Final Resolution + Results of the 9th International Conference on Kurds in Brussels

6-12-2012 – MESOP – The Conference organized by the “European Union – Turkey Civic Commission” (EUTCC) and the “European United Left – Nordic Green Left Group of the European Parliament” (GUE/NGL) on December 5-6, 2012, in the European Parliament has adopted the following final resolution on “European Union, Turkey and the Kurds”:

The 9th Annual EUTCC International Conference met on 5-6 December 2012 at the European Parliament in Brussels. All of the presentations elaborated on the findings of the European Commission’s most recent (2012) Progress Report on Turkey’s EU accession process that unfortunately: “The Kurdish issue and . . . the 2009 democratic opening aimed at addressing amongst others the Kurdish issue were not followed through. . . . Overall, there was no progress towards a solution as regards the Kurdish issue.”

What is going on in Turkey today appears to be an attempt to stifle Kurdish voices and impose on the Kurds a unilateral solution to fundamental issues of security and the future of the country. The KCK arrests and trials have been intensified. There has been a recent escalation in violence, arrests, oppression of the political sphere and media, violations of freedom of thought and the overall lack of progress in the EU accession process. The current threat to lift the parliamentary immunities of BDP MPs and the failure to implicate those responsible for the Roboski massacre of 34 civilians on 28 December 2011 are specific examples of this situation.

The current Turkish debate over whether to institute a presidential system of government or maintain a parliamentary system ignores the basic issue, namely writing a new democratic and civilian constitution to replace the authoritarian statist one imposed by the military in the eighties. The 9th EUTCC Conference notes that the Constitutional Reconciliation Committee in Turkey should have successfully finished its work in drawing up such a democratic and civilian constitution by the end of 2012.

Furthermore, the Conference notes that the Turkish government’s approach to the civil war in Syria seeks to reduce the recent achievements of its local Kurdish population and is thus shaped around an anti-Kurdish axis. Instead, Turkey and all other involved should encourage a non-violent dialogue among all the political, religious, ethnic, and other groups in Syria with the view of helping to create a democratic and pluralist state that is inclusive of all its many different peoples.

Most importantly, however, the 9th EUTCC Conference notes that still lacking is the willingness to negotiate genuinely with the Kurds and continue the credible talks with Mr. Abdullah Öcalan. In other words, until the Turkish government truly accepts the PKK as a negotiating partner—along the lines of what Britain successfully did with Sinn Fein and the Irish Republican Army (IRA), the African National Congress and South Africa, and recently FARC and Colombia—it is doubtful whether a political solution to this continuing crisis can be reached.

Mr. Öcalan’s recent 16 months of solitary confinement and the illegal arrest of his attorneys are a clear violation of international law. This solitary confinement is self-defeating for Turkey because it prevents Mr. Öcalan from being able to prepare the basis for peace and reconciliation with the Turkish state. The EUTCC Conference further takes note that the recent hunger strike by more than 684 imprisoned non-violent Kurdish dissidents (the so-called KCK arrests and trials) was only successfully concluded when the Turkish government finally turned to negotiating with Mr. Abdullah Öcalan.

The EUTCC calls for the immediate resumption, without preconditions, of the Oslo Process of direct talks between Turkey and the PKK with the intention of instituting Turkey’s full respect for the fundamental democratic rights of all its citizens. The Conference warmly endorses the recent call by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu for the Resumption of Dialogue between the Turkish Government and the PKK leader Mr. Abdullah Öcalan.

Specifically we call for civic rather than ethnic Turkish citizenship, mother-tongue education in the schools and defense in the courts, and meaningful decentralization, among other necessary reforms, that as already noted, can be best implemented by writing and ratifying a new civilian and democratic constitution.

Pursuant to the presentations of the Conference attendants and contributions made by its delegates, the EUTCC resolves to adopt the following declarations and calls for action to be undertaken by all the relevant parties to the conflict:

1.) The Conference notes positively Turkey’s recent reforms, but finds that more reform is needed to meet Turkey’s requirements for EU accession.

2.) Specifically, the Conference calls on the EC Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) and the EU to urgently alleviate Mr. Abdullah Öcalan’s current conditions of solitary confinement. In contravention of the ECHR, Öcalan’s attorneys have had no visits allowed during this time. All core conditions must be met in order that Mr. Abdullah Öcalan can play a full part in the negotiation process and also freely communicate with his organization.

