you're reading...
International Relations, PUBLICATIONS

Progress on the situation of Kurds in Turkey?

6 language versions available in PDF format
Hat sich die Situation der Kurden in der Türkei verbessert?
¿Progresos en la situación de los kurdos en Turquía?
La situation des Kurdes en Turquie s’est-elle améliorée?
Quali progressi sulla situazione dei curdi in Turchia?
Poprawa sytuacji Kurdów w Turcji?
Progress on the situation of Kurds in Turkey?

In late 2012, the Turkish government renewed direct negotiations with jailed PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) leader Abdullah Őcalan, aimed at ending the 30-year conflict. A wave of violence, launched by the insurgent PKK in mid-2011, had broken the 2005 ceasefire. Successful talks would remove the biggest threat to political and social stability in Turkey, with Kurds representing 15-20% of Turkey’s 75 million population. The PKK is listed by the EU as a “terrorist organisation”.

Kurdish demands

Common grievances of Kurds in Turkey are:

Full language rights for Kurds

Kurds demand the possibility of “mother-language education” and to use Kurdish in all areas of public life, currently prohibited by the Turkish Constitution.

Non-discriminatory Constitution and laws

Kurds want discriminatory elements, based on ethnicity (e.g. definition of citizenship), removed from the Constitution; amendments to legislation, such as the Anti-Terrorism Law and the Criminal Code, and a lifting of the ban on using Kurdish in courts.

Greater political and cultural autonomy

Support for far-reaching options (federalism or independence) is low among the majority of Kurds. The Kurdish movement (including the PKK apparently) now aims for (not clearly defined) “democratic autonomy” within Turkey.

Political representation

Electoral reform is demanded, in particular halving the current 10% threshold for a party to enter Parliament.

European Union position

Kurdish Demonstration in front of the EP in Strasbourg

Copyright by European Union / EP Audiovisual Service

The European Commission’s 2012 report on Turkey concluded there had been no progress on the Kurdish issue. It expressed concerns about large-scale arrests of Kurdish elected representatives and Kurdish activists charged with affiliation to the PKK or the KCK (Union of Kurdish Communities), as well as of writers, journalists, lawyers and academics working on the Kurdish issue. The report also highlighted the need to respect the rule of law in ongoing trials, possible abuses of the Criminal Code and anti-terror legislation (e.g. broad definition of terrorism), and the restricted scope of parliamentary immunity with regard to freedom of expression.

The European Parliament has consistently called for a political solution to the Kurdish issue through inclusive democratic dialogue and constitutional reform. In the draft resolution on the 2012 Progress report on Turkey, discussed by the AFET committee, MEPs take up the Commission’s concerns and called for the “peaceful inclusion of citizens of Kurdish origin into Turkish society”, and the respect for the freedom of expression, association and assembly.

Evolution of the renewed peace talks

The new talks between the AKP (Justice and Development Party) government and Őcalan (the Imrali Process) reportedly aim at: disarm­ament, departure of PKK insurgents from Turkey, release of prisoners and recognition of the Kurdish minority’s rights. Some issues are also being discussed with the main legal Kurdish party, the BDP (Peace and Democracy Party). So far, dialogue has reportedly led to agreement in principle on cessation of hostilities in March and on a calendar for the withdrawal of PKK militants from Turkey. Prime Minister Erdoğan promised PKK fighters they could leave Turkey freely if they disarm, but no general “amnesty” for the rebels is envisaged.

The Turkish Parliament has approved a law allowing defendants to use Kurdish in courts, while a government reshuffle was interpreted as a move to encourage the peace talks and constitutional reform. With Turkish public opinion in favour of the talks, the leader of the main opposition party, CHP (Republican People’s Party) announced its support, contrary to the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). But doubts about Őcalan’s authority to impose a solution on all PKK factions, strong opposition to the talks by PKK hardliners and Turkish nationalists, and the assassination of three PKK militants in Paris raise concerns about the prospects of the negotiations.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Download the EPRS App

EPRS App on Google Play
EPRS App on App Store
What Europe Does For You
EU Legislation in Progress
Topical Digests
EPRS Podcasts

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 3,323 other followers

Disclaimer and Copyright statement

The content of all documents (and articles) contained in this blog is the sole responsibility of the author and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily represent the official position of the European Parliament. It is addressed to the Members and staff of the EP for their parliamentary work. Reproduction and translation for non-commercial purposes are authorised, provided the source is acknowledged and the European Parliament is given prior notice and sent a copy.

For a comprehensive description of our cookie and data protection policies, please visit Terms and Conditions page.

Copyright © European Union, 2014-2019. All rights reserved.

%d bloggers like this: