Sovereignty, democracy and identity: Turkey's Kurdish problem and the West's Turkish problem
Turkey's perception of itself as a major power has been fed by the collapse of the Soviet Union and by the resentment caused by its failure to become a member of the European Union. Islamism is, however, a response to government ineptitude and incompetence and the major domestic problem Turkey faces relates to the Kurdish ethnic minority. The majority of Kurds do not seek an independent state but are increasingly alienated by the Turkish government's repressiveness towards them and their cultural identity. European support for the case of imprisoned Kurdish MPs, such as Leyla Zana, may have more to do with European ignorance than with an understanding of her role in supporting Kurdish rights in Turkey. While she should, perhaps, have been acquitted on the evidence presented in court, her association with the PKK undermined the effectiveness of her supporters' claims. Western states should be more concerned over effective pressure for human rights observance in Turkey than either over Islamic fundamentalism or the more dramatic aspects of the Kurdish-Turkish confrontation.
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