HDP aspires to solve ‘Kurdish problem’ in parliament: Demirtaş

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Jailed former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtaş has said the party aspires to solve Turkey’s so-called Kurdish problem and is an interlocutor for negotiations to do it, pointing to the Turkish Parliament as the place for the talks, local media reported on Tuesday.

“The HDP I know aspires to solve all of Turkey’s problems, including the Kurdish problem. It is a strong-willed political actor, and of course, an interlocutor. The venue for the solution is naturally the parliament. … Bringing up useless and already exhausted discussions doesn’t contribute to the solution,” Demirtaş said in a tweet posted by his lawyers, referring to recent discussions on ways to solve the Kurdish problem.

The “Kurdish problem,” a term prevalent in Turkey’s public discourse, refers to the demand for equal rights by the country’s Kurdish population and their struggle for recognition.

The recent discussions on the Kurdish problem started with Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), who recently criticized the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) for conducting direct talks with Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU.

The negotiations, which lasted for more than two years, officially collapsed in the summer of 2015, when two police officers died near the Syrian border.

The CHP leader, who spoke in a documentary, argued that a legitimate interlocutor such as the pro-Kurdish HDP was needed to solve the Kurdish problem, instead of Öcalan, who he said was an illegitimate actor.

Following Kılıçdaroğlu’s remarks, former HDP co-chair Sezai Temelli tweeted that the party wasn’t the only interlocutor to talk to with the aim of solving the Kurdish problem, although it was the main actor that created and facilitated the area of democratic politics for such negotiations.

“What should never be forgotten, however, is that İmralı [Öcalan] is the real interlocutor and the address for a democratic solution [to the Kurdish problem],” Temelli added.

Journalist İsmail Saymaz on Tuesday said in his column on the Halk TV news website, citing HDP officials, that the pro-Kurdish party was “disturbed” by Temelli’s remarks, which they described as “irresponsible.”

Saymaz also said the HDP finds Kılıçdaroğlu’s critical approach to solving the Kurdish problem “unfortunate” as the party alone wasn’t enough to “silence the guns,” a reference to clashes between the PKK and Turkish security forces.

Speaking to the Mezopotamya news agency on Tuesday, HDP co-leader Mithat Sancar stated that they deemed CHP leader’s statements regarding HDP’s role in solving the Kurdish problem “positive,” adding that broad social consensus and legitimacy are needed to establish permanent peace.

“The venue for the solution is the parliament. No actors can be ignored [for the negotiations],” he underlined.

The so-called Kurdish problem is entrenched in Turkey and is characterized by never-ending clashes between the PKK and Turkish security forces. More than 40,000 people, including 5,500 security force members, have been killed in four decades of fighting between the Turkish state and the PKK.

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