What more do Kurds want, Erdoğan asks

What more do Kurds want, Erdoğan asks

What more do Kurds want, Erdoğan asks

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Anticipation is growing about a breakthrough on the Kurdish issue this Nevruz amid intense talks between the government and militants, but President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan turned back the clock several years on March 15 to claim that Turkey does not have any “Kurdish problem,” arguing that Kurds have equal rights with the rest of the country.

“The only thing in their eyes is the Kurdish question. What are you talking about? There is no such thing, there is no Kurdish question. I explained it in 2005 in Diyarbakır,” Erdoğan hectored during a speech in the northwestern province of Balıkesir. In 2005, Erdoğan, who was then prime minister, argued that the Kurdish question was not the problem of Kurds alone, but a problem for the whole country, including himself.

“We never had a Kurdish problem in this country. But it’s being kept on the agenda on purpose. We resolved this issue in my speech in 2005 in Diyarbakır. My Kurdish citizens may have problems but he or she has problems as much as Turkish citizens have,” he said.  

Erdoğan repeated this understanding in consecutive statements over the weekend, at a moment when negotiations between the government and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) have begun to foster a promising environment for the resolution of the decades-old problem. There are expectations that the imprisoned leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) will deliver an important message to PKK officials for the disarmament of the organization in due course.

But Erdoğan’s statements overlooked the recent promising developments. “Whose duty is it to resolve your problem? The government’s. Aren’t we doing this? Tell me, my friends, what don’t you have? What’s missing? As Kurds, didn’t you have a president? Didn’t you elect a Kurd as prime minister? Ministers, the highest-level officials. Aren’t you in the Turkish Armed Forces? What else do you want? What else?” Erdoğan ask in his long statement.

“For God’s sake, what don’t you have that we have? You have everything. For years you had no roads, we built them. We are constructing an airport in Hakkari, but they try to stop it. We did all of these things,” he said.

Erdoğan informed his audience that the government did everything for the development of the Southeastern Anatolian region including airports, roads and other infrastructure investments, saying: “Did this state make any sort of discrimination? Whatever was done for the west was also done for the east and southeast. But their problem is something else. We have eliminated all denialist and assimilationist policies.”

During his speech, Erdoğan elected not to explain why the government was engaged in peace talks with the Kurdish movement if there was no Kurdish problem.

No disagreement with Gül, Davutoğlu

Erdoğan also touched on a recent debate over former President Abdullah Gül’s return to active politics and a disagreement between him and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. “Their goal is to set us at odds. Don’t beat the air. You can’t do it,” Erdoğan said, criticizing some circles for damaging Turkey. “What we are facing is a sick mentality that laid all of its hopes on street protests, on vandalism and on the collapse of the peace process.”

Turkey should be governed like a company

Recalling his request to have 400 parliamentarians from the same party – implying his former Justice and Development Party (AKP) – in the next parliament after June 7 elections so that he can impose a presidential system more easily, Erdoğan underlined his wish to see Turkey ruled like an incorporated company.

“I have one request from you: Explain on every occasion the presidential system and the new constitution to our public. Would you like to see this country ruled like a company? Do you know what my view is? Turkey should be ruled like a company,” he said.