Erdoğan changes mind on Kurdish issue again: Timeline
ISTANBULPresident Erdoğan reiterated on March 17 that Turkey has no “Kurdish problem.” In fact, this is the third time he has changed his mind on the subject and the second time it has happened on the eve of the general elections. Here is a timeline of Erdoğan’s oscillations on the question:
When a Kurdish-origin Turkish citizen asked him to “solve the Kurdish problem,” Erdoğan replied by saying: “You shouldn’t think there is a problem. You should think there is no problem. If you think that way, the problem will go away. We believe there is no such problem.”
While speaking at a ceremony in the Kurdish-majority southeastern province of Diyarbakır, Erdoğan said: “Great states should not ignore mistakes made in the past. All problems need a name, because they are all our problems. But if you insist that we should name it, the Kurdish problem is not only the problem of one part of my nation, it is a problem of every one of us, including myself.”
Months later, however, he said the following: “I made a mistake by calling it the Kurdish problem. I should have found another wording. Something like ‘the social and economic problems of my Kurdish-origin citizens.’ These words were quoted in a book by journalist Cengiz Çandar, who did not note their exact date.
Erdoğan touched on the issue during an official visit to Syria, before Ankara and Damascus became archenemies. “Call it the Kurdish problem, the southeast problem, or anything you want. We have started a study on the subject,” he said.
During an election rally in the eastern province of Muş, he said: “There is no Kurdish problem in this country anymore. I do not accept it. My Kurdish brother can experience a problem in this country, but there is no Kurdish problem.”
While answering journalists’ questions after a Friday prayer, Erdoğan said: “There is no Kurdish problem in this country. There is a problem of the PKK [the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party].”
As Turkey approached another general election, Erdoğan stated on March 15 that “we have never had a Kurdish problem in this country.” In the heated public debate that followed, he reiterated his two days later.
Meanwhile, the Turkish government is continuing to pursue its peace process, in a bid to solve the decades-long problem.