Aydar: Turkey wants to become part of EU, so the EU also need to contribute to this process.

Mr Zübeyir Aydar's speech, Member of the Executive Board of Kurdistan National Congress (KNK)

Zübeyir Aydar

The international annual conference organized by EU entitled 'EU, Turkey and Kurds', originally born out of Turkey's interest in becoming member of the EU, which allows civil societies to openly observe Turkey and EU's relation, is deemed as an important step forward.

In this sense, the 10th conference, with its main theme being negotiations on the Kurdish questions, the Imrali process, which is the latest dialog in relation to the Kurdish question, will hopefully contribute to the negotiations in relation to the Kurdish question. For this reason I thank the EUTCC for their hard work in making this happen.

Dear attendees, In conjunction to the theme of this conference entitled 'Kurdish question and peace and democratic and resolution process' which many refer to as the Imrali process, a process started by Mr Abdullah Ocalan, I will endeavour to convey to you the recommendations and views of the Kurdish side during this speech. I will comment on what this process is about, how it is progressing, the difficulties it has encountered, and how these may be resolved.

As you are aware, a year ago, 9th conference commenced right here, there was at that time no conditions for any sort of dialog. On that day, in my speech, I stated that 'if here is was an opportunity for negotiations, the Kurds will respond in a positive light'. This is what happened. 22 days after the 9th conference, Turkish prime minter Mr Tayip Erdogan publicly confirmed that he had been meeting with Mr Abdullah Ocalan. A week after this public statement, two BDP MP's attended to meet with Mr Ocalan and the dialog process started. The views of Mr Ocalan was communicated to various bodies of the movement and Mr Ocalan's Democratic Resolutions messages were later publicly shared with millions at the Newroz celebrations in Amed.

The proposed resolution by Ocalan transpired of three stages:

1. Both sides declare cease fire, and take steps which will create mutual trust. The parliament to become involved in this process and there to be commissions and mechanisms formulated to make process easier. Guerrilla forces to retreat from conflict zones.

2. Laws and legislations which create the Kurdish problem to be reviewed and changed which pave way to a resolution

3. Imprisoned political prisoners to be freed, those in the mountains to come down, those who are in exile to return and for those who want to take part in politics to be given the opportunity to do. This last stage is the normalization stage

According to the timetable for these stages, the first stage was to be completed by June, and second phase completed by Spring 2013. So by now both phases should have been completed and by which time we would be on third stage. Unfortunately due to non-compliance of the proposed phases by the Turkish government, this has not been possible. Instead there were already blockages in the first stage. In accordance with the spirit of the proposed resolution, it was hoped that the parliament would propose decisions which would embrace these proposals. However this did not happen.

There was legal changes which would enable Guerrilla's to leave the conflict zones, but unfortunately there were no laws or acts passed. It was proposed that, in the parliament, there would be two commissions formulated; one observing the peace process and developments and the other 'truth and justice' commission. There was a commission which was formulated way later then dates envisaged which did not fulfil either of the purpose of either commission proposed. A commission would be formulated of group of intellectuals, independent and connected to the parliament, who would oversee the process and provide a report to the parliament. However a group was formed which was connected to the government. This commission met with various sects of society and prepared a report. However the government the recommendations on board.

In order to show some commitment to the process and create a trust among society, it was hoped that the politicians imprisoned would be set free, but not even sick political prisoners were released. Instead, in the last months there is an increase of arrests. To add to this, the ways in which the government came to perceive the Gezi Parki movement in Turkey as a 'conspiracy' and their anti-democratic approach to this, indicated a dangerous mentality.

In order for the process to progress more comfortably and effectively, there was no changes in Mr Ocalan's current situation. In my speech last year, representing the Kurdish side, I stated that 'Mr Ocalan is the creator of the movement and legal representative of the decisions made in regards to the Kurds. Therefore he is the main point of contact in regards to any negotiations. In order for process to progress, his health ad safety need to be guaranteed and he needs to be able to move freely'. On the 22 February 2013, Mr Ocalan in his letter said, 'I have observed the views of both sides in the media, which shows me that, my role here is huge. However my physical conditions here in Imrali is evident. After 15 years of negative effects of the climate, old age and isolation, there needs to be some thinking around how I am expected to contribute to this process in such conditions. This has nothing to do with amnesty, but to do with how I am to continue to this enormous task effectively in such conditions'. In this sense I once again bring this to attention in this conference that for Kurds this is an important which needs to be addressed.

Regardless of the resistance to meaningfully engage in the negotiations by Turkey side, I can confirm that the Kurdish side has done all that all it has promised and more. In order to create an atmosphere of trust and honesty, before Newroz 2013, they released the soldiers held captive. In Newroz it formally declared a cease fire, which it had already been complying with the prior two months leading up to this. In April 2013 it decided to pull back its armed forces from Turkey borders and by May 2013, this was in actioned.

In accordance with this timetable, beginning of June, we needed to be on stage two. However the regardless of attempts made to move thing forward, repsonded with silence and resistance. There was meant to be a commission with representative from AKP and BDP which would review the acts and laws relating to the Kurdish question. The recommendations would then be relayed to parliament. This did not happen. Instead they said they are preparing a democratization packet. We suggested that we would like to take part in this and work together. They did not take part in this suggestion. Firstly they said they will declare this packet prior to Parliament recess date, then later they said would be after Eid holiday. However instead this one sided and completely ineffective democratization packet which unfulfilled the demands of the Kurds, was shared with public on 30th September 2013.

This democratization packet, created huge disappointments for the Kurds and for these wanting democracy in turkey. This disappointment was inevitable, as it was not possible for this packet was prepared, completely undemocratic and one sided, to inherit any remedies which would address the needs of the Kurds and those wanting democracy. This packet did not even take on board any of the recommendation made by the intellectual commission. By making very minimal changes, such as allowing the use of few extra alphabets and removing the compulsory reciting of the national anthem, acts which are completely racist and outdated in the rest of the world, was Turkey's way of trying to alleviate the pressure on them to become more democratic as they approach elections. The so called entering negotiations with the Kurds is therefore also a propaganda for elections and in genuine.

The Turkish governments in genuine intentions towards the Kurdish question is also clearly seen in their attacks towards the democratic revolution taking place in Rojava. Turkey's Syria relation is based on anti-Kurds.

Whilst there is cease fire in North Kurdistan and Turkey, Turkey is supporting El Kaida in Rojava in order to sabotage the process of Kurds in Syria trying to secure for their rights.

Whilst in North Kurdistan there is cease fire, in Rojava turkey is provoking the conflict to escalate to support groups such as El Nusra and similar groups is an indication of Turkeys position towards the Kurds.

Whilst it enters such dirty massacre towards Kurds in Rojava to prevent them from gaining any rights, Turkey's denial towards Kurds in Turkey is also clear.

Regardless of all these barriers to resolve the Kurdish question, Mr Ocalan and the Kurdish side are trying their best to move process forward.

However this is impossible as AKP is resistant to taking into consideration the views of any other side but its own agenda. Until now all the decisions were outcome of a dialog. However now there is a need for all decisions be born from joint public discussions and negotiations. In his last message Mr Ocalan stated that 'we need to move forward with a new format, process needs to go from dialog to negotiations. I have relayed this to government and eating for response'.

We are not saying that thus far there has not been any positive developments. The fact that the dialog was spoken about in public and in media was positive. The fact that in the last 9 months there is two sided cease fire and no one has died as a result of this war is very positive. This is most important gain from this process. At present the changes internally and externally allow for the perfect time for a solution to be sought for the Kurdish question.

The Kurdish side uphold Mr Ocalan's Newroz declaration. In order for the process to move forward in a progressive way Kurdish side demand the following:

1. Thus far the process commenced via a dialog. However this cannot go ahead one sided. Just like there are laws for wars, there needs to be laws created to pave the way to peace. For this to happen the parliament needs to create a legal base for this to happen.

2. In order for Ocalan to contribute to peace process, his health, freedom and safety conditions to be adressed.

3. Thus far the process reached blockages and did not progress as planned. Therefore in order to ensure that conditions set and timetable are adhered to, there needs to be a third observer commission formed to follow this process.

4. Turkey to stop attacks on the Kurds in Syria and not to support groups who are persecuting Kurds in Syria. Kurdish side believes that the Kurdish question can be solved in Turkey without the changes of borders. Kurdish side clearly outlines what the expectations are for solution to the Kurdish question. We have recited these demands here many times before. The Freedom Movement have brought these demands to attention via various means. In 2009 Mr Ocalan wrote road map which is still the main document for the formal demands of the movement.

The main areas of this declaration is as follows;

1. Kurdish existence, identity and cultural rights, right to freedom of speech and right to self-expression as a Kurd to be legally recognized and protected.

2. Kurds to be accepted as a nation and have right to self-determination

3. Kurds to have right to be educated in their mother tongue in all layers of society and in regions where there are majority Kurds, Kurdish to be recognized as main language.

These are fundamental rights of any nation. Anyone who defends human rights and the power of law should not apposed these basic rights.

Whilst this conference is taking place here in European parliament, it is important to note that Europe and whole of the Western powers thus far have not contributed to the resolution process, instead have served forces who are anti-resolution. Anyone with a conscience will know that Kurdish peoples struggle for freedom has been a just, noble, and rightful struggle.

To criminalize and brand this struggle as terrorism is immoral, unlawful, cruel and unjust. The West is branding the Kurdish struggle as terrorist and this way trying to oppress Kurdish politicians and alienate the Kurdish community centres. But at the same time refusing to take up a position towards Turkey who is supporting Al-Qaeda affiliated groups in Syria.

Therefore the West is saying that 'Turkey is my ally, what it does I will support'. This position is detrimental to any possible resolution to the Kurdish question. It is impossible for any resolution process to develop with the terror list in place and its functions exercised. Therefore in order for a positive steps towards peace and resolution, European Union also has roles and duties to fulfil. Turkey wants to become part of EU and so therefore the EU also need to contribute to this process. Finally, on the 9th January 2013, in Paris three Kurdish women were murdered. We are of the view this was an attack on the Kurdish politicians and the resolution process. 11 months have passed since these assassinations but there is still no light on these murders. Those who are responsible for these assassinations need to be brought to light and justice be served.

This is duty for European Union.

With hope and belief that this conference will open up new avenues and contribute to the resolution of the Kurdish question, I offer my regards and respect to all the participants of this conference.

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Turkey, the Kurds and the Imrali Peace Process:

An Historic Opportunity

Brussels, European Parliament, 4th & 5th of December 2013

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Mr Zübeyir Aydar's speech

Member of the Executive Board of Kurdistan National Congress (KNK)

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Brussels, 5th December 2013