ICG: Barzani’s visit to Diyarbakir challenged PKK – Hugh Pope


Hawar Abdulrazaq – BasNews (Erbil): The director of the International Crisis Group (ICG)  Turkish Project, Hugh Pope, said that the visit of Kurdish president Massoud Barzani to Diyarbakir was a challenge to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Pope told BasNews that Barzani’s visit was not part of Erdoğan’s election propaganda as some media outlets have suggested. “This visit dramatically underlines a new push along two major progressive lines in Justice and Develpment Party’s (AKP) policy: normalization with the KRG, and the effort to find a more inclusive national narrative for Turkey, specifically in terms of the Kurds,” said Pope.

In his first official visit to Diyarbakir, Barzani wore traditional Kurdish clothes and gave a speech in Kurdish. The president then met Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in private, to discuss issues such as the peace process between Turkey and the PKK.  “This is a challenge to the PKK in the sense that Massoud Barzani represents a very different ideology of Kurdishness to that of the PKK. However, it is also interesting in that holding such a meeting in Diyarbakir does legitimize the city as the main Kurdish city of Turkey,” Pope added.

He also believes that this visit is more likely to bind Turkish Kurds into Turkey than push them into wanting a separate state, and, indirectly, it will give new impetus to the peace process with the PKK, which is something that both the PKK and the Turkish state still want.

During his visit Barzani also met with Diyarbakir Mayor, Osman Baydamir, as well as other Turkish MPs of Kurdish origin. The Kurdish president called on all Kurds to support the peace process. “Obviously AKP is hoping that this will help them in the upcoming election cycle. But to truly win over the majority of Turkish Kurds, Erdoğan will have to push forward in a structured way on a goal of full rights to Kurdish mother language education, an open debate and action on decentralization, removing all discrimination from the constitution, making the anti-terrorism law conform to European norms, and lowering the national election threshold from ten per cent to five per cent or less, thereby allowing fair access to politics for the main Turkish Kurdish movement party,” Pope explained. http://www.basnews.net/en/News/Details/ICG–Barzani-s-visit-to-Diyarbakir-challenged-PKK/6299