Today is the second annual BlogBlast for Peace, started by a blogger named Mimi Lenox. It is a simple effort to get bloggers from every region of the world to ponder and promote peace on this day. Though I am not a citizen of Turkey, it is my adopted country of residence and a place I feel more connected to than my country of citizenship, the US.
I'll start with the main issue that has Turkey's attention currently -- the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) and the violence inflicted by this organization on Turkish soldiers and civilians. This isn't a new situation by any means; the group started back in 1984. But in the last few months the PKK has stepped up its activities. In October, the organization was responsible for the deaths of 47 soldiers and civilians. Turkish Parliament recently passed a motion that would allow for a cross-border operation into northern Iraq, where the PKK has a safe haven, by the Turkish Armed Forces. However, the government hasn't yet decided whether it will send forces. The US and EU have urged the Turkish government not to take such an action. Yet there is much pressure on the government from the public, who are outraged at the killings.
Can a peaceful solution be found with a group that has chosen violence to get its point across?
A second issue is the closed border between Turkey and Armenia. The border was shut back in 1993 during the Azerbaijani-Armenia war in which many Azeris were forced from their homes. Turkey also has closed its airspace to Armenia and imposed an embargo on the country. The reasons that this situation has continued for so long are many. But currently, the insistence by Armenia on having the World War I era killings of Armenians labeled as "genocide" is a huge stumbling block to relations between the two countries. The recent passage of the Armenian genocide resolution in the US House Committe on Foreign Affairs only worsened matters as well as souring relations between Turkey and the US.
Can relations between Turkey and Armenia be improved?
The final issue I'd like to mention today is that of the Turkish and Greek Cypriots. I don't have time to go into the history of the split of the island. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) is recognized officially only by Turkey. In 2004, a majority of Turkish Cypriots voted for the reunification of Cyprus in an EU backed referundum; however, Greek Cypriots voted against it. There is an embargo on the ports of the KKTC, which has had a serious effect on their economy. Greek Cypriots were polled recently and are still largely against reunification. After all, they are members of the EU and have enjoyed all the benefits of a free economy and an officially recognized state.
Will the island of Cyprus ever be reunified and the Turkish Cypriots freed of the isolation imposed upon them?
I don't feign to know what will happen in all the aforementioned situations. I can only watch as history unfolds and discuss these issues within my own spheres. I am no Pollyanna, but I think hope is one of the few things we can cling too -- hope for peace, hope for dialogue, hope for resolution.