BDP offers 'Bulgarian model' for education in Kurdish

BDP offers 'Bulgarian model' for education in Kurdish

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
BDP offers Bulgarian model for education in Kurdish

BDP deputy Önder’s offer says the obligation to learn Turkish will be the first clause of the charter article, while the second will guarantee the right to education in one's mother tongue. DAILY NEWS photo/ Selahattin SÖNMEZ

Disputes over “state language” and “education in mother tongue” in Parliament’s Constitution Conciliation Commission are continuing, with Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder proposing a “Bulgarian model” to overcome party differences.

According to the proposal, the first clause in the article will refer to the obligation to learn Turkish, while the second one will guarantee freedoms with regard to education in mother tongue, as explained by Önder during a session of the Commission yesterday. The parties will consult about the matter with their party leaders and meet again next week.

“This article is important for us. It is our sine qua non. If this article does not exist, there is no point in staying at the table,” Önder said.

Article 36 of Bulgarian Constitution reads as follows: “Learning and the use of the Bulgarian language is a right and obligation for every Bulgarian citizen. Those citizens whose mother tongue is not Bulgarian have the right to learn and use their own languages, alongside learning the compulsory Bulgarian. Only situations requiring the use of the official language are governed by laws.”

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had a change of heart during last week’s session, backing away from the term “The official language is Turkish,” which is supported by the BDP, instead preferring, “The state’s language is Turkish,” with the support of the CHP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

The BDP was critical of the tripartite agreement on the grounds that it would obstruct the peace process, which was launched to end the three-decades-long conflict between the security forces and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The right to education in mother tongue is seen as an non-negotiable demand for the process.

After criticism, AKP deputy Ahmet İyimaya withdrew his proposal on the term, “the state’s language is Turkish,” saying that it was his “personal opinion.” Upon this, the AKP returned to its previous stance on official language. The issue of “education in mother tongue” was also another issue tackled during the latest meeting. The MHP’s Faruk Bal once again repeated his party’s argument that granting this right would be tantamount to “separatism.” “The educational language is not only about education. It is about the right to sovereignty,” he said.

“If education in different languages is given the opportunity, it will come to the point of sharing sovereignty. There could be separation, differentiation. The demand for education in native tongue amounts to separatism,” Bal said. The CHP was divided over the issue, while deputies Rıza Türmen and Atilla Kart backed education in mother tongue, another deputy Süheyl Batum insisted on granting only the right to “training in mother tongue.”

‘This time I am hopeful’

Speaking to the Hürriyet Daily News, Önder appeared optimistic about coming to terms with the article. “This time I am hopeful. Except for the CHP member Batum, Türmen and Kart were positive. It will not be a problem for the MHP too, actually. Because the first article of the proposal takes education in Turkish under guarantee,” he said.

“The logic in my proposal is this, we will write an article with two clauses. In the first clause, we will guarantee that Turkish is the official language. In the second clause, we will guarantee those whose mother tongue is not Turkish can be educated in their own languages. However, we will describe in this clause that it is a right and obligation that all citizens learn Turkish,” Önder added.

“We are taking Kurds’ sensitivities under guarantee in the second clause,” the BDP deputy told the HDN. “This time I am much more hopeful about solving the issue of the mother tongue.”