EU supports Turkish-Kurdish peace talks

By Roni Alasor and Lorin Sarkisian – Strasbourg-Brussels, 6 February 2013 / Ararat News (ANP)-All the political groups in the European Parliament, the EU Council Presidency and the EU Commission are fully supportive of the ongoing talks between Turkey and the Kurds aimed at ending the war that cost more than 40.000 lives since 1984.  EU believes that a successful outcome would play a crucial role in Turkey’s own reform process and the stability of the whole region.

This was the main conclusion of a two hours debate in the European Parliament (EP) in Strasbourg on the Kurdish question in Turkey. The debate was opened by official statement of the Irish Presidency of the EU Council and by Commissioner Stefan Füle on behalf of the European Commission. More than 40 Members of the European Parliament from all political groups also took part in the discussions.

Lucinda Creighton, Irish President-in-Office of the EU Council and Minister of European Affairs of Ireland and Commissioner Stefan Füle, supported the ongoing peace talks between Turkey and the Kurds. “Our own experience closer to home shows that any peace process requires both courage and commitment. We should therefore give our full and unequivocal support to this initiative.” said Creighton referring to the Irish experience in peace negotiations.

However, according the Kurdish political observers in EU, during her short speech, Creighton repeated some “classic phrases used also in the past from EU in regard to Turkish-Kurdish relations to respond to Turkish expectations”. Kurds do believe that these concepts criminalise the Kurdish side and legitimate the Turkish war against Kurdish people, giving a negative impression that EU doesn’t judge equally both partners in the Turkish-Kurdish peace talks. “While EU says that it supports the peaceful resolution of the conflict, it criminalises one of the sides and supports the other side, thus creating a climate of mistrust”, said a high level Kurdish politician in Brussels.

Ria Oomen-Ruijten,   member of the largest political group in EP (European People’s Party) and  rapporteur of the EP on Turkey, said that an eventual peace will be “historic agreement that is good for all Turkish citizens. I am convinced that when the peace will come, that will be the beginning of greater prosperity in southeast Turkey”, said Oomen-Ruijten.

Raimon Obiols from the second largest political group, Socialists and Democrats Group, noted that “all Turkish problems have a Kurdish dimension, and it is very difficult to imagine a situation of democratic stability in Turkey without the Kurdish issue is resolved”.

Obiols mentioned as important conditions for solution of the Kurdish question the new constitution in Turkey guaranteeing linguistic and cultural rights for Kurds; the possibility of a fair interpretation of terrorism laws, without to misuse them against Kurdish political representatives and an electoral reform that could allow the expression of Kurdish position in democratic institutions.

Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe) called on Turkey to stop the KCK arrests and to continue the dialogue with Imrali. Graf Lambsdorff also said that the Kurdish question should be analyzed in all it dimensions, including North Iraq and Syria and not only to be limited with Turkey.

Hélène Flautre (Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance) underlined that the political positions on the Kurdish question in Turkey marks the difference between “those who are in favour of advanced citizenship, equal rights and local governance and those who support the repressive nationalist past.”

Charles Tannock, (European Conservatives and Reformists Group) said: “As a modern democracy, Turkey must now permit the Kurds to exercise their full cultural and linguistic identity within the existing borders of the Turkish state. After almost 30 years of tragic bloodshed, the deaths of many thousands of civilians as well as combatants and the displacement of an estimated three million Kurds, actions must now be taken to ensure that no more lives are lost and that all the people in Turkey, regardless of their culture or ethnicity, are accorded full human rights enshrined in law.”.

Bastiaan Belder, (Europe of Freedom and Democracy) talked about the contradictions in AKP policies and the speeches of Prime Minister Erdogan, speaking about “the supra-ethnic identity of Turkish citizenship, in which Turks, Kurds and others have equal rights and at the same time defending the concept of a state, a flag, a country, a nation”.

Jürgen Klute, (European United Left – Nordic Green Left Group) underlined that: “the talks between the Turkish government and Öcalan are an important step, but this is only a first step on the road to a political and peaceful solution”. Klute said that peace negotiations can only be won together or lost together and he expressed great hopes for positive development.

The EU Irish Presidency, the EU Commission and all the EP political groups also condemned the killings of the three Kurdish political activists in Paris, but supported firmly the peace talks and encouraged a sustainable solution of the Kurdish question in Turkey.