Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan was accused of abandoning peaceful approaches in addressing the Kurdish issue, favouring military tactics instead. Kurdish politician Berdan Öztürk, Co-chair of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK) and a Peoples’ Equality and Democracy Party (HEDEP) MP for Diyarbakir (Amed), voiced these critiques during a recent budget discussion in the Turkish Parliament.
Öztürk referred to Fidan’s previous engagement with Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), during his tenure as the head of Turkish intelligence. He asserted that a successful peace process could have significantly transformed Turkey, suggesting that Fidan should have recognised this at the time, making his current militaristic approach all the more questionable.
He envisioned a scenario where Turkey, through a peaceful resolution of the Kurdish issue, could have achieved EU membership, played a significant role in resolving the Syrian crisis and experienced substantial economic growth.
Öztürk highlighted the Turkish government’s “Kurdish hostility”, particularly in its policies towards North and East Syria. He condemned the employment of internationally banned methods, including drone strikes on civilians and deliberate obstruction of Kurdish access to water, as part of a broader aggressive policy against Kurdish communities.
The DTK Co-Chair criticised the government’s contradictory international stance, drawing parallels between Turkey’s condemnation of Israeli actions in Gaza and its own practices in Kurdish regions like Afrin (Efrin). He accused the government of forcibly displacing Kurds and eradicating Kurdish language and culture in these areas.
Focusing on the economic impact, Öztürk noted that the conflict has cost Turkey 40 trillion dollars over 40 years. He argued that this financial burden stems from the government’s ongoing Kurdish hostility, which also jeopardises Turkey’s international relationships.
Öztürk pointed out that Turkey’s strained relations with the EU, the USA, and NATO are consequences of the government’s Kurdish policies. He suggested that the stalled EU membership process and strained alliances are directly linked to these policies.
Öztürk concluded by advocating for a democratic Turkey, where resolving the Kurdish issue could lead to broader societal benefits, including a new, inclusive, and liberal constitution that would unite the 100-year-old republic with democracy and freedoms.