Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that there is no Kurdish issue in Turkey, claiming that his Justice and Development Party (AKP) government had “already solved this issue,” CNN Turkish reported on Thursday.
Erdoğan’s comments came after Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said in a recent documentary that he believed his party could negotiate with the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) to resolve the Kurdish issue and HDP should be the main addressee to solve the problem, instead of Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the PKK, imprisoned in Turkey’s northwest.
Turkish President told reporters in the newly opened Turkish House (“Türkevi”) in New York that Turkey has no Kurdish problem and that his party had “already resolved this issue.”
“There is no such problem in Turkey. We have already resolved this issue and overcome it. If there are those who believe in unity, solidarity, brotherhood, let them come and continue the path all together,” Erdoğan is cited as saying by CNN Turkish.
Erdoğan’s statement came after main opposition leader’s new stance on the Kurdish issue has led to a heated debate in Turkish politics.
Speaking in a documentary, Kılıçdaroğlu said that the HDP was the only “legitimate” interlocutor for the solution. The HDP, Turkey’s second-largest opposition party, is accused of being a hotbed for the outlawed PKK, a charge the group denies. The party is currently facing a closure case over terror links amid a years-long government crackdown on the party.
Kılıçdaroğlu said that the state “cannot deal with an illegitimate body such as İmralı” to solve the issue in a reference to the island where Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the PKK, is jailed.
In the meantime, HDP’s co-chair Mithad Sancar said that he viewed positively recent remarks by Kılıçcdaroğlu who recognized the HDP as the key actor in finding a solution to Turkey’s Kurdish problem.
“Kılıçdaroğlu’s remarks could create a positive effect on account of reviving a discussion that should have been left behind, but has been suppressed for some time,” Sancar said.
“If the priority is a political solution, then we believe the main address for it should be the Turkish Grand Assembly,’’ the HDP co-chairman said.
“As such, all actors of the Kurdish problem should be included.’’
Since 1984, Turkey has been locked in a struggle against the PKK, a Kurdish militant group that is considered a terrorist organisation by Ankara, the United States and the European Union.