EUTCC 12th International conference – EP

The 12th International Conference on “The EU, Turkey and the Kurds” hosted by the Europe – Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC) took place at the European Parliament on tuesday and wednesday.

The two-day conference which discussed the title “Old Crisis – New Solutions” has started with opening remarks by Kariane Westrheim, Chair of the “Europe – Turkey Civic Commission” (EUTCC) and EU Parliament’s Left Group Chair Gabi Zimmer.

Leyla Zana, one of the guest honors at the conference, started her speech by giving a tribute speech to Danielle and François Mitterand thanking both of them for their long and endless support to the kurdish cause.

Zana reported the current very critical situation in North Kurdistan and highlited the upmost importance of the EUTCC conference in the alleviation of these tragic events kurdish civilians are facing. She also underlined the fact that kurdish people are not limited anymore as before and called the parties to return to negotiations table by taking into account the kurdish leader Öcalan’s conditions. She also underlined the fact that the genuine problem was not represented by government, saying even more anti-democratic governments were changeable, but that the real problem is according to her, the system, because systems are more complexe and less easy to reform.

She concluded her speech by calling all the governments to take urgent measures about the severe violations in the kurdish regions of Turkey.

Nobel laureate, former President of East Timor José Ramos Horta said he was watching the Kurdish people’s struggle with great admiration, adding;

“The women fighting in Syria and Iraq are amazing fighters who remind me of women revolutionaries that defended Stalingrad and Vietnam against occupation. Kurds are an example of the longest denial of a folk as a whole.”

Horta expressed his wishes for the attainment of peace between Kurds and the Turkish state as it happened in his country after 24 years of occupation.

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Shirin Ebadi from Iran called attention to the importance of ethnical and cultural diversity for cultural development, saying that it is among the basic duties of a democratic country to preserve this diversity and ensure that these segments do not suffer a violation of their rights.

Ebadi underlined that the Turkish state must respect the cultural rights of the Kurdish people who are going through severe situations at the moment. She noted that Kurds in East Kurdistan are also suffering discrimination by the Iranian government.

The conference continued with presentations by journalist Cengiz Çandar; Prof. David Romano; Prof. Susan Breau; Peter Galbraith, former US Ambassador to the Republic of Croatia; Takis Hadkigeorgiou, Vice Chair of the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee; Selahattin Demirtaş, Co-President of HDP and Member of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey.

Speaking at the second session titled “From Model To Problem”, Peter Galbraith said Kurds deserved participation in Geneva-3 Conference because they fought terror the most.

He accused the role of ignorant Europeans who drew a line and said it is not surpising that 100 years later the settlement is falling appart. He highlited the multiethnicity and various faiths of the region and said even Rojava was not exclusively kurdish.

Galbraith underlined that Turkey should return to the table and reinitiate peace talks with the Kurdish movement, adding that the PKK was an effective movement and that who wanted peace had to make peace with the PKK” further adding that kurdish forces have so far been the only ones fighting against terrorism.

Journalist Cengiz Çandar called attention to the disaster Turkey faces today, saying it was to worst situation he had ever witnessed since his childhood, Turkey is making its way from an authoritian regime to a purely fascist system:

“Turkey has evolved into a fascist regime after the elections. I am worried for my country as the Kurdish people are being subject to a disaster. What we face is an abdication of reason.”

Çandar emphasised the fact that the AKP was supported by the European Union while perpetrating atrocities against the Kurdish people.

“If the EU continues to act in line with its interests, and remains silent on Turkey’s immoral practices, the situation will get much graver”, he added.

Susan Breau, who first said that various political actors in this war made the kurds trapped in it, remarked that the Kurdish people had to take up arms and fight to protect their existence and were charged with terrorism for fighting crimes against humanity. Stressing that the definition of terrorism must be changed, Breau said Kurdish fighters sacrificed their lives in the fight against ISIS, but were still labelled criminal and terrorist, and that desigation had to be resolved.

“Turkey is making the anti-ISIS fight difficult. Kurds are the only force fighting these inhuman forces.”

Speaking after, HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş pointed out that Turkey is currently going through the darkest political atmosphere of its recent history.

“While the balances and statutes in the region all turned upside down, this became a crisis of Turkey’s due to its unprepared situation with regards to ideational, ideological and governmental and foreign policy aspects. Kurds have reached the stage of catching up with the change and come up with a solution to their own Kurdish problem.”

Pointing out that Kurds have once again taken to the stage of history today, Demirtaş said this recently formed Kurdish perspective doesn’t threaten or ignore the Turkish people, other cultures, identities and faith groups in Turkey. He continued;

“Kurds do not threat Turks as an enemy. Nor are they a threat to Turkishness, secularism, Islam or other religions and faith groups. Yet, why do Turks consider Kurds as a threat? Because they have a status quoist mindset. The world is changing and Turkey continues to pay a heavy price as it persistently remains out of this. All peoples are paying heavier prices.”


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