Turkish people problems
I have recently read the news that Turkeys Kurdish Workers Party, or PKK, has announced, following its party congress, that it is giving up armed struggle as a means and an independent Kurdistan as an end. It has also announced that it is changing its name to Congress for Freedom and Democracy in Kurdistan (KADEK). Whether this announcement signals the end of Turkeys Kurdish problem cannot yet be answered; the Turkish government continues to regard the party, whatever its name, as a terrorist organization.
Be that as it may, Turkeys Kurdish problem is in reality Turkeys Turkish problem. Its inherent in the very definition of the Turkish nation and of the modern Turkish state, whose founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, intended it to be a nation-state in the Western mold that is, an entity in which citizenship of the state and membership in the nation are essentially one and the same. Official Turkish sources found on the Web state that Turkish democracy is based on the concept of nationalism of citizenship and the term Turkish people includes all Turkish citizens, whatever their ethnic roots are.
The Turkish nation is thus defined as what political scientists have variously called a state nation (F. Meinecke), political nation (C. A. Macartney), and territorial or civic nation (A. D. Smith). The problem is that this, as Smith has noted, is a peculiarly Western conception of the nation. In the West, even where there exist national identities other than the one based on the state (as in Scotland or Catalonia), these are determined by territory, not ethnicity (with two sad exceptions: the Catholics of Northern Ireland and the Basques). In fact, as I have mentioned in a previous essay, all the other nationalist movements of the West explicitly reject an ethnic basis for their aspirations.
There is, of course, a touch of disingenuousness if not hypocrisy in the official Turkish definition. The Turks of Cyprus, as well as those of the Balkans (Bulgaria, Macedonia), are matter-of-factly accepted as part of the Turkish people, though they are not Turkish citizens. Such inconsistency is not unprecedented: in the second half of the 19th century France, the prototypical nation-state, had to find a way of excluding its indigenous Algerian subjects (at first Muslims and Jews, later Muslims only) from French citizenship while at the same time including the inhabitants of Alsace-Lorraine (who became German citizens after the Franco-Prussian War) in the French nation. This trick required some verbal sophistry by jurists and philosophers, something the French are...