Friday, January 28, 2011

Semantics in the way of an Aristotelian revolution?

Aristotle meant a revolution to be one of:

  • Complete change from one constitution to another
  • Modification of an existing constitution 

There is a heated discussion in Turkey today, as well as plenty of friendly advice from abroad, regarding the need for the adoption of a civilian constitution, one that
will address the numerous shortcomings of the current junta inspired 1982 one. The majority of vocal Kurds even consider as normal the evolution of the Turkish unitary state into a bizonal federation between the two major ethnicities of Turkey, the majority Turks (circa 65%) and the Kurds (circa 25%). 

This is about where the similarities between Turkey and Cyprus arise, since in Cyprus too the problem is the adoption of a new constitution which will mend fences between its majority and minority communities, with the federative model currently being discussed under the aegis of the United Nations. Cyprus' Turkish problem is international, as opposed to Turkey's Kurdish problem, since in the former Turkey violates the territorial integrity of Cyprus presumably to protect the minority community of Turkish Cypriots. Some say it is just a matter of time before Turkey's similar problem attains an international aspect, since Turkey will not be able to sustain for long two entirely diffrent philosophies in approaching two essentially identical problems: the right balance between a majority and a major minority within a state.

The Turkish Aristotelian revolution has one additional hurdle to overcome. Let me explain. In Cyprus, the nationality is Cypriot, and its various communities, small and large, proudly attest to their Cypriotness while at the same time celebrating their ethnic background: Turkish Cypriot, Greek Cypriot, Armenian Cypriot, etc. In the end, Cypriotness unites them.

But in the case of Turkey, the very name of the country is an issue of contention and the source of friction. Kurds are a very proud people and very different than Turks, no matter how much Turks wish it was otherwise and propagandize to that effect. For example, Kurds' language is an IndoEuropean language, whereas Turkish is not. Turks highlight religion as the uniting factor, but the truth is Turks and Kurds share as much as Greeks and Danes or Swedes and Portugese do. 

Would it make sense, if the federative model is decided upon in Turkey, for the country to adopt the name "Minor Asia"? Would such name contribute to the unity of the country and cease all those Kurdish voices  that want nothing short of secession and an independent Kurdistan, to unite with Iraq's and Iran's Kurdish regions in the years to come?

Aristotelian revolutions are not easy. When semantics get in the way they become almost impossible to achieve without pain and some serious paradigm shift.

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Turkey's Kurds & Cyprus' tCypriots

As either unitary state or federation solutions are discussed as replacements to Cyprus' 1960 and Turkey's 1923 unworkable constitutions, should we abide by "if a right is a right too many for Turkey's Kurdish community (circa 23% of population) then that right is a right too many for Cyprus' tCypriot community too (circa 15%), and vice versa." Is the adoption of this fair logic the catalyst to securing just solutions for both UN countries.