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CHP leader makes first visit to HDP, calls for dialogue, cooperation

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Leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu for the first time paid a visit to the headquarters of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) on Friday, where he called for dialogue and cooperation between the two parties in the pursuit of freedoms.

Kılıçdaroğlu was received by HDP co-Chairperson Serpil Kemalbay.

Kemalbay was elected as the new co-chair of the HDP last month, replacing jailed Figen Yüksekdağ, who lost her Parliament seat in February and party membership in March after being sentenced to 10 months in jail on terror-related charges. The party’s other co-chairperson, Selahattin Demirtaş, has been behind bars on terror charges since November.

“Under the common ground of democracy, we should come together by showing the will to live together. God willing, we will sing songs of democracy in the future and uphold [the standing] of our country,” Kılıçdaroğlu said at a joint news conference with Kemalbay.

For her part, Kemalbay thanked Kılıçdaroğlu for his visit and said it is very important for democratic forces to come together for dialogue, particularly after a referendum held on April 16 that introduced an executive presidency in Turkey.

Both the CHP and the HDP were against the constitutional reform package that was voted in the referendum to introduce an executive presidency.

“I hope that this meeting will serve for the freeing of all our party’s members in prisons,” said Kemalbay as she called for the continuation of dialogue between the two parties.

Turkey has stepped up its crackdown on Kurdish politicians in recent months. Trustees have been appointed to dozens of municipalities in the country’s predominantly Kurdish Southeast, while hundreds of local Kurdish politicians as well as 11 HDP deputies including the party’s co-chairs are behind bars on terror charges.

Kılıçdaroğlu said nobody should be imprisoned due to their opinions and that although there are differences in political views, there is a need to meet under democracy as a common ground.

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