Representatives of the Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party in Turkey (BDP) and the biggest Flemish Party, the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA), as well as academicians and experts, analyzed the historical context and the current developments of the Kurdish issue in Turkey. The speakers called on Turkey and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PKK) to stop the military actions and to establish a reconciliation commission for peaceful negotiations with the support of the European Union and the USA.

Marc Hendrickx, member of the Flemish Parliament from N-VA, and Karl Vanlouwe, Flemish Senator, shared the experience of Flemish people, who were discriminated and oppressed in Belgium. Some decades ago the Flemish community, representing about 60 percent of the Belgian population and living mostly in the north part of the country Flanders, was deprived of its fundamental human rights, mother language and cultural identity.

“Therefore, we, Flemish people, we support and express our solidarity with the oppressed nations, as for example the Basque country and Catalonia [Spain], North Ireland, Corsica [France], as well as with the Kurdish people,” said Marc Hendrickx.

He criticized the Western countries “for privileging their own economical interests in their relations with Turkey, instead of defending the human rights”. He also pointed out “the negative role played by the politicians with Turkish origin in the Belgian federal and local authorities as speakers of Turkey against the Kurdish people”.

Karl Vanlouwe suggested the establishment of a national reconciliation committee for peace and dialog where Turkish and Kurdish representatives would solve the Kurdish issue.

“This method for conflict resolution has been already successfully used in South Africa during the Apartheid regime, in Spain after the fascist regime of Franco, in Indonesia and East Timor during the rule of Suharto, in the Irish-UK conflict," he said.            

The two Flemish politicians and the Kurdish representatives agreed that “despite all the sufferings and tragedies in Turkey during the last hundred years, this multi-ethnic and multi-religious country still has possibility to solve its internal problems and to live in peace and harmony, enjoying its own religious and ethnical richness”. 

Esat Canan, member of the parliament from the BDP in Turkey, said that about 40 million Kurds live in the Middle East and, with the exception of those living in Iraqi Kurdistan, the Kurdish people are deprived of their fundamental human rights.

Canan underlined that “now Turkey has the opportunity to solve this human tragedy with the ongoing process of drafting new constitution. Human rights for Kurdish people, including the right for education in the mother language, have to be guaranteed by this new constitution. The 10 percent election barrier for parties to enter the parliament should also be revised in order to allow Kurdish parties to participate in the political life in Turkey”.

He added that the BDP has not extreme demands as independence or federalism, but the Kurdish politicians support the democratic local governance as the best solution for the Kurds and for the rest of Turkey.    

Prof. Dr. Dirk Rochtus from the international university Lessius in Antwerp gave a general presentation of federalism. Currently, there are 26 federal countries in the world and each of them has its own specifications.

Prof. Dr. Rochtus said: “Even if federalism is not on the agenda of the Kurdish struggle today, but in Turkey the central government is omnipotent. The idea of regionalization, the Turks tremble. The state has taught them the fear that regionalization means ruin. Certainly federalism is a taboo concept."

Prof. Rochtus however proposed “reconciliation and mutual agreement as solution for the Kurdish issue. At the same time, local autonomy can be applied in the areas where Kurds represent the majority of the population”.

Chairmen of the Kurdish Institute in Brussels Derwich Ferho raised the question “how it is possible for a country, which is responsible for the ethnical cleansing of Armenians, Assyrians, Syriacs, Pontiacs, Kurds, to be an EU member?”. Ferho also criticized the EU for following the Turkish anti-Kurdish policy of criminalizing Kurdish organizations by including them on the list of terrorist organizations. Ferho added that the weapons trade between Belgium, other European countries and Turkey and the criminalization of Kurds are blocking the possibilities for solutions to the Kurdish issue.  

Ludo De Brabander from the Flemish Peace Movement focused on the strategic importance of Turkey during the Cold War, which declined after the collapse of the Soviet Union. “But Ankara became again key player during the Iran-Iraq war and in the context of the relations with Iran and Syria today. Turkey also tries to be “important” energy corridor, supplying the West with oil and gas from Central Asia, Caucasus and the Middle East. Europe and USA used Turkey to break down the Russian monopoly over the energy market," he said.

The speakers in the seminar concluded that as long as the Turkish-Kurdish conflict is not solved, the energy corridors are not safe. Therefore, the resolution of this long standing conflict is not only in the Turkish and the Kurdish interest, but it will also be beneficial for the West.      

By Roni Alasor – 04/03/2012 – DM/AKnews