The pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party [BDP] has a campaign of civil disobedience and had a sit-in in Taksim Gezi Park around a small tent they had put up. What have you learned from visiting the place?
I’ve learned that finding a peaceful solution to that endemic problem is moving in the right direction. I went there on March 30. A lot of people were there sipping coffee and tea and chatting. They were not paying attention to who was coming or going. It was a very relaxed atmosphere. There was no atmosphere of nervousness. It was a very peaceful demonstration. This peaceful attitude will help greatly in reaching a solution. I have the feeling that the street is ready to accept any solution that would be first ratified by the government and then Parliament.
When you say “solution,” what does it consist of?
Why do you think this problem remained unsolved for so long?
We’ve been brainwashed since our childhood that there are Turks but nobody else. There have been objections to this idea, but we were unable to express our views because of being afraid of the state. Now it is time to become more democratic, take the bull by the horns and call a spade a spade, and Kurdistan as Kurdistan. Five years ago, we would not utter the word Kurdistan. Today we can say that Kurdistan is part of Turkey in the Southeast.
When you say Kurdistan, is this a reference to separation or a federative system?
Not at all. We had in the first Parliament of Atatürk, members of Parliament who were coming from the Southeast, and they were called representatives of Kurdistan. We had also Lazistan representatives meaning that they were from the Black Sea region. Why have we become so dead afraid of using those expressions 80 years later?
Who is İshak Alaton?
He founded the Alarko Company in 1954 together with the late Dr. Üzeyir Garih upon returning to İstanbul from Sweden. In half a century, the company has grown into a group of 22 independent subsidiary companies, with a total of 6,400 employees, building and operating hydroelectric and thermal power plants, industrial goods, air-conditioning equipment and heaters. Alaton actively promoted social democratic alternatives in the Turkish private sector. He is also the chairman of the board of the TESEV think tank. He also founded the Open Society Foundation of Turkey.