25 March 2015

Peace starting from Turkey

erdogan444This year’s Nevruz celebrations, which were held on March 21 in Turkey, have bolstered the hope that peace will soon prevail not only in Turkey but also in the entirety of the region covering the Middle East and the Caucasus. When jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan’s call for disarmament and for ultimate peace was read out during the Diyarbakır rally, which was attended by huge masses, I thought that Turkey’s peace process marked a beginning that would have much deeper economic and political consequences than all other peace “consensuses” in the world, including Irish and South African peace processes in the 1990s. Because, the PKK’s disarmament and withdrawal into the legitimate political sphere does not simply mean the end of the armed struggle only on Turkish soil, it is also a significant step toward a new politics and ultimate peace in all hot and frozen conflict areas in the Middle East, including Iraq and Syria.

A Turkey, which has economic and political stability, can redesign the balance of the region for the sake of peace and stability. In this regard, Öcalan’s introductory sentence in his Nevruz letter becomes more of an issue. He starts the letter by criticizing neoliberal policies as follows, “The crisis, which is caused by neoliberal policies and is imposed upon the whole world by imperialist capitalism and its despotic local collaborators, is being experienced in our region and country in a very destructive way.” This remark is somehow a reminiscent of words that Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Argentinean President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, former Brazilian President Lula da Silva, incumbent Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Palestinian leaders resisting to Israel and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke about either during rallies or their addresses to the U.N. General Assembly.

Regardless of which political view they have, today many political leaders object to the Washington Consensus-based neoliberal policies, which were developed in the mid-1980s and were imposed upon developing countries in the 1990s, and produce alternative policies to them. As Turkey is a determinative country in its region, it is very important that Erdoğan proposes new economic policies both for his country and other countries in the region and correlates these policies with the reconciliation process. The success and practicability of Turkey’s economic policies should be considered as a regional new deal. It should be noted that all peace processes that started in Europe in the 1990s and spread to Latin America and Africa cannot succeed if they are not supported with strong economic alternatives. Because, what unravels all these peace processes is the dynamics and requirements of the global economy.

Let us take a brief look at the economic causes and dynamics lying behind these peace processes in different parts of the world. When it came to the 21st century, economies, which survived thanks to wars and nourished traditional sectors such as arms industry and nasty finance, renounced these areas and were equipped with new knowledge-based sectors. The rapid growth of such sectors left its mark on the process. During the early 1980s, the U.K. and the U.S. liquidated the social aspect of state-based economy and put militarist statism and war into effect as a remedy to overcome the crisis. These two countries supported coups and incited civil war processes in all countries where peace negotiations were held in the 1990s. But this was a wrong policy that dragged these countries themselves to the brink of the abyss. The 1990s started with crisis dynamics that would also rock developing countries, since markets were shrinking, new investments could not be made and traditional sectors supported by the U.K. and the U.S. could never recover. In those days, countries that break records in production and R&D investments today, such as South Korea, called on their citizens to submit their gold to the central banks to handle the crisis. Turkey went through these years with crisis, military coups and a climate of intense conflict.

The knowledge-based capital, which would leave its mark on the 21st century, revealed that supporting traditional structures and sectors and further militarizing nation states would not work out. While conflicts and crises caused by a war economy continued in the 1990s, a new process started in the world, particularly in South Africa. This new process prioritized knowledge-based sectors and asked that individual demand be prioritized in underdeveloped countries. Thus, it raised a new power that did not base economy merely on a nation state’s armament of billions of dollars and on economic cycle, but wanted to eradicate nasty financial balloons created by this economy, and tried to prioritize a legal market cycle in the world. This power revealed itself first by bringing Barack Obama to power in the U.S. Remember that more than 100 peace processes have begun in the world over the past decade, while juntas, gangs and arms lobbies have begun decelerating and information technologies-based sectors have begun coming to the fore. This is a development showing that the bloody history of the 20th century, which was one of the most unfortunate times in humanity’s history, has ended. As a result of years of long struggle, the global financial circles have also acknowledged this reality. This is undoubtedly the acquisition of peace and democracy.

As a result of all this, perhaps for the first time, all peoples on these soils and their ancient civilizations, including Macedonia, North Africa, Anatolia and China, has had such a great chance toward change and developing a relevant political initiative. A large territory covering Europe, Turkey, the Middle East, North Africa, the Caucasus and Mesopotamia, which lies between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and is accepted as the birthplace of civilization, is being intertwined with a new peace process starting in Turkey.

This commentary is originally published on Daily Sabah on Mar 25, 2015.

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