Turkey's key internal conflict centers on the role of its large Kurdish minority, ethnically and linguistically distinct, in a state that constitutionally consists of Turks.
This issue has been with Turkey almost since the foundation of the Turkish State in 1923. The Kurds were promised the creation of an independent state as part of the treaty of Sevres in 1920 but this part of the treaty was never ratified and Turkey has refused to recognize the existence of a separate Kurdish ethnic community within its borders.
Even so, Half of Turkey's Kurds have moved from the south east to the western cities of Turkey and have increasingly become integrated into the Turkish economy. Fifteen million individuals of Kurdish origin presently live in the republic of Turkey and are striving to achieve legal recognition and to establish legal rights after having been subject to economic disadvantages and human right violations for decades.
A large number of Kurds have immigrated to Europe, where they engaged in nationalist activities such as the PKK. Since 1984, an unofficial war has raged between successive Turkish governments and the Kurdish worker's party (PKK), An armed group trying to gain autonomy for the country's 15 million Kurds. This war resulted in something between 20,000 and 30,000 deaths, with innocent villagers, being subject to interrogation, torture, indiscriminate violence and even death.
For better understanding the international conflicts and the behavior of states, David Singer introduced the idea of levels of analysis. He distinguished between two broad levels: the macro level that explains the events from an international and global perspective, and...
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...ation state consisting of Turks alone, a decision that could no longer be implemented. Therefore, the solution lies in the need to reformulate the very concept of the Turkish State as perceived by its citizens.
The Kurdish ethnic problem has a spectrum of potential solutions ranging from totally repressing all ethnic expression of Kurds to granting the Kurds total independence. Both of these are undesirable extremes with, with obviously a great range of choice in between. A realistic solution is one that satisfies Kurdish aspiration without truly threatening a modern democratic Turkey. This is a complex but quite achievable goal.
Turkey's Kurdish question by Henry J. Barkey and graham E. Fuller
"Kurds," Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2000 available at:
http://encarta.msn.com © 1997-2000
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