Monday, October 5, 2009
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) held its third ordinary party congress on Saturday at the ASKİ Sports Hall in Ankara
Although the congress -- which was attended by thousands of enthusiastic party members -- was significant in that AK Party leader and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan changed 17 members of the party's Central Decision and Administration Board (MKYK) of 50 members, the prime minister's speech focusing on the government's democratic initiative to settle Turkey's long-standing Kurdish issue overshadowed the changes within the party management.
The congress was evaluated as a “democratic initiative congress” by many because of Erdoğan's address, which once again reflected his determination to settle the issue in addition to a “democratic initiative statement” approved at the congress.
While explaining the democratic initiative process, Erdoğan once again called for unity and referred to various figures from Turkey's history and said there is room for everyone in Turkey.
While stating that a Turkey without 11th century Turkish poet and Sufi Ahmed Yesevi, 16th century Alevi poet Pir Sultan Abdal and the late 14th and early 15th century Sufi and poet Hacı Bayram Veli would be an orphan, Erdoğan said a Turkey without the great Turkish Anatolian mystic poet Yunus Emre would be dumb and a Turkey without Turkish Sufi philosopher and poet Mevlana Rumi would be soulless. He also said songs would be imperfect without famous Kurdish singer Ahmet Kaya and that the spirituality of Turkey would be incomplete without 20th century Islamic scholar of Kurdish origin Said Nursi.
“We can say the democratic initiative left its mark on the third ordinary congress of the AK Party, in which Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan proved that he is the sole leader of the party without any rivals,” says Fikret Bila from the Milliyet daily. Noting that Erdoğan signaled that the AK Party is leaning towards a new mission based on settling the Kurdish issue with the motto of “We are all Turkey together,” he says he also signaled that he is ready to run the risk of taking steps for the settlement of the Kurdish issue in the coming period during which early election debates are likely to intensify. “Erdoğan tried to send messages to every segment of society. Referring to leading figures of all ethnic and religious segments of society, he tried to show what should be understood by the motto ‘We are all Turkey together',” Bila says.
Mehmet Altan from the Star daily thinks Erdoğan's speech at the party congress reflects a “people-oriented” and “pro-freedom” understanding as well as giving a comprehensive and determined message. Noting that everyone who wants Turkey to keep up with the modern age would be pleased listening to this speech, he says although the AK Party has been successful in many fields, it still has many things to do. “I wonder if the Kurdish initiative process would make the AK Party regain a reformist dynamic,” he asks.
[Picture: Said Nursi]