‘No democratic solution possible behind closed doors,’ CHP leader tells Kurds
CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu speaks during the 'Tigris Dialogues' seminar of a Diyarbakır-based think tank, the Tigris Communal Research Center (DİTAM). AA PhotoMain opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has denounced the “lack of transparency” in the Kurdish peace process launched by the government over a year ago, telling the Kurdish public during a visit to Diyarbakır on June 20 that “no democratic solution is possible behind closed doors.”
“The process should have a legal foundation. It has to be transparent. Of course, there will always be people opposed it. But if the matters are sincerely discussed, we can overcome it. Turkey has enough experience to solve this problem,” Kılıçdaroğlu said during a speech at a Diyarbakır-based think tank.
He also said he was willing to “put his political career at stake” for a possible solution.
“I visited [Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan with fellow lawmakers on June 6, 2012. I conveyed my thoughts regarding the solution of the Kurdish issue and the method that should be taken. I proposed to establish a parliamentary conciliation commission. How can you solve it if you exclude two important factors [the CHP and the Nationalist Movement Party, MHP] from the system? Personally, I would take the risk even if the solution of this issue cost me my political career,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
He also stressed that he was a person “from the same territory [as Kurds],” referring to his family roots in the eastern province of Tunceli (Dersim), a Kurdish and Alevi bastion.
Roboski massacre criticism
Kılıçdaroğlu recognized that his party struggled to attract votes in the southeast, but emphasized that it was willing to make changes.
“Don’t see the CHP as the CHP of the 1930s. The world is changing and so are we. We say new things, we defend democracy and freedom. Since there is a problem here, we will sit and solve it together,” he said, arguing that the government had not been able to solve the Kurdish issue during its 12 year rule.
He was also critical of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) for getting a considerable amount of votes despite the Roboski (Uludere) massacre, a deadly air strike that cost the lives of 34 villagers near the Iraqi border in the southeastern province of Şırnak. This was despite the CHP closely monitoring the reports by the parliamentary research commission over the incident.
“The CHP is the party that has followed the incident more closely than any other. If there is anyone here who did not read our report, they should do so. Have [the guilty] given an account? No. Were there any votes in the region for the CHP, which wanted the guilty to give an account? No. So there is a problem in that,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, while accusing the government of “ordering the strike.”
“I defend your rights but you vote for those who don’t. Any operation beyond the borders is under the competence of the Parliament. Who gave the orders? The government? But while this clear truth is apparent, we didn’t get the support that we expected from the region. So we came here to complain about it but to also listen to your complaints,” he said.
Kılıçdaroğlu also vowed to continue to “confront” Turkey’s problematic history. “The [Kurdish issue] is a problem that has historical origins. And we will have to confront it when the time comes,” he said, particularly referring to the CHP’s proposal to turn Diyarbakır Prison, where horrific abuses were inflicted on many Kurds following the 1980 military coup, into a museum. He questioned Prime Minister Erdoğan’s popularity among voters, despite his reluctance to make such propositions.
“Erdoğan came to you and said ‘I will demolish this prison and build a more modern one instead.’ I am sorry but people from Diyarbakır flocked to give their votes to the AKP. There is only Erdoğan who can pledge a prison and obtain votes. I cannot accept this,” he said.
During his speech, Kılıçdaroğlu also assured that the CHP would respect the rights of the Kurdish language and freedom of speech in the southeast.
The CHP and the predominantly Kurdish parties recently communicated amid talks for the common opposition candidate for the upcoming presidential elections in August, to stand against the AKP’s nominee. Kılıçdaroğlu recently met prominent figures of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), while the Kurdish sister parties reportedly proposed that CHP lawmaker Rıza Türmen become their candidate.
The Kurdish peace process, launched in January 2013, has been stalled for nearly a year, with the Kurdish opposition criticizing the government over its unwillingness to carrying out the necessary reforms to bring a solution to the conflict.
Kurds hold the key in presidential elections
Kurdish voters hold the key in Turkey’s upcoming presidential elections, Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said in response to a question during the Diyarbakır meeting.
“Therefore, these voters will also undertake the responsibility of deciding whether Turkey will be kept under the parliamentary system and head for a better future, or will shift to a presidential system and face crisis,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, implying that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wanted to become an executive president.
“What will the prime minister do then? Will they be a puppet prime minister? Which budget will the president be using? What will he promise you?” the CHP leader said.
Kılıçdaroğlu also stressed that the CHP did not want a president that will promote his or her own policies.
“We do not want to elect a party leader. We want one that will embrace all the people. We are in favor of the parliamentary system; a system in which the prime minister has responsibilities,” he said.