A meeting between the co-chairs of the Democratic Peoples’ Party (HDP) and Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the Republican People’s Party and presidential candidate for a six-party opposition Nation Alliance, was held in the Turkish parliament in order to indicate the correct place for solving the country’s decades-long Kurdish question, the HDP co-chairs and Kılıçdaroğlu said on Monday.
Kılıçdaroğlu met with Pervin Buldan and Mithat Sancar in the Turkish parliament earlier in the day and for almost an hour discussed the most pressing issues Turkey has been facing.
The leaders of both parties spoke at a press conference organised at the HDP’s parliamentary group quarters after the meeting between the party’s delegations, which the Turkish media defined as “historical”.
Leaders of neither party mentioned any decisions or promises made relating to the HDP’s potential support for Kılıçdaroğlu in the 14 May elections.
However, Kılıçdaroğlu and the HDP co-chairs all mentioned the reason for holding the meeting in the parliament, rather than in the HDP headquarters, in an effort to dispel any speculation regarding the location of the long-awaited meeting.
An independent judiciary, the rule of law, the reestablishment of a welfare state, ensuring basic rights and freedoms as well, as the environment and climate change, were among issues discussed between the delegations of the two parties, Kılıçdaroğlu said at the press conference.
The candidate who will compete against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for the presidency added that he had expressed objections regarding the mayors appointed by the government to replace elected HDP mayors.
“Who comes by elections, goes by elections. This is one of the basic rules of a democracy,” the CHP leader said.
“The issue is one of paving the way for free engagement in politics,” said Kılıçdaroğlu. “Politics should not be an arena for fighting,” he added. “We are in favour of unity, togetherness. We are in favour of acting jointly to solve important problems. Politics should not create additional problems, it should solve existing ones.”
Efforts to shut down political parties are not appropriate in the 21st century, Kılıçdaroğlu said, referring to the HDP, which risks being closed down by the country’s constitutional court ahead of the 14 May elections.
“We all observe and know that all parties that have been shut down to date have taken their places again in the political scene under different names, and the people have supported them,” he said, adding that the joint memorandum of the Nation Alliance included new legislative plans to make closing down political parties more difficult.
The CHP leader noted that his party does not approve of the government’s efforts to politicise the judiciary and use it as a stick to oppress dissent. A judge should make decisions in accordance with the rule of law and according to his discretion, Kılıçdaroğlu said. “Let me repeat again, not according to the laws, according to the rule of law and his/her conscientious opinions,” he added.
Kılıçdaroğlu also mentioned the destruction caused by the 6 February twin earthquakes that hit the country’s south, adding that both parties agreed on the urgent need to devise specific plans for the reconstruction of provinces affected by the disaster.
“The place for solving all problems, including the Kurdish question, is the Grand National Assembly of Turkey,” Kılıçdaroğlu said. “Since its foundation, the most essential problems of Turkey have been solved in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey,” he continued.
“This is my specific request of the members of the media. Please stay away from a language that divides society, polarises society,” the CHP leader told reporters, reminding them that the media also has responsibilities.
“We will end the fighting. As the 13th president, we will finish the fighting in this country. I promise. I make this promise to my nation,” he said.
Kılıçdaroğlu ended by mentioning the Turkish state’s double standards when it comes to Kurdish, noting that Kurdish has been referred to as an “unknown language” in official parliamentary documents.
“Why do they write an ‘unknown language’ for one that has been being spoken for thousands of years?” Kılıçdaroğlu asked. “You have to show respect to everyone’s language. Yes, our official language is Turkish, ok. Nobody is contradicting that anyway. But as the state, you cannot use double standards. When you use double standards, it means you are discriminating against some of your citizens. Then you are dividing them. That means you are making a group of people enemies of another group of people,” he said.
“We will make a new beginning. An ethical beginning. A democratic beginning. A beginning that embraces everyone,” the CHP leader said.
Despite Kılıçdaroğlu’s long speech, Buldan and Sancar also spoke, very briefly.
“We talked about the most essential problems of Turkey. And we talked about Turkey’s society’s and public’s expectations of us, in relation to those problems,” Buldan said, and thanked Kılıçdaroğlu on behalf of her party.
“Still, I want to express that the reason that we hosted the esteemed chairman here today was intyended to show that we favoured the democratic solution of the Kurdish question being handled under the roof of the parliament, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey,” Buldan said.
“We value the visit of Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu and his delegation,” said Sancar.
“Yes, Turkey has been witnessing a period of multi-dimensional crises,” he said, adding that the earthquake made the destruction of institutions in Turkey more visible.
“We held a constructive meeting,” the politician said, mentioning again the need for an urgent reconstruction plan for the earthquake-hit region.
“The reason that we held this meeting in the parliament was to emphasise that we saw the Grand National Assembly of Turkey as the place for solutions,” the HDP co-chair said.
“In the meantime, we will take the contents of this meeting, the points we discussed to our party’s committees. We will evaluate this meeting with other powers in our alliance,” Sancar said, referring to HDP’s left-wing partners in the Labour and Freedom Alliance.
“And soon, in a short time, in the next couple of days, we will make a more detailed statement to the press, to the public,” Sancar concluded.