Whether Turgut Özal was a good politician remains up for debate. However, there is no question that he indeed was (and is) a significant historical persona. He guided his country into the twenty-first century. When Özal suddenly passed away in 1993, he had already led Turkey to the next century, even though the twenty-first century would technically begin only seven years later.
This commentary reflects on the Turkish government’s recent ‘opening’ to address the Kurdish problem and the domestic, regional and international conditions that created a conducive environment for this initiative. It maintains that although the Turkish leadership has grasped the new dynamics of the regional and domestic developments and changed its conventional perception of the problem, the initiative is constrained by the fact that it is motivated by a concern to remove the violent aspect of the Kurdish question, i.e., terminating the Kurdish insurgency once and for all. It also suggests that despite the optimism generated by the opening to solve the Kurdish problem, the achievement of its ultimate objective is far more complex than seen at the first glance. The commentary places a special attention on the dilemmas encountered by the Democratic Society Party as it seeks to represent the demands of its predominantly Kurdish constituency.