations between the east and the west.
“I have demonstrated that Turkey has never abandoned secularism. The Turks are aware that faith and religion itself does not affect secularism, nor does prevent from being rational; provided that their respective realms are not encroached.”
The pious Muslim saw common points between the United States and the Ottoman Empire, the Ottoman Empire was made from statelets with a variety of different cultures and religions. Özal didn’t only admire the American social and economic system but was also affected by it when he was studying there.
He believed that in order to achieve an economic and diplomatic success, Turkey has to apologize for its past political mistakes and solve the issue of the Armenian genocide, which took most of his attention in 1983.
When he became the prime minister of Turkey, he asked the political advisers to solve the Armenian issue by making compromises, and when he became the president of Turkey, he tried different projects to solve it, so he started a project called Van to return some lands to Armenians in Van in eastern Turkey.
Özal said in front of journalist and diplomats in 1991 after a meeting with representatives of the Armenian community: “What happens if we compromise with the Armenians and end this issue? What if we officially recognize the 1915 Armenian genocide and face up to our past? Let’s take the initiative and find the truth. Let’s pay the political and economic price, if necessary”
Özal was criticized for not mentioning his Kurdish background or taking the side of his own people. Especially looking at the 80s decade which witnessed high level of violence between the Turkish military and the Kurdish Workers party PKK.
Özal saw the Kurdish cause dominating the political agenda as an opportunity to solve the problem.
On the 23rd of March 1993, Özal started a peace agreement between the Turkish government and the PKK, and 3 weeks later on the 17th of April 1993 he was found dead in his office just before he had the chance to negotiate with the PKK.
The blood samples taken to determine the cause of his death were lost or disappeared.
A test on the 12th of December 2012 stated that his body contained poison, but the cause of his death remained unclear until September 2013, when the investigations showed that he was murdered by Levant Ersoz, a retired Turkish general.
The assassination of Turgut Özal by a Turkish army general puts us directly in front of one question; does Turkey exploit the dispute with the PKK to eliminate the success of Selahattin Demirtaş and its Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, the HDP, in June’s elections?
No matter what the Turkish agenda, it is clear today that the Turkish government is putting the whole nation’s security at risk by resuming this conflict that will cause so many more innocent lives.