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Thursday, 6 April 2006 - Strasbourg OJ edition

Situation in south-east Turkey (debate)

  Cem Özdemir, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. Mr President, I thank the Commissioner for his speech. I would like to express, on behalf of my Group, our great concern about the situation in Turkey that we have seen in the media. Over the past week at least 15 people have lost their lives in clashes between demonstrators and Turkish security forces in the south-east and in terrorist attacks in Istanbul. We strongly condemn the disproportionate use of force by police forces in Diyarbakir and Kiziltepe.

But at the same time, we vehemently denounce the provocations by the PKK, whose leaders deliberately stir up violence and riots. After three municipal buses in Istanbul were burnt without any casualties, two young sisters were killed on Sunday evening when a bus was attacked. The majority of the Kurds, who wish to build a decent life in the towns or to return to their villages, should not be hostage to cynical leadership associated with the military wing of the PKK which wants to escalate the conflict, as well as some people in the ‘deep state’ in Turkey.

In the light of the recent events we have the feeling that some of our colleagues in the European Parliament were not telling the whole story in the e-mails that were circulated recently. They give the impression of a black and white situation in which no Turk wants to grant more rights to the Kurds and every Kurd is an oppressed victim. That is why I believe it is important that we draw attention to the debate that is currently going on in civil society in Turkey, amongst intellectuals of Turkish and Kurdish origin.

Let me point out what they have said: first, Kurdish identity in Turkey must finally be officially recognised by the Turkish state; second, the policy for assimilating Kurds has been a complete failure; third, the Turkish state has to make sure that it gets back the trust of the Kurds and every citizen of Turkey; fourth, there cannot be any peaceful solution that insists that the PKK is the official negotiation partner of the state, because that will not happen.

I finish by quoting a former mayor of Diyarbakir, who has just pointed out: ‘If we are going to have real peace here, the PKK has to adjust itself to the new world situation. The Turkish state is becoming more democratic. The PKK needs to do the same. It should give up the idea of armed struggle and open respectful dialogue with Kurds who think differently. It also needs to renovate its leadership. This organisation was formed with a Cold War mentality. It needs to evolve’.

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