3.) The EUTCC calls for the direct negotiations between Turkey and the Kurds to be re-established immediately and without preconditions. It also calls on the EU to play a role in these negotiations by providing political and official support for the creation of a democratic platform for dialogue between Turkey and the Kurdish representatives. The basis for a general political amnesty must be prepared as part of a wider negotiated peace process. In order to facilitate these negotiations, the Conference urges all countries to remove the PKK from their terrorist lists

4.) The EUTCC Conference resolves to periodically make recommendations regarding measures for the Turkish accession process, the protection of human rights and the situation of the Kurds. Focusing on the unfair trials and grave violations of human rights in the KCK cases and many others, the Conference calls upon the EU Presidency and Commission to open new chapters in the process of EU-Turkey accession, especially in the field of judiciary and fundamental rights. In parallel with this requirement, the Conference also calls upon the Turkish Government to speed up the legal and judicial reform package by enlarging their contents so that thousands of Kurdish political activists can be released from prisons.

5.) The Conference calls upon the Turkish authorities to seriously write and ratify the promised new democratic and civil constitution along with resuming a new approach of dialogue and negotiation in all fundamental problematic issues.

Second and final day of the Conference

Democratic Union Party (PYD) co-chair Saleh Muslim, journalists Cengiz Çandar and Serdar Akinan, Dutch academic Joost Jongerden, Israeli academic Ofra Benngo and Democratic Society Congress (DTK) co-chair Aysel Tuğluk were among the speakers of the second day of the 9th international conference on “The European Union, Turkey and Kurds”.

PYD co-chair Saleh Muslim said the followings in his speech on Thursday morning; “We Kurds want to be the soldiers of ourselves, not others’. The autonomy project consists of not only Kurds but also Arabs, Armenians, Assyrians, Alewis and all other belief groups. Democratic autonomy is the only model of solution for the West Kurdistan territory.”

Speaking after, Prof. Ofra Bengo of Moshe Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University said that; “I would like to make a comparison between the Arab and Kurdish spring in consideration of the fact that Kurds have carried out a silent revolution behind which the Arab spring has served as a driving force. While the Middle East region was dominated by the mentality of nation state so far, we now see that this policy has been leveled to the ground.The developments in Arab countries have also paved the way for Political Islam but the progress in the Kurdish territory didn’t progress in the same way. The Arab Spring has also influenced the Kurds in Turkey in many ways and the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) has become much stronger. It is now time for a new beginning as Kurds have gained a strategical role and self-confidence in the region. The more the states in the region lose their importance, the brighter future Kurds will have.”

Turkish journalist Cengiz Çavdar said that; “The recent developments concerning Kurds is not something new in consideration of the time when they first took to the stage in the history. The presence of a “semi independent” Kurdish self-government will be a significant step in the history of Kurds as we now witness that an irrepressible process has been started under the leadership of the those in Syria.” (ANF, 6 December 2012)

EU: BDP deputies should not be ‘excluded’ from politics

During one of Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin’s rare visits to Brussels, the European Union made it clear that pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputies should not be “excluded” from politics, referring to the raging debate on whether or not the immunity of those deputies should be lifted, leaving them open to prosecution.

Peter Stano, spokesman for Stefan Füle, the commissioner for enlargement and neighborhood policy, a function of the EU’s executive European Commission, said parliamentary immunity should apply to all deputies on a non-discriminatory basis. Referring to the commissioner’s line that the Kurdish issue and problems in Turkey’s Southeast could only be overcome through the contribution of all democratic forces, Stano said the EU was not in favor of exclusion of some deputies from Parliament or politics.

Stano’s remarks came on the heels of a heated debate in Turkey over whether to deprive 10 BDP deputies, who are accused of maintaining ties to the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), of their parliamentary immunity. The issue intensified after the release of a video showing BDP deputies and terrorists from the PKK chatting and hugging one another along a highway in Şemdinli, a district of the southeastern province of Hakkari.

An investigation was launched into the incident by prosecutors, who said the meeting appeared to have been a prescheduled one, contrary to the BDP’s claims that it happened spontaneously when the terrorists blocked a road along their route. BDP deputies are the subject of frequent investigations by prosecutors but are immune from prosecution while they are in office, unless the assembly votes in favor of lifting their immunity. A motion was prepared by the Prime Ministry to lift the immunity of the 10 BDP deputies and was submitted to Parliament for discussion.

“The European Commission recalls that its consistent line has always been that the solution to the Kurdish issue and to all the problems in the Southeast can only be attained through the widest possible contribution of all democratic forces, and not through their exclusion. The issue of parliamentary immunity is currently being discussed in the Constitutional Reconciliation Committee working on a new constitution. Clearly, immunities must apply to all on a non-discriminatory basis,” read the full text of Stano’s statement.

In the meantime, sources claimed that Ergin and Füle discussed a judicial reform package under preparation in Turkey during their meeting on Thursday. The commission has been insistent on advancing the fourth package, which it thinks will help to bring progress to issues of freedom of expression and press.(TODAY’S ZAMAN, Dec 6, 2012)