Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has argued that his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has settled all aspects of the long-standing Kurdish issue, ranging from rights and freedoms to economic development, Turkish media reported on Friday.
The Kurdish issue, 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.
Erdoğan was addressing parliament at the start of the new legislative year.
“There is no other Turkey for any of us. We can’t grow by being divided. We can’t grow stronger by being broken up. We can’t move our democracy forward by clinging to obsessions,” he said.
Erdoğan maintained that they have prevented the creation of a terror corridor on the country’s borders thanks to their vision of security that relies on locating and destroying threats at their origin.
“It is we who have settled the problem called the Kurdish issue, which is exploited by every group, including terrorist organizations, in all of its aspects, ranging from rights and freedoms to economic development,” Erdoğan said.
The president proceeded to claim that his government has eliminated the policies of denial and assimilation, just as they promised citizens in Diyarbakır.
He vowed to expose those who still seek to exploit the issue.
“We have opened up an era in which the glorious resistance of the mothers of Diyarbakır is putting fear into the heart of the terrorist organization [outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, PKK],” Erdoğan said.
Erdoğan was referring to the mothers staging sit-ins in front of the Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) headquarters in Diyarbakır, demanding the return of their children, who were allegedly kidnapped or deceived by PKK terrorists during recruiting. The families accuse the Kurdish opposition party of helping the PKK to deceive their children.
The recent discussions on the Kurdish issue started with Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), who recently criticized the AKP for conducting direct talks with Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the 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 resolve the Kurdish issue, instead of Öcalan, who he said was an illegitimate actor.
The Kurdish issue 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.