HDP leader on surprise trip to Brussels, may see PKK seniors
Cihan PhotoThe co-chair of Turkey’s Kurdish issue-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) is set to make an unscheduled trip to Brussels on Aug. 5, his party said, amid reports he will meet representatives of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Selahattin Demirtaş of the HDP postponed his scheduled program in Ankara on Aug. 5, daily Hürriyet and AFP reported.
“He is due to travel to Brussels,” AFP quoted a party official as saying.
However, the official did not provide details about Demirtaş’s itinerary. But a Hürriyet website report said he would meet Zübeyir Aydar and Remzi Kartal, two Europe-based leading figures in the PKK.
Aydar is among the top figures coordinating lobbying for the PKK in Europe and he is an executive committee member of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), the urban wing of the PKK.
Kartal was elected to the Turkish parliament in 1991 when the now-defunct pro-Kurdish People’s Labor Party (HEP) entered the elections on the now-defunct Social Democratic People’s Party (SHP) ticket. When the HEP faced closure, they joined the Democracy Party (DEP), also now defunct.
Kartal moved to Europe in 1995 after the DEP was outlawed in 1994 for collaborating with the PKK. A decision for his arrest was released after his parliamentary immunity was lifted. He has been living in Europe since then.
The visit comes amid a spike in attacks by the PKK, which has left a de-facto 2013 cease-fire in tatters, and fresh operations by the Turkish army against the outlawed group.
Turkish warplanes have pounded militant bases in northern Iraq.
The PKK has the HDP’s message for a cease-fire, Demirtaş has said, citing a European-based PKK senior figure as saying the PKKwere ready to sit down for negotiations if the dialogue was restarted.
Demirtaş claimed the organization had gotten the message and Kartal said they were ready to return to the table to continue the negotiations.
“[The PKK] has perceived [the message.] Even an answer came to it. In Europe Remzi Kartal said they were ready to return to the table and a ceasefire,” Demirtaş told Deutsche Welle Türkçe in a private interview.
In an interview with AFP last week, Demirtaş said the “weapons must be silenced” by both sides immediately so that conditions can be created for a return to talks.
Demirtaş’ HDP won a breakthrough in the June 7 election, securing 80 seats in the Turkish parliament and wrecking President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s plans to create a powerful presidential system. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its parliamentary majority at the elections and is now in coalition talks with other parties.