Thursday, April 10, 2008

Kurdish NGOs Report to Gül

If AKP listens to the NGOs, perhaps AKP policy toward the southeast will become more comprehensive, more than just the doling out of bananas. . .

From Today's Zaman:
A group of representatives from 17 civil society organizations from southeastern and eastern Anatolia met with President Abdullah Gül yesterday to share their views on economic and democratic solutions to Turkey’s Kurdish question.

In its report the group presented suggestions on a wide range of issues from economic measures to efforts at democratization, emphasizing the importance of Turkey’s European Union accession process. The report also underlined the significance of education in one’s native language.

At the one-hour meeting, which was closed to the press, President Gül indicated everyone should be against violence and that this problem could be solved by raising Turkey’s democratic standards.

Speaking for the group, Diyarbakır Chamber of Industry and Commerce President Mehmet Kaya said they told the president that solutions to the “Kurdish problem” should be perceived as national policy and not that of only the ruling party.

He also said the group told the president that the media were hurting regional development by presenting the southeastern region in general as “violence stricken.”

Kaya said the president shared their view on almost every topic and added that the president would visit Diyarbakır soon.

The group also met with Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB) President Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu, who also said non-violent solutions should be sought.

Representatives from the civil society groups met with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal and visited the Democratic Society Party (DTP) on Tuesday and presented their report to the leaders. However, the group was unable to make an appointment with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

The report, called “Kurdish Problem and the Region’s Socio-economic State,” provides detailed suggestions that aim to help alleviate the Kurdish question, starting with infrastructural investment. It recommends that the state should ensure regional justice while doing this.

It also suggests incentive laws to be implemented in the region that utilize positive discrimination. Business sectors which have a competitive advantage should be encouraged with discounts in energy use to do business in the region and low interest rate credits should be extended to domestic and foreign businesses which want to invest in the region.

The group also envisioned a civilian international airport to be established in Diyarbakır and said tourism should be revived as a locomotive sector in the region.

Regarding the Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP), the report said international funds for the project should be equally distributed in the region and that the project, which affects nine provinces, should be administered locally instead of centrally.

The report also emphasized efforts needed to promote harmony between local and central administrations and said that the regional policies of political parties should be rebuilt in light of positive discrimination, suggesting that these policies should be written in stone and adopted as state policies.

The representatives also asked for a new, civilian and democratic constitution that represents an understanding which sees differences as richness. According to the report, the new constitution “should protect differences, should not restrict cultural differences and should not emphasize ethnic identity.”


Suggestions from report
* European Union accession negotiations should continue with strong determination and necessary changes should immediately be made in the following areas:

* All barriers to freedom of speech should be removed;

* All barriers to private and public broadcasters should be removed to provide native language broadcasting;

* Native language education should be an elective course at every level in educational institutions;

* Kurdish language, history and literature departments should be established at universities;

* Native language services should be provided at public institutions;

* Places should be renamed if their original Kurdish names have been removed;

* Laws on political parties should be democratized; and

* Those who have been subjected to forced migration should be compensated through economic and social projects.

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