'Kurdistan' still controversial in Turkey’s Parliament

'Kurdistan' still controversial in Turkey’s Parliament

Kurdistan still controversial in Turkey’s Parliament

The use of the word 'Kurdistan' in official documents by the BDP led to heated exchanges at Parliament. AA photo

The use of the word “Kurdistan” in official documents by the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) has stirred controversy at Parliament, prompting ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) officials to act to eliminate the phrase in the documents.

The attempt eventually succeeded with support from both the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

While expressing their opinion against the government’s 2014 budget, the BDP controversially used the phrase “Turkish Kurdistan,” in apparent reference to the predominantly Kurdish populated regions of eastern and southeastern Anatolia.

However, on Dec. 9 the AKP initiated a discussion on the issue on procedural grounds, in order to omit the phrase from the document, which was annexed to a report on the 2014 draft budget by Parliament’s Planning and Budget Commission.

Speaking to reporters before the discussion at the General Assembly, AKP Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Mustafa Elitaş said they would ask for phrases such as “Kurdistan” and “Turkish Kurdistan” to be omitted.

“This is against the Constitution. It should not have been approved,” Elitaş said.

In addition, MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli decided not to take the podium in today’s budget debates, in a move that party executives said was aimed at warning Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for his use of the word "Kurdistan."

However, the BDP’s Hasip Kaplan referred to the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, in defense of the use of the word. “You cannot take away the word ‘Kurdistan,’ used by Gazi [veteran] Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, from these minutes,” Kaplan said.

“There is Kurdistan, there are Kurds, and there is a Kurdish language. There is no need to make a u-turn here, after saying ‘Kurdistan’ in Diyarbakır,” he added, referring to a Nov. 16 speech delivered by Prime Minister Erdoğan during a joint visit to Diyarbakır with Massoud Barzani, the president of Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

In that speech, Erdoğan used the term “Iraqi Kurdistan” for the first time, and afterwards used it on a number of other occasions while referring to the KRG.

AKP Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Mahir Ünal said the prime minister was referring to the “Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government,” and stressed that phrases used by the BDP, such as “colony, Turkish Kurdistan, the Kurdish people’s leader [Abdullah] Öcalan [the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party],” could not be accepted.

Deputy Parliament Speaker Sadık Yakut agreed that the BDP’s dissenting opinion was against both the Constitution and the internal regulations of Parliament, and asked for a vote in order to omit it. The AKP, the CHP and the MHP voted in favor of the move and it was decided to republish the report in its new form.

Earlier, while Kaplan was delivering his speech, Özcan Yeniçeri of the MHP interrupted on a number of occasions. Tension later escalated after a scuffle broke out between Yeniçeri, BDP Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair İdris Baluken, and BDP deputy Sırrı Sakık.

Other deputies held back Baluken as he tried to punch Yeniçeri, and Yakut was forced to announce a break in the session.