Turkish main opposition to prepare report on Kurds as dialogue strengthens - columnist

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has called for a report on the country’s Kurds as the party continues to develop ties with the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), columnist Abdülkadir Selvi said on Wednesday.

CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu repeatedly referred to Turkey’s Kurdish problem in his party’s 37th ordinary congress over the weekend, signalling efforts by the main opposition party to strengthen ties with HDP, Selvi, known for his close ties to the ruling Justice and Development Party, wrote in Hürriyet newspaper.

The HDP and CHP began their cooperation in the 2018 general and presidential elections, when some members of the pro-Kurdish party supported CHP candidate Muharrem İnce and the main opposition, in return, lent a hand to the HDP to overcome the electoral threshold.

The unlikely unofficial alliance continued in the 2019 local elections, when the HDP did not name mayoral candidates for seven major cities, Istanbul, Ankara, the western city of Izmir, in a bid to allow opposition candidates to garner enough votes to capture some of Turkey’s largest cities.

The CHP went on to capture five of the country’s six most populous provinces in the largest blow to the ruling AKP in its 17 years of power, demonstrating the key role of millions of Kurdish voters in the country.

In the CHP parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday, Kılıçdaroğlu once again touched on Turkey’s Kurdish problem.

“The Kurdish issue has been discussed for 40 years. I promise you here, that as the chairman of the CHP I will solve this problem within diplomatic standards and Turkey’s sovereignty,’’ Selvi said.

The outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has been fighting for self-rule in the mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey for more than three decades. Some 40,000 people, most of them Kurds, are thought to have been killed in the conflict.

Ankara accuses the HDP of harbouring sympathies and acting in the interest of the PKK, designated a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the EU and the United States.

“I don’t know if the CHP will announce its Kurdish report after this,’’ Selvi wrote, “but it would be beneficial to follow the rapprochement between the CHP and the HDP during this time.’’