Can we start booking our flights back to Turkey?
Today, I will write to you from my neighborhood. No, not from that Armenian neighborhood you know so well. I will write from the neighborhood of exilees who cannot return to Turkey. This is one of the topics that has been most talked about since Kilicdaroglu’s candidacy was declared.
His nomination was not actually that surprising, as our neighborhood was already expecting it, but the joy sparked by the announcement must have reinvigorated everyone.
Many of the people who have not come to Turkey because of bans, because they are afraid, because they have been reported to Interpol by the Erdogan administration, because they have warrants out for their arrest due to their writing are now on the hunt for flights to Turkey on May 15.
This has even become a topic of conversation on WhatsApp group chats.
Of course, there are people who ask me what I will be doing as well.
Invitations for drinks at Yesilkoy and at Eleos at the end of May, calls to go to the islands, promises to enjoy seafood at Karakoy are in the air.
Naturally, this nostalgia for the past and the invitations that come with the high morale and motivation inevitably excites me as well. Be that as it may, I have always had a hesitant attitude when it comes to these things.
I experienced my last disappointment with Muharrem Ince’s run for the presidency when ARTI TV had just been founded. As my colleagues and many acquaintances who had left to Europe at the time were making plans for their return and were even booking their flights, I was of the mind that there is no trusting a person who talks badly about the “Greeks” and the “Armenians” and still asks for votes.
And I was not mistaken.
Not only did Ince turn out to be a bag of wind, but everything also took a turn for the worse afterwards. The atmosphere does not seem the same this time around. If we assume that politicians have learnt a lesson from the past, even though this is hard to believe when Turkey is in question, the environment and energy might seem different.
It is normal; if we cannot have hope, neither revolution nor transformation will ever be possible. What was it that Bulutsuzluk Ozlemi had said? “It was hope that kept a person alive, so I take my saz* in hand.”
I do not know how to play the saz, but my saz is the keyboard that writes the sentences you are reading now.
I digress, let us turn to our topic.
I am currently employing the tactic of “wait and see,” a consequence of my previous disappointments. I am waiting. I am aware that when the existing atmosphere of pressure changes, when the mandates and the oppression end, politics as well as bureaucracy and the judiciary can all of a sudden take on a more optimistic air.
Perhaps immediately after Kilicdaroglu is elected, everything can change, the people condemned by the Decree-Laws, the people unfairly tried and imprisoned can be set free.
They may not wait out a transitional period for this, and the judiciary and bureaucracy can reroute themselves without waiting for the system to change. This is true.
Perhaps it is the people frightened by the pressure and the mandates who serve this decaying system. Perhaps they serve only because they are afraid.
Maybe this is why change is so close.
I hope it is.
I want it to be.
I had witnessed this sliding away from the right path in public opinion during the normalization period between Turkey and Armenia. As if the border was not closed, Abdullah Gul and Serzh Sargsyan sat watching a match together, and there were people in the streets of Armenia dining with the Turks, and there were people who began to trade with Armenia from Turkey.
The bureaucracy, which had been inoperative for 30 years at that point, came closer than ever before.
But it ended quickly.
Normalization was shelved, and people adopted their previous stances.
On this occasion, I have shared two of my observations and experiences from both domestic and foreign politics.
This is why I have not gone on the hunt for a ticket yet.
I have not even looked.
* The saz is a type of long-necked string instrument often used in folk music.
*Aris Nalci: He began to work at Agos in 1998 with Hrant Dink and his colleagues. He took on various roles as news director, editor, and editor-in-chief. He presented programs on IMC television and for some time took on the position of news director. In the same period, he worked as the editor and presenter of Gamurc – Kopru, Turkey’s first program about minorities which continues on ARTI TV. At various civil society organizations, Nalci worked in the field of minority rights, created exhibitions, and wrote reports. He is one of the editors of the book “1965.” He is also the translator of the book “Paramazlar,” published by Evrensel and Kor publications.