The following is a working paper by professor Kubilay Yado Arin. Comments and feedback are solicited and welcome.
by KUBILAY YADO ARIN for TIRN on JULY 13, 2015:
Historically, Turkish nationalists and the opponents of EU membership always invoke the spirit of Sèvres. This peace treaty from 1920 was dictated by the victorious powers of World War I, and spelled the break-up of the Ottoman Empire, leaving for the Turks small, rump state. In eastern Anatolia, it was envisaged that independent Armenian and Kurdish states would emerge; in the west, Turkey would lose territory to Greece. After heavy loss of life in the ensuing war of independence, the Treaty of Lausanne recognized Turkey in 1923 without mentioning an Armenian or Kurdish state. Since that time, Turkey’s official position has been for decades to face westwards rather than towards the Middle East – EU accession being, for the Kemalist establishment, the final step in this process.
Fear of Kurdish secession has long been the canker in Turkish democracy, the justification for a raft of laws that restrict human rights and the freedom of expression. Instead of declaring that there is no Kurdish problem, as it did two decades ago, the Turkish government now appears to be saying there is no Kurdish solution. And as long as Turkey blurs the line between terrorism and legitimate protest, it will continue to alienate its Kurdish population while legitimating the men of violence.