THE NEW BILGESAM SURVEY : Turks, Kurds have strong faith in sharing common future, survey shows

12 September 2012 / TODAY’S ZAMAN, İSTANBUL – A recent survey, conducted by Turkish think tank the Wise Men Center for Strategic Studies (BİLGESAM), clearly shows that an overwhelming majority of Turks and Kurds have strong faith on sharing common political future in Turkey.

According to the results of the survey, 90.3 percent of Kurds and 70.7 percent of Turks, who responded to the survey strongly believe that political future of both communities bound to each other. The survey titled as ‘Social Perceptions in Fighting Terrorism’ aims to reveal how Turks and Kurds perceive policies of the government and state with regards to the fighting terrorism, military operations, the long-standing Kurdish issue and ‘democratic opening’, which came to public agenda in 2009 by government in order to promote more cultural and political rights to Kurds.

The BİLGESAM shared the results of the survey with public in a press conference on Wednesday. “According to data derived from the survey, there is seemingly a decline in social alienation between Turks and Kurds. Especially, Turks who live in eastern provinces, which were affected by unabated terrorist activities, have more positive views on living together with Kurds.” said BİLGESAM head, Atilla Sandıklı.

The results strongly emphasize existence of mutual will and determination among Turks and Kurds for sharing common future. Noting that the mutual understanding and agreement on a common political future is more strong than ever, Sandıklı contends that the increasing PKK attacks aim to bolster secessionist tendencies among Turks rather than Kurdish population. He also suggests that survey results deny some writers who write on subjects such as the Kurdish question, the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and the terrorist PKK and who claim that majority of Kurds have strong secessionist tendencies.

“Their comments do not based on scientific work and do not reflect the reality on ground. Despite claims, the secessionist stream is weak among Kurds as an overwhelming majority of them prefer to live together with Turks.” he said.

The survey also measured how the terrorist activities in the region have affected economic development and freedom in social landscape according to interviewees. Majority of respondents contend that the PKK pose a serious obstacle to social peace, individual freedom and economic progress in southeast.  More than 95 percent of Turks and nearly 88 percent of Kurds think that the PKK obstructs economic development of the region. In addition to that 84.8 of Turks and 83.1 of Kurds believe that the PKK activities restrain the freedom of Kurdish citizens in Turkey’s southeast.

According to Sandıklı, those figures confirm the fact that Kurds perceive that the PKK pursues different goals other than fighting for rights of Kurdish community.

Beyond that survey demonstrates that Turks and Kurds common shared values. In this regard, 94.8 percent of Kurds see Turkish flag as their national flag while 97.7 of Turks express the same thing for national flag. It is worth to mention that 91.1 percent of Kurds have a strong feeling toward Turkish national anthem, expressing their sense of belonging to that as responding positively to the ‘The national anthem is my anthem’.

Majority of Kurds support KCK operations

In the meantime, the survey also questioned the perception of the police operations against the terrorist Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) among respondents. Nearly 88 percent of Turks and 70.6 percent of Kurds surveyed said “KCK arrestees work for interests of the KCK and the PKK.” While 83 percent of Turks support the KCK operations, 61.1 percent of Kurds express their endorsement for the operations.

According to the survey, 75.4 percent of Kurds believe that the democratic initiative launched by the government in 2009 to grant broader rights to Kurds is necessary to address the Kurdish issue while only 35.8 percent of Turks back this initiative. The survey also found that Kurds see the state determined and efficient to address the Kurdish issue more than Turks. In its section titled “Foreign support of terrorism,” the survey found Turks believe terrorism gets foreign support more than Kurds do. Furthermore, the countries listed by both Kurdish and Turkish respondents for their alleged support to terrorism are almost the same: Israel, the US and the regional Kurdish administration in northern Iraq. Majority of Turkish and Kurdish respondents also said they believe that Syrian regime supports the PKK.