In a press conference at the Turkish Grand National Assembly on Oct. 4, ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) parliamentary group deputy chair Muhammet Emin Akbaşoğlu denied that there are any ethnic issues in Turkey.
"There is only a terrorism problem," he said, adding that those who refer to the Kurdish issue as a “problem” are problematizing Kurds themselves.
Akbaşoğlu’s comments come as the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) criticized President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the ruling AKP's attempts at solving the Kurdish issue.
CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said last month that the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) should be the only “legitimate” interlocutor for the solution and not the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan, as Erdoğan’s government had previously done. HDP co-chair Mithat Sancar welcomed the assertion of Kılıçdaroğlu.
When asked about the “Kurdish problem” debate at the press conference, Akbaşoğlu condemned those that referred to the situation as a problem.
“After all, we [the AKP] have really overcome every problem in Turkey with our democratic revolution,” he said. “There are no ethnic problems in Turkey. There is a terrorism problem in Turkey. The AKP governments are able to overcome this. Those who say there is a so-called Kurdish problem are those who see our citizens of Kurdish origin as a problem.”
He said the CHP and the HDP are taking on responsibilities above their pay grade, and that discussions on the Kurdish issue are a waste of time.
“Nation Alliance components raise artificial agendas to create problems. They are in a futile attempt to waste Turkey's energy,” he said.
Akbaşoğlu also commented on the ongoing talks between the opposition parties for a strengthened parliamentary system, calling them “patchwork” and an alliance between vastly different political bases.
"They want to take the old system and present it to the nation as new. They don't want it for the people, they want it for themselves," Akbaşoğlu said.
He further said that an early election - which opposition parties have called for - would only serve the opposition’s interest, “to prevent the seams of this patchy bundle alliance from bursting before June 2023.”
In his speech, Akbaşoğlu also commented on other upcoming Grand National Assembly agenda items as the body kicked off its new legislative term on Oct. 1. In particular, he highlighted that the AKP was preparing to submit the Paris Climate Agreement to parliament for its ratification. At this year’s UN General Assembly, Erdoğan vowed to bring the landmark climate treaty, which Turkey has not ratified since 2016, before the Grand National Assembly.