Turkey’s main opposition leader and presidential candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has stated in the foreword of a book authored by a lawmaker from his party that they are determined to resolve the Kurdish issue through democratic means, pointing to the Turkish parliament as the place for talks to that end, the ANKA news agency reported on Thursday.
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.
“We are resolute, just as we were yesterday, in resolving the Kurdish issue through democratic means [and] putting an end to terrorism,” the Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader said in the foreword of MP Sezgin Tanrıkulu’s book, titled “Hear [this] from me, too. What Did the CHP Say about the Solution to the Kurdish Issue?”
Tanrıkulu is also a human rights lawyer known for his defense of the rights of Kurdish citizens.
Kılıçdaroğlu also accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of “exploiting” the settlement process solely to protect his political position and making the citizens pay its heavy costs.
The settlement process, which refers to talks between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and the leadership of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to resolve the Kurdish issue, began in 2012 and ended after two police officers were executed in southeastern Şanlıurfa province in June 2015.
Kılıçdaroğlu added that the Kurdish issue could be resolved through political and societal consensus at the Turkish parliament and not “behind closed doors,” since it is not only a concern for Kurdish citizens but also a common issue for all of Turkey.
Over the past years Kılıçdaroğlu has expressed his desire to resolve the Kurdish issue multiple times, criticizing the ruling AKP for conducting direct talks with Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.
The CHP leader has argued that a legitimate interlocutor such as the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) – parliament’s second-largest opposition group – is needed to solve the Kurdish issue, instead of Öcalan, who he said was an illegitimate actor.
The so-called 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.