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Studies in a Dying Culture: Kemalist Columnists’ Coverage of the Kurdish Peace Initiative

Journal: Athens Journal of History (Vol.1, No. 2)

Publication Date:

Authors : ; ;

Page : 115-134

Keywords : ;

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The founding ideology of the Turkish Republic, Kemalism, is based on homogenisation of an ethnically and religiously diverse population, aiming, ultimately to create a modern secular nation. Kemalist assimilation policies alienated the minorities, most notably the Kurds, Turkey’s largest ethnic minority. The Kurds’ demands of official recognition of their ethnic status met with strong military violence. Despite denial and suppression in the 1920s and 1930s, the Kurdish question has become a critical issue since the 1980s, when the Kurdish guerrilla movement, the PKK, launched an armed struggle against the military. In 2009, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government initiated the ‘Kurdish opening’ process as an attempt to find a peaceful solution to the Kurdish problem which ended in failure due to the government’s unwillingness to pursue the peace plan in the face of the growing opposition against negotiations with the PKK. A second initiative by the government was launched in 2012, when the government officials began to negotiate with the jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan. This ‘peace process’ has caused a controversial debate between the pro-government and Kemalist media institutions. Kemalist reporters and writers argue that the government’s peace plan is the beginning of an end to Turkey’s national unity. Moreover, holding talks with Öcalan, who is nicknamed as the ‘head of terrorists’ and ‘baby killer’, in the mainstream media, is presented as the biggest assault on Turkish nationalism and a compromise of the founding principles of the Republic of Turkey, most notably, the principle of ‘one state, one nation, one flag, one language’. For the Kemalist journalists, the threat posed by the Kurdish solution process to the unity of nation doubled by the fact that it is initiated by the AKP government, since AKP represents a serious threat to the secular republic. In Kemalist perception, the ‘reactionaries’ and ‘separatists’ were uniting to proceed with the imperialist powers’ plans on Turkey.

Last modified: 2015-04-01 22:04:39