After first making the smart move to revise the term “wise men” to “wise people,” the government chose who should be in this group. There were a number of different suggestions of course, and there was even a list of respected names from within the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) circles. But the official government list was later revealed.
The BDP's reaction to the government list has not been very warm. As for the Republican People's Party (CHP), it appears to view the group of “wise people” as a list of government-supporting names set with the task of running a nationwide psychological operation. On a recent TV program, leading CHP name Muharrem Ince asserted that, with the exception of one person on the list, there was no one who had voted for or would even consider voting for the CHP.
There can be no doubt that defining “wise people” on the basis of which political party they cast votes for, or what their political preferences are, is not a very healthy stance. But one must note here that this is a style of thinking that is certainly not limited to the CHP either. It appears that what we are facing is a strange situation wherein one must admit “people always see themselves as the wisest person around!” As people may recall, there was a time in Turkey when there were debates about "hakikat" commissions, or truth commissions. Of course, these were never really formed, because first and foremost, there was no agreement on which period in Turkey's history these commissions should investigate.
If one looked at it from a CHP perspective, it appeared impossible that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission could try and cover a period that included Ergenekon, and thus the activities of the Special War Department. When the Ergenekon investigations and arrests began, CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu asserted that not only did such an organization not even exist, but that if it had, he would immediately have gone and become a member. Then in the 2011 election, three people who had been tried in court and received stiff penalties and were in fact members of Ergenekon were elected as CHP deputies. From the perspective of the BDP, things are not much different. The BDP also has a stance on what the truth is based on what fits in with its own take on politics. I do hope that Turkey will be able to transcend these strange stances during the process of trying to come to a solution.
Wise people have, up until now, often played important roles and shouldered important missions in trying to end clashes and bring disputes to a close all over the world. As far as I know, nowhere else in the world is there a list of a group of “national wise people.” It is perhaps something we are seeing for the first time in Turkey, with an attempt by the country to identify its wise people, and get them involved in the peace process.
From the perspective of the problems we are experiencing on the Kurdish front these days, I think this stance is very normal. The targeted solution process sees bringing together those with good ideas regarding the Kurdish problem together with those who think a lot about the problem, and, by reaching harmony between national and international actors on this front, getting those who are now tired of clashes to accept democratic tools of struggle. The second stage has already happened. In other words, following a period of bloody struggle, the most recent leaders of these bloody struggles have come to an agreement over closing this bloody chapter in Turkey, which has opened the way towards a solution. Both sides now believe that with violence ended, everyone wins.
But there is still a part of this solution that has not been realized, which is that international actors do not have active positions based on these policies yet. So without this, Turkey has brought about and implemented its own national solution. And now we have a national “wise people” who are set to serve and contribute to this national solution.
These wise people will certainly be the target of those who wish to undermine this process, or portray it as some sort of period of treason by the government. Those who truly do wish to see a solution may of course bring forth any sort of sincere criticism they have, but they should also try to avoid becoming any part of the campaign on hand to undermine and devalue the “wise people” group project.