President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has claimed that his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had “solved” the Kurdish issue with “all of its dimensions from rights and freedoms to development.”
“We have solved the issue referred to as the 'Kurdish problem,' which is being abused by all segments including terror organizations, with all of its dimensions from rights and freedoms to development. We will unmask those who still want to turn this into an issue of abuse,” Erdoğan said on Oct. 1, as he addressed the opening of parliament at the General Assembly.
He painted a “promising picture” of Turkey, saying that his AKP had covered a lot of distance in terms of “democracy and development.”
“With every new opportunity and success we have, every critical test that we overcome means a distance we have covered on the path to a bright future,” he said.
At the beginning of its tenure, the AKP loosened many restrictions on Kurdish political, linguistic and cultural rights as part of the so-called "Kurdish Opening", but since the collapse of peace talks with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in 2015, repression of the community has again been on the rise.
Last month, main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu criticized Erdğan and his ruling AKP's attempts at solving the Kurdish issue, saying the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (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 PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan 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 Kılıçdaroğlu's remarks, Erdoğan on Sept. 23 once again denied the existence of the Kurdish issue in Turkey, repeating his rhetoric that his AKP government had “already solved this issue.”
Erdoğan takes on responsibility for worsening economy
On Oct. 1, during his address to parliament, Erdoğan also said that the “responsibility” of the economy belonged to the AKP.
“As is the case with all achievements that Turkey has attained in the last 19 years, the responsibility of the economy also belongs to us,” Erdoğan said.
The president also boasted about Turkey having paid off all of its debt to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2013 and said that the Central Bank reserves had reached $122 billion.
Erdoğan's chances of extending his rule into a third decade may depend on whether he can reverse an economic decline that has seen Turks' prosperity, equality and employment fall since 2013.
Erdoğan faces elections in 2023 - the Turkish Republic's centenary. Polls suggest his support has slipped following a currency crisis, a sharp recession and the coronavirus pandemic in the last three years.
The World Bank estimates more than 1.5 million Turks fell below the poverty line last year.
Erdoğan wants all political parties to share their drafts for new constitution
On Oct. 1, Erdoğan also wanted all political parties in parliament to share their drafts for a new constitution. "A new constitution, which will be prepared with the consensus of our assembly, if possible, will be the best gift we can give to our nation in 2023,” Erdoğan said.
"We launched the initiative [on a new constitution], we are making our preparations," he said.
Erdoğan had previously said that the AKP and its ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) had reached the final stages of drafting a new constitution and would present it to the public early in 2022.