Socialists seek non-violent solution to Turkey's Kurdish issue: Former Greek PM
The incumbent president of the Socialist International (SI), George Papandreou, takes the floor during a conference in Istanbul on March 2. DHA photo
The Socialist International (SI) is looking for non-violent solutions to the Kurdish issue, the group's incumbent president and former Greek Prime Minister Georgios Papandreou said during a March 2 social democracy meeting in Istanbul.
Papandreou, who played a central role in Greek-Turkish rapprochement during his tenure as foreign minister in the early 2000s, emphasized that European values could be used in that respect.
“There are various Kurdish parties at the Socialist International. We are in contact with the opposition in Syria. We have decided to discuss openly the Kurdish issue by forming a group. The foundation of our movement is that it does not contain any violence. This is how problems should be solved,” he said.
Papandreou added that Turkey has realized some progress in terms of minority rights. “Now those living in Turkey can tell their second identity” he said. Turkey's Social Democracy Foundation (SODEV) and Social Economic Political Researches Foundation of Turkey (TUSES) hosted Papandreou at the meeting.
The former Greek head of government also harshly criticized the current market-based politics, calling for stricter regulations and arguing that “The globalizing world needs social democracy more than ever.”
“The world is globalizing more and more. Markets are globalizing. The economy goes beyond our national institutions. In such an era we also have to go beyond borders and increase cooperation. We have to humanize markets and capitalism,” he said, during the debate on the current situation and future of social democracy.
“As socialists, we need good governments and good markets with rules and regulations. Good governments that respect basic principles like justice, democracy and media freedom. Labor, human and environmental rights are also crucial values that we have to respect,” Papandreou added. Asked about the Social International’s stance towards the Arab Spring and the ongoing civil war in Syria, Papandreou said that they were trying to help these societies to move forward toward change. “We are looking at how we can make the new forces coming up in the Middle East respect social democracy. We are also encouraging them to solve their problems with non-violence,” he said.
Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader and Socialist International Vice-President Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu did not attend the conference, although many CHP deputies and other social democrats did attend. Kılıçdaroğlu sent his best regards to Papandreou.
“It is an honor to be here in Istanbul with friends from Turkey. We are in a special relationship with our neighbor. We have developed this relationship for years and with different possibilities. For example, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu is the recently elected vice president of the Social International and I am sending him my best regards,” Papandreou said.
Papandreou become a leading figure in last month's polemic between Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Kılıçdaroğlu, with both sides in the conflict citing Papandreou as a witness to the accuracy of their own claims. The source of the controversy goes back to remarks attributed to Kılıçdaroğlu during a visit to China in January when he mentioned cooperation between the Socialist International (SI) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The remarks were misinterpreted by some to mean the CHP leader had said China was a member of the SI, although it is not.