There’s no Kurdish issue in Turkey, just terrorism: Erdoğan

There’s no Kurdish issue in Turkey, just terrorism: Erdoğan

There’s no Kurdish issue in Turkey, just terrorism: Erdoğan

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Turkey has no Kurdish problem but only a terrorism problem, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, maintaining his bellicose rhetoric on the conflagration in Southeast Anatolia.

All ethnic groups in Turkey have their own specific problems and the government has been constantly exerting efforts to eliminate these problems, Erdoğan said in a speech delivered on Jan. 6.

“But in Turkey, there are those who have one-track minds: ‘Kurdish problem and Kurdish problem, Kurdish problem and Kurdish problem.’ You cannot get anyone to buy it,” Erdoğan said, addressing around 400 muhtars from villages and districts of nine different provinces whom he hosted at a regular meeting at the presidential palace.

“We closed this matter in my Diyarbakır speech in 2005. We said then, ‘There is no such problem in Turkey anymore, you cannot explain this to anybody. There is a terror problem in Turkey,” he said.

On this occasion, Erdoğan also touched upon ongoing debates over the possibility of lifting the parliamentary immunity of deputies of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which both he and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) accuse of supporting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

“In principle, I am against party closures. I find it needless. However, the price for a crime committed by any politician should be personally paid by himself but not institutionally by his party. This person may be a party leader, lawmaker, a mayor or member of a municipal council. No matter who he is, he should pay the price. That is it,” he said.

During a convention held late last month, the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), an association of Kurdish political organizations that includes the HDP, released a declaration calling for self-rule in Turkey’s southeast, escalating political tensions at a time of renewed clashes between the security forces and PKK militants. 

HDP co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş was one of the participants at the two-day congress that called for more self-governance, during which he said, “There will be a Kurdistan in the next century and it could include an independent state.” A prosecutor opened an investigation into Demirtaş on Dec. 28, 2015, over his call, while Erdoğan also said he supported criminal probes into HDP leaders over their comments on democratic autonomy. 

 “The titles of lawmaker, mayor and party leader cannot and should not save anyone from paying the price before the law if he has stood by the terrorist organization. Whatever the legal mandates for other members of the terrorist organization are they should also be applied for these persons. Parliamentary immunity is a privilege for better service to the nation in parliament, not to serve as a curtain for the terrorist organization,” he said.

Bees and coups

While underlining the need for a transition from the current parliamentary system into a presidential system, Erdoğan claimed that the existing system had paved the way for military coups d’état in the past.

“I said a ‘Turkish style’ or ‘Turkey style’ presidential system. They began to attack. These [opponents] do not want their own country’s brand either. Are we obliged to necessarily talk about American, French or this and that system?” he asked, before using a metaphor he previously used – in a bid to better explain his point about an authentic Turkish-style presidential system.

“We will gather from all of them, so to speak. We will gather from this and from that, from all of them, and then we will make our honey and present it to our nation. The issue is as simple as that,” he said.

Last week, Erdoğan appeared to be suggest Hitler’s Germany could be a model for a Turkish presidential system. “There’s no such thing as ‘no presidential system in unitarian states.’ When you look at the world there are examples, including from the past. When you look at Hitler’s Germany, you see this,” he said after a visit to Saudi Arabia. Erdoğan later claimed his words were misinterpreted.

In February 2015, Erdoğan used the same metaphorical explanation in which he likened himself and his comrades to bees. “With the skillfulness of a bee, let’s gather our share from flowers and then turn it into honey,” he said, suggesting that they would eventually form an “authentic presidential system framed by Turkish customs and traditions.”

Erdoğan said he had never heard of anyone who was pleased with the current parliamentary system. “I believe that this system which constantly invites coups, interventions and crises has no use for my country and my nation,” he said. 

All of Turkey’s opposition parties have consistently expressed their support for the current parliamentary system.