Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Sep. 23 that Turkey has no Kurdish problem and that his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had “already solved this issue.”
“There is no such problem in Turkey. We have already solved this issue, overcome it and ended it. If there are those who believe in unity, solidarity, brotherhood, let them come and continue on the path all together,” Erdoğan was quoted as saying by broadcaster Habertürk.
Erdoğan made the remarks as he addressed reporters in the newly opened Turkish House ("Türkevi") after attending the UN General Assembly in New York.
Erdoğan's comments came after main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu's new stance on the Kurdish issue led to heated debate in politics.
Speaking in a documentary, Kılıçdaroğlu criticized Erdğan and his ruling AKP's attempts at solving the Kurdish issue, saying the HDP was the only “legitimate” interlocutor for the solution.
Kılıçdaorğlu said that the state “cannot deal with an illegitimate body such as İmralı” to solve the issue, referring to the island where Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), is jailed.
Between 2013 and 2015, the Turkish government and the PKK maintained a fragile ceasefire. Through the peace process, government and intelligence officials would meet with Öcalan on the İmralı Island, with HDP lawmakers acting as mediators and go-betweens, conveying messages to the PKK’s military leadership in Qandil Mountains. However, after two years, the peace process fell apart and the conflict resumed.
Following Kılıçdaroğu's remarks on the issue, former HDP co-chair Sezai Temelli said that the Kurdish issue could only come through Öcalan, which caused unease inside the party.
Noting that Temelli's words gave leverage to the AKP to further its rhetoric of HDP's association to the PKK, the HDP administration called the former co-chair's statement "untimely."