Turkish main opposition CHP backs government bill on Kurdish issue

Turkish main opposition CHP backs government bill on Kurdish issue

Turkish main opposition CHP backs government bill on Kurdish issue

CHP Deputy Chair Sezgin Tanrıkulu (C) has confirmed that the opposition party will support the government’s bill on the Kurdish peace process. DHA Photo

Turkey’s main opposition party has taken a bold initiative to announce its support for a bill giving the government’s peace process with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) a legal framework, in what could become a game-changer ahead of August presidential elections.

The bill, which was adopted by Parliament’s Internal Affairs Commission on July 4, will be submitted to the General Assembly floor on July 8.

Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Chair Sezgin Tanrıkulu recently sent letters to all provincial and local branches of the party and to civil society organizations, declaring support for the bill, while underlining that the content of the bill was neither satisfactory nor sufficient in regards to offering a prospect for the final resolution of the thorny Kurdish issue.

In his letters, Tanrıkulu also emphasized his party’s objection to Article 4 of the bill, which grants broad immunity to those who were involved in negotiations with the PKK.

“As the party leader, Mr. Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, stated in Diyarbakır, the CHP will continue supporting all kinds of positive steps concerning a resolution,” he said, referring to messages supportive of the process delivered by Kılıçdaroğlu during a visit to the predominantly Kurdish-populated southeastern Anatolian province on June 20.

At the time, those messages prompted the Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP) to suggest that the government should no longer blame the CHP for its hesitancy in taking more steps regarding the Kurdish resolution process.

Tanrıkulu said the CHP would resume its efforts to foster a permanently peaceful environment and eliminate societal polarization in the country.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) will not be allowed to “sabotage and use the process” for its purposes related to the election campaign, he added, calling on the party organization and party members to thoroughly explain their position to the people and the local media.

“In the last three years, we have carried out three times the work that the AKP has so far done in regards to the Kurdish issue, yet there is a smear campaign against the CHP, particularly launched in the east and the southeast,” Tanrıkulu told the Hürriyet Daily News July 7.

“Although the content does not offer anything new, except Article 4, we will lend support to the bill as also voiced by both our leader during his visit to Diyarbakır and by our deputy parliamentary group chair, Mr. Akif Hamzaçebi, during commission-level debates. That is to say, this support is the institutional position of the party,” he said, without excluding the possibility of individual objections from within the party to such support and dubbing such probable objections as a requirement of being “a pluralistic party.”

The main opposition party has been breaking clichés, fighting against the AKP’s suggestion that it is a part of the status quo. Tanrıkulu said he believed the CHP was giving the AKP a hard time by conducting “positive politics.”

“The bill is mainly designed for the electioneering and, looking at it, one sees that the government is sort of shrugging off the post-election process,” he said.

Tanrıkulu has, meanwhile, sounded confident that their grassroots would lend support to the party decision because they are in favor of “peace and fraternity.”

Joint candidate with MHP, not joint policies

Back in June 2012, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli severely rejected a proposal by the main opposition for the establishment of a Wise Persons’ Commission, denouncing the move as “treason.”

When reminded of the objection and the fact that the CHP and the MHP have nominated a joint presidential candidate, Tanrıkulu said: “It is about supporting the same presidential candidate; we do not aim at modifying our party policies in order to reach a commonality with the MHP. We are not bound to have the same view. Yet, we do support the same candidate. Besides, he [joint candidate Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu] has also voiced support for the resolution of the Kurdish issue through peaceful means.”