Friday, May 13, 2011

CHP Supports Devolution in the Southeast Ahead of Elections

The CHP has announced four main planks to solving the Kurdish problem: devolution, Kurdish language education, lowering of the current 10% threshold parties must attain to enter parliament, and the establishment of truth commission-like institution to investigate crimes committed during the 1990s. The devolution proposal is the most racial of these given Turkey's long history of unitary government. The CHP is arguing that Turkey should fully implement the European Administrations Local Autonomy Condition to which Turkey has currently attached reservations. From Hurriyet Daily News:
CHP deputy leader Sezgin Tanrıkulu said the Kurdish problem could be solved within the unitary structure of Turkey by empowering local administrations with the full implementation of the European Local Administrations Autonomy Condition.

Tanrıkulu revealed the democratization targets of CHP in a meeting to a group of journalists in Istanbul. CHP has proposals for four main democratization issues in Turkey in its election statement, Tanrıkulu said.

“Turkey is one of the countries that has signed the European Local Administrations Autonomy Condition, however Turkey has attached annotation for seven of its articles. We want these annotations removed. If these annotations are removed, then there would be no question of democratic autonomy for the Kurdish people, the whole issue can be solved within the unitary structure of Turkey,” said Tanrıkulu.

The CHP is also in favor of having everybody to learn their mother tongue in the school, said Tanrıkulu. “Not only should our Kurdish citizens, but everybody in Turkey should have the chance to learn their mother tongue at the school, if they want to. The most important thing is accepting this as a fundamental right,” said Tanrıkulu.

“We will overcome the obstacles that lie before our Kurdish citizens to live their identity freely by establishing a pluralist and libertarian democracy,” said Tanrıkulu.

Reducing the election threshold is another proposal of CHP in its “democratization targets.”

“CHP has already proposed that the Parliament reduce the threshold from 10 percent to 7 percent last year, however as our leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said, it could be even reduced to 5 percent or less. Reducing or lifting the threshold in whole, is essential for the reflection of people’s will to the Parliament,” Tanrıkulu said.

Regarding the discussions on implementation of the presidential system in Turkey, Tanrıkulu said, “These discussions cannot go any further than being a fantasy.”

The fourth main proposal of the CHP in its democratization package is “creating a research commission for inquiry of unsolved murders.” “There should a research commission in international standards in order to enlighten the unsolved murders in Turkey,” said Tanrıkulu.

Tanrıkulu said the CHP wants a new libertarian constitution that would secure every aspect of the human rights issues, including the civil, political, social, economical, cultural rights for everyone. “However in order to reach these targets that the CHP drew for democratization, we don’t need a new constitution, we can make these changes even without a new constitution,” said Tanrıkulu.
There is still no reference here to removing the ethnic chauvinism in Turkey's current understanding of Turkish citizenship, which addresses all Turkish citizens as belonging to the "Turkish nation." Amending the constitution in this regard has long been a key demand for Kurds.

However, there is no doubt the CHP is giving the AKP a run for its money in meeting long-held demands of Kurds. Local autonomy for Kurdish municipalities has become a big issue since last summer, and the CHP's willingness to address the issue is big news.

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