Businessmen and Professionals Pressure Turkey to Solve Kurdish Issue

27/11/2012 RUDAW  By HEMIN KHOSHNAW – ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – A group of lawyers and professionals from Turkey’s Kurdistan have met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss the Kurdish issue in the country. Under the slogan “The Knife Has Reached Bone” – a Turkish idiom implying that a situation has become intolerable – the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) has initiated a campaign to solve the Kurdish issue in Turkey. 

The TOBB includes around 45 business chambers and bar associations in southeast Turkey, and is the highest legal entity in Turkey representing the private sector. As a first step in their endeavor, with the mediation of TOBB President Rifat Hisarcikoglu, the group met with Erdogan. They also called on Kurdish political parties in Turkey to initiate talks in order to solve the Kurdish issue.  On Nov. 3, the chairman of the TOBB chamber in southeast Turkey released a statement to the public. On the same day, around 25 bar association presidents met at the Diyarbakir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) and stated that they were ready to hold meetings in Imrali and the Qandil Mountains if it was deemed necessary.

DCCI President Rmazi Can said in a statement: “We will not be patient while the tears of our mothers are falling. The ground for talks and agreements must be prepared as soon as possible and peace must return to the region.” Diyarbakir attorneys and businessmen belonging to the TOBB conveyed their request to Hisarcikoglu and, on his recommendation, met with Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bashir Atalay on Nov. 9. They asked Atalay to expedite the trials of Kurdish political prisoners, put an end to imprisonment without trial and continue the democratization process.  “The deputy PM wrote down all our demands,” said Can. “This time, the initiative came from social and civil institutions. It started from the bottom up and without upsetting any party. Solving the Kurdish issue has a number of complicated dimensions. Hence, we have to be careful and act cleverly.”

On Nov. 21, Erdogan met with 45 bar associations and industrial and agricultural chambers for two and a half hours. Erdogan listened to the demands of the chamber presidents and then said, “To end terrorism, all of us must put our hands under this rock in order to move it. I feel your problems and suffering.” Osman Gelis, president of the Sirnak industrial chamber, believes that the impact of such a meeting could be big. However, he added, “We must not rush. The results of these meetings will not be clear in a day or two. The ground for faith has not been established yet.”  It is also expected that Osman Nasiroglu, chamber president of Kurdish Professionals, would meet with the Republican People’s Party (CHP), Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). Nasiroglu believes that the crisis has harmed businessmen a great deal and that, if things continue in this manner, many will go bankrupt. “But what’s more important is to save the lives of people and prevent blood from being spilled,” he said.

Nasiroglu expressed optimism, adding, “This initiative coincides with the termination of the hunger strike. The hunger strike ended without the loss of any lives. This has motivated us to broaden our efforts so that other parts of the Turkish community can play a role in solving the Kurdish issue and the democratization process of Turkey.”