President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has reaffirmed his stance that there is no Kurdish problem in Turkey and said the Kurdish peace process -formerly initiated as resolution process- is a natural result of democratic reforms carried out by the government as part of the “national unity and brotherhood project.”
Responding to questions of reporters on his way home from a Kuwait trip, Erdogan said he still stands behind his previous statement that there is “no Kurdish problem” in the country and the resolution process was initiated with the aim of resolving the problems of all ethnic minorities in the country.
“Those still insisting on the existence of a Kurdish problem are making such comments to remain in the headlines and increase their votes. Making such a claim in this country is discrimination and is directed at dividing the country,” he said.
Erdogan said the peace process began as a democratic initiative and continued as a project of national unity and brotherhood.
The resolution process is known as “peace process” publicly and the majority of the efforts of the process are aimed at resolving the three decades old conflict between the outlawed PKK, which is recognised as a terrorist organisation by the US, Turkey as well as NATO, and the government.
“We would fall in wrong track if we deal with the resolution process as if it only applies to Kurdish people. There are problems that need to be resolved concerning all ethnic minorities in my country including Turkish, Kurdish, Roma, Laz and Alevi groups. We are holding meetings with these groups to help solve their problems,” Erdogan stated.
President urged those claiming that there is a Kurdish problem to come out and explain what they actually mean by “problem.” He asked “Can’t Kurds serve in government posts, can’t they participate in politics? They were independent candidates at first now they formed a party [referring to the Peoples' Democratic Party, HDP]. However, they are now nominated as independent candidates with the excuse of election threshold.”
Meanwhile, Erdogan mentioned that regions with large population of the Kurdish minority received all government services in the past 12 years just as in any other area of the country.
“Yet, the armed groups tried to prevent these services with threats. Equipment of businesses were burned, seized and businessmen received threats. The projects were postponed. Workers were kidnapped and asked for payment of tribute,” Erdogan summarised, while saying that the “Kurdish problem itself stems from those who claim the presence of a problem.”
In comments strongly opposing the labelling of government and non-state actors as “sides,” said the government is a force by itself and that people of the country have rights but “cannot sit on a negotiating table with the government as a side and members of a separatist group. If such a table exists that means the collapse of state power.”