'Turkey's peace process with PKK was launched to prevent Kurds from getting influenced by Arab Spring'

Four opposition politicians have analyzed the AKP's policies regarding Kurds, with İlhami Işık from the Future Party saying that the peace process between Turkey and the PKK was launched to prevent the Arab Spring's influence on the Kurds.

Demonstrators hold flags and portraits of jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan during a gathering to celebrate Newroz in Diyarbakır, March 21, 2013.

Ferhat Yaşar / DUVAR

The peace process between Turkey and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) that took place between 2013 and 2015 was launched to prevent the Arab Spring's influence on the Kurds, Future Party politician İlhami Işık has said. 

Four opposition politicians gave their take on the policies of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) regarding the Kurdish issue for the past 20 years, with all of them criticizing the government for its hostile stance. 

Işık said that the peace process was launched to prevent the Arab Spring's influence on the Kurdish issue and mainly to stop the situation in Syria from affecting Turkey. 

"An administration was formed in Rojava. The peace process was kicked off not to solve the Kurdish issue, but over concerns that Turkey will also get affected by the Arab Spring. That's why it had no chance of being successful," Işık told Duvar. 

"It was impossible to go on with the peace process for two reasons. First, the government sought to make the PKK give up arms instead of solving the Kurdish issue. Secondly, the Turkish state's perception of the Kurds is way backwards than the countries in the region," he noted. 

Asked whether it's possible for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to establish a dialogue with the Kurds once again, Işık said, "Yes, but out of obligation." 

"The government has lost the majority of its base. The situation in the economy, justice and foreign policy is dire. Taking all of these into account, we're seeing a government that has no option but to talk to Kurds," he added. 

'We're not enemies with anyone'

Veteran Kurdish politician and former Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Sırrı Sakık said that the AKP's stance on the Kurdish issue is now the same as its far-right ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

"When the AKP first came to power, it was focused on Europe. Now, it turned its back on Europe. I don't think such a party has intentions to solve Turkey's basic problems and the Kurdish issue," Sakık told Duvar, adding that the AKP is not sincere in its efforts to solve the Kurdish issue. 

"If they really wanted to solve it, they would implement the steps taken between 2013 and 2015. We supported that process with high hopes. We, as Kurds, want solutions to our problems," Sakık said.

"We're not enemies with anyone." 

Saying that the AKP needs to go back to its founding principles regarding Turkey's problems, the veteran politician noted that the parties can start talks if it does so. 

"However, we see that the AKP is far from it and that it designs politics with the MHP. No solution can come out of this," Sakık noted. 

Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) Diyarbakır provincial chair Cihan Ülsen said that the AKP's stance on the Kurdish issue is not different from its predecessors. 

"The AKP hasn't fulfilled its promises. We have seen the process of an alternative party being turned into an ordinary one," Ülsen told Duvar. 

"This is, unfortunately, the AKP's destiny. The things they do wrong are far more than those that are right," he added. 

'The Kurds aren't the property of any party' 

Another politician to comment on the peace process and the Kurdish issue was the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) politician Nevaf Bilek, who said that the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) officials and leftist Kurdish groups should have been included in the peace process. 

"The PKK is not the sole representative of the Kurds. There were KDP officials and leftist Kurdish groups in the region. I knew that the peace talks would fail from the very beginning. The HDP appeals to 75 to 80 percent of the region's population. You can't exclude the Kurds in Syria, Iran, Iraq and Turkey when discussing the Kurdish issue," Bilek told Duvar. 

"The Kurds want to speak their mother tongue, express themselves freely, receive education in their own schools and live in their own culture. None of the Kurds in Turkey have an intention to build a separate state. Maybe three percent of all of them might want this," he added. 

Saying that the AKP has no intention to solve the Kurdish issue, Bilek noted that no political party can trick the Kurds anymore. 

"The Kurds aren't the property of any party. The old days are gone."