Turkey’s presidential aide praises Erdogan’s policy of embracing Kurds

Kalin says embracing Kurds is a ‘key’ part of Erdogan’s policy. The presidential aide praises Erdogan’s ‘unrivaled’ steps which he took to resolve Kurdish issue since 2005

Embracing the Kurds as equal citizens has been a key part of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s political legacy, according to Presidential aide Ibrahim Kalin on Tuesday.

In his column for Turkey’s Daily Sabah, Kalin evaluated Erdogan’s recent visit to the southeastern Diyarbakir province ahead of the upcoming constitutional referendum.

“President Erdogan’s message of embracing the Kurds as equal citizens of the Republic has important implications beyond the April 16 referendum,” Kalin said.

The presidential aide noted that Erdogan had taken steps ‘unrivaled’ by any other political leader in modern Turkish history ever since his first visit to Diyarbakır in 2005.

“He has recognized the Kurds as an equal and important component of the Turkish nation and made a clear distinction between the Kurdish community and the PKK. He implemented reforms to lift the ban on the Kurdish language in the media, political campaigns and other areas of life.

“He presented the ballot box and Parliament as an alternative to PKK terrorism. As prime minister, he invested millions of dollars to improve the living standards of predominantly Kurdish towns and cities. Embracing the Kurds as equal citizens has been a key part of Erdogan’s political legacy,” he said.

Kalin said that despite the state of emergency declared after the July 15 coup attempt, there had been no change in the implementation of reforms that the Kurdish citizens enjoy today.

“The government is investing, among others, millions of dollars in the Sur district of Diyarbakir to rebuild areas destroyed by the PKK terrorists.”

Kalin said that saving the Kurds from the PKK meant not only recognizing their rights and elevating their living standards but also protecting them from the violence and oppression of the PKK.

“Most Kurds in Diyarbakır, Hakkari, Sirnak and other Kurdish-populated cities say that they support the recent security measures taken against the PKK and its urban militants because it gives them a sense of normalcy and hope for the future.”

Kalin also commented on the policies of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which he said “committed political suicide by opting to support the PKK’s ‘trench politics’ and put at its service the budget, the facilities and the staff of municipalities it had won in the 2014 local elections”.

He was referring to the trenches dug up by the PKK terrorists in the southeastern cities as a barricade against security forces conducting anti-terrorism operations in the region since the terrorist group resumed its armed campaign against the government in July 2015.

Kalin said that the HDP’s actions were not only “illegal” but also a “major blow” to the HDP’s political legitimacy.

“Most Kurds are disillusioned with both the PKK and the HDP, and want peace, security and prosperity as opposed to oppression,” he added.

Kalin said that Erdogan rejected the PKK’s “dirty politics of talking about peace while holding a gun”.

“He rejects the HDP’s pretension to be a voice for the Kurds when it speaks first and foremost for the PKK. The reality is that the HDP has never shown the courage to question and reject the PKK during and after the peace process initiated by Erdogan himself,” he said, referring to the solution process launched by the government in 2013 to end the decades-old conflict with the outlawed PKK, a dispute which has claimed the lives of more than 40,000 people over more than 30 years in Turkey.

Kalin underlined that no government would accept “any political interlocutor that seeks to grant legitimacy to armed struggle by supporting the PKK while enjoying the privileges of parliamentary politics”.

The aide also criticized some European governments as well as the U.S over their support of PKK.

“Those European governments that give a free ride to the various PKK installments in their countries and seeking to use them against Turkey are not only violating their own principles but also engaging in a self-defeating strategy.

“The U.S. administration is making the same mistake by supporting the PKK’s Syria branches the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the name of fighting Daesh. It is no secret that the PKK is using the Syrian war as a tool for its regional ambitions. The policy of supporting the PKK and its various outlets in Europe or in Syria will have serious consequences for regional peace and security,” he said.

Although the PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by both Turkey and the U.S., the Obama administration considered its Syrian offshoot the PYD — and its armed wing the YPG — “reliable partners” in the region in the fight against Daesh.