CHP leader asks for Kurdish parties’ support in presidential elections

CHP leader asks for Kurdish parties’ support in presidential elections

Onur Konuralp ESSEN / Hürriyet
CHP leader asks for Kurdish parties’ support in presidential elections

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the leader of Turkey's main opposition party, Republican's People Party (CHP), delivers a speech during an event in Essen, western Germany, on June 7. AFP Photo

Turkey’s main opposition leader has called on the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and its sister party, The Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP), to provide support in the presidential elections against the ruling party candidate, marking a first concrete appeal to reach out to Kurdish voters.

“The resolution process should rely on mutual trust. But there is currently a picture in which both sides don’t trust each other. The only party who will refresh mutual trust and solve the issue with determination is us. This is why we are seeking their votes,” Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu told daily Hürriyet on the sidelines of a visit to Germany on June 7.

Kılıçdaroğlu vowed that the CHP, which has long been criticized for its lack of plans for a resolution regarding the Kurdish issue, would endeavor to give new momentum to the stalled peace process.

“I would like to tell the HDP-BDP voters that democracy and freedom is not a rule only valid for the west. It has also to be valid for the east and the southeast. We have to defend democracy and freedom in equal terms for all the regions in Turkey,” said Kılıçdaroğlu, responding to questions before his first ever rally abroad in the heart of the industrial belt in Essen.

“There is pressure in the whole country. Don’t we want a country where thoughts are expressed much more freely, devoid of all pressure? If that’s the case, they should lend their ear to the voice of a social democrat party, therefore the CHP,” he said.

Kılıçdaroğlu expressed concerns that the number of people trying to join the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) was increasing, while assuring that the CHP was ready to make efforts to provide a political resolution to the issue within Parliament.

“We don’t want anyone to be hurt in Turkey. We are a party who believes that the problem can be solved within the Parliament, in accordance with democracy and freedom. We don’t know anything about the negotiations behind closed doors but the number of those going to the mountains is increasing. However, if the process were healthy, it would be the numbers coming down from the mountains that would be increasing,” Kılıçdaroğlu noted.

CHP candidate to satisfy Kurds

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is said to be poised to become the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) presidential candidate for the upcoming elections in August. The opposition, meanwhile, is in intense talks to pick their own candidate. Kılıçdaroğlu, who conducted talks on the possibility of a common candidate with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli, a staunch opponent of the peace process, has nevertheless tried to comfort the Kurdish parties regarding the future CHP nominee.

“Our candidate will be someone who defends democracy, the rule of law, freedom and a society with [the right to] free assembly. He should be and will be someone who supports peace in Turkey and integrating people without creating more tension. Someone who sees diversity as a richness. Within this context, we expect that our Kurdish citizens who form the base of the BDP and the HDP will support the candidate that will be shown by the CHP,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.

Kurdish voters may become the kingmaker in choosing the first popularly elected president in Turkey’s history. The election will be held in two rounds on Aug. 10 and 24.