Kurdistan Parties in Mixed Reaction to Barzani’s Diyarbakir Visit

By RUDAW – 18-11-2013 – Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani speaks to the media, standing next to Diyarbakir mayor Osman Baydemir.

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – As Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani spent his second day in Diyarbakir, Kurdistan parties expressed mixed reactions to the visit, with some praising it and others saying it was designed to boost the chance of the ruling Turkish party in next year’s election.

The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the main ally of Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), called the visit “crucial and historical,” and said it hoped Erbil can help Kurds everywhere achieve their rights.

“Until yesterday, the words ‘Kurd’ and ‘Kurdistan’ were banned in Turkey and the Kurdish language was illegal. Today, the Kurdistan Region president conveys the message of peace and brotherhood in the Kurdish language in Amed (Diyarbakir),” Xendan news quoted PUK deputy leader Barham Salih as saying.

“It’s the duty of the Kurdistan Region to help achieve the rights of the Kurds in the other parts of Kurdistan,” he stressed. He warned that the stability and development of the Middle East rests on respecting the rights of the Kurds.

In Diyarbakir on Saturday, Barzani confirmed his full support for Ankara’s ongoing peace process with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).In a speech before thousands of people carrying Kurdistan and Turkish flags, he said:  “My request from my Kurdish and Turkish brothers is to support the peace project. I want to tell them that we support the peace process with all in our power,” Barzani told the crowd. Barzani arrived in Diyarbakir at the invitation of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Both leaders stressed the importance of bringing peace to Turkey’s Kurdish regions and ending more than three decades of conflict between the PKK and Turkish military that claimed tens of thousands of lives.

Meanwhile, the Kurdistan Region’s opposition Change Movement (Gorran), took a harsher view of the visit, saying it was meant to boost the chances of Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the March general election. It accused Barzani of partisanship.

“The trip has to do with business and the upcoming elections,” said a Gorran official. “It’s in the interest of the AKP party because of the polls,” he said, expressing suspicions that the AKP’s goal in hosting Barzani is to try to win Kurdish votes at the polls. – Ali Bapir, leader of the Islamic League (Komal), told Rudaw his party is unaware of the agenda of Barzani’s visit. “ If the trip is for encouraging the peace process, its a good thing,” he said. The PKK itself has so far remained quiet about Barzani in Diyarbakir, but the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) MP Pervin Buldan accused Barzani of insincerity.

“While Barzani talks about peace in Amed, he closed all doors on us in Erbil,” said Buldan, who was recently in Kurdistan trying to visit with PKK officials at their Qandil Mountain base to discuss the peace process. “They made lots of difficulties for us at the checkpoints when we were on our way to Qandil,” she added. As Barzani and the Turkish premier attended the first day of speeches and a music concert for peace, a number of PKK and BDP supporters gathered outside, waving their party flags and portraits of jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan. The Kurdistan Region and Turkey have elevated their diplomatic, trade and energy ties to unprecedented levels in the last several years. Earlier this month, Erbil and Ankara signed a multi-billion dollar energy package to export Kurdish oil and gas to feed Turkey’s growing energy needs.

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