HDP ready to resume peace process, even with Turkish nationalist MHP

HDP ready to resume peace process, even with Turkish nationalist MHP

HDP ready to resume peace process, even with Turkish nationalist MHP

Lawmaker Sirri Sureyya Onder speaks to the media hours after at least six people were wounded in two explosions at buildings of his Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) in south Turkey, on May 18, 2015in Ankara. AFP Photo

A leading figure in the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has stunned many by saying his party, which focuses on the Kurdish issue, could even do a deal with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) in order to resume the stalled peace process after the June 7 parliamentary election.

“The people have taken ownership of the process; we would conduct it even with the MHP. We are not asking to take away anything from the rights of anybody,” HDP Istanbul deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder said in an interview with the private CNNTürk news channel aired late on June 4.

Önder’s remarks surprised many, as the HDP and the MHP are on opposite ends of Turkey’s political spectrum, and the MHP has overtly objected to the government-led Kurdish peace process aimed at ending the three-decade-long conflict between Turkey’s security forces and militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). 

Önder argued that they have linked the process to “democratic politics” with “the Dolmabahçe declaration.”

A joint press conference between the government and the HDP, a key stakeholder in the process, was held at Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul on Feb. 28. Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan and Önder read their own statements, while Önder listed 10 articles which summarized the priorities of the jailed leader of the PKK, Abdullah Öcalan.

“Which Turkish nationalist would object to [opening channels], in your opinion? Which social democrat could object? Which conservative should object?” Önder asked.

But Akdoğan declared the prospects for such an understanding between the HDP and the MHP as unrealistic.

“While saying ‘We would conduct,’ will the HDP come to power? Is it planning to come to power so that it can use the phrase ‘I will conduct?’” Akdoğan asked on June 5 during an interview on the private A Haber news channel.

“‘We would conduct with the MHP’ and so on. These are not very meaningful remarks,” Akdoğan said. “There is need to ask the MHP. I mean, of the HDP and of the PKK… Would they sit and talk about some issues? Or can they work together? That’s why; [Önder’s] sentence has no relevance. This process will arrive somewhere if there is the [ruling Justice and Development Party],” he said.

Akdoğan also argued that no party would be able to form a government on its own or a coalition government after the June 7 parliamentary election, even if the AKP cannot come to power on its own. 

Both Akdoğan and Önder have been closely involved in the peace process and the latter is one of the most frequent visitors to the PKK leader.

Öcalan has been in dialogue with state officials, the HDP and its predecessor, the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), since at least late 2012, and is playing a central role in the process.