During a meeting with the head of the opposition Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA), Ali Babacan, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) head Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu acknowledged that in order to achieve democracy in Turkey the Kurdish issue needs to be solved.
“I believe if democracy will come to this country and if this country will be democratic…the road to this runs through Diyarbakır,” he was quoted as saying by online news outlet T24 on Jan. 24.
Kılıçdaroğlu also said that he would be visiting Diyarbakır on Jan. 27.
Kılıçdaroğlu's remarks were met with criticism from the opposition İYİ (Good) Party, with the party's deputy chair Yavuz Ağıralioğlu saying: "The only address of democracy and law is Ankara."
"The road of whatever benefit and fortune will come to our homeland's 81 provinces, including Diyarbakır, 84 million [people] and the whole nation, goes through the Turkish parliament," Ağıralioğlu tweeted on Jan. 25.
Demokrasi ülkeye Diyarbakır'dan gelecektir diyenlerin ve bize çözüm sürecini, devamında da 1212 şehidimiz ile acıyı yaşatanların yaptıkları ortadadır!— Yavuz Ağıralioğlu (@yavuzagiraliog) January 25, 2022
Diyarbakır dâhil memleketimizin 81 iline, 84 milyonun tamamına ve bütün ülkeye ne fayda ve hayır gelecekse yolu TBMM'den geçer.
The question of how to engage with the Kurdish regions of the country is one of the most fraught in Turkish politics. For almost all of Turkish republican history, the “Kurdish question” has made or broken political movements. In 2013, the ruling Justice and Development Party led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan attempted to curry Kurdish votes by initiating a peace process with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and acknowledging the maltreatment of Kurdish people in Turkey.
This effort ended with the collapse of the peace process after the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) entered parliament in 2015 and a subsequent military crackdown on Turkey’s Kurdish regions. Currently, per the Turkish government, support for the Kurdish movement is equated with terrorism.
Kılıçdaroğlu’s statement, then, signals an enormous departure from the current stance if the opposition wins in planned 2023 elections. Further, it is worth noting that Ali Babacan, with whom Kılıçdaroğlu met, was central to the AKP government in its early years when it openly expressed support for the Kurdish cause.
In recent weeks, DEVA has indicated that it would be willing to join the opposition Nation Alliance, led by the CHP and the İYİ Party if the coalition were to alter its structure and parts of its platform.