On Saturday, the president of the Kurdistan Region, Massoud Barzani, visited the main Kurdish city in southern Turkey, Diyarbakir, after receiving an official invitation by the Turkish government to discuss the peace process declared earlier this year between Turkey and the rebels of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) after three-decades of armed conflict, in which more than 40,000 were killed.
Meeting with the Turkish Prime Minister, Receb Tayyip Erdogan, Barzani called on Turkey’s Kurds to support the proposed peace process with Ankara.
“We should remember that armed conflicts cannot achieve what peaceful negotiations may accomplish. After thirty years of conflict between the PKK and Turkey, we now recognize that negotiation is the most efficient way to solve the Kurdish issue in Turkey,” President of the Iraqi Kurdistan said. “We all aspire to reach peace, freedom and brotherhood.”
Masoud Barzani made the announcement on Saturday during his first visit to Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s Kurdish-dominated southeast, in two decades. Among the figures participated in Diyarbakir’s event were the Kurdish prominent singer Shivan Perwer and the Turkish singer Ibrahim Tatlises, to symbolize the aspiration of solving the Kurdish issue in Turkey and accomplish the goals of the proposed peace process between Turks and Kurds.
On his part, Erdogan emphasized the importance of Barzani’s visit, and for the first time referred to north of Iraq as “Kurdistan” in his official speech. Turkey’s Prime Minister also glorified the father of Massoud Barzani, Malla Mustafa Barzani, describing him as a leader who fought hard for the freedom of his people and other nations in the region.
“We feel the pain of the Kurdish people in Qamishli (Syria’s Kurdish city of Qamishlo), as well as the aspiration of people in Hewler (Capital of Iraqi Kurdistan) for peace and permanent stability, and we all wish peace in Diyarbakir (main Kurdish city in Turkey),” said Erdogan.
The Turkish government hopes to use Barzani’s influence as a prominent and respected figure among Turkey’s Kurds to bring the PKK back to the negotiating table.
“This is a historic visit for me. We all know it would have been impossible to speak here 15 or 20 years ago,” Barzani said, as members of the crowd waved Kurdistan and Turkey’s flags .
“Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has taken a very brave step towards peace. I want my Kurdish and Turkish brothers to support the peace process,” Barzani said during his speech.
According to the PKK, reforms announced by Ankara last month, meant to boost Kurdish rights, haven’t been implemented and didn’t meet the expectations.
Syria’s 33-month war played a role in Turkey’s demand to accelerate the peace process with the PKK, as Kurds have made major territorial gains, paving the way for their aspired plans for autonomous administration in northern and north-eastern Syria, near the Turkish borders.
Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan share concern about the growing clout of Kurdish militias in Syria, particularly after their announcement this week of an interim administration that aims to carve out an autonomous Syrian Kurdish region.
Both Turkish and Iraqi Kurdish officials in Erbil have criticised the declaration of the PKK-linked Democratic Union Party in Syria (PYD) to form an autonomous administration in Syria, which lays out plans for a regional government similar to that of Iraqi Kurdistan, seeing it as part of a deal with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Barzani’s critique about the PYD’s declaration in Syria was concerning the party’s attempts to monopolize power in Syria’s Kurdish region (Rojava) and marginalizing and excluding other Kurdish parties supposed to participate in the decision-making process on behalf of Syria’s Kurds.
Kurds, considered the largest stateless ethnic group in the world, number more than 35 million, spread among Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq. While they have had partial autonomy in Iraqi Kurdistan since 1991, nationalist movements have long been suppressed and persecuted in Turkey, Syria and Iran.
Source: ARA News, agencies
For the latest news follow us on Twitter
Join our Weekly Newsletter