The Turkish government engages in corruption in the aviation sector and systematically neglects Kurdish regions, exacerbating economic and agricultural challenges in these areas, pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democracy and Equality Party (DEM Party) MPs argued in a Turkish parliament session on Monday. The debate took place in the General Assembly during budget discussions for the Transport and Infrastructure Ministry, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.
The Transport Ministry was the most corrupt, claimed Urfa (Rîha) MP Dilan Kunt Ayan. The department engaged in tender rigging, she warned, particularly in civil aviation. “The government has turned civil aviation into a wealth aviation. We will continue to question this plundering policy to the people and to your conscience.”
The MP went onto heavily criticise the government’s unequal investment of funds according to region. “There are no flights from Urfa, Mardin or Antep,” she said, referencing several Kurdish-majority cities. “While the number of flights is obvious, you talk about space travel. Do you think we travel at the speed of light? The construction of the Diyarbakır [a Kurdish-majority region] highway is planned for 2035. How can we believe in your space travel when people can hardly fly from Diyarbakır, Urfa, Van, Batman or Siirt?”
Another DEM Party MP, Sinan Çiftyürek, highlighted issues in agriculture, comparing Turkey’s export-import figures unfavourably to those of the Netherlands. He also pointed out the severe drought threat facing Turkey and Kurdish regions, criticising the government’s proposed solution, to divert water from the Euphrates and Tigris to the west of the country, as inadequate.
Ağrı (Agiri) MP Nejla Demir focused on economic crisis and structural problems in agriculture, which she said disproportionately affected Kurdish regions. “The impoverishment of the Kurdish geography has been an official policy of the state throughout history,” she stated. Demir accused the government of perpetuating policies of denial, destruction and assimilation, which in particular affected livestock farming, a main source of income in Kurdish areas.
Finally, Tunceli (Dersim) MP Ayten Kordu condemned the government for the decline of the agricultural sector. “The policies of AKP [ruling Justice and Development Party] and MHP [AKP’s far-right ally Nationalist Movement Party] have destroyed agriculture in the lands of Mesopotamia, where agriculture first flourished,” she said, pointing to environmental degradation in the Fertile Crescent.
Kordu criticised the government’s reliance on food imports, and the negative impact of increased importation on the livelihoods of small-scale farmers. Rural Kurdish and Alevi communities were hit particularly hard, she said.
As a solution to the crisis, the DEM Party pushed for provision for cooperatives and support for small-scale farmers. It proposed that the government cover farmers’ debts and provide support without indebting them further. They also suggested that young people in agriculture should receive special backing, and the health and retirement contributions of rural youth and women should be covered by the state.