Your place is in Ankara, not Diyarbakır, PM Erdoğan tells pro-Kurdish party

Your place is in Ankara, not Diyarbakır, PM Erdoğan tells pro-Kurdish party

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

July 12, 2011, Tuesday/ 13:13:00

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday called on the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) to end its parliamentary boycott as the main opposition party had done and to hold its parliamentary group meetings in Ankara instead of the predominantly Kurdish Diyarbakır.

“What do you mean by holding meetings in Diyarbakır? You should first decide on your address. They keep saying that they were exposed to otherification. You did this to yourself. Only the city council can convene in Diyarbakır. Your place is Ankara. A parliamentary group meeting is held in Ankara not in Diyarbakır,” Erdoğan said during his Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) first parliamentary group meeting after the June 12 elections.

The prime minister targeted the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), which secured the election of a total of 36 deputies in the June 12 elections. However, six of the BDP-sponsored deputies are currently under arrest as part of a trial that concerns the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK). The Supreme Election Board (YSK) last month stripped Hatip Dicle, one the BDP's six jailed deputies, of his mandate over a prior terrorism-related conviction, which led to outrage among the pro-Kurdish party and its supporters.

In protest of the decision and the imprisonment of five other BDP deputies, the BDP announced that they would boycott Parliament and that they would be holding their parliamentary group meetings in Diyarbakır, a predominantly Kurdish BDP stronghold.

Erdoğan said the BDP's boycott is a denial of the nation's will. “This Parliament would keep working without the BDP just as well. I had said that when the [Republican People's Party] CHP also refused to take the parliamentary oath. The problems of my Kurdish brothers can also be solved without the BDP. But we expect their contribution to our national unity and brotherhood project [launched to address the Kurdish issue]. We expect them to participate in works for a new constitution and to convey their opinions. But the BDP should not hope that their all proposals will be accepted,” Erdoğan said.

The BDP was not the only opposition party boycotting Parliament. The deputies of the CHP also refused to take the parliamentary oath and take their seats in Parliament in protest of the imprisonment of two of its deputies on coup charges. However, the CHP ended its boycott on Monday and its deputies took the parliamentary oath, which enables them to officially participate in legislative proceedings.

During his speech in Parliament on Tuesday, Erdoğan also targeted the CHP, albeit welcoming its decision to end its boycott. He recalled that CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu had said they would not take their oaths until their two jailed deputies take office. “But they did come to Parliament and took their oaths. This is the CHP. But it is great that their U-turn this time was in favor of something positive,” he said.

He also questioned the CHP's sincerity in its call for respect for the nation's will as he recalled past cases in which, he said, the CHP failed to stand for democracy. “It is the CHP who stood by the April 27 [military e-memorandum]. Did the government do what it should do the day after that statement? Yes. But you [the CHP] stood by it. You lauded the possible closure of the AK Party. The CHP against stood against the comprehensive constitutional changes to the 1982 constitution in the Sept. 12, 2010 referendum. How can the CHP, which called AK Party supporters stupid before the elections and linked the AK Party victory to [Stockholm] syndrome, be attached to a principle which says ‘sovereignty belongs unconditionally to the people?' What suddenly happened for the CHP to discover the nation's will?” Erdoğan asked.

Erdoğan's AK Party, which received nearly 50 percent of the vote in the elections, announced its new program last Friday, which will serve as the agenda of the 61st government. The primary objective for the new government is to draft a new constitution that will also address the most sensitive issues, including the role of the military and identity issues. The new government program will be submitted for a vote of confidence on Wednesday.