What he meant became clear on June 1. His two vice chairmen paid a visit to the parliament speaker and submitted to him a 10-point proposal for the settlement of the Kurdish problem that envisaged the formation of a parliamentary “Societal Consensus Commission” and a “Commission of the Wise” outside of Parliament. The proposal did not, however, name any concrete measures to be adopted.
The CHP’s initiative received a positive response from both the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), while the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) flatly refused any involvement, saying “there is no Kurdish problem” to talk about. Kılıçdaroğlu together with his vice chairmen paid a visit to Prime Minister Erdoğan and representatives for the two parties held an hour-long discussion on June 6. The AKP spokesman declared after the meeting that his party was ready to work together with the CHP, even if it would not be possible to bring together all four parties, and Kılıçdaroğlu said he was truly hopeful for a settlement of the Kurdish problem.
Soon after, on June 8, Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay in a statement to the media said in vague terms that the government was involved in work towards improving pluralism, democracy and the human rights situation in the country, along with new measures that could be taken for “citizens to learn their mother tongues.” He added that there were “negotiations going on in northern Iraq towards laying down arms and capitulation” (by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party [PKK]), that the United States was involved in the process right from the beginning and that the government hoped that the meeting between Erdoğan and Kılıçdaroğlu would help in this context.
Atalay’s statement clearly points to new government initiatives to find a solution to the Kurdish problem and bring the PKK insurgency to an end. In dealing with the problem, the following points need to be repeated:
1) The Kurdish problem in Turkey is the consequence of the denial of the Kurdish identity and efforts towards the Turkification of the Kurds by the Kemalist state. It is true that the AKP government has brought to an end the denial of the Kurdish identity. The assimilationist policies are, however, still in place. The Kurdish problem cannot be solved without lifting all legal and other obstacles to the free enjoyment of their cultural heritage by Kurdish citizens.
2) Including nearly half of the Kurds who vote for the AKP, the common and minimum demands of Turkey’s Kurds are the exclusion of any reference to ethnic identity in the constitution to be adopted, the recognition of the right to education in the mother tongue for all and the adoption and implementation of the European Charter of Local Self-Government. The Kurdish problem in Turkey cannot be solved without these demands being met.
3) The PKK insurgency, which is a consequence of the Kurdish problem, cannot be brought to an end with the use of sophisticated weaponry, with armed drones to be purchased from the US, that is by killing PKK militants. Even with the mediation of Iraqi Kurdish friends and/or American allies, it is necessary to negotiate with Abdullah Öcalan, who is imprisoned on İmralı island, and Murat Karayılan in the Kandil Mountains and come to an agreement on the conditions for the laying down of arms by the PKK and its eventual total disarmament.
4) A complete end to violence necessitates that all Kurdish parties, including the PKK, are allowed to take part in competitive politics on the condition that they renounce violence and abide by the rules of democracy. For this purpose, it is also necessary to declare a comprehensive amnesty for rank-and-file PKK militants.
Kılıçdaroğlu is absolutely right: The Kurdish problem is not a problem the AKP or any other party can solve single-handedly. It is absolutely necessary that both the CHP and the BDP lend a hand. If the CHP can truly become a “New CHP” and support the necessary reforms instead of fettering them, it can then open the way for the three parties to unite in the resolution of the Kurdish problem that has caused so much suffering since the foundation of the Republic of Turkey. The Turkish-Kurdish alliance that secured victory in the independence war can thus be revived. Consequently, Turkey can win the respect of all Kurds and truly become a source of inspiration for the peoples of the region with its increasingly strong democracy and economy